PURE dead mortified. Any Glaswegian would feel the same.

Here was The Piano, the hit Channel 4 show that’s Bake Off with pedals (the two share the same creators), setting up shop in Central Station.

The judges, Mika, platinum-selling pop star, and Lang Lang, the greatest classical pianist of the modern era, were hidden upstairs in a room above Oliver Bonas, waiting to have their socks blown off by amateur pianists on the concourse below. Prize: a spot on the bill at The Royal Festival Hall.



But alas, no fireworks. “Why is everyone so well-behaved?” Mika asked Lang Lang. It was a charge no Glaswegian would ever have thought would be laid at the city’s door. The shame of it.

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True, the production team had arrived on a sunny day and the place was sparkling like the Koh-i-Noor. Show host Claudia Winkleman pronounced the station “beautiful”.

The judges agreed it was the toughest venue to play so far. The two previous contests had taken place in London St Pancras and Leeds stations, but in Glasgow the piano was in the middle of the floor with passengers swirling all around. Nowhere to hide.



The first contestant, Stanley from Prestwick, rocked up wearing a piano tie. Playing since he was nine, now 86 and the father of 11 children (“so far”), Stanley had character and swagger to spare. He had been part of a jazz band in the 1950s, but one by one its members died, leaving him to play solo. “I’m the last of the red hot pianists,” he said.

He sang and played the blues, Mika praised his suppleness (“It’s not nothing at 86”) and the crowd started dancing. Well of course they did, it was Glasgow. Fine, but still no fireworks.

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Glasgow was looking its trendy best for the visitors. Here was a guy in black leathers pushing a pram with two dogs in it. Claudia claimed five points for spotting her first man in a kilt, in this case a lipstick pink tartan number.

It was drama next as 12-year-old Dana tried hard to overcome her stage fright. Claudia promised she would ask people to turn the other way and actually made good on her pledge. No one seemed to mind, or not that the viewers saw anyway. This series has showcased Winkleman’s skills as a people whisperer, able to handle anyone or anything. As Mika would say, it’s not nothing.

Sue, a former music teacher, decorated the piano with a plastic banner complete with blood-red handprints “to show music is in my DNA”. This was more like it, as was the way Sue played boogie-woogie. Above Oliver Bonas, Mika was teaching his fellow judge to dance and Lang Lang was praising Sue’s technique and rhythm. Sue got the biggest cheer of the night so far. All good fun, but still nothing to leave the judges in awe, as in Leeds last week.


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Then a young man by the name of Sean Logan walked up to the piano. In his introductory film the 26-year-old spoke about a difficult time at school caused by “an inability to cooperate”, and how he had taught himself to play by copying people on TV.



I could have a go at conveying what happened next, but I would strongly recommend a catch-up on All 4 if you did not see it last night. Fireworks was only the half of it. Mika’s description of the performance as “brilliant anarchy” is probably as close as words get.

It is easy to be cynical about television’s love of a good “backstory”, as if a person’s talent was not enough on its own. But the information in Sean’s case was relevant, if not essential, in understanding his achievement.

Next week the show comes from Birmingham, then it is on to the Royal Festival Hall for the final. Glasgow might have left it late in the day to ditch its shyness, but having done so it is going to be one tough act to follow.