Loving Miss Hatto

8:30pm Sunday 23 December on BBC ONE

Written by Victoria Wood and inspired by an article in the New Yorker magazine, Loving Miss Hatto tells the story of an ‘ordinary’ married couple who managed to pull off the greatest fraud the classical music world has known, all from their modest bungalow in a genteel Hertfordshire town.

It is a story of two young people with high hopes who, like most of us, get knocked back by life – and then get a second chance to put things right. Above all, it is a love story.

In the grey, post-war London of the 1950s, a young chancer named William Barrington-Coupe, known to all as ‘Barrie’, is working at a music publishers but harbours ambitions to become a classical music impresario. One day while delivering music to an orchestra rehearsal, Barrie is bowled over by a young pianist’s playing – finding his first client, wife and future in one moment. The young pianist is Joyce Hatto.

Barrie sets about turning Joyce into a classical music star. Initially things go well but then fate intervenes and realising that they both lack what it takes to really make it, they retire to Hertfordshire and a ‘normal’ life.

But one day, in 2002 fate intervenes again and Barrie is given the chance to revive Joyce’s career, despite Joyce being in her Seventies and suffering from terminal cancer. Within a few years, Joyce is being dubbed ‘the greatest living pianist that almost no one has ever heard of’ and had critics raving about her sublime recordings.

Yet six months after her death, many of Hatto’s recordings were discovered to be those of other pianists; Joyce and Barrie had apparently pulled off the greatest hoax in classical music. This is their story.

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