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As it was, I could sit back and watch the finished film and admire the shots and performances.

‘It’s taken a long time to bring it to the screen but I’ve been lucky in that top-quality people have been involved.

Here was a man, a likeable chancer, who sometimes sailed too close to the wind.

‘My proudest moment was when I saw in a tiny clipping a woman’s name and we actually tracked her down.

She was an old mate of Joyce and I went to visit her.

Every little bit of information — Joyce never answered the doorbell or the phone, for example, and loved watching Monkey World on TV — all sunk in and eventually rose to the surface in my story.’ So she wasn’t tempted to give herself a fleeting cameo walk-on role, Alfred Hitchcock-style?

‘No, because people would then be wondering what Victoria Wood was doing suddenly popping up in this story.

Her husband and agent, William Barrington- Coupe, had perpetrated a monstrous deceit from their house in a quiet cul-de-sac in Royston, Hertfordshire, by splicing the playing of other pianists on to more than 100 recordings released under Joyce’s name in her final years.

The CDs were a patchwork of other pianists’ work, digitally manipulated to disguise their origins.

‘I felt like a journalist as I began hunting down all the different threads,’ she says.

Despite the wide coverage, Joyce’s story had passed Victoria by.

The audacious fraud was laid bare after Joyce’s death, first by an exposé in Gramophone magazine, followed up by a lengthy dissection in The New Yorker.

And now the incredible story has been made into a beautifully realised film for TV, Loving Miss Hatto — the result of three years’ painstaking research by comedienne Victoria Wood.

It was the conjunction of those two people and modern technology that caught my interest.’So who exactly was Joyce Hatto, once dubbed ‘the greatest living pianist almost no one has ever heard of’ before becoming more famous — notorious, even — for what she hadn’t played than what she had?


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