March 24, 2017
Jake Gyllenhaal on his latest movie Life, a sci-fi thriller about a team of scientists aboard the International Space Station who find a rapidly evolving life form from Mars. He discusses the practicalities of simulating zero gravity on film and also his current role in the musical Sunday in the Park with George on Broadway. Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon talks about directing the Tony Award-winning musical An American in Paris, which has just opened in London. This year thirteen new musicals will receive a Broadway premiere, but in the UK only two new musicals are slated for West End premieres, so is the UK is being left behind by America? Jamie Hendry, producer of the forthcoming West End musical, The Wind in The Willows, and Zoë Simpson, independent producer and board member of the Musical Theatre Network discuss the business of putting on a musical. Pauline Black, lead singer of Midlands ska band The Selecter, reviews One Love: The Bob Marley Musical at The Birmingham Rep. Written and produced by director, actor and playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, the show brings the reggae star's global hits to the stage for the first time and delves into the political turmoil of Marley's native Jamaica. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer Rachel Simpson.
March 23, 2017
Charlotte Rampling came to attention as an actress and model during the Swinging Sixties. She soon became associated with challenging roles such as Lucia the concentration camp survivor who develops a sadomasochistic relationship with a former SS officer in The Night Porter. After a period of depression in the Nineties she burst onto screens again with a best actress Oscar nomination for the film, 45 years, and for her parts in Dexter and Broadchurch on TV. She's now written a very personal and revealing memoir. Harlots is a new 8-part TV series set against the backdrop of 18th century Georgian London. It follows the career of Margaret Wells played by Samantha Morton as she struggles to reconcile her roles as mother and brothel owner. Creator and writer Moira Buffini discusses becoming seduced by the Georgians and how Harlots was inspired by stories of real women. The Clearing is a vision of how we might live if sea levels rise and petrol pumps run dry. Artists Alex Hartley and Tom James discuss the project, which is centred around a geodesic dome hand built from recycled materials in the grounds of Compton Verney gallery in Warwickshire. After Ukraine bans Russian singer Samoilova from this year's Eurovision Song Contest, William Lee Adams, founder and editor of Eurovision website wiwibloggs, talks about the contest's latest political controversy. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Jack Soper.
March 22, 2017
The 82-year-old Portuguese artist Dame Paula Rego is the subject of a new BBC Two documentary Secrets and Stories. The intimate portrait of the artist was made by her son, the film-maker Nick Willing, who discusses the very personal nature of the project. Danny Huston makes his stage debut in a new play about the extraordinary life of Hollywood producer Robert Evans currently at the Royal Court, in London. Hailing from the famous film dynasty; he talks about coming to acting late at the age of 38, his memories of his father John Huston and working behind the scenes in the industry. The Ghetto Film School was founded in 2000 by American social worker Joe Hall. He wanted to provide an opportunity for the young people he worked with to learn how to become filmmakers. Almost two decades on, the school is a flourishing project with branches in New York and Los Angeles, and a new partnership with a youth film project in the UK. Joe Hall and his UK film partner Hannah Barry discuss their desire to develop new generations of filmmakers. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
March 21, 2017
As Coronation Street develops a controversial story-line about a 36 year old man grooming a teenager, we discuss soaps and their depiction of social issues with Coronation Street's Series Producer Kate Oates, Editor of The Archers Huw Kennair-Jones, and former BBC Drama Controller John Yorke. Ian Rankin and Lewis star Kevin Whately discuss the life and work of Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter, whose death was announced today. For Jarvis Cocker's first album in eight years he's teamed up with pianist Chilly Gonzalez to conjure up the ghosts of the legendary Chateau Marmont Hotel in Hollywood. At the piano they imagine what has gone on behind closed doors in Room 29. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Edwina Pitman.
March 20, 2017
Leonard Cohen said of him 'all of us are footnotes to the words of Chuck Berry', while Bob Dylan described him as 'the Shakespeare of rock & roll'. Kandia Crazy Horse, editor of Rip It Up, the Black Experience of Rock'n'Roll, and music critic Kevin Le Gendre, discuss some key Chuck Berry songs to show what they reveal about Berry's influences, his stature as a world-class musician, and the huge influence he had on those that followed him. The Lost City of Z is a film inspired by the real-life adventures of explorer Percy Fawcett. Survival expert Ray Mears gives us his verdict. Continuing Radio 4's poetic celebration of the Spring Equinox, Patience Agbabi reads her poem Mr Umbo's Umbrellas, written especially for the occasion. Of all the paintings by the artist Sir Howard Hodgkin who died earlier this month, it was his portraits that were most often overlooked. However, this week the National Portrait Gallery stages the first exhibition of these works, which cover the period from 1949 to the present. One of Hodgkin's sitters, the writer Ekow Eshun, discusses the experience. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Hannah Robins.
March 17, 2017
Kirsty Lang discusses the life and work of the Nobel Prize winning poet and playwright Derek Walcott, whose death at the age of 87 was announced today. Costume designer Jenny Beavan, who won an Oscar for Mad Max: Fury Road and whose previous films include Sherlock Holmes and Tea with Mussolini, discusses the art of creating an iconic costume with film historian Ian Christie. David Darcy in New York reports on President Trump's proposal to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts. Laura Snapes explores the emergence of playlists in music. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser.
March 16, 2017
Daniel Kaluuya stars in Get Out, director Jordan Peele's racial satire about contemporary America. Already a hit at the US box office, the casting of a British actor in a film about US race relations has sparked debate about the number of roles for black actors. Film journalist Ashley Clark has the Front Row review. An experimental production at the National Theatre has no script and features a cast in their 70s and 80s. Director Phelim McDermott, actor Anna Calder-Marshall and Joan Bakewell discuss how issues facing older people can, and should, be shown on stage. Kirsty visits Compton Verney's exhibition Creating The Countryside, which examines how artists have represented the great outdoors, from Gainsborough to Grayson Perry. Also part of the new season is The Clearing, a vision of how we may have to live if sea levels rise and petrol pumps run dry. Artists Alex Hartley and Tom James explain. And Front Row continues to look at what the charts reveal about pop music today. Laura Snapes argues that streaming services are changing the music we hear.
March 15, 2017
As the highly anticipated live action remake of Beauty and the Beast is released, the director Bill Condon talks about working with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, gay references in the film, and how this version of the beast is based on Mr Darcy. Comedian Dave Spikey is best known for co-writing Phoenix Nights with fellow Lancastrian Peter Kaye. As he begins his 30th anniversary UK tour, Juggling on a Motorbike, he explains the process behind planning a new set of shows, why he avoids ridicule and crudity in his comedy, and divulges a rather unusual lucky mascot! A Big Bang Theory prequel has just been announced. Young Sheldon will follow a 9-year-old version of the socially awkward genius as he grows up in east Texas. Big Little Lies actor Iain Armitage will star as the young version of Jim Parsons' Sheldon Cooper. So what chance success? The great Irish tenor Josef Locke was born 100 years ago in Derry-Londonderry. Nuala McAllister Hart, author of a new biography, explains his lasting appeal and talks about the events celebrating Locke's centenary across Northern Ireland. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Angie Nehring.
March 14, 2017
John Harle is credited with making the saxophone an accepted instrument in classical music and for inspiring composers such as John Tavener and Sir Harrison Birtwistle to write for it. He's also worked with pop artists like Elvis Costello, Marc Almond and Sir Paul McCartney. After many years training young musicians, he has now collected his insights into a new book, The Saxophone; but can he teach John Wilson to play? The Salesman won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film this year. As it comes to UK cinemas Director of Film for the British Council Briony Hanson reviews the film from Iranian director Asgar Farhadi and discusses if it was a worthy winner. Music writer Laura Snapes explains what the charts can tell us about the state of pop. In 2011 the Performing Rights Society Foundation recognised that only 16% of the commissions they were funding involved female music creators and set up a fund to support composers and songwriters. The CEO of the PRS Foundation, Vanessa Reed, reveals their progress, and is joined by ESKA who received support from the fund which enabled her to record her Mercury-nominated album. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
March 13, 2017
As Professor Brian Cox adds a number of arena shows to a live tour which has already made the Guinness World Records, he talks about turning science into an art form. The National Gallery's latest exhibition focuses on the creative partnership between Michelangelo (1475-1564) and Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547). Sarah Dunant, who has written novels set in this period of the Borgias, Medicis and Machiavelli, considers the cultural, historical and geographical context of the artists and how they were considered at the time. Ed Sheeran has 9 songs from his latest album in the UK top 10 Singles Chart. Music journalist Laura Snapes explains how. In response to the Brexit referendum, the National Theatre has created a new play, My Country; a work in progress. Critics from both sides of the political fence, Susannah Clapp and Lloyd Evans, review this collaboration between director Rufus Norris and the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hannah Robins.
March 10, 2017
Paul Weller talks about writing his first film score. The forthcoming boxing film Jawbone features Weller's soundtrack which, as he explains, is a completely new departure for him. Speaking from his studio, he demonstrates how he composed the experimental score using his mixing desk as an instrument. In Catfight, Anne Heche and Sandra Oh star as old enemies who become locked in a bitter and violent rivalry. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews Duncan Macmillan's play People, Places and Things was a massive hit last year. Now the playwright is tackling a very different project - adapting Paul Auster's notoriously complex meta detective thriller City of Glass. John Wilson speaks to Duncan about the challenges involved in staging the piece. My Feral Heart tells the story of Luke, an independent young man with Down's Syndrome, and how he comes to terms with the loss of his freedom after his mother dies and he is sent to live in a care home. One of the few films to cast an actor with a disability in a lead role, Steven Brandon, who plays Luke, and director Jane Gull talk about making a movie about disability which celebrates ability. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
March 9, 2017
The death was announced today of the artist Sir Howard Hodgkin at the age of 84. Artist Maggi Hambling and art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon remember the man who was described today as 'one of the great artists and colourists of his generation' by Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota. Classical pianist Imogen Cooper is renowned for her recordings of works by Brahms, the Schumanns, and Chopin. Her latest CD explores the world of another great romantic, Franz Liszt, and places him alongside another giant, Richard Wagner. She explains why she put the two together and performs the music of each, live in the studio. As two of the late Edward Albee's greatest plays open in the West End, starring Imelda Staunton, Conleth Hill, Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo, Kirsty talks to directors James Macdonald (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf) and Ian Rickson (The Goat) about the playwright. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Hannah Robins.
March 8, 2017
Roger McGough and Brian Patten discuss the making of The Mersey Sound - the ground-breaking collection of poetry they created with the late Adrian Henri. Fifty years after the collection was published, and described by one critic as "a flash in the pan from a three-headed pantomime horse", they talk about the inspiration and the impact of The Mersey Sound. The painter, poet, musician, and teacher, Adrian Henri, described by John Peel as "one of the great non-singers of our time", and the third member of The Mersey Sound poets, is the subject of Tonight at Noon - a new season of exhibitions and events in Liverpool. His literary and artistic executor, and curator of the season, Catherine Marcangeli, discusses Henri's total art vision. Playwright and singer-songwriter Lizzie Nunnery performs an extract from her new work, Horny Handed Tons of Soil, which was inspired by both The Mersey Sound and Adrian Henri. Bryan Biggs, artistic director of Bluecoat's 300th anniversary programme, discusses the history of one of the UK's oldest arts centres and its role in supporting generations of contemporary artists such as Jeremy Deller, Yoko Ono and John Akomfrah. Prize-winning poet Andrew McMillan premieres his new poem in response to The Mersey Sound. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Ekene Akalawu.
March 7, 2017
It is 60 years since Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat was published featuring the anarchic figure who 'entertains' two young children while their mother is away. Using only 236 words and with surreal cartoon characters, children's books were never the same again. Author Judith Kerr and Children's Laureate Chris Riddell talk about his work and how he influenced their own books for children. The Disney live-action Beauty and the Beast will be released in Russia with 16+ rating to prevent children from watching because of the studio's first "exclusively gay moment" involving a character played by Josh Gad. Samira talks to David Austin, Chief Executive of the British Board of Film Classification about the way in which film classifications here are decided and evolve to reflect changing social attitudes. Photographer and artist Wolfgang Tillmans discusses his 14-gallery exhibition at Tate Modern, which covers the period from 2003 to the present. For Tillmans - the first non-British artist to win the Turner Prize - 2003 was the moment the world changed, with the invasion of Iraq and the anti-war demonstrations. A vengeful ghost seeks retribution in the Royal Shakespeare Company's modern adaptation of the 13th Century Chinese classic, Snow in Midsummer. Playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig talks to Samira about blending ancient Chinese traditions with contemporary issues, including organ harvesting and climate change. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
Sean Foley directs The Miser, Kate Whitley sets Malala's speech to music, Sonia Friedman and David Babani
March 6, 2017
Olivier award-winning writer and director behind The Play What I Wrote, The Painkiller and I Can't Sing! The X-Factor The Musical, Sean Foley is serious about comedy. He tells Kirsty why he's brought Moliere to the West End in his new version of The Miser,with a cast of comic heavyweights including Griff Rhys Jones and Lee Mack in his theatrical debut. Controversial new film Elle is a psychological thriller about the fall out after a successful business woman suffers a violent rape in her own home, and is described by its star Isabelle Huppert as 'post-feminist'. Elle is the first feature film in a decade from director Paul Verhoeven known for titles such as Basic Instinct and Showgirls. To discuss the director's complex depiction of women in his films, Kirsty is joined by journalist Karen Krizanovich. As the Olivier Awards nominations are announced, Kirsty speaks to Sonia Friedman whose productions have received a record breaking 31, and to David Babani, artistic director of the self funding Menier Chocolate Factory, who's received 9. Composer Kate Whitley has set Malala Yousafzai's 2013 UN speech to music for a new BBC Radio 3 commission. Speak Out uses extracts from Malala's speech about every girl's right to an education and will be premiered by the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales on 8th March and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 the same evening. Kate Whitley explains the significance of this commission and about her involvement with the Multi-Story Orchestra which brings classical music to unexpected places. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
March 3, 2017
Grime artist Stormzy became a worldwide sensation when online videos of him and his friends in the park went viral. With the release of his first studio album Gang Signs & Prayer and a national tour, he talks about his range of different styles, trying to please his mum and the police kicking down his door. Poland's greatest living composer, Krzysztof Penderecki, whose powerfully dissonant music has been used in films such as Kubrick's The Shining, reveals that his terrible experience of Nazi occupation inspired his masterpiece St Luke Passion. Ash to Art is the response of 25 artists to the fire that destroyed a significant part of the Glasgow School of Art in 2014. Each was given a piece of charcoal from the burned-out Mackintosh Library and asked to make a work that could be auctioned to raise money for the building's restoration. Cornelia Parker, Chantal Joffe and Ishbel Myerscough show John round the exhibition at Christie's in London. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
March 2, 2017
Tom Hiddleston stars in the latest outing for Kong. We speak to the actor about the giant ape, mega fans and his media intrusion into his private life. We remember artist Gustav Metzger, the hugely influential pioneer of "auto-destructive art" who has died aged 90. Critics Richard Cork and Hans Ulrich Obrist discuss his work, activism and continued influence on art. BBC Three's mockumentary This Country explores the lives of young people in modern rural Britain, focusing on cousins Kerry and Lee 'Kurtan' Mucklowe, written and performed by real-life siblings Daisy May and Charlie Cooper. They discuss the origins of this word-of-mouth hit comedy. Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart star in Kelly Reichardt's study in northerly melancholy Certain Women. Antonia Quirke reviews. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Edwina Pitman.
March 1, 2017
Hugh Jackman talks to Kirsty Lang about his final portrayal of the super-hero Wolverine in the film Logan. Ifor ap Glyn, the National Poet of Wales, writes a new poem for Front Row to mark St David's Day, called Cymraeg Ambarel (Umbrella Welsh). One Man, Two Guvors playwright Richard Bean on The Hypocrite, set in Hull during the English Civil War, which opens tonight at the Hull Truck Theatre. Katharine Quarmby reviews the film Trespass Against Us, which stars Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson as travellers in the West Country. Cymraeg Ambarel 1.3.17 Mae'n bwrw mor aml mewn byd drycinog, ond mae dy ffyn bob tro yn cloi'n gromen berffaith, uwch fy mhen; a than dy adain, caf hedfan yn unfraich, drwy ddychymyg yr hil. I rai, rwyt ti'n 'cau'n deg ag agor, ond o'th rolio'n dynn, mi roddi sbonc i'n cerddediad fel Cymry; ac mi'th godwn yn lluman main i dywys ymwelwyr at ein hanes, a thua'r byd amgen sydd yno i bawb... Tydi yw'r ambarel sydd o hyd yn ein cyfannu, boed yn 'gored, neu ynghau - dim ond i ni dy rannu.... Ifor ap Glyn Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru Umbrella Welsh 1.3.17 It rains so often in our stormy world, but your spokes always lock in a hemisphere above my head; and I can float through our people's wit, hanging by one arm beneath your wing. For some, you simply can't be opened, but rolling you tight lends a Welsh spring to our step; and we lift you, like a narrow flag, to guide visitors to our history, to an alternate reality, that's open to all... You are that brolly, that melds our world, as long as you're jointly held, - whether open or furled... Ifor ap Glyn National Poet of Wales Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser.
February 28, 2017
Jojo Moyes had been writing for ten years and was beginning to wonder if she'd ever find success when her ninth novel, Me Before You, rocketed her to number one in the charts. She discusses her sudden rise to global fame and, as her first short story collection is published, compares the art of writing novels to short form. Prime Suspect 1973 is a new TV drama charting the rise of the young WPC Jane Tennison, the character made famous by Helen Mirren in the successful 1990s series. This prequel, starring Stephanie Martini, shows how Tennison became the formidable character viewers have come to know. Dreda Say Mitchell reviews. As the Waterstones bookshop chain admits to opening shops in three small towns in England that appear to be both local and independent, Rosamund De La Hay, the owner of the Main Street Trading Company in St Boswells, Scotland defends the truly independent bookstore. Hull UK City of Culture 2017 announced today that, after a £16m transformation, the Hull New Theatre will reopen with its first visit from The Royal Ballet in 30 years. Kevin O'Hare, director of The Royal Ballet, explains why he's bringing a programme of Swan Lake-inspired works to the city of his birth; including getting the whole city to dance together as a long line of several hundred cygnets. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
February 27, 2017
After an awkward mix-up, Moonlight was eventually revealed as best picture at the Oscars. Critic Tim Robey discusses why it was a worthy winner over La La Land. Mary Beard discusses Rome and Shakespeare alongside Angus Jackson, season director of a new run of the Roman plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Critically acclaimed writer Ross Raisin talks about his new novel A Natural, which is about a young footballer whose dreams of reaching the upper leagues are rapidly fading and whose identity is conflicted. Guido Cagnacci's masterpiece The Repentant Magdalene is on loan for three months at the National Gallery, the first time the painting has been on view in the UK in over 30 years. Art critic Waldemar Januszczak examines the power of this extraordinary work and discusses the depiction of Mary Magdalene in art.
February 24, 2017
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, looks ahead to Sunday when he's transforming Trafalgar Square into 'London's biggest cinema' for a free public screening of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's Oscar-nominated film The Salesman, just hours before this year's Academy Awards are announced. Jake Arnott discusses his latest novel The Fatal Tree set in Georgian London's criminal underworld. It follows the fortunes of notorious prostitute and pickpocket Edgworth Bess and her husband Jack Sheppard, a thief whose escapades inspired the character of Macheath in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera. Next week the Guildhall School will put on the world premiere of Julian Philips' opera The Tale of Januarie. Based on Chaucer's The Merchant's Tale, it's the first opera to have been written in Middle English. The librettist Stephen Plaice and composer Julian Philips join John to discuss how they approached it. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
February 23, 2017
Monty Python legend John Cleese has adapted George Feydeau's 1892 French comedy BANG BANG for a brand-new staging at Colchester's Mercury Theatre. He talks about his enthusiasm for farce. Jay Z is to become the first rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Jacqueline Springer discusses the significance and why it's taken four decades for rap to be recognised in this way. Authors Hannah Kent and Kate Summerscale discuss the process of using real court cases as inspiration for their books. Hannah's novel, The Good People, is based on a mysterious case of a 'fairy doctress' in 1820s Ireland and Kate tells us about The Wicked Boy which she based on a grisly murder in Victorian England. From Galvani and twitching frogs' legs to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; from Sci-fi to Bovril; electricity has inspired inventors, scientists and artists alike. As a new exhibition Electricity: The spark of life opens at the Wellcome Collection in London, curator Ruth Garde and Irish artist John Gerrard show us round. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
February 22, 2017
David Tennant discusses his return to the Dorset coast in the final series of the ITV crime drama Broadchurch which begins next week. The actor also gives his response to the secrecy surrounding the script of the new series and the challenge he faced not being allowed to know the full storyline before shooting began. The Royal Society of Literature has launched a vote to find the Nation's Favourite second novel. Chair of Judges Alex Clark explains the challenges of writing a second novel and talks through the list, which ranges from Pride and Prejudice to David Walliams's Mr Stink. In the middle of awards season, and following controversies around race at both last year's Brits and Oscars, we ask if awards are still relevant and who they're actually for. Film journalist and President of the Critic Circle Anna Smith gives us an insight into the role of a judge, and music commentator Jacqueline Springer discusses whether a wake-up call has been heeded. Presented by: John Wilson Produced by: Rebecca Armstrong.
February 21, 2017
Director Gurinder Chadha discusses her new film Viceroy's House, which tells the story of the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, seen from the vantage point of Lord and Lady Mountbatten (played by Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson) and the British and Indian staff who worked in the Viceroy's palace. America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s, a new exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, begins with 'the fall' that the US experienced after the Crash of 1929. Curator Adrian Locke takes John Wilson round the exhibition which offers artists' reactions to the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the rise in racial tensions and a huge swell in immigration, starting with Grant Wood's famous American Gothic which has left North America for the first ever time. The fashion house Burberry has teamed up with the Henry Moore Foundation to collaborate on an exhibition celebrating the company's new collection. Alongside some of Henry Moore's work, Christopher Bailey - chief executive and chief creative officer at Burberry - shows how the sculptor's work has influenced and inspired his designs and his working process. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
February 20, 2017
Mark Wahlberg stars in new film Patriots Day, which focuses on the bombing at the Boston Marathon in 2013 which killed three people and injured 264. Michael Carlson reviews the film which was directed by Peter Berg, who also worked with Wahlberg recently on Deepwater Horizon. Stephen Karam is one of the hottest playwrights in America right now - his play The Humans recently won several Tony Awards. As his work is performed in the UK for the first time, he discusses Speech and Debate, his early play about three misfit teenagers caught up in a sex scandal. The Oxfordshire-based European Union Baroque Orchestra has announced it will give its last UK concert in its current form on 19 May, before moving to Antwerp, citing the prospect of reduced funding and administrative difficulties post-Brexit. Director General Paul James explains the orchestra's decision. The situation in Aleppo in Syria has been the focus for a number of documentary-makers recently, and two of them are nominated for an Oscar for the Documentary (Short Subject) category which will be announced on Sunday. The makers of Watani: My Homeland and The White Helmets discuss the challenges they faced. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hannah Robins.
February 17, 2017
Gary Barlow has written his first musical with his long-time friend, the screenwriter Tim Firth. The Girls, like the film Calendar Girls, charts the true life story of a group of friends who meet at the Burnsall Women's Institute and decide to pose for a nude calendar to raise money for charity. Gary and Tim discuss stage nudity and body confidence, and meeting the real Yorkshire 'girls'. The new five-part TV drama series SS-GB imagines the UK under Nazi occupation in 1941 after the Germans won The Battle of Britain. The writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who wrote the last six James Bond films, discuss this adaptation of the 1978 Len Deighton thriller, and their approach to re-imagining history. Famous for his paintings of Ned Kelly, Sidney Nolan is often seen as the most prominent Australian painter of the 20th century. Yet he spent most of his life in Britain recreating the landscapes of his birth country from his imagination. Art critic Richard Cork reviews Transferences, a new exhibition at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, which kicks off a year of events marking the centenary of the artist's birth. Veteran director Zhang Yimou and Hollywood star Matt Damon have teamed up to create The Great Wall, a film spectacular set in ancient China, which sees European mercenaries and Chinese soldiers working together to defeat a mythical horde of ravening beasts. It's the largest Hollywood co-production to be filmed entirely on location in China. Film critic Angie Errigo reviews. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
February 16, 2017
Academy Award winning screenwriter and director Neil Jordan talks about his latest novel Carnivalesque. During a trip to a carnival, schoolboy Andy gets trapped inside the glass in the hall of mirrors and his reflection takes his place in his family. A new theatre production created and performed by current and former sex workers aims to challenge stereotype and stigma. Writer Molly Taylor and member of the cast Jane discuss bringing together a group of male, female and transgender performers to share their stories on stage. He's the artist who put a giant water slide in the centre of Bristol, and pianos at stations inviting passing musicians to play; now Luke Jerram has cast five small artefacts from the North Lincolnshire Museum in 18 carat gold and hidden them across Scunthorpe for the public to find. As Treasured City, his artistic treasure hunt, begins, he explains why art is better when the public is involved, and why it doesn't need to be confined to galleries. In Michael Keaton's new film The Founder he plays Ray Kroc, a salesman from Illinois who turned one small takeaway burger bar in California called McDonalds into the globally-franchised billion-dollar empire it is today. The film's writer Robert Siegel - who also wrote The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke - discusses his fascination for the story and what it says about America in the 1950s.
February 15, 2017
John Adams is one of the world's most critically acclaimed and popular composers whose music is performed frequently and globally. Over more than four decades he's covered a lot of musical ground, from experiments in recorded sound, and the harmony and rhythm of Minimalism to grand-scale symphonies and operas that tell big stories of global politics, science and terrorism. As he turns 70 he looks back at his musical life with John Wilson. Producer: Rebecca Armstrong Playlist: Hallelujah Junction Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture Bozo the Clown's theme tune Grand Pianola Music On The Transmigration Of Souls Steve Reich's Drumming Philip Glass's Knee Play from Einstein on the Beach Phrygian Gates Beginning from Nixon in China The People Are The Heroes Now from Nixon in China Chorus of Exiled Palestinians from The Death of Klinghoffer Chorus of Exiled Jews from The Death of Klinghoffer Marilyn Klinghoffer: "You embraced them!" from The Death of Klinghoffer Tale of the Wize Young Woman from Scherherazade 2 Image: John Adams Image credit: Brad Barket/Getty Images.
February 14, 2017
As a major new retrospective of the British artist Eduardo Paolozzi opens, John Wilson explores 'the godfather of Pop Art', with reflections from Paolozzi's friend and collaborator Sir Terence Conran, and the artist himself, from a Front Row interview recorded before his death in 2005. Neil Gaiman talks about his new book Norse Mythology, as he returns to the original sources to create his own version of the great northern tales. The Pros and Cons of self-publishing, with literary critic Alex Clark and author Mark Dawson, who left a traditional publishing company to self publish and now regularly tops the best-seller lists. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser.
February 13, 2017
Hidden Figures tells the story of three brilliant African-American women mathematicians working at NASA during the early years of the Space programme. Science expert Sue Nelson reviews the film which stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing, the coming-of-age film starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, set in the 1960s, about a wide-eyed teen on a family holiday who discovers a forbidden underworld of sexy dancing. The film's writer Eleanor Bergstein explains how she drew on her own experiences as a teen, but also reflected the politics of the time. To celebrate the bicentenary of Branwell Brontë, the brother overshadowed by his more talented sisters - Charlotte, Emily, and Anne - the poet Simon Armitage discusses a new exhibition he has curated at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and a new series of poems he has written inspired by some of Branwell's possessions. A new production of Othello at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol aims to emphasise Othello as an Islamic convert to Christianity rather than focusing solely on the race dimension to the play. Writer and journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and historian Jerry Brotton discuss the impact this has on how we understand the text. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
February 10, 2017
Keanu Reeves talks to John Wilson about his three decade career, from Hamlet and My Own Private Idaho to action hero John Wick. Chad Stahelski, who was Keanu Reeves' stunt double in the Matrix films, on moving to behind the camera, as director of both John Wick films. Rag'n'Bone Man, the unorthodox-looking pop star from Brighton who recently won the Brits' Critics' Choice 2017, discusses his debut album, Human. As part of Front Row's series on artworks about the Russian Revolution, Natalia Murray champions a painting by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin called the Petrograd Madonna, on show at the Royal Academy. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser.
February 9, 2017
In Prevenge, writer and director Alice Lowe stars as an expectant mother whose unborn child convinces her to commit murder. Meryl O'Rourke reviews this dark comedy which was filmed whilst Lowe was actually pregnant. John Boyne is one of Ireland's bestselling novelists. His book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has sold six million copies worldwide. He talks to Samira about his latest novel, The Heart's Invisible Furies, the story of social developments in post-war Ireland told through the life of his main character, Cyril Avery. The Turner-prize winning artist Keith Tyson talks about his latest exhibition at the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, in which he explores the universe and our place in it. Featuring more than 360 studio wall drawings created over the last 20 years of his career, it aims to form a visual diary of Tyson's practice. To mark centenary of the Russian Revolution - which saw the collapse of the Russian Empire and the rise of the Soviet Union - Front Row has asked figures from the Arts world to select the work inspired by the events of 1917 that they admire most. Tonight, conductor Vasily Petrenko selects Symphony No. 12, composed by Dmitri Shostakovich. Plus, in the podcast edition of this programme, illustrator and storyteller Raymond Briggs who has been recognised with this year's BookTrust lifetime achievement award, speaking to John Wilson. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jack Soper.
Vanessa Bell exhibition, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Alan Simpson remembered, The poetry of Anna Akhmatova
February 8, 2017
Ang Lee's latest film, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, stars British actor Joe Alwyn as 19-year-old private Billy Lynn, who is caught on camera saving a comrade and, after the video goes viral on YouTube, becomes a pin-up for the war in Iraq. Through a sequence of flashbacks the realities of the war are revealed in contrast with the public's distorted perceptions of heroism. Kirsty talks to Ben Fountain, the novelist on whose book the film is based, and Joe Alwyn who was offered the part whilst still in drama school. Widely acclaimed as a central figure of the Bloomsbury Group, the modernist painter, Vanessa Bell (1879-1961) was a pivotal player in 20th century British art, but her reputation as an artist has long been overshadowed by her family life and romantic entanglements. Dulwich Picture Gallery in London seeks to rectify that with the first major solo exhibition of her work. Its curator, Sarah Milroy, shows Kirsty around. To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Front Row has asked figures from the arts world to select the art work, inspired by the events of 1917, they most admire. Tonight writer, comedian and lifelong Russophile, Viv Groskop selects a poem by Anna Akhmatova. We remember sitcom writer Alan Simpson who has died at the age of 87. As one half of writing duo Galton and Simpson, the pair created sitcoms including Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Edwina Pitman.
February 7, 2017
The Moorside, which airs on BBC1 at 9pm tonight, is a drama about events surrounding the disappearance of nine year old Shannon Matthews in 2008. Starring Sheridan Smith as Julie Bushby, the woman who orchestrated the hunt for Shannon and Gemma Whelan as Shannon's mother Karen, who was eventually found guilty of the kidnap and false imprisonment of her daughter, the programme has been criticised by some as inappropriate subject matter for a TV show. Executive producer Jeff Pope defends the making of The Moorside and discusses the ethics and challenges of turning real-life events into drama. In 20th Century Women, Annette Bening stars as a freethinking Santa Barbara mother who enlists the help of two young women in raising her adolescent son during a period of cultural and social turmoil. Film critic Jenny McCartney reviews. To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Front Row has asked figures from the arts world to champion their favourite work, inspired by events in 1917. Today, film director Peter Greenaway makes the case for Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin. As a new contemporary staging of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion opens at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Samira met the team behind the production - director Sam Pritchard, sound designer Max Ringham, lead actors Alex Beckett and Natalie Gavin- to discover why they think Shaw's ideas about language and accent as a repository of class and power remain just as relevant in 2017 as they were when the play premiered just over a century ago. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Ella-mai Robey.
February 6, 2017
From his paintings of Californian swimming pools, to his Polaroid collages; his iPad drawings, to videos of his favourite country lane - as he approaches his 80th birthday, David Hockney continues to change his style and embrace new technologies. In a major retrospective of his work, Tate Britain in London is showing many of his most famous works from the 1960's to the present day. Charlotte Mullins reviews. Elbow front man Guy Garvey and bassist Pete Turner discuss the band's new album Little Fictions, and the new approach they've taken following the departure of the drummer Richard Jupp after 25 years. Max Richter on composing a ballet about Virginia Woolf, Woolf Works, writing the music for BBC1's Taboo, and why his piece On the Nature of Daylight has been used in so many films, including Arrival. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
February 3, 2017
Viola Davis on her Oscar-nominated performance in August Wilson's Fences, co-starring and directed by Denzel Washington. With a father and two brothers in the acting profession, it's not surprising that Rory Gleeson's first passion was for the stage. However writing proved to have a stronger appeal. He discusses his debut novel, Rockadoon Shore, a story of six young friends with a plan for a wild weekend in rural Ireland that goes awry. The Waterstones book chain has reported a profit for the first time in five years. Waterstone's buying director, Kate Skipper, and editor of The Bookseller, Philip James, discuss how, under the leadership of James Daunt, the chain has turned around its fortunes and how it's affected the kind of books we buy and the bookshops we visit. Speaking at this year's Hay Festival in Cartagena, Roxy Music guitarist and record producer Phil Manzanera, discusses his Columbian roots and his new concept album Corroncho 2. The album tells the story of two hapless compadres from the Caribbean coast of Colombia, "Corronchos", who go on a road trip to the promised land, specifically Queens, in New York. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rachel Simpson.
February 2, 2017
Chichester Festival Theatre's production of Half a Sixpence has been criticised for casting all-white actors. Julian Fellowes wrote the book and addresses this on tonight's Front Row. Then to discuss the issue of diverse casting in historical drama, Samira is joined by Talawa Theatre Company producer, Gail Babb, and writer and critic Ekow Eshun. It's nearly 40 years since the TV mini-series Roots shook America with its portrayal of slavery and the brutal civil war. Now a new series has been made. Writer and critic Ekow Eshun explores whether this version can have the same impact on audiences today. The picture that Beyoncé released announcing that she's pregnant with twins has become an internet sensation. As the numbers of views and likes continues to rise, art critic Laura Freeman discusses the long history of images that Beyoncé's photograph draws upon. John Burnside is a prolific award-winning poet and novelist. As his new novel, Ashland & Vine, and new collection of poems, Still Life with Feeding Snake, are published, he talks to Samira Ahmed about these stories, and his different approaches to telling them.
February 1, 2017
Hayley Squires, the young actor who played Katie, the struggling single mother in Ken Loach's film I, Daniel Blake, discusses her first stage role since the film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes - in Philip Ridley's dystopian play The Pitchfork Disney. Loving is the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple in 1960's Virginia who had to fight the American legal system to stay together, starring Oscar-nominated Ruth Negga. Gaylene Gould reviews. Author Nathan Hill talks about his debut novel The Nix, which has won rave reviews in the US. Ten years in the writing, it's an ambitious book covering 50 years of American history and radical protest, as well as the story of a son and the mother who left him as a child. They next meet in adulthood, after a video of her throwing stones at a Trump-like candidate goes viral. The novel is out in the UK now. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
January 31, 2017
As an actress, Deborah McAndrew is probably best remembered as Angie in Coronation Street. As a playwright, she's written a new adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac to mark the 25th anniversary of the theatre company, Northern Broadsides. She describes how she's added a dash of 21st century reasoning to this classic 19th century play set in 17th century France. The German comedy film Toni Erdmann won rave reviews at Cannes 2016 and is tipped to win best Foreign Film at the Oscars. Briony Hanson reviews Maren Ade's film about a father attempting to reconnect with his high powered daughter. It's the first German comedy released in the UK for over a decade. New research from the University of York shows that audiences to European cinema almost halved between 2007 & 2013. Clare Binns, Director of Programming at Picturehouse Cinemas, and Briony Hanson discuss why audiences are declining, and recommend their best European films. Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson has won all the major prizes in his native country, and is the Artistic Director of two music festivals. He's just made a new recording of Philip Glass' Études on Deutsche Grammophon, a label that has been important to him since he was a child looking through his parents' record library. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Angie Nehring.
January 30, 2017
Matthew McConaughey discusses the challenge of playing a hard-drinking, hard-smoking prospector - and piling on the pounds - in his latest film Gold. Sir John Hurt is remembered by his friend and fellow actor Charles Dance, who stars with him in That Good Night, a forthcoming film in which Hurt plays a writer with a terminal illness. Playwright and folk singer-songwriter Lizzie Nunnery discusses the stories that she heard from her grandfather about his naval experiences during World War II, and which lie at the heart of her new play Narvik. As the Victoria & Albert in London opens an installation across the gallery where artists imagine how Europe today might be viewed looking back from 4017, we visit the museum to meet some of the artists adding the final touches. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
January 27, 2017
Playwright David Hare discusses his screenplay for the film Denial, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Wilkinson, about Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt's legal battle with Holocaust denier David Irving As the Liverpool Everyman Repertory Company is revived, after over two decades, John talks to Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz and actors Melanie La Barrie and Elliott Kingsley about their opening production of Fiddler on the Roof, and the history of the company, which in its previous 1970s incarnation launched the careers of Julie Walters, Jonathan Pryce and Bill Nighy. The £40,000 Artes Mundi art prize, the UK's biggest contemporary art prize, has been won by filmmaker and artist John Akomfrah, who discusses his winning artwork, Auto Da Fé, which weaves together different moments over 400 years of history when communities were persecuted or driven from their land. Do dogs prefer Bach or Bob Marley? Neil Evans, professor of integrative physiology at the University of Glasgow reveals the results of a study examining canine musical preferences. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
January 26, 2017
Samira Ahmed talks to percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, who is inviting the residents of Kings Cross, London to help her create a new musical work over the next twelve months. Lyse Doucet, the BBC's Chief International Correspondent, reviews the film Christine, which stars Rebecca Hall as American newscaster Christine Chubbuck, who killed herself live on TV in 1974. Karen Krizanovich discusses the extraordinary television and film career of Mary Tyler Moore, whose death was announced today. British director Garth Jennings, whose previous films include Son of Rambow and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, ventures into the world of animation with the hit American musical comedy Sing. And Andrea Rose reviews a new exhibition at Turner Contemporary Margate, featuring 40 international artists working with knitting, embroidery, weaving and sewing. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.
Hacksaw Ridge, film; Jamie, new musical; author Vic James; the allure of Napoleon; some Robert Burns
January 25, 2017
A new musical, Everybody's talking about Jamie, is based on the story of a 16 year old boy determined to go to his prom in a dress and become a drag queen. Samira Ahmed went to rehearsals to meet Dan Gillespie Sells from band The Feeling, and screenwriter Tom MacRae who have created their first musical, as well as Jamie Campbell, now 21, on whom it is based. Vic James's debut novel, Gilded Cage, is set in a Britain where the magically-skilled aristocracy compels all commoners to serve them for ten years. Vic wrote it on Wattpad, an online storytelling website. It was read over a third of a million times and went on to win Wattpad's Talk of the Town award. She joins Samira, live. The Allure of Napoleon is the opening exhibition in the Bowes Museum's year-long celebration of its 125th anniversary. Dr Tom Stammers, lecturer in European Cultural History at the University of Durham, discusses this show which presents Napoleon as one of the first celebrity statesmen, who burnished his ascent from political outsider to national leader with the power of art. Hacksaw Ridge has six Oscar nominations; including Mel Gibson for Best Director. The film tells the true story of Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to earn the Congressional Medal of Honour for saving the lives of 75 soldiers in Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. It's been hailed as a new kind of war movie because it graphically exposes the effects of guns on the human body while celebrating a central character who refuses to pick one up. Michael Leader reviews. This evening is Burns Night when, all over the world, people celebrate the great Scottish makar, Robert Burns. Front Row has a reading his work from Scotland's current Makar, Jackie Kay. Producer: Julian May.
January 24, 2017
The nominations for the 2017 Oscars were announced earlier today, including La La Land equalling the record and Meryl Streep getting her 20th, making her the most nominated performer in Oscars history. John Wilson is joined by film critics Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and Rhianna Dhillon to consider the winners and losers, and to assess whether Hollywood has learned from the controversies last year about its failure to recognise the contribution of black actors and film-makers. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Jerome Weatherald.
January 23, 2017
Twenty-one years since the release of Trainspotting, the film based on Irvine Welsh's novel, the sequel is about to be released. T2 Trainspotting is set in the present day with the main characters now in middle age. Irvine Welsh and screenwriter John Hodge discuss the challenges of making a film to satisfy both fans and newcomers and why, despite the comedy, it's a much bleaker film than the original. How do you write a successful stage play? As the biggest national prize for playwriting, the Bruntwood Prize, opens for submissions, Sarah Frankcom, the artistic director of the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and writer Tanika Gupta discuss the craft of the playwright. As part of Radio 4's Reading Europe series, the Norwegian writer Agnes Ravatn discusses her prize-winning novel, The Bird Tribunal, a tense psychological thriller which begins its serialisation on Book at Bedtime tonight. Locals are mourning the destruction of 200 mature beech trees near Caerphilly which have been destroyed by a mystery feller and it won't be long before someone writes a poem about their loss. The writer and academic Jonathan Bate reflects on how Gerard Manley Hopkins, Charlotte Mew, John Clare and William Cowper all wrote poems lamenting the felling of loved trees. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
January 20, 2017
Sir Peter Bazalgette made his name as the TV producer behind shows like Big Brother and Ready Steady Cook. As he steps down as Chair of Arts Council England, he discusses the achievements and disappointments of his four-year tenure, funding for the arts in testing financial times and his latest book, The Empathy Instinct, in which he defends art and popular culture as a means of bridging the empathy gap and creating a more civil society. In her new performance installation entitled material / rearranged / to / be, dancer and choreographer Siobhan Davies has invited seven artists to explore human gesture and the relationship between mind and body. She discusses her approach to the project with collaborator Jonathan Cole, professor of clinical neurophysiology. The Royal Albert Hall has been called a 'national disgrace' by its former president after members - about 330 individuals who own roughly a fifth of the seats at the venue - exchanged tips on how to use controversial 'secondary' ticketing sites such as Viagogo and StubHub to resell their tickets. Former Royal Albert Hall president Richard Lyttelton and current President Jon Moynihan debate the issue. Last night, writer, director and star Woody Harrelson completed a live film, streamed to cinemas as it was being shot on London's streets in one single, uninterrupted take. Was it a cinematic first to remember? Film critic Jason Solomons reviews. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
January 19, 2017
Urban Myths, the new Sky Arts drama series, re-imagines 'True-ish stories', starting with Bob Dylan's infamous visit to Euythmic's star Dave Stewart's Crouch End flat. Julia Raeside reviews the series which has achieved notoriety by casting white actor Joseph Fiennes to play Michael Jackson in an episode which has subsequently been dropped. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon discusses his latest novel Moonglow, in which a dying grandfather tells the secrets of his life to his grandson. His stories are in turn bawdy and moving, violent and very funny. The novel has just been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle awards in the US. Rimsky-Korsakov's opera, The Snow Maiden hasn't been staged in the UK for 60 years, but director John Fulljames is about to put that right. He's taking Opera North's new production of the Russian folk-tale inspired work on tour to Newcastle, Salford, Belfast, and Nottingham. Ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration tomorrow as the 45th President of the United States, film writer Adam Smith looks back at cinema's depiction of the Commander in Chief, from Peter Sellers in Dr Strangelove to Alan Rickman as Reagan and Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln.
January 18, 2017
The BBC's new Sunday night drama Apple Tree Yard is a thriller featuring a middle-aged scientist who embarks on an unlikely and increasingly dangerous affair. Staring Emily Watson as the eminent Dr Yvonne Carmichael it was adapted for screen by Amanda Coe from the novel by Louise Doughty. Director Jessica Hobbs, whose past projects include Broadchurch, River and The Slap, talks about how this female-led production impacts what we see on screen. Mark-Anthony Turnage discusses his new composition, Remembering, which is being premiered at the Barbican tomorrow night by Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO. Written in memory of a family friend who died from cancer at the age of 26, Turnage talks about how he approached the composition, and his collaboration with Rattle who requested there be no violins involved. Is the sculptor Elisabeth Frink due a renaissance? A new exhibition, Elisabeth Frink: Transformation, at Hauser and Wirth Somerset offers a chance to reassess the artist following her death in 1993. Richard Cork reviews. Presenter John Wilson Producer Angie Nehring.
January 17, 2017
As Simon Rattle announces his first season as Musical Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, Kirsty Lang asks him about his plans. The film Split is a psychological horror by M. Night Shyamalan (The Visit, Sixth Sense). It stars James McAvoy as Kevin Crumb, who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder and who exhibits 23 alternate personalities. After kidnapping three teenage girls, there's a race against the clock as his captives try to convince one of his personalities to set them free - before the arrival of the 24th personality, the 'beast'. Writer and psychotherapist Mark Vernon reviews. For the last three decades, artist Lubaina Himid's work has explored historical representations of people from the African diaspora and their cultural contribution to the West. With two big solo shows at Spike Island in Bristol and Modern Art Oxford, Himid talks about making art as an act of political revelation. It doesn't open in London until November, but hip-hop musical Hamilton is the West End's hottest ticket and touts are offering them for up to £2,500 each. Despite a paperless system - audience members have bring a confirmation email, the bank card used and photo ID - tickets made it onto secondary sites within hours of going on sale. Reg Walker, expert on combating ticket sales irregularity, reveals how touts circumvent such safeguards, and the impact on the audience. Roland Schimmelpfennig is Germany's most prolific living dramatist. Responding to the rise of the far right in Europe his play Winter Solstice reveals how Fascism insinuates itself, rather than marches in. He talks about the highly unusual form of the play, in which the characters comment on the action, and how such a subject can be funny. Producer: Julian May.
January 16, 2017
Following the casting of Tilda Swinton as a character originally identified as Tibetan in the recent film Dr Strange, and the furore surrounding the casting of a new production of Howard Barker's play, In The Depths of Dead Love - Kumiko Mendl, Artistic Director of Yellow Earth Theatre, and Deborah Williams, Executive Director of Creative Diversity Network join Samira to discuss the issue of 'Yellowface' - the practice of non-Asian actors playing Asian roles. Sarah Crompton reviews the film Jackie, directed by Pablo Lorrain and starring Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, which focuses on the immediate aftermath of JFK's assassination in 1963. The Transports is a ballad opera telling the true story of two convicts who fell in love in prison as they were waiting to be sent on the First Fleet to Australia. They had a child, were cruelly separated, but thanks to a kind gaoler, were eventually united. It was recorded in 1977 by giants of the folk world - June Tabor, Nic Jones, Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson. 40 years on a new generation of folk stars - Nancy Kerr, Faustus, the Young'Uns - are touring their new production. Samira meets them as they rehearse and finds The Transports has plenty to say about exile and migration today. Britain's most prestigious award for poetry, the TS Eliot Award, is announced this evening. The prize is for the best collection of poems published in 2016, and Front Row will have the first interview with the winner. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
January 13, 2017
Ben Affleck discusses writing, directing, producing and starring in Live By Night, in which a bunch of Boston gangsters make their way to Florida and find themselves up against the competition in the Prohibition era. With news that the Labour MP and historian Tristram Hunt is to become the new director of the V&A in London, former Chair of Arts Council England Liz Forgan gives her reaction. The death of photographer Lord Snowdon - Antony Armstrong-Jones - was announced today. His former dealer, Giles Huxley-Parlour, remembers the former husband of Princess Margaret, who has died aged 86. Untitled is the name of a new exhibition at Nottingham's New Art Exchange. It refers to a longstanding practice where artists choose not to title their work in case it influences the viewer. This exhibition offers 12 contemporary African diaspora artists an open platform so visitors can come to their own conclusions on the message behind their art. Morgan Quaintance reviews. As a new species of gibbon discovered in the tropical forests of SW China is named Skywalker, comedian and writer Danny Robins reflects on the weird world of animals named after cultural figures. And to mark the severe flood warnings issued today for the east coast of England, we remember the flood in 1571 in Boston, which Jean Ingelow describes in her 1863 poem High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire.
January 12, 2017
Natalie Clein has had a distinguished career as a classical cellist since winning the 1994 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition aged only 16. She talks about her new album of 20th century solo cello music as well as the challenges and rewards of the cellist's repertoire. Lemony Snicket's Unfortunate Series of Events has been enthralling young readers and their parents since it was first published in 1999. The 13 books follow the turbulent lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire after their parents' death in a fire. Now Netflix has made a drama series of the first four books. Children's Laureate Chris Riddell reviews. Are streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon changing the way TV series are written? Zal Batmanglij, the co-writer of The OA, a new mystery drama on Netflix, explains why he chose to make each episode a different length, and Danny Brocklehurst, writer of Shameless and Clocking Off, describes how writing without restraints can be a curse as well as a blessing. Art critic and author, Laura Cumming discusses her book The Vanishing Man - In Pursuit of Velázquez. The story of Victorian bookseller obsessed with proving a painting he owned was by the Spanish master, it also reveals the latest documentary evidence in the mystery. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
January 11, 2017
Bafta-nominated Dev Patel discusses his role in the film Lion, based on the autobiography of Indian-born Australian businessman Saroo Brierly who - after being separated from his birth mother and adopted by an Australian couple - goes on a quest 25 years later to find her. Tina and Bobby, a new 3-part ITV drama series based on the life of the football legend Bobby Moore, focuses on his marriage to Tina Dean and their relationship from the early 1960s to their divorce in the 1980s. Sportswriter Alyson Rudd reviews the drama, which features Lorne MacFadyen as Bobby and Michelle Keegan as Tina. Choreographer Steve Elias discusses bringing dance to the streets of four Yorkshire towns in a new BBC Two documentary, Our Dancing Town. The successful 1980s jazz vocal harmony group Harvey and the Wallbangers have reunited after a 30-year hiatus. Three of the original line-up plus two new female singers will be touring some of their early repertoire as well as new material. Founder Harvey Brough and new Wallbanger Clara Sanabras discuss the draw of doo-wop. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
January 10, 2017
La La Land leads the Bafta field with 11 nominations, closely followed by Arrival and Nocturnal Animals with nine apiece but does this celebration of Hollywood come at the expense of home-grown British movies? We explore with Chief Film Critic of The Times, Kate Muir. Common Sense is a new reality TV show from the makers of Gogglebox, in which a regular cast of British people respond to the week's news. The show's creator Stephen Lambert and TV critic Boyd Hilton discuss. 250 years ago this year, an 11-year-old Mozart composed his first operas. Ian Page, artistic director of Classical Opera, will be presenting those childhood operas this year, and he talks to Kirsty Lang about his company's 27-year commitment to perform each of Mozart's works exactly 250 years after it was composed. North: Identity, Photography, Fashion has just opened at Liverpool's Open Eye Gallery, looking at the global influence of Northern fashion and photography. We talk to its curator Adam Murray and fashion designer and cultural commentator Wayne Hemingway about the idea of a Northern aesthetic. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Marilyn Rust.
January 9, 2017
Samira Ahmed talks to the artist behind The Blade, a huge artwork installed this weekend in the heart of Hull as part of UK City of Culture 2017. Briony Hanson reviews the film Manchester By the Sea, for which Casey Affleck won a Best Actor Golden Globe last night for his role as a janitor forced to look after his nephew. Costa First Novel Award winner Francis Spufford on Golden Hill, set in mid 18th Century Manhattan. And a V&A exhibition about the life and work of Rudyard Kipling's father, John Lockwood Kipling, an influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement who was steeped in the art of Punjab. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.
Film-maker Alex Gibney, soul singer Ray BLK, author Brian Conaghan and Ben Wardle on yet more TV talent shows
January 6, 2017
In his latest film, Alex Gibney, whose recent work includes 'Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room' and 'Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief', turns his attention to global cyber warfare. 'Zero Days' tells the story of the most sophisticated piece of malware ever created. Gibney talks to Kirsty Lang about the visual and practical challenges of making a film about a computer code that nobody wants they created. Soul singer Ray BLK is number 1 on the BBC's Sound Of 2017 list, which predicts the most exciting new music for the year ahead. Artists who have topped the list previously include Adele, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding. Ray BLK came to attention with her song 'My Hood' which describes the joys and tribulations of growing up female, black and in South London. She explains why she believes in 'socially conscious' music. Brian Conaghan has won the Costa Children's Book Award for 'The Bombs That Brought Us Together'. It tells the story of Charlie, who has lived in Little Town all his life, and Pav, a refugee from Old Country - Little Town's sworn enemy. Pav is "the wrongest person in the world to make friends with" but the pair form a bond as life around them falls apart. Influenced by recent world events, Conaghan describes his book as "an otherworldly, allegorical tale". Tomorrow evening BBC One embarks on its latest quest for singing talent in 'Let It Shine', presented by Gary Barlow. In direct competition an hour later 'The Voice' makes its transition from the BBC to ITV. Music writer Ben Wardle looks back at the history of Saturday night talent shows - from Popstars to The X Factor and BGT - and ponders whether these new offerings are what the nation really needs for its Saturday Night entertainment. Producer: Julian May.
January 5, 2017
Peter Cushing died in 1994 yet curiously he reprises his famous role of Grand Moff Tarkin in the new recently-released Star Wars film Rogue One. A lawyer, an actor and a film critic consider Hollywood's increasing use of CGI in giving film actors a screen life well beyond the grave, from the early days of Peter Sellers in Trail of the Pink Panther and Oliver Reed in Gladiator. The hero of Taboo, the new Saturday night BBC1 block buster, is an arresting amalgam of Bill Sykes, Sherlock Holmes, Hannibal Lecter and Heathcliff! Screen writer Steven Knight describes how he worked with star Tom Hardy and his dad Chips to work their initial idea into a gripping eight part historical drama. Today scientists announced a breakthrough in the medical use of spider silk. But it's clear from A Midsummer Night's Dream that Shakespeare already knew about the healing properties of cobwebs. Historian of Medicine Anna Maerker looks at other examples of the Bard's surprising medical knowledge. Alice Oswald's latest collection of poems, Falling Awake, has won this year's Costa Poetry Award. With its classical themes and exploration of the natural world, she discusses why carving rather than writing might be a better verb for describing her approach to creating new work. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
January 4, 2017
Writer and director Damien Chazelle on the Hollywood musical La La Land, hotly tipped as the frontrunner for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards, and only his second feature film. Since the death of Carrie Fisher and - just a day later - her mother Debbie Reynolds, a documentary charting their complex relationship called Bright Lights has inadvertently become a touching memorial to the two actresses. Tim Robey reviews. A new BBC film examining the last five years of David Bowie's life is to be screened on BBC2 on Saturday, marking the first anniversary of the singer's death and featuring unseen footage. John talks to director Francis Whately. The winner of the 2016 Costa Biography Award is Dadland by Keggie Carew, which charts her father's activities as an SOE operative behind enemy lines at the D-Day landings and his descent into dementia later in life. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
January 3, 2017
The art critic and writer John Berger has died. He changed our perception of art with his 1972 BBC TV series and book Ways of Seeing. An accomplished poet and playwright, he also wrote several novels including the Booker Prize-winning G which tells the story of a Casanova-like figure who gradually comes to political consciousness. Writer Lisa Appignanesi assesses his work. What were "the most enjoyable" books published in 2016? Chair of Judges, historian Kate Williams reveals that the Costa Book Awards category winners are: Francis Spufford for the First Novel Award; Keggie Carew who wins the Costa Biography Award; Alice Oswald who wins the Poetry Award; Brian Conaghan for the Children's Book Award; Sebastian Barry who wins the Costa Novel Award. He tells us about writing Days Without End. Chris Lang, the creator of the ITV hit drama Unforgotten, began his career in the mid-1980s as part of a comedy trio, The Jockeys of Norfolk, alongside Hugh Grant. As the new series of Unforgotten begins, Chris discusses the screenwriter's art of wrong-footing the audience. Presented by Samira Ahmed. Produced by Angie Nehring.
January 2, 2017
Philip Glass, Steve Reich and John Adams are America's greatest living composers. Between them, they have helped change the way music is made and heard, repeating rhythms, highlighting melodies and overlapping time signatures to create new musical languages that are widely heard in the looped and sampled soundtrack to the 21st century. As they reach milestone birthdays, they talk to John Wilson about their work, and about the musical movement that links the three of them - Minimalism. Playlist: Philip Glass - Closing Steve Reich - Clapping John Adams - Phrygian Gates Bartok - Concerto For Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra, 3rd movt Stravinsky - Rite of Spring Bach Brandenburg 5 Charlie Parker - Be Bop Tchaikovsky's - 1812 Overture Bozo the Clown Philip Glass - Dance 8 Steve Reich - Livelihood John Adams - On the Transmigration of Souls Steve Reich - Different Trains Philip Glass - Floe Philip Glass - Facades Steve Reich - Clapping Steve Reich - Piano Phase Steve Reich - Drumming Steve Reich - Clapping John Adams - Grand Pianola Music Philip Glass - Knee Play 1 from Einstein on the Beach Philip Glass - Evening Song from Satyagraha John Adams - The People Are The Heroes Now from Nixon in China Steve Reich - The Cave John Adams - Hallelujah Junction Philip Glass - The Hours Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
December 30, 2016
Actor Liam Neeson starts the new year with two new films. In Martin Scorsese's Silence he plays a Jesuit priest who relinquishes his faith and in A Monster Calls, the treelike monster. He talks to Samira Ahmed about both, as well as being a late blooming action hero and watching the Reverend Ian Paisley preach. How do you write about mass murder, holocausts, war crimes and how ordinary people reach a point when they kill their neighbours, and torture their former friends? The Danish author Christian Jungersen approaches this subject by setting his novel "The Exception" in an office - The Danish Centre for Information on Genocide - and documenting the behaviour of the women who work there. In 2014, ZooNation Dance Company performed the first full-length hip hop production at the Royal Opera House in London with their take on Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland where the familiar characters are recast as patients at a mental health institution. ZooNation's Artistic Director Kate Prince talks about re-staging The Mad Hatter's Tea Party for the Roundhouse in London and how she incorporated advice from the mental health charity Time to Change. A film version of Assassin's Creed is about to go on nationwide release but can this video game favourite make the leap onto the silver screen when so many have failed?
December 29, 2016
One Man, Two Guvnors playwright Richard Bean, artist Spencer Tunick and film-maker Sean McAllister are some of the leading contributors to Hull UK City of Culture 2017. John Wilson reports from the city on the banks of the Humber in the East Riding of Yorkshire on its year-long festival of arts and culture which is about to begin, and discovers that urban regeneration linked to cultural investment and its new status as UK City of Culture is already well underway. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
December 28, 2016
Samira Ahmed celebrates the life and work of Jane Austen, ahead of the 200th anniversary of her death. As Jane Austen's portrait is chosen for the new £10 note, Samira Ahmed explores how money dominates her novels, visiting her home at Chawton in Hampshire. John Mullan and Viv Groskop choose the best and worst Austen screen adaptations. Plus, as Austen's final and unfinished novel Sanditon is being turned into a film, Samira talks to adaptor Simon Reade and Emma Clery, writer of Jane Austen - The Banker's Sister. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
December 27, 2016
We speak to the big award winners from the past year. Paul Beatty is the first American to win the Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his satirical novel The Sellout; Denise Gough was on the point of giving up acting when she was offered the role that would win her an Olivier; Sonia Friedman, who won Best Producer at the Stage Awards, brought Harry Potter to the stage; Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar after being nominated 5 times; Helen Marten won not only the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture but the Turner Prize and split the winnings; 17 year old Sheku Kanneh-Mason won the BBC's Young Musician of the Year playing Shostakovich. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Hannah Robins.
December 26, 2016
Tonight's Front Row tests how much you've been paying attention to cultural events this year. With quiz master John Wilson is Boyd Hilton, the film and TV editor of Heat magazine, writer and broadcaster Ekow Eshun, Charlotte Higgins, who is the chief culture writer of the Guardian, and film critic Rhianna Dhillon. So can you beat their score?
December 23, 2016
Riz Ahmed is currently in our cinemas as part of a rebel crew in Star Wars spin-off Rogue One. But his acting roles have ranged from appearing in low-budget indie films like The Road to Guantanamo to HBO prison drama The Night Of, for which he's just been nominated for a Golden Globe. As a rapper, he's part of the group Swet Shop Boys and has released three albums. He discusses how he got started and his varied career. Delicious, a new four-part TV drama series, stars Iain Glen as a chef and hotel owner in Cornwall, and Dawn French as his ex-wife who taught him all he knows about food. Love, sex, lies and betrayal feature significantly when things start to unravel. Sarah Crompton reviews. As a stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's 2003 bestseller The Kite Runner opens in London's West End, its adapter, the American playwright Matthew Spangler, explains the challenges of turning an epic novel, spanning 30 years of Afghan history and politics, into a piece of theatre. Novelist Angela Carter is famous for the vivid imagery she evoked in her feminist takes on folk tales and fairy stories. Strange Worlds, an exhibition at the RWA (Royal West of England Academy of Art) in Bristol explores which paintings may have been the inspiration behind books like The Bloody Chamber and Nights At The Circus. Curator Marie Mulvey-Roberts talks through her choices. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rachel Simpson.
December 22, 2016
On her latest album Jubilo, Alison Balsom plays two incarnations of the trumpet: the natural trumpet - ascendant during the Baroque period of the 17th and 18th centuries - and the 19th century creation that is the modern trumpet. She discusses the appeal of both instruments and what they've brought to the album. Screenwriter Sally Wainwright made her name with award-winning contemporary dramas such as Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax. She's now written and directed her first period TV drama, To Walk Invisible, an exploration of the lives of the Brontës during the tumultuous years when the four siblings - Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne - were at home with their father Patrick. Critic and historian Kathryn Hughes reviews. The big show for Christmas at the National Theatre this year is Peter Pan which features a lot of aerial action. Front Row goes behind-the-scenes to find out how the flying is done. Still looking for a last-minute Christmas gift? Danuta Kean makes her selection this year's 'beautiful books'. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
December 21, 2016
Helen Mirren talks about her latest film Collateral Beauty, seeing more women on screen, that infamous interview with Michael Parkinson, and being "a damn fine woman". Edward Gardner, Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, discusses their forthcoming UK tour and his recent Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance for his album of Janáček's Glagolitic Mass and other orchestral works. Continuing Radio 4's poetic celebration of the Winter Soltice, Kayo Chingonyi reads his poem, Winter Song, written especially for the occasion. Ben Wardle scrutinises the delicate issue of ageing musicians and their hair, or rather its scarcity.
December 20, 2016
Barry Jenkins' film Moonlight is nominated in five categories in the Golden Globes and eight in the Screen Actors' Guild Awards. In his first broadcast interview Barry Jenkins talks about the making of this coming-of-age film set in the dangerous Miami neighbourhood where he grew up. The Witness for the Prosecution is a new Agatha Christie adaptation by Sarah Phelps for BBC One starring Kim Cattrall and Andrea Riseborough. Novelist Lauren Henderson gives us her thoughts. Gemma Arterton takes on the title role in Bernard Shaw's classic play Saint Joan. Medieval literature expert Laura Ashe reviews the production at the Donmar Warehouse in London. 2013 was the year that musician Meilyr Jones ended a relationship, broke up the indie pop band he'd been a member of for eight years, and headed to Rome in search of adventure. The result was his debut solo album - 2013. Meilyr joins Kirsty to discuss the album's inventive mix of styles and ideas which has led to it winning this year's Welsh Music Prize. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Edwina Pitman.
December 19, 2016
The last installment of the hit television drama Sherlock - The Abominable Bride - was broadcast on New Year's Day 2016 and went on to become the most watched programme across all channels over the festive season, with 11.6 million viewers. With a fourth series starting on New Year's Day 2017, Martin Freeman who plays Watson, and Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss discuss maintaining the drama's appeal with John Wilson. What's the best album from 2016? We have three selections from across the world of music chosen by Sara Mohr-Pietsch, Kate Mossman and Kieran Yates. Robin Shaw and Joanna Harrison are the co-directors of a new animated film based on Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury's hugely successful illustrated children's book, We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Shaw and Harrison discuss the challenges of bringing a children's classic to life on screen. From the quay Michael Bird describes the Christmas lights in the harbour at Mousehole and considers this popular and poignant work of vernacular art. Producer Julian May.
December 16, 2016
Dance choreographer and director Matthew Bourne's adaptation of The Red Shoes, inspired by the 1948 Powell and Pressburger film and the fairy-tale by Hans Christian Andersen, opened at Sadler's Wells last night before embarking on a national tour. John Wilson talks to Sir Matthew Bourne about bringing his adaptation to the stage, and the forthcoming year-long programme celebrating the 30th anniversary of Bourne's company, New Adventures. Bafta-winning music producer and composer Marius de Vries, who has worked extensively in film and contemporary music, talks to John Wilson about his latest role on the hit musical film La La Land, and his involvement in some of the most high-profile artists of the past two decades, including Madonna, Bowie, and U2. Donald Trump provided plenty of material for comedians when he was running for president, but what effect will the notoriously litigious businessman have on satirists when he is in office? Political comedian Andy Zaltzman, photographer Alison Jackson, and comedy journalist Elise Czajkowski join us to discuss. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
December 15, 2016
Richard Strauss's comic opera Der Rosenkavalier is about to open at the Royal Opera House in London. Singers Renée Fleming and Alice Coote discuss the challenges of tackling Strauss's masterpiece. Quarry, a new TV crime drama, centres on the story of a Vietnam vet who struggles to return to normality after his experiences of war and finds himself lured into a life as a professional assassin. The series is directed by Greg Yaitanes (Lost, House, Heroes) and stars Logan Marshall-Green, Jodi Balfour, and Scottish actor Peter Mullan. Critic Stephen Armstrong reviews. The world of Tove Jansson and her famous creation Family Moomintroll is brought to life in the first major UK exhibition of the writer and artist's work. Her niece, Sophia Jansson, and Paul Denton, producer of Adventures In Moominland, discuss the artist's creations and how they reflected the world she inhabited. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
December 14, 2016
Peter Capaldi tells Samira Ahmed what it's like for a young sci-fi fan to regenerate as one of his heroes - he's Dr Who in the Christmas Special. He touches, too, on another doctor, Martin Tucker, the eloquently foul-mouthed spin man in The Thick of it. Rogue One is a new Star Wars story that goes back before the beginning. It's a prequel to the original 1977 block-buster. Lots of familiar archetypes, a C3PO-type droid, Darth Vader himself and storming troops of Stormtroopers. But is it adequately Force-full? Critic Catherine Bray considers. Ben Lerner recently wrote a monograph, The Hatred of Poetry, in which he questions why there is such anxiety and embarrassment about the art, and so reveals his love of it. Now he has published, No Art, which brings together his many poems old and new. He explains that in a world of Trump, climate change and poverty, poetry is as important as ever. E.R. Braithwaite has died aged 104. His novel 'To Sir With Love', about a black teacher's struggles, and eventual success, as a teacher in an East End London school in the 1950s, made a profound impact. It was made into a film starring Sidney Poitier - with Lulu - in 1967. The playwright Roy Williams, who dramatised the book for radio and the stage, remembers the man, and his work.
Darcey Bussell on Margot Fonteyn; Pevsner guides; Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo on Broadway; How to get a Christmas no 1
December 13, 2016
Darcey Bussell discusses her new documentary, Darcey Bussell: Looking For Margot, in which she traces the dramatic life and career of the dancer who inspired her own ballet career. The survey of every significant building in England, Scotland and Wales started in 1951 by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner has come to a close with the publication of the 68th and final volume of the Pevsner Architectural Guides. Its editor Simon Bradley and Pevsner's biographer Susie Harries discuss one of the most quintessentially British cultural projects. A new production of Othello has just opened on Broadway starring Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo. Chief Theatre Critic of The Hollywood Reporter David Rooney gives us his verdict. As charity singles compete with X Factor winners for the much-coveted 'Christmas Number 1', music writer Ben Wardle reveals the four essential rules you need to follow if you want to be in with a yuletide shout. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
December 12, 2016
The Eagle Huntress reviewed by author Mark Cocker, Love - a new play about hostel living, hidden treasures of Scunthorpe, diversity in the arts, John Montague remembered.
December 9, 2016
New film The Birth of a Nation takes the title from DW Griffith's 1915 silent film but not much else. Directed by and starring Nate Parker, it tells the true story of an 1831 slave rebellion in Virginia. Ashley Clarke reviews. Poet Ruth Padel discusses her latest book Tidings, a narrative Christmas poem about a little girl, a homeless man and a fox. It takes the reader all around the world, from St Pancras churchyard in London to Bethlehem, Australia and New York. Joan Eardley's painting career lasted only 15 years but, at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, her work gets more requests than Picasso. The gallery's curator Patrick Elliott discusses a new exhibition of her work alongside composer Helen Grime, whose composition Snow is inspired by Eardley's paintings. In the spring of 1995, actor Mark Lockyer was playing Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet for the Royal Shakespeare Company when he was overcome with anxiety, fear and paranoia. It was the start of a bipolar attack. Now he has turned that experience into a one man show called Living With The Lights On at the Young Vic in London. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
December 8, 2016
Oliver Stone's new film Snowden stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the controversial employee of the National Security Agency in the US who leaked thousands of classified documents to the press in 2013. Science journalist Angela Saini reviews. The Christmas books market has been flooded this year with titles that poke fun at everything from Ladybird to I-Spy books. Author Bruno Vincent explains his modern take on Enid Blyton's The Famous Five series, and journalist Cathy Rentzenbrink discusses the phenomenon that is shaking up the bestseller lists this year. Following the recent reaction from actors about inappropriate behaviour on film sets, writer Karen Krizanovich and actor Malcolm Sinclair give their take on the issue. The artist Wynford Dewhurst, born in Manchester in 1864, was a proud Brit and a devoted Francophile. He was a conservative by nature who championed Impressionism at the time it was regarded as a radical art movement. Dewhurst was passionate about the work of Claude Monet and his mastery of Monet's technique led to him being dubbed Manchester's Monet. Curator Roger Brown discusses an artist who played an important role in opening British minds to the Impressionists. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
Zaha Hadid's new gallery at The Science Museum, Oscar-winning film editor Anne V Coates, Office Christmas Party - the film
December 7, 2016
Earlier this year celebrated architect Zaha Hadid died suddenly in Miami. Now, as the Serpentine Gallery exhibits a collection of her early drawings and a new wing of the Science Museum designed by the architect opens to the public, Front Row considers the breadth of her work. Last month, 90-year-old British film editor Anne V Coates received an honorary Oscar - her second statuette. She won an Oscar for editing Lawrence of Arabia in 1963. Anne discusses her remarkable career which has included cutting David Lynch's The Elephant Man, Stephen Soderbergh's Out of Sight and, just last year, Sam Taylor-Johnson's 50 Shades of Grey. In Jennifer Aniston's new film the office Christmas bash, that annual opportunity for excruciating embarrassment, assumes new significance. The office workers have to host an epic Christmas do in an effort to impress a potential client and close the sale that will save their jobs. The cast includes Kate McKinnon, of Saturday Night Live. Laroushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews Office Christmas Party, and casts her eye over the other Christmas films. Producer: Julian May.
Dreamgirls, Australia's Impressionists, Sharing the Turner Prize cheque, actor Peter Vaughan remembered
December 6, 2016
Dreamgirls was a hit Broadway show which became an Oscar-winning film starring Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy. As the musical arrives in the UK for the first time since it opened there 31 years ago, we speak to the composer and co-creator, Henry Krieger. Helen Martens recently shared her cheque for winning The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture with the other shortlisted artists. Now she's done the same with her Turner Prize winnings. What does this desire to share say about the artist? 41 paintings from four of the most innovative Australian Impressionist artists are on show at The National Gallery in London for the first time. As curator Chris Riopelle explains, they reveal how the artists were influenced by European Impressionism, a growing sense of national identity, and their desire to capture the great Australian landscape. Porridge co-creator Dick Clement remembers the actor Peter Vaughan who has died aged 93. Vaughan played a devoted butler in The Remains of the Day, a villainous prisoner in Porridge, and a wise elder in Game of Thrones. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Marilyn Rust.
December 5, 2016
Thriller writers Lee Child, Megan Abbott and Lawrence Block discuss their new collection of short stories inspired by the paintings of American artist Edward Hopper. The anthology, In Sunlight or in Shadow, also includes stories by Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates and Robert Olen Butler. English National Opera's CEO Cressida Pollock discusses the company's recent struggles, which have seen stringent funding cuts, strikes and, most recently, the postponement of a season in Blackpool. Tim Robey reviews the film The Pass, about two young professional football players whose kiss echoes through the next ten years of both their lives. ITV's new drama, In Plain Sight, is based on the true story of Scottish serial killer, Peter Manuel and the attempts of Lanarkshire detective William Muncie to bring him to justice in the 1950s. The writer Nick Stevens and actor Martin Compston, who plays Manuel, discuss the challenges of making a drama about real life crime. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
December 2, 2016
As Alison Steadman wins the Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Contribution to Film at the British Independent Film Awards, and the BFI announces a season dedicated to her TV work in the New Year, we speak to the actress about her career. What links baroque bad-boy painter Caravaggio and a present-day retired docker from Merseyside? Compassion, according to Anders Lustgarten's new play The Seven Acts of Mercy. Kirsty talks to the playwright and political activist about his latest work for the Royal Shakespeare Company. After news in October that AQA, the last exam board in England offering History of Art A-level, was dropping the subject from 2018, the schools standards minister, Nick Gibb, has announced that a new A-level in art history is being developed by the Pearson exam board for teaching from September 2017. Artist Cornelia Parker and Griselda Pollock, Director of the Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory & History at Leeds University, give their reaction. The Top 40 Singles chart this week includes The Weeknd's Starboy (featuring Daft Punk), Sia's The Greatest (featuring Kendrick Lamar) and Jonas Blue's By Your Side (featuring Raye). Music writer Ben Wardle has spent decades glued to the radio, and he's got a bit of an issue with this increasing use of the F-Word - 'Featuring'. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
December 1, 2016
The City Sculpture Projects 1972 was a six-month initiative to bring contemporary sculpture to the streets of Britain's cities, but the chosen cities proved resistant and none of the commissioned sculptures was kept. The enterprise is now the subject of a new exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. Curator Dr Jon Wood, one of the original artists Liliane Lijn, and Professor Susan Tebby who worked on the project in Sheffield, look back at the concept. Baz Luhrmann's film Strictly Ballroom has been adapted for the stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Olivier award-winning Drew McOnie, the choreographer of Strictly Ballroom The Musical, discusses his adaptation. Disney's latest movie is Moana, about a Polynesian girl charged with saving her island by taking on a deadly mission and enlisting the help of demi-god Maui, played by Dwayne Johnson. The film's directors Ron Clements and John Musker discuss their approach to the latest Disney princess. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Ekene Akalawu.
November 30, 2016
Robert Rauschenberg was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer and performance artist who worked with John Cage and Jasper Johns and has influenced artists today like Damien Hurst and Tracey Emin. John Wilson talks to his son Christopher Rauschenberg and curator Catherine Wood on the day a major retrospective opens at Tate Modern. This Friday sees the unveiling of a memorial stone to poet Philip Larkin at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, 31 years after his death. Fellow poets Carol Rumens and Blake Morrison discuss Larkin's legacy. The trailer for new US comedy drama This Is Us has had a record-breaking 64 million Facebook views and 8.5 million on Youtube, so with its first episode about to be shown on Channel 4 on Tuesday 6 December, Katie Puckrik joins John Wilson to see what all the fuss is about. Plus, on the 50th anniversary of Barbados gaining independence from the UK, music journalist Kevin LeGendre looks at the Caribbean Island's influence on hip-hop, jazz and reggae. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
November 29, 2016
Clint Eastwood's latest film Sully tells the story of Captain Chesley Sullenberger who landed an airliner on New York's Hudson river in 2009. Critic Angie Errigo discusses how Eastwood's 35th film as a director fits into his remarkable career. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Robert Olen Butler discusses his latest book, Perfume River, which explores how the Vietnam war resonates down the generations. Roger Law used to make the puppets for Spitting Image, the satirical TV show which poked fun at celebrities and politicians showing them with grotesque mouths and rheumy eyes. Now he makes porcelain vases and plates portraying Weedy Sea-Dragons and Long-nosed Poteroos. As his exhibition Transported opens at The Scottish Gallery, in Edinburgh, he explains why he's made the change. Last month, the Culture Secretary announced that the British Army would establish a specialist cultural property protection unit. As the bill comes closer to becoming law, Lt Colonel Tim Purbrick, an art dealer and British army reservist who was a tank commander during the Desert Storm campaign, discusses how such a unit could work.
November 28, 2016
The Rolling Stones release their first studio album in over a decade this Friday. Blue & Lonesome, which takes the band back to their blues roots, was recorded over the course of three days, at British Grove Studio near Eel Pie Island. Where the band started playing the pubs and clubs. Music critic Kate Mossman reviews the album. Actor Miles Teller discusses his new film Bleed For This, based on the true story of world champion boxer Vinny Pazienza and his recovery from a life-threatening road accident. Teller, who played a jazz drummer in the film Whiplash, talks about his own brush with death in a car crash in 2007. Could the post-referendum fall in sterling be the reason why the National Gallery is struggling to secure a Pontormo's portrait, despite having raised more than £30million to keep it in the UK? Martin Bailey of The Art Newspaper joins John Wilson to discuss the unusual case of the Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap. The Last Poets are a radical group of African American poets and musicians whose recordings and performances became part of the soundtrack of the Black Power movement of the 1960s. The writer Christine Otten, and founder member of The Last Poets, Abiodun Oyewole, discusses Otten's new book, The Last Poets - a novel based on her encounters with the African American group regarded by many as the godfathers of Rap.
November 25, 2016
Game of Thrones meets Bake Off as Mel Giedroyc and Gemma Whelan discuss their involvement in New Songs 4 New Shows, a gala evening showcasing four new musicals currently in development, directed by West End grandee Maria Friedman. The Booker Prize-winning author Penelope Lively discusses her latest collection of short stories, The Purple Swamp Hen & Other Stories. After J.K. Rowling sends copies of her Harry Potter novels to a girl in Aleppo, Syria, fellow children's writer Michael Morpurgo discusses the importance of books in war zones. Billy Bob Thornton reprises his role as the foul-mouthed, whisky-fuelled 'Father Christmas' in Bad Santa 2. Mark Eccleston reviews. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Marilyn Rust.
November 24, 2016
It was announced today that William Finnegan has won the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year for his book Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. John Wilson reports from the ceremony and speaks to each of the authors of the seven shortlisted books, including Diana Nyad, who, aged 64, became the first person to swim the 100-mile stretch of shark-infested ocean between Cuba and Florida. Rillington Place, a street in West London, became notorious as the home of John Christie, the serial killer who framed another man, Timothy Evans, for one of his murders. Evans was hanged in 1950 and it would be another three years before Christie was convicted. The story is the subject of a new three-part BBC drama starring Tim Roth and Samantha Morton. Crime writer Natasha Cooper reviews. Johnny Cash Forever Words is a collection of previously unpublished and unseen poems by the singer songwriter. They were discovered by his son, John Carter Cash, who asked the poet Paul Muldoon to select 41 poems from 200. Muldoon discusses Cash's strengths as a poet and what distinguishes poems from lyrics. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
November 23, 2016
The Chancellor today pledged £7.6million to save the stately home Wentworth Woodhouse, for the nation. Campaigner Simon Jenkins explains the significance of Britain's largest private home. In a rare interview, the artist Anselm Kiefer discusses his new exhibition Walhalla, which features a dimly-lit, lead-lined dormitory full of lead sheets and pillows, and a series of large-scale new paintings covered in molten metal. Chi-raq is Spike Lee's latest film set in a black suburb of Chicago, where two rival gangs are at war. A musical drama, the film is a contemporary take on the Aristophanes' Lysistrata. Ekow Eshun reviews. Nice Fish is a comic play written by Mark Rylance based on the poems of Louis Jenkins. He describes why he set it on a frozen Minnesota lake and director Claire van Kampen talks about the challenges that presents for the stage. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
November 22, 2016
Adam Driver played Lena Dunham's love interest in Girls, and Han Solo and Princess Leia's evil son in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The actor discusses his latest role as a poetry-writing bus driver in Jim Jarmusch's new film Paterson. Front Row reveals this year's Costa Book Awards shortlists. Critics Alex Clark and Toby Lichtig comment on the writers chosen in the five categories: novel, first novel, poetry, biography and children's fiction. Nearly a decade after the finale of the popular family TV series Gilmore Girls, Netflix has revived the drama in four extended 90-minute episodes. Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life reunites the cast with the show's creator and original writer Amy Sherman-Palladino, who had been absent for its final season. Rachel Cooke of The Guardian gives her verdict. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
November 21, 2016
We celebrate the life and work of the award winning writer William Trevor, renowned for his short stories and novels. His editor, Tony Lacey, and poet Paul Muldoon pay tribute. Novelist and essayist, Zadie Smith (White Teeth, On Beauty, NW) talks to Kirsty about black and white musicals, childhood friendships, and dancing, as she discusses her new novel, Swing Time. Tim Robey reviews Robert Zemeckis' romantic thriller Allied, which stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as two World War II spies who fall in love while on undercover assignment in Casablanca. Lucy Kirkwood, who's 2013 play Chimerica launched her as a playwright to watch, returns to the stage with The Children. It focuses on three retired nuclear physicists living under the shadow of a disaster in their former workplace. Kirsty Lang speaks to Lucy about the play and about our responsibility to the generations to come. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
November 18, 2016
Actor Ed Harris, star of The Right Stuff, The Truman Show and Westworld, on making his West End debut in Buried Child, Sam Shepard's play which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979, at a time of economic decline in the US when rural people felt forgotten. As choirs of children and young people around the world sing today to mark Benjamin Britten's birthday, Jonathan Dove on the 12 new songs he's written for the annual event, Friday Afternoons. Jan Patience, arts writer for The Herald, and Christopher Baker, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery discuss Sir Edwin Landseer's 1851 painting The Monarch of the Glen. Its owners, the drink giant Diageo, had planned to put the painting up for auction but has agreed to gift half the value of the painting, provided the National Galleries of Scotland can raise £4m in four months. Gavin Turk discusses his first major solo exhibition since 2002, showcasing works from throughout his career, from the life-sized wax figure of Gavin as Sid Vicious to the dirty sleeping bags which he cast to draw attention to the plight of the homeless. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
November 17, 2016
The inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture recognises a UK-based artist who has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture. Vying for the prize are four artists: Helen Marten, Phyllida Barlow, Stephen Claydon and David Medalla. Their work featuring household junk, hammocks, foam bubbles, magnetised pennies and paintings suggests sculpture is a broad church these days. Front Row announces the winner. 16 years after the £21m New Art Gallery Walsall opened its doors, which has also served as a catalyst for the regeneration of the Midlands town, the council is about to withdraw 100% of its funding, which will most likely lead to the gallery's closure. Its director Stephen Snoddy speaks out about the challenges the gallery faces and what the implications of the closure would be for the area. The director of Northern Ireland Opera, Oliver Mears, discusses his forthcoming production of Don Giovanni, set on a cruise ship in the 1960s, and, as he prepares to take up the role of Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, he looks back on his work in Belfast, and forward to his plans for Covent Garden. Indignation is the ninth film adaptation of a Philip Roth novel. As it opens in the UK, critics Leslie Felperin and Jason Solomons discuss whether this particular book transfers well to the screen, why so many of Roth's books rarely do, and why so many film directors are attracted to his work. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
November 16, 2016
Front Row - Paulo Coelho, Your Name, Turner Contemporary, the art of writing non-fiction
November 16, 2016
Internationally-acclaimed writer Paulo Coelho discusses his new novel The Spy, based on the life of the dancer Mata Hari. Coelho is best-known for The Alchemist, an allegorical novel about a young shepherd boy, first published in 1988, which has now sold more than 65m copies worldwide. Your Name is the latest Japanese anime film to attract large global audiences, and is written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, regarded by many as the successor to Studio Ghibli's legendary Hayao Miyazaki. The film, about a teenage boy and girl who wake up and find themselves living in the other's body, is reviewed by Larushka Ivan-Zadeh. Last night the lawyer Philippe Sands won the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. His book, East West Street, explores the origins of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide as concepts but it is also a detective story and a thriller. To discuss the art of writing non-fiction, Philippe Sands is joined by Cathy Rentzenbrink who wrote The Last Act of Love, a memoir about her late brother who was seriously injured by a dangerous driver. We explore what happens when a high-profile art gallery turns to the local community of artists and makers to commission a work. Kirsty Lang visits Margate and Turner Contemporary's Studio Group to meet Kashif Nadim Chaudry, the artist they chose to work with on his large-scale textile artwork The Three Graces. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Marilyn Rust.
November 15, 2016
David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike discuss A United Kingdom, a new film which tells the true story of Seretse Khama, the future King of Bechuanaland, and Ruth Williams, a clerk from South London. When they married in 1948 they not only faced fierce opposition from both of their families but from the British and South African governments. It had been claimed that the lost sketchbook from Van Gogh's time in Arles, France, has been discovered. However, in a statement released this afternoon, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has said they are of the opinion that these sketches 'could not be attributed to Vincent van Gogh'. We talk to the museum and the expert behind the 'discovery'. Cape Town City Ballet, the oldest ballet company in South Africa, has been resident at Cape Town University for eight decades. It's now caught in the long-running student protests for decolonisation of the curriculum. With the university deciding not to renew the company's lease, Gerard Samuel, Director of the School of Dance at Cape Town University and a Cape Town City Ballet board member, discusses the troupe's uncertain future. And 60 years after Ray Charles made his eponymous album, the music critic Kevin Le Gendre re-evaluates the moment that an artist who played rhythm & blues, the music from which rock & roll was born, was about to change the music world. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
J K Rowling's Fantastic Beasts, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, French film Divines, Chris Riddell on school libraries
November 14, 2016
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of Harry Potter author JK Rowling. The film tells the tale of magizoologist Newt Scamandar and his menagerie of fantastical creatures which are accidentally set free in 1920s New York, a place riven with political turmoil and persecution of the magical community. Producer David Heyman, who produced all eight of the Harry Potter films, and director David Yates, who helmed the final four of the franchise, discuss the latest instalment from the Potter universe. Divines, the debut movie from female French director Houda Benyamina won the Caméra d'Or at Cannes this year. Ginette Vincendeau reviews the drama that, 20 years after La Haine, takes place in a rough Parisian housing estate and focuses on the women's experience of drugs, power, crime and religion. It's almost 40 years since the Sex Pistol's released their landmark album Anarchy in the UK. The band's guitarist Steve Jones discusses his new autobiography Lonely Boy, which charts how punk gave him - a petty thief - a purpose. The Children's Laureate, Chris Riddell talks about why he, along with all eight of his predecessors, has sent a letter to education secretary Justine Greening protesting the undermining of school library services and the loss of specialist librarians. And, as the moon comes closer to earth than it has in a lifetime, a recording of Ted Hughes reading his great poem about seeing the full moon. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Julian May.
November 11, 2016
With news of the death of Leonard Cohen at the age of 82, we broadcast a rare interview the singer-songwriter did with Front Row in 2007, on a visit to Manchester for the opening of an exhibition of his art. To mark Armistice Day, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, artistic directors of the all-male dance troupe BalletBoyz, discuss Young Men, the film of their stage production which explores the soldiers' experience of the First World War, and why they felt it was important to shoot the film in the cold, rain and mud on location in northern France. And poetry from the battlefield. When we use the term 'war poet' we immediately think of WWI but what about verse inspired by more recent conflict? How do contemporary war poets compare to the likes of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke and Isaac Rosenberg? American Iraq War veteran and poet Kevin Powers, and Radio 4's poet-in-residence Daljit Nagra, discuss modern war poetry. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
November 10, 2016
Published in 2012, Zadie Smith's postcode-named novel NW was seen as a lyrical love letter to north-west London. This contemporary tale of the entwined lives of four Londoners has now been adapted for television. Critic Gaylene Gould reviews. Roger Bowdler of Historic England reveals its mission to get 2,500 war memorials listed by November 2018. He announces 50, and another nine by the controversial sculptor Eric Gill, and discusses what a war memorial can reveal about its location and the people it's dedicated to. Norman Ackroyd is widely considered one of Britain's great landscape artists. As a young man in the 1960s he rejected the lure of pop art and devoted his energy to capturing the coastline of Britain in black and white etchings. As his work goes on show in Norman Ackroyd: Just Be A Poet, he invites us to his studio to see how he works. For its 90th birthday, Rambert is performing Haydn's The Creation with 100 dancers, musicians and singers. Artistic director Mark Baldwin discusses this new work as well as the state of contemporary dance in the UK. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
November 9, 2016
Lord Lloyd Webber discusses joining forces with Downton creator Julian Fellowes and a cast of 39 children for his new stage adaptation of the Jack Black film School of Rock. He tells Samira how he hopes the production will serve as a reminder of how important the arts are in education. Actor Ewan McGregor talks about adapting Philip Roth's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, American Pastoral, in his directorial debut and why he's returning to the role of Renton, 20 years on from Trainspotting. Elton John owns one of the best photography collections in the world and now he's loaned some of them to the Tate Modern in London. The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography includes Man Ray's Glass Tears, Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother and Edward Weston's portrait of Igor Stravinsky. Newell Harbin, Sir Elton John's curator, shows us around. The Goldsmiths Prize was established three years ago to recognise fiction that breaks the mould or opens up new possibilities for the novel. Previous winners have included Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and Ali Smith's How to be Both. We talk to this year's winner Mike McCormack about his book Solar Bone. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Marilyn Rust.
November 8, 2016
The North East of England's Case for Culture is a bold plan to raise £300 million for art projects. Instead of being an adjunct to development culture is seen as the key to the region's redevelopment. But only a few years ago Newcastle cut its arts budget entirely. Organisations are exploring new ways of working. Jim Beirne of Live Theatre takes John Wilson to the pub the theatre runs, the profits of which pay for a new play every year. It also owns restaurants and prime office space, to fund its theatre and outreach projects. The Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell has just launched a new organisation, Magnetic North East, to foster the identity, music and traditions of the North East. It has released an album of songs and tunes, new and old, about the River Tyne, by artists ranging from Jimmy Nail to the Unthanks. Last Friday it held a grand concert in the region's village hall - Auditorium One of The Sage, featuring famous North East artists such as Paul Smith of the band Maximo Park, young folk musicians and a host of children giving a world premiere of a work by David Almond. Kathryn Tickell, John Mowbray - the High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, and a prime mover in the Case for Culture, David Almond, who wrote Skellig, the Olivier Award winning playwright, Shelagh Stephenson, whose new play is set in her hometown of Tynemouth, all contribute to John Wilson's exploration, as he rambles around Newcastle, of the role of art in the regeneration of the North East of England. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Julian May.
November 7, 2016
In 1991, R.E.M. released Out of Time, the album that turned them into international superstars. 25 years on, the album is being re-released. Lead singer Michael Stipe and bassist Mike Mills look back on those classic songs, including Losing My Religion and Shiny Happy People, and reflect on their decision five years ago to disband the group. Illuminated River is a new scheme that intends to light central London's 17 bridges along the River Thames. As the six shortlisted entries are unveiled we speak to Hannah Rothschild who leads the project. The Achates Philanthropy Prize is a new annual award which aims to show that anyone can become a cultural philanthropist. Nigel Farnall from Essex talks about winning the inaugural prize for his support for Theatre Royal Stratford East. Director Abel Gance's 51/2-hour silent film Napoleon flopped when it was first released in 1927. Silent film expert Pamela Hutchinson reviews a new digitally restored version of Gance's epic which is now regarded as an undisputed cinematic landmark. Stephen Poliakoff discusses his new TV drama, Close to the Enemy. Set in 1946, this period tale examines the change in moral certainties which began to emerge in Britain in the year after World War II ended. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
November 4, 2016
In his new film The Light Between Oceans, Michael Fassbender takes on the role of a man who becomes a lighthouse keeper in order to escape the atrocities he witnessed in World War One. He talks about playing a decent man struggling to overcome his past and what it was like to work on a remote location in New Zealand. As part of the BBC's celebration of reading, Love to Read, Front Row has challenged five authors to confess to a classic book they've never read - and then read it. Today Neel Mukherjee, best known for his Booker Prize-shortlisted The Lives of Others, reads Mark Twain's tale of a rebel boy and a runaway slave, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Comedian Nish Kumar, singer Sarah McQuaid and The Pitmen Poets discuss the tricky logistics of putting together a busy touring schedule, visiting every corner of the UK in just a few weeks. How do they choose where to appear, how many miles does it involve, and what happens when it doesn't go according to plan? The Goldfinch, the 17th-century painting of a chained bird that inspired Donna Tartt's Pulitzer prize winning novel, is on display at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh from today. Art critic Charlotte Mullins and literary critic Alex Clark discuss how this painting and others have sparked writers' imaginations. Presenter: Clemency Burton-Hill Producer: Angie Nehring.
Director Stephen Daldry on The Crown, Novelist Linda Grant, Nocturnal Animals, Francesca Simon reads The Scarlet Letter
November 3, 2016
Film and theatre director Stephen Daldry discusses his latest project with Clemency Burton Hill. The Crown charts Queen Elizabeth II's reign starting with her marriage to Philip Mountbatten in the post-war period in 1947. The Netflix drama series is Daldry's first foray into TV, written by Peter Morgan, which is reportedly the UK's most expensive ever. Nocturnal Animals is the latest film from fashion designer turned director Tom Ford. The psychological thriller stars Amy Adams as a lonely art gallery owner & Jake Gyllenhaal as her ex-husband. Jason Solomons reviews. As part of the BBC's celebration of books, Love to Read, the creator of Horrid Henry, Francesca Simon talks about the classic book she's read for Front Row: Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 story about guilt and sin, The Scarlet Letter. Linda Grant talks about her new novel The Dark Circle, which set in a tuberculosis sanatorium in the early 1950s. Producer: Julian May.
November 2, 2016
The murder of Damilola Taylor in 2000, came to symbolise youth crime in Britain and brought knife attacks into the public consciousness. Writer Levi David Addai explains why he chose to tells the story of the schoolboy's death from the family's point of view in new drama Our Loved Boy. Frederick, Lord Leighton's Flaming June, one of the most famous works of nineteenth-century British art, returns to the house in which it was painted. We speak to the curator at Leighton House Museum Daniel Robbins and art dealer Rupert Mass whose father briefly owned the work. For Love to Read, the BBC season celebrating the joy of books, author Kit de Waal confesses to a classic book she hasn't read - George Orwell's caustic satire of literary life, Keep the Aspidistra Flying - and reads it especially for Front Row. Between Diwali and Bonfire Night the writer on contemporary art Louisa Buck traces the history of fireworks, reveals why they are so attractive to artists and argues they are the most democratic of all art forms. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Jack Soper.
November 1, 2016
American actress Amy Adams has been nominated for five Oscars and is tipped to receive a sixth for her performance in sci-film Arrival, in which she plays a linguist trying to contact extra-terrestrials. She discusses her latest role and her career which has seen her play a con artist in American Hustle, a Disney princess in Enchanted and an art gallery owner with a sinister ex in Tom Ford's film Nocturnal Animals. As part of the BBC's Love to Read season, which celebrates the joy of books, author Tracy Chevalier, best known for Girl with a Pearl Earring, confesses to a classic book she's never read and reads it especially for Front Row. Her choice is Frances Hodgson Burnett's 1911 novel The Secret Garden. The Achates Philanthropy Prize is a new annual award which aims to show that anyone can become a cultural philanthropist. The prize's founder Caroline McCormick talks about how philanthropic gifts to arts organisations - from the smallest to the largest - could be encouraged in the UK. Composer and conductor John Rutter talks about his latest work Visions, which is a violin concerto unusually combined with a choir, and why he's made a new recording of his Requiem, which was memorably performed at a service for the 9/11 firefighters in St Patrick's Cathedral, New York. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
October 31, 2016
Sting discusses 57th & 9th, his first rock album in 13 years, the title being a reference to New York City, his adopted home for the last 35 years. "Art was, seriously, the only thing I'd ever wanted to own." So said David Bowie, who gathered a huge and distinguished collection, particularly of post-war British painting. As an exhibition of the work opens at Sotheby's, ahead of its sale next month, Beth Greenacre, who was Bowie's curator, walks John Wilson around the collection and discusses what it reveals about him. As part of the BBC's Love to Read campaign which celebrates the pleasures of reading, author Mark Haddon - best known for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - confesses to a classic book he's never read, and reads it especially for Front Row. His choice of classic book: John Bunyan's 1678 Christian allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress. Enoch Powell's 1968 "Rivers of Blood" speech is at the heart of a new play that examines the shifting nature of identity. Playwright Chris Hannan and actor Ian McDiarmid discuss bringing Powell the man and Powell the politician to life in the premiere production of What Shadows at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
October 28, 2016
Benedict Cumberbatch takes the lead role in Doctor Strange, the latest blockbuster from Marvel studios. He discusses playing one of their less well-known superheroes; the former surgeon who protects the earth with his two mystical objects - the Cloak of Levitation and Eye of Agamotto - and explains how his preparation for this physically demanding film coincided with his performing Hamlet on stage at the Barbican in London. Elena Ferrante, the author of the Neapolitan Quartet, has always insisted that nothing should come between a reader and her books, and regards public interest in her as an unnecessary distraction. Her new book - Frantumaglia: A Writer's Journey - is a collection of her correspondence and prompted a media storm when it was used as the justification for investigating and revealing her identity. Critic Alex Clark reviews Ferrante's latest literary offering. Violinist Tasmin Little has, for the first time, recorded Vivaldi's Four Seasons, along with a complementary contemporary piece, Four World Seasons by Roxanna Panufnik. In this new composition each season is evoked by a different country and its music, including autumn in Albania and summer in India. Musician and composer discuss their collaboration. One glance at the UK album charts reveals that alongside the Drakes, the Two Door Cinema Clubs and the Craig Davids, there is one musical category that refuses to go away. Writer Ben Wardle tries to fathom the enduring appeal of 'Middle of the Road' music. Presenter: Clemency Burton-Hill Producer: Angie Nehring.
October 27, 2016
37 years after its landmark first production starring Paul Scofield as Salieri and Simon Callow as Mozart, Peter Schaffer's play Amadeus returns to the National Theatre in London. Director Michael Longhurst and Lucian Msamati - who plays Salieri - discuss their new production which features a 30-piece orchestra live on stage. Before she became famous for creating the freckle-faced optimist Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren was an aspiring author living in Stockholm at the outbreak of World War II. Astrid's daughter Karin Nyman and author Meg Rosoff discuss A World Gone Mad - Astrid Lindgren's War Diaries, now available for the first time in English, which paint a picture of life in a neutral country during the conflict, and her emergence as a writer. As the Creative Industries Federation publishes its report on the possible impact of Brexit on the Arts, we speak to its Chief Executive John Kampfner about the key findings. Turner Prize-winning artist Richard Wright discusses his gold-leaf, ornamental design for the ceiling and walls of the Queen's House in Greenwich, the 17th century Palladian villa designed by the celebrated British architect Inigo Jones, which re-opened to the public recently. Presenter Clemency Burton-Hill Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 26, 2016
Bryan Cranston played a hapless dad in Malcom in the Middle, a dentist to the stars in Seinfeld, and most famously a teacher-turned-drugs-lord in Breaking Bad. Now he has written an autobiography. Cranston discusses A Life in Parts which recalls the many odd parts he's played in real life - paperboy, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, husband, father and, of course, actor. One of the last projects David Bowie worked on was his musical Lazarus which includes new music and some of his best-known hits. The production which broke box office records when it played in New York has now transferred to a specially-built venue in London. We speak to Enda Walsh, Bowie's co-writer on the project, and the show's director Ivo van Hove about bringing Bowie's vision to life. Paul Beatty has become the first US author to win the Man Booker Prize, with his racial satire The Sellout. It marks the second win in a row for independent publisher Oneworld who also published last year's winner, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. So what is their secret? How do they talent spot the authors who go on to win big? We will hear from one of the founders, Juliet Mabey. We remember theatre director Howard Davies whose death at the age of 71 was announced today. During his long career he won three Best Director Olivier Awards, and established and ran the Warehouse Theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company, now the Donmar Warehouse in London. He also did much work for the Royal National Theatre, where he directed 36 productions. Former NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner recalls working with him there, and Matt Wolf, theatre critic for The International New York Times, assesses his work. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
Emma Rice to leave The Globe, plus Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton and the new Design Museum
October 25, 2016
Shakespeare's Globe artistic director Emma Rice is to leave the theatre in 2018 after its board decided her methods are not authentic enough. Rice took charge of the London theatre in January but has come in for fierce criticism, including for her use of sound and lighting technology. Theatre critics Sarah Hemming, of the Financial Times, and Ann Treneman of the Times, discuss the reasons for Rice's departure and The Globe's future. In a month's time the new Design Museum in London will be unveiled, having moved from its Thames-side home to its new, larger location, the building that was the Grade II* listed Commonwealth Institute in Kensington High St. John Pawson, the architect who has designed the interiors, and Dejan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum, give John Wilson the first access to the £83m project. As Boyz N The Hood goes back into cinemas to mark its 25th Anniversary - and as a centrepiece of the British Film Institute's Black Star season - John Singleton talks to John Wilson about writing and directing what would become a ground-breaking film by the age of 23, and why the industry is more difficult than ever for black filmmakers. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Jack Soper (Photo: Emma Rice. Credit: Imeh Akpanudosen / Getty Images for Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts).
October 24, 2016
Jude Law stars as a young dogmatic pontiff in Oscar winning director Paolo Sorrentino's new television drama The Young Pope. John Wilson speaks to actor and director about papal politics, football playing nuns and working on the small screen. As Tate Britain opens their retrospective of Paul Nash we speak to curator Emma Chambers and comic artist Dave McKean, who has created a graphic novel inspired by Paul Nash's dreams, about why Nash was such an important artist both on and beyond the battlefield. As libraries are closing around the country South Shields opens a new one which goes way beyond books and shelves. The Word is a state of the art cultural venue and the National Centre for the Written Word. John hears from Tanya Robinson, who has steered the project, and writer Tom Kelly about his ongoing interactive exhibition Lost Dialects, seeking to bring local words back to life, and find new ones. The ballet critic Luke Jennings thinks the art is in crisis because even when the dance is new, the stories are always old. He, David Nixon, Artistic Director of Northern Ballet, and John Wilson discuss this - if it is true, why and what might be done to allow classical ballet to address the times in which we live. Producer: Julian May.
October 21, 2016
Chrissie Hynde, singer and founding member of the Pretenders, discusses Alone, the band's first album in eight years. A new £30,000 arts award, The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture, aims to recognise an artist who has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture in Britain. The shortlisted artists Phyllida Barlow, Steven Claydon, Helen Marten and David Medalla share their thoughts on the practice of sculpture today. Today Historic England published its annual Heritage At Risk register featuring buildings identified as in danger of being lost due to neglect or decay. The Grade I listed medieval house, West Horsley Place, inherited by the historian and broadcaster Bamber Gascoigne, has been added to the register. He discusses what this means for his plans to create an opera house on the site. Joe Queenan reports from New York on the cultural hinterland of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 20, 2016
In 1912, 24 scouts from the slums of South East London set sail from Waterloo Bridge, but in a tragic accident eight drowned. Stella Duffy discusses her new novel, London Lies Beneath, in which she recreates that area of London and imagines the lives of the families involved in the months leading up to the tragedy and beyond. With news that the £21m New Art Gallery Walsall is being threatened with closure just 16 years after it opened, Bob and Roberta Smith, former artist-in-residence, gives his response. At the age of 19, Yves Klein identified the blue sky in Nice as his first artwork. It marked the beginning of an artistic career which ended with his heart attack at the age of 34. Art critic Richard Cork reviews a new exhibition of Klein's work at Tate Liverpool. Barrie Kosky's directorial debut at the Royal Opera House is Shostakovich's The Nose, based on a satirical story by Gogol, with a huge cast of singers and even more noses, all inspired, he says, by a very famous one - Barbara Streisand's. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Marilyn Rust.
Ali Smith, Osmo Vänskä, the Nicholas Brothers, Islamic Art & the Supernatural, A Martian Sends a Postcard Home
October 19, 2016
Ali Smith discusses her Brexit-era novel, Autumn, with Samira Ahmed. It's the first of a quartet which very much reflects the issues of today. Osmo Vänskä is about to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra playing all the symphonies of Sibelius. He speaks about the composer and Sibelius' place in Finnish national identity. In 1943 two African American brothers from Philadelphia performed a dance routine in the film Stormy Weather, which Fred Astaire would come to refer to as the greatest movie musical sequence he had ever seen. For Fayard and Harold Nicholas - otherwise known as The Nicholas Brothers - entering the Hollywood arena this was no small feat in the 1940's America, a time when racial prejudice was commonplace. Choreographer Stuart Thomas reflects on the achievement of the brothers who were regulars at Harlem's Cotton Club - working with the orchestras of Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington - and one of whom taught Michael Jackson to dance. There are old saws that depicting figures is prohibited in Islam and that the religion, apart from devotion to the one God, has no truck with the supernatural. Francesca Leoni, curator of a new exhibition at the the Ashmolean Museum, and Professor Tariq Ramadan, discuss with Samira Ahmed how things are a good deal more complicated than that. And, on the day a spacecraft lands on Mars to send messages back about the planaet, we hear part of a poem that reverses that process.
October 18, 2016
50 years since he made Cathy Come Home, Ken Loach discusses his latest film I, Daniel Blake, a characteristically angry indictment of Britain's welfare system. Following the announcement of the scrapping of A and AS levels in archaeology, Sir Tony Robinson reveals why he's backing the protest against this decision. Towards the end of his career the great French sculpture Auguste Rodin became fascinated with dance and bodies captured in extreme acrobatic poses. Now a new exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery - Rodin & Dance: The Essence of Movement - will display a series of experimental sculptures known as the Dance Movements made in 1911. John Wilson was joined there by the curator Dr Alexandra Gerstein and Royal Ballet Principal Dancer Sarah Lamb. Madness frontman Suggs discusses the band's new album Can't Touch Us Now, which as usual features colourful London characters, including Mr Apples, Amy Winehouse and Pam the Hawk.
October 17, 2016
As Phil Collins announces his return to the stage for his first live dates in 10 years, the former Genesis frontman discusses that and his new memoir Not Dead Yet. Two laureates, Gillian Clarke, who was the National Poet of Wales, and Carol Ann Duffy, talk about The Map and the Clock, their new anthology that moves through 14 centuries, several languages and all over these islands, to present their choice of the poetry of Britain and Ireland. Writer Patrick Ness is best known for his Carnegie-winning novels for young adults, including Monsters of Men and A Monster Calls. He discusses his first foray into television with Class, a new BBC spin-off of Doctor Who which sees a group of students try to save their school from attack. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
Earl Cameron, David Gledhill, The art of Alphonse Mucha, Simon Callow on David Gascoyne, Northampton theatre to open a school
October 14, 2016
Earl Cameron CBE was one of the first black stars of British cinema, making his big screen debut in 1950 with the crime drama, Pool of London. He's continued acting into his 90s, taking on roles in The Queen and Inception. Now 99, with a restored version of Pool of London about to released, and taking part in Black Star - the BFI's nationwide celebration of black screen stars - he talks to John Wilson about his long career. For his album, Release, music producer David Gledhill (aka SOULS) spent five years searching old field recordings of singers from the American south. He cleaned and edited each recording and built new songs around them. Gledhill discusses the making of the album with John Wilson, and explains how these songs were part of his grieving following the death of his wife. Alphonse Mucha is widely viewed as the Father of Art Nouveau. The Czech painter and illustrator first attracted attention when his beautifully detailed posters of actress superstar Sarah Bernhardt appeared around Paris in 1895. By the time of his death in 1939, his illustrations were considered outmoded, but in the 1970's they became hugely popular again. Jan Patience reviews an exhibition in Glasgow of work by the artist who influenced the city's own master of Art Nouveau, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Just as Art History 'A' Level is axed the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton announces plans to develop a bid for a free school specialising in the cultural and creative industries. John Wilson talks to CEO Martin Sutherland about their ambitions for the school and their motivations behind the bid. David Gascoyne was born 100 years ago this week. Simon Callow remembers the man he regards as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Producer: Julian May David Gascoyne was born 100 years ago this week. Simon Callow remembers the man he regards as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Producer: Julian May.
October 13, 2016
Music legend Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature on the day the death of previous winner, playwright Dario Fo, was announced. We get reaction to both the singer-songwriter becoming a Nobel laureate and the legacy of the Italian who penned Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Tutankhamun is the new Sunday evening drama on ITV, focusing on Howard Carter's discovery in 1922 of the grave of the boy pharaoh buried in Egypt 3,300 years ago. The drama's writer Guy Burt discusses his approach to his telling of the story of 'King Tut'. Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov is embarking on a monumental Tchaikovsky project, with three concerts and the release of the 6th Symphony, the Pathétique, the first in a cycle of new recordings. He talks to Samira Ahmed about his lifelong relationship with the music of the composer he calls his 'beloved friend'. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Marilyn Rust.
October 12, 2016
With her new film American Honey, British filmmaker Andrea Arnold has left behind the housing estates and tower blocks of her previous films Red Road and Fish Tank for a road movie set among the endless highways of America. Critic Briony Hanson reviews. American writer Bernice McFadden discusses her latest novel The Book of Harlan, which contrasts the music scene of the Harlem Renaissance and 1930s Paris with the story of the black victims of the Holocaust whose story is rarely heard, and in many cases wasn't believed when those who survived returned to the US. When the activist George Monbiot wrote an article about the scourge of loneliness, it had a huge impact, and publishers urged him to write a book. Instead, for the first time, he wrote some songs and got together with the musician Ewan McLennan. They talk about the resulting album, Breaking the Spell of Loneliness. Ella Hickson's new play Oil explores the history of the product, from its discovery to its role in the economy today, through the eyes of a mother and daughter relationship. She joins Director Carrie Cracknell to discuss why it's important to drill deep into our relationship with this finite resource. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 11, 2016
Director Mira Nair and Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o discuss their new film Queen of Katwe, which is based on the true story of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi. Newcastle Gateshead has beaten Sheffield, Blackpool and Bradford and been selected by the government to host a £5m Great Exhibition of the North in 2018. Carol Bell, Culture & Major Events Director, Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, talks about their plans for the major exhibition, which will showcase art, design and innovation from the north of England. 12 years after the last episode of Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker is back on the small screen in Divorce, a comedy drama about the end of a marriage written by Catastrophe's Sharon Horgan. Stephen Armstrong reviews. In 1974 the Gaul trawler set off from Hull never to return, disappearing off the northern coast of Norway with all hands lost. Playwright Janet Plater talks about her new drama The Gaul at Hull Truck Theatre, which charts the experience of the wives and relatives left behind. Shahidha Bari reviews The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined, a new exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery in London which explores the aesthetics of taste through the prism of fashion. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rachel Simpson.
October 10, 2016
Director Kwame Kwei-Armah and writer Kemp Powers discuss their new production of One Night in Miami, a fictional account of the night in 1964 when boxer Cassius Clay chose to celebrate his world heavyweight victory in a hotel room with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football star Jim Brown. Poet, rapper and writer Kate Tempest describes her new album Let Them Eat Chaos, the follow-up to her Mercury-shortlisted album Everybody Down. It's a long poem, written for live performance, which centres on seven residents of a London street all awake at 4:48am. The Oscar-winning Polish film director Andrzej Wajda has died at the age of 90. During the war he joined the Polish resistance, and then studied to be a painter, before entering the Lodz Film School. Wajda's films chart the history of Poland through the wartime Warsaw Uprising, the suppression of the Solidarity movement, the fall of Communism and joining the EU. Ian Christie, professor of Film and Media History, looks back at the director's career. Shock and Awe: A History of Glam Rock is music journalist Simon Reynolds's new book. He charts the outrageous styles, gender-fluid sexual politics and retro-future sounds that came to define the first half of the 1970s, from Bolan to Bowie and Suzi Quatro to Roxy Music. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
October 7, 2016
Supersonic is a new documentary charting the success of Oasis, the Manchester band with 8 number one albums and estimated sales of over 70 million. John talks to director Mat Whitecross - who also directed Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, the biopic of Ian Dury - about charting brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher's rapid rise to stardom. In Mel Gibson's new film Blood Father, the actor is cast as a recovering alcoholic with anger issues, capitalising on the actor's off-screen controversies over the past decade. Antonia Quirke reviews. Beyond Caravaggio at the National Gallery, which focuses on the work of the Italian painter and his influence on the art of his contemporaries and followers, is reviewed by Waldemar Januszczak. Sir Karl Jenkins discusses his new choral work Cantata Memoria - For the Children, in commemoration of those killed in the Aberfan disaster 50 years ago, which has its world premiere in Cardiff tomorrow. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 6, 2016
Documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux discusses his new film My Scientology Movie, Jimmy Savile, and his particular documentary-making style. To celebrate National Poetry Day, PJ Harvey, Daljit Nagra and Holly McNish will each be introducing and reading a new poem each for Front Row. Sara Lloyd from the Welsh-language National Theatre Wales, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, and Thomas Cloarec from Breton company Teatr Piba discuss their collaboration on a new play. Merch yr Eog (The Salmon's Daughter) is performed in Welsh, Breton, French and Creole and translated for the audience through a smartphone app. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Marilyn Rust.
October 5, 2016
Christopher Frayling, Guest Curator of this year's Widescreen Weekend festival at the National Media Museum, and the filmmaker Mike Figgis, famed for his technologically ground-breaking films such as Timecode, discuss the possibilities of the latest cinematic evolution - Virtual Reality. Samira hears from director Phyllida Lloyd about the final production in her trilogy of Shakespeare plays with all-female casts and set in a prison - The Tempest - with Harriet Walter playing Prospero and with Shakespeare's songs newly set by Joan Armatrading. A new exhibition of Pablo Picasso's portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London is the first time in 20 years that so many of his representations of his family and friends have been brought together and, as the curator Prof Elizabeth Cowling explains, it reveals his wit, humour and passion as well as the extraordinary range of styles and media he employed during his life. As a child Simon Gronowski was pushed from a moving train by his mother. Her actions saved his life as the train was bound for Auschwitz, where she died along with his sister. Now his extraordinary story has been transformed into an opera by composer and librettist Howard Moody, and is being performed as part of the ROOT 1066 festival in Hastings. Presented by Samira Ahmed Produced by Ella-mai Robey.
October 4, 2016
John Wilson hosts the BBC National Short Story Award live from the BBC Radio Theatre. This year's shortlisted authors are Hilary Mantel, K J Orr, Tahmima Anam, Claire-Louise Bennett and Lavinia Greenlaw. Four of the five join John on stage to discuss their stories and explore the art of writing a short story. The winner of the £15000 prize will be announced by Chair of Judges, Jenni Murray. In addition, Radio 1 DJ Alice Levine will announce the winner of the BBC Young Writer's Award. The BBC National Short Story Award is presented in conjunction with BookTrust. Presenter John Wilson Producer Rebecca Armstrong.
October 3, 2016
Tom Stoppard discusses the new production of his "dishevelled comedy" Travesties, Brexit and his desire to write a new play about the migrant crisis. The Girl on The Train, Paula Hawkins' thriller about a divorced alcoholic who becomes caught up in a missing person investigation, has sold 11 million copies worldwide and been turned into a film starring Emily Blunt. But has the transition onto the silver screen and the move from London to New York worked? Mark Eccleston reviews. We report from Shapes of Water, Sounds of Hope, a mass participatory performance artwork, led by the distinguished American artist Suzanne Lacy which took place in Pendle, Lancashire this weekend. As a new exhibition opens exploring the Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s, artist Lynn Hershman Leeson and historian Professor Hilary Robinson look back at those years and ask if there's still a need for feminist art today? And we remember the conductor and violinist Sir Neville Marriner, who has died aged 92. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rachel Simpson.
September 29, 2016
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the worst environmental disaster in US history. Now a new film starring Mark Wahlberg tells the story of the explosion which destroyed the offshore drilling rig. He joins director Peter Berg to discuss the making of this biographical disaster movie. It's Woody Allen's first television series, and stars Miley Cyrus and Allen himself. Rachel Cooke reviews Crisis in Six Scenes, the story of a young 1960s radical and the elderly couple she moves in with. As he turns 60, the pianist Melvyn Tan talks about popularising the fortepiano, the predecessor to the modern piano, and what it's like to perform on Beethoven's own instrument. Maria Semple wrote for TV shows such as Saturday Night Live and Arrested Development before she turned to novels, including Where'd You Go, Bernadette, which was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction in 2013. She discusses Today Will Be Different which follows one disastrous day in the life of a middle-aged woman. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
September 28, 2016
The American composer Steve Reich will be celebrating his 80th birthday next week. As he prepares to attend a series of events around the UK to mark his eight decades, the influential pioneer of minimal music looks back over his career, including his compositions It's Gonna Rain, Drumming, Clapping Music, and Different Trains. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
September 27, 2016
Samira Ahmed talks to Gillian Anderson, who returns as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson in the third series of Belfast-set psychological TV drama The Fall. Choreographer Jasmin Vardimon on her new dance version of Pinocchio, which goes back to the original text, and which tours the UK. Linda Marshall-Griffiths talks about her radical updating of Charlotte Bronte's final novel Villette for West Yorkshire Playhouse, marking Bronte's bicentenary. And Imogen Russell Williams reviews Tim Burton's film Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.
September 26, 2016
As the work of the Turner Prize-shortlisted artists go on show at Tate Britain, Charlotte Mullins assesses what the exhibition says about the strength of contemporary art in the UK. Brian McCormick, Seamus Heaney's nephew and director of a new arts and literary centre dedicated to the Nobel laureate, talks about opening the exhibition space in the poet's home town of Bellaghy, Northern Ireland. Meg Rosoff, who completed the new novel Beck by her friend Mal Peet after he passed away, and Samantha Norman, who finished her mother Ariana Franklin's historical thriller Winter Siege, discuss the challenges - and joys - of completing books after the death of their authors. Actor Dominic Cooper and director Terry Johnson discuss their new production of The Libertine, Stephen Jeffreys' 1994 play about the rake and poet John Wilmot who scandalised the court of Charles II. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
September 23, 2016
John Wilson talks to ballet star Tamara Rojo and choreographer Akram Khan, as their radical new version of Giselle for English National Ballet opens in Manchester. Grace Coddington, the former creative director of American Vogue, on her five decades at the top of the fashion world. Krissah Thompson of The Washington Post reviews the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. 950 years after William the Conqueror arrived on our shores, historian Tom Holland assesses the cultural impact of the Norman invasion. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser.
September 22, 2016
Martin Green, CEO of Hull City of Culture 2017, reveals what's in next year's programme, and film-maker Sean McAllister discusses his plans for the opening seven-day event, Made In Hull. Emma Donoghue, author of Room, talks about her new novel, The Wonder. It's a gothic thriller set in 19th-century Ireland, where a young girl is said to have eaten nothing for months but appears to be thriving miraculously. To celebrate the autumn equinox, poet Zaffar Kunial will perform his poem Prayer, which recalls his father's first words to him as a new-born, and the last words he whispered in his mother's ear. Director Ira Sachs discusses his new film Little Men, which tells the story of a pair of best friends who have their bond tested by their parents' battle over a dress shop lease. Today's shortlisted author for the BBC National Short Story Award is K J Orr, whose story Disappearances is told from the perspective of a retired cosmetic surgeon in Buenos Aires who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a waitress in a cafe.
September 21, 2016
The first African-American woman playwright to win the Pulitzer Prize, Suzan-Lori Parks, discusses Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3). The play tells the story of Hero, a slave who is promised his freedom in exchange for joining the confederate army during the American Civil War. As a remake of the 1960 Western The Magnificent Seven hits cinemas, film critic Catherine Bray discusses how its basic plot - a ragtag group of heroes coming together to fight evil - has been reimagined again and again in movie history, from the film which started it all, Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai to The Avengers via A Bug's Life. Today's shortlisted author for the BBC National Short Story Award is the poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw. She discusses her entry entitled The Darkest Place in England, and reveals why it took her six years to complete. With the publication of his latest selection of poems, the celebrated Northern Ireland born poet Paul Muldoon discusses being influenced by The Troubles, and why being a poet may be subject to the law of diminishing returns. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Marilyn Rust.
September 20, 2016
Daniel Radcliffe talks about his two new and very different films: in one he's an FBI agent who infiltrates a white supremacist group, in the other he's a farting corpse. Eimear McBride's new novel, The Lesser Bohemians, has been much praised for the fresh and frank way it portrays sex. Professor Sarah Churchwell and novelist Matt Thorne join Samira to discuss the literary art of turning sex into prose. The South African artist William Kentridge discusses his new exhibition Thick Time, which features drawing, film, opera, dance, tapestry and sculpture, much of it influenced by his experience of living in apartheid and post-apartheid Johannesburg. And today's shortlisted author for the BBC National Short Story Award is Claire-Louise Bennett whose short story, Morning, Noon and Night, is narrated by a woman who lives by herself on the West coast of Ireland and spends much of her time with her memories. Presented by Samira Ahmed Produced by Ella-mai Robey.
September 19, 2016
Scottish singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé talks about her latest project, Hurts. The Abstract Expressionism exhibition at London's Royal Academy is the first major show on the movement for nearly 60 years. Curators David Anfam and Edith Devaney explain how bringing together the works of Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning, Gorky and Still offers a new glimpse into what has been called the first great American art movement. Tahmima Anam has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with Garments. It's the the story of female friendship in Bangladesh, inspired by the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Dhaka in 2013. We remember the Pulitzer prize-winning American playwright Edward Albee who has died, with an extract from a feature-length interview he did with Front Row in January 2004. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
September 16, 2016
Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin talks about the BBC sessions the band recorded from 1969-71, and reveals how tracks presumed lost have been recovered, remastered and released. The annual BBC National Short Story Award is back and this year the chair of judges is Jenni Murray. She reveals who's on the shortlist and in the first of five interviews with the shortlisted authors, Hilary Mantel discusses her story, In A Right State, which is told in the first person, from the perspective of a homeless woman, who spends the night in A&E for want of something better to do. She also reveals when she's hoping to finish The Mirror And The Light, the third in the Wolf Hall trilogy, and gives a hint of what to expect from it. In his first broadcast interview since announcing his departure from the V&A in London, the outgoing Director Martin Roth explains why he's swapping museums for European politics. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
September 15, 2016
In his new film Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Sam Neill stars as a grumpy New Zealand farmer forced to go on the run with a Maori kid who thinks he's a gangster. He discusses the film, his acting mentor James Mason and starring in one of the lowest grossing feature films ever. Frederick Forsyth has announced he's stopping writing, partly because he's now too old to travel to the settings of his thrillers. Sharon Bolton, who researched the Falkland Islands from Britain for her novel Little Black Lies, and Stephanie Merritt, who visited Paris and Prague for her historical fiction thrillers, discuss whether writers must travel to their books' settings to really capture the feel of a place. Nicholas Marston, Professor of Music Theory and Analysis at King's College, Cambridge talks about a recently discovered musical 'doodle' by Beethoven which might tell us more about his most celebrated works, the Emperor Concerto. Writer Michael Bird has written a book called Vincent's Starry Night which sets out to ignite young people's imagination through storytelling. Teacher Caroline Osborne believes a proper understanding of art history is a life skill which is as important as literacy and numeracy. Both join Samira to discuss how best to teach children about the history of art. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rachel Simpson.
September 14, 2016
Director Ron Howard discusses his new documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years, which goes behind the scenes with John, Paul, George and Ringo, from The Cavern Club to the height of Beatlemania in the years 1962-66. The American poet Sharon Olds has won the Pulitzer Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize and most recently the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award. She talks to Kirsty Lang about her new collection, Odes. Tom Ellis is an artist whose work includes paintings and functionless furniture which are often displayed together. For the past four years he has drawn inspiration from the eclectic Wallace Collection in London which shows its paintings, furniture, and porcelain in the townhouse of its former owners, Sir Richard and Lady Wallace. He explains how this has complemented his work. Ralph Fiennes reportedly spent two months living in Moscow learning Russian to prepare for his role in the costume drama Two Women. Based on Ivan Turgenev's 1854 play A Month in The Country, the film sees Fiennes act and deliver lines entirely in Russian, alongside a Russian-speaking cast. Critic and stand-up comedian Viv Groskop reviews. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
September 13, 2016
The Man Booker shortlist is announced today, and critic Alex Clark discusses the most unpredictable list for years. The distinguished Israeli writer, Amos Oz, discusses his latest novel, Judas, which provides an alternative reading not just of the man whose name became synonymous with the word traitor, but suggests that traitors may have more to offer than simple betrayal. Wifredo Lam was a Cuban modernist painter, and friend of Picasso. As a major exhibition of his work opens at Tate Modern, Samira meets his son Eskil Lam and the exhibition's curator, Matthew Gale. Seventeen years ago, low-budget horror film The Blair Witch Project told the story of three film students who vanish in the woods after filming a documentary about a local legend, leaving only their footage behind. As a third sequel is released - called Blair Witch - film critic Ryan Gilbey examines the original film's influence and the 'found footage' genre it has spawned. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Dymphna Flynn Image: Bélial, Emperor of the Flies (1948) by Wifredo Lam. (c) SDO Wifredo Lam.
September 12, 2016
New TV drama National Treasure examines the impact, both public and private, of accusations of historic sexual offences against a fictional much-loved public figure played by Robbie Coltrane. John Wilson talks to screenwriter Jack Thorne, who recently co-wrote Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Julie Walters who plays the long-suffering wife of the National Treasure. The first episode of National Treasure will be broadcast on Channel 4 on 20th September. Best known for her fashion label, Nicole Farhi is now making her name as a sculptor. The two disciplines are very different she says; "as a designer, I used my head, but as an artist, I use my guts". As her second solo show opens she explains why she's been drawn to sculpt human hands. The Human Hand, at London's Bowman Sculpture starts tomorrow and runs until the end of the month. Argentinian crime saga The Clan is based on the true story of the Puccios, a middle class family who ran a secret business of kidnapping and murder from their home in Buenos Aires in the 1980s. The film took best director at Venice Film Festival last year and broke box office records in its native Argentina. Adrian Wootton reviews. The Clan is released this Friday, certificate 15. Gillian Slovo talks about her involvement with Letter from Inside, a series of radio letters airing this week by leading writers and artists on the theme of imprisonment, including Jeanette Winterson and Ai Wei Wei. Three Letters from Inside is broadcast at 1945 tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday. Inside: Artists and Writers is at Reading prison until 30th October.
September 9, 2016
Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges star in Hell or High Water, a modern day western and thriller from director David Mackenzie. Film writer Mark Eccleston reviews. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds' 16th studio album, Skeleton Tree, is released today, alongside One More Time With Feeling, a filmed performance of the album interwoven with interviews and narration. Both works were completed after the death of Cave's son last year. Novelist and critic Matt Thorne reviews. Indian novelist Aravind Adiga, who won the Man Booker Prize for The White Tiger in 2008, discusses his latest book Selection Day, about two young brothers in Mumbai and their controlling father whose lives are focused on securing places in a leading cricket team. The National Gallery has been asked by the grandchildren of Matisse's muse Marg Moll to return a painting they claim was stolen from their family in the aftermath of World War Two. Their lawyer David Rowland explains why they want it back. With the announcement this week that Apple is dropping the universal 3.5mm jack from its new phones, writer Ben Wardle reflects on the popularity, the history, and the potential demise of the music fan's small silver friend. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
September 8, 2016
Bridget Jones is back and this time there's a baby. Director Sharon Maguire discusses her return to the film franchise and how to make female focused comedy in the era of the Frat-Pack. With the news that Sir Nicolas Serota, the Director of Tate, will step down next year, Louisa Buck, contemporary art correspondent for The Art Newspaper, looks back on the career of the man who has held one of the top jobs in the Arts world for 28 years. Actor, comedian and disability activist Liz Carr explains why she has chosen the spectacular world of musical theatre as the backdrop to explore the complex subject of assisted suicide in her new show Assisted Suicide: The Musical. After years of avoiding writing about personal experience, Ann Patchett's new novel, Commonwealth, finally succumbs. Based loosely on the ups and downs of her own life, it features two families who are thrown together by infidelity, divorce and remarriage, and explores the impact of these events upon the children over the course of more than fifty years.
September 7, 2016
"You Say You Want A Revolution"? asks the Victoria and Albert Museum. John Wilson takes a tour around its new blockbuster show which explores the great changes in civil rights, multi-culturalism, consumerism, youth culture, fashion and music that took place between 1966 - 1970 and examines how they changed the world. As the Ben Hur remake hits our cinema screens, Kate Muir reviews the biblical epic. "Operation Anthropoid," was the code name of a daring mission to assassinate SS officer Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect of the Final Solution and the leader of Nazi forces in Czechoslovakia. Sean Ellis is the director of a new film telling the extraordinary true story which stars Cillian Murphey, Jamie Dornan and Toby Jones as the Czech resistance. The artist Maggi Hambling is best-known for her celebrated and controversial public works - a sculpture for Oscar Wilde in central London and Scallop, a 4-metre-high steel shell on Aldeburgh beach - as well as for her large and colourful portraits. Drawing though has always remained at the heart of her work and a new exhibition at the British Museum captures that. She talks about the creative experience of charcoal, graphite or ink on paper. Image: The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, 'Revolution' 1968 by Alan Aldridge (c) Iconic Images, Alan Aldridge.
September 6, 2016
The new film Captain Fantastic tells the story of a family whose left-wing patriarch has decided to raise his six children deep in the woods of the Pacific northwest of America. Viggo Mortensen talks about playing the idealistic but often dictatorial father in what's been called his best performance yet. The author Jay McInerney became an instant literary celebrity at the age of 24 with his 1984 novel Bright Lights, Big City set in New York's yuppie party scene. He talks about his latest book, Bright, Precious Days, the third volume in his trilogy following an Ivy League-educated Manhattan couple, and how the class of 1980 has fared in the 21st century. Academy Award-winning writer and Danish director Susanne Bier usually works on feature films but made her TV debut with The Night Manager, which aired earlier this year. The experience of working in television has led her to criticise the film industry for its treatment of women directors; restricting them to making movies that are categorised as 'women's films' or as arthouse and niche. She's now being talked about as the director of the next Bond movie - so has she changed her mind? In its 70s heyday, the horror comic for girls, Misty, sold over 160,000 copies per week. As two original stories are reissued, Misty's co-creator Pat Mills and critic Natalie Haynes discuss the comic's appeal and influence. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rachel Simpson.
September 5, 2016
The creative partnership shared by the actor Maxine Peake and the director Sarah Frankcom has been running for over a decade. As their production of A Streetcar Named Desire prepares to open at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, they discuss how that partnership has helped them bring Tennessee Williams' celebrated play to life. Artificial light has played an important part in Blackpool's history as a seaside resort, so it's fitting that with the start of the town's famous Illuminations, the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool is now presenting the UK's biggest survey of neon art. Curator Richard Parry, and cultural historian Professor Vanessa Toulmin join Samira for a discussion to shed light upon neon. Cold Feet returns to our TV screens this week. Its creator Mike Bullen explains why 13 years on, this was the moment to revisit the Manchester-based couples and what the new series has in store. 8th September 2016 marks 50 years since the drama series Star Trek made its first appearance on American network television. To celebrate this landmark, author and critic Kim Newman analyses how the show's distinctive sound effects came to be synonymous with the way the soundscape of space was represented on screen.
September 2, 2016
News, reviews and interviews from the worlds of art, literature, film and music.
September 1, 2016
As it opens to the public for the first time, John Wilson visits Reading Prison, the location of a new project which sees artists respond to the work of the jail's most famous inmate, Oscar Wilde. Created by Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives writer, Oliver Goldstick, The Collection is Amazon Prime Video's new series. Set in post-war Paris it combines family drama with haute couture. Daily Telegraph fashion editor, Lisa Armstrong, reviews. Björk, famed for her experimental style, now opens a new exhibition of immersive virtual reality experiences set to her last album Vilnicura. It includes one film shot from inside the singer's mouth. We review with Kate Mossman. With the Venice Film Festival in full swing across the continent Jason Solomons reports back on the films causing a stir. The trial of Helen Titchner for attempted murder begins on Sunday's edition of The Archers. Over a week, the ins and outs of her relationship with abusive husband Rob will be played out in court. Will there be shock confessions, surprise witnesses, and legal spats? Crime writer and playwright, Denise Mina, describes the dilemmas of writing a court scene.
August 31, 2016
Kenneth Branagh takes on the role of Archie Rice in John Osborne's 1957 play The Entertainer. The Guardian's theatre critic Michael Billington talks to us about watching Laurence Olivier in the original production at the Royal Court, and gives us his views on this latest revival. Ellen is a powerful, prescient story of a tough teenager trying to take control of her chaotic life. We talk to the writer Sarah Quintrell and actress Jessica Barden who plays 14-year-old Ellen. Sausage Party the animated Pixar pastiche that sees Seth Rogan and friends get rude with food. James King reviews. Herman Koch, the writer of the international bestselling novel, The Dinner - discusses his latest book, Dear Mr M, a literary thriller which explores the art and morality of turning fact into fiction. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Marilyn Rust.
August 30, 2016
Ian McEwan's new novel, Nutshell, is a murder mystery set in a grand, decrepit Georgian home in London. It's based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, and features a pregnant woman, her estranged husband, and his brother who is now the woman's lover. He explains why he chose to tell the story from the point of view of the foetus. Things to Come is a new film by the 35-year old French director Mia Hansen-Love. Her previous features have been semi-autobiographical films about people of her own age, however this one explores the life of an aging woman whose husband leaves her, mother dies, and whose reputation as a philosophy professor is starting to fade. All of which offer her a kind of freedom. Briony Hanson reviews. At a time when elitism in acting is a hot topic, Kirsty visits The Television Workshop, a BAFTA winning acting school in Nottingham which has been giving opportunities to young actors from a less privileged background since 1983. Where she meets the current intake and we hear from some of its famous alumni, including Games Of Thrones actor Joe Dempsie, star of Starred Up and Jack O'Connell, and This Is England creator, Shane Meadows. In tribute to Gene Wilder - the star of films such as Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and The Producers - who has died, we hear part of an interview first broadcast in 2005 about his autobiography, Kiss Me Like A Stranger: My Search for Love and Art. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
August 29, 2016
Will Aidan Turner take his shirt off again? Will his character escape conviction for murder and wrecking? As Poldark returns for a second series, screenwriter Debbie Horsfield answers those questions and explains how sometimes historical accuracy has to be abandoned to keep in the bodice ripping aspect that audiences love. 150 years since his birth, cultural historian Fern Riddell and sci-fi writer Simon Guerrier discuss the contemporary appeal of H.G. Wells and his impact on social reform. Plus activist and fashion entrepreneur Joe Corré explains why he's planning a bonfire of punk memorabilia and Front Row meets Antarctic artist in residence Lucy Carty. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jack Soper.
August 26, 2016
Actor Sir Antony Sher and director Gregory Doran talk about all-powerful pagan kings and post-Brexit Britain in relation to their RSC production of King Lear. As the Victoria and Albert Museum adds to their archive a collection of Tommy Cooper's props, posters and notebooks, Cooper's daughter Vicky remembers growing up among her father's famous stage props and hearing jokes at the kitchen table. This month has seen two big new releases in the video gaming world: the highly anticipated No Man Sky, which promises an infinite, constantly regenerating universe for players to discover, and the latest instalment in the sci-fi blockbuster franchise Deus Ex, Mankind Divided. From an economic perspective, games have outperformed other creative industries for years, and they're also nurturing the best creative writing talent. So how do writers fit in to this multi-billion pound industry? Novelist and scriptwriter James Swallow, whose game writing credits include Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and No Man's Sky, and scriptwriter and story designer Rhianna Pratchett, whose credits include Lara Croft: Tomb Raider discuss. A hit when it was first published in Holland two years ago, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1/2 Years Old is a debut novel written in the voice of the titular Hendrik, a resident in a retirement home in the north of Amsterdam. Praised for its witty and realistic portrayal of life in a care home, the book also sparked a media frenzy over the identity of its anonymous author, with a series of famous Dutch authors linked to the book. By email, the author responds to Samira's questions about the novel - and his or her's true identity. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rachel Simpson.
August 25, 2016
As Casualty, the BBC's medical drama, prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary with a feature-length episode, co-creator, Paul Unwin, and series producer Erika Hossington, discuss how a show about an overstretched, under-resourced emergency department has continued to surprise and challenge its audience. Canadian author Madeleine Thien talks about Do Not Say We Have Nothing her epic novel charting China's revolutionary history, which has earned her a place on the Man Booker long list. Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell star in Bad Moms, the new film from the writers of The Hangover. Film critic Catherine Bray reviews. German director Thomas Ostermeier discusses his Schaubuhne production of Richard III is which is being performed as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.
August 24, 2016
John Wilson talks to writer Daisy Goodwin about Victoria, ITV's new 8-part drama series about the early life of Queen Victoria. 86 year old Scottish photographer Harry Benson, whose subjects have included the Beatles, Robert Kennedy and every US President since Eisenhower. Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan discusses the watery theme of her latest and highly acclaimed album At Swim. And a new project, Books in Nicks, which puts literary books into prison cells.
August 23, 2016
Olympic silver medallist, super heavyweight boxer Joe Joyce describes his love of art and how painting one of his massive canvases takes as much energy as several rounds in the boxing ring. Conductor Marin Alsop, who made history as the first woman to conduct the last night of the Proms in 2012, talks about bringing a touch of Brazil to the Royal Albert Hall as she conducts the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra in two South American themed Proms this week. Hunter Davies is known as "the man who really knew the Beatles". As the band's only authorised biographer, he sat in on recordings of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, witnessed John and Paul collaborate on songs, and collected millions of pounds worth of memorabilia (which is now in the British Museum). His latest book is an encyclopaedia full of facts and (unusually) opinions which may please and irritate fans equally . He explains why. Author, TV critic, and broadcaster Clive James, as well as writing poems and translating Dante, continues to watch television with a critical eye. He discusses his passion for box sets and the benefits that this longer television format offers actors and viewers alike. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
August 22, 2016
John Wilson talks to music legend Quincy Jones ahead of his BBC Prom. Bafta-winner Noel Clarke on the final instalment of his British crime film trilogy, Brotherhood. Why the International Criminal Court has brought a landmark case against an Islamic militant who admits destroying cultural sites in the ancient city of Timbuktu.
August 19, 2016
David Walliams and Horrid Henry creator Francesca Simon discuss the role of parents in the work of Roald Dahl. Jack and Harry Williams, the writers behind TV drama The Missing, discuss their new series One of Us, where an inexplicable murder leads to the revelation of secrets within two families. He painted, he sculpted, he made ceramics and prints but did you know that Pablo Picasso also wrote plays? As rarely performed Desire Caught By the Tail is staged in London, its director Cradeux Alexander and critic Richard Cork discuss what we learn about the artist through his theatrical work. After months of speculation about his new album, singer Frank Ocean released an unexpected 'visual album' Endless today. Newsbeat's Jimmy Blake talks about the rise of visual albums in today's music industry.
August 18, 2016
The film Groundhog Day tells the story of a cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman who is sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in the isolated small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, when he finds himself caught in a time loop, forced to repeat the same day again and again...and again. Now it's been made into a musical by the same team behind Matilda the Musical, including composer and lyricist Tim Minchin. So how successful is the Old Vic's adaptation? Matt Wolf reviews. Samira talks to the Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar, famous for outrageous comedies (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) and female-focused dramas (Volver, All About My Mother), whose latest film, Julieta, is his most serious yet. Charlotte Dujardin won her third Olympic gold earlier this week by retaining her individual dressage title. She performed her latest gold-winning ride to music written especially by composer Tom Hunt for the games in Rio. Tom talks about how he conceived and wrote the music for Charlotte and her horse, Valegro. Actor Bertie Carvel discusses his directorial debut Strife, John Galsworthy's rarely staged political drama, which charts the progress of an industrial strike and the fight between a factory's workers and the company's board of directors. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Angie Nehring.
August 17, 2016
With Kirsty Lang at the Edinburgh Festivals. How do shows make the transition from big on the Fringe, to mainstream success? Two talent spotters reveal what they look for when they come to Edinburgh. Scottish folk singer Karine Polwart discusses her award-winning Edinburgh International Festival show Wind Resistance, a love letter to the flora and fauna of her home terrain, Fala Moor just south of Edinburgh. A new play examines what happened during Ukraine's Euro Maidan revolution through an intense immersive experience. Creators, and husband and wife team, Mark and Marichka Marczyk explain why for them theatre was the best way to process what happened. And Viv Groskop reviews US/THEM, a play charting the Beslan siege of 2004 through the eyes of two children who were caught up in the violence.
August 16, 2016
Kirsty Lang is at the Edinburgh Festivals exploring how comedy, music, theatre and satire can help us navigate turbulent political times. David Brent is back, but this time he is dreaming big and taking his newly formed band Foregone Conclusion on tour in hopes of a record deal. Ricky Gervais and Ben Bailey Smith discuss the film and the accompanying album. The mythical figure of the Angel of Kobane is the subject of Henry Naylor's new play Angel, which has been getting rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe. Henry reflects on tackling challenging material in his plays. Writer and musician Adam Kay explains why he's singing Tom Lehrer songs with a twist at this year's Fringe. And what's the role of comedy when politics feels beyond satire? Comedian and former Labour Special Advisor Ayesha Hazarika and political comedy veteran Rory Bremner discuss. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Ellie Bury.
August 15, 2016
John Wilson at the Edinburgh Festival, with novelist Philippa Gregory on her latest Tudor novel, Three Sisters, Three Queens. Adura Onashile discusses her play Expensive Sh*t, the story of a woman who works in the toilets of a nightclub, based on Glasgow's Shimmy Club. Sabina Cameron performs an extract of the play. Scottish poet Liz Lochhead talks about the ancient role of the Makar, the Scottish Poet Laureate. The troupe behind the award-winning improv musical Showstopper perform an impromptu song and Pippa Evans and Adam Meggido discuss the value of improvisation to theatre and the growing appetite for it at the Edinburgh Fringe. Producer: Dixi Stewart.
August 12, 2016
Musician, filmmaker and DJ, Don Letts has curated a season of films about punk for the British Film Institute, in London. He explains how Punk on Film brings together a broad range of documentary, archive footage and feature films that draw attention to the diversity of the punk movement, its lineage, and influence today. A significant aspect of punk was that allowed women to defy the music industry's notions of beauty and sex appeal. Women became performers in their own right, wrote their own songs, played their own instruments, and even became the main protagonist of movies about the music industry - such as Hazel O'Connor in Breaking Glass. We hear about the role of women in punk from Hazel O'Connor, vocalist and guitarist Jess Allanic, and Dr Helen Reddington. Photographers George Quann-Barnett and Marco Grey - from Wot Do You Call It - and Olivia Rose discuss the importance of documenting the grime scene, which they argue is the most unique and significant music subculture to explode in Britain since punk. Plus Scottee, an artist who describes himself as "fat and working class, with a penchant for ladies clothes", argues that queer drag and performers like Bourgeois & Maurice and Jonny Woo - with their kitten heels, bondage outfits and 'attitude' - are the punks of today. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Angie Nehring.
Jamie Cullum at the Proms, Greek crime writer Petros Markaris, Techno-thriller Nerve, Artists in residence
August 11, 2016
Samira heads to the Royal Albert Hall to hear Jamie Cullum in rehearsal for his late night Prom and to talk to the musician about why he's so enthralled by improvisation. Nerve is a new film that revolves around an online game of truth and dare, which Samira is calling the selfie generation's answer to Desperately Seeking Susan. Naomi Alderman reviews. Greek crime writer Petros Markaris discusses writing novels that chart the Greek financial crisis and see killers take on tax evaders and bankers, much to the delight of his readers (and the surprise of the author). And we continue to meet Artists in Residence around the UK who are working in unusual places. Tonight we visit a care home in Gloucestershire where the performance poet in residence helps unlock memories of dementia sufferers. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rachel Simpson.
August 10, 2016
This week sees the release of a lot of water in cinemas as surfer Blake Lively does battle with a great white shark in The Shallows, and inhabitants of a small Norwegian town struggle to survive a tsunami in The Wave. Adam Smith comes up for breath to offer his verdict on both. Alexander McCall Smith is back with his 11th instalment of his popular '44 Scotland Street series' with The Bertie Project. He reveals what happens to Bertie next, how the pressure of writing a serialised novel affects his style, and, after more than 80 books, will he ever slow down? To help celebrate the National Youth Theatre turning sixty, two playwrights, Bola Ajbage and James Fritz, have penned plays hoping to fire the imagination of young theatre goers. They join Kirsty to explain why they've put technology and housing centre stage in a bid to speak to generation Z. Seas and rivers have long been a source of poetic inspiration so to continue our series where we find out what artists in residence do, we take a walk up a towpath in Birmingham with canal laureate Luke Kennard.
August 9, 2016
Kevin Legendre reviews Baz Luhrmann's first TV project, The Get Down, a high-octane slice of life chronicling the birth of hip hop in 1970's New York. Kirsty speaks to writer Krys Lee whose debut novel, How I Became A North Korean, is set in one of the most complex and threatening environments in the world - the border between China and the 'hermit nation'. Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical Allegro was their third collaboration for the stage following Oklahoma! and Carousel. It opened on Broadway in 1947. With a new production in London, director Thom Southerland and critic Matt Wolf discuss its revival 70 years on. Front Row meets equine painter Elizabeth Armstrong, the artist in residence at Royal Windsor Racecourse. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Jack Soper.
August 8, 2016
As the BBC celebrates 60 years of the British TV sitcom, Samira Ahmed is joined by Citizen Khan creator and star Adil Ray, comedy producer and director Paul Jackson and the BFI's TV consultant Dick Fiddy. Joyce McMillan reviews an Edinburgh Festival production of Tennessee Williams's play The Glass Menagerie, directed by John Tiffany and starring Cherry Jones. The artist Conrad Shawcross on building a vast 50 metre-tall, 20 metre-wide 'architectural intervention' beside a busy main road on the Greenwich Peninsular, encasing a new low-carbon Energy Centre. And this week Front Row meets some of the Artists in Residence around the UK who are working in unusual places, starting in Lincoln Cathedral with Toni Watts, a manuscript illuminator. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.
Yerma starring Billie Piper, Film director Todd Solondz, Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein, Slam poetry in Brazil
August 5, 2016
Billie Piper stars in Simon Stone's radical reworking of Lorca's Yerma, a play about a woman's increasingly desperate desire to conceive. Sarah Hemming reviews. Provocative film director Todd Solondz on his dark comedy Wiener-Dog, which comprises four short stories linked together by the same dashchund, starring Greta Gerwig and Danny DeVito. As the original version of Tchaikovsky's famous Piano Concerto No.1 gets its UK premiere at the BBC Proms, Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein explains why this dramatically different score has remained hidden for so long. As the Olympics begin, we complete our series of interviews with Brazilian artists with a look at the slam poetry scene in Brazil. Presenter: Clemency Burton-Hill Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
The Mercury Prize shortlist, Colin Spencer and Jon Brittain on gay theatre, Brazilian artist Vivian Caccuri, author Sara Taylor
August 4, 2016
David Bowie, Laura Mvula, Radiohead, and grime stars Kano and Skepta, are among the nominees for this year's Mercury Prize for best album, it was announced today. Music journalist Ruth Barnes rates this year's diverse shortlist. Colin Spencer's Spitting Image - first staged in 1968 when it became the UK's first ever openly gay play - is being revived as part of the King's Head Theatre's Queer Season in London. Meanwhile, Jon Brittain's play about a lesbian couple, Rotterdam, is back in the West End at Trafalgar Studios. Kirsty Lang talks to both writers about writing gay characters but 50 years apart. Continuing her series of interviews with Brazilian artists in the build-up to the Olympics, Kirsty visits sound artist Vivian Caccuri at her studio in an old biscuit factory. Sara Taylor won rave reviews for her debut novel The Shore and she's back on winning form with her second novel The Lauras. It tells the story of a mother running away from an unhappy marriage with her 13 year old child Alex, and how the pair bond during a road trip across the US. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rachel Simpson.
August 3, 2016
As Harold Pinter's play No Man's Land sets off on a nationwide tour Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart, along with the play's director Sean Mathias, discuss working together, toilet breaks and Trekkies. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews the film adaptation of the much loved novella The Little Prince, by Antonie de Saint-Exupery. As a possible sign of things to come, it receives its première online and features voice work by Jeff Bridges and Rachel McAdams. Continuing our series of interviews with Brazilian artists in the run-up to the Olympics, Kirsty meets Jotape, who is one of the leading figures involved in Brazil's latest dance craze - Passinho, and theatre and circus director Renato Rocha who's directed Shakespeare with children from the favelas (Rio's slums). 20 years ago today the remix of a Spanish pop song went to no.1 in the charts, stayed there for 14 weeks, and went on to take the dance-craze-world by storm. To mark the occasion, Front Row asks the writer and comedian Danny Robins to ponder the success of The Macarena (The Bayside Boys Mix!) Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Jack Soper.
August 2, 2016
The actor, Brian Cox, joins John Wilson to talk The Carer, a new comedy about a retired Shakespearean actor suffering from a form of Parkinson's disease that has left him frustrated and gloriously grumpy. John travels to Brighton to climb what is now the world's tallest moving observation tower, the British Airways i360. At the top he meets its architects, David Marks and Julia Barfield, who also created the London Eye. Comedian Bob Slayer explains why he is enlisting fellow performers and the general public to help him read the Chilcot Report, all 2.6 million words, from start to finish, at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As we continue our series of interviews with artists working in Rio, today Kirsty Laing visits the visual artist, Ernesto Neto, at his studio where he creates crocheted sculptures inspired by nature.
July 29, 2016
With the Rio Olympics just a week away, Kirsty Lang travels to the city, and to a country which is undergoing huge political turmoil. With the left wing government under impeachment, the right wing government has taken over, and austerity cuts have ensued with inevitable cuts to the arts. To find out what impact this is having on the Cultural Olympiad she speaks to its Director, and also to the Head of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies as well as artists who've been affected. She visits the Ministry of Culture which is being occupied by artists protesting against the new government, and meets a theatre director who was ostracised by the artistic community for his political views. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
July 28, 2016
Ellen Page stars in new Netflix film Tallulah as a rootless young woman who spontaneously steals a child from an irresponsible mother. Hannah McGill reviews the film which was written and directed by Sian Heder, who also writes for the TV series Orange is the New Black. John Cale discusses his participation in the David Bowie Prom, which also features Laura Mvula and Marc Almond, in a celebration of the music of the singer who died in January. A production of Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars has just opened at the National Theatre in London, which tells the story of the Easter Rising and the attempt to end British rule in Ireland. O'Casey's daughter Shivaun, historian Dr Heather Jones, and Sean Holmes - director of the Lyric Hammersmith - discuss whether it still has the power to challenge an audience 100 years since the Easter Rising. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
Bourne, Man Booker Prize long list, The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, Presidential campaign music.
July 27, 2016
Bourne is back. But 14 years since Matt Damon starred in The Bourne Identity, does the franchise still thrill in a world of super-hackers and government surveillance? Antonia Quirke joins John Wilson to review Jason Bourne. The Man Booker prize long list was announced today. Critics Alex Clarke and Toby Lichtig consider this year's runners and riders. The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is celebrating its bicentenary with an exhibition displaying 150 illuminated manuscripts from its collection, ranging from prayer books of European royalty to alchemical scrolls. John travels to Cambridge to find out more. Presidential hopefuls have long known of the power of a good pop tune when it comes to firing up a crowd. So what's scoring the Trump and Clinton rallies, and what does it say about their respective campaigns? American columnist, Katie Puckrik dons her headphones.
July 26, 2016
Nine years after the last book was published, Harry Potter comes back to life in a brand new stage play by JK Rowling. Henry Hitchings reviews Harry Potter And The Cursed Child. We review listeners' reaction to this morning's debate on the cultural response to Brexit with those who run and fund arts organisations. John Wilson's guests are Victoria Pomery Director of Turner Contemporary in Margate, Fergus Linehan Director of the Edinburgh International Festival, and Councillor Judith Blake Leader of Leeds City Council who are in the process of bidding for European city of culture 2023. Plus, composers Michael Berkeley and Anthony Payne on the world premieres of their large-scale new pieces for the BBC Proms. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
July 26, 2016
John Wilson is joined by cultural figures including Phil Redmond, Val McDermid, Dreda Say Mitchell, Rufus Norris, Wayne Hemingway, Samuel West, Jane and Louise Wilson, George the Poet and Anthony Anaxagorou to discuss how Britain's creative community can and should respond to the divisions in British society exposed by the EU Referendum result. With an audience at The Royal Society of Arts in London, they explore whether Brexit presents an artistic opportunity, if it signals a retreat from European culture, how it will be reflected in the books, films, plays and music of the next few years, and what art can do to help us navigate the realities of post-Brexit Britain Producer: Dixi Stewart.
July 25, 2016
Arts news, interviews and reviews.
July 22, 2016
Mark Rylance, theatre and film actor and former artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe, discusses playing the role of The BFG, based on Roald Dahl's The Big Friendly Giant, directed and produced by Steven Spielberg. As Pixie Lott moves from pop star and Strictly Come Dancing contestant to playing the role of socialite Holly Golightly in a new stage version of Breakfast at Tiffany's, she discusses how she's coping with her first major acting role, learning to play guitar to sing Moon River, and what it's like to play a part immortalised by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film. Conductor Alpesh Chauhan is raising a few eyebrows in the world of classical music. The son of a Birmingham lorry driver and aged just 26, he's one of the youngest conductors on the circuit. He speaks to John ahead of his Prom on Saturday, Ten Pieces Choir with the BBC Philharmonic. Presenter John Wilson Producer Ella-mai Robey.
July 21, 2016
Ethan Hawke stars as the jazz trumpeter and singer Chet Baker in the new biopic Born to be Blue which covers the musician's comeback in the late 1960s. Jazz pianist and composer Julian Joseph reviews. Conductor Antonello Manacorda on Glyndebourne's new production of Berlioz's comic opera Beatrice et Benedict, based on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. The Body Extended: Sculpture and Prosthetics is a new exhibition at the Henry Moore institute in Leeds which explores how artists have responded to developments in prosthetics technology, especially after the First World War. The curator, Lisa Le Feuvre, explains how artists were first involved in making artificial body parts and how that has inspired their art. Shari Lapena's debut crime novel The Couple Next Door begins with the disappearance of a baby whose parents are next door at a dinner party, and the narrative explores all perspectives and everyone is under suspicion. Having previously written literary novels, she reveals why she'll be sticking with the thriller genre. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
July 20, 2016
In the 1960s when only black-and-white photographs were considered 'art', the American photographer William Eggleston changed that perception with his brightly-coloured photographs of the American South. Photographer Eamonn McCabe reviews a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which brings together many of Eggleston's portraits of the people who lived there. Tess Gerritsen, author of the best-selling crime series Rizzoli and Isles, talks to Kirsty about her latest novel, a stand-alone historical thriller, Playing with Fire. In 2012, the art collective Random International made headlines with their work Rain Room which featured a large room filled with pouring rain which visitors could walk through without getting wet. For a new show at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry they've made their first video work, Everything and Nothing, in response to graphene, the world's first two-dimensional material. Co-founder of the collective, Florian Ortkrass, discusses making art out of scientific discoveries. Wang Jianlin, one of China's billionaires, made his fortune in property development. Now intent on building a global entertainment empire, he's been busy buying film production companies and cinema chains worldwide, including most recently the UK's Odeon cinema chain. Patrick Frater, Asia Bureau Chief for Variety, explains why Wang Jianlin could soon be making his presence felt in Hollywood. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
July 19, 2016
John Wilson meets the former member of pop band Destiny's Child, Michelle Williams, as she prepares to host and perform at the Late Night Gospel Prom at the Royal Albert Hall. Brexageddon?! is a one-off, 30-minute sitcom satirising the EU referendum and its effect on the nation. Its writers and stars, Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse, reveal the pressures of delivering time sensitive laughs. Can bricks and mortar inspire great music? The architect David Adjaye and his brother Peter, the composer aka AJ Kwame, discuss their new project, Dialogues, an album inspired by David's buildings which include the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford, London, and the Genesis Pavilion in Miami. And is the Pokemon Go craze a boon or a curse for art galleries and museums? Curator of Videogames at the V&A museum, Marie Foulston considers the popular game's impact.
July 18, 2016
Samira Ahmed talks to Simon Pegg, writer and star of the film Star Trek: Beyond. Front Row marks the 150th birthday of Beatrix Potter, discussing the darker side of her children's stories with Kathryn Hughes and Sally Gardner. Stalking the Bogeyman is a new play created by David Holthouse and Markus Potter, based on David's own experience of rape as a child and the revenge he plans to reap on his attacker. And should we follow Steven Spielberg's example and bribe our children to watch black and white films? Samira talks to BFI Family Film Programmer Justin Johnson. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.
July 15, 2016
Fracked! Or: Please don't use the F-word is a comedy in Chichester about shale extraction. Playwright Alistair Beaton explains how he keeps the play topical in times of fast political change, and how he cast actor James Bolam when he met him demonstrating against a potential fracking site in Sussex. The art of the self-portrait - why do artists portray themselves? From Rembrandt's unflinching treatment of his ageing reflection to Ai Weiwei's politically-charged use of social media, a new exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh sets out to answer that question. Moira Jeffrey reviews Facing the World. Someone Knows My Name is a Canadian historical drama which tells the true story of a West African girl who campaigns for her freedom after she is abducted into slavery in South Carolina. Kevin Le Gendre reviews this TV adaptation. Marcus Harvey first attracted public attention as a YBA with his portrait of the child killer Myra Hindley, created from a small child's handprints. Protestors picketed the Royal Academy when it went on show as part of Sensation in 1997. Harvey discusses new exhibition Inselaffe at Jerwood Gallery in Hastings, which explores what it means to be British. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Angie Nehring.
July 14, 2016
The BAFTA-winning writer Tony Marchant has adapted Joseph Conrad's 1907 novel The Secret Agent into a three-part TV drama, starring Toby Jones and Vicky McClure. He talks adapting the novel's prescient story of homegrown terrorism, surveillance and betrayal. Samira talks to Argentinian cellist Sol Gabetta, who opens the BBC Proms on Friday with the Elgar Cello Concerto. And a new photography exhibition, Made You Look: Dandyism and Black Masculinity, explores the identity of the black dandy in studio and street photography around the world. The group exhibition's curator Ekow Eshun, discusses the photographers and images which capture the dress and flamboyance of black individuals from New York to Bamako.
Winona Ryder in Stranger Things, Jan Ravens on impersonating Theresa May, Alice Oswald, James Kelman
July 13, 2016
Stranger Things is a Netflix series starring Winona Ryder which tells the story of a supernatural disappearance of a young boy in 1980s Indiana. Kim Newman reviews. As satirists target a new Prime Minister, Jan Ravens of Radio 4's Dead Ringers discusses her approach to impersonating Theresa May. Poet Alice Oswald discusses Falling Awake, her new poetry collection that explores mortality, and why gardening and the classics lead to poetic inspiration. James Kelman who won the Booker Prize in 1994 for his novel How Late It Was, How Late, discusses his new book Dirt Road, which follows a Scottish teenager and his father on a trip to the American south where they grieve for the teenager's mother and sister who have died of cancer. On his 82nd birthday the Nobel Prize-winning Nigerian playwright and poet reads from his poem, A Vision of Peace. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
July 12, 2016
Matt Smith stars in a new play that was completely conceived in the rehearsal room. In 'Unreachable', written and directed by Anthony Neilson, Smith plays a film director consumed by his attempts to capture the perfect light. We speak to them both about the rehearsal process and the end result. Unreachable is on at the Royal Court in London until the 6th August. Award-winning poet Sean O'Brien talks about his new novel, Once Again Assembled Here. Set in the claustrophobic world of a boys' boarding school in the late 60s, it's a murder story which explores the re-emergence of the far right after World War II. Once Again Assembled Here is published on 14 July. Ruth Mackenzie was the director of the Cultural Olympiad for the London 2012 Olympics. In the run up to Rio 2016, we ask her to assess its legacy four years on. Hannah McGill reviews French film La Belle Saison or Summertime. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Elaine Lester.
July 11, 2016
Samira Ahmed talks to Alan Ayckbourn about his experimental new work for the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, The Karaoke Theatre Company, which involves audience participation. Briony Hanson reviews Men and Chicken, a Danish comedy film starring Mads Mikkelsen. Crime writer Peter Robinson discusses his 23rd DCI Banks novel When the Music's Over, which features a celebrity at the centre of a historical abuse investigation.
July 8, 2016
The author and illustrator Judith Kerr, who escaped Hitler's Germany as a child and went on to write more than 30 children's books, has received a lifetime achievement award from the reading charity BookTrust. The creator of the Mog the Cat and The Tiger Who Came to Tea talks to John Wilson about what keeps her drawing and writing at the age of 93. Hadley Freeman reviews a fascinating new fly-on-the-wall film about American politician Anthony Weiner, whose campaign to be Mayor of New York is beset with scandal. Folk rockers Mumford & Sons travelled to South Africa earlier this year to perform a series of concerts. They came back having recorded a mini-album, Johannesburg, with Senegalese singer Baaba Maal, South African rockers Beatenberg and electronic producers The Very Best. Marcus Mumford and Ben Lovett from the group, and Baaba Maal joined John to discuss what attracted them both to the collaboration. And tomorrow thousands of members of the public will be taking to the streets of Hull naked and painted blue. They're taking part in an installation called Sea of Hull. We speak to the artist Spencer Tunick about the practicalities of pulling off such a large scale work. Presenter - John Wilson Producer - Rachel Simpson.
July 7, 2016
As the Liverpool Biennial prepares to open, Samira Ahmed talks to Sally Tallant, director of the biennial and the woman charged with turning the Merseyside city into an international contemporary art gallery. She meets three of the artists who have responded to the themes of this year's biennial: Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey meditates on memory in his film Dream English Kid, 1964 - 1999 AD; 78 of Liverpool's youngsters help performance artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd create a film installation - Dogsy Ma Bone - that fuses Bertolt Brecht and Betty Boop; and the American ceramic artist Betty Woodman draws inspiration from Liverpool's architecture for her fountain commission. And the first broadcast interview with the winner of the John Moores Painting Prize, the UK's longest-established painting prize with former winners including David Hockney and Peter Doig. Presenter - Samira Ahmed Producer - Ekene Akalawu.
July 6, 2016
Playwright and screenwriter (Atonement; Les Liaisons dangereuses) Christopher Hampton on translating the work of Florian Zeller, as his latest play The Truth transfers to London's West End. Maggie's Plan starring Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, and Julianne Moore - and directed by Rebecca Moore - is a romantic comedy with a twist. After Maggie, played by Gerwig, falls for a married man, she decides to try and reunite him with his wife. Film critic Larushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews. With the announcement of the winner of the 2016 Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year being made this evening, Front Row visits the fifth and final shortlisted entry, Arnolfini, a gallery and arts centre on the harbourside in Bristol. Queens of Syria began in Jordan as a project for female Syrian refugees, updating Euripides' The Trojan Women to reflect their own experiences. As the play comes to the UK for a nationwide tour we speak to cast members Sham and Amwar and the director of the UK production Zoe Lafferty.
July 5, 2016
Best known as Dame Edna Everage, Barry Humphries takes to the stage as himself in a concert celebrating the subversive music of Berlin's Weimar Republic. Barry talks to John Wilson about the show which he has curated and features cabaret star Meow Meow and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. In its 150th anniversary year, the National Museums Scotland prepares to open 10 new galleries, housing more than 3000 objects of decorative art, design, fashion, science and technology. The museum's Director Gordon Rintoul discusses this latest stage in an £80 million redevelopment. Director of Drive Nicholas Winding Refn's new film The Neon Demon is a shocking story set in LA's fashion world, with a palette of neon colour, hyper-real imagery and a dark, electronic sound track. Elle Fanning, who starred in Maleficent, plays an ingénue 16 year old, making her debut on the catwalks, exciting vicious, predatory interest from the established models. Wendy Ide reviews. The award-winning Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami has died. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a fellow Iranian film maker and writer pays tribute. Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick is a new exhibition at Somerset House in London. The show has been curated by the artist and musician James Lavelle, and features the work of a number of contemporary artists, filmmakers and musicians inspired by the director of 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. John talks to James Lavelle and the artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
July 4, 2016
Samira Ahmed discusses the work of pioneering American artist Georgia O'Keeffe, as a major retrospective opens at Tate Modern in London. With Andrea Rose. Paul Feig - director of Bridesmaids and Spy - on his reinvention of the film Ghostbusters, with women in the lead roles. American crime writer Laura Lippman, known for her "accidental PI" Tess Monaghan series, returns with a standalone story, Wilde Lake, a modern retelling of To Kill a Mockingbird. And to mark US Independence Day, Front Row looks at the remarkable origins of the American National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner.
July 1, 2016
100 years to the day after the artillery bombardment ceased and the first whistle was blown, we remember those who took part in the Battle of the Somme, and how artists then and now have represented the costliest day in British military history. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
June 30, 2016
Director Mandie Fletcher discusses the challenges of taking Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders and Absolutely Fabulous from the small to the big screen. Comedian Phill Jupitus remembers Gordon Murray, the creator and puppeteer of the Trumpton series of children's TV animations - Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley - whose death was announced today. Matthew Sweet celebrates the 100th birthday of Olivia de Havilland, one of last great stars of Hollywood's golden era, whose films include Gone with The Wind and The Heiress. Penelope Wilton and Sophie Rundel star in a new six-part comedy-drama, Brief Encounters. Set in Sheffield in 1982 - and loosely based on the memoir of the CEO of Ann Summers, Jacqueline Gold - the story centres on the lives of four women whose lives are turned around when they start running parties selling exotic lingerie. Julia Raeside reviews. As arts organisations around the country begin assessing how the vote to leave the EU might affect their funding and freedom of movement for artists, Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England, discusses what he calls the 'dividends' of a healthy cultural scene for wider society. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
June 29, 2016
John Wilson talks to the soul musician Michael Kiwanuka, whose new album Love and Hate is inspired by the feeling of being separated from the world around him. Film critic Tim Robey and historian Jeffrey Richards consider the depiction of war on film from The Battle of the Somme to Restrepo, reflected in a new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. Richard Hawley pays tribute to the pioneering rock guitarist Scotty Moore, from Elvis Presley's original band, whose death was announced today. All The Way is a feature-length political drama starring Bryan Cranston as Lyndon B Johnson in his early days as US President. Kit Davis reviews.
David Hockney at Royal Academy, Choreographer Sir Peter Wright, Tenor Gregory Kunde, Updating album covers
June 28, 2016
David Hockney's new exhibition is 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life at the Royal Academy in London. The artist asked friends to sit for him in Los Angeles over the last two-and-a-half years, each portrait created within the same three-day time frame, in the same chair, with the same background, and every canvas the same size. Critic William Feaver gives his response to the brightly-coloured acrylic works. The exhibition runs from 2nd July until 2nd October. The tenor Gregory Kunde, winner of Best Male Singer at this year's International Opera Awards and about to make his debut at the Royal Opera House in two Verdi operas, on a remarkable change of direction so late in his career. The choreographer Sir Peter Wright reflects on his remarkable career, spanning nearly seven decades, founding the Birmingham Royal Ballet and working along greats like Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn. He joins us to look back at ballet stars behaving badly and his new memoir Wrights And Wrongs, published 18th July. With Phil Collins updating three of his early album sleeves by replacing the cover photo of his face then with that of how he looks now, writer Ben Wardle wonders why brand updating - so common in books, DVDs and food packaging, among others - so rarely happens in the music industry. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Elaine Lester.
June 27, 2016
After the success of The Miniaturist, author Jessie Burton discusses her second novel, The Muse, which is set between 1930s Spain, at the beginning of the civil war, and 1960s London, and explores the idea of the artist's muse. The painter Stanley Spencer is the subject of a new exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield. Curator Eleanor Clayton discusses why writing about his painting was as important to Spencer as painting itself. The York Art Gallery is one of five museums and galleries in the UK to make the shortlist for this year's Museum of the Year Award. In the fourth of our reports from the shortlisted venues, Samira visits the gallery which has recently undergone a multi-million-pound refurbishment of its Grade II listed building, creating a space for the new Centre of Ceramic Art in the Victorian roof void, which had been hidden from public view for more than 50 years. Set in Caracas, From Afar explores the shifting relationship between an older man and the young working-class teenage boy he picks up in a tense, homophobic society. The film won a Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival last year. Briony Hanson, Director of Film at the British Council, reviews. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Ella-mai Robey.
June 24, 2016
As Blur and Gorillaz front man Damon Albarn joins the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians to open the Glastonbury Festival, John talks to Damon and Lebanese-Syrian rapper Eslam Jawaad about working and performing with the orchestra. In Inspiring Impressionism, the National Galleries of Scotland will stage the first ever large-scale exhibition to examine the important relationship between the landscape painter Charles-François Daubigny and the Impressionists, including Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. Curators Lynne Ambrosini and Frances Fowle discuss. The Bethlem Museum of the Mind in South London is one of five museums and galleries in the UK to make the shortlist for Museum of the Year. In the third of our reports from the shortlisted venues, John Wilson visits the museum which cares for an internationally-renowned collection of archives, art and historic objects relating to the history of mental healthcare and treatment. The Jamaican guitarist and composer Ernest Ranglin is probably best known for Millie Small's 1964 ska version of My Boy Lollipop, but during his long career he has worked with the likes of Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, and jazz pianist Monty Alexander. At the age of 83, Ernest is embarking on his farewell tour, starting with an appearance at this year's Glastonbury Festival. Music journalist Kevin Le Gendre looks back on the career of the musician, and explains why he's still a hot ticket after thousands of gigs and recording sessions over almost seven decades. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
June 23, 2016
Artist Carsten Höller discusses his latest project, the world's longest and tallest tunnel slide, attached to Anish Kapoor's ArcelorMittal Orbit in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, East London. Then Kirsty gives it a go... The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk is the latest stage production from the Cornish theatre company Kneehigh tells the story of the 20th century artist Marc Chagall and his wife and muse, Bella. Director Emma Rice and writer Daniel Jamieson join Kirsty. Jupiter Artland in Scotland is one of five museums and galleries in the UK to make the shortlist for Museum of the Year. In the second of our reports from the shortlisted venues, the Museum's founders, husband and wife team Robert and Nicky Wilson, explain what they hope to achieve with this still relatively young gallery. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
June 22, 2016
Ralph Fiennes and director Rupert Goold discuss their new production of Shakespeare's Richard III at the Almeida Theatre in London. Kevin Spacey stars as the former US president in the new film Elvis & Nixon, which focuses on the untold real-life story of the meeting between the two men. Michael Carlson reviews. Author Marina Lewycka and playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak join Samira to discuss the art of writing fiction about the refugee experience. As refugees once themselves, both have contributed to an anthology of writing called A Country of Refuge, being published to coincide with Refugee Week. One of Pakistan's most famous qawwali singers Amjad Sabri has been killed today in Karachi. Ziad Zafar joins us to explain Sabri's place in Pakistani culture and what may have led to his death.
Carys Bray, The Meddler reviewed, Henry V, Painters' Paintings at National Gallery, Derby Museums acquisitions
June 21, 2016
Susan Sarandon stars as an interfering mother in The Meddler, with Rose Byrne as her long-suffering daughter. Critic Kate Muir reviews. The Meddler is released on 24 June, certificate 12A. Derby Museums acquires two Joseph Wright landscapes for its collection after bidding anonymously at a New York auction house. Executive Director Tony Butler explains why he thinks bold acquisitions are the way forward amid shrinking budgets in regional museums. Carys Bray, author of A Song for Issey Bradley, discusses her new novel The Museum of You, in which a 12-year-old girl creates a museum at home dedicated to her mother, who was killed in a road accident shortly after she was born. Painters' Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck is a new exhibition exploring great paintings from the point of view of the artists who owned them. Inspired by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot's Italian Woman - left to the National Gallery in London by Lucian Freud following his death in 2011 - the exhibition includes over eighty works, spanning more than five hundred years, all once owned by celebrated painters, such as Van Dyck's Titian, Reynold's Rembrandt, and Matisse's Degas. Front Row sends critic William Feaver to find out what we learn. Painters' Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck opens at the National Gallery in London on Thursday (23 June) and runs until 4 September. Having played many of Shakespeare's female leads, Michelle Terry takes on the role of Henry V at Regent's Park Open Theatre, directed by Robert Hastie. Front Row talks to both about the new production. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Elaine Lester.
June 20, 2016
Independence Day, starring Will Smith, redefined the summer blockbuster. Now, twenty years on, writer, director and producer Roland Emmerich returns to the movie with a sequel - Independence Day: Resurgence. John Wilson talks to Roland about why he decided to make the film despite his dislike of sequels, spending huge film budgets and getting diverse actors on screen. Chris Riddell, the Children's Laureate, has been announced as the winner of The Kate Greenaway Medal 2016 for the book The Sleeper and the Spindle. Chris is the illustrator and the story is by Neil Gaiman. Chris has won this prestigious prize for illustration in a children's book for an unprecedented third time. Fretwork are a group of musicians who have been performing early music on the viol, a predecessor to the modern violin and cello, for 30 years. Founding member Richard Boothby and new recruit Emily Ashton join us to demonstrate why the viol isn't an outdated piece of musical technology. The Border is the first Polish series to be shown on British terrestrial TV. Rachel Cooke reviews this timely drama about human-traffickers on the border border of the EU between Poland and Ukraine.
June 17, 2016
John Wilson talks to Sir Trevor Nunn, as he returns to his hometown of Ipswich to direct A Midsummer Night's Dream. With this new production Nunn will have directed all of Shakespeare's 37 plays. Singer-songwriter Jake Bugg talks about his third album, On My One, and plays his new song The Love We're Hoping For live in the studio. Natasha Walter, known for her non-fiction books The New Feminism and Living Dolls, discusses her first novel, A Quiet Life, inspired by the wife of Cambridge spy Donald Maclean.
Mike Bartlett on Wild, Tale of Tales film review, Georgiana Houghton exhibition review, Suburra director Stefano Sollima
June 16, 2016
The film Tale of Tales is a fantastical interweaving of fairytales, based on a collection of stories published by the 17th Century poet Gianbattista Basile. It stars Salma Hayek, Toby Jones, Vincent Cassel and John C Riley and is directed by Matteo Garrone, who previously made Gomorrah. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews. Playwright Mike Bartlett, who won Olivier Awards for his plays King Charles III and Bull, discusses his new play Wild, based on an Edward Snowden-like character who faces the consequences of leaking thousands of classified documents about US operations at home and abroad. Charlotte Mullins reviews the exhibition of drawings by 19th Century spiritualist Georgiana Houghton at the Courtauld Gallery in London. Layers of watercolours and gouache, painted, she believed, under the influence of a spirit, Houghton's work has long been neglected. Now her abstract works have been reexamined as precursors of the work of artists such as Kandinsky and Mondrian. Suburra portrays a dark and rain-soaked Rome, where mafia families plot to turn the city's waterfront into the next Las Vegas. The scheme involves shady deals with politicians, the Vatican and warring organised crime gangs. Director Stefano Sollima explains why he is drawn to the underworld of Italy and why he thinks Italian film is enjoying a renaissance. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Elaine Lester.
June 15, 2016
Ashley Pharoah, writer of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, discusses his latest creation for BBC TV - The Living and the Dead. Set in rural Somerset in 1894, this supernatural drama follows Nathan Appleby, a reluctant gentleman farmer who is obsessed with proving the existence of the afterlife, as he investigates hauntings, paranormal happenings and ghostly visitations. Writer Sarah Crossan has won the 2016 Bookseller YA prize for her novel One. It's the story of conjoined twins, written in verse. Ros Barber's debut novel The Marlowe Papers is a fictional account of the life of Christopher Marlowe, also written in verse. They talk to Kirsty about writing novels which take the form of series of poems. Sound artist Chris Watson, who has worked alongside David Attenborough on many of his BBC nature series, discusses his new project The Town Moor - A Portrait in Sound. Over the course of a year he documented the sounds of the ancient and vast grazing common at the heart of Newcastle, and will be presenting the audio portrait as a 'dark' cinema experience at the Tyneside Cinema. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
June 14, 2016
Tate Modern opens its new £260m extension to the iconic former power station on London's South Bank on Friday. Architect Amanda Levete, who has remodelled the V&A, and the art critic Andrea Rose visit the Switch House to discuss the opportunities the new space offers for international and female artists. Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard is performing Messiaen's two-hour celebration of birdsong, Catalogue d'Oiseaux, at the Aldeburgh Festival this Sunday from dawn to dusk. We join him in front of the piano for a tour of the different bird calls in the piece and he reveals how Messiaen's personal connection to nature informed his work. Emma Cline discusses her debut novel The Girls which is tipped to be the summer bestseller. It follows teenager Evie Boyd who gets caught up in cult that will eventually lead to murder, in a narrative loosely based on the Manson murders of the '60s. As the publishers Penguin prepare to relaunch their series Modern Poets for the first time this century, Samira takes soundings on the state of contemporary poetry with the series editor Donald Futers. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Dymphna Flynn.
June 13, 2016
Wrong Crowd is Tom Odell's second album, the follow-up to his number one album Long Way Down. The singer-songwriter talks about avoiding writing about luxury hotel rooms since his success, and drawing more on childhood memories for inspiration. The structural engineer Ove Arup is the subject of a new exhibition at the V&A in London. The co-curators discuss the work of the philosopher and designer, who was responsible for the construction of a number of high-profile buildings including the Penguin Pool at London Zoo and Sydney Opera House. July marks the hundredth anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. It's an event that playwrights have often grappled with and there are three plays on stage now; Frank McGuinness's Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, Furious Folly, an immersive, outdoor piece, co-created by Mark Anderson, and First Light which tells the story through the lives of two young soldiers shot at dawn for deserting. The writers and directors explain how they approached this the bloodiest battle in history. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
June 10, 2016
Andy Hamilton is co-creator of Power Monkeys, a new Channel 4 comedy that responds to the daily events in the EU referendum campaign. He tells us about the last minute rewrites required on the day of broadcast and the challenge of re-creating the interior Donald Trump's plane. Two Terence Rattigan's plays have opened this week: The Deep Blue Sea starring Helen McCrory at the National Theatre in London, and Ross at the Chichester Festival Theatre with Joseph Fiennes. Henry Hitchings reviews both productions and the current Rattigan revival. Studio Ghibli, the legendary Japanese animation house behind Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, has ceased in-house production. So is its latest film a fitting swansong? Marc Eccleston reviews When Marnie was There, an adaptation of a 1967 book by British author Joan G Robinson about a reclusive girl who discovers an otherworldly new friend. Poet Blake Morrison and composer Gavin Bryars tell us about their celebration of the train journey between Goole and Hull that will be entertaining passengers as part of the Yorkshire Festival. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rachel Simpson.
Frances Morris, director of Tate Modern, Anish Kapoor on designing at the ENO, Embrace of the Serpent review
June 9, 2016
Frances Morris became the first female Director of Tate Modern only a few months ago, but has been instrumental in developing its collections for many years. Next week she will open a new 260 million pound extension to the iconic former power station on London's Southbank; boasting four new galleries. The new space is a great opportunity to display more international works and more female artists alongside old favourites and, she says, will make us view contemporary art in a whole new way. Sculptor Anish Kapoor on his epic set design for English National Opera's new production of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. Embrace of the Serpent, directed by Colombian film maker Ciro Guerro, is inspired by the true stories of two European explorers who travelled through the Amazon in parallel journeys, decades apart, hunting for a mythical plant. Hannah McGill reviews.
June 8, 2016
Guy Garvey talks to John Wilson about the Meltdown festival he's curating at London's Southbank Centre, featuring Femi Kuti, Laura Marling and a Refugee special. John is joined by Lisa McInerney, the winner of this year's Bailey's Prize for Women's Fiction, live from the ceremony. Michael Crawford returns to the West End stage in The Go-Between, a new musical based on LP Hartley's classic novel. Matt Wolf reviews. And Mexican curator Pablo León de la Barra discusses the exciting new art coming out of Latin America. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser.
June 7, 2016
Ben Kingsley discusses his role as a driving instructor in his new film Learning to Drive. The director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw, whose credits include The Book of Mormon, on bringing Disney's Aladdin to the West End stage. The sculptor Richard Wilson, co-ordinator of the 2016 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, discusses his selection for the world's largest open submission exhibition, and its focus this year on celebrated artistic duos. Outcast is a new TV series based on the comics by Robert Kirkman that follows a young man plagued by demonic possession. Kim Newman reviews. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
June 6, 2016
Playwright Peter Shaffer is remembered by theatre critic Michael Billington and director Thea Sharrock, who worked with him on the revival of Equus in 2007. In a rare interview, American novelist Don DeLillo talks to Samira Ahmed about his new novel Zero K which explores cryogenics, immortality and death. New Blood, is the latest series from Anthony Horowitz, creator of Foyle's War and the Alex Rider novels. In it, two junior investigators for the police and the Serious Fraud Office, Rash and Stefan, are brought together on television for the first time, linked by two seemingly unrelated cases. Beth Orton has ditched the acoustic guitar and folk songs for her new album Kidsticks which is mostly composed from electronic loops, drum machines and keyboards. She describes the freedom of creating music without any expectations.
June 3, 2016
Jimmy McGovern is a writer well-known for bringing controversial stories to our televisions with dramas like Hillsborough and Accused. He has now written Reg, a feature-length film for BBC One, which tells the true story of Reg Keys, who decided to run against Tony Blair in the 2005 election as a protest against the Iraq War. He explains why he decided to bring the tale to our screens. James Schamus has been behind some of the most successful independent films of the last 15 years including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, Lost in Translation, Atonement and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as a producer, screenwriter and former head of Focus Features. Now he makes his directorial debut with Indignation, based on Philip Roth's novel. While in London for the Sundance Film Festival, he came into Front Row to talk about his first directing role and the future of independent film-making. Playwright Alexi Kaye Campbell, author of the 2008 multi-award winner The Pride, has set his latest play Sunset at the Villa Thalia on the Greek island of Skiathos in the turbulent 1960s and 70s. He explains how it evokes the idyllic charms of island life while exploring how foreign influence has shaped the country's destiny, and why he had to live in Greece to write it. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
June 2, 2016
Nile Rodgers, Ambassador for BBC Music Day, talks to John Wilson about his decades in the music industry, from pioneering disco with Chic to creating the massive hit Get Lucky with Daft Punk. Jesse Eisenberg and Kunal Nayyar on The Spoils, a darkly comic play about roommates written by Jesse in which he stars alongside Kunal, known for TV series The Big Bang Theory. Alex Clark reviews the film Race, about the African American athlete Jesse Owens who won a record-breaking four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. A new exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery for Modern Art - Surreal Encounters: Collecting the Marvellous - throws the spotlight on four key collectors of the modern art movement. Curator Keith Hartley. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser.
June 1, 2016
Versailles is the new high-budget, 10-part BBC2 drama series which is already creating controversy ahead of its first broadcast. Boyd Hilton reviews the period costume drama set in the court of Louis XIV with its themes of sex, murder and conspiracy. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is one of five museums and galleries in the UK to make the shortlist for Museum of the Year. In the first of our reports from the shortlisted venues, the Museum's director Martin Roth explains how to choose a record-breaking exhibition like the Alexander McQueen and why the V&A is planning to expand into the Olympic Park, Dundee and China. A Jewish Italian family ends up among Mussolini's most ardent supporters in Louisa Young's new novel Devotion, the latest in her series begun by the WWI novel My Dear I Wanted To Tell You and The Heroes' Welcome. She charts the political awakening of the next generation as another war looms, and tells Kirsty Lang why she found the Italian experience so compelling. The credits to the forthcoming TV drama series New Blood feature a raw Deep South bluesy soundtrack, a trick learned from some of the most talked-about series in recent years, from The Sopranos to Breaking Bad and True Detective. Ben Wardle considers the appeal of Americana music to today's TV directors. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
May 31, 2016
Nina Stibbe's latest novel Paradise Lodge follows Lizzie Vogel as she skips school to work at a residential care home. The book draws on the author's own experience as a teenager and is the second of a trilogy of Lizzie Vogel novels. Nick Hornby's TV adaptation of Stibbe's highly successful first book Love, Nina - based on the author's time as a nanny to a literary north London family - is currently on BBC1 on Saturday nights starring Helena Bonham Carter. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling team up in The Nice Guys, the neo-noir crime buddy comedy film directed and co-written by Shane Black in which the unlikely pair investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s LA. Michael Pennington talks to Samira about his new book King Lear in Brooklyn, a combination of an analysis of the play and its characters, alongside his experiences playing the role for the first time - in Brooklyn, New York. Moby's memoir Porcelain details the electronic musician's life before he released his album Play in 1999 and became an international star. He tells us about what made the club scene in '90s New York so special and how he copes with his critics.
May 30, 2016
Front Row marks 60 years of The Royal Court Theatre by discussing the value of new writing for the stage. In front of an audience John Wilson is joined by The Royal Court's Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone, The Guardian's theatre critic Michael Billington, and playwrights Simon Stephens, Stef Smith and Diana Nneka Atuona. Scenes from key plays are performed by David Tennant, Daniel Mays and Ami Metcalf, Ashley Zhangazha and Lisa Mcgrillis, Roy Williams, Kate Ashfield and Tom Hollander. Producer: Dixi Stewart.
From Hay: Charlotte Church, Tracy Chevalier and Lionel Shriver, YA Fiction, Welsh-Appalachian Music Mashup
May 27, 2016
Singer-songwriter Charlotte Church discusses her 'musical fairy tale' which receives its premier next weekend at the inaugural Festival of Voice in Cardiff. The Last Mermaid is inspired by The Little Mermaid and tackles the challenging issues facing our world. Tracy Chevalier has just edited a collection of short stories inspired by the line, 'Reader I Married Him' from Jane Eyre. She and Lionel Shriver, who's contributed, discuss the importance of one of the most famous lines in literature. The Young Adult fiction genre has been a major growth area in publishing over the last decade and as more titles flood the market this year, 3 of the top selling YA authors, Juno Dawson, Patrick Ness, Holly Smale join John Wilson to discuss what defines this area of fiction and where it allows them to go as writers that adult fiction and children's doesn't. Welsh folk musician and BBC Wales presenter, Frank Hennessy, teams up with fellow Hennessys band mate, Iolo Jones, and Appalachian musicians Rebecca Branson Jones and Trevor McKenzie to play the world premier of a song that began life as a Welsh hymn and morphed into a Bluegrass Gospel song.
May 26, 2016
Wilko Johnson, the former Dr Feelgood guitarist and songwriter, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2013. In his new book, Don't You Leave Me Here: My Life, he takes stock of his life following an 11-hour, life-saving operation and looks forward to a future he wasn't expecting. Wilko Johnson discusses his extraordinary and unexpected change of fortune. Kenneth Branagh's latest play in his year-long season at the Garrick Theatre is Romeo and Juliet. Lily James and Richard Madden star as the eponymous lovers, with Derek Jacobi as Mercutio and Meera Syal as the Nurse. Susannah Clapp reviews. The late American artist Walter De Maria is best known for his large-scale works, including The Lightning Field, a grid of 400 stainless steel poles in the New Mexico desert, and The Vertical Earth Kilometer, a brass rod that extends 1 kilometre into the ground in the German city of Kassel. John Wilson talks to De Maria's assistant and former studio manager Elizabeth Childress and curator Kara Vander Weg about the artist's first solo exhibition in the UK. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
May 25, 2016
Four of writer Neil Gaiman's short stories have been adapted for television. Likely Stories stars the likes of Johnny Vegas, Rita Tushingham and Kenneth Cranham, and has an original score by Jarvis Cocker. Neil Gaiman talks to John about his journey from writing rock biographies to becoming a million-selling author. Earlier this year Liz Lochhead stepped down as Makar, or National Poet of Scotland, As her new play opens in Edinburgh, she discusses Thon Man Moliere, and her new collection of poetry, Fugitive Colours. Plus award-winning writer Roy Williams on his new play Soul, which tells the story of the legendary musician Marvin Gaye. Son of Reverend Marvin Gaye Snr, it was in the church where young Marvin fell in love with music. But sadly, it was the tempestuous relationship between the two men which led to Marvin being shot by his father at point-blank range on April 1st 1984. Presenter John Wilson Producer Ella-mai Robey.
May 24, 2016
Sue Johnston, best known for her TV portrayal of The Royle Family's matriarch Barbara, on reuniting with Craig Cash from the series in Rovers, a new TV comedy about lower-league football team Redbridge Rovers and their oddball set of fans. Actor Burt Kwouk, famous for playing Cato in the Pink Panther films and for his role in TV drama series Tenko, is remembered by film historian Matthew Sweet. Yayoi Kusama had the highest global exhibition attendance of any artist in 2014, and this year she was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People. Now, at 87, she has an exhibition of new work in London, featuring pumpkin sculptures and her continuing preoccupation with polka dots and finely-scalloped 'infinity net' patterns. Louisa Buck reviews. Simon Stone discusses directing The Daughter, starring Geoffrey Rush and Sam Neill. The film is a re-imagining of Ibsen's The Wild Duck and is based on Stone's own critically-acclaimed adaptation for stage. Composer Philip Venables tells Samira about his operatic adaptation of Sarah Kane's play 4.48 Psychosis which deals with the late writer's experience of depression. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
May 23, 2016
Russell T Davies first encountered A Midsummer Night's Dream as an 11 year old cast in the role of Bottom. Now the man who relaunched Dr Who and who has been described as the saviour of British television drama, discusses his desire to make his own production of Shakespeare's most exuberant play for TV with Kirsty Lang. Jane Austen is back on the big screen - this time based on her novella Lady Susan and adapted on film as Love and Friendship, starring Kate Beckinsale. The scheming Lady Susan Vernon dedicates herself to a hunt for a husband both for herself and her daughter Frederica, with implacable determination. Viv Groskop reviews. Rufus Norris, the artistic director of the National Theatre in London, talks about his new production of The Threepenny Opera. With a new translation by Simon Stephens, who also adapted The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, it stars Rory Kinnear as the amoral, antiheroic criminal Macheath, and Haydn Gwynne as the vengeful Mrs Peachum. On the eve of the 25th anniversary since the release of Ridley Scott's road movie Thelma & Louise - starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis - the novelist, game designer and self-professed feminist, Naomi Alderman celebrates the cult classic. Presenter : Kirsty Lang Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
May 20, 2016
Jack O'Connell, whose previous lead roles include Starred Up, '71 and Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, discusses his latest film in which he plays a disgruntled New Yorker with a grudge who takes George Clooney's character hostage in the financial thriller Money Monster, directed by Jodie Foster. Seeing Round Corners at Turner Contemporary in Margate explores the role of the circle in art. From sculpture to film and painting to performance, the exhibition brings together works by leading historical and contemporary artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Barbara Hepworth, JMW Turner and Anish Kapoor. Art historian and critic Richard Cork reviews. Jason Solomons rates the contenders for the Palme d'Or as the Cannes Film Festival comes to an end this week. Spymonkey's The Complete Deaths brings all of the killings in Shakespeare's works into one play. Kirsty speaks to actor Toby Park and director Tim Crouch. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rachel Simpson.
May 19, 2016
In A Hologram For The King, Tom Hanks stars as a stressed-out executive with problems at home, trying to land an IT deal with the King of Saudi Arabia. Sue Turton, a former correspondent with Al Jazeera and Channel Four, assesses whether the film captures the realities of doing business in the region. Michael Morpurgo's book Running Wild, about a young boy's adventures lost in the Indonesian jungle, has been brought to life by Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in London. Morpurgo, the play's director Timothy Sheader, and Toby Olie - designer of many of the animal puppets - discuss the challenges of the production. Jo Brand returns as nurse Kim Wilde in Going Forward, a brand-new three-part TV comedy series that turns the spotlight on domiciliary care. It's a spin-off series of the critically acclaimed Getting On. Dreda Say Mitchell reviews. After winning the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Opera Awards on Sunday, the German mezzo-soprano opera singer and director Brigitte Fassbaender discusses the difference between singing a Strauss opera and Schubert's lieder, and reveals how despite all her years of performing and directing, she still suffers from dreadful nerves.
May 18, 2016
Poet Ian McMillan has described his home town Barnsley as 'the filter I see everything through' and this is clear from his new book To Fold the Evening Star which gathers work from eight key collections as well as new and previously unpublished work. He talks to John Wilson about being a Yorkshire poet, politics and poetry, and getting older. As the first series of Undercover and Marcella end this week with questions left unanswered for a potential second series, we discuss how and when channels decide whether a TV drama should return for more series. Writer Kay Mellor and critic Boyd Hilton give us their insights. Black Chronicles: Photographic Portraits 1862-1948 is a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London which presents a snapshot of black lives and experiences in 19th and 20th century Britain. Curator Renée Mussai discusses the context of the exhibition which focuses on the period before the arrival of the Empire Windrush which brought the first large group of Caribbean migrants to Great Britain. In the final instalment of our series Shakespeare's people, Janet Suzman chooses Portia from the Merchant of Venice. You can catch up with all our Shakespeare's People on the Front Row website. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Elaine Lester.
May 17, 2016
Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds is the British Museum's first major show on underwater archaeology, and brings together more than 200 discoveries by the French diver and archaeologist Franck Goddio. It tells the tale of two cities, Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus, and the relationship between Greece and Egypt. Professor Edith Hall reviews. John Carney' s film Once won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 2007. The writer and director discusses his latest film Sing Street, about a boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s who escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes. Han Kang, winner of the 2016 Man Booker International prize, talks to John about her novel The Vegetarian. The story centres on an ordinary wife, Yeong-hye and her ordinary husband, whose lives change dramatically when Yeong-hye decides to stop eating meat. As his Hellens Music Festival prepares to open, the concert pianist Christian Blackshaw explains why less is more when it comes to interpreting the great composers. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
May 16, 2016
The winner of this year's BBC Young Musician of the Year, 17-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, discusses Shostakovich and Britain's Got Talent. Bryan Singer has directed his fourth instalment of the X-Men series since he began the superhero franchise 16 years ago. We talk to him about the biblical scale of new film, X-Men: Apocalypse. As part of preparations to mark its 250th anniversary, the Royal Academy of Arts in London has commissioned the artist Yinka Shonibare to create a major new public artwork, which was unveiled today. The artist discusses his approach to creating his 71-metre-wide canvas, which features photographs from the RA's archive, as well as Shonibare's distinctive colourful textiles. On Saturday the winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize was announced. Awarded for the best published literary work of fiction in the English language, it was won by Max Porter for Grief is the Thing with Feathers - part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief. He talks to Samira. Playwright Katherine Chandler discusses her new production Bird for which she won the much-coveted Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting in 2013. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
May 13, 2016
Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms at Tate Liverpool is the largest exhibition of the artist's work ever staged in the north of England, featuring more than 30 paintings and a group of rarely-seen drawings and documents. Kasia Redzisz, senior curator at the gallery, shows John Wilson round the exhibition. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Pakistani American actor, screenwriter, novelist and playwright Ayad Akhtar discusses his play The Invisible Hand. Kidnapped by an Islamic militant group in Pakistan, with no-one negotiating his release, an investment banker takes matters into his own hands. Mum is a new BBC TV sitcom starring Lesley Manville and Peter Mullan about a mother who is trying to re-build her life following the death of her husband. David Butcher reviews. Jason Solomons reports from the Cannes Film Festival as it reaches the end of its first week. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
May 12, 2016
Mark Billingham talks to Samira Ahmed about his latest novel - Die of Shame. Departing from his highly successful DI Tom Thorne novels, this book focuses on a group of recovering addicts who meet each week for their support group, that is, until one of them is murdered. Tate Britain's director, Alex Farquharson, on the Turner Prize shortlist while Rachel Campbell Johnston reviews. As the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra announce their 2016-17 season today, their newly appointed music director, Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla reveals what she believes is the secret behind the chemistry she and the orchestra immediately shared, and looks ahead to what she intends to programme in the future. And out-going BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Bridget Kendall reviews Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, starring Tina Fey, Martin Freeman and Margot Robbie. The film is based on real life reporter Kim Barker's autobiography. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Elaine Lester.
May 11, 2016
The pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson discusses her role as Guest Artistic Director for this year's Brighton Festival, which includes a futuristic sound and vision installation on the beach and a film and music project called Symphony for a City which premieres tonight. AL Kennedy talks about her new novel Serious Sweet, which charts a day in London as two characters, each in crisis, try to meet in the hope of salvation. Shortlisted for an Oscar in the Foreign Language Film category, Mustang follows the story of five orphaned sisters growing up in rural Turkey. After playing on the beach with some boys from their school they are imprisoned in the family home as their marriages are arranged. Hannah McGill reviews. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
May 10, 2016
The hit American series Billions starts in the UK this week and is set in the power-hungry and corrupt world of New York finance, starring Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis. Boyd Hilton Reviews. As part of our Shakespeare's People series, Hugh Bonneville chooses Malvolio from Twelfth Night. Bryan and Mary M Talbot, authors of the award-winning Dotter of Her Father's Eyes, discuss their latest graphic novel The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia. Folk musician Olivia Chaney will be performing songs by Henry Purcell this weekend at the London Festival of Baroque Music. Olivia discusses reinterpreting the composer's songs in the folk tradition. And with the Zac Efron/Seth Rogan comedy Bad Neighbours 2 in cinemas this week, Adam Smith considers how much cinema loves it when you just can't get along with the folks next door.
May 9, 2016
Lionel Shriver's latest novel, The Mandibles, is set in 2029, and also in 2047, and looks at what might happen in America should the economy completely collapse. She reveals what inspired her to tackle this subject matter. Music critic Pete Paphides reviews A Moon Shaped Pool, the new album from Radiohead and the group's first since 2011's The King of Limbs. Richard Linklater, acclaimed director of Dazed and Confused and Boyhood, on his latest offering, the nostalgic 1980s college film, Everybody Wants Some!! Painting with Light: Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age is a new exhibition at Tate Britain exploring how the emergence of photography influenced painters. Spanning 75 years across the Victorian and Edwardian ages, the exhibition brings together paintings from artists including Millais, Rossetti, Whistler and Sargent, and photographs by pivotal figures such as Julia Margaret Cameron.
May 6, 2016
Tom Hiddleston talks to Kirsty Lang about his new role as country singer Hank Williams in the biopic I Saw The Light. Susannah Clapp reviews A Midsummer Night's Dream, Emma Rice's first production as Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe. Ukrainian writer Andrey Kurkov, best known for his cult novel Death and the Penguin, talks about his new book The Bickford Fuse. And English Heritage celebrates the 150th anniversary of Blue Plaques.
May 5, 2016
Ewan McGregor stars in Our Kind of Traitor, based on a John Le Carré novel. The plot follows a couple on holiday in Marrakech who strike up a friendship with a Russian man who turns out to be a mafia kingpin. Ewan McGregor describes how the author visited the set and gave his blessing to play his character as a Scot. Upstart Crow sees the comedic quill of Blackadder writer Ben Elton return to the Elizabethan era. Starring David Mitchell this new BBC comedy follows William Shakespeare as he tries in vain to write some of his most famous works. Natalie Haynes reviews. Artist Katie Paterson is busy right now with work showing at The Lowry and Somerset House, and a new public artwork called Hollow, made from 10,000 tree samples from across the world, about to be unveiled at the University of Bristol. She discusses her fascination with capturing time, distance, and space. Liam Scarlett is Artist in Residence at The Royal Ballet, and his latest work is a brand new ballet based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. He discusses what drew him to the gothic novel, and reveals how he choreographed such a complex emotional story to a brand new score by Lowell Liebermann. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
May 4, 2016
Howard Brenton discusses his new play Lawrence After Arabia, which examines a little known period of TE Lawrence's life. Back in England, Lawrence wearied by his romanticised public image and disgusted with his country and himself, seeks solace and a place to hide in the home of the Bernard Shaws. Christian Bale stars as a disillusioned Hollywood writer in the new film Knight Of Cups from director Terence Malick. Film critic Kate Muir reviews. 91-year-old photographer Dorothy Bohm looks back over her 75-year career at her latest exhibition Sixties London. Born in East Prussia before being sent by her father to England to escape the threat of Nazism, she then became co-founder of The Photographer's Gallery and worked alongside some of the greats, from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Bill Brandt and Don McCullin. Danish artist Olafur Eliasson is most famous for erecting a giant sun in the Tate Modern for his work The Weather Project. He talks about his new book Unspoken Spaces which has collected all his architectural works in public spaces over the past two decades. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Jack Soper.
May 3, 2016
The artist Mona Hatoum has a major survey of her work at Tate Modern in London. It includes her early performance works, such as when she walked through Brixton after the race riots barefoot, but with heavy boots tied to her ankles. And her later large installations such as a floor of marbles; beautiful but dangerous to walk on. She describes how the political and personal has always influenced her work. Alexander Masters' first book Stuart: A Life Backwards, a biography of a homeless man, won prizes before being adapted for television and the stage. As his latest book is published, A Life Discarded - inspired by the discovery in a skip of a 148 volumes of a personal diary - the author discusses the appeal of the overlooked. Starring Harry Enfield as Prince Charles, The Windsors is a new six-part comedy soap opera that takes a weekly peek behind the curtains of Britain's most famous family. Its creators Bert Tyler-Moore and George Jeffrie discuss the challenges they set themselves. Charles Dance is the latest Shakespearean to nominate his favourite dramatic character - Coriolanus. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
May 2, 2016
Capability Brown, born 300 years ago this year, changed the landscape of Georgian England. John Wilson visits Chatsworth House in Derbyshire where the Duke of Devonshire describes what it's like to live in a Brown design and Head Gardener Steve Porter explains how Brown shaped the estate. At the Royal Horticultural Society's Lindley Library Fiona Davison shows John Capability Brown's original accounts book, and Ceryl Evans, Director of the Capability Brown Festival, paints a picture of his background and influences. Garden designer Dan Pearson discusses Capability Brown's influence on him, and his impact on our appreciation of the English landscape. Performance poets Joe Cook and Aliya Denton share their poems inspired by Capability Brown, and Anisa Haghdadi from Beatfreeks explains how she's working with Warwick Castle to engage young people from diverse backgrounds with Brown's work and explore the socio-economic context of it. The Duchess of Rutland and her Estate Manager Phil Burtt describe the work they're been doing at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire to reinstate Capability Brown's long lost plans for the landscape there.
April 29, 2016
Ricky Gervais has written, directed and stars in the feature-length film Special Correspondents for Netflix. Kirsty talks to the comedian about celebrity, David Brent and returning to stand-up. The Secret is a new ITV drama set in Northern Ireland starring James Nesbitt. It tells the true story of a couple who embark on an affair and then plot to murder their spouses. Jenny McCartney reviews. Sir Ian McKellen has called for the National Theatre to have a resident company of actors, and the Liverpool Everyman has plans to trial one. Theatre writer and critic Lyn Gardner considers whether the old rep model of theatre can be resurrected. As The Hallé prepares for its Dvorák Festival, the orchestra's conductor Sir Mark Elder discusses his affinity for the music of the Czech composer. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
April 28, 2016
Mark Gatiss, the writer, actor and Doctor Who fan, gives his response to the re-issue of seven Doctor Who novelisations from the original range by Target Books, and visits the Cartoon Museum's display of original artwork for the books' covers. Evelyn Waugh's classic novel Brideshead Revisited has previously been made for television and the cinema, and has now been adapted for the stage. Playwright Bryony Lavery discusses her new version for the York Theatre Royal. Composer Mark Simpson talks about his new opera set in a gay nightclub. Pleasure stars Lesley Garrett as a toilet attendant, and is premiered tonight by Opera North in Leeds. In Demolition, actor Jake Gyllenhaal plays an investment banker who responds to his wife's death by writing bizarre letters of complaint to a vending company. These lead to an unlikely friendship with a customer service employee, played by Naomi Watts. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Angie Nehring.
April 27, 2016
As Hugh Bonneville returns to the stage after twelve years in Chichester Festival Theatre's new production of An Enemy of the People by Ibsen, Samira Ahmed talks to Hugh and director Howard Davies. Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo on directing the acclaimed Marvel superhero film Captain America: Civil War. As part of our Shakespeare's People series, Juliet Stevenson chooses Rosalind from As You Like It. Alan Kitching has been at the forefront of typographical design for nearly six decades. With the publication of A Life in Letterpress and a retrospective at Somerset House, Alan shows Samira round his workshop.
April 26, 2016
Alain de Botton discusses his first novel in twenty years. The Course of Love centres on the story of a couple called Rabih and Kirsten who meet, fall in love, and get married. The philosopher, author and presenter tells John why he wanted to explore the later chapters of a relationship, and why he has taken such a long break from fiction. The Hungarian feature film Son of Saul closely follows one inmate of the Auschwitz concentration camp who is a member of the Sonderkommando, responsible for disposing of the bodies of the victims murdered in the gas chambers. Jason Solomons reviews the film that won the Oscar and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film this year, as well as the Grand Prix at Cannes. Playwright Nick Payne and director Josie Rourke discuss the inspiration behind Elegy, a new play set in a world where medical advances mean that life can be extended at the expense of our memories. With Miles Ahead, starring Don Cheadle as jazz master Miles Davies, currently in our cinemas, and film depictions of Nina Simone and Chet Baker on the way; the music journalist and self-professed jazzhead, Kevin Le Gendre explores the challenges of the jazz movie. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Ella-mai Robey Main image: Alain de Botton Image credit: Vincent Starr.
April 25, 2016
Kirsty Lang talks to Hugh Grant about his new film Florence Foster Jenkins based on the true story of an out of tune singer and philanthropist. Hugh plays her common law husband and manager and their extraordinary relationship. We announce the winner of the Wellcome Prize for books that engage with medicine, health or illness. Lisa Jen from the group 9Bach, who won Best Album at last year's Radio 2 Folk Awards, discusses their new album Anian, which is rooted in the Welsh song tradition Pablo Bronstein is the artist chosen this year by Tate Britain, in London, to respond to its collection of art. Previous works have been by Mark Wallinger and Phyllida Barlow, and many will remember Martin Creed's athlete running through the galleries every 30 seconds. This year there's a return to that element of live performance as Bronstein has incorporated a continuous live dance performance in his work; Historical Dances in an Antique Setting. He explains why. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Elaine Lester.
April 22, 2016
William Shakespeare takes centre stage 400 years after his death. As The Hollow Crown returns to BBC One with the next series of the playwright's history plays, theatre director Dominic Cooke discusses his TV directorial debut making the series. The cast of Henry VI Parts I and II and Richard III include Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench and Hugh Bonneville. Actor Kim Cattrall describes why she loves playing Cleopatra, as part of our series Shakespeare's People, in which celebrated actors choose the character they've enjoyed playing most. Rufus Wainwright's new album Take All My Loves adapts nine of Shakespeare's sonnets into rock ballads, operatic pop songs and dramatic readings. The musician talks about his personal take on the playwright's poetic work. Was Sir Henry Neville the real author of Shakespeare's works? A new book, Sir Henry Neville Was Shakespeare: The Evidence by John Casson and Professor William Rubinstein, provides fresh evidence supporting the claim. Professor William Leahy, Chair of the Shakespeare Authorship Trust, reviews the evidence. Over the last two years, Ladi Emeruwa has played Hamlet in 197 different countries, travelling 180,000 miles in the process. He is one of a cast of 12 actors who have taken Shakespeare to all corners of the world from Bhutan to Belize and Cambodia to Cameroon. The tour reaches its climax this weekend when the final four performances take place at London's Globe theatre. Presenter John Wilson Producer Angie Nehring.
April 21, 2016
Singer Mica Paris remembers Prince who was her friend and mentor, and biographer Matt Thorne and journalist Kevin Le Gendre assess his legacy. As Opera North's Music Director Richard Farnes and General Director Richard Mantle prepare to present six complete productions of the company's much praised "austerity" Ring Cycle, they discuss the art of creating great opera on a budget. The Ring Cycle opens at Leeds Town Hall on 23 April and goes on to tour the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham, The Lowry in Salford, the Royal Festival Hall in London, and Sage Gateshead. Georgina Harding's latest novel, The Gunroom, opens with a description of the image of Don McCullin's Shell Shocked Soldier. It then becomes a work of fiction which explores the impact of taking that photo on the photographer as he endeavours to escape the horror of what he has seen. Georgina Harding discusses what inspired her to write this story. The Gun Room is out now.
April 20, 2016
Geoff Posner, who produced Victoria Wood's first TV Show and then went on to work with her on other TV shows including Dinner Ladies, shares his memories and discusses how important she was in terms of paving the way for other female comedians. In our continuing series Shakespeare's People, Lucian Msamati nominates Iago. Curtis Sittenfeld, author of American Wife, talks about her new novel, Eligible. Set in Cincinnati, it's a modern-day re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, with Liz Bennet as a successful magazine journalist, and Darcy as a neurosurgeon. Maya Sondhi is perhaps best known for her role as the long-suffering daughter in Citizen Khan, or currently as WPC Maneet Bindra in Line of Duty. Maya Sondhi discusses Sket, the first play she has written, which examines the sexualisation of teenagers, which opened last night. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Rebecca Armstrong.
April 19, 2016
Samira Ahmed talks to Will Sharpe about Flowers, the surreal Channel 4 sitcom he has written and directed, and in which he stars with Olivia Colman. As part of our Shakespeare's People series, Don Warrington chooses the tragic figure of King Lear. Tim Robey reviews Jane Got a Gun, a new Western starring Natalie Portman. Yvvette Edwards discusses her novel The Mother, which is told from the perspective of a woman whose teenage son is stabbed. Yvvette was inspired to write when her own step son was the victim of random violence.
April 18, 2016
Former Children's Laureate, Malorie Blackman takes a twist on Othello into the future and outer space in her new book for young adults, Chasing the Stars. She tells Kirsty why she chose sci-fi to explore contemporary issues such as immigration and prejudice. Idris Elba plays a lone wolf CIA operative in the new Paris-based thriller Bastille Day, who enlists the assistance of a reluctant American played by Richard Madden from Game of Thrones. Antonia Quirke reviews the film whose release was postponed after the Paris attacks. The Flick is a Pulitzer Prize winning play about the staff at a run-down cinema in Massachusetts. Kirsty talks to its director Sam Gold as it starts its run at the National Theatre this week. As part of our Shakespeare's People series, Simon Russell Beale chooses Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing. Presenter : Kirsty Lang Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
April 15, 2016
With Kevin Costner's new film Criminal shot in London, Mark Eccleston assesses the appeal of the capital to international film-makers. Henry Lewis, Henry Shields and Jonathan Sayer are the brains behind the hit Olivier Award-winning farce The Play That Goes Wrong. Kirsty Lang talks to the trio about their new play The Comedy About A Bank Robbery. As part of our Shakespeare's People series, Kenneth Branagh chooses the troubled King Leontes from The Winter's Tale. The multi-award-winning children's opera Laika the Spacedog from the English Touring Opera was performed across the UK and Europe in 2013 and 2014 and has now returned for a second extensive run across the UK. The show's composer Russell Hepplewhite and director Tim Yealland discuss why opera is the perfect art form for children and why children are the perfect audience. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
April 14, 2016
Peter Greenaway on Eisenstein in Guanajuato; the first in a trilogy of films about his all-time cinema idol, Sergei Eisenstein. The British director, now expatriated to Holland, describes tackling the sexual awakening of one of Russia's national heroes, how films should be led by image and not text, and why he thinks provocation in art is so important. The talk of the London Book Fair is a former management consultant who has landed a series of deals worth millions of pounds. Chloé Esposito gave up her job last summer to take a writing course and now has signed deals with publishers around the world for a trilogy of books. As part of Front Row's Shakespeare's People series, Zoe Wanamaker chooses Emilia from Othello, a maid and companion to Desdemona and the wife of Iago. The artist George Shaw, who grew up on a council estate in Coventry, is coming to the end of a two-year residency in a studio at the heart of the National Gallery in London. As he prepares for his new exhibition he explains how the collection has inspired him, and why his medium of choice is the enamel paint children use for plastic aircraft models. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
April 13, 2016
PJ Harvey releases her first album for five years this week, and it's already attracting controversy with its lyrics about a run-down area of Washington DC. Writer and critic Kate Mossman reviews the album The Hope Six Demolition Project, which she and John Wilson saw being recorded in a glass box in Somerset House last year. David Edgar pays tribute to his friend and fellow playwright Sir Arnold Wesker. David Pickard announces the programme for the 2016 BBC Proms in his first year as its Director. This is a Voice is a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in London which has brought together a number of works by artists who have been inspired by the voice. It examines how tone, pitch and tempo can communicate meaning and emotion so effectively that words become unnecessary. Joan La Barbara, a composer known for her explorations of "extended" vocal techniques, and Imogen Stidworthy, whose video work explores how our voice affects our sense of self, respond to the exhibition and discuss why the voice is such an inspiration for them. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
April 12, 2016
The 1967 classic Disney animation, The Jungle Book, has undergone CGI treatment in a new live-action version of the Rudyard Kipling tale. Film critic Jason Solomons reviews. Lindsey Davis is best known for her widely-acclaimed detective novels set in the first-century AD Roman World. As she publishes her 30th book, The Graveyard of the Hesperides, Lindsey and her editor Oliver Johnston discuss working together on all her books since 1989. Quadriga, the bronze sculpture on top of Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner in London, is being cleaned, repaired and re-waxed. To find out more, Samira climbed to the top and stood alongside the work with historian Steven Brindle and conservator Katrina Redmond. As part of our Shakespeare's People series, Romola Garai chooses the nun Isabella from Measure for Measure, faced with a terrible choice. RL Stine's series of horror stories, Goosebumps, have been brought to life as the immersive theatre experience Goosebumps Alive. Director Tom Salamon discusses adapting the children's books for an adult audience. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Ella-mai Robey.
April 11, 2016
Samira Ahmed and judge Elif Shafak reveal the shortlist for this year's Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, plus reaction from Alex Clark. As part of our Shakespeare's People series, Adrian Lester chooses the character of Othello, consumed by jealousy. A new exhibition at Tate Britain looks at British Conceptual Art in the 1960s and 70s, including Michael Craig-Martin's seminal work An Oak Tree - a glass of water on a shelf. Andrea Rose reviews. The National Theatre's Another World: Losing our Children to Islamic State is a new verbatim play created by Gillian Slovo and Nicolas Kent that explores why young people join Isis.
April 8, 2016
Helen Mirren talks about her role as a military intelligence officer in a new thriller about drone warfare, Eye in the Sky. Two new plays opened at the Royal Court Theatre in London this week: Alistair McDowall's X, set on Pluto and David Ireland's Cyprus Avenue, set in Belfast. In both locations life's certainties unravel. Ian Shuttleworth, who grew up close to Cyprus Avenue, reviews. Barrie Rutter, founder of Northern Broadsides theatre company, chooses the character of Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, as part of our Shakespeare's People series. Jem Lester's debut novel Shtum focuses on 10-year-old Jonah who is severely autistic and told from the perspective of his struggling, alcoholic father. Jem, who has an autistic son, explains why he put his own experience in a work of fiction. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rachel Simpson.
April 7, 2016
Dheepan, the winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, tells the story of a former Sri Lankan Tamil fighter who flees the civil war to France with a woman and young girl he has never met. After finding work and housing in the suburbs of Pairs this fake family soon find that the violence they have run from is replaced by a new danger. Agnes Poirier reviews the film. German soprano Diana Damrau discusses her role as Lucia di Lammermoor in a controversial and bloody new production at the Royal Opera House in London. Noma Dumezweni, who is about to star as Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on stage, chooses Paulina from The Winter's Tale as part of our Shakespeare's People series. US writer Garth Greenwell's debut novel What Belongs to You is the story of a American teacher who becomes obsessed with a sex worker in Bulgaria. Garth talks to Samira about the mixture of fact and fiction in the novel, and his growing up gay in Kentucky and his advocacy of 'queer culture'. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
April 6, 2016
As the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art opens with exhibitions across the city, Kirsty Lang asks if it's Glasgow's industrial legacy, its history of metal work and textiles, or the very buildings and environment of the city itself that makes it such an inspiration for artists. Turner Prize winner Duncan Campbell, Muriel Gray, and the artist Claire Barclay, among others, share their views as Kirsty visits exhibitions at Tramway, GOMA, Kelvin Hall and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to see some of the many works in the festival reacting to the city. She meets the artist Tessa Lynch who is showing her Painter's Table at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), views the Tramway group show featuring artists Alexandra Birken, Sheila Hicks, Lawrence Lek, Mika Rottenberg and Amie Siegel, speaks to Claire Barclay who is installing Bright Bodies at Kelvin Hall, and Aaron Angell who has his installation The Death of Robin Hood at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
April 5, 2016
Timothy Spall talks to John Wilson about his return to the stage. It's at the Old Vic but is scarcely glamorous. He's playing Davies in Pinter's The Caretaker. "He's a hobo," Spall says, "a dosser." He and John discuss the attractions and challenges of playing such as character. Catherine Tate chooses the outspoken and witty Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing, as part of our Shakespeare's People series. Writer and critic Michael Carlson reviews the TV adaptation of Stephen King's novel 11.22.63. James Franco plays a teacher who discovers a time portal that leads to October 21st, 1960 and goes on a quest to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. As a display of twenty-two intricate paintings of Dutch Flowers goes on show at the National Gallery, curator Betsy Wieseman tells us the story of the growth of a genre, which began in the Netherlands in the early 1600s. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Jack Soper.
April 4, 2016
Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones features over 500 items including backstage paraphernalia, costumes, video footage, and personal diaries. Music critic Kate Mossman takes a look. Hans Rosenfeldt, creator of Scandinavian crime drama The Bridge, discusses writing his first UK drama Marcella, starring Anna Friel. Arctic Monkeys singer Alex Turner has returned with his side project The Last Shadow Puppets. He joins John to talk about how his songwriting has evolved for their second album Everything You've Come To Expect. Plus Sir Ian McKellen chooses one of Shakespeare's darkest characters, the Machiavellian Richard III, for our new series Shakespeare's People. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
April 1, 2016
Kirsty Lang talks to Adrian Lester who stars in Undercover, the new legal thriller on BBC1 written by former barrister Peter Moffat. As part of our Shakespeare's People series, leading scholar James Shapiro chooses one of the playwright's smallest roles, the First Servant in King Lear. Hannah McGill reviews Victoria, the acclaimed new German film shot in one long take. As Radio 4's Home Front hides Shakespeare quotes in its scripts, Kirsty talks to writer Sebastian Baczkiewicz and historian Sophie Duncan, who looks at how Shakespeare's 300th anniversary was marked during World War I. Plus Eric Berlin, winner of the National Poetry Competition.
March 30, 2016
Kirsty Lang sees, Eddie the Eagle, the film starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman, which tells the story of unlikely British ski-jumper, Michael Edwards. Does it take off, glide elegantly, go the distance and land safely or, like its subject so often, crash in a heap? Critic Tim Robey gives his verdict. In the second in Front Row's series Shakespeare's People, in which a famous actor, director or writer reflects on the Shakespeare character of their choice, David Tennant considers the 'sweet prince', Hamlet. Kirsty talks to the acclaimed director Jeff Nichols about his new film, Midnight Special, an intriguing paranormal road movie. The poet Alison Brackenbury's ninth collection, Skies, deals incisively with the passing of the seasons, with ageing, love and nature and, she reveals to Kirsty, the really important things in life, such as eating honey and peeling parsnips. Percussionist Evelyn Glennie has made a new piece for the Edinburgh International Festival called 'The Sounds of Science', before its world premier she explains how she imagines and creates the sounds of DNA and the Big Bang. Producer: Julian May.
March 28, 2016
In 1986, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe released their first album as Pet Shop Boys. 30 years on, the most successful British pop duo of all time look back over three decades of stardom and electronic dance music as they prepare for a four-night residency at the Royal Opera House in London in July, and the release of their 13th studio album, Super, this week. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
March 25, 2016
Sonia Friedman is one of the most prolific and successful producers in the history of the West End and Broadway. This year she has been nominated for 20 Olivier Awards, one more than she has already won. They sit like chess pieces next to the half a dozen Tony Awards she has won, in her office above the shop at the Duke of York's Theatre. In her eyrie she talks to Kirsty Lang about risk and reward, the changing ecology of theatre, how she began producing - at the age of 3- and professionally in her early 20s. She has worked with a catalogue of great actors, directors and writers on, she thinks, about 140 productions, and we hear from three of them: Tom Stoppard, Mark Rylance and Richard Eyre. But has she, the editor of The Stage newspaper muses, perhaps become too dominant? And Sonia explains why she has supported the Good Chance Theatre in the Jungle camp in Calais. Producer: Julian May Image: Sonia Friedman Image credit: Jason Alden.
March 24, 2016
Samira Ahmed talks to director Penny Woolcock and conductor Harry Christophers about a new version of Bach's St Matthew Passion, performed by homeless people in Manchester. Viv Groskop reviews Disney's animation, Zootropolis. Director Max Stafford-Clark on his new production of Samuel Becket's play All That Fall, in which the audience are blindfolded. And Bridget Kendall reviews Blue Eyes, the Swedish TV drama series about far-right extremists.
March 23, 2016
The Royal Shakespeare Company's latest production of Hamlet sees Paapa Essiedu become the first black actor in the company's history to take on the title role. Theatre critic Susannah Clapp joins Samira Ahmed to review it. Hamlet runs until August 13th and will be in cinemas from June 8th. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey discusses his new Culture White Paper, the first for 50 years. Director Zack Snyder on his new film Batman v Superman. Electronic group Underworld have released their ninth album, Barbara Barbara We Face A Shining Future. One half of the duo Karl Hyde tells us about synaesthesia, music as architecture and whether their biggest track, Born Slippy, is an albatross round their neck. Producer: Dixi Stewart.
March 22, 2016
Glenn Close discusses reprising her role as Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical Sunset Boulevard on stage at the English National Opera in London. Rowan Atkinson is the latest actor to take on the part of Inspector Jules Maigret in ITV's new adaptation of Georges Simenon's novel Maigret Sets a Trap. Crime fiction specialist Jeff Park reviews. As a series of cartoons drawn by the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten in the mid-1970s on the wall of a house in London's Denmark St are given listed status, Roger Bowdler, director of listings at Historic England, and Henry Scott-Irvine from the Save Denmark St campaign, assess the importance of the preservation. Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds, the British Museum's first major show on underwater archaeology, will open in May. As the first of more than 200 discoveries found beneath the sea by the French diver and archaeologist Franck Goddio are installed, John Wilson gets an early preview. Goddio and curator Aurélia Masson-Berghoff introduce him to 'Hapi', a 5.4-metre, 6-tonne red granite statue of the god of fertility. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
March 21, 2016
The A Word is a six-part drama on BBC One that portrays a family coming to terms with their son being diagnosed as autistic. Its writer Peter Bowker joins us in the studio. Four years after breaking up Steph and Greg think they might get together again. Trouble is, she's married to someone else, and he's taken up with her best friend. Kirsty talks to playwright Neil LaBute about 'Reasons to be Happy', the second in his trilogy about these characters, and to director Michael Attenborough, about staging this very American work in Britain. The death was announced yesterday of the writer Barry Hines. The poet Ian McMillan used to work in the office next door to the one he wrote in and Barry used to try dialogue out on him. McMillan tells Kirsty about the example Hines set him, and the importance of this northern writer's work, which was far from confined to Kes. Ottessa Moshfegh is a novelist from Boston whose thriller, Eileen, has had rave reviews in the US and has already been optioned by film producer Scott Rudin who made Gone Girl. Kirsty Lang talks to the debut novelist about her book and the hype surrounding it. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
March 18, 2016
As Bristol Old Vic celebrates its 250th anniversary, Jeremy Irons, Lesley Manville, Richard Eyre and artistic director Tom Morris discuss their new production of Long Day's Journey Into Night and look back over the history of the theatre. Director Alice Winocour and actor Matthias Schoenaerts talk to John Wilson about their new film Disorder, about a French Special Forces soldier coping with PTSD. Tim Robey reviews the new thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane, about a woman who wakes up in a basement following a car accident and is told by the man who claims to have saved her that the world above them is too dangerous to venture out in. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
March 17, 2016
Kirsty Lang talks to Sean Foley, director of The Painkiller, a farce that reveals Kenneth Branagh's skills as a physical, comic actor and Rob Brydon's as a dramatic actor. Alison Graham reviews Follow The Money, a new Danish TV crime drama from Borgen co-creator Jeppe Gjervig Gram. The French author Maylis de Kerangal has been longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize for her novel, Mend The Living. Set over the period of 24 hours, it deals with the difficult issue of organ donation, exploring it from the perspectives of many of those involved. And Front Row celebrates St Patrick's Day with the Irish - and American - supergroup, The Gloaming.
March 16, 2016
In If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me, opening at the Young Vic, Jane Horrocks and a band of musicians and dancers reinterpret a selection of hits from some of the Northern male artists of the 1970s and 80s. Jane and her director, Aletta Collins, talk about how they put the show together. High-Rise is a dystopian thriller based on JG Ballard's 1975 novel, starring Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons. Mark Eccleston reviews. 'Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky' explores how Russian portraiture enjoyed a golden age between the late 1860s and the First World War. While Tolstoy was publishing Anna Karenina and Tchaikovsky was taking Russian music to new heights, Russian art was developing a new self-confidence. Curator Dr Rosalind Blakesley shows us round this new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Sylvia Anderson, the co-creator of Thunderbirds, has died aged 88. She invented the show with her late husband back in the Sixties and also voiced the character of Lady Penelope. Mary Turner, who created the puppets, and David Graham, the voice of Parker, remember the puppeteer and television producer who worked in the industry for more than fifty years. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Angie Nehring.
March 15, 2016
Marguerite is a satirical comedy set in 1921 France, about a tone-deaf would-be opera diva who thinks she can sing. Music broadcaster Petroc Trelawny reviews. Antonio Pappano discusses conducting Mussorgsky's opera Boris Godunov for the first time, in a new production at the Royal Opera House with Bryn Terfel as the troubled Russian Tsar. The death of Anita Brookner has been announced. Front Row pays tribute to the Booker Prize winning novelist who was best known for exploring themes of social isolation through her female protagonists. The first major retrospective of the American artist and photographer Paul Strand (1890-1976) in the UK for over 40 years opens at the V&A in London this week. Photographer Eamonn McCabe, The Guardian's former picture editor, gives his response to Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century, which charts Strand's 60-year career and includes his abstract and documentary photography. Presenter : Kirsty Lang Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
March 14, 2016
James MacMillan pays tribute to Peter Maxwell Davies, who has died aged 81, and John Wilson revisits an interview the composer gave him a decade ago. Jim Powell talks about his new novel Trading Futures which begins tonight as Radio 4's Book at Bedtime. A mid-life crisis about a former city trader, this short book blends elements of King Lear and Reggie Perrin. John Wilson talks rock and roll survivor, Iggy Pop about his latest and, the geront terrible hints, last album, Post Pop Depression. John hears about Iggy's ambition, how he worked with David Bowie and what he now describes as his baritone voice. Producer: Julian May.
March 11, 2016
The Ones Below is a dark and tense thriller, focussing on the relationship between two sets of first time expectant parents. After a tragic accident, a divide develops between them and a series of sinister clues lead to an unsettling discovery. Kate Muir, film critic for The Times, joins Kirsty Lang to discuss David Farr's big screen directorial debut. Afghan rapper and activist Sonita shares her experience of almost being sold into a forced marriage and director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami describes her award-winning documentary telling Sonita's story, screened at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival this evening and next week. The BBC's Arts Editor and former Media Director at the Tate, Will Gompertz, considers the impact of BP's decision to end its sponsorship of the gallery after 26 years. As the BBC announce a season celebrating sitcoms, Boyd Hilton takes a look at its latest comedy offering Stop/Start. The pilot episode airs tonight as part of the long running series Comedy Playhouse which gave birth to TV classics Steptoe & Son and Are You Being Served. Joey will gallop around the West End stage for the last time when War Horse ends, after 7 years, tomorrow night. The extraordinary puppetry has attracted a lot of attention, but crucial to the play's success has been the music. This draws on folk song, which melds with classical orchestration. Director Tom Morris, and song-maker John Tams explain their approach, and Tim van Eyken, who was the original Songman in the National Theatre's production, plays and sings live in the Front Row studio.
Martin Parr's exhibitions, Assemble at Tate Liverpool, Bradford Media Museum controversy, Morrissey as London's mayor
March 10, 2016
As the death is announced of production designer Sir Kenneth "Ken" Adam, director Nicholas Hytner remembers working with him on The Madness of King George III. Martin Parr, photographer and chronicler of British culture, gives John Wilson an early preview of the new show he has curated at the Barbican in London, Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers, as well another exhibition of his own photographs, Unseen City, in which he gives an unprecedented insight into the pomp and pageantry of the City of London. In a controversial move, Bradford's National Media Museum is transferring its collection of 400,000 photographs and exhibits to London's Victoria and Albert Museum. Colin Ford, the museum's former director, joins John in the studio. Assemble, a collective of architects and designers, won the Turner prize last year for their urban regeneration project in Liverpool. They talk to John Wilson about Art Gym - their latest Merseyside collaboration - which has just opened at Tate Liverpool. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
March 9, 2016
Record producer Sir George Martin was known as the "fifth Beatle" but he also produced comedy records with the likes of Flanders and Swan and The Goons, as well as inventing creative production techniques that changed the sound of popular music. Comedian Bernard Cribbins and composer David Arnold remember the musical genius who has died, aged 90. The Witch is a new horror film set in New England in the 1630's. When their crops fail and their new born son vanishes a devout Christian family, living on the edge of a wilderness, is enveloped by fear and paranoia. Deborah Hyde, editor of the Skeptic magazine, reviews Robert Eggers' directorial debut. Motown the Musical, based on the American record producer Berry Gordy's memoirs, tells the story of how the music label transformed the sound of America. Featuring songs by Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Jackson 5, and Stevie Wonder it shows how these artists came to make the uplifting and enduring popular music in history. Music journalist Jacqueline Springer reviews. Anna Meredith is one of our most versatile composers whose work straddles the worlds of classical, pop, electronica and experimental rock. Until now, much of her time has been spent composing for commissions, but now she's recorded a debut album with her band. She explains how this was a very different working process and reveals what inspired the 11 tracks on Varmints. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Angie Nehring.
March 8, 2016
Radio 4's Book of the Week is Seamus Heaney's translation of Book VI of The Aeneid, read by Ian McKellen. Samira Ahmed speaks to Catherine Heaney, the poet's daughter, and his editor, Matthew Hollis, about her father's love of the poem, the place of Latin in his life, and bringing the poet's final work out of the underworld of his study and into the light of day. Anomalisa, the Academy Award nominated stop-motion animation from Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson is a darkly comedic and surreal journey into the mind of a self-help author who is crippled by the mundanity of his life until he meets a sales rep whilst on a business trip. Jenny McCartney reviews Historian David Coke and conductor and harpsichordist Bridget Cunningham discuss a new recording of Handel's music by London Early Opera, focused on London's famed Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The master Venetian painter Giorgione paved the way, in the early 1500s, to the golden age of luminous colour and even the first landscape in the history of art, however since he died young we actually don't know much about him. Curator Per Rumberg shows us round the Royal Academy exhibition which brings together Giorgione's key masterpieces with works by Titian, Giovanni Cariani, and Tullio Lombardo to pay tribute to his revolutionary influence. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jack Soper.
March 4, 2016
George Clooney stars in the Coen brothers' latest film Hail, Caesar!, a comedic homage to Hollywood's Golden Age in the early 1950s. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh joins Kirsty Lang to review the film which also features Josh Brolin, Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson and Ralph Fiennes. It's in cinemas from today, certificate 12A. David Threlfall has left the bad-lands of Manchester in Shameless for those of La Mancha, playing the errant knight in James Fenton's adaptation of Don Quixote for the Royal Shakespeare Company. David tells Kirsty why the nutty knight is an important figure for us today, and James Fenton reveals how, in telling his story, Cervantes invented the novel, and the modern novel, all at once. Don Quixote is on at the Swan Theatre in Stratford until 21st May. In the opening scene of BBC3's first online drama, Thirteen, Ivy Moxam escapes from the cellar, her prison for the last thirteen years. After a desperate 999 call from a phone box, she is picked up by the police and taken to be interviewed. This 5-part drama, also shown on BBC2, focuses on what happens next, how Ivy struggles to find her identity and re-establish relationships with her family and friends. Creator and writer, Marnie Dickens, joins Kirsty in the studio. And English Touring Opera's Artistic Director James Conway on taking 3 large scale operas to 21 towns around the country, including Gluck's Iphigenie and the first UK staging of Donizetti's Pia de Tolomei. English Touring Opera's Season starts tomorrow at the Hackney Empire and finishes in Carlisle in June. Producer: Dixi Stewart.
March 3, 2016
Richard Gere's latest film Time Out Of Mind sees him playing a homeless man who struggles to survive on the streets of New York City, Dreda Say Mitchell reviews the film which is a personal project for Gere, aimed at drawing attention to the plight of the homeless. John Osborne first offered Look Back in Anger to Derby Theatre, but it was rejected. They're making amends with a 60th anniversary production, and a new play, Jinny, written in response to it from a female perspective. Samira Ahmed talks to the director Sarah Brigham and Benedict Nightingale, who as a young critic, saw the original production. Tanita Tikaram rose to fame in the 1980s with the album Ancient Heart. It sold 4m copies and produced four chart singles including Twist in My Sobriety. The singer discusses her new album Closer to the People which is influenced by Anita O'Day, Philip Glass and Thelonious Monk. Was Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) Europe's first abstract artist, before even Kandinsky and Mondrian? A new exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London shows how this Swedish artist was reacting to the big debates of the late 19th and early 20th century. Charlotte Mullins reviews. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
March 2, 2016
Gillian Slovo's latest novel, Ten Days, begins in London on a run down council estate where a young black man is accidentally killed whilst being restrained by police. In the days that follow, a peaceful demonstration turns into violent protest and the resulting riots begin to spread countrywide. Gillian Slovo discusses her book, and reveals how it was inspired by interviews she did with police, politicians, rioters and residents involved in the riots of 2011. Botticelli Reimagined at the V&A explores the ways artists from the Pre-Raphaelites to the present day have responded to the Renaissance painter's work. Curator Ana Debenedetti has brought together the largest collection of his paintings in Britain since 1930 and exhibits them alongside works such as the Botticelli-themed dress that Lady Gaga wore for her Artpop tour, to a clip of Ursula Andress emerging like Venus from the waves in Dr No. She explains what makes Botticelli such an inspiration. It was announced today that the creator of Coronation Street, Tony Warren, had died. In tribute to him we play an interview he did with Front Row when the new set was installed in 2013, and Helen Worth, who plays Gail McIntyre, remembers him. Viv Groskop reviews Dr Thorne, Julian Fellowes' three part adaptation of Anthony Trollope's 1858 novel.
March 1, 2016
Professor Sir Peter Cook received a knighthood for services to architecture and was awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architecture, yet he has never designed a building in Britain - until now. He shows us around the drawing studio he's created for the Arts University Bournemouth. In 1962, Francois Truffaut persuaded fellow film director Alfred Hitchcock to sit with him for a week-long interview in which they discussed the secrets of cinema. Hannah McGill reviews a new documentary about this meeting, which resulted in Truffaut's seminal book "Hitchcock/Truffaut". The Barbican is staging Shakespeare as we've never seen it before; each of his 36 plays have been condensed and are presented on a table top using a cast of everyday objects. Macbeth is a cheese grater, Pericles a light bulb and Hamlet's a bottle of ink. Tim Etchells from Forced Entertainment explains why. The Hepworth Wakefield gallery has announced details of one of the UK's largest bequests. It's one of the most significant gifts received from a private collector. Tim Sayer was a passionate collector, a self-confessed 'art-oholic', and a retired BBC Radio 4 newswriter. So how did he acquire such an important collection? Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
February 29, 2016
Samira Ahmed takes a tour of the Haworth Parsonage to consider the closed world of the Brontë siblings, and the how their imaginative childhood games fed into their writing. Novelists AS Byatt and Sophia McDougall, and actor Tom Burke who plays Mr Rochester in the new Radio 4 adaptation of Jane Eyre, discuss the enduring appeal of the Brontës' characters. Michael Carlson reviews Truth, starring Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett, in which an investigative team at CBS News comes under fire for possible inaccuracies. The film is based on television news producer Mary Mapes' memoir Truth and Duty: The Press, the President and the Privilege of Power. Malian kora player Ballaké Sissoko and French cellist Vincent Ségal recorded their album Musique de Nuit last year. Before they begin their tour of the UK, they discuss how they shunned the music studio, choosing instead to record on a Bamako rooftop. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Dixi Stewart.
February 26, 2016
When most people think of Woodstock their mind immediately turns to the 1969 festival - but Woodstock is 60 miles away from the site of the festival. Small Town Talk by Barney Hoskyns provides an insight into the lives of the stars who lived there including Bob Dylan, Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Van Morrison. The Killing director Birger Larsen discusses his latest film, The Third Voice. This is the first episode of Murder, a three-part BBC Two drama, in which the characters speak exclusively to the camera. Spotlight is rare among recent films, in that it treats reporters as other than corrupt and venal. Adam Smith considers cinema's changing portrayal of newspaper journalists, from bold crusaders for truth to greedy slime-balls, and everything in between. And, on the day the chorus voted to go on strike...what exactly is going on at the English National Opera. Presenter John Wilson Producer Julian May.
February 25, 2016
Kirsty Lang talks to actresses Uzo Aduba, Laura Carmichael and Zawe Ashton, who are starring in Jean Genet's play The Maids. Tim Parks discusses his new novel Thomas and Mary - A Love Story, about a middle aged couple going through a difficult time in their relationship. Lois Walpole is an artist who has gathered nets and ropes washed up onto the shores of Shetland and woven them into baskets and sculptures for her new exhibition at Shetland Museum in Lerwick.
February 24, 2016
Sacha Baron Cohen plays a football hooligan and Mark Strong his brother, a top spy, in the new action comedy film Grimsby. Quentin Cooper reviews. Shakespeare's Globe's outgoing artistic director Dominic Dromgoole looks back over his tenure and discusses his final production, The Tempest. After Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, Anthony Holden has now collected Poems That Make Grown Women Cry. In it, women from various walks of life select poems that move them to tears, and explain why. Holden discusses the similarities and differences between the two volumes, and is joined by Joan Bakewell and Elif Shafak who reveal their choices. Mick Herron discusses his new novel Real Tigers, a thriller which takes place behind the scenes at Britain's Security Service. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
February 23, 2016
Churchill's Secret is a feature-length ITV drama that examines a period of illness in Winston Churchill's life as prime minister in the 1950s. Political Biographer Sonia Purnell reviews it for us. British artist Jonathan Yeo discusses his new portrait of Kevin Spacey as President Francis Underwood in the TV drama series House of Cards, as he unveils the painting at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC Set in small town America, new film King Jack, follows a fifteen year old boy, troubled by bullies, and forced to look after his young cousin over a seemingly endless summer weekend. Tim Robey reviews this coming-of-age tale. Clare Morrall talks about her latest novel When the Floods Came. The book is a departure for the previously Man Booker shortlisted writer, as it's a set in a dystopian Britain ravaged by disease and flooding. Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe has died age 103. Matthew Sweet tells us how he made films like Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Italian Job and Raiders Of The Lost Ark so special. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
February 22, 2016
Briony Hanson reviews Secret in their Eyes, an adaptation of an Oscar-winning Argentine thriller starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman. Katie Mitchell discusses her National Theatre production of Sarah Kane's play Cleansed in which one character has his tongue cut out and his hands put in a shredder. But it is, Mitchell insists, really about love. The short film Stutterer, about a man with a severe stammer, has been nominated for this weekend's Oscars. Ben Cleary, the writer, director and editor of the 12-minute film, discusses the challenges he faced as a first-time filmmaker. AB Yehoshua is an outspoken author who's been called the Israeli Faulkner. His latest book, The Extra, steps into the head and heart of a woman in her 40s, a harpist, who has decided not to have children. What is the impact on her, her family - and perhaps even her country? This edition of the programme was subject to an adjudication by the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit and has been edited since original broadcast. Further information is available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/comp-reports/ecu/frontrow22022016 ." Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
February 19, 2016
Novelist Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, is remembered by Elaine Showalter and Christopher Bigsby. John le Carré's novel The Night Manager has been adapted for television by Danish director Susanne Bier and writer David Farr. A spy thriller set in the shadowy world of the arms trade they describe how they changed the sex of the main character, and brought a Scandinavian flavour to this very British writer. Poet Simon Armitage and director Paul Hunter discuss collaborating on I Am Thomas, a piece of music theatre about the last person in Britain to be executed for blasphemy. Nintendo's Zelda franchise, one of the most successful video game series of all time, celebrates its 30th anniversary this Sunday. Naomi Alderman tells us what she admires most about the game.
February 18, 2016
As he publishes his first novel at the age of 82, David McCallum looks back at his career, from starring in cult TV series The Man From Uncle and Sapphire and Steel to his current role in crime drama NCIS. Samira Ahmed talks to the American soprano Marjorie Owens, as she makes her English National Opera debut in Norma by Bellini, one of the most challenging roles in opera. Oscar nominated Indian director Ashvin Kumar on why he is casting his new film about the conflict in Kashmir in the UK.
February 17, 2016
Stella Duffy reviews Julianne Moore and Ellen Page in Freeheld, based on the true story of lesbian police detective's struggle to have her pension transferred to her domestic partner after she is diagnosed with cancer. Novelist Anna Hope discusses her new book, The Ballroom, a love story set in an asylum in Yorkshire in 1911 and set against a backdrop of changing attitudes towards poverty and mental illness. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Jack Garratt on his début album, Phase. Film historian Ian Christie shows Samira around his new exhibition of previously unseen drawings by pioneering Soviet film maker Sergei Eisenstein. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jack Soper.
February 16, 2016
Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie discusses the band's new album Chaosmosis and why they have returned to 'immediate' pop songwriting. Cellist Steven Isserlis tells John Wilson about his new recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto, and his fear of performing the complete Bach Cello Suites from memory. Amalia Ulman, the social media-based artist, discusses her work in Performing for the Camera, a new exhibition at Tate Modern in London, which examines the relationship between photography and performance, from the invention of photography in the 19th century to the selfie culture of today. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
February 15, 2016
Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger is perhaps best known for his Christ-like figure which became the first artwork to stand on the empty Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London. His latest work involved him driving repeatedly round an Essex roundabout. He talks about that and his other new works that make up his new solo exhibition. Yann Martel won the Man Booker Prize in 2002 with Life of Pi which has now sold 13m copies worldwide making it the highest-selling winning book in the prize's history. He talks about his latest novel, The High Mountains of Portugal, another magic realist fable this time spanning the 20th Century. Love is a new comedy created by Judd Apatow which follows a romance between two Los Angeles singletons. Natalie Haynes reviews. Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art focuses on how the artist Eugène Delacroix transformed French painting in the 19th century. Richard Cork reviews the new exhibition at the National Gallery in London. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
February 12, 2016
Cuba Gooding Jr, John Travolta and David Schwimmer star in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, a new TV series in which the dramatic trial of the American football legend accused of double homicide unfolds. Journalist Gary Younge reviews. As Welsh National Opera stages three new productions featuring Figaro - Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Rossini's The Barber of Seville and a new sequel, Figaro Gets a Divorce by Elena Langer - WNO's Artistic Director David Pountney and opera historian Sarah Lenton explore one of opera's most fascinating characters. Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool reveals how important the city was in the emergence of the Pre-Raphaelite artists. With more than 120 works on show, including those by Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and William Holman Hunt, curator Christopher Newall argues that although the London art scene first rejected the Pre-Raphaelites as subversive and dangerous the Liverpool Academy accepted their work as new and inspirational. To mark 400 years since Shakespeare's death, the Royal Shakespeare Company is staging A Midsummer Night's Dream in which the characters of Bottom and the mechanicals are played by amateur theatre groups throughout the country. RSC Director Erica Whyman and some of her 14 Bottoms reveal what it's like working together.
The Survivalist, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Shakespeare in the Royal Library, The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary!
February 11, 2016
The Survivalist is a dark imagining of a post-apocalyptic world where society has collapsed and each must fend for himself. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews this BAFTA nominated film staring Martin McCann. Composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and Kevin O'Hare, the Director of The Royal Ballet, discuss Strapless, a new ballet inspired by John Singer Sargent's scandalous Portrait of Madame X, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. The Royal Librarian, Oliver Urquhart Irvine, reveals the exhibition, Shakespeare in the Royal Library, at Windsor Castle which traces the royal family's connection with Shakespeare and includes the second folio collected works that Charles I took with him to prison. The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary! is a stage adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's novel at the Liverpool Everyman. Except that this version is a comedy. Vicky Armstrong reviews. Waldemar Januszczak assesses the Louvre's restoration of Leonardo da Vinci's St John the Baptist, which one expert argues is putting this masterpiece at risk. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
February 10, 2016
Kate Winslet discusses her role as a Russian-Israeli mafia villain in new heist film Triple 9, starring Casey Affleck and Chiwetel Ejiofor. As a new play about Nell Gwynn opens in the West End, John talks to the playwright Jessica Swale and Charles Beauclerk, Earl of Burford, who is a direct descendant of Charles II and Nell Gwynn and has written a biography of the Restoration actress. Writer Guy Hibbert discusses his new TV series One Child, a political thriller set in China that addresses political corruption and the one-child policy. And as new rules for the acceptance speeches by the winners of the forthcoming Oscars are announced, film critic Jason Solomons considers the likely outcome. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
February 9, 2016
Lily James and Sam Riley star as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy in an unorthodox new film interpretation of Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Novelist Naomi Alderman, co-creator of the app Zombies, Run!, reviews the film. Chinelo Okparanta's novel, Under the Udala Trees, is set in Nigeria and begins during the Biafra War. It features a young Christian girl from the South who falls in love with a Muslim girl from the North, and explores the insurmountable difficulties surrounding this. The author explains how she writes with Nigerian readers in mind, and how she hopes, one day, for unity in her home country. Leonardo da Vinci may be known worldwide for his great artworks, from the Mona Lisa to the Last Supper, but he also dedicated much of his life to dreaming up machines such as his early version of the helicopter with beating wings that evoke an eagle. Curator Claudio Giorgione introduces us to the Mechanics of Genius at The Science Museum in London which celebrates Leonardo the "engineer and inventor". Steve Coogan tells us about bringing Alan Partridge back to the small screen in the second series of Mid Morning Matters for Sky Atlantic. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer: Dixi Stewart.
February 8, 2016
Vinyl is an upcoming HBO tv drama created by Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese, starring Bobby Cannavale as a music executive in late 1970s New York who hustles to make a career out of the city's diverse music scene. Staying with the world of record production, Tilda Swinton plays a rock star recovering from surgery on an Italian island in the new film A Bigger Splash from director Luca Guadagnino. The film is a remake of La Piscine (1969) and also stars Ralph Fiennes. Antonia Quirke and Boyd Hilton review the two productions. Melvyn Bragg remembers his fellow Cumbrian writer Margaret Forster, who died today. Theatre designers Tom Piper and Bob Crowley take us around the Curtain Up! exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum and offer some insight into what happens behind the scenes - from designing costumes, manufacturing props and building stage sets. Louis Andriessen is one of the world's leading composers and this week the Barbican is holding a series of concerts and events to celebrate six decades of his music. He discusses his life in music with John. Presenter John Wilson Producer Dymphna Flynn.
February 5, 2016
Jimi Hendrix's former girlfriend Kathy Etchingham shows John Wilson around the central London flat they shared in the late 1960s which is about to open permanently to the public. Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig discuss their new film Zoolander 2, directed by Ben Stiller. Photographer Nick Danziger explains the background to Eleven Women Facing War, his new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, for which he photographed 11 women in 2001 and 2011 who were all living in the world's major conflict zones, including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Gaza and Sierra Leone. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
February 4, 2016
Arts news, interviews and reviews.
February 3, 2016
Bryan Cranston, best known for his role as a drugs baron in hit TV series Breaking Bad, discusses his new role as the screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was imprisoned and blacklisted for Communist beliefs, in new film Tumbo. As Ibsen's The Master Builder opens at the Old Vic with Ralph Fiennes in the title role, David Hare discusses his approach to adapting the play with Fiennes in mind. The Norwegian painter Nikolai Astrup was a contemporary of Edvard Munch, and his work in Norway is much celebrated but he is little known outside of the country. The Dulwich Picture Gallery hopes to change that with the first UK exhibition dedicated to his work. Jonathan Jones reviews. Author Mark Haddon and curator Emily Sargent discuss States of Mind, an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection that explores the strange borderland between the conscious and the unconscious, and looks at how mental phenomena such as synaesthesia, sleepwalking, memory loss and anaesthesia have inspired art. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Rebecca Armstrong.
February 2, 2016
Architect Dame Zaha Hadid will receive the 2016 Royal Gold Medal from The Royal Institute of British Architects this week. She's the first woman to be awarded the prestigious honour in her own right. She talks to John Wilson about her work. John Irving, author of hugely popular novels including The World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meany, discusses his latest book Avenue of Mysteries, an examination of miracles, damaged childhoods, the writer's life and the perils of the circus. Adrian Lester stars as Victorian actor Ira Aldridge in Red Velvet, the latest production from the Kenneth Branagh Company. In 1833 Aldridge became the first black actor to play Othello on the London stage when he was invited to take over from Edmund Kean. Playwright Gabriel Gbadamosi reviews. Pieter Bruegel the Elder is known for his highly-coloured, earthy and vivid depiction of rowdy peasants in 16th-century Netherlands. But he also painted religious works. For the first time his only three surviving grisaille paintings will be shown together at the Courtauld Gallery in London. Curator Karen Serres explains their significance. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
February 1, 2016
Kirsty Lang talks to the director and writer of the new Dad's Army movie, Oliver Parker and Hamish McColl. Annie Nightingale reviews a documentary about the singer Janis Joplin. Dawn Walton discusses her production of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun at The Crucible Studio Theatre in Sheffield. And a newly discovered work by Hieronymus Bosch goes on show at an exhibition to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist. Produced by Tim Prosser.
January 29, 2016
Will Smith talks to John Wilson about his role as a forensic neuropathologist in the new film Concussion, based on a true story, which deals with the phenomenon of brain injury in American Football. Susannah Clapp and David Benedict review Caryl Churchill's new play Escaped Alone and consider her contribution to theatre. The British Museum's Vesta Curtis describes the glorious heritage of Iran and reflects upon recent US policy changes and their impact on tourism. With news that after years of wrangling, Ringo Starr's birthplace at 9 Madryn St, Liverpool, is to be refurbished rather than knocked down, the former Beatle looks back on growing up there in an interview he gave to Front Row in 2008. Presenter John Wilson Producer Dixi Stewart.
January 28, 2016
Scholar, Courtier, Magician: the Lost Library of John Dee (1527-1609) is a new exhibition which focuses on the work of the famous mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, imperialist, alchemist and spy who was a common presence in the court of Elizabeth I. Glyn Parry gives his response to the work on display. Marty Feldman, the British comedy writer, comedian and actor, rose to fame writing shows like radio's Round the Horne and The Frost Report and starring in films including Young Frankenstein. A new play, Jeepers Creepers directed by Monty Python's Terry Jones, charts Feldman's move to Hollywood and his struggles with his new-found fame. Mic Wright reviews. The Whitworth in Manchester is celebrating the centenary of pioneering designer Tibor Reich with a major retrospective. Reich, a Hungarian Jew forced to flee to Britain by the Nazis, is credited with modernising British textile design with projects such as Concorde, Coventry Cathedral, the Royal Yacht Britannia and Windsor Castle. Curator Frances Pritchard discusses the exhibition. The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge deals with matters of grief, quantum physics and parallel worlds. The author explains why he chose to tackle these subjects in a children's book. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.