June 23, 2017
Okja, a new Netflix feature film about a young girl in the South Korean mountains raising a giant pig, stars Tilda Swinton and the young Korean actor An Seo Hyun. The film was co-written by the British author and journalist Jon Ronson, who discusses the film and his career. It's 20 years on Monday since JK Rowling's first Harry Potter book was published and a whole generation of millennial Muggles have grown up with him in books, films and on stage. To mark the anniversary Front Row asks Tim Burke, the visual effects supervisor on most of the Harry Potter films; Viv Groskop, comedian, writer and parent; Rhianna Dhillon, film critic and self-confessed Potter nerd; Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust; and the pupils of Oasis Academy in Salford what Harry means to them, and whether a world in which he'd never been created is even imaginable. Among the many victims of the Grenfell Tower fire was the 24-year-old artist and photographer Khadija Saye. Her images attracted international attention recently when they were featured in the new Diaspora Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which opened last month and showcases work by established and emerging artists. The Pavilion's curator David A Bailey and Khadija's mentor, the artist Nicola Green, remember their friend and discuss the nature of her work. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
June 22, 2017
Playwright Jez Butterworth and director Sam Mendes, two of the biggest names in theatre, discuss The Ferryman, one of the hottest plays of the year. The pair, who had previously worked together on Bond, reveal how a mutual love of football resulted in this latest collaboration. In a Front Row special John Wilson goes behind the scenes at the Gielgud Theatre as the cast and crew prepare to open in London's West End. The play is set in rural Derry in 1981 against the backdrop of the Troubles. The Carney family are preparing for the harvest feast when unwelcome visitors bring news of the discovery of a body forcing patriarch Quinn to confront the IRA past he had tried to escape. Northern Irish actress Laura Donnelly tells John the true story from her family's history that inspired the play and film star Paddy Considine discusses making his stage debut as part of a huge cast including a baby, a real rabbit and a live goose. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Marilyn Rust.
June 21, 2017
Joseph Fiennes joins Kirsty to discuss his role of the Commander in the sinister television adaptation the Handmaid's Tale currently on Channel 4. Daljit Nagra, Radio 4's poet in residence, reads a new poem commissioned for the summer solstice. Plus he discusses British Museum, his third volume of poetry which marks a significant departure of style. One hundred years since Wyndham Lewis was first commissioned as an official war artist in 1917, a major retrospective at Imperial War Museum North tells the story of the controversial and radical British artist. The exhibition's curator Richard Slocombe joins Kirsty to discuss. Scottish mezzo-soprano Catriona Morison has been awarded the 2017 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World title. Already a surprise finalist, she was the judges' choice as their wildcard entrant to compete in the final, she is also the first British winner of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. She speaks to Kirsty from Germany where she is currently based as an ensemble member of Wuppertal Opera.
June 20, 2017
Broadway star Audra McDonald has won more Tony Awards than any other performer. She discusses the challenge of her new show Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, in which she sings and performs as Billie Holiday, and what it was like doing Carpool Karaoke with James Corden. The Anglo-American artist John Singer Sargent's reputation as a portraitist reached its peak at the turn of the 20th century for his paintings of the distinguished personalities of his day. During painting expeditions to Southern Europe and the Middle East, he also mastered the medium of watercolour, and whilst often dismissed as simple travel souvenirs, a major new exhibition of Sargent's watercolours argues that they were an integral part of his artistic production. Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones reviews. Equity, the actors' union wants the way plays, films and television shows are cast to be made clearer, fairer and more inclusive. Ahead of the launch of their manifesto calling for changes, actor and President of Equity Malcolm Sinclair explains why these have to be made and what goes on in auditions. Irish novelist Paula McGrath discusses her new book A History of Running Away, set in 1980s Ireland and contemporary Ireland and America. It follows the story of three women, including would-be boxer Jasmine, who trains in the sport despite it being illegal for women to box in Ireland. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Edwina Pitman.
June 19, 2017
Diane Keaton talks Annie Hall, The Godfather, and her latest film Hampstead - about an American widow who forms an unlikely alliance with a man living on a nearby Heath - while also giving her views on charming men and dressing flamboyantly. Today the winners were announced of the 80th anniversary Carnegie Medal and the 60th anniversary Kate Greenaway Medal. Ruta Sepetys has won the Carnegie Medal for Salt to the Sea while the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration has gone to a book about collective nouns, There is a Tribe of Kids, written and illustrated by Lane Smith. Samira speaks to both winners live in the studio. We review new Netflix drama Glow, which follows a struggling actress in 1980s LA who joins the all-female Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling in a bid to launch her career. Sports fan Alex Clark reviews. Theatre critic Matt Wolf reflects on the recent controversy engulfing New York Public Theater's production of Julius Caesar in Central Park in which Caesar is depicted as a Donald Trump-like figure with blond hair and a wife with an Eastern European accent. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hannah Robins.
June 16, 2017
Fleet Foxes' songwriter and frontman Robin Pecknold talks to John Wilson about their new album Crack-Up, and his return to music following several years at college. Marianne Elliott - director of some of the National Theatre's most successful shows, including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse and Angels in America - has left to form her own company, which launches in the Autumn with a new play by Simon Stephens called Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle. As the first major retrospective of Turkish artist Fahrelnissa Zeid opens at Tate Modern, Kerryn Greenberg reveals the extraordinary life of one of the 20th century's most overlooked artists. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser.
Evgeny Kissin; Man Booker International Prize 2017 winners David Grossman and Jessica Cohen; artist David Mach
June 15, 2017
David Grossman and his translator Jessica Cohen have been announced as the winners of the Man Booker International Prize 2017 for A Horse Walks Into a Bar, about a stand-up comedian who goes to pieces on stage one night. This is the second year that the Man Booker International Prize has been awarded on the basis of a single book, with the £50,000 prize divided equally between the author and the translator. Both David Grossman and Jessica Cohen join John to discuss their work. The great Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin has taken a sabbatical recently, and written a book. In 'Memoirs and Reflections' he chronicles his childhood passion for the piano and sketches portraits of family members and teachers who nurtured his genius. He discusses performing and memory, and reveals other talents, translation and recitation - in Yiddish. For delegates at this month's London Festival of Architecture, which invites architects, designers, engineers and planners from around the world to conferences and debates, the horrific fire at the Grenfell Tower prompts renewed focus on the issue of how to best provide social housing at a time when urban populations are booming. Architects Alex Ely and Dieter Kliener, who both specialise in community projects, and Tamsie Thomson, Director of the London Festival of Architecture talk to John Wilson. Before the artist David Mach began creating his new art installation Incoming - comprising 20 tonnes of newspapers, a Jeep, a shipping container and some heavy pieces of timber - John met him at the empty gallery. Now that the piece is finished, he shows John round the artwork and discusses the logistical and physical challenge it presented.
Hamlet - the opera, Novelist Laura Barnett with singer Kathryn Williams, Political docudramas, Blue plaques for music
June 14, 2017
Australian composer Brett Dean talks about on his new opera, Hamlet, for the Glyndebourne Festival, which is one of the most eagerly anticipated operatic premieres of the year. Laura Barnett's latest novel, Greatest Hits, focuses on Cass, a successful singer songwriter who retires from public life, and then plans her return 10 years later with her greatest hits. Singer songwriter Kathryn Williams has written a soundtrack to accompany the book and the two discuss their collaboration with Kirsty Lang. Theresa vs Boris, a docu-drama about the Conservative Party's 2016 leadership campaign, will be broadcast on BBC Two this weekend. Yet, after the 2017 general election the docu-drama already looks to be overtaken by the shenanigans in Westminster. Documentary maker Michael Cockerell and playwright Jonathan Maitland discuss the pitfalls and the pleasures of creating programmes based on recent political events, and if it is ever too soon to begin making such programmes. For BBC Music Day tomorrow all 40 BBC Local Radio stations and Asian Network in England have teamed up with the British Plaque Trust to unveil 47 historic Blue Plaques celebrating iconic musicians and venues. From Aspatria in Cumbria to Penzance, Kirsty Lang introduces some of the more unusual ones. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Julian May.
June 13, 2017
Andrew Scott is best known for playing Moriarty to Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock. But Scott also has a reputation as an intense stage actor. Now he is taking on the most famous stage role of all - Hamlet. Kirsty Lang talks to him and director Robert Icke, who is famous for shedding new light on classic plays. Amanda Craig discusses her latest novel The Lie of the Land - a suspenseful, 'state of the nation' black comedy that highlights the growing disconnect between life in London and the rest of the country. Whitney : Can I Be Me is the new documentary by Nick Broomfield about the life and death of Whitney Houston. Jacqueline Springer reviews the film that Houston's estate tried to stop from being made. It's 50 years since the Monterey Pop Festival in California which is remembered for the first major American appearances by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who and Ravi Shankar, as well as the first major performance by Janis Joplin and the introduction of Otis Redding. Music producer Joe Boyd marks the anniversary and assesses the festival's legacy. Presenter : Kirsty Lang Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
June 12, 2017
Brian Cox discusses playing the most famous man in British politics in his new film Churchill. Sci-fi writer Sophia McDougall reviews the Barbican's new exhibition : Into The Unknown, A Journey Into Science Fiction. From Cherie Blair to Medea via Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter, and Polly Blair of Peaky Blinders, Helen McCrory has played many strong women. Her latest is Emma Banville, a campaigning lawyer who fights to free a man she believes was wrongfully convicted of killing a schoolgirl, a part created for her by Homeland writer Patrick Harbinson. Helen McCrory reveals why she wanted to be in Fearless and why she'll always be an actress, not an actor. This year has already seen new re-boots of many classic film franchises, including Alien, Pirates of the Caribbean, Wonder Woman and The Mummy. With more in the pipeline for this summer, Adam Smith considers what it takes to breathe new life into an old brand (and whether it's a good idea in the first place...) Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Rebecca Armstrong.
June 9, 2017
Fearless Girl, a 130cm bronze statue of a young girl in New York's financial district, is at the centre of a fierce debate about public art, corporate power, and feminism. New York-based arts journalist David D'Arcy reports from the city. Now that the results are in, the official artist of the 2017 general election, Cornelia Parker RA, discusses documenting the 10-week campaign and the finished artwork she'll be creating for the parliamentary art collection. The leading American tenor Lawrence Brownlee talks about singing as fast and sweepingly as a jazz sax solo, and delivering jive talk in grand classical style, in the European premiere of the opera Charlie Parker's Yardbird. Radio 4's Poet in Residence, Daljit Nagra, discusses the work of poet and novelist Helen Dunmore, who died on Monday, and responds to Hold Out Your Arms, her final poem written just two weeks ago. Presenter Nikki Bedi Producer Jerome Weatherald.
'My Cousin Rachel' Weisz, Arundhati Roy, Bamber Gascoigne's opera house, Literary agent Ed Victor remembered
June 8, 2017
Hollywood star Rachel Weisz talks about the unusual ambiguity in her latest role as the beguiling widow Rachel in a big screen adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's psychological drama My Cousin Rachel. Two years ago Bamber Gascoigne inherited West Horsley Place, a crumbling 15th century stately home and 380 acres in Surrey, along with a restoration bill of £7.3m. So he built the first opera house in the UK this century in the woods behind the house, which opens tonight. He gives us the guided tour along with the woman behind the project, Grange Park Opera impresario Wasfi Kani. It's rare for a novel to hit the news headlines but that's happened this week for Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness as it's twenty years since her first - and only other - novel, The God of Small Things, became a much loved and huge bestseller, winning the Booker Prize and selling over 8 million copies around the world. In the meantime, she's become known as an activist in her home country, India. This novel takes readers on a tumultuous journey to Delhi and Kashmir, blending the personal and the political. She joins Samira to talk about why the time felt right to tell this story now. Nigella Lawson remembers her close friend and literary agent Ed Victor.
June 7, 2017
The Turner Prize-winning artist, writer and Reith lecturer Grayson Perry discusses his new show The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! at the Serpentine Gallery in London. The new works on display include tapestries, ceramics and sculptures, many of which reflect Perry's engagement with politics, the state of Britain, sex and religion. Front Row announces and talks to the winner of this year's Baileys Prize for Women's Fiction live from the ceremony. Just ten days before her death, Helen Dunmore wrote a poem for her friends. Samantha Bond reads Hold Out Your Arms. At a ceremony in the UK Capital of Culture Hull earlier today, Lauren Child was named The Waterstone's Children's Laureate. The creator of the hugely popular Charlie and Lola, Clarice Bean and That Pesky Rat books is the tenth writer to hold the title and joins the likes of Chris Riddell, Anne Fine and one of her own heroes Quentin Blake. Lauren, who wants to promote creativity in young people during her two year tenure, will be talking to John Wilson live. Would you be more likely to go to the theatre or a concert if you were allowed to pay whatever you liked? John talks to Annabel Turpin of the Stockton Arts Centre, who has done just that for her theatre goers, and discusses with Jane Donald of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra whether it would work for them. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
June 6, 2017
In 1989 Steven Moffat made his debut as a television writer with Press Gang, an award-winning drama serial about a fledgling newspaper run by schoolchildren. Three decades, three sitcoms, and a film script for Steven Spielberg later, Moffat leads two of the BBC's most successful shows - Dr Who and Sherlock. In front of an audience at the Hay Festival, he discusses his illustrious career with Samira Ahmed. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ekene Akalawu.
Michael Sheen, Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant's favourite novel and review of television series Ackley Bridge
June 5, 2017
As Michael Sheen releases his new film, Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, John Wilson talks to the actor about his career. He delves into how Sheen prepared for some of his most well-known roles, playing real people such as Tony Blair, David Frost and Brian Clough. Sheen considers, too, his connection to his home town, Port Talbot, and his increasing social and political activism. Ackley Bridge is set in a newly opened school which integrates the largely divided white and Asian children of a Yorkshire town. The Channel 4 drama, which focuses on both the staff and pupils, was created by the writer of East is East, Ayub Khan Din, as well as two former Shameless writers, Malcolm Campbell and Anya Reiss. Shahidha Bari reviews. Neither Wolf Nor Dog is the fictionalised account of a road trip by a white man and an old Native American through Indian country. Former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant tells John Wilson how the novel captivated him and why he wants to bring it to a British readership, and the book's author, Kent Nerburn, explains how the tribal elders of the Red Lake Ojibwe reservation came to trust him to write their story.
Mondrian - the complete works; Arts and politics; Playwright Alice Birch; 40 years of Bob Marley's Exodus
June 2, 2017
With less than a week to go before the General Election we hear what is in the political party manifestos for the arts and creative industries? What can we expect from the rise of creative hubs, zones and platforms? Kirsty Lang talks to Caroline Julian, from the Creative Industries Federation and cultural policy commentator David Powell. As the entire collection of 301 works by the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1941) go on public display for the first time at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, critic Jonathan Jones assesses the work of the artist. Best known for his grid-like abstract paintings with a white background, black vertical and horizontal lines and blocks of three primary colours, Mondrian also painted landscapes and portraits. Can the inclination to suicide be inherited? Playwright Alice Birch explores the legacy of what has happened to three generations of women in 'Anatomy of a Suicide'. The script is written with the precision and orchestration of a musical score to allow different times and locations to appear simultaneously on the same stage. And we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Bob Marley and The Wailers recording the album Exodus.
June 1, 2017
As 'Beatrix at Dinner' opens the London Sundance Film Festival Samira talks to the film's star Salma Hayek and director Miguel Arteta about the politically charged dark comedy which has been described as the first great film of the Trump Era. In his lifetime the novelist Arnold Bennett was so famous the Savoy Hotel named an omelette after him, but 150 years on from his birth his star has waned. We've been to his home city of Stoke-on-Trent where the celebrations to mark this special anniversary include an adaptation of his novel Anna of the Five Towns by playwright Deborah McAndrew and is directed at the New Vic by Conrad Nelson. Last month comedian Amy Schumer told Front Row, that even though she has written, produced and starred in a series of successful films and television programmes, stand-up touring is still where she makes the most money. To throw more light on the economics of stand-up tours and beyond we speak to comedy agent Brett Vincent and sociologist of culture Sarah Thornton. The film Wonder Woman is released this week but are girl fans being short-changed when it comes to the merchandising? Louise Blain of the film and game magazine and website Games Radar examines the evidence.
May 31, 2017
Pretty Yende, the South African soprano, discusses making her debut at the Royal Opera House in Donizetti's comic opera L'elisir d'amore, and the TV advert that inspired her to abandon her plans to become an accountant and to pursue a career in opera instead. As a new adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is broadcast on Channel 4 and the book hits the top of the bestsellers list, academic Sarah Churchwell reassesses this dystopian novel and its significance, and considers to what extent the television adaption lives up to the book. Dennis Lehane, whose previous novels include Mystic River, Shutter Island and Gone, Baby, Gone were adapted into successful films, discusses his latest work Since We Fell. This novel is set in Lehane's familiar territory of Boston, Mass, where things are rarely quite what they seem, and you don't know who to trust. Adrian Wootton is the Chief Executive of the British Film Commission which is responsible for promoting the UK as the best place to produce feature films and television. He explains why Britain is overtaking California as the place to make blockbusters and deluxe television series, and considers, too, the impact of this on film-makers here without such deep pockets. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Caroline Donne.
May 30, 2017
French animation My Life as a Courgette has wowed the critics at Cannes. The children's film is about a boy nick-named Courgette and takes a refreshing look at life in an orphanage and explores the reasons why the children are there. Briony Hanson reviews. Will Self talks about his new novel Phone, the third and final instalment of his experimental trilogy which started with 2012's Man Booker nominated Umbrella. Written with no paragraphs or chapter breaks, the novel is a stream of consciousness story and returns to one of his previous characters, the psychiatrist Dr Zack Busner. Critic Kevin Jackson joins Kirsty and Will Self to discuss the history of experimental fiction since Tristram Shandy. 120 rarely seen drawings by Italian renaissance painter Raphael have gone on display at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The drawings are often considered as preparatory for his paintings, but this exhibition encourages visitors to consider them in their own right. Richard Cork reviews. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Dymphna Flynn.
May 29, 2017
For the bank holiday, Samira is in Liverpool for the art premieres celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of the album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. She meets Sean Doran, the co-artistic director of the Sgt. Pepper at 50: Heading for Home arts festival, as he transforms the city into a turntable for the album by commissioning 13 world premieres - one for for each track. Samira also meets two of the artists commissioned to come up with their interpretation of these classic Beatles songs: singer and performance artist Meow Meow has taken on Lovely Rita and is creating a street procession and a sound installation; and dramatist Keith Saha has written a new play inspired by the themes of She's Leaving Home, which will be performed in private homes in Toxteth. Distinguished television writer Jimmy McGovern has written a new drama for BBC One, Broken, which looks at the life of a priest, Father Michael Kerrigan, played by Sean Bean, as he struggles to minister to a poor community. Jimmy takes Samira to St Francis Xavier church in Liverpool where much of the new television drama was filmed, and which has long inspired him. And RIBA North is the new national architectural centre in Liverpool. As it finally prepares to open, Samira pays a visit to the new building on the city's waterfront which itself has been the subject of controversy, and arrives in Liverpool at a time when the city's architectural plans have led to it being placed on UNESCO's World Heritage in Danger list. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ekene Akalawu.
May 26, 2017
Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Elizabeth Strout, discusses her latest novel, Anything is Possible, which looks in detail at some of the lives of those in a small town in Illinois and explores the long term impact of war, abuse and extreme poverty upon the human condition. Kully Thiarai took up her post of Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Wales just a year ago and has recently unveiled two major projects which take steel and the NHS as their inspiration. She reveals more to John. As the Hay Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary, its founder Peter Florence joins John to remember conceiving the idea around a kitchen table, and reflect on how it's grown to become the UK's largest literary festival. And recent studies reveal that reading encourages empathy and putting ourselves in the mind of someone else could improve our social skills. Children's authors, Julia Donaldson, Katherine Rundell and Elizabeth Strout discuss. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
May 25, 2017
Queen guitarist Brian May explains how his childhood fascination with stereoscopic imagery led to his documenting the band over the years from an insider's point of view with a collection of unique 3-D photographs. Academic Gail Crowther tells us how she and colleague Peter K Steinberg used picture-editing software and social media to decipher previously unseen Sylvia Plath poems, found on a scrap of carbon paper. Exactly 40 years to the day after the first Star Wars film was released in US cinemas, we explore its impact on popular culture with Mark Miller, creator of Kick-Ass and creative consultant on the X-Men and Fantastic Four movies, and film critic Mark Eccleston. Jason Solomons reports from the Cannes Film Festival, and rates the contenders for the big prizes being awarded this weekend. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Marilyn Rust.
Billy Bragg on skiffle, Hokusai's Great Wave, Capt Jack Sparrow returns, Nicola Benedetti, poetry and atrocity
May 24, 2017
Billy Bragg talks to John Wilson about the music that changed the world - skiffle. His book arguing this, Roots, Radicals and Rockers, is also an insightful survey of post-war youth culture. This was simple music, played on homemade instruments by teenagers - punk before punk. But many skiffle players went on to great things - members of The Beatles, for instance. The Great Wave , a picture of a huge blue roller breaking over fishing boats, by the Japanese master, Hokusai, is one of the most widely recognised images in the world. An exhibition at the British Museum, Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave, looks at the artist's latter years, his most creative according to the curator Tim Clark. And contemporary printmaker and artist Rebecca Salter explains the astonishing technique behind Hokusai's work. This weekend cinemas audiences can see Johnny Depp return as Captain Jack Sparrow in fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, a role which earned him an Oscar nomination in 2003. But, recently his acting has been overshadowed by stories of his personal life and bad box-office returns - Film critic Angie Errigo comes into look at the career trajectory of the Hollywood actor. Yesterday violinist Nicola Benedetti was awarded The Queen's Medal for Music, the youngest person ever to receive it. She talks about her musical journey. Yesterday Tony Walsh responded to the atrocity in Manchester with poetry. He wasn't the first: Shelley wrote The Mask of Anarchy after the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in 1819, and the bombing of the city in 1996 inspired poems, too. Michael Schmidt, director of the poetry publisher, Carcanent Press, based in Manchester, considers the way poets react to such events. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Julian May.
May 23, 2017
Music journalist Laura Snapes reflects on the Manchester attacks. Matt Thorne on the return of cult TV drama Twin Peaks; after a twenty six year break, will the surreal world of its creator and director David Lynch please new audiences and super fans alike? American crime writer Bill Beverly on the success of his debut novel Dodgers which won a string of awards including a Gold Dagger from the Crime Writers Association. Described as The Wire meets JD Salinger, Dodgers is a coming of age story which raises issues about race, class and youth whilst providing a new take on the classic American road novel. Bond director John Glen and TV and film writer Andrew Collins on Sir Roger Moore, who has died.
May 22, 2017
Olivier Award-winning actress Denise Gough talks about taking on the title role in the TV drama Paula, and how she wants to help change the types of stories being told about women on the small screen. On Saturday Fairport Convention will give a concert 50 years to the minute since their very first. Founding member Simon Nicol, and newcomer Dave Pegg - he joined in 1969 - talk about the early days of the band that launched the careers of Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson and Ashley Hutchings, and discuss their latest album 50:50@50. The identity of Leonardo da Vinci's mother has remained a mystery - long after the identity of his most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, was finally discovered - until now. Previously there have been several theories and a possible first name of Caterina, but nearly six centuries on, Martin Kemp - one of the leading authorities on da Vinci - says he can now reveal who Leonardo's mother was, and argues that it is time to finally cut through the myths that still surround the Mona Lisa and Da Vinci himself. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
May 19, 2017
When Clive James published his collection of poems Sentenced to Life in 2014, it was expected to be his last because he has terminal leukaemia. Now, three years later, he's publishing a new collection with the apt title of Injury Time. In his sunlit, book-lined studio, James talks to John Wilson about his urgent impulse to write, as he faces death, his meticulously crafted poems about life. Netflix's film Okja was booed at the Cannes Film Festival today as the row over Netflix's place at the festival continues. For the first time, two Netflix films are competing for the Palme d'Or this year. The critic Jason Solomons reports from Cannes on the controversy, and is joined by Simon Chinn, Oscar-winning producer of documentaries Man on Wire and Searching for Sugar Man, whose latest film LA 92 was funded by TV and on-demand channel National Geographic. Early last month Damien Hirst revealed his latest ambitious work Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable at two large venues in Venice. The show's Italian curator Elena Geuna, who has worked with Damien on the project for the last five years, discusses the secrecy surrounding the decade-long planning of the exhibition. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
May 18, 2017
50 years since his hit single 'Release Me', veteran singer Engelbert Humperdinck discusses his long career and his new album, which combines his greatest hits with two new tracks. We visit the London studio of Michaël Dudok de Wit, the award winning Dutch animator, to see him in action and talk about his feature film debut The Red Turtle. Produced by Japan's Studio Ghibli and created by a team of French animators lead by Dudok de Wit, The Red Turtle was the only 2-D animated feature to be Oscar nominated at this year's Academy Awards. Here's a rare thing, a new opera - in Welsh. Y Twr (The Tower) has it's world premier on Friday. Front Row drops in on a rehearsal to talk to the composer Guto Puw and librettist Gwyneth Glyn about their adaptation of one the most important Welsh plays of the 20th century. And Caryl Hughes and Gwion Thomas speak of their delight at having the opportunity, at last, of singing an opera in their mother tongue. Plus, following on from the success of F-rating films, seven events at the Bath Literary Festival use the F-rating in their brochure for the first time. Festival Director Alex Clark explains the thinking behind promoting cultural events that celebrate the female experience.
Guy Ritchie on King Arthur, Redwater and television spin-offs, our fascination with true crime dramas, From Shore to Shore
May 17, 2017
Kat and Alfie Moon, Eastenders' loveable couple travel to an Irish village in search of Kat's long-lost son. Redwater is directed by Jesper Nielsen, who worked on Danish political drama Borgen, and written by Eastenders' alumni including Life On Mars creator Matthew Graham. Culture journalist Rebecca Nicholson reviews Redwater and considers the art of the TV spin-off. Highly acclaimed true crime dramas won major awards at Baftas this week. Murdered by my Father is about a so-called honour killing. Damilola, Our Loved Boy recounts the terrible story of the schoolboy stabbed on his way home from school. Three Girls takes on the very difficult topic of the Rochdale sexual grooming gangs. Samira Ahmed talks to Lois Wise about the public fascination for true crime stories, and the dilemmas involved. Director Guy Ritchie's latest film is an epic action adventure, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. It stars Charlie Hunnam in the title role, with Jude Law, fetching in assorted leather-wear, as his scheming uncle King Vortigen. Ritchie talks about how he works with actors on set - including here David Beckham, who has a cameo role, and how the folkloric tradition of storytelling influenced the film's narrative. From Shore to Shore is a new play inspired by the lives and little-known stories of people from the Chinese communities in Leeds and West Yorkshire. Playwright Mary Cooper and writer Mimi Webster discuss how the play came about and why it's being presented in unusual venues - Chinese restaurants. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer:Julian May. Image credit: Daniel Smith/ Warner Bros.
May 16, 2017
Nicole Taylor, the writer of Three Girls, a BBC1 drama based on the Rochdale 'grooming' and sex abuse cases which first came to trial 5 years ago, talks about how she adapted the distressing stories of the exploited girls for this three part serial. Three Girls stars Maxine Peake as Sara Rowbotham, the whistle blower who exposed the girls' plight and brought it to the attention of the public. The controversial and acclaimed US artist Mark Bradford is representing his country in the American Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which has just opened. Bradford was born in South Los Angeles and his interest in social and political issues lie at the heart of his work. The artist discusses his new exhibition Tomorrow is Another Day, and to what extent the election of Donald Trump is reflected in his art. BAFTA-winning director Joe Wright - whose films include Atonement and Pride and Prejudice - returns to the theatre with Bertolt Brecht's 20th century masterpiece Life of Galileo. Wright joins Tom Rowlands, one half of the electronic music duo The Chemical Brothers, to talk about working together on this new production at London's Young Vic. The play is about the 17th century scientist Galileo Galilei and his discoveries about the solar system which challenged the prevailing 17th century worldview - a struggle which still resonates strongly today.
May 15, 2017
Conn Iggulden is one of the most successful authors of historical fiction, writing about the Wars of the Roses, Genghis Khan and Julius Caesar; as well as his hugely popular manual Dangerous Book for Boys. He now turns to St Dunstan, who was Archbishop of Canterbury and lived through the reigns of seven kings in the tenth century. Conn talks to Samira about how Dunstan became a saint, and his legacy. Royal drama The Crown was made by Netflix when they outbid the BBC for the rights. The £100m series was expected to pick up the top awards at the BAFTAs after it led the shortlist with five nominations. But on the night, it missed out entirely. TV writer Andrew Collins discusses what the fate of The Crown reveals about the BAFTAs. Playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker has won many awards for her stage plays Our Country's Good, Three Birds Alighting on A Field, and most recently Jefferson's Garden; as well as praise for her radio adaptations of War and Peace and Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan quartet. Her new play, premiering at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton, looks at a group of women attempting to block the development of a big hotel on Winter Hill. Front Row spoke to Timberlake on the hill outside Bolton that inspired the drama. Quake is Radio 4's experimental new drama set after a deadly earthquake. As well as the audio drama, there is a virtual reality video to accompany the first episode and graphic novel style animations for the remaining eleven. Quake is also non-linear so apart for the first and last, the episodes can be listened to in any order. Critic Pete Naughton reviews. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
May 12, 2017
As the six-month-long 57th International Art Exhibition - otherwise known as the Venice Biennale - opens its doors to the world, John Wilson reports from the Italian city. The artist selected for the British Pavilion in the Giardini this year is 73-year-old Phyllida Barlow, following in the footsteps of Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Barbara Hepworth, Howard Hodgkin and Rachel Whiteread. Phyllida Barlow describes the new large-scale sculptures made of concrete, wood, cloth and polystyrene that she has created for her show Folly, and discusses the challenge of representing Britain in an age of global political unrest. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
May 11, 2017
The 1992 Hull Festival provided the launch pad for Northern Broadsides with the company presenting a new production of Richard III distinguished by its use of the northern voice. Twenty five years on, Northern Broadsides are back in Hull for its UK city of culture celebrations with Mat Fraser as Richard III. Director Barrie Rutter and Mat, who has thalidomide-induced phocomelia, discuss what casting a disabled actor in the role of theatre's most high profile disabled villain has brought to this anniversary production. Anne with an E is a new adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic novel, Anne of Green Gables. Meg Rosoff reviews the Netflix series which tells the story of Anne Shirley, a precocious orphan placed in the care of uptight Marilla Cuthbert and her brother Matthew on a farm on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Amy Schumer talks to Kirsty about her new film Snatched, where she and her mother, played by Goldie Hawn, are abducted whilst on holiday in Ecuador. Tony Kushner discusses his musical Caroline, Or Change, which is on in Chichester, and also reveals that he's adapting West Side Story for a new film directed by Stephen Speilberg.
Director John Madden, Pultizer Prize-winning author Richard Ford, Voice coach Barbara Berkery, Edward Kemp, head of RADA
May 10, 2017
We speak to director John Madden about his new political thriller Miss Sloane, where Jessica Chastain stars as a ruthless lobbyist taking on the might of the gun lobby. The film was released in the USA two days after Trump was elected and John discusses the effect this had on both on the American box office takings and on how the he now views the film. It is a controversy that has caused thousands of complaints to the BBC and debate in the House of Lords. Last week even saw Judi Dench became involved when she criticised young performers about it. Actors 'mumbling' their dialogue, especially on TV drama, has become a common complaint of modern audiences. The director of RADA Edward Kemp and voice coach Barbara Berkery comes in to tell us why actors are struggling to be heard by viewers - and what can be done to improve their diction. Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Ford discusses his first non-fiction book, Between Them, a two-part memoir of his parents, Edna and Parker Ford, who lived an itinerant life during the depression until their son's birth in 1944. (Photo: Richard Ford, Jackson, Mississipi, 1947. Credit: Richard Ford).
May 9, 2017
As a controversial play about a Windsor power struggle hits the small screen, we talk to writer Mike Bartlett and director Rupert Goold about adapting King Charles III for TV; complete with constitutional crisis, the Queen's funeral, Diana's ghost, blank verse and the late great Tim Piggott-Smith. Radio 4's Poet in Residence Daljit Nagra begins the first in series of appearances where he takes us through what currently interests and inspires him from the world of poetry. After the success of the David Bowie exhibition The Victoria & Albert Museum in London has mounted another rock based show, this time on the long and varied career of Pink Floyd. The curator Victoria Broakes shows Emma round exhibits that range from psychedelia to synthesisers via flying pigs. Presenter: Emma Dabiri Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
Alien: Covenant, Giacometti retrospective, How should museums reflect changing social attitudes, Jamestown
May 8, 2017
The latest Alien film is a prequel to the 1979 original. Rhianna Dhillon assesses how Alien: Covenant fits into the series and looks at Michael Fassbender's role as not one but two robots. A gong surrounded by ivory tusks was removed from display at Sandringham House last week amid ethical concerns. To discuss how museums should reflect changing views in contemporary society Emma Dabiri is joined by cultural commentator Tiffany Jenkins and curator and writer Priya Khanchandani. The elongated human sculptures from artist Alberto Giacometti are some of the most recognizable works of modern art. As Tate Modern opens the UK's first major retrospective of his work for 20 years, art critic William Feaver gives the low down on the somewhat mythical Swiss painter-sculptor. Jamestown is a new Sky 1 drama set in one of the first British settlements in America in the early 17th century. It begins as a group of women arrive from the UK, paid to travel to the colony to marry men they have never met. Writer Bill Gallagher reveals how the story of these women inspired the drama. Presenter: Emma Dabiri Producer: Hannah Robins (Main Image: scene from Alien Covenant with Carmen Ejogo (rhs) and Amy Seimetz on the left. Credit: Twentieth Century Fox).
May 5, 2017
Mervyn Morris is Jamaica's first Poet Laureate since the country gained independence in 1962. As his tenure draws to a close, the poet reflects on his time in the role, and discusses his new collection, Peelin Orange, which is drawn from his writing over 50 years. With the deciding round of the French presidential election this Sunday, cultural commentators Agnès Poirier and Andrew Hussey discuss the likely impact of a Macron or Le Pen win on the arts in France and whether culture is a political card to be played. With the release of a 'Black and Chrome' edition of the 2015 Oscar-winning movie Mad Max: Fury Road, BFI's Gaylene Gould considers film-makers' love affair with black & white. The Ferryman by William Stott of Oldham is on display for the first time today at Tate Britain having been acquired for the public. John Wilson looks at the painting with the curator Alison Smith who explains that it marks a pivotal moment in this country's art, the embrace of naturalism and progress towards impressionism - British impressionism. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
Samantha Spiro as Barbara Windsor, Lost sculpture of the Festival of Britiain and a retro album from Danger Mouse
May 4, 2017
Samantha Spiro has played the role of Barbara Windsor both on stage and on television and now returns to the role in a new BBC biopic of Dame Barbara. She talks about how she shares the role with three other actors and the contrast with the other roles she is playing such as Catherine the Great on Radio 4. Record producers Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, and Sam Cohen discuss working together on their album, Resistance Radio: The Man In The High Castle Album. Inspired by an Amazon TV series which imagines a world in which the allies lost WW2, they selected songs from the 50s and 60s, and recorded them with artists such as Beck and Norah Jones. Two weeks ago we revealed that Historic England had unearthed a lost treasure of the 1951 Festival of Britain in a hotel garden in Blackheath. John Wilson joined the daughter of the sculptor Peter Laszlo Peri at a studio in Surrey to see The Sunbathers painstakingly reassembled. Eighty five-year-old Ann MacIntyre had not seen her father's sculpture for over 60 years and believed it lost forever when the Southbank site was demolished at the end of the Festival.
May 3, 2017
In 2002 the actor Woody Harrelson had a wild night in London which ended with a police pursuit and his arrest. In January he recreated that escapade in his film Lost in London, which was the first to be shown in cinemas live, as it was being shot. As it had a 30 strong cast, 24 locations, chases on foot and in cars, this was an invitation to chaos. One slight hiccup was that an unexploded bomb was discovered in the Thames a bridge that evening and a bridge, crucial to the action, was blocked. Harrelson talks to Samira Ahmed about his project now the film is having a more predictable release. Jude Law stars as the love sick and murderous drifter Gino in star director Ivo van Hove's stage adaptation of Visconti's classic film Obsession. They reduced this lush and expansive movie to just 6 characters, but with huge screens and a treadmill on the Barbican stage, and a roaring lorry engine suspended above it. They explain their radical approach to this classic. The Journey imagines what happened when Martin McGuiness and Ian Paisley travelled in the same car from St Andrews to Glasgow airport during the peace talks. Colm Meaney plays McGuiness and Timothy Spall is Paisley, and the two of them tell Samira how they went about portraying these giants of Northern Irish history. With the announcement today of the contenders for this year's Turner Prize, critic Charlotte Mullins assesses the work of the four shortlisted artists, one of whom will be awarded the £25,000 prize when the winner is announced at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull in December. Producer: Julian May.
May 2, 2017
Mindhorn is the new film about a faded TV star who reprises his role as an Isle of Man sleuth who has a robotic eye, and can see the truth. Julian Barratt (Mighy Boosh) and Simon Farnaby (Horrible Histories) co-wrote and co-star and talk to Kirsty about poking fun at actorly behaviour, and how the film parodies Bergerac and the Sixty Million Dollar Man. Tony Kushner on his epic play Angels in America, which he wrote and set during the Aids crisis in America in the 1980s, and which is being revived in a new production at the National Theatre, starring Andrew Garfield, Russell Tovey, Denise Gough and Nathan Lane. Madeline Miller, the Orange Prize winning author of The Song of Achilles, and the writer and broadcaster Natalie Haynes, whose new book The Children of Jocasta retells with the story of Antigone, discuss turning the tales of the Greek myths into novels and why the ancient legends still have a contemporary and universal appeal. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Dymphna Flynn.
May 1, 2017
The composer and artist Oliver Beer discusses his new acoustics project in which he explores the resonant frequencies of the empty spaces of buildings and everyday vessels. To mark her 70th birthday the composer Nicola LeFanu talks about her career in the world of contemporary classical music, from her childhood making music for the plays she wrote to the recent premiere at the Barbican of her latest large-scale work, The Crimson Bird. On 17 July 1717 George Frideric Handel premiered his Water Music for King George I, and to mark the 300th anniversary of this musical landmark Front Row has commissioned a new piece by Grace Evangeline Mason, the 2013 winner of the BBC Proms Inspire Young Composer Competition. Before beginning work on the piece she came in to meet John and discuss her early ideas. To celebrate May Day, poet Alison Brackenbury discusses the joy of spring in verse and reads a section of John Clare's The Shepherd's Calendar and her own poem May Day, 1972. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Hannah Robins.
April 28, 2017
The British actor Christian Bale started his film career as a child star but has gone on to become a hugely successful adult actor. With the release of his latest film The Promise - an epic set in First World War Turkey - film critic Angie Errigo looks at his choice of roles and assesses what it says about Bale as a serious actor. The clash of creative differences at Shakespeare's Globe has put the role of Artistic Director into the spotlight. But what exactly is that role and what are the pressures facing the people leading theatres? Daniel Evans, who has just started his first season at the helm of Chichester Festival Theatre, and Tamara Harvey, now in her second year at Theatr Clywd, discuss. On last night's Front Row John Wilson hosted a debate about the future of museums with with Hartwig Fischer, the new director of the British Museum, Tristram Hunt, who's just taken up his post as director of the V&A, Sarah Munro, director of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary art in Gateshead, and Stephen Deuchar, director of Art Fund. The debate continued off air and in tonight's programme, and last night's podcast, you can hear the panellists discuss the importance of museums working with schools, local communities and each other. This week is the 100th anniversary since the birth of a singer who has been dubbed the Queen of Jazz. Ella Fitzgerald sold over 40m albums and won 13 Grammy awards. Singer Peggy Lee described her as 'the greatest jazz singer of our time, the standard by which each of us is measured'. To celebrate Lady Ella's centenary week, Kevin Le Gendre picks three stand-out moments from her vast canon of work which highlight what makes her so special. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Harry Parker.
April 27, 2017
In a live programme from the Nereid Gallery in the British Museum, John Wilson is joined by Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, Sarah Munro, director of Baltic, and Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund. After the announcement of the Art Fund Museum of the Year shortlist, the panel will debate the current and future role for museums and galleries in Britain, with particular attention to how they are funded, and how to make them relevant to the people of Britain today.
April 26, 2017
Dame Judi Dench talks about her friend Sir John Gielgud, as the actor is honoured with an English Heritage blue plaque at his former London home. AM Holmes and Granta editor Sigrid Rausing discuss the new Granta list of the best young American novelists. Tim Robey pays tribute to the director Jonathan Demme, whose films include Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, and whose death was announced today.
April 25, 2017
Thomas Ades, hailed as Britain's greatest composer since Benjamin Britten, on the premiere of The Exterminating Angel, his opera which is based on Louis Bunuel's 1962 surrealist film and features live sheep on the Royal Opera House stage. What if a deer did porn? Is it legal to marry a stuffed owl exhibit? Why is it so difficult to find a baby called Gary? American poet Patricia Lockwood ponders all of these in Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, her new collection which also features the autobiographical poem Rape Joke, a viral hit on the internet. The poetry collection is published to coincide with her memoir Priestdaddy, which details growing up in a religious household with an ordained Catholic Priest as a father. The quirky superhero film Guardians of the Galaxy was the surprise hit of 2014. Cinema-goers loved the rag-tag group of lesser-known Marvel Comics characters, their bickering humour and the awesome mix tape that provided the soundtrack. Samira Ahmed talks to writer and director James Gunn about bringing the gang back together for Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 and creating another awesome mix tape of retro tunes to accompany their latest space adventure. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jack Soper.
April 24, 2017
As a trio, Bananarama remain one of the UK's most successful all-female groups. After four hit albums, founder member Siobhan Fahey left in 1988, with remaining members Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward choosing to keep the group going for the next three decades. They join John Wilson to discuss why now was the right time to reform for a comeback tour. The Wellcome Book Prize celebrates the best new books that engage with an aspect of medicine, health or illness, and can be fiction or non-fiction. As the winner is announced on tonight's Front Row, Val McDermid, chair of judges, joins John Wilson from the ceremony. On the first day that he gets access to the London gallery for his new exhibition Incoming, Scottish artist David Mach shares his thoughts on the challenge of creating a new work in situ from scratch, using 20 tonnes of newspaper and a second-hand Jeep. His two-week preparations will be streamed live online. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
April 21, 2017
In her new film, Their Finest, Gemma Arterton plays a screenwriter during World War II whose job it is to write women's dialogue - referred to as "the slop" by her male colleagues - for morale boosting films for the home front. Gemma discusses the role and her own experiences of being a woman in the film industry. In January last year, curator Sarah Gavanta came on to Front Row to talk about her exhibition for Historic England called Out There: Our Post-War Public Art. It was an exploration of the boom in public art created by the likes of Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Elizabeth Frink between 1945 and 1985. But it was also a call to arms to trace the missing sculptures of the period. Sarah returns to the programme to tell us how one of those lost pieces, The Sunbathers by Peter Laszlo Peri, has been discovered in a hotel garden. The new Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler broke box office records last year, exceeding $9 million on the first day tickets went on sale. Theatre critic Matt Wolf reviews Midler's performance - her first in a musical for 50 years - and discusses the big Broadway contenders vying for Tony awards this season. Martin Parr is known for his social documentary photographs - everything from the new BBC One idents to his earliest work documenting the rural farming communities of Yorkshire. As the Sony World Photography Awards acknowledge him for his Outstanding Contribution to Photography, he shows us around his exhibition at Somerset House in London and looks back over his work and influences. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
April 20, 2017
In 1978 Harold Pinter sent Joan Bakewell a copy of his new play Betrayal. Upon reading it she discovered that it was based with vivid accuracy on an affair they'd had years earlier and which had remained a secret. Shocked and bewildered she wrote her own play in response. Keeping In Touch has been hidden away ever since, but is now being broadcast on Radio 4, reworked. Joan Bakewell talks to Kirsty about the play, Betrayal and her changing relationship with both. Yesterday Emma Rice, the Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe in London, posted an open letter on the theatre's own website addressed to the future Artistic Director. The post is being advertised after Emma Rice announced her departure last October - a decision which was apparently sparked by her use of artificial lights and sound. The open letter is just the latest in an ongoing saga that's been evolving off-stage at the theatre so, with the Bard's birthday just days away, literary critic Matt Thorne helps us to untangle a drama that Shakespeare himself might have been proud of. David Pickard took up his role as Director of the BBC Proms last year. He joins Kirsty to announce highlights of this year's season, including the first Front Row commission, and to discuss the intricacies of putting on the world's largest classical music festival. New film The Zookeeper's Wife is a based on a true story of Antonina Żabińska and her husband Jan who ran the Warsaw Zoo and who during the Nazi occupation helped save hundreds of people and animals. The film stars Jessica Chastain and is directed by Niki Caro. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews.
April 19, 2017
The young American artist Awol Erizku was the man responsible for the photograph of Beyoncé as she announced she was pregnant with twins back in February. It became Instagram's most-liked image ever. As he prepares to open Make America Great Again, his first solo show in Europe, he discusses the political nature of his work and that famous photo. The Word-Hoard is an exhibition at Wordsworth House in Cumbria celebrating the natural world and the words we once used to describe it. It is curated by Robert Macfarlane, writer, walker, Cambridge don and author of the bestselling book Landmarks. He explains why it's important not to forget that clinkerbells, dagglers and ickles are all another way of naming icicles. ITV's latest drama Little Boy Blue focuses on the murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones in Liverpool, in 2007. Mad about Everton, he was shot dead as he innocently walked home from football practice. The four-part series explores the family's ordeal, the community response and how Rhys's murderer was brought to justice. Broadcaster and journalist Shelagh Fogarty, who went to school in Croxteth, close to where Rhys died, reviews the drama. At the beginning of the year, the Liverpool Everyman resurrected its repertory company for the first time in 25 years. Front Row paid a visit to the new company at the start of their rehearsals in January. Three months on, and two productions opened, Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz discusses the challenges of the new repertory project. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
April 18, 2017
Samira Ahmed talks to the violinist Kyung Wha Chung, who after five years recovering from a finger injury is now performing the complete Bach Partitas and Sonatas. Murray Lachlan Young, the first poet to receive a million pound contract from EMI, discusses his collection How Freakin' Zeitgeist Are You? Hisham Matar, who recently won the Pulitzer Prize, and Briony Hanson review the Egyptian film Clash, which is set entirely in a police truck in Cairo in 2013. Michael Pennington pays tribute to the late theatre director Michael Bogdanov, who founded the English Shakespeare Company. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.
April 17, 2017
Warren Beatty has written, directs and stars in Rules Don't Apply, his film about the billionaire film producer, businessman and aviator, Howard Hughes. Writers Karen Krizanovich and Michael Carlson review. Nigerian-born poet Inua Ellams discusses and performs from his new collection #Afterhours, in which he responds to other poets and their poetry. Writer Stella Duffy reviews the new Channel 4 drama Born to Kill, from the producers of Line of Duty, starring Romola Garai, Daniel Mays and young actors Jack Rowan and Lara Peake. Music writer and former A&R man Ben Wardle strokes his stubbly chin and ponders his long-lasting love affair with that classic music genre - pop. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
April 14, 2017
Kirsty Lang talks to the playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, who turns 80 this summer. The Old Vic's production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire, will be broadcast live into cinemas across the UK on Thursday 20 April. Travesties, starring Tom Hollander and Freddie Fox, is on in the West End until the end of the month. Tom Stoppard talks about fleeing Czechoslovakia in 1939, his fascination with word play, and his secret role as a script doctor in Hollywood. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser.
April 13, 2017
As councils across the UK struggle to meet the pressure on their budgets, art organisations have had to take their share of cuts. So how are they bringing their creative minds to the issue? The mac birmingham, an arts centre with close links to the local community, has had a 70% cut to its council funding. Its chief executive and artistic director, Deborah Kermode, is joined by actor and mac alumni Adrian Lester to discuss the issue. Actress and writer Frog Stone discusses her new comedy Bucket, in which she stars alongside Miriam Margolyes. Exploring the relationship between a free spirited mother and her reserved daughter from a proudly female viewpoint, Frog Stone explains why she wanted to explore the minutiae of female relationships. Kim Stanley Robinson's latest novel, New York 2140, imagines the city 40 years after it has been completely flooded, when every street is a canal, every skyscraper an island. The bestselling sci-fi author, whose works include the Mars trilogy, discusses with Samira his fascination with environmental issues and exploring alternative futures. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jack Soper.
April 12, 2017
Jim Broadbent stars as an elderly divorcee who receives a letter that unlocks memories of a relationship he had back in the 1960s. He and director Ritesh Batra describe how they've reinterpreted Julian Barnes' novel The Sense of an Ending for film. 50 years ago this week Marvin Gaye finished recording a track that would go on to become one of the most iconic love songs ever written. To mark the moment, music journalist Kevin Le Gendre records his own tribute to I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Novelist Matt Johnson started writing as part of his treatment for PTSD after a career in the army and police. Author Johana Gustawsson tackled the horror of her grandfather's deportation to a Second World War concentration camp, to form a family bond that wasn't possible during his lifetime. They discuss how writing has helped them to process difficult life experiences. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
April 11, 2017
Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins has had seven Number One albums and sung around the world to huge audiences, but is a self-described 'newbie' to acting. Making her stage debut in the English National Opera's Carousel, she talks to John about her love of Rodgers and Hammerstein, learning an American accent and her dressing-room nerves. Netflix has replaced its users' star ratings with a simple thumbs up or down because, they say, the five-star system had begun to feel antiquated. Caroline Frost, Huffington Post UK's Entertainment Editor, and Sarah Crompton, Chief Theatre critic for WhatOnStage and former Arts editor of The Telegraph, discuss the pros and cons of star ratings. In April 2015, an underground safe deposit facility in London's Hatton Garden was burgled. Estimates for the amount stolen range from £25m to £200m, but the heist became as notorious for the gang of ex-criminals in their 60s and 70s who carried it off, as it did for the theft itself. John Wilson visits the vault where the burglary took place to talk to the stars of a new film about the story - Larry Lamb, who plays the group's ringleader, and Phil Daniels who plays the youngest criminal of the group. As Colson Whitehead's novel The Underground Railroad wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction we talk to literary critic Alex Clark about the win. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
April 10, 2017
Ray Davies is best known as frontman to the Kinks, a quintessentially English band, yet it is America which is at the heart of his most recent project. He talks to us about his first solo album in a decade, Americana, an ambivalent yet deeply personal homage to the country which has inspired him, banned him and almost killed him. Unlike the American Black Panther movement, the British version was largely non-violent. Members included the late writer Darcus Howe, poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and photographer Neil Kenlock. Guerrilla, a new six-part series by Sky Atlantic, uses the movement as a springboard for a tense thriller set in a fictional Black Power underground cell in 1970's London. Broadcaster and author Dreda Say Mitchell has seen it. The Odyssey Project is a new Radio 4 series which sees ten poets offer contemporary poetic responses to Homer's The Odyssey. Poet in Residence, Daljit Nagra reads his own poem and discusses the process of curating the project. This weekend saw the opening in Venice of Damien Hirst's new exhibition Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, which the artist claims cost millions of pounds of his own money. The exhibition, reportedly 10 years in the making, has divided critics. Matthew Collings gives his response. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
April 7, 2017
The film Going In Style stars Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman as septuagenarians facing poverty after their pensions are cancelled and their bank threatens to foreclose on their homes. Desperate to support their families and pay the bills, they decide to hold up the local bank. They discuss this new genre of "geriatric lads" movies, the bad behaviour of some younger actors, and remember a time when they both did not have enough money to eat. Podcasts have been around for over a decade, but with S-Town breaking all records with 16 million downloads this week, they have become a fixture in the mainstream cultural landscape. Radio critic Pete Naughton takes us through his top picks of the most exciting, innovative ones to listen to right now. As the rainbow flag flies atop the Tate Britain in London to accompany its exhibition Queer British Art 1861-1967, curator Clare Barlow and artist Jack Tan discuss the ideas and issues raised by the show. After the MTV Movie and TV awards have scrapped gender-specific categories, film critic Tim Robey discusses whether it's time to drop the gender tag altogether and how this might affect prestigious awards like the Oscars. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Rachel Simpson.
April 6, 2017
Fay Weldon made her debut as a novelist in 1967. She's been a prolific writer but it's her 1983 novel, The Lives and Loves of a She Devil, that's been her most celebrated work. The tale of a downtrodden wife who exacts a terrible revenge on her husband and his glamorous mistress became a feminist classic and went on to be adapted for television, cinema, and radio. Three decades later she has written a sequel, so why is now was a good time for the She Devil to return? The French-Belgian horror film Raw, written and directed by Julia Ducournau, follows the story of a young vegetarian who turns cannibal after a stint in veterinary school. We review the film that's had people fainting in the aisles and discuss the new wave of women horror directors, with the Director of Film for the British Council, Briony Hanson. One hundred years since Marcel Duchamp purchased a porcelain urinal, signed it with a pseudonym and called it Fountain, art critic Richard Cork discusses how readymade art first shocked and then opened a world of artistic possibilities. Simon Callow directs a revival of Christopher Hampton's The Philanthropist, an inversion of Moliere which he wrote when he was 23. The two of them discuss this cutting campus comedy, which playfully satirises the liberal elite and explores what it means to find contentment in an insular world. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
April 5, 2017
David Vann is an Alaskan novelist with a love of the sea and boats. He talks about his latest novel Bright Air Black, which is a visceral retelling of the Medea Myth, imagining her journey across the Black Sea with Jason as they flee with the stolen Golden Fleece. Film director Terence Davies discusses him latest film, A Quiet Passion, about the American poet Emily Dickinson. He reveals how a passion for her poetry became a fascination with her life, and how the more he discovered about her - her withdrawal from life and her spiritual quest to make sense of religion - the more he empathised with her. A 19th century son of York - the artist Albert Moore - is the subject of a new exhibition at York Art Gallery which makes the argument that Moore is a forefather of British abstract art. Moore, known for his detailed paintings of women draped in classical robes, never achieved the kind of fame and prosperity enjoyed by his friends such as Whistler who described him as "the greatest artist that, in the century, England might have cared for and called her own". Professor Elizabeth Prettejohn explains why Moore matters. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Jack Soper.
April 4, 2017
Author Elif Shafak reviews Neruda, the new film about the Chilean poet and communist by director Pablo Larraín. We discuss the alchemic art of casting on screen with the casting directors Lucinda Syson, who has cast Hollywood blockbusters including Gravity, Batman Begins and the new Wonder Woman, and Victor Jenkins, who was responsible for pairing Olivia Colman and David Tennant in Broadchurch as well as working on Humans, Episodes and Grantchester. Busdriver Magnus Mills shot to fame in 1999 when his debut novel The Restraint of Beasts was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, but despite plaudits from the literary world such as Thomas Pynchon, he returned to his day job and continues to write. He talks about his latest novel The Forensic Records Society, about a small group of blokes who meet in the backroom of pub every week to listen, in piously enforced silence, to their vinyl collections. Presenter : Kirsty Lang Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
April 3, 2017
The writer Viv Groskop reflects on the life of the Soviet-era poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, best known for his epic work Babi Yar, who died at the weekend aged 84. The shortlist for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction is announced live by judge and novelist Aminatta Forna, who discusses the novels that made it though from the longlist of 16. Pulitzer Prize nominee Rajiv Joseph discusses the European premiere of his award-winning play Guards at the Taj. Taking as its starting point the legends surrounding the building of the Taj Mahal, Joseph's play examines the human price paid throughout history for the whims of those in power. The duelling Slovakian violinists, brothers Vladimir and Anton Jablokov, who have performed on the Last Night of the Proms, bring their instruments to the Front Row studio, and discuss the influence of their Russian grandfather on their choice of the music they perform. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
March 31, 2017
As Evelyn Waugh's classic first novel Decline and Fall has been made into a new BBC television series starring Jack Whitehall, we speak to its adapter James Wood and literary critic Suzi Feay and discuss how Waugh's distinctive but potentially offensive brand of satire plays for a modern audience. Sunday 2 April 2017 is the 50th birthday of Adrian Mole, diarist, poet and would be novelist. In 1982 Leicester-born Sue Townsend took the publishing world by storm with her first book, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 and became the best-selling author of the 1980s, with follow up volumes until her death in 2014. Adrian's poems are now published together in one volume, Adrian Mole the Collected Poems. Radio 4's Poet in Residence Daljit Nagra reads and discusses them with Stig. A new touring play Offside focuses on the beautiful game and puts women centre stage. Poet Hollie McNish, who co-wrote the play, joins director Caroline Bryant to discuss their depiction of women, football, race, sexuality, and the politics of the sport across the centuries. This year Australian artist Patricia Piccinini drew bigger crowds that any contemporary artist worldwide. While the Tate Modern in London remains the most popular modern and contemporary art museum in the world. Facts revealed this week as The Art Newspaper publishes its annual museum and exhibitions visitor surveys. Javier Pes, the papers' editor in chief, talks us through the results. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
March 30, 2017
The author Hari Kunzru discusses his new novel White Tears, about a pair of blues fans in New York who find themselves in very deep water, and the issues he now faces as a British Indian legal immigrant living in that city. Mica Levi's debut film score for Under The Skin was nominated for a Bafta. Her second film score for Jackie was nominated for an Oscar. And when this classically trained musician is not bringing her sonic talents to the big screen, she's the lead singer of an experimental pop band, Micachu and the Shapes . Currently touring a live performance of her Under The Skin soundtrack, Mica joins John Wilson to discuss why listening to her instincts are her best musical guide. Patrick Marber's Don Juan in Soho was a salacious and satirical swipe at the hypocrisies of society, and has now been revived a decade later with David Tennant as the hedonistic libertine. The writer and director guides us through the seedy, but increasingly sanitised, underbelly of modern London which inspired the play. As it is announced that the Turner Prize is to scrap the rule that eligible artists must be aged under 50, art writer Louisa Buck, who was a jurist for the prize in 2005 discusses the move and considers which artists might have won previously if the age limit had not been in place. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jack Soper.
March 29, 2017
As the Broadway classic 42nd Street tap dances its way into the West End, the show's director and writer Mark Bramble discusses the great 'star is born' tale, which sees understudy Peggy Sawyer thrown into the spotlight to take the lead. Anish Kapoor takes Samira round his latest exhibition in which he blurs the line between two-dimensional paintings and three-dimensional sculptures, including a pair of red stainless-steel mirrors. The vast Humber Bridge is the focus of a new artwork for Hull UK City of Culture 2017. Norwegian musician Jan Bang and Hull-based sound recordist Jez Riley French discuss The Height of the Reeds, an interactive soundtrack they have created for Opera North, to be listened to on headphones as you cross the length of the 2,200m bridge. The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry highlights exciting new work by recognising not just poems on the page, but poetry written for a wide variety of contexts - such as the stage and art instillations. Previous winners have included Andrew Motion, Kate Tempest and Alice Oswald. We hear from this year's winner. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
March 28, 2017
As Sir Nicholas Serota delivers his inaugural speech as the new Chair of Arts Council England today, the former director of the Tate art galleries discusses his vision for his new role, and to what extent he intends to change the focus of the London-based institution. Set to the Stravinsky score, Pina Bausch's Rite of Spring tells a brutal story of ancient ritual and sacrificial maidens. Jo Ann Endicott, a dancer who trained with Bausch, has been coaching the English National Ballet in their current performance at Sadler's Wells in London. She joins dancer Madison Keesler to talk about this extraordinary, exhausting, and demanding ballet. Some of punk's greatest hits have been covered by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and English National Opera for a new album - The Anarchy Arias. Former Sex Pistols bassist, Glen Matlock - the man behind the project - explains why he wanted to fuse punk with opera. Plus music critic Kate Mossman reviews. Main Image: Sir Nicholas Serota. Credit Hugo Glendinning 2016.
March 27, 2017
Anthony Head, who started his career in the Nescafe Gold Blend adverts and then went on to achieve international fame in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is now on stage in Terence Rattigan's Love In Idleness. He talks about his career spanning several decades. Dreda Say Mitchell reviews the return of BBC drama Line of Duty, starring Thandie Newton. Tim Marlow explores the underground studio of artist Ai Weiwei for the new World Service documentary strand In the Studio, which launches tomorrow. As a British East Asian, mostly female cast perform Christopher Marlowe's Tamburlaine, director Ng Choon Ping and Kumiko Mendl of Yellow Earth Theatre Company discuss the contemporary resonances in this brutal and controversial play. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.
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.
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.