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TV documentary catches up with Lucy Illingworth, winner of Channel 4’s The Piano

Lucy Illingworth playing the piano

The winner of Channel 4’s The Piano is having her own one-off special where cameras chart her rise to success after she was spotted performing on a keyboard at Leeds Train Station.

Lucy Illingworth, who has vision loss, was 13 when she wowed judges on the popular TV show, who were impressed with the teenager's recital of Debussy’s Arabesque.

Her performance has been nominated for a BAFTA in a category alongside memorable moments in Doctor Who, Succession and Happy Valley, the winner will be announced on May 12.

Since winning the show, Illingworth, who also has autism, has made some ‘moments’ for herself after playing at King Charles III Coronation concert, in front of a sold out crowd at the Royal Albert Hall and ITV’s Royal Variety Performance.

She has also been learning more pieces by artists such as Mozart, Beethoven, Irving Berlin and Stevie Wonder.

The talented teenager was born with cancerous tumours in her eyes and is profoundly non verbal, but from an early age it was obvious that she had a unique gift playing the piano.

When her parents noticed their daughter was composing music in her head, they brought her a new keyboard.

Her mum, Candice, told Mail Online: 'From a fairy tale book with a piano on it, she started playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star but it was pitch perfect. It was such a moment to hear that.’

This weekend Illingworth is back on our screens for her TV documentary, The Incredibly Talented Lucy airing on Channel 4.

In the show we will be introduced to her music teacher Daniel Bath, who has been working beside Illingworth since she was three years old.

Bath previously said: 'I first met Lucy in ball pool at school and I couldn't see anyone in the room at first. And then I saw this little hand sticking out of the ball pool.

'And someone said "Oh that's Lucy". So I put a little keyboard under the hand, and the hand started playing, rather mutinously, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

'And I thought: "Here's a girl for whom music is really important."

'And it could it be a way of unlocking her language, her social skills, and above all, her enjoyment of life.' 

But the teacher had a challenge on his hands when he first started tutoring Illingworth who was impatient, she couldn’t last 10 seconds before pushing Bath’s hands out the way.

By her teenage years Illingworth behaviour started to settle, she would listen to Bath playing an entire piece before playing it back to him.

He said: 'You can't teach Lucy, you can only guide her in the journey.'

Bath went on to say there are moments when he has to pick up Illingworth’s hands so they can jump over each other.

'She loves to improvise, she loves playing jazz and the social interplay of that', he added.

[ The Incredibly Talented Lucy is on Channel 4, Sunday 5th May at 10.05pm ]

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