The Piano Announces Exciting New Judge As Lang Lang Steps Down From The Show

Lang Lang, Claudia Winkleman and Mika
Lang Lang, Claudia Winkleman and Mika Channel 4

Channel 4’s reality TV hit The Piano has announced it will be getting a new addition to the panel when it returns to our screens next year.

The Piano garnered a loyal audience upon its debut in 2023, even securing a nomination in the coveted Memorable Moment category at this year’s TV Baftas.

On Monday afternoon, it was announced that while host Claudia Winkleman and judge Mika will both be returning for season three, regular panellist Lang Lang will not be back due to prior commitments.

“Being a mentor on The Piano and spending time with the talented pianists has been a true joy,” Lang Lang said. “The level of talent I have witnessed has been phenomenal and it has been a privilege to see the love for playing the piano across the UK.

“Due to international concert commitments, I will be stepping down for series three but am delighted to be passing the baton to my dear friend Jon Batiste, who I know will be fantastic in the role.

“I am going to miss Mika and Claudia terribly but am very much looking forward to being reunited with them later this year filming the Christmas Special.”

Mika and Lang Lang at the TV Baftas last month
Mika and Lang Lang at the TV Baftas last month Scott Garfitt via Getty Images

Instead, he’ll be replaced by five-time Grammy-winning singer, songwriter pianist Jon Batiste.

Jon enthused: “I am so happy to be a mentor on The Piano and to witness the pianists for the new series express themselves on the instrument I’ve dedicated my life to. This show will bring together my unique history of performing in both train stations and concert halls.

“No matter where, I always have believed that music at its best creates community and brings folks together in divided times. It will be a massive joy to do just that all around the UK train stations with the piano and new talent. In collaboration with Mika, an incredible songwriter and musician and Claudia with her own inimitable style, I can’t wait for all the thrilling musical experiences ahead!”

Claudia Winkleman, Jon Batiste and Mika
Claudia Winkleman, Jon Batiste and Mika Channel 4

Jon released his debut album Times In New Orleans in 2005, at the age of 17, and has gone on to win five of the 20 Grammys he’s been nominated for, including the Album Of The Year title in 2022, for which he beat stiff competition from Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Kanye West, Lil Nas X, Olivia Rodrigo, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, H.E.R. and Doja Cat.

He also won an Oscar in 2020 for his work on the Pixar film Soul.

Lang Lang will judge his final episode of The Piano in this year’s Christmas special.