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A pianist has slammed the ‘ludicrous’ demand from flag-waving Chinese tourists not to film them as he performed at a busy London station.

Brendan Kavanagh, who regularly plays boogie woogie tunes at London’s St Pancras station, was livestreaming on YouTube yesterday when he was approached by a group of Chinese tourists.

One woman explained she was working for Chinese TV and asked whether they were in view of his camera before asking him to stop filming.

In the video, uploaded to X, the tourists gather around the pianist who repeatedly explains that he is allowed to film because they are in a public place. ‘We are in Great Britain, we are not in China,’ he tells them.

After the footage of the row went viral on social media, Mr Kavanagh appeared on TalkTV where he slammed the ‘ludicrous’ demand – including from a British Transport police officer who asked him not to upload it.

Pianist slams ‘ludicrous’ demand from flag-waving Chinese tourists not to film them as he performed at busy London station: Musician says ‘Communists’ are trying to get his video ‘taken down’… and transport police ALSO told him not to upload it

Brendan Kavanagh (pictured at the piano), who regularly takes to the station to play boogie woogie tunes, was livestreaming on Youtube when he was approached by a woman from the tourist group

Speaking last night, he said: ‘It was a comedy of errors but it raises a lot of serious issues about stupid rules, authoritarianism, and also our own British culture how we’ve got to stand up to stupidity.’ 

During the encounter with the tourists, Mr Kavanagh explained that in Britain filming in public is perfectly legal, but he was still threatened with legal action and even called ‘racist’ for telling the tourists that ‘this is not China’. 

‘The guy used the r-word. Once you say “you’re racist” the British police just melt. It was so ludicrous,’ he said on TalkTV.

This comes after one of two police officers, who were walking by and stopped due to the loud argument, told the pianist ‘this is not to go on your channel’ as Mr Kavanagh kept on filming after the officers intervened.

‘I was so glad I actually had it filmed because if I narrated this people wouldn’t believe me, but the fact that it was on a livestream… It was completely spontaneous and now the world has seen it,’ he added.

Before the officers arrived, the situation escalated from polite protest against filming to shouted demands as Mr Kavanagh was accused of ‘trying to touch’ one of the female tourists after he seemingly pointed to the Chinese flag she was holding. He denied the accusation.

A male member of the group, who was the most vocal in his complaints against being filmed, suddenly started screaming: ‘Why are you touching her? Stop touching her. Don’t touch her.’

He added: ‘You are not the same age, do not touch her.’ The woman intervened and said: ‘Don’t shoot him, don’t shoot him. What’s the problem?’

The woman (pictured) told him she was working for Chinese TV and asked whether they were in view of his camera and then followed up saying that 'wasn't allowed'

The woman (pictured) told him she was working for Chinese TV and asked whether they were in view of his camera and then followed up saying that ‘wasn’t allowed’

The tourists, who were wearing red scarfs, gathered around the pianist, who repeatedly explained to them that he was allowed to film since they were in a public place. 'We are in Great Britain, we are not in China,' he added

The tourists, who were wearing red scarfs, gathered around the pianist, who repeatedly explained to them that he was allowed to film since they were in a public place. ‘We are in Great Britain, we are not in China,’ he added

Mr Kavanagh said on TalkTV last night (pictured) that during the interaction with the tourists, it was 'all about what I couldn't do and what they could do'

Mr Kavanagh said on TalkTV last night (pictured) that during the interaction with the tourists, it was ‘all about what I couldn’t do and what they could do’

Mr Kavanagh, who also goes by Dr K, was seemingly confused after being shouted at and defended himself by saying he only touched the flag.

The piano player repeatedly pointed to the small red flags with five yellow stars, which he claimed were communist flags.

One of the tourists said that Mr Kavanagh should ‘educate’ himself, as the flag is not a flag for the communist party – which would portray a yellow hammer and sickle instead of the five stars. 

The woman the pianist allegedly touched – something he denies doing – said she was ‘here to celebrate the new year’ and didn’t want to be filmed doing so. 

The pair repeatedly accused Mr Kavanagh of not ‘respecting their right’ by filming them, but the piano player again pointed out that he is allowed to film them as there is no expectation of privacy in a public place in the UK. 

When the police officers approached, one tourist said to the male officer that Mr Kavanagh filmed them and they asked him to remove the footage, but he refused.

‘You’re in a public place,’ the policeman explained repeatedly – until the female officer chimed in and said to the cameraperson: ‘Excuse me, if we’re having a police matter, you need to put that phone down.’

Mr Kavanagh then addressed his viewers as the officers took the tourists aside. He said: ‘The Chinese communist party told us not to film here.’

Afterwards, the policewoman warned him: ‘This is not to go on your channel by the way, this is me talking to you.’ But Mr Kavanagh interrupted and said: ‘Listen, we’re in Britain, we’re in a public space, it’s a free country.’

The officer added: ‘The matter is, they say you’ve been making communist comments at them,’ but Mr Kavanagh denied this and added that he only said they were waving communists flags.

One of two police officers (pictured behind the pianist), who were walking by and stopped due to the loud argument, told the pianist ‘this is not to go on your channel’ as Mr Kavanagh kept on filming after the officers intervened

The situation soon escalated after Mr Kavanagh was accused of 'trying to touch' one of the female tourists after he seemingly pointed to the Chinese flag she was holding. One of the tourists shouted at him, which the pianist met with a confused look (pictured here)

The situation soon escalated after Mr Kavanagh was accused of ‘trying to touch’ one of the female tourists after he seemingly pointed to the Chinese flag she was holding. One of the tourists shouted at him, which the pianist met with a confused look (pictured here)

She also asked him about the allegation that he tried to touch one of the tourists, which the pianist denied. He said: ‘I was not trying to touch her, that’s why I have a camera.’

‘They [the tourists] have requested that the video where they approach gets deleted and is not used on your channel […] They work for a company and their faces cannot be shown on TV or on somebody’s channel,’ she told Mr Kavanagh.

Eventually the tourists and police officers moved one, leaving Mr Kavanagh to finish his livestream with more boogie woogie songs after declaring: ‘Free speech prevails.’ 

Mr Kavanagh said on TalkTV last night that during the interaction with the tourists, it was ‘all about what I couldn’t do and what they could do’.

‘I thought blimey, we are in London town and I’ve got a bunch of Chinese people telling me what I can’t do. And I thought enough is enough,’ he explained.

MailOnline has contacted British Transport Police for comment.

Key facts about Dr K aka Brendan Kavanagh

  • Brendan Kavanagh’s late father was a plasterer from County Cork. 
  • When Brendan was about seven, his father brought home an upright piano which had been left on a building site.
  • The budding musician had piano lessons as a child. In his twenties, he studied with Nelly Ben-Or, an international concert pianist and Holocaust survivor. 
  • Brendan first heard boogie woogie aged around 17 when he saw Jools Holland perform on Channel 4’s The Tube. Contrary to various ‘reports’ on the internet, he has never actually performed with Jools Holland, or Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
  • After playing with various bands around London, he was introduced to legendary boogie woogie player Hammy Howell (1954-1999), who had played with the chart band Darts. 
  • Howell gave the teenager four boogie woogie lessons and taught him Hammy’s Boogie.
  • Brendan’s increasingly frustrating stint as an English and Latin teacher led to him writing a book, called Toxic Teaching.
  • These days, he describes himself as a ‘teacher, performer and entrepreneur’ with a line of piano study guides titled Badass Boogie Bundles. 



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