Martin Roberts: 'Playing Piano Silences The Thoughts Raging In My Head'

What Works For Me: The 'Homes Under The Hammer' presenter finds peace of mind in music – and gives us his ultimate upbeat playlist.

When TV presenter Martin Roberts feels overwhelmed by stress, he sits down at his piano and plays.

It’s a therapeutic practice that the 55-year-old says helps to relax his mind from its “constant busyness”. He describes it as silencing any thoughts, questions or debates that are “raging on” in his head.

“When you’re playing music, you have to think about it,” the ‘Homes Under The Hammer’ star tells HuffPost UK. “There’s no space, there’s no brain processing power left. The only thing I can focus on is the music and creating that music. It silences all of the other rubbish that’s flying around.”

Roberts, who lives in Bath, grew up in a musical household – his mum was a piano teacher though she didn’t give him lessons as such. “One of the earliest pictures of me is in nappies on her lap, against an upright piano,” he recalls fondly. “She always encouraged me to do music.”

Over the years he has honed his skills on both piano and guitar, however he quite modestly insists that he’s still not that good. The repertoire he enjoys is wide-ranging, everything from piano classics to more modern tunes, even hymns: “I love rhythm and blues most of all.”

Martin Roberts
Paul Gillis Photography
Martin Roberts

Playing music has become an important way of shutting away distracting thoughts, especially for a man who is always on the go: “If I’m playing the piano, I’m playing piano – that’s what my mind is focused on.”

Since his brief stint on ‘I’m A Celebrity’ in 2016, Roberts unearthed a renewed self-interest in wellness. He says he lost a lot of weight while on the show in part because of the restricted diet but also from being outdoors.

On his return to the UK, he discovered his lifelong issue with asthma was no longer a problem. “It was an allergy to something I was eating,” he explains. “If I eat wheat, my asthma comes back.”

This got him thinking about what else a person could do in a short period of time that might improve their health and wellbeing, and it inspired him to set up Achieve – a wellness exhibition focusing on happiness, health but also wealth (because you often need to part with some cash to go to that fitness class).

The exhibition, now in its second year, takes place on 13 and 14 October in Bristol. “I’m hopeful that it will be a great event,” he says. Headline speakers include MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace, comedian Helen Lederer and Welsh rugby referee Nigel Owens, and ticket prices start at £25 for a one-day pass.

It’s not just playing music that helps Roberts switch off from the stresses of life, He’s a huge fan of listening to it, too – just as well, given its iconic role in ‘Homes Under the Hammer’. “Yes, it has become legendary hasn’t it,” says the presenter.

“Music is absolutely linked with your emotions to the point where if you’re feeling gloomy and a gloomy piece of music comes on, you have to turn it off,” he adds. ”There’s a song which Ed Sheeran did on [his album] X about his mum with access to talks and masterclasses in the cookery theatre and fitness area – I can’t listen to it. I have to skip that one. My mum died several years ago and it’s just too poignant for me.

“But there is nothing like when the sun’s shining, [and I’m] driving in my little sports car and playing ‘Jump’ by Van Halen or ‘Pencil Full Of Lead’ by Paolo Nutini or ‘Make Me Smile’ by Steve Harley – there’s no way that your spirits don’t soar.”

Martin’s Ultimate Upbeat Playlist

Steve Harley – Make Me Smile

Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water

Billy Taylor – I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free

The Monkees – I’m a Believer

Van Halen – Jump

In ‘What Works For Me’ – a series of articles considering how we can find balance in our lives – we talk to people about their self-care strategies.