April 20, 2018
Romola Garai is known for her roles in films such as Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights, and in The Hours, Emma and The Miniaturist on television. For her latest role she's on stage in Ella Hickson's new play, The Writer. Garai discusses playing the writer, who battles patriarchy and capitalism in her determination to create a pure art that will change the world. The South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo have been singing and touring for over 50 years. On the eve of their performance in the Queen's 92nd birthday concert and subsequent UK tour they perform live for Front Row. Guy Gunaratne's debut novel, In Our Mad And Furious City, focuses on the lives of five inhabitants of a London Council Estate and explores themes of violence, extremism, and division in society over a 48 hour period. Guy joins Kirsty to discuss.
April 19, 2018
When the Empire Windrush docked, the first contribution of the arrivals from the Caribbean was cultural - Lord Kitchener singing his calypso "London is the Place for Me". Stig Abell talks to publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove and calypsonian Alexander D Great about the artistic contribution of the Windrush Generation, and their offspring. Alexander sings 'After the Windrush', a new calypso written especially for Front Row. Comedian David Walliams pays tribute to his friend the television presenter Dale Winton who has died. Known for his warmth and unpretentious style he presented many programmes including Supermarket Sweep, Pet Win Prizes and In It To Win It. As the BBC Proms 2018 season is announced, music critic Alexandra Coghlan assesses this year's offerings. Imtiaz Dharker is an interesting mixture, she grew up as a Muslim Calvinist in a Lahori household - in Glasgow. So she has plenty to draw on as a poet. She talks about and reads from her new collection 'Luck is the Hook'. Her poems range widely and intriguingly, and include one about an elephant walking on the Thames. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Edwina Pitman.
April 18, 2018
Tina Turner has been closely involved with Tina, the musical which tells the story of her tempestuous life. It has just opened and Front Row has a review. The actor Nicola Walker discusses her role in Abi Morgan's new television drama series about divorce lawyers, The Split, and some of her other roles. A report was published last week looking at booking accessible tickets for people with disabilities, for music and entertainment venues. Samira Ahmed speaks to Claire Griffin from the Roundhouse in London and Richard Howle from the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham - both venues praised in the report for their progress in becoming accessible venues. Mik Scarlet, Access and Inclusion Advisor and a regular gig goer himself, joins the conversation to discuss if the report reflect his own experience and to consider what further improvements need to be made to the industry as a whole. The cherry trees are blooming here and in Japan, where the blossom prompts celebration - drinking, picnics, poetry reading and the writing of haikus under flower festooned branches. But, Samira hears from a poet in Kyoto, an invasive beetle is threatening the trees, and this loved tradition. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May.
April 17, 2018
Following last night's broadcast of The Queen's Green Planet on ITV, which features the Queen in intimate conversation with Sir David Attenborough, we talk to the documentary's director Jane Treays about working with the Queen and look back over the history of royal TV projects with critic Chris Dunkley. Luke Evans has featured in many Hollywood films including The Girl on the Train, Fast & Furious, the Hobbit franchise and last year as Gaston in Disney's live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. The Welsh actor discusses his new Netflix series The Alienist, in which he plays a newspaper illustrator who teams up with a criminal psychologist to catch a serial killer in 1890s New York. Composer Sir James MacMillan's choral work Stabat Mater will make history on 22 April, when it becomes the first work to be video-streamed live from the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. It will be performed by The Sixteen and Britten Sinfonia under conductor Harry Christophers. MacMillan and Christophers discuss the challenges of performing in this revered venue. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society director Mike Newell, Joanna Walsh, Milos Forman, 1978 in music
April 16, 2018
Mike Newell discusses his film The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which stars Lily James as a writer uncovering a mystery from World War II on the Channel island. The director looks back at his career which includes Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Donnie Brasco. Joanna Walsh is one of the UK's leading experimental writers. She discusses her new novel, Break.up about a nameless woman recovering from a relationship with a man which was mainly conducted online. Break.up also challenges the borders between fiction and non-fiction, as it ranges into travelogue, essays on music, boredom, marriage and art. Film critic Hannah McGill examines the cultural legacy of the late Czech filmmaker Miloš Forman, known primarily for his two Oscar-winning masterpieces One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus. Music writer Ben Wardle attempts to prove that 1978 was the greatest and most significant year in the history of pop music - think Kate Bush, Blondie, The Village People, The Police, Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town, Buzzcocks, and Kraftwerk's The Man Machine for starters. Presenter: Alex Clark Producer: Hannah Robins.
April 13, 2018
Sharlene Teo on her debut novel Ponti, an account of teenage friendship and fraught mother/daughter relationships set in a sweltering Singapore, that's been called remarkable by Ian McEwan. Is Coronation Street the most feminist soap on television? Emma Bullimore makes the case. Radio 4 poet-in-residence Alice Oswald and artist William Tillyer discuss their collaboration Nobody. Both a book and an exhibition, it fuses the written word with watercolour. They talk about the nature of collaboration, taking inspiration from the Odyssey and learning from each other's work. And as 53 doors that used to lead to rooms occupied by legends such as Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin and Jack Kerouac at New York's Chelsea Hotel are auctioned off, writer Michael Carlson examines the cultural significance of the long-term residence for generations of singers, writers and bohemians. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Sarah Johnson.
Janelle Monáe's PYNK, Young People's Laureate for London, A Clockwork Orange score, Oldest bridge in the world
April 12, 2018
As singer Janelle Monaé's video for her new single PYNK goes viral, music journalist Ruth Barnes looks back at other game-changers in the genre. The new Young People's Laureate for London was announced yesterday evening as Momtaza Mehri. We bring her together with the outgoing post holder Caleb Femi to discuss what he learnt in the role and ask Momtaza what she hopes to achieve. The soundtrack to the film "A Clockwork Orange" is as famous as Kubrick's film is notorious. What's less well known is that Anthony Burgess, as well as writing a stage version of his own novel, also wrote music to accompany it. The combined musical play is getting its first British theatrical production at the Liverpool Everyman next week. Dr Kevin Malone, reader in composition at the University of Manchester, who was the first person to re-unite the author's music and words evaluates Burgess's musical style. A bridge in Tello, Iraq, was built in the third millennium BC and is believed to be the world's oldest bridge. The British Museum has embarked on a restoration project of the 4000-year-old structure, including training local Iraqi archaeologists. The project's Lead Archaeologist, Sebastien Rey, discusses the challenge as well as the issue of the recent destruction of so many ancient sites in Iraq. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Hilary Dunn.
April 11, 2018
Actress Naomie Harris talks about her latest role in Brad Peyton's big-screen video game adaptation Rampage, which sees her fighting a trio of oversized genetically-modified predators alongside Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. Has it got harder for working class talent to make a career on stage and screen? This week the Anna Scher Theatre School, which is responsible for launching the careers of working class actors such as Kathy Burke, Daniel Kaluuya and Adam Deacon, celebrates 50 years, and there are calls for drama schools to remove audition fees to boost access to more formal training. To discuss how working class talent can thrive in 2018 we are joined by director Asif Kapadia, producer Rebecca O'Brien and actor Johnny Harris. The aboriginal singer Gurrumul died last year at the age of 46. Before his death, the highest-selling indigenous musician of all time had spent four years working on his album Djarimirri with his long-term friend, producer and manager Michael Hohnen. On the line from Sydney, Michael reflects on Gurrumul's life, music and early death, as well as the richness and influence of Gurrumul's own Yolngu culture. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Hannah Robins.
Viv Albertine, Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall reopens, BBC Three controller Damian Kavanagh
April 10, 2018
Viv Albertine was the guitarist in the cult punk band The Slits and a key player in British counter culture before working as a film maker and launching a solo career. Her new memoir, To Throw Away Unopened, unpicks family secrets which shaped her childhood and her early creative influences. This book begins when she is at the launch party for her hugely successful first book Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys and her sister calls with news that their mother is dying. After a two-year £35m refurbishment, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room on London's Southbank re-open this week. The architect Richard Battye and Gillian Moore, Director of Music at the Southbank, give Samira a guided tour of the Brutalist buildings, which have been updated to cater for an even wider range of music, dance and performance for the 21st century. Damian Kavanagh, the Controller of BBC Three, discusses how the platform is different online to on air, considers why it has been a success with younger audiences, and what this means for the future of television. Plus, we gauge the public reaction to Tracey Emin's new artwork, named I Want My Time With You, unveiled at St Pancras Station in London today. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Tate Liverpool's Exploring the Unseen, Ben Okri and Joanne Harris, Fortnite Battle Royale, Universal Love album
April 9, 2018
Tate Liverpool's arts handler Ken Simons has just retired after working there since its opening 30 years ago. To mark his retirement, Tate have allowed him to curate his own exhibition, Exploring the Unseen, using works from the Tate collection. He explains how he chose the 30 works - one for each of his years at the gallery. As Audible launches three new podcasts featuring original short stories written exclusively for audio, Ben Okri, Booker prize-winning writer of The Famished Road, joins bestselling author of Chocolat, Joanne Harris, to discuss the particular challenges and joys of writing to be read aloud, and to consider the impact of the increasing availability of audio content on the popularity of short-form fiction. Fortnite Battle Royale, the online game which puts 100 players onto an island to battle it out, has become one of the world's biggest games attracting over 45 million players since launching six months ago. Games journalist Louise Blain accounts for its appeal. A new compilation EP that features versions of traditional wedding songs for same-sex couples has been released. Universal Love features six tracks that have been given a same-sex twist , including Bob Dylan who has re-recorded the 1929 song She's Funny That Way, changing it to He's Funny That Way and Bloc Party's Kele Okereke who sings The Temptations' My Girl (Guy). Singer-songwriter Tom Robinson explores the problem of pronouns in love songs. Presenter Stig Abell Producer Edwina Pitman.
April 6, 2018
To mark 20 years of Front Row Kirsty Lang and John Wilson host a celebratory extended edition live from the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House in London. Liz Carr, Bob Geldof, Lionel Shriver and Testament make their case for what they think is the most significant art work of the last 20 years. Neil MacGregor, the former director of the British Museum and familiar voice to Radio 4, considers cultural developments and diplomacy since 1998. There's a live performance from singer-songwriter Rae Morris. She'll join Caleb Femi, the Young People's Laureate for London, and Liv Little, founder and editor-in-chief of gal-dem - a magazine for young women of colour - to consider the scene for young emerging artists and to look ahead to what the next 20 years might bring. Kate Fox, our poet-in-residence for the day, writes a rapid-response poem. And Mary Beard pops in to tell us about the new series of Front Row Late which starts later tonight on BBC2. Presenters: Kirsty Lang and John Wilson Producers: Rebecca Armstrong and Hannah Robins.
April 5, 2018
Actor David Morrissey, well known for his roles in TV dramas like State of Play, The Deal, Red Riding, The Walking Dead and Britannia. He talks about his latest role is as Inspector Tyador in BBC Two's adaption of the China Miéville's novel The City and The City. The drama is a speculative science-fiction meets police procedural, set in two cities which share a geographical location but whose residents are trained to "unsee" the other city. Claude Monet had a fascination with buildings in his paintings throughout his life, from the bridges and streets of Paris and its suburbs in his early years to the renowned architecture of Venice and London in later life. Architect Jo McCafferty and art critic Jacky Klein discuss Monet & Architecture, a major new exhibition at the National Gallery in London. The Rapid Response Unit is an art installation in Liverpool where leading artists respond to global events and world stories as they happen. Mark Dunne, leader of the project, and graphic artist Patrick Thomas explain how the process works and what art can bring to the world of news, with reference to Turner prize-winning Jeremy Deller who produced 2000 original printed posters relating to Facebook and the process of deleting Facebook accounts. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hilary Dunn.
April 4, 2018
Cuba Gooding Jr is taking to the stage in the new West End production of one of the world's most successful musicals - Chicago. He talks to Stig Abell about his role as the lawyer Billy Flynn and his career; starring in Boyz n the Hood, playing OJ Simpson, the impact of winning an Oscar for Jerry Maguire, and how Hollywood is changing its attitude to black actors. Bob Honey who Just Do Stuff is a new novel. Its author is Sean Penn. He's not the only film star to feel, after coming to fame reciting other people's words, the urge to write stories of their own. Tom Hanks has published a collection of short stories, James Franco, Lauren Graham and Pamela Anderson have all written novels. Ethan Hawke has three to his name. Cathy Rentzenbrink of The Bookseller discusses this phenomenon, what these books reveal and whether they, Penn's in particular, are any good. Love, Simon is a new American High School coming of movie but with a twist - Simon is struggling with coming out as gay rather than finding a date for Prom. Tim Robey considers if this film marks a breakthrough moment for mainstream cinema. In February on Front Row we heard from two women - Louise Allen and Maude Julien - who'd written books about being severely abused in their childhood and teens by the adults responsible for their care, and how art and literature provided a lifeline for them. We joined them when they met, for the first time, a few days ago. Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated 50 years ago today. Maya Angelou, who worked with him, would, had she lived, be 90 today. We hear her read a poem she wrote for him. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Julian May.
April 3, 2018
Prize-winning author Aminatta Forna on the many different ingredients that make up her new novel, Happiness, a multi-layered story set in modern London, seen from the perspective of those passing through. The Alpha male sweeping a woman off her feet has long been a common trope in romantic fiction but can it survive in a world where the #MeToo movement has transformed the debate around gender politics? The Hollywood sign, on Mount Lee in Los Angeles, is one of the world's most famous cultural icons. The original 45-feet tall sign sat on Hollywood Hills from 1923 until 1978, before it fell into disrepair and was replaced. Sculptor and collector Bill Mack bought the original sign. He talks to Front Row about its history and explains why he is taking the H on tour around the world. And we hear about Blackpool's plans to open a museum celebrating its past as Britain's first mass seaside resort. Aided by a grant from the government's Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, the museum will form part of the legacy of the Great Exhibition of the North.
April 2, 2018
Ever since the legendary heroic outlaw Robin Hood first stole from the rich to give to the poor, Nottingham has had a tradition of political defiance, addressing social injustice and encouraging free expression. Sandeep Mahal, Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, assesses to what extent that still holds today in the city's rich cultural landscape, and talks to writers, poets, singers and actors about the challenges Nottingham has faced over the years. Samantha Morton discusses her time as a teenager at the city's celebrated Television Workshop, where Jack O'Connell and Vicky McClure also started their acting careers, as well as a number of young, promising hopefuls often seen in the Nottingham films of director Shane Meadows. Presenter: Sandeep Mahal Producer: Jerome Weatherald.
March 30, 2018
This year marks the centenary of Leonard Bernstein's birth and to celebrate the occasion Front Row explores his life and music. John Wilson is joined by his son, Alexander Bernstein, who remembers his father composing at home, and who attended many of his Young People's Concerts; by his friend and biographer, Humphrey Burton, who discusses Bernstein's multiple talents as a conductor, composer and educator; and by his pupil, the conductor Marin Alsop, who was inspired by Bernstein to take up the baton. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
March 29, 2018
David Mamet, the American playwright, director and novelist, talks to Stig about his new novel, Chicago, set amongst the gangster rivalry of the 1920s. He explains his fascination with that era in the city of his birth, discusses the writers who have inspired him and explains the importance of imagination, inspiration and dialogue in the storyteller's craft. Meghan Markle's final season in US drama Suits is currently being broadcast on Netflix, last year the actress revealed she was retiring from the show and from acting following her engagement to Prince Harry. TV critic Emma Bullimore gives her verdict on Markle's performance in the glossy legal drama. This year is the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement which marked a significant step forward in the peace process in Northern Ireland. To mark the anniversary a Poetry Jukebox has been placed on a street in Belfast, allowing people to listen to a selection of 20 poems which reflect on that momentous event. Stig discusses bringing poetry to the streets with Poetry Jukebox creator Ondrej Kobza and Maria McManus who is the organiser of the jukebox in Belfast. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Kate Bullivant.
March 28, 2018
Wes Anderson discusses his film Isle of Dogs, including working with stop-motion animation and drawing inspiration from Studio Ghibli director Miyazaki for the Japanese setting for the film. What makes a great sports theme tune? As the 2018 Formula 1 season kicks off with a specially composed anthem, we speak to its composer Brian Tyler and consider the essential components of an iconic sports theme tunes with former BBC sport correspondent Adrian Warner. Seven publishers were in a bidding war to secure AJ Pearce's debut novel Dear Mrs Bird. The author comes in to talk about the book in which a young woman dreams of becoming a lady war correspondent during the Blitz but instead is employed as the assistant to a formidable agony aunt at a failing women's magazine. The winner of the National Poetry Competition is announced this evening, we hear from the winning poet, who will read one of their poems. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Hannah Robins.
March 27, 2018
Steven Spielberg, director of films like The Post, The BFG and Bridge of Spies, returns to the science fiction genre with an action adventure set in a virtual-reality game world sometime in the future. Julia Hardy reviews the film and tells Samira whether it is a classic of the genre like Close Encounters of the Third Kind or Back to the Future. The York Realist is a play set in 1963 when John, up from London and working as assistant director on a production of the York Mystery Plays, falls for local farm-worker, George, who is also a gifted actor and capable of a brilliant career - if he could bring himself to leave. Robert Hastie comes in to talk about the play which, after an acclaimed run in London, he is taking to Yorkshire where he is Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres. The Church of England has just appointed a "Pioneer Minister of the Arts" who will look to use art as a way of reaching out to different communities. For centuries religion and art have had a close relationship, with many artists drawing inspiration from their faith - from religious composers to Renaissance paintings. To discuss exploring faith through art we speak to Reverend Betsy Blatchley, the new Pioneer Minister of the Arts and Reverend Peter Gardner, who has been the Church of Scotland's Pioneer Minister to the Arts Communities of Glasgow since 2016. Steven Soderbergh's new film Unsane stars Clare Foy as a young woman involuntarily committed to a mental institution. But how are mental institutions and hospitals usually presented in films? Novelist and journalist Matt Thorne takes a look - from the German silent horror The Cabinet of Dr Caligari in 1920 to the supernatural slasher film Cult of Chucky released last year. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Kate Bullivant.
March 26, 2018
Anna Chancellor stars in the new TV adaptation of Agatha Christie's murder mystery Ordeal By Innocence this weekend, in which she plays Rachel Argyll, heiress, philanthropist and mother of five adopted children found murdered on Christmas Eve. Samira talks to the actress, who is well-known for her roles in Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Hour, Spooks and Mapp & Lucia. Harshdeep Kaur, the popular Indian playback singer known for her Bollywood Hindi, Punjabi and Sufi songs, performs live. Popularly known as the 'Queen of Sufi', she'll be performing her soulful Sufi renditions alongside a range of more modern Bollywood classics at the Barbican in London this week. American theatre critic Hilton Als won the Pulitzer Prize last year for his theatre reviews which the judges said puts drama 'within a real-world cultural context, particularly the shifting landscape of gender, sexuality and race.' He talks about White Girls, his new collection of essays, which blurs the line between criticism and memoir, fiction and nonfiction. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
March 23, 2018
Artist Sonia Boyce's career has been punctuated by series of firsts - the first black woman to have her work collected by the Tate, the first black woman to be elected a Royal Academician. As her first retrospective opens, Sonia discusses her art and why she removed a painting from the walls of Manchester Art Gallery. On the 100th anniversary of Debussy's death two interpreters of his music discuss his life, legacy and influences. Lucy Parham tours a show playing his piano music interspersed with readings from Debussy's own writings and letters while Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla the conductor of the city of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has curated a season of Debussy's orchestral works. Testament is a rapper, beatboxer and theatre maker who's now based in Yorkshire. That county is the setting of Black Men Walking, a touring production that takes as its real life inspiration a group of black men - and some women - who go walking in the Peak District once a month. It uses music, poetry and the rich and largely unsung history of black people in this country, and countryside, to tell its story. Presenter: Gaylene Gould Producer: Hannah Robins.
March 22, 2018
Macbeth is on at the National Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera House, and there will be at least 15 more Macbeths at theatres and festivals around the country this year. Rufus Norris, director of the National's production, and Kit Monkman, who has made the latest film version, discuss why Shakespeare's play has such urgent appeal today. The British Council has been in the news because Moscow has shut down its activities in Russia. But what does the Council actually do? Alastair Niven, who was for four years Director of Literature at the British Council, explains its work, significance and why it sometimes falls foul of certain regimes. As music superstar partners Beyoncé and Jay-Z announce details of their new joint tour, Front Row decided to examine the delights and drawbacks when artists, who are couples, hit the road together. John talks to comedian Francesca Martinez and her touring partner actor Kevin Hely, and married musical duo Cara Dillon and Sam Lakeman.
March 21, 2018
Director Steven Soderbergh on his latest film, Unsane, which stars Claire Foy as a woman admitted to a mental health facility against her will. The film was shot entirely on three iphones. Is this the future of film? America's Cool Modernism: O'Keeffe to Hopper, a big exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford focuses on American artists in the early 20th century - including Georgia O'Keeffe and Edward Hopper - many of whom expressed their uncertainty about the rapid modernisation and urbanisation of their country. The show's curator discusses the significance of these paintings, prints and photographs made between 1915 and 1945, many of which have not been seen in the UK before. How to establish yourself as a solo artist after a successful career in a double act - Stephen Armstrong considers examples from cultural history as Ant McPartlin, one half of TV presenting powerhouse Ant and Dec, is admitted to rehab, leaving Declan Donnelly considering his options. A new RSC production of The Duchess of Malfi will involve the spilling of 3000 litres of stage blood throughout its run. To tell us how, why, and how much we should expect in the world of stage blood, we're joined by theatre critic Sam Marlowe and Giuseppe Cannas, Head of Wigs, Hair and Make-up at the National Theatre. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Julian May.
March 20, 2018
Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon and Patti Smith are just a few of the artists who trusted an inexperienced recording engineer, Jimmy Iovine, at the controls of their albums in the '70s. Iovine discusses a new documentary series The Defiant Ones, in which he looks back at 40 years in the record business: from those early beginnings, teaming up with hip hop artist Dr Dre, creating the Beats audio brand and running Apple Music. Award-winning Irish novelist Donal Ryan on his fifth novel, From a Low and Quiet Sea, which tells the story of three men, from war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland. Three apparently disparate stories that come together in the most unexpected of ways. An international competition for young singers, The Glyndebourne Opera Cup is being televised this week. Samira talks Maria Mot, one of the jury, about what she's looking for in such a wide range of voices and styles and its appeal to a younger audience of opera aficionados. Today is the spring equinox and through the day Radio 4 has been broadcasting new poems to mark the (official) start of the season when life quickens. On Front Row we welcome, with a poem each, Caleb Femi, the Young People's Laureate for London, and Scotland's Makar Jackie Kay. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Harry Parker.
March 19, 2018
As Andrew Lloyd Webber turns 70, Kirsty Lang talks to the composer about how he transformed musical theatre with hits like Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. When Sunset Boulevard joined School of Rock, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway last year, Andrew Lloyd Webber became the only person to equal the record set in 1953 by his musical heroes Rogers and Hammerstein with four Broadway shows running concurrently. He talks about the process of how he composes, the future of musical theatre - and how he landed an extremely rare interview with Vladimir Putin. Unmasked, the autobiography and Unmasked, The Platinum Collection are both available now. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Hilary Dunn.
March 16, 2018
Sir Tom Jones and Jennifer Hudson discuss mentoring the competitors in the TV talent show The Voice, how they coach their protégés and where the value of knockout singing competitions lies. Kirsty visits rehearsals at the studios of the television show and talks to the two judges. As The Square, a satire on modern art galleries hits cinemas, we consider the portrayal of the art gallery in film with Briony Hanson, Head of Film at British Council, and art critic Jacky Klein who also works at Tate. As 'embiggen', a word coined by The Simpsons, makes its way into the dictionary, lexicographer Susie Dent traces the way words hop from the screen into people's conversations and their impact on our language. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
March 15, 2018
Lara Croft remains one of the most famous gaming characters ever. Now as the film franchise of the games gets a reboot staring Alicia Vikander, film critic Kate Muir and gamer Julia Hardy discuss whether Lara Croft is a feminist icon or an object of male fantasy and what she reveals about the portrayal of women in gaming and film. Debut novelist Lisa Halliday won the prestigious American Whiting Award for her fiction writing - previously won by Colson Whitehead and Jonathan Franzen. No surprise then that her first full length novel Asymmetry has been winning rave reviews. Lisa discusses the book which is in three parts, and reveals how the opening section is resonant with her own affair with Philip Roth. The close interaction between actors and audience in interactive or immersive theatre has been part of its rising attraction, but that appeal is in danger of becoming a problem. Alexander Wright, director of the immersive Great Gatsby show, Maureen Beattie of the actors' union Equity, and theatre critic Sarah Hemming discuss where the lines should be drawn. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Harry Parker.
March 14, 2018
Mary Magdalene was Jesus Christ's most loyal friend, who stayed with him through the ordeal of his crucifixion, and was the first witness to his resurrection. But she was also denigrated by the church as a prostitute. Now her story is told in a new film with Rooney Mara as Mary and Joaquin Phoenix as Christ. Michèle Roberts, who wrote the novel The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene, reviews. With its population of 300,000, Iceland has more books published, and more writers per head, than anywhere else in the world. As it becomes a leader in Nordic Noir, crime writer Ragnar Jónasson and professor of Icelandic, Helga Lúthersdóttir, discuss the rich world of Icelandic fiction from the sagas which date back to the 13th century to the present day. Joseph Morpurgo's show Hammerhead strangely begins after his show has ended. It is the question-and-answer session after an - imagined - 9-hour, one-man performance of Frankenstein. He talks to Stig Abell about this conceit and where it leads him. And with news of the death of the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, we consider his presence in popular culture, and in particular playing himself on TV.
March 13, 2018
Paddy Considine discusses Journeyman, the new film he's written, directed and stars in. The film is centred on the life of a boxer who, after a damaging championship bout, discovers that he has far bigger fights on his hands. Four British mosques have just been given listed status or been upgraded in recognition of their historic, cultural and architectural importance. Architect Shahed Saleem, who has written The British Mosque, considers the cultural landscape for the 2000 or so places of Muslim worship in the UK. As the second season of the revived Liverpool Everyman Repertory company begins, Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz reveals the lessons learned from the first season and her plans for the future of the company Timberlake Wertenbaker's play 'Our Country's Good', about convicts transported to Australia putting on a play, is a modern classic. Director Fiona Buffini and the actor Garry Robson talk about their latest touring production, in which the cast includes disabled, deaf and able-bodied actors.
March 12, 2018
Eleanor Bron will be 80 on Wednesday. She is still working - she will be in Scottish Opera's production of Ariadne auf Naxos this year. Talking to Samira Ahmed she looks back over her long career, from the satire boom with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, through working with The Beatles in Help and roles in classical theatre such as in The Duchess of Malfi. The Great Wave at the National Theatre explores the abduction in the 1970s of Japanese citizens by North Korea. A look at these kidnappings through the eyes of one fictionalised family opens up questions of identity and belonging. Samira talks to the playwright Francis Turnly and the director Indhu Rubasingham about this little known aspect of far eastern politics . Following the announcement of the death of Sir Ken Dodd, Matthew Sweet discusses the role and significance of this jester who brought the comedic techniques of variety to television, and had extraordinary mass appeal. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May.
March 9, 2018
Sir Ian McKellen looks back at his acting life in anticipation of a film out later this year, McKellen: Playing the Part. Madeleine L'Engle's classic children's book A Wrinkle in Time has been made into a film starring Oprah Winfrey. The book itself was written in 1962 after being turned down by no less than 26 publishers. Professor Diane Roberts and Dr Vic James discuss the way in which the book reflects preoccupations in the author's own life, why it became one of America's most banned books and how its enduring appeal has resulted in numerous adaptations from film to tv, opera and graphic novel. Disability Champion for the Arts and Culture Sector is a brand new role created by the UK government. We speak to the newly appointed Andrew Miller who'll hold the post for a year. What change is he hoping to effect in terms of training, employment and access in the arts? Challenging the perceptions of her country using photography, world renowned artist Aida Muluneh gives an insight into the current arts scene in Ethiopia. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Sarah Johnson.
Jessica Jones, Women's Prize for Fiction nominees, The Cherry Orchard, Redressing the gender balance in the music industry
March 8, 2018
Reluctant superhero Jessica Jones is back for a second series. She despatched her nemesis at the end of season one but season two finds her looking to find the answers for her special powers. Cultural critic Gavia Baker-Whitelaw reviews. The longlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction has just been published. On International Women's Day Alex Clark looks at the surprise inclusions and exclusions and discerns the trends. This week a new production of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard opens at Bristol Old Vic. The play, in which the son of a serf takes over the estate where his father was once a slave, is a new translation from playwright Rory Mullarkey. Kirsty speaks to Rory and actor Jude Owusu about the contemporary resonances in their production. Marion Leonard, author of Gender In the Music Industry: Rock, Discourse, and Girl Power and festival promoter Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Festival Republic, discuss why men outnumber women in the public eye and behind the scenes of popular music. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Harry Parker.
March 7, 2018
David Attenborough talks about the art of his friend the painter John Craxton as a new exhibition Charmed Lives in Greece opens at the British Museum. Deborah Alma has edited #MeToo, an anthology of poetry by women, rallying against sexual assault and harassment. She is joined by poet and human rights lawyer Mona Arshi to discuss poetry as activism. Woody Allen's film Wonder Wheel is released this week. In the light of renewed allegations of sexual assault from his adopted daughter, Anna Smith reviews the film and considers Allen's reputation in Hollywood. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Julian May.
March 6, 2018
Radio 4 celebrates the 40th anniversary of the iconic science fiction satire by Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, with a new series this week. Comedy producer and friend of the originator John Lloyd stars as the voice of the book. He and radio producer Dirk Maggs talk about the return of the ground breaking show, which fans call H2G2. Tate Modern's first solo exhibition of Pablo Picasso focuses on one year of the great artist's life, 1932. Picasso's grandson, Olivier Widmaier Picasso and curator Nancy Ireson consider this period of great creativity for the artist, when he produced some of his most famous nude paintings of his muse and lover Marie-Therese Walter. David Oyelowo is best known for his roles in the films Selma as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and in A United Kingdom as a Botswanan prince. Now he's taking on his first comedy film in Gringo, about a man who gets caught up in the drug cartels in Mexico. David discusses playing comedy, Black Panther and colour blind casting. Presenter : Stig Abell Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
March 5, 2018
You Were Never Really Here stars Joaquin Pheonix as a contract killer who uncovers a conspiracy while trying to save a kidnapped teen from a prostitution ring. The film is directed by Lynne Ramsay who made We Need to Talk About Kevin. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews. What's the key to delivering a perfect performance as an award ceremony host? TV critic Emma Bullimore and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh review Jimmy Kimmel's efforts in last night's Oscars ceremony, as well as Joanna Lumley at the BAFTAs and Jack Whitehall at the Brits, and consider what makes the perfect host. Steve Reich says the pioneering percussion Colin Currie is 'one of the greatest musicians in the world'. Today Currie returns the compliment, launching his own record label with his recording of Reich's piece 'Drumming'. He talks to John Wilson about this and the recent developments in music for percussion. Artist Charlotte Salomon died aged 26 in Auschwitz, leaving behind an impressive collection of over 700 paintings called Life? or Theatre? Ahead of events on Salomon at Jewish Book Week, Griselda Pollock and Waldemar Januszczak discuss her life and work. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Kate Bullivant.
March 2, 2018
Jess Thom is a founding member of Touretteshero, a theatre company that celebrates the inherent creativity and humour in Tourette's. She is taking on Samuel Beckett's Not I, a rapidly delivered monologue spoken by a character called Mouth. Jess explains why the text captures her own experience of living with Tourette's and her mission to make theatre more accessible. "Gaslighting" is a term that sprang from Patrick Hamilton's play Gas Light written 80 years ago, in which a husband attempts to convince his wife she is going mad so that she is not believed by others. It's a trope that's picked up in contemporary thrillers such as Girl on A Train and The Woman in The Window. Novelist Stephanie Merritt and writer and critic Lisa Appignanesi discuss its dramatic appeal. Deep Throat are a thirty-strong all-female choir who blend their voices with percussion to produce a unique sound. The founder Luisa Gerstein and choir member Tanya Auclair discuss how they developed their style and their collaborations. Presenter: Morgan Quaintance Producer: Hannah Robins.
March 1, 2018
Half a century after Kenneth Clark's ground-breaking television series on the history of art, Civilisation, the BBC has returned to the same subject - a history of visual culture - but pluralised the name and the number of presenters in the new series. Former television critic of the Financial Times Chris Dunkley and writer and classicist Natalie Haynes review. Wendy Cope is one of the country's best-known and best-loved poets, thanks partly to the fact that her poems are easy to understand and often funny. But they're much more than that: the former poet laureate Andrew Motion said of her that "there is a skip in her step, but these are perfectly serious poems". Her latest collection is Anecdotal Evidence and it reflects on marriage, place, contentment and loss. The works of twenty-three female contemporary artists working in China today are the focus of NOW, a new series of exhibitions across the UK. Curator Tiffany Leung and British-based artist Aowen Jin consider the status of Chinese female artists inside and outside China and to what extent they feel they have artistic freedom in the current political climate . Presenter : Kirsty Lang Producer: Harry Parker.
February 28, 2018
Sharon Horgan, the comedy actress and writer behind Pulling, Motherhood and Catastrophe features in her first major Hollywood film, Game Night. She tells Kirsty about the difference between working on American movies and British television and why series like Catastrophe aren't , in fact, sitcoms. Syrian musician Maya Youssef brings her qanun into the studio and performs from her album Syrian Dreams. Samantha's Harvey's latest novel, The Western Wind, is a literary medieval whodunit with an ingenious construction. She discusses its palindromic form and explains the significance of setting it in 1491. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
February 27, 2018
A Fantastic Woman is a Chilean film about a transgender woman whose partner dies and she has to cope with his transphobic family. The film has been shortlisted for best Foreign Language film at the Oscars. Rebecca Root, trans actress and activist, reviews. British film director Lewis Gilbert has died aged 97. Critic Jason Solomons assesses his long career with films including Reach for the Sky, Alfie, The Spy Who Loved Me, Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine. In the wake of recent scientific investigations revealing a hidden landscape beneath a Picasso painting, art critic Jonathan Jones and philosopher and historian Jonathan Rée debate the issues raised by digging beneath the surface of a work of art. Dionysis, the Greek god of wine was also patron of the theatre and since classical times actors have always needed to be able to act inebriated. Siân Thomas, Rory Keenan and Sam Troughton reveal the secrets of acting drunk.
February 26, 2018
We hear about the second series of the American Crime Story television franchise which began in 2016 with The People Versus OJ Simpson. John Wilson is joined in the studio by novelist turned screenwriter Tom Rob Smith. He has written the next instalment - The Assassination of Gianni Versace - which dramatises the events surrounding the murder of the Italian fashion designer outside his Miami home in 1997. Freud and Bacon are at the heart of Tate Britain's latest show, and there is a whole room of Paula Rego paintings,too. All Too Human follows the depiction of the human in figurative art in the last 100 years. John Wilson speaks to the curator Elena Cripps and David Dawson who was Lucian Freud's assistant. Freud's portrait of Dawson is included in the exhibition. Art critic Louisa Buck reviews the show and considers if an exhibition with such a broad theme allows for a more interesting range of work than most. Debut novelist Mick Kitson explains the thinking behind his audacious debut novel Sal, which tells the story of two young girls, sisters, who go on the run in Scotland's Galloway Forest after one of them, in self defence, commits a shocking crime. The novel portrays their attempts to survive in the wilderness based on bushcraft skills acquired from watching YouTube videos. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Julian May.
February 23, 2018
Jennifer Lawrence stars in new film Red Sparrow as a prima ballerina turned Russian spy trained to seduce her targets. The film is based on a successful novel by former CIA operative Jason Matthews and helmed by Frances Lawrence who also directed Lawrence in the Hunger Games film series. Film critic Anna Smith reviews. David Edgar's adaptation of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, starring Phil Daniels, is currently touring the country. April de Angelis has adapted Frankenstein for the Manchester Royal Exchange. Both playwrights talk about how they have brought these science fiction classics to the stage and consider why so many new theatre shows are adaptions from famous books. Paintings deep in caves in Spain reveal that Neanderthals were artists, according to new research published in the journal Science. Professor Paul Pettitt from Durham University tells us how fundamental the making of art is to us and our ancestors. The Diaspora Pavilion at last year's Venice Biennale showcased the work of 19 British artists responding to the idea of the diaspora of their various cultures. Michael Forbes, one of the artists, gives John a tour of a selection of the works now on display in the UK at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Sarah Johnson.
February 22, 2018
Tracey Thorn describes her new record 'Record' as 'nine feminist bangers'. She talks to John Wilson about why electro-pop turns out to be her preferred style for a musical look back at various stages in her life from birth, through teenage crushes and learning to play guitar to motherhood. The Finnish National Gallery has just become the latest institution to make digital images of works in its collection, that are no longer in copyright, freely available to the public. No major UK arts institution has taken a similar step. Art Historian Dr Bendor Grosvenor has been campaigning on this issue and explains his position. As two biographies of Mary Shelley have been published since Christmas "In Search of Mary Shelley the girl who wrote Frankenstein" by Fiona Sampson and "Mary Shelley" by Miranda Seymour we look at the competing claims and different perspectives that biographers bring to the lives of their subjects. Biographer and critic Kathryn Hughes and critic and editor of on-line literary magazine Boundless, Arifa Akbar, discuss what "rival" biographies reveal about the process of writing biography itself. Grime artist Stormzy took two of the top awards at the Brits and used his platform to criticise the government over its response to Grenfell Tower fire. From an interview with Front Row on the occasion of last year's awards he throws light on what motivates his rapping and his thoughts on grime's place in the awards.
February 21, 2018
Playwright Dennis Kelly's emotional new play Girls and Boys centres on the story of a woman in an aggressive man's world. Kelly and actor Carey Mulligan, the star of the one-woman show, discuss the disturbing themes in the play and the challenges of performing it. Following a major leak from the Game of Thrones set - and the accompanying outrage - we ask writer Gareth McLean and TV critic Emma Bullimore whether our aversion to spoilers has now gone too far. Boyd Hilton reviews Mosaic, a new TV drama series from Steven Soderbergh, which stars Sharon Stone as a murdered novelist. The HBO series is accompanied in the US by a mobile phone app whereby the viewer can choose from which perspective the plot is viewed. Matt Bellamy, the axeman who fronts Muse and is famous for his searing solos, has said the guitar as a lead instrument is dead. It has retreated into the texture of the music. Front Row plays a lament in tribute to the lead guitar, as it loses its leading role. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Julian May.
February 20, 2018
I, Tonya is a new biopic about figure skater Tonya Harding, who was known as the bad girl of the ice rink. The film stars Margot Robbie and Allison Janney who've won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA respectively for their performances. Briony Hanson reviews. With the Winter Olympics in full swing we ask 'is figure skating a sport or an art'? Robin Cousins, former Olympic champion and current commentator at the figure skating at the Games in Pyeongchang, and Debra Craine, dance critic of The Times, discuss how ice dancing relates to more classical forms of dance on terra firma. Jess Kidd won the Costa Short Story Award in 2016 and that year published her debut novel Himself to critical acclaim. She discusses her new novel The Hoarder about a care worker and her relationship with the belligerent Cathal Flood and the junk-filled house he inhabits. Yesterday the BBC launched two new African language services, bringing the news, and telling stories in Yoruba and Igbo. Wole Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, is Yoruba; Chinua Achebe, author of arguably the most famous African novel, Things Fall Apart, was Igbo. The editors of the new services discuss the importance of Yoruba and Igbo art and culture today. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
February 19, 2018
To mark the 100th anniversary of women over 30 getting the vote in the UK we have a themed programme looking at the art that was created alongside the suffrage campaign and we celebrate the contribution of female artists. For the last two weeks we've been asking Front Row listeners to nominate their favourite art work by a woman. Jenny Éclair and Rosie Fletcher come into the studio to champion their picks in a head to head choosing Tracey Emin's My Bed and Nora Ephron's script for When Harry Met Sally respectively. In Spring 1907 the first suffragette play opened at the Royal Court - Votes for Women by Elizabeth Robins. This rarely performed play is being revived by the New Vic in Newcastle-under-Lyme and we speak to adaptor and director of the production Theresa Heskins about whether the play has relevance today. Annie Swynnerton was a suffragist and the first woman to be elected to the Royal Academy of Art. As a retrospective of her work prepares to open at Manchester Art Gallery, Charlotte Keatley gets a sneak preview and explains Swynnerton's significance. Performance poet Kat Francois reads and discusses a poem commissioned by Front Row to mark 100 years since women got the vote. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Hannah Robins.
February 16, 2018
The trauma of child abuse lies at the heart of two new memoirs - Louise Allen's Thrown Away Child, and The Only Girl in the World by the French writer Maude Julien. As they look back over their years of mistreatment by the adults in their lives, they explain how they found solace in art and literature - which provided both a lifeline, and an escape from pain and deprivation that was being inflicted on them from a very early age. Presenter Stig Abell Producer Jerome Weatherald.
February 15, 2018
Actor Ruth Wilson talks about starring in Clio Barnard's new film Dark River, a powerful psychological drama about a sheep farming family in Yorkshire. She also discusses the BBC TV drama she is making about her grandfather, a novelist who she recently discovered was also a spy with several wives. A new report, commissioned by the Art Fund, has called for greater investment in museum collections as museums and galleries in Britain struggle to keep up with the international art market. Cultural policy expert and honorary fellow at University of Edinburgh, Tiffany Jenkins responds. Cal McCrystal, the physical comedy expert brought in to add laughs to the National Theatre's hit One Man, Two Guvnors and the Paddington films, is now directing the new English National Opera production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe and explains how he makes Gilbert and Sullivan funny to a contemporary audience. Creative Scotland, Scotland's public arts funding body, is in the firing line over its recent funding decisions, and its leaders have now been called to appear before the Scottish Parliament's Culture Committee. Robert Softly Gale and David Leddy, two artistic directors, discuss how their organisations have been caught up in the funding storm. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
February 14, 2018
Greta Gerwig recently made history as the first woman to be Oscar-nominated for her directorial debut, Lady Bird. She tells Kirsty why she wrote a coming of age drama about a confused teenage girl growing up in her own hometown of Sacramento, and why she is now keen to write a play or act on the West End stage. Writer Benjamin Markovits was shortlisted for the BBC's National Short Story Award last year. This year he is one of the judges alongside television presenter Mel Giedroyc, poet Sarah Howe, BBC Books editor Di Speirs and last year's winner KJ Orr. Benjamin Markovits discusses the significance of the award now in its 13th year. Recent episodes of BBC One's Silent Witness have drawn praise from critics and audiences especially for Liz Carr role as forensic scientist Clarissa Mullery. The disabled actress has been in the series for 5 years, but this storyline put her at the heart of the drama as well as tackling the issue of abuse of disabled residents in a care home. Silent Witness writer Tim Prager tells us about creating the storyline and the reaction to the episodes, and we also talk to broadcaster Mik Scarlet and deaf actress Genevieve Barr about current opportunities for disabled actors across TV, theatre and film. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Kate Bullivant.
February 13, 2018
The Shape of Water leads this year's Oscars race with 13 nominations. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, it's an other-worldly fairy tale about a mute cleaner (Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with an alien-like creature imprisoned at the high-security laboratory where she works. Mark Eccleston reviews. As a blockbuster exhibition of the Terracotta Warriors opens at the World Museum in Liverpool, featuring objects from the burial ground of China's First Emperor never before seen in this country, Samira is joined by Fiona Philpott, Director of Exhibitions and Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology magazine. Samira is joined by another Samira Ahmed, an American writer whose latest book - Love, Hate & Other Filters - is a coming of age novel about an Muslim teenager coping with Islamophobia in her small town. As the latest series gathers momentum, Louis Wise explores the television phenomenon that is RuPaul's Drag Race, the American reality show where drag queens compete against each other to win the crown, Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.
February 12, 2018
Musician and campaigner Bob Geldof discusses A Fanatic Heart, his feature length documentary about poet W B Yeats. He explains how he came to love the poetry of Yeats and why he considers the Nobel prize-winning poet to be one of the founders of modern Ireland. As Fifty Shades Freed, the third and final instalment of the Fifty Shades franchise is released in cinemas this week, literary critic Alex Clark and Clare Binns, director of programming and acquisitions for Picturehouse Cinemas discuss the cultural impact of the Fifty Shades phenomenon. The bandoneon is a traditional Argentinian squeezebox and a key component in tango music. Virtuoso Julian Rowlands performs on the instrument alongside the Santiago Quartet and gives Stig Abell a lesson in how to play it. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Edwina Pitman.
February 9, 2018
Chadwick Boseman discusses taking on the role of Black Panther, the first black mainstream comic book hero, and talks about the responsibility he feels in taking on the first black lead in a superhero film. Following the release of Black Panther, critic Dreda Say Mitchell, and comic book writer, Kieron Gillen, review the film, and consider whether the time of the black superhero has finally arrived. When and how should we be introducing children to Shakespeare? Is it better to start with the stories and move onto the complexity of the language or do we miss out on something vital by not starting with the text? Purni Morell, Artistic Director of the Unicorn Theatre and Erica Whyman, Deputy artistic director of the RSC, discuss. Today is Dydd Miwsig Cymru - Welsh Music Day, which celebrates not just Welsh music, but music in Welsh. Through the programme Stig Abell samples the variety of contemporary music performed in the Welsh language today. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Julian May.
February 8, 2018
Playwright David Hare talks to Samira about his latest television drama Collateral, a series that begins like a police procedural but drifts into a state-of-the-nation thriller. Carey Mulligan stars as a police detective whose investigation into the shooting of a pizza delivery man has spiraling repercussions. Carmen is opera's greatest femme fatale, the sexually liberated cigarette factory worker killed by her spurned lover. Opera critic Alexandra Coghlan and opera historian Flora Willson discuss how we view Carmen in the 21st Century, as two new productions - at the Royal Opera House and in Florence - re-interpret this mythic heroine. John Burningham, author and illustrator of Mr Gumpy's Outing, and Helen Oxenbury, the illustrator of We're Going on a Bear Hunt, have been announced as the joint winners of the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award. Their books are family friends to many children - and adults. They talk about how they work, their distinctive styles and the secrets of their long marriage. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Edwina Pitman
February 7, 2018
Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz on their new film The Mercy, which tells the true story of the ill-fated attempt in 1968 by the amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst to become the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world. Vaseem Khan discusses his latest Inspector Chopra novel, about an Indian detective with a baby elephant as his sidekick, which he has written as a Quick Read. As Irish and Northern Irish women poets campaign for greater recognition in their home country, we discuss the gender battle currently taking place in Irish literature, with campaign co-founder Mary O'Donnell, playwright Rosemary Jenkinson and novelist John Boyne. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser.
February 6, 2018
As artists back photographer Nan Goldin's call to hold arts patrons the Sackler family to account over the US opioid crisis, we discuss the ethics of funding the arts. Soul singer Mica Paris talks about her current projects exploring the life and work of legendary jazz pioneer Ella Fitzgerald, and performs live in the studio. Jim Crace has twice been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize. He talks to John about his new novel The Melody. Set in an unnamed town on the Mediterranean, its main character is a composer facing loneliness as a recent widower. The novel, Jim Crace says, has its roots in seeing child foragers on a rubbish dump in India. And to mark the centenary of some women being granted the vote in 1918 we hear the poem Suffragette written by Jan Dean. It's from the anthology Reaching the Stars which contains poems about extraordinary women and girls. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
February 5, 2018
Mike Bartlett, the writer of Doctor Foster and Charles III, on his new three-part TV drama Trauma, in which Adrian Lester stars as a surgeon accused of negligence by a patient's father, played by John Simm. Last week a new prize was launched for thriller novels that do not include any violence against women. Since that announcement the Staunch Book Prize has been both lauded as much needed, and criticised for being censorial. We discuss the prize with its founder Bridget Lawless and crime-writer Val McDermid. Cornelia Parker was the official artist for the 2017 election. As her resulting work goes on display in the Palace of Westminster, she discusses her approach and the challenges she faced in maintaining impartiality. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
February 2, 2018
Nicola Benedetti has co-written a new cadenza for Beethoven's Violin Concerto. As she embarks on a tour with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, she talks to Kirsty Lang about the challenges of performing this classical masterpiece. Jason Solomons reviews Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built, which stars Helen Mirren in the first horror movie of her 50 year career and is set in the real life house that the Winchester gun heiress built to keep ghosts at bay. As part of Reading Europe Radio 4 is dramatising 'The Bride and Groom' , a novel by the award-winning Russian author Alisa Ganieva. Kirsty talks to Alisa about the contrasting picture of tradition and modernity she presents of Dagestan, her homeland in the Caucasus. Grigory Ryzhakov, author of a guide to modern Russian literature, gives us an overview of what Russians are reading both in terms of literary fiction and popular novels, from crime thrillers to the classics. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser.
February 1, 2018
Simple Minds, the stadium-filling band from Glasgow, have been together for 40 years. As they release Walk Between Worlds, lead singer Jim Kerr looks back on the four decades and the band perform an acoustic version of a song from the new album. Reputed to be Daniel Day-Lewis' final film before retiring from acting, Phantom Thread travels behind the doors of London's 1950s fashion houses. Film critic Catherine Bray discusses director Paul Thomas Anderson's latest project. Theatre company Told by an Idiot's latest production Napoleon Disrobed imagines a comical alternative history in which instead of dying in exile, Napoleon traverses Europe alive, well and in disguise. Director Katherine Hunter and actor Paul Hunter explain the challenges of re-writing history on stage. Writer and broadcaster Lindsay Johns argues that the South African novelist Alex La Guma is an overlooked literary colossus who should be restored to his rightful place at the centre of the literary canon. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Edwina Pitman.
January 31, 2018
All day long I'd bidi-bidi-bum... Sheldon Harnick is 93 and won worldwide acclaim as the lyricist of the hugely successful Fiddler on the Roof. As a new production of Rothschild & Sons, one of his lesser-known musicals, opens in this country he talks about a lifetime of lyrics. Britain's first professor of Musical Theatre, Professor Millie Taylor, and theatre critic David Benedict discuss the evolution of the musical since the premiere of Fiddler on the Roof in 1964. The Danish Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is best known for his large-scale installation art using natural elemental materials, such as The Weather Project, a dazzling sun in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall. Nikki Bedi met him at his studio in Copenhagen to discuss his views on the cultural landscape of Denmark, artistic collaborations and breakdancing. Presenter: Nikki Bedi Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
January 30, 2018
Last year, wunderkind playwright James Graham premiered three plays Ink, Labour of Love, and Quiz which looked respectively at the rise of the Sun newspaper, Labour party history; and the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire "coughing Major" scandal. As he begins 2018 with another premiere, The Culture: A Farce in Two Acts, he discusses turning his attention to Hull's year as City of Culture and his desire and energy to keep creating new work. The V&A's new exhibition Ocean Liners: Speed and Style explores the golden age of ocean travel through all aspects of ship design from ground-breaking engineering, architecture and interiors to the fashion and lifestyle aboard. Design critic Corrine Julius reviews. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi on her novel Kintu - lauded as 'The Great Ugandan Novel' - which has just been published in the UK for the first time. And we speak to the winner of the 2017 Costa Book Prize, live from the ceremony. The book is chosen from the five category winners - Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore (Poetry); Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (First Novel); Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (Novel); The Explorer by Katherine Rundell (Children's) and In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott (Biography).
January 29, 2018
Former National Theatre director, Sir Nicholas Hytner on his new production of Julius Caesar, starring Ben Whishaw and David Morrissey, which offers the audience a chance to stand and be immersed in the action. Sir Nicholas talks about the staging, how contemporary politics resonates with this Shakespeare play and about his new venue the Bridge Theatre. Ruth Barnes looks at what the list of Grammy winners says about the current state of popular music. The pioneering architect Neave Brown, responsible for celebrated landmark designs in social housing, died earlier this month. Architects Joanne McCafferty and Paul Karakusevic assess Brown's legacy and his influence on social housing design today. Joe Dunthorne, who achieved great success with his debut novel Submarine whilst still in his twenties, talks to John about his third book, The Adulterants. Set in trendy East London it's about a group of thirtysomethings making life choices against a backdrop of the 2011 summer riots.
January 26, 2018
As part of Radio 4's Reading Europe season, Kirsty Lang explores Turkish literature in Istanbul, talking to leading writers including Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk. Critics Kaya Genc and Nagihan Ibn Haliloglu discuss how the Turkish literary scene compares to our own: what are the bestselling books, and how are writers dealing with the current political situation, given Turkey has imprisoned more writers recently than any other country. Orhan Pamuk on his latest novel The Red-Haired Woman (Radio 4's current Book at Bedtime), and its themes of authoritarianism and the clash between the old and new Turkeys. Since being sacked from her job as one of Turkey's most-read newspaper columnists because of her political views, Ece Temelkuran has concentrated on her career as a novelist, including writing the bestselling Women Who Blow on Knots. Burhan Sönmez, the prize-winning Kurdish writer whose latest novel Istanbul, Istanbul, inspired by his own experience of torture and imprisonment, is about four political prisoners who tell each other magical stories about Istanbul. Why has a little known love story written in 1940 recently topped the Turkish bestseller charts? Filiz Ali talks about her father Sabahattin Ali, who was murdered in 1948 but whose novel Madonna in a Fur Coat has become a publishing phenomenon. The books discussed in our programme are: The Red-Haired Woman, written by Orhan Pamuk and translated by Ekin Oklap Istanbul, Istanbul, written by Burhan Sönmez and translated by Ümit Hussein. Women Who Blow on Knots, written by Ece Temelkuran and translated by Alexander Dawe. Madonna in a Fur Coat, written by Sabahattin Ali and translated by Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe. The Stone Building and Other Places, written by Asli Erdogan and translated by Sevinç Türkkan. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser.
January 25, 2018
In 2016 Paapa Essiedu became the first black actor to play Hamlet for the RSC. As he reprises the role for a tour of the production we speak to the actor tipped to be a star, about Hamlet and his performances in television dramas Kiri and The Miniaturist. It's rare for a poetry essay to make the news headlines but that's exactly what's happened to the essay written by Rebecca Watts in the current issue of PN Review. She talks to Samira about her problem with the poetry establishment and explains why her criticism of poet Hollie McNish wasn't personal. Award-winning poet Don Paterson responds. Publisher Daniel Mallory turned debut novelist A J Finn discusses making it to the top of the best-seller charts with his psychological thriller, The Woman In The Window. On tonight's podcast, artist Grayson Perry explains why the late Mark E. Smith of the post-punk group The Fall, was one of his heroes. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Edwina Pitman.
January 24, 2018
Now just 18, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason won the title of BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2016. His choice of repertoire ranges from Shostakovich to Bob Marley and he plays live in the studio on the release of his debut album, Inspiration. Following the announcement of the death of Ursula K. Le Guin, the Earthsea writer's literary agent Ginger Clark and fantasy novelist Vic James discuss her legacy. Charles I (1600-1649) acquired and commissioned an extensive collection of art, including works by Rubens, Van Dyck, Holbein and Titian. Jerry Brotton, author of The Sale of the Late King's Goods, assesses the new Royal Academy exhibition Charles I: King and Collector, which includes works reunited for the first time since the 17th century. As two Belfast-based arts institutions - the arts complex The MAC and the Ulster Orchestra - receive emergency funding after financial problems put them at risk, the BBC's Northern Ireland Arts Correspondent, Robbie Meredith, discusses the current state of arts funding in Northern Ireland. Presenter: Alex Clark Producer: Jerome Weatherald.
January 23, 2018
The nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were announced earlier today, with Guillermo del Toro's fantasy romance The Shape of Water receiving the most, including best picture. Stig Abell is joined by film critics Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Gaylene Gould and Tim Robey to consider the winners and losers, and to assess whether the nominations reflect events of 2017 including Weinstein and #MeToo, and whether there is a better representation of BAME talent than in previous years. Presenter Stig Abell Producer Hannah Robins.
January 22, 2018
Matt Damon's new film Downsizing imagines a solution to over-population is to shrink humans to five inches tall. Director of Film for the British Council Briony Hanson reviews the film which is part midlife strife part speculative science-fiction. A choreographer for sex scenes on stage or on screen is just as important as that for a fight scene - so says movement director Ita O'Brien, who is calling on the industry to do more to protect performers in scenes involving sex or nudity. Ita O'Brien and casting agent Chris Carey discuss her proposals in the post-Weinstein, #MeToo era. Political cartoonist Martin Rowson joins John at the British Museum to meet Patricia Ferguson, curator of a display called Pots with Attitude: British Satire on Ceramics, 1760-1830 which looks at the Georgian fashion for printing satirical drawings onto pottery . And on the day the BFI re-issues of the classic British nuclear disaster film When the Wind Blows, based on the cartoon by Raymond Briggs, Ian Christie considers the film's relevance now. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
January 19, 2018
Director Richard Linklater discusses his new film Last Flag Flying, starring Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne and Steve Carell, about three former US servicemen who re-unite in 2003 for a road trip to bury the son of one of the men, killed in the Iraq War. A recent Arts Council England report into literary fiction shows that sales, advances and prices have slumped over the last 15 years with the average writer earning around £11,000 a year - less than the minimum wage. The Arts Council have responded by pledging more support for authors including possible tax breaks for small publishers. The co-editor of the online magazine Books Brunch Neil Denny, critic Alex Clark and publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove discuss the report's implications for the future of literary fiction. In a new collection Don't Call Us Dead, young American poet Danez Smith muses on their experiences as a black HIV positive and genderqueer person living in America today. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Hannah Robins.
January 18, 2018
Bridget Riley is known for her abstract geometric images featuring grids, lines, circles and squares. As the artist prepares to open a new exhibition of her recent work, art critic Charlotte Mullins assesses the importance and impact of the canvases and murals created in the last four years. As the Bayeux Tapestry is set to come to the UK from France we consider the extraordinary qualities of this artwork, the soft power of such cultural moves and the messages that might lie within Macron's gesture. Nick Park's new film is set aeons earlier than his Wallace and Gromit adventures. Dug, a resourceful cave-youth, and best friend Hognob, a prehistoric wild boar, unite their Stone Age tribe in defence of their green and pleasant land using not weapons but guile and football. Park explains how he came to make Early Man, the first feature the four-time Oscar winner has directed on his own, and Front Row asks if, actually, it's all about Brexit. David Lodge is both a leading comic novelist and a renowned literary critic. He talks about his memoir, Writer's Luck which covers the years 1976-1991 in which he found his greatest success with books like How Far Can You Go?, Small World and Nice Work . He was also Chair of Judges of the 1989 Booker Prize when to his disappointment Martin Amis failed to be shortlisted.
January 17, 2018
Carleen Anderson, former singer with Young Disciples and the Brand New Heavies, discusses her album and 'tribal opera' Cage Street Memorial, and performs a song from it in the studio. Turkish writer Elif Shafak discusses her bestselling novel The Bastard of Istanbul about a family of women, for which she was accused of 'insulting Turkishness' in 2006 and put on trial. The novel has been made into a two-part drama as part of Radio 4's Reading Europe season. Kirsty will be exploring the state of Turkish literature in a special Istanbul edition of Front Row next Friday, 26 January. In the week that Liam Neeson's new film The Commuter opens in cinemas, film critic Mark Eccleston considers the portrayal of commuting on film, from Brief Encounter to The Girl on the Train. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
January 16, 2018
As Will & Grace is revived twenty years after its premiere, TV critic Louis Wise discusses how the ground-breaking sitcom about two gay men and their best girl pal comes across in 2018. Disney and Pixar's new film Coco is about a Mexican boy who travels through the Land of the Dead to unlock a family mystery. We consider the evolution of Disney films, how they depict and reflect international cultures, and also ask where they sit in the wider animation landscape. The London Sinfonietta, world renowned contemporary classical ensemble, will perform at the Royal Festival Hall on 24th of this month, 50 years to the day since their first concert, at the same venue. Since then they have commissioned more than 300 pieces of music from composers such as Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Steve Reich. They have also worked with musicians such as Thom Yorke from Radiohead and Mica Levi. Artistic director and chief executive, Andrew Burke, leads Samira through the history of the London Sinfonietta, in four pieces of music closely associated with the ensemble. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May.
January 15, 2018
Liam Neeson stars in action thriller The Commuter in which an insurance salesman is caught up in danger and conspiracy on his way home from work. He talks about the appeal of the ordinary man as hero. Jamie Hewlett is best known for his artwork for the comic strip Tank Girls, the group Gorillaz, and Damon Albarn's Chinese opera Monkey: Journey to the West. With the publication of a new monograph which features more than 400 of his artworks, Hewlett discusses his approach to graphic art and how tastes have changed over the last 20 years. This evening the winner of The T.S. Eliot Prize, is announced. To mark the 25th anniversary of Britain's most prestigious award for poetry the prize money has been increased to £25,000. Front Row will have the first interview with the winner, live from the award ceremony, and comment from one of the judges about this year's shortlist and how they made their choice. Following the news that Italian police are investigating three organisers of a Modigliani exhibition in Genoa after all but one of the paintings were shown to be fake, Anna Somers Cocks looks at forgery and 20th Century art.
January 12, 2018
Tom Hanks discusses his new film The Post, co-starring Meryl Streep and directed by Steven Spielberg, which tells the story of the part The Washington Post played in publishing the top secret Pentagon Papers that changed American public opinion about the Vietnam War. Sir Simon Rattle is conducting the European concert premiere of The Genesis Suite, a work with narration based on stories from the first book of the Bible, such as Adam and Eve, the Flood and the Tower of Babel. The conductor discusses the little-known piece from 1945 which was written by seven different European composers, émigrés to America, including Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Milhaud, who each composed a movement. The French culture minister Françoise Nyssen has unveiled plans to launch a heritage lottery. The money will go towards restoring ancient monuments. It follows reports of a fall in lottery receipts in the UK. French journalist Agnes Poirier and cultural historian Robert Hewison discuss the proposal, and consider how far arts and heritage funding should be lottery-dependent. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
January 11, 2018
In December the Royal Court withdrew and then reinstated its invitation to stage a new touring production of Andrea Dunbar's semi-autobiographical 1982 play Rita Sue and Bob Too as a result of sexual harassment allegations made against its co-director Max Stafford Clark - himself a former Artistic Director of the Royal Court and one of the most influential theatre directors of his generation. The Royal Court's current Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone and theatre critic Lyn Gardner discuss the way in which the play continues to speak to young women today and the impact of the recent controversy on this particular production in the context of the continuing revelations about sexual harassment in the arts industries. Kirsty Lang speaks to Jonathan Ruffer, the city financier who has donated almost £200 million to fund arts and restoration projects in the town of Bishop Auckland. For the past two summers the town has hosted the open-air drama Kynren, with the participation of 100 volunteers. In October Front Row covered the opening of a new mining art museum in the town, this year sees the re-opening of Auckland castle, a new Auckland Tower visitor attraction and, in 2019, a Spanish Art Gallery and Faith Museum. Sasha Dugdale reads from her new collection, Joy. The title poem, which won the Forward Prize for the best poem published in 2016, is a monologue in the voice of Catherine Blake, as she grieves for her husband William and in doing so celebrates their close and creative life together. Dugdale is also a playwright and translator and was until last month editor of the international magazine Modern Poets in Translation. She reflects on the impact this has on her own writing. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Julian May.
Melvyn Bragg, TV arts programmes, '(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay' by Otis Redding, the Fire and Fury
January 10, 2018
As The Southbank Show marks its 40th anniversary we discuss the legacy of this historic arts programme with host Melvyn Bragg. As ITV makes a return to arts programing with Great Art, and the BBC prepares to revive its landmark series Civilisations, we discuss the state of arts on TV today. With Phil Grabsky, the award-winning executive producer of Great Art and the founder of Seventh Art Production, and the TV writer Julia Raeside. 50 years ago this week saw the release the song Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay, performed and co-written by Otis Redding, considered to be one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music. The song, which was recorded just days before Redding died in a plane crash at the age of 26, became one of his best-known and loved. Music journalist Kevin le Gendre considers why. As Michael Wolff's expose of the US president's administration sells out, we ask if you can ever predict what will be publishing hit or a miss. Cathy Rentzenbrink, author and former contributing editor of The Bookseller and bookseller joins Front Row. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
January 9, 2018
The 1996 radical feminist theatre piece, The Vagina Monologues, made a huge impact in America and around the world as well as inspiring V-Day, an organisation working to stop violence against girls and women. As the writer Eve Ensler updates it with some contemporary voices, we ask about the original production and why now is the right time to revisit it. We also look at feminist theatre in Britain today. In an age where so many people describe themselves as feminist, what defines a play as such? Which issues are being explored, and are dramatic techniques, such as shocking language and violence, employed in the same way as in the past? Theatre critic Sam Marlowe and playwright Phoebe Éclair-Powell discuss. With the return of French tv crime drama Spiral to BBC Four, critic Adrian Wootton gives us a guide to this cult series, and explains why it's worthy of a bigger audience in the UK. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Costa Book Awards Special: Jon McGregor, Katherine Rundell, Rebecca Stott, Helen Dunmore and Gail Honeyman
January 9, 2018
A special episode featuring all five winners of the Costa Book Awards 2017. The winner of the novel category Jon McGregor talks about how he wrote his stunning portrait of an English country village, Reservoir 13. Katherine Rundell, winner of the children’s book category, reveals how she ate tinned tarantula for her adventure story The Explorer. The biography winner Rebecca Stott discusses In the Days of Rain which tells the story of her family’s life in a cult and how they escaped. The novelist Louise Doughty discusses the late Helen Dunmore and her last collection of poems, Inside the Wave, which was awarded the poetry prize. And debut novelist Gail Honeyman discusses how she wrote Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine which won the Costa First Book Award.
January 8, 2018
Kiri, Channel 4's new drama series, is about the disappearance of a young girl, written by Jack Thorne. It stars Sarah Lancashire as the girl's social worker and Lucian Msamati as her grandfather. Dreda Say Mitchell reviews. The winner of the Costa First Novel prize is Gail Honeyman for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It tells the story of a 29-year-old woman who lives alone, surviving, but not really living. Gail discusses how she was inspired to write the book after reading an article about loneliness. The Golden Globe Awards last night were dominated by speeches about Hollywood's sexual abuse scandal. Anna Smith runs us through the events of the night and Best Actor winner Gary Oldman talks about finally being recognized by the Golden Globes after 30 years. Why does the public appetite for portraiture and self-portraiture prevail in the age of the selfie? We discuss with Art Critic Jonathan Jones and Art Historian Frances Borzello, author of Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self Portraits. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Hannah Robins.
January 5, 2018
Christopher Plummer discusses replacing Kevin Spacey as John Paul Getty in the Ridley Scott-directed All the Money in the World after Spacey was dropped from the film due to allegations of sexual misconduct. Film critic Larushka Ivan-Zadeh considers whether this bold move by the director pays off. As Saudi Arabia announces that it will reopen its cinema doors, we look at the arts scene in the country and ask if this reflects a more liberal attitude towards culture. BBC Arabic Correspondent Hanan Razek reports. The writer Helen Dunmore is the posthumous winner of the 2017 Costa Poetry Award for her collection Inside the Wave. Many of the poems are concerned with her illness and the knowledge of her approaching death but as her fellow writer and friend Louise Doughty explains they are uplifting, often joyous works. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Sarah Johnson.
January 4, 2018
Michelle Terry takes over as Artistic Director at Shakespeare's Globe in London in April, and today she announced details of her first season. She discusses her plans, as well as the drama off-stage that led to her predecessor Emma Rice's controversial early departure. Rebecca Stott, winner of the Biography category in this year's Costa Book Awards announced on Front Row this week, discusses In the Days of Rain, her part-memoir, part-biography, about her family's historical involvement with - and escape from - the fundamentalist Christian sect, the Exclusive Brethren. Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike and Wes Studi star in the new big-screen western, Hostiles. Tim Robey reviews the film and considers the portrayal of the Native American characters, so often side-lined in this genre. Jez Butterworth, who wrote the West End hits Mojo, Jerusalem and The Ferryman, discusses his latest project, the Sky TV drama Britannia. The Celts try to resist the Roman invasion amidst myth and mystery, but it's not Game of Thrones, the writer insists. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
January 3, 2018
Neil Cross, the creator of Luther talks about his new BBC One series Hard Sun. The pre-apocalyptic crime drama follows two detectives who stumble upon proof that the world faces certain destruction, a fact the British Government is trying to suppress Katherine Rundell is the winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2017 for The Explorer, a classic adventure story of four children whose plane crashes in the Amazon. Scholar, tightrope walker and amateur pilot Katherine Rundell explains the importance of the novel's environmental themes and why eating tinned tarantulas was an essential part of her research. And this week on Front Row we are interviewing the category winners from the Costa Book Awards, but how do literary prizes juries make their decision and who picks the judges? To get an insight we speak to two former book prize judges Professor John Mullan and journalist Viv Groskop. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Hilary Dunn.
January 2, 2018
Novelist Wendy Holden announces the category winners of the Costa Book Awards 2017 exclusively on Front Row and Stig talks to the winner of the Novel Category. Artist Elizabeth Friedlander is the subject of a new exhibition at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft. The work of Friedlander is instantly recognisable as mid-20th century design at its best including her Penguin book covers and Bauer Type Foundry typeface named for her - Elizabeth. Curator Katharine Meynell talks about her life and work. Taylor Swift's new album Reputation features the single Look What You Made Me Do, whose chorus bears more than a passing resemblance to Right Said Fred's 1991 single I'm Too Sexy. Mixing new lyrics and additions to an original piece of music has the name 'interpolation'. Music writer Ben Wardle ponders this now-widespread phenomenon, and looks back to when it all started. Presenter : Stig Abell Producer : Kate Bullivant.
January 1, 2018
The opening of V&A Dundee will be one of the big arts stories in 2018 and it's in Dundee that Samira Ahmed begins today's programme which looks at how arts organisations nationwide are seeking to make themselves open and relevant to their local communities. In Dundee, Samira visits the new V&A Dundee community garden in the company of volunteers Denis Harkins and Derek Cassie and Communities Producer Peter Nurick; she talks to Sarah Saunders, Director of Learning and Engagement at V&A Dundee, and Cameron Price about the museum's first public engagement project - Living Room For The City; and she joins young engineers Emma Evans and Ross Tolland on the deck of Captain's Scott's RRS Discovery to hear about their contribution to V&A Dundee's most recent public engagement project - the Scottish Design Challenge. Natalie Walton, former Head of Learning at the Hepworth Wakefield, winner of the Museum of the Year 2017 award, explains the steps The Hepworth took in the year before it opened to ensure it would be a welcome addition to the lives of local people. Alex Clifton, the artistic director of Storyhouse - the new and long desired arts centre in Chester - and Michael Green, the executive editor of local newspaper, The Chester Chronicle, discuss why the new £37 million pounds venue has received such strong local support. Emma Horsman, Project Director of The Cultural Spring in Sunderland and South Tyneside, reveals the work and thinking behind Creative People and Places - Arts Council England's latest approach to arts funding which puts local people first. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ekene Akalawu Image: V&A Dundee, Construction - September 2017 Image Credit: Ross Fraser McLean.
December 29, 2017
Kay Mellor discusses her new ITV drama, Girlfriends, about three women in their late 50s, early 60s, and reveals how closely she's drawn on her own life and friends to write it. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was published on New Year's Day 1818. Christopher Frayling, author of Frankenstein The First Two Hundred Years, joins Janet Todd, the biographer of Mary Shelley's mother Mary Wollstonecraft, to discuss how we read Frankenstein in our era of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence and how we view Mary Shelley herself. Upcoming film Swimming With Men, starring Rob Brydon and Daniel Mays, tells the true story of a group of middle-aged men who make it to the World Synchronised Swimming championships. It was shot earlier this year in Basildon swimming pool masquerading as Milan, Stig visited the set to meet Rob Brydon and the synchronised swimming trainer, Adele Carlsen.
December 28, 2017
Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer are back on TV with Vic and Bob's Big Night Out. Three decades after starting out they discuss their surreal and anarchic style of comedy. The legendary Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu returns with a new album Eternamente - her first studio album in six years. She discusses her affinity with the role of Tosca, and why she feels like the "black sheep" of the opera world. Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016, which means it might just be old enough to house a ghost or two. Game of Thrones star Patrick Malahide and members of the theatre staff tell us of their spooky encounters there.
December 27, 2017
The surprise success of this year's Wonder Woman film emphasized the current dominance of superhero movies at the box office. Stig Abell investigates the comic book origins of these characters and explores why they have become such a presence in our culture. Dave Gibbons, the comic book writer and artist most famous for his collaboration with Alan Moore on The Watchman, shows Stig around his studio. Gibbons, who has also worked on Superman, Green Lantern, and Frank Miller's Give Me Liberty, talks about his 40 year career in comics and whether today is truly a 'Golden Age' for the form. Stig visits Orbital comics shop and is guided around the superhero universes by comic critic Adam Karenina Sherif and journalist Louise Blain. Plus he gets a lowdown on the changing film industry from Den of Geek editor Simon Brew. Author Nikesh Shukla and critic Gavia Baker-Whitelaw join comic book writer Kieron Gillen to examine what is it about superhero characters and their stories that is so appealing. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Kate Bullivant Image: Gal Gadot as Diana in Warner Bros film Wonder Woman Image credit: 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment and Ratpac Entertainment LLC.
December 26, 2017
Gary Oldman on his 30 year career in film, from playing punk rebel Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy to a barnstorming performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. He tells Kirsty why he was reluctant at first to take on the role. How he transformed himself into Britain's wartime Prime Minister and the challenge of recreating Churchill's distinctive voice. How when he was young his drama teachers told him that he wouldn't amount to anything. And as he approaches his 60th birthday, why he would like to return to British theatre. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser.
Christmas Party with Jon Culshaw, Josie Lawrence, Austentatious, Patience Agbabi, Inua Ellams and Steve Edis
December 25, 2017
Join John Wilson for a Christmas party including games and performances from all our guests. Impressionist Jon Culshaw delivers ten Christmas messages, but can you guess all the voices? Poet Patience Agbabi performs her Christmas poem, I Go To the Supervillains Christmas Ball As The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, written especially for Front Row. Cariad Lloyd and Charlotte Gittins from comedy improv group Austentatious perform an excerpt from a previously unknown Jane Austen work suggested by our party guests. Playwright Inua Ellams reads his poem, Swallow Twice, about family and feasting. Actress Josie Lawrence improvises a Christmas song based on a random object, with Steve Edis on piano providing musical accompaniment throughout. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Hannah Robins.
December 22, 2017
Emily Watson discusses her role as Marmee March, the mother of four daughters, in the new BBC TV adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women, set in 1860s Massachusetts against the background of the American Civil War. As the landmark film The Graduate turns 50 today, actress Tracy Ann Oberman and film critic MaryAnn Johanson discuss how the character of the seductress Mrs Robinson shaped the role of the older woman on screen. Ahead of this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special which features the regeneration of the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, we ask Doctor Who: The Fan Show's Christel Dee exactly what regeneration is, how it works, and what we can expect from the Christmas Special. With only a couple of days left before Christmas, music writer Ben Wardle breathes a sigh of relief that he won't be bombarded for much longer by those perennial Christmas songs, from Wham to Wizzard. He discusses what makes an enduring Christmas pop tune and how having one in your back catalogue can be a nice little earner. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald Image: Marmee March (EMILY WATSON), Meg March (WILLA FITZGERALD) Credit: BBC/Playground/Patrick Redmond.
December 21, 2017
Jodie Foster was a child star who fulfilled that early promise with performances as an adult that won her two Oscars. She went on to direct - four feature films so far. Now she is turning to television, taking charge of an episode of Charlie Brooker's sci-fi series Black Mirror. She talks to John Wilson about this and, after a quarter of a century, the continuing power of The Silence of the Lambs. Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut Molly's Game, starring Jessica Chastain, is based on the true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target. Ellen E Jones reviews. Critic Ellen E Jones gives us her run-down of what films to see at cinemas this Christmas As the award-winning hip hop musical Hamilton transfers to London's West End from Broadway, critic Matt Wolf and music journalist Kevin Le Gendre discuss the hotly-anticipated musical phenomenon. With Radio 4 marking winter today as part of its Four Seasons project, the poet Imtiaz Dharker reads her specially commissioned piece, Thaw. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
December 20, 2017
The actor and one-time theology student James Norton discusses his role as Alex Godman in new TV thriller McMafia. His character begins the series as a public advocate of clean capitalism with his own hedge fund investing only in ethical business, but Alex can't escape his Russian family connections and slowly gets drawn into the dangerous world of international organised crime and corruption. Penny Martin, editor of The Gentlewoman, and Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, deputy editor of gal-dem magazine, discuss the agendas of their respective publications and the independent magazine landscape, which is vibrant and culturally significant. You love opera and would love to nurture such love in a loved one: music critics Norman Lebrecht and Alexandra Coghlan are at hand to help, offering their choices of a recording of an opera to entice the reluctant and a cracker available on a DVD. The Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton is staging The Jungle Book. It's impossible, but try to put 'I'm the King of the Swingers' out of your mind. This is a new musical with songs and a score by Joe Stilgoe (yes, son of...), which looks beyond Walt Disney to Rudyard Kipling and his stories about Mowgli, the boy brought up by wolves, and finds in them themes for our times: the complexities of cultural identity in a diverse world, what the Law of the Jungle means and where the Jungle might be. And Joe performs the song he has written for Baloo the Bear, live in the Front Row studio. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May.
December 19, 2017
Mavis Staples, formerly of the gospel group The Staple Singers, discusses her new album If All I Was Was Black, ten songs which address the continuing racial issues in America today. The singer, who first performed in 1948, also reflects on her association with Martin Luther King and her close friendship with Prince. Her Body and Other Parties is the acclaimed debut short story collection from American writer Carmen Maria Machado. The book sits between magic realism, science-fiction and horror and Carmen reveals what she drew on to create the stories. With Christmas fast approaching - along with stage, film and TV versions à go-go of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol - writer, comedian, and self-professed fan of the Christmas ghost story, Danny Robins, explores our endless fascination for them.
December 18, 2017
As The League of Gentlemen returns to BBC Two for three new episodes we speak to Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson about revisiting the bizarre characters of Royston Vasey. Gina Yashere and Jenny Eclair discuss how the climate for comedy has changed and whether comedians still have a duty to shock. How Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World changed television, with producer John Fairley and Professor Roger Luckhurst from Birkbeck, University of London. Image: Mickey (MARK GATISS), Pauline (STEVE PEMBERTON), Ross (REECE SHEARSMITH) Credit: BBC/James Stack.
December 15, 2017
Emily Wilson, the first woman to translate The Odyssey, explains why the issues running through the epic - gender, geo-politics, migration - make Homer, writing 3,000 years ago, an author for our times. Emily Wilson is joined by Daniel Hahn who, as well as writing books, translates them from Portuguese, Spanish and French. Comparing their approaches they discuss the art of translating, how it reflects the age in which it is undertaken, its challenges and its importance to our culture today. Michael Cooper, journalist at the New York Times, tells Stig about the latest developments in the drama unfolding around the Metropolitan Opera House's new production of Tosca. As the Hayward Gallery in London prepares to re-open its doors next month after a two-year closure, its director Ralph Rugoff and the architect Richard Battye discuss the renovations and restoration of the brutalist contemporary art gallery. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Edwina Pitman.
December 14, 2017
Theatre director Emma Rice talks about her final production as Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe, The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Tales. She discusses the inspiration for the show as well as her reasons for leaving her post after only two seasons in the job. Children's writer Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie novels have been much loved since they were first published in America during the Great Depression. Caroline Fraser, the author of a new biography Prairie Fires, and Eddie Higgins, a British member of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association, examine Wilder's life and popularity, 150 years since her birth. South London-born actor John Boyega discusses improvising on the set of his latest film, the sci-fi behemoth Star Wars: The Last Jedi and why he likes to mix Hollywood blockbusters with theatre. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jerome Weatherald.
December 14, 2017
Kazuo Ishiguro is the winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. To mark the occasion, he talks to John Wilson from Stockholm about his reaction to the award. He highlights issues such as artificial intelligence and genetic research that are firing his imagination. Front Row also hears from his first editor Robert McCrum, Booker-nominated fellow author Mohsin Hamid, and singer Stacey Kent about the powerful, moving, strange and sometimes funny work of the author, whose work ranges from A Pale View of Hills to The Remains of the Day and most recently The Buried Giant.
December 12, 2017
As the Christmas TV schedules are finalised we round up the best festive telly. With Caroline Frost. Do live music venues need protecting from inner-city property development? We debate a proposed "Agent of Change" law to do just that. With the Rt Hon John Spellar MP and Andrew Whitaker, Planning Director of the Home Builders Federation. The young directors who brought theatre to the Jungle camp in Calais, Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, have now written a play about the experience. They discuss staging The Jungle at the Young Vic in London. With news that sales of vinyl records have hit a new 25-year high, music writer Ben Wardle - a self-confessed middle-aged vinyl bore - expresses his concerns over his patch being a little threatened by a new breed of collector, the vinyl hipster. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Helen Fitzhenry.
December 11, 2017
An eight-part series about the legendary rivalry between Hollywood icons Bette Davis and Joan Crawford comes to BBC2 this Christmas. Matthew Sweet reviews. What makes going to the theatre or cinema a pleasurable experience and what -such as long loo queues, smelly snacks and mobile phones - can ruin a night out. Matthew Sweet stays on to discuss this with journalist Rosamund Urwin. 'Snow was general all over Ireland' wrote James Joyce, memorably, in Dubliners. Snow has been a great inspiration to writers and poets. In America Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens and Robert Frost have all written beautiful snow poems. But snow is nothing unusual there. Poets here are inspired by snow partly because it comes unexpectedly. There is always an element of surprise and wonder. Gillian Clarke reads her poem Snow, from her collection, Ice. Anne Washburn thinks that almost every American aged over 30 has seen the sci-fi series The Twilight Zone. The playwright tells Kirsty Lang about bringing this television classic to the English stage. The television presenter Keith Chegwin's death was announced today. There will be many tributes to Cheggers, Front Row celebrates his foray into high culture, linking his name forever with Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Roman Polanski and an obscure ensemble called The Third Ear Band. In 1971 Chegwin played Fleance in Polanski's wonderful film of Macbeth and he sang part of the Rondel of Merciless Beauty by Chaucer - an unexpected contrast to Cheggers Plays Pop. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Julian May.
December 8, 2017
Vanessa Redgrave has just been awarded the Richard Harris Award which is given to an actor for their outstanding contribution to British film. She talks to Stig about her long career in cinema and theatre. Imperium is the Royal Shakespeare Company's new six-hour production which looks at power politics in ancient Rome, which is based on Robert Harris's bestselling Cicero trilogy. The writer and classical historian Natalie Haynes has seen the production and gives her verdict. French president Emmanuel Macron has called for African artefacts currently held in French museums to be returned to their countries of origin. Cultural historian Andrew Hussey discusses the reaction in France, the practicalities of such a pledge, and what pressure it might put on museums in Britain. The Irish writer Sally Rooney has just been awarded The 2017 Sunday Times/Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award for Conversations With Friends. The 26-year-old's debut novel has become a critical and word-of-mouth hit this year, acclaimed as fresh and clever. She talks to Stig about the book and what the win means to her. Presenter Stig Abell Producer Jerome Weatherald.
December 7, 2017
Christopher Nolan, writer and director of Memento, Inception, Interstellar and the Batman trilogy including The Dark Knight, looks back over his career as the DVD of his most recent film Dunkirk is about to be released. Theatre critic and broadcaster Nick Ahad reviews the new all-black cast production of Guys and Dolls at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. John Lahr, writer and theatre critic, and Dr Lynette Goddard, author of Modern and Contemporary Black British Drama, discuss the issues raised by all-black cast theatre productions. Tonight the UK's City of Culture 2021 will be announced. The contenders are Coventry, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea. Arts Minister John Glen and a spokesperson from the winning city tell us what to expect from the new City of Culture. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Kate Bullivant.
December 6, 2017
Portrait painter Jonathan Yeo discusses his ambitious new cutting-edge sculpture, which features in a new exhibition From Life at the Royal Academy, alongside works by Jeremy Deller, Jenny Saville and Gillian Wearing. Yeo's sculpture of his own head was created on a virtual reality headset, challenging the foundry tasked with making it to find a way of 3-D printing the digital work in bronze, never done before. Artist Anish Kapoor has created a new trophy for next year's Brit Awards. Design journalist Max Fraser assesses the new design and discusses what makes the best award statuette. On the 100th Anniversary of Finnish Independence, the conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, whose career is being celebrated by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a Total Immersion Day at the Barbican, talks about the influence of Finland on his life and music. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
December 5, 2017
Actress Claire Foy talks about returning to play Queen Elizabeth II in series two of Netflix's hugely successful TV series The Crown. Tenor Bryan Hymel, famous for his high Cs, is in performing in both Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci in the same evening at the Royal Opera House, Covemnt Gardens. He talks about the challenges of this, and he sings live in the Front Row studio. As Powell and Pressburger's 1946 masterpiece film A Matter of Life and Death returns to the big screen round the UK, we ask film writers Ian Christie and Rosemary Fletcher : How do we pass on our film heritage to a new generation ?
December 4, 2017
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Stronger, a true story of Jeff Bauman who lost both of his legs when a bomb exploded at the Boston Marathon in 2013. Ellen E Jones reviews the film that charts his recovery. Douglas Henshall discusses his role as journalist and TV news director Max Schumacher in the stage version of the 1976 Oscar-winning film Network at the National Theatre, alongside Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston who plays the troubled news anchor Howard Beale who is famously 'mad as hell' and 'not going to take this anymore!' Performing live Tokio Myers, the pianist who fuses classical piano pieces with pop tracks. Myers came to prominence earlier this year when he won Britain's Got Talent and has just released his debut album. He discusses studying at the Royal College of Music and supporting Amy Winehouse and Kanye West on tour. Shashi Kapoor has died today. We look at the life and work of the Bollywood star with Asian Network's Ashanti Omkar.
December 1, 2017
Italian Soprano Cecilia Bartoli and Argentinian cellist Sol Gabetta come together for an album of baroque arias, in which the voice and cello intertwine in a way they describe as Dolce Duello, a sweet duel. Founding editor Nick Logan, writer and editor Sheryl Garratt, and Paul Gorman, author of The Story of The Face, look back at the era-defining youth music and culture magazine. I Love You, Daddy is a new film by US comedian Louis CK. Due to go on general release in the US today, the film was dropped after allegations of sexual misconduct by the comedian were reported and admitted. Alexandra Schwartz of the New Yorker reviews the controversial film we might never see. And we open the first window of the Front Row advent calendar with a festive celebration of the year's special moments on the programme. Today, Stormzy. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Sarah Johnson.
November 30, 2017
Sir Michael Parkinson discusses his love of jazz and big-band music, and the choices he made for a collection of his favourite songs: Our Kind of Music: The Great American Songbook. He also reflects on his years spent interviewing the showbiz A list. Hull is rounding off its year as UK City of Culture with a new adaptation of 'A Christmas Carol' by Deborah McAndrew who sets it in the port. The Royal Shakespeare Company has a new version by David Edgar, who adapted their world-famous 'Nicholas Nickelby', and The Old Vic has one, too, by Jack Thorne, famous for writing the stage version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Front Row gathers all three to discuss the enduring appeal of Dickens's story, and how to make it new. R J Palacio's award-winning book, Wonder, about a young boy with facial differences, has just been made into a film starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay. Lisa Hammond reviews. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
November 29, 2017
Amy Sherman-Palladino, the screenwriter and director who found fame with hit show Gilmore Girls, discusses her latest TV comedy drama The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Set in 1950s New York, it's about an Upper West Side housewife who becomes a stand-up comic when her life takes an unexpected turn. As the Film Awards Season gets into full swing with Spielberg's drama The Post winning at the National Board of Review, how will the sex scandals engulfing Hollywood impact on the films lauded this year, and the awards ceremonies themselves? Are costume workers undervalued and underpaid? Gaylene Gould is joined by Catherine Kodicek, Head of Costume at the Young Vic, and Nicole Young from BECTU, to discuss the pay and conditions of costume and wardrobe professionals in theatre, film and television.
November 28, 2017
We discuss the portrayal of Chinese characters on TV with Shin-Fei Chen, co-creator of BBC Three's Chinese Burn, and writer and theatre director David Tse Ka-Shing. The William Hill Sports Book of the Year, the world's richest and longest-running prize for sports writing, was awarded earlier today to Andy McGrath for Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire. Kirsty reports from the ceremony where she talked to the authors of the seven books on the shortlist - whose subjects include 'swimming suffragettes', Muhammad Ali and the cyclist Tom Simpson - and speaks to the winner of the £29,000 prize. James Franco on why he stayed in character throughout directing and starring in The Disaster Artist, which tells the story of 2003 cult film The Room - often described as "the Citizen Kane of bad films" - and its enigmatic filmmaker Tommy Wiseau.
November 28, 2017
Yesterday saw the announcement of the death Rodney Bewes, the actor most fondly remembered playing the aspirational Bob in the BBC sitcom The Likely Lads. His co-star from the series James Bolam talks about working with Bewes in one of sitcom's most famous double-acts and the supposed feud between the two. As Gilbert & George celebrate 50 years of living and working together, Kirsty visits them at their Spitalfields home and studio to discuss their career, a new exhibition called The Beard Pictures and a new book, What is Gilbert & George? Marnie, the book by Winston Graham that inspired Hitchcock's thriller of the same name, has now inspired composer and opera wunderkind Nico Muhly to create his third opera, also called Marnie. Music critic Alexandra Coghlan attended its world premiere at English National Opera and reviews. Plus we ask music critic Norman Lebrecht to discuss whether opera has become a derivative art form, and we pay tribute to Russian opera bass-baritone, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who has died at the age of 55. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Julian May.
November 27, 2017
Soprano Joyce DiDonato on tackling the vocal pyrotechnics of Rossini and why she's bringing opera to the inmates of Sing Sing, New York's maximum security prison. Puppets are currently centre stage in three theatrical productions in the UK - Pinocchio at the National Theatre, The Grinning Man in the West End and The Tin Drum on tour. We speak to Toby Olié, in charge of puppetry on Pinocchio and Tom Morris, director of The Grinning Man who, as co-director of War Horse, changed the way puppets are regarded. Kirsty also hears from from actors Sanne den Besten and Louis Maskell about how they work with puppets to show them falling in love. Plus, as the European Commission announce that the UK will no longer be able to take part in the 2023 European Capital of Culture as planned, we look at the impact this has on the bidding cities and what it signifies for the arts industry as Britain continues the process of leaving the European Union.
November 24, 2017
Benjamin Clementine performs live from his second album I Tell a Fly. He tells us why an experimental concept album felt like the right way follow up to his Mercury Prize winning 'At Least For Now'. Dominic Dromgoole on his year long Oscar Wilde season in London's West End, and Franny Moyle on the influence of the women in Oscar Wilde's life. David LaChapelle is the celebrity photographer of choice for leading fashion magazines. His first job was working as a photographer for Andy Warhol in New York. He discusses his hyper-realistic style, nudity, and how some of the biggest names in the world from Hillary Clinton to Kim Kardashian beat a path to his door. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Helen Fitzhenry (Main photo: Benjamin Clementine Credit: Craig McDean).
November 23, 2017
Inua Ellams on his acclaimed play Barber Shop Chronicles, which explores masculinity from the perspective of the barber's chair, both in London and Africa. Tennis champion Billie Jean King's show match against notorious chauvinist Bobby Riggs in 1973 is the subject of a new film Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell. Mark Eccleston reviews. Briony Hanson discusses Godless, Netflix's first western miniseries, starring Jack O'Connell, Jeff Daniels and Michelle Dockery, in a role that is a far cry from Downton Abbey. This year marks the centenary of the birth of the Cornish poet Charles Causley, whose work was influenced by ballads, hymns and his love of jazz and dance bands. Cahal Dallat, the first Charles Causley Trust musician in residence, poet Rory Waterman and singer Jim Causley discuss his legacy. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser.
November 21, 2017
A new Modigliani exhibition at Tate Modern shows the most extensive display of the Italian Jewish painter and sculptor's work yet seen in the UK, including 12 of his famous nudes. Sarah Crompton reviews. 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. The overall prize-winner will be announced on Front Row on 30 January 2018. Actor John Lithgow discusses his latest film Daddy's Home 2, and talks more broadly about his wide-ranging career and why he's as happy playing an alien as he is a serial killer or Winston Churchill. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
November 20, 2017
Priscilla Presley talks about life with Elvis and 40 years of looking after his legacy, as she takes part in a concert tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, who accompany Elvis Presley's voice live. Cate Blanchett plays 13 characters each reciting a different artist's manifesto in her new film, Manifesto. We talk to Cate and director Julian Rosefeldt about translating what was an art installation to a traditional linear film. But, what is an art manifesto? Art critics Richard Cork and Jacky Klein explain, select the strangest and the most convincing - and consider if they helped or hindered artists to produce work. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn (Photo: Cate Blanchett as Tattooed punk in Manifesto. Credit: Manifesto).
November 17, 2017
Fenella Fielding's most famous moment is in Carry on Screaming as she reclines seductively on a couch in a red velvet dress, asks Harry H Corbett "Do you mind if I smoke?" and steam billows. The line gives the title to her memoir, co-authored with Simon McKay. On her 90th birthday, she reminisces about playing Hedda Gabler, being a foil to Morecambe and Wise... and that Carry On moment. The painter Gluck (1895-1978) is now regarded as a trailblazer of gender fluidity, famous for her fashion as well as the portraits of herself and her lovers. Front Row discusses Gluck's life and art with biographer Diana Souhami and Amy de la Haye, curator of a new exhibition at the Brighton Museum. A player of the new Call of Duty video game, set in the |Second World War, could assume the role of a black female Nazi. Yet its makers claim it is historically accurate. Front Row discusses how video games depict war and how close to the truth can they really be. It's Children in Need day and throughout it poets have been appearing on Radio 4 reading poems which recollect childhood. On Front Row we hear from Mona Arshi. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Julian May.
November 16, 2017
Noel Gallagher, former songwriter and guitarist for Oasis, discusses his new album Who Built The Moon? He tells us why he chose to go solo after the break-up of the band and discusses his ongoing estrangement from his brother Liam. There are tanks on the streets of Harare, from there Togara Muzanenhamo talks about the life, and role, of the poet in Zimbabwe today. He reads poetry inspired by the farm where he lives and works. Surrealism is very much thought of as a European art movement but a new exhibition at Tate Liverpool, Surrealism in Egypt: Art et Liberté 1938 - 1948, calls that into question. Anna Somers Cocks, founding editor and current chairman of The Art Newspaper, reviews. Tiger Bay, written by Daf James and Michael Williams, is a new musical set in Cardiff's multi-ethnic docks in the early 20th Century, staged by the Wales Millennium Centre in conjunction with Cape Town Opera. Could this be the Welsh Les Mis? Jude Rogers gives her verdict. Presenter: Stig Abel Producer: Helen Fitzhenry.
November 15, 2017
Robert Pattinson on his new film Good Time, set in the streets of Queens as the consequences of a bank robbery entangle his character Connie in a violent web of swift, provocative responses and lies. It's a million miles from Twilight and he talks about his choice of films since his role in the hugely successful franchise. Poet Ian McMillan has written libretto for the first opera to be performed in a South Yorkshire accent, including local dialect. We speak to Ian and the tenor Nicholas Sales, of Heritage Opera, about the challenges of singing in the cadences of a Barnsley voice. With Paddington back in cinemas, and the bear's voice once again being provided by Ben Whishaw - a far cry from that of Michael Hordern in the TV series in the '70s - Adam Smith considers the importance of the voice of an animated character, and what happens when the familiar tones are replaced by the voice of another actor. The Goldsmiths Prize is awarded annually and celebrates inventive writing. Previous winners include Eimear McBride and Ali Smith. As the 2017 prize is awarded this evening, we'll be announcing the result and talking to the winner from the ceremony. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
November 14, 2017
Dee Rees talks about her new film, Mudbound, which explores the racial divide in 1940s Mississippi. As questions continue to be asked of The Old Vic's theatre board in light of the Kevin Spacey allegations, we discuss the role of the board in British theatre with Rt Hon Ed Vaizey MP, former Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries and current board member of the National Youth Theatre plus Malcolm Sinclair, President of Equity, and theatre critic Lyn Gardner. Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina made headlines five years ago when she and two other members of the protest group were arrested following a performance of their Punk Prayer in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Alyokhina was jailed for two years and sent to a penal colony. Samira meets the Russian activist and artist at the Saatchi Gallery in London where an exhibition dedicated to Post-Soviet protest art in Russia opens this week. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hannah Robins.
November 13, 2017
Annette Bening discusses her role as Oscar-winning actress Gloria Grahame in Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, the story of the real-life romance between Grahame and a struggling young actor from Liverpool. As the Music Managers Forum celebrates 25 years with its annual Artist and Manager Awards tomorrow, John looks at what makes a good music manager and how the role has changed since the '60s - with Ed Sheeran's manager Stuart Camp, Regine Moylett and Niamh Byrne who look after Gorillaz and Blur, and Wham!'s manager Simon Napier-Bell. We also hear from musicians Emeli Sandé and Sir Paul McCartney. Tracks is an award-winning podcast from Radio 4 drama. Pete Naughton reviews the second series of the conspiracy thriller and considers the wider landscape of drama and readings podcasts. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
November 10, 2017
Sheridan Smith is a comic actor (The Royle Family, Gavin and Stacey), a serious dramatic actor (Flare Path, The Moorside, Dustin Hoffman's film Quartet) and a star of musical theatre, from Bugsy Malone when she was 16 to Funny Girl. Now she has released her first solo album. She talks about the songs she has chosen and her career so far. The acclaimed actor Maxine Peake has written a play for Hull Truck and Hull City of Culture celebrating the life of a woman who dramatically fought for conditions for Hull fishermen to improve as trawler after trawler was lost. The Last Testament Of Lillian Bilocca is an immersive piece of theatre staged in the city's Guildhall with a cast partly drawn from the community. Paul Allen reviews. UNESCO's Creative Cities Network has expanded from 116 cities worldwide to 180, and Bristol has just become the UK's second UNESCO City of Film following Bradford's 2009 designation. David Wilson, Director of Bradford UNESCO City of Film, and Charles Landry, author of The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators, discuss the benefits and disadvantages of being part of the network. Fifty years ago Newcastle University bestowed an honorary doctorate on Martin Luther King - the only UK university to honour him. In his acceptance address he called for justice and brotherhood to roll down like a mighty stream. 'The Might Stream' is the title of a new book of poems written in of celebration Martin Luther King by a huge range of writers. Fred D'Aguiar speaks about the inspiration of King to him as a poet. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Sarah Johnson.
November 9, 2017
Hollywood star Christian Slater and director Sam Yates discuss David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross, in which Slater is currently starring. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a film based on the true story of William Moulton Marston, his wife and his mistress who created Wonder Woman. It explores the creation of the female super hero as well as their poly-amorous relationship which saw them shunned by society. Film critic Karen Krisanovich reviews. As more allegations are made of sexual assault towards young men, it has been announced that all Kevin Spacey's scenes in new film All the Money in the World are to be reshot with a different actor. We find out from special effects director Jonathan Fawkner how to practically go about reshooting scenes, and ask if this sets a precedent for actors who fall from grace in Hollywood. Ivor Wood was the animator behind much-loved classic children's TV series including The Magic Roundabout, The Herbs, The Wombles and Postman Pat. Ahead of the Manchester Animation Festival, Ivor Wood's widow Josiane and animator Joseph Wallace discuss Ivor Wood's legacy and the stories behind Dougal, Parsley the Lion and Sage the Owl. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
November 8, 2017
Hugh Grant explains how his early career in repertory theatre has helped him play faded actor Phoenix Buchanan, the villain in Paddington 2. Stephen Fry talks about his new book Mythos, a retelling of the Greek myths, and why he finds the tales of the gods, monsters and mortals of Ancient Greece so appealing. The two lead characters in the new cinematic release Call Me By Your Name are gay, yet the actors who play them are straight. This is part of a tradition in film from Brokeback Mountain and I Love You Philip Morris. Tim Robey discusses why so often straight actors are chosen to play gay roles, when the reverse rarely happens, and why it can still be in the actor's interest not to be honest about their sexual orientation. The winner of the David Cohen Prize for Literature is announced this evening. Who will win this prestigious award for a lifetime's achievement? Front Row will be the first with the news. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May.
November 7, 2017
Toby Jones, Mackenzie Crook, the Louvre in Abu Dhabi plus film director Yorgos Lanthimos
November 6, 2017
Kenneth Lonergan, who recently won an Oscar for the screenplay to his film Manchester By the Sea, talks to Kirsty Lang about adapting E.M. Forster's Howards End for television. Hannah McGill discusses the acclaimed film The Florida Project, in which a young mother struggles to provide for her daughter while staying at a motel near Disney World. As two exhibitions curated by artists open in Belfast and York, Front Row brought together Jill Constantine, curator and Head of the Art Council Collection, and artist John Walter to discuss what artists can bring to the curation of a show. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser.
November 3, 2017
Novelists Joanne Harris and Jonathan Coe discuss their latest books which are both fairytales. Coe's The Broken Mirror is a modern fable with a political message while Harris' A Pocketful of Crows is based on traditional folklore. Director Luca Guadagnino talks about his acclaimed film Call Me By Your Name, a gay love story set in the Italian sun in the 1980s, starring Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer. As Catalonia's independence dispute with Spain shows no sign of resolution we look at Catalan art. Academic Maria Delgado and actress Montserrat Roig de Puig discuss the historical role that the arts have played in developing Catalan identity and how the arts can contribute to developing a dialogue about Catalonia's future relationship to Spain. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Edwina Pitman.
November 2, 2017
The actor and comedian Josie Lawrence is currently tackling Bertolt Brecht in a production of Mother Courage and her Children at Southwark Playhouse in London. She discusses the morality of Mother Courage with Samira and explains why the part was at the top of her theatrical bucket list. In the wake of Prue Leith revealing the Bake Off winner, TV Times journalist Emma Bullimore looks at the lengths TV programmes go to in order to keep their reveals under wraps. As A Bad Moms Christmas and Daddy's Home 2 hit cinemas, we discuss how parents are portrayed in mainstream comedy films and consider if the old stereotypes are changing. Kenneth Branagh discusses directing Murder on the Orient Express, in which he also plays the Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
November 1, 2017
To coincide with the publication of a book which collects all her artwork from the past decade, Tracey Emin comes into the Front Row studio to look back at that prolific period which saw her represent Britain at the Venice Biennial. Twenty-five years after publishing The Ice House, the first of her many highly successful crime novels, Minette Walters discusses her historical fiction debut, The Last Hours, set in a medieval Dorsetshire village during the start of the Black Death. Paul Gauguin's two years in Tahiti saw the French painter create some of his most celebrated artworks. But his time in French Polynesia is also seen as controversial due to alleged relationships with young girls while there. A new French-language biopic starring Vincent Cassel comes out this week about Gauguin's time on Tahiti, art critic Waldemar Januszczak gives his verdict on the film. For National Novel Writing Month we hear from three people hoping to complete a novel this November.
October 31, 2017
As she makes her debut at the Royal Opera House in Lucia di Lammermoor, Lisette Oropesa talks about combining a career as one of the world's top sopranos with a passion for running marathons. Richard Flanagan won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. He talks to Shahidha Bari about his follow-up novel, First Person, based on his own experience of ghost-writing a notorious criminal's memoir when he was a penniless and unknown author. Kate MccGwire makes elaborate sculptures from the feathers of crows and doves to jays and magpies. Shahidha visits the artist in her studio - a Dutch barge - where she creates her works surrounded by Thames wildlife. Presenter Shahidha Bari Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 30, 2017
Bill Bailey talks to Shahidha Bari ahead of his UK tour, and tries out the new Front Row keyboard. Philip Pullman discusses his new novel La Belle Sauvage, a prequel to the best-selling trilogy His Dark Materials, and his collection of essays on storytelling, Daemon Voices. Sarah Churchwell reviews the TV mini-series Alias Grace, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel about a 19th century servant convicted for a double murder. 18 years after retiring from acting, Joe Pesci returns to the small-screen for Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. Adam Smith reflects on Joe Pesci's comeback. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Timothy Prosser.
October 27, 2017
Annie Leibovitz looks back at her career of nearly 50 years, in which she's photographed many of the world's leaders, celebrities and the Royal Family. With the publication of her book Annie Leibovitz Portraits 2005-2016 she reflects on the turbulent decade and how that has informed her more recent work. Andy Serkis discusses his directorial debut, Breathe, the true story of Robin Cavendish. At 28, Cavendish was paralysed from the neck down after contracting polio. With his wife Diana, he went on to revolutionise what was possible for many severely disabled people. David Bomberg was one of the great artists of the 20th century. 60 years on from the artist's death and as a new exhibition of his work opens at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, Richard Cork explains Bomberg's significance. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Sarah Johnson.
October 26, 2017
Nicholas Hytner, who used to run the National Theatre, has a new project - The Bridge Theatre. Richard Bean (who wrote One Man Two Guvnors) and Clive Coleman discuss their play Young Marx, the theatre's opening production, which reveals how the man who brilliantly analysed the workings of the capitalist economy was hopeless with money. Stranger Things, the retro Netflix teen sci-fi series, was a surprise breakout TV hit last year. Can its sequel, Stranger Things 2, live up to the expectation? Boyd Hilton gives his verdict. Rosalind Porter, Deputy Editor of Granta, and essayist Francis Spufford discuss the revival of the essay - a literary form which last enjoyed a golden age in the 18th century and is finding new fans in the 21st century. And music from the Danish group Between Music, who perform their new concert AquaSonic underwater. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 25, 2017
Revelations about Harvey Weinstein's casting couch have led some of the biggest voices in Hollywood to talk about this being a watershed moment. So tonight we'll be asking where we are when it comes to sexism and the treatment of women in the arts. And how are leaders in the creative industries responding? Joining us live will be Vicky Featherstone, artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatre, actor and director Maureen Lipman and Helen Lewis, deputy Editor of the New Statesman to discuss. Also, to what extent is the portrayal of women across film, theatre, music and visual art defined by the male gaze? And how easy is it for female artists to claim ownership of their own image? We'll hear from photographer Annie Leibovitz, Feminist Art Historian Tamar Garb, Dance critic Luke Jennings and Jacqueline Springer, music journalist and senior lecturer at University of Westminster.
October 24, 2017
Kiwi director Taika Waititi, known for Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Flight of the Conchords, on bringing his comedic style of indie film-making to the Hollywood superhero blockbuster in Marvel's Thor: Ragnarok. Eisenstein's film about the Russian Revolution, October, is about to be screened in its newly restored original version, with the London Symphony Orchestra performing the original score live at the Barbican. Ian Christie explores the film's significance. Samira Ahmed discusses how art has responded to terror post 9/11, with former official war artist John Keane and Sanna Moore, curator of the Imperial War Museum London's new exhibition, Age of Terror: Art since 9/11. Designer David Adjaye reveals his plans for the UK's National Holocaust Memorial, which will be created in a park near the Houses of Parliament. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.
October 23, 2017
Tales of The City writer Armistead Maupin discusses his new memoir Logical Family, which details his early life in an ultra-conservative family in the deep South, serving in Vietnam, and his move to San Francisco, the city with which he is most associated. On the 25th anniversary of the death of choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Viviana Durante, former principal ballerina of the Royal Ballet, and dance critic Debra Craine discuss the legacy of the man whose work is currently being celebrated at the Royal Opera House. The UK's first gallery dedicated to mining art has just opened in Bishop Auckland in County Durham. The Mining Art Gallery celebrates the 'pitmen painters' - the miners who also made art. David Maddan, Chief Executive of the Auckland Project, as well as two local mining art collectors, Dr Robert McManners and Gillian Wales who have donated their entire collection, discuss the project. And local artist and former miner Bob Olly gives a guided tour. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
October 20, 2017
Comedian Harry Hill is best known for writing and presenting the BAFTA-winning television show, Harry Hill's TV Burp - which ran for 11 years - and for narrating You've Been Framed, the series which features funny home video clips. Tonight, the doctor-turned-comic introduces Matt Millz, eponymous hero of Matt Millz - The Youngest Stand-Up Comedian in the World, his latest children's novel, which is also a practical guide for aspiring comedians. Actor and presenter Liza Tarbuck joins Harry to reveal the secrets of the mysterious art of narrating television programmes. Japanese rock sensation Yoshiki discusses the highs and lows of his career as the drummer in his prog-rock band X Japan that sold over 30 million records, and as a classical pianist who has composed and performed for the Emperor of Japan. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Julian May.
October 19, 2017
Daniel Radcliffe stars in new film Jungle, about the real experience of Yossi Ghinsberg who spent three weeks lost in the Bolivian jungle. Daniel explains what it was like to portray this epic fight for survival on screen. I Am Not a Witch was one of the highlights of this year's Cannes film festival. The satirical drama, set in Zambia, about a young girl accused of being a witch, is now due to open in the UK. African film curator Nadia Denton reviews. The Taj Mahal has been at the centre of a set of controversies in recent months regarding its significance to Indian culture. BBC Delhi correspondent Geeta Pandey reports on the dispute which flared up again last weekend. Film director Wim Wenders, who brought us Wings of Desire, Paris, Texas, and Buena Vista Social Club, discusses a new exhibition of Polaroid photos he took during the 1970s and early 1980s, and the extent to which they influenced his work on the big screen. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hannah Robins.
October 18, 2017
Beth Ditto talks about her debut solo album Fake Sugar, her first since the break up of her punk-pop band Gossip, in which she returns to her Southern roots. Jackie Kay performs new work live. When Jackie became Scotland's Makar, or National Poet, she said she hoped to open 'the blethers, the arguments and celebrations that Scotland has with itself'. In Bantam, her first collection as Makar, she does exactly that, with poems celebrating the people, history and landscape of Scotland. The phrase Domestic Noir was first coined in 2015, and is often used in relation to psychological suspense dramas in a domestic, intimate context. Two writers of this genre, Mel McGrath and Alex Marwood, discuss the appeal of writing this over straight crime, and why it appeals to a predominantly female readership.
October 17, 2017
The American singer St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, discusses her new album Masseduction. Andrew Michael Hurley's debut novel The Loney was a runaway success, winning the 2015 Costa Book Award in the First Novel category. The author discusses his follow-up, Devil's Day, which like The Loney is a gothic horror story set in Lancashire. The Tin Drum by Nobel Laureate Günter Grass centres on Oskar, who refuses to grow from the age of 3 and has a voice that can shatter glass. The Cornwall-based theatre company Kneehigh have adapted the story for the stage and is currently touring the UK. Writer and broadcaster Paul Allen reviews. Poet Daljit Nagra considers the current fashion for TV and radio adverts to feature poetry. Presenter Stig Abell Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 16, 2017
Armando Iannucci, writer of The Thick of It, discusses his new film satire The Death of Stalin and his love of classical music as explored in his book, Hear Me Out. Kwame Kwei-Armah has been running the Center Stage Theater in Baltimore and in February will take over the Young Vic in London. Meanwhile he's directing The Lady From the Sea, in a new version by Elinor Cook that transports Ibsen's Scandi drama of a woman's tussle for her independence to the Caribbean. John Wilson finds out why, and what Kwei-Armah has up his sleeve for his new job. Form 696 is a risk assessment form which the Metropolitan Police requests promoters and licensees of events complete and submit 14 days in advance of hosting some music events. When the form was first introduced in 2005 it proved controversial as it asked for details of audience ethnicity and, although this wasamended later, critics still say the form is discriminatory because grime and urban music artists are disproportionately affected. As London Mayor Sadiq Khan asks the Met to review the form, and a new report on the state of grime music in the UK is published, we discuss Form 696 and its impact on the grassroots music scene with the Director for the Black Music Research Unit at the University of Westminster, Mykaell Riley and music journalist Hattie Collins. And we remember the actor and comedian Sean Hughes whose death was announced on Monday. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
October 13, 2017
Kit Harington on playing his own ancestor in Gunpowder, the new BBC1 drama series about the 17th Century plot to blow up Parliament. Kele Okereke, lead singer of Bloc Party, talks to Stig about his new solo album Fatherland, which includes a love duet with Olly Alexander, and he performs live in the studio. As 80's supersoap Dynasty returns with a remake on Netflix, Karen Krizanovich gives her verdict. As artists such as Liam Gallagher, Beck and St Vincent release albums on coloured vinyl discs, is this becoming a new trend? Download today's podcast for an extra live performance by Kele Okereke and an interview with the creators of TV series Porridge, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Timothy Prosser.
October 12, 2017
Kate Mossman reviews George Michael: Freedom, the film George Michael was working when he died, in which he and a host of A-List names talk about his songs, his career, his relationships and his battles with the music industry. The Irish writer John Banville is the highly acclaimed winner of the 2005 Man Booker Prize, The Sea. His novels include The Book of Evidence, Ghosts and now, Mrs Osmond. It's a sequel to Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady. That novel famously ends inconclusively: having travelled to England against her husband Gilbert Osmond's wishes to witness the death of her beloved cousin Ralph, we don't know if she'll return to her husband in Rome or shape some other future for herself. Banville talks about continuing her story and his debt to James. When Tate Modern opened its new extension last year, for the first time the gallery had purpose built spaces for performance art, and as Fierce, the live art festival in Birmingham prepares to open, Front Row invited Aaron Wright, the festival's artistic director and Dr Claire MacDonald, co-founder of the arts journal Performance Research to discuss the current state of the performance art landscape. Michael Fassbender, whose previous films include Hunger, 12 Years a Slave and Steve Jobs, discusses his role as Harry Hole in the film adaptation of Jo Nesbo's thriller The Snowman, in which he plays a detective on the hunt for a serial killer in Norway whose killing spree starts with the first snowfall. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
October 11, 2017
In his latest film, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), Dustin Hoffman plays an old, bitter, self obsessed sculptor, whose children from several marriages nonetheless crave his approval. He and the director, Noah Baumbach, discuss grumpiness, fatherhood and the nature of success with Kirsty Lang. In St Ives the Tate is about to reopen with refurbished rooms rehung with wonderful work, by international artists - Rothko, Gabo, deKooning - and those working there who achieved such status - Hepworth, Lanyon, Wallis. The writer on art, Michael Bird, who lives in St Ives, follows the conversation between these works with the artistic director, Anne Barlow and curator Sara Matson. He has a preview, too, of Tate St Ives' beautiful new gallery, a feat of engineering years in the making. It is cut into the hill, yet still illuminated with the natural light of St Ives that drew artists there to begin with. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Jon Boden caused some consternation when he decided to leave Bellowhead, the 11 piece folk big-band that brought traditional music and sea shanties to Glastonbury, Later with Jools Holland and the London Palladium, and the group dissolved. He has just released a solo album, Afterglow. He performs live with a string trio and talks about this work which is very different from Bellowhead, a cycle of his own songs charting a fleeting romance in a ruined city. And Annette Bening has her say about Harvey Weinstein. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Julian May.
October 10, 2017
In Sally Potter's latest film, The Party, a group of friends meet to celebrate a promotion but their lives begin to unravel as shocking secrets are exposed. The writer-director speaks to John about the film which stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall and Emily Mortimer. Writer and critic Hadley Freeman and the playwright and TV writer and actor Eva O'Connor discuss the challenges of depicting anorexia on screen. Eva's drama Overshadowed on BBC 3 has been widely praised for its portrayal of the illness, but why is it that programme makers so often get it wrong? Jimmy Webb, the songwriter, composer and arranger, has written for some of the biggest names in the business, and wrote over 100 songs for Glen Campbell. The multi-Grammy-award-winning writer looks back over his own life and work - including his hit songs Galveston and Wichita Lineman - which feature in his new memoir The Cake and The Rain. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 9, 2017
Audre Lorde described herself as "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet". A writer of the 70s and 80s, this month her poetry and prose is published in the UK for the first time in a new anthology: Your Silence Will Not Protect You. Akwugo Emejulu, Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick discusses the resurgent interest in Lorde's work and her importance to contemporary activists Dan Brown came to the fame in 2003 with his novel The Da Vinci Code which became a worldwide bestseller and a Hollywood movie. As his latest book, Origin, is published, Brown discusses his new novel's exploration of the tension between science and religion, and the appeal of his protagonist, Professor Robert Langdon, who seems never happier than when he's fleeing for his life in search of esoteric clues to labyrinthine mysteries. Dr Bendor Grosvenor, art dealer and presenter of Britain's Lost Masterpieces, argues that we are at risk of losing the skill of connoisseurship - being able to determine the painter simply by looking at the painting, which is key when attributing a work to a particular artist. Professor Alison Wright, head of the History of Art Department at UCL, joins him to discuss if this skill really is dying out and how important it is. We discuss the breaking news that Harvey Weinstein, the Oscar-winning film producer, has been fired by the board of his company after being accused of sexually harassing female employees and actresses over nearly three decades. Mia Galuppo of the Hollywood Reporter and Anne Helen Petersen, senior culture writer at Buzzfeed, who has written a Phd on The History of Celebrity Gossip, join Stig to unpack the story. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Hannah Robins.
October 6, 2017
As Blade runner 2049 hits cinemas around the country, John Wilson speaks to Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling about what the film offers to fans of the original. On the day that Liam Gallagher releases his debut studio solo album As You Were, the former Oasis frontman discusses his music and looks back over the years since the breakup of the band and his feud with his brother Noel. James Franco becomes the latest actor to play two roles at the same time on screen in David Simon's HBO drama The Deuce. So we've asked film critic Hannah McGill to talk us through the rich history of the 'dual roles' device, from Keaton to Dead Ringers to The Social Network. We also shed some light on how it's done.
October 5, 2017
Kazuo Ishiguro wins the Nobel Prize in Literature. The literary critic, Alex Clark, assesses his contribution to the literary canon. Latonia Moore has just made her debut at the English National Opera in a visually spectacular new production of Aida. The soprano, from Houston, Texas, hit the headlines in 2012 when she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, stepping into the title role of Aida at 36 hours' notice, a performance broadcast around the world. Loving Vincent is the first fully painted feature film. 94 of Van Gogh's originals were re-created by 125 professional oil painters for the 65,000 frames. Set in Arles, it focuses on the mystery surrounding the death of the artist. Kirsty speaks to the couple who are the film's co-directors and writers, Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman. Presented by Kirsty Lang Produced by Sarah Johnson.
October 4, 2017
Kate Winslet's latest film, The Mountain Between Us, is an epic romance shot at 10,000 feet above sea level and at -38 degrees Celsius. The actress talks to Samira about working with co-star Idris Elba, the legacy of Titanic, and looks forward to making her next film, when she will be working with Woody Allen. Californian brothers Ron and Russell Mael formed the band Sparks in the early '70s, and their first hit This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us made them household names in the UK. 23 albums and more than four decades later, the brothers discuss their new album, Hippopotamus, and look back at their early days living in London at the time of power cuts and the three-day week. Edward Lear is the writer of some of our most loved poetry. The Owl and the Pussycat has been voted the UK's favourite poem many times. Jenny Uglow's new biography, Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense, explores the life behind the rhymes and reveals a natural history painter, a landscape artist, and only later a somewhat reluctant nonsense poet. A contemporary of Lewis Carroll and a friend to Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, should we see him as a product of his time or a romantic rebel? Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May.
October 3, 2017
Join John Wilson for a celebration of the power and possibilities of the short story as Chair of Judges Joanna Trollope announces the winner of the 2017 BBC National Short Story Award live from the Radio Theatre. The judging panel Eimear McBride, Jon McGregor and Sunjeev Sahota discuss the merits of the entries from the shortlisted authors. In contention for the £15,000 prize are Helen Oyeyemi, Benjamin Markovits, Cynan Jones, Jenni Fagan and Will Eaves. Radio 1 presenter Alice Levine will also announce the winner of the BBC Young Writers' Award and consider the strengths and emerging themes of the stories with fellow judge, the best-selling author Holly Bourne. The BBC National Short Story Award is presented in conjunction with BookTrust. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
October 2, 2017
Matt Lucas talks to Stig Abell about his autobiography 'Little Me: My life from A-Z', in which he writes about the challenges of his childhood, his start on the comedy circuit 25 years ago, and the phenomenal success of TV show Little Britain. Tamsin Greig and Martin Freeman discuss James Graham's new play Labour of Love, about the three decade battle between old and new Labour in a North Nottinghamshire constituency, in which they play a labour party agent and an MP. Jacky Klein on the surprising relationship between the father of conceptual art Marcel Duchamp, and the surrealist Salvador Dali, the subject of a new exhibition at the Royal Academy. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Timothy Prosser.
September 29, 2017
A Front Row special from Hull which is hosting the BBC's new poetry and spoken word festival - Contains Strong Language. John Wilson talks to James Phillips, the playwright behind Flood, the epic year-long, four part multi-media theatrical event that has been one of the big commissions in Hull's year as City of Culture. Poet Louise Wallwein on Glue - the story of her search for her birth mother, and the impact of meeting her, which she has turned into a one-woman show, a debut collection of poetry, and Radio 4 drama. Filmmaker and writer Dave Lee and artist Sharon Darley debate the lessons that future cities of culture could learn from Hull's experience. Poets Dean Wilson and Vicky Foster read a selection of poems written by the people from the Humberside region about the places where they live. Dean and Vicky spent months travelling around the region doing workshops to inspire local people to put their thoughts about their neighbourhoods into poetry. Imtiaz Dharker, winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, reads from her new BBC commission, This Tide of Humber and discusses finding poetic inspiration in her trips to Hull and seeing her poetry set to dance. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Ekene Akalawu.
September 28, 2017
Benny Andersson, the musical mastermind behind all those Abba hits and the musical Chess, talks to Kirsty about his new album on which he presents solo piano versions of many of his best loved tunes. Sophie Wu is known as an actor for her roles in series such as 'Fresh Meat' and the film 'Kick Ass'. Now she has written a play. Ramona Tells Jim is about two teenage outsiders who fall for one another, before Ramona tells Jim something that changes everything. Sophie talks to Kirsty Lang about exploring how a single decision can have life-changing consequences. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is the best-selling 2005 novel by Marina Lewycka which has now been adapted for the stage and is playing at the Hull Truck Theatre. Sam Marlowe reviews. To mark National Poetry Day, William Sieghart discusses the healing power of poetry. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Helen Fitzhenry.
September 27, 2017
Since he retired last year, the international ballet Star Carlos Acosta has set up a dance company in his native Cuba, Acosta Danza. The company will debut in the UK at Sadler's Wells in London late this September. Carlos spoke to John Wilson in between rehearsals. John reviews the V&A's exhibition about 400 years of opera with top soprano Mary Bevan and critic Peggy Reynolds. John Wilson speaks to Michael Winterbottom about his new film On the Road, and the decision to include actors in what would otherwise be a classic rock documentary about the band Wolf Alice. Does the mixing of fact and fiction work?
Susheela Raman sings Eastern Christian music; Liz Dawn and Tony Booth remembered; the campus in culture; Kwame Kwei Armah
September 26, 2017
On Saturday at the Barbican 18 musicians from several countries will play in a concert of Christian music from the East - Greece, Syria and India. Three of them, the singer Susheela Raman, guitarist Sam Mills and percussionist Pirashanna Thevarajah, talk to Samira Ahmed about the music and where they found it, and perform live in the Front Row studio. Elizabeth Dawn played Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street; Tony Booth, was Alf Garnett's Scouse son-in-law, Mike Rawlins, in Till Death Us Do Part, and was also in Coronation Street. The death of both actors was announced today and Susannah Clapp, the theatre critic of the Observer, and a keen Corrie fan, discusses the characters and the actors. This weekend many students will be going to university. As well as being a place of sober (and lewd) learning the university campus has, since the Second World War, been the setting of so many novels and films these have become a genre. Hannah Rose Woods captained her team to victory in University Challenge last year. She and Toby Lishtig, fiction editor of the Times Literary Supplement, consider the role of the campus in modern culture. It was announced today that playwright and director Kwame Kwei Armah, who for the last few years has been running the Center Stage theatre in Baltimore, will return to take over as Artistic Director of the Young Vic. Susannah Clapp tells Samira about him, and considers the significance of the appointment. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May.
September 25, 2017
Nancy Meyers has made her career making hugely popular romantic comedies such as The Holiday, It's Complicated and What Women Want. As her latest venture, Home Again, comes to cinemas we speak to Nancy Meyers about the rom-com and her career in Hollywood. Last week, UK book publishers Bloomsbury launched their first 'Modern Classics' series, joining the likes of Picador, Faber & Faber and of course Penguin, who established their iconic series way back in 1961. But why are certain books deemed worthy of the label? And what exactly does the term mean in the first place? The curator of Bloomsbury's new series, Alison Hennessey, and literary critic Suzi Feay discuss what makes a modern classic. The migration crisis was seen as a key factor in Germany's election results this weekend with the nationalist AfD party winning enough parliamentary seats to become the third-largest party in the Bundestag. Award-winning novelist Jenny Erpenbeck was born in East Germany and she discusses her latest novel - Go, Went, Gone - which explores the crisis from the perspective of a recently-retired German professor based in East Berlin, who discovers that the transitions in his own life connect him in ways he had never imagined to the thousands seeking new lives in Germany. With the Turner Prize scrapping its eligibility age limit of 50, the work of the four artists who've made the shortlist - two of whom are over 50 - goes on display this week. Critic Jonathan Jones casts an eye over the Turner Prize exhibition which this year takes place at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull for the first time. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
September 22, 2017
The political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe discusses Stage and Screen, a new exhibition at House of Illustration of his designs for theatre, rock, opera, ballet and film over the last 30 years, from Orpheus in the Underworld for English National Opera to Pink Floyd's 1982 film The Wall. Maja Lunde, author of the best-selling novel The History of Bees, tells Kirsty why she was inspired to write about these insects whose future is under threat, and how this led her to explore what the world might look like without them. Composer Sally Beamish and librettist David Harsent discuss The Judas Passion, their new oratorio which tells the Passion story from the perspective of Judas Iscariot. And today is the autumn equinox and on Radio 4 we've been marking the turning of the year and the darkening of the days with poems. Live in studio we have the poet Nick Makoha with a poem called The Good Light.
September 21, 2017
Last time they worked together director Natalie Abrahami buried Juliet Stevenson up to her neck in Samuel Beckett's play Happy Days. In their new collaboration, Stevenson spends almost the entire evening flying about above the stage, for her role as a stuntwoman who suffers a stroke. Juliet Stevenson and Natalie Abrahami talk to Samira Ahmed about staging Arthur Kopit's Wings. The New York street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died at the age of 27 in 1988, is the subject of a comprehensive new exhibition at the Barbican in London. The writer and former director of the ICA, Ekow Eshun, considers whether Basquiat was really 'one of the most significant painters of the 20th century', as the show claims. As Radio 1 prepares to celebrate its 50th birthday later this month, Tony Blackburn - the 24-year-old who launched the station in 1967 - looks back at the landscape of the time and how pop music changed radio for good. And the final shortlisted author for the BBC National Short Story Award, Jenni Fagan, talks about her story The Waken, an evocative tale of transformation and death set in the Scottish islands. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson.
September 20, 2017
Benedict Cumberbatch on bringing Ian McEwan's novel The Child in Time to BBC1, playing a children's writer whose marriage breaks down following the disappearance of his daughter. Giles Coren talks about the new Front Row television programme which begins this Saturday, and discusses his recent remarks about theatre which caused controversy in the press. Sports journalist Eleanor Oldroyd reviews Borg vs McEnroe, a feature film about the intense 1980's rivalry between the two tennis superstars. BBC National Short Story Award shortlisted author Will Eaves discusses his story, Murmur. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser.
Bill Murray and Jan Vogler; Oslo reviewed; Poet Yrsa Daley-Ward; Helen Oyeyemi, BBC National Short Story Award nominee
September 19, 2017
The Hollywood actor and cellist Jan Vogler discuss their new classical album.
Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn on action movie Kingsman, Jasper Johns, BBC National Short Story Award
September 18, 2017
As spy spoof Kingsman: The Golden Circle is released in cinemas, we speak to its co-writers Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, which Vaughn also directed and produced. A sequel to the original hit Kingsman: The Secret Service, Goldman and Vaughn discuss bringing back a character from the dead, convincing Elton John to be in the cast and the impact of Brexit on the British film industry. Cynan Jones has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with The Edge of the Shoal. The writer discusses his story of a canoeist who sets out to scatter his father's ashes at sea and gets lost during a storm. The story is broadcast on Radio 4 at 3.30pm on Tuesday and the winner of the BBC NSSA is announced on Front Row on 3 October. TV critic Emma Bullimore considers the landscape of British television in light of last night's Emmy Awards. The first comprehensive retrospective of the work of the American artist Jasper Johns in almost 40 years opens at the Royal Academy this week. The two curators of the exhibition, which features Johns's famous Flags series, look back over the artist's 60-year career. Presenter John Wilson Producer Edwina Pitman.
September 15, 2017
Jack Dee talks to John Wilson about his new ITV1 sitcom Bad Move, inspired by the idea of downsizing to a supposedly idyllic life in the country. Joanna Trollope announces the shortlist for this year's BBC National Short Story Award: Will Eaves, Jenni Fagan, Cynan Jones, Helen Oyeyemi and Benjamin Markovits, who joins John in the studio. Sci-fi writer Lisa Tuttle reviews Electric Dreams, Channel 4's new drama series based on short stories by Philip K. Dick, starring Bryan Cranston.
September 14, 2017
The German cabaret singer Ute Lemper joins Kirsty in the studio to perform from her Last Tango in Berlin series of songs, which features the music of Brecht, Weill, Piaf and Marlene Dietrich. Kirsty visits Port Talbot where the National Theatre of Wales is staging a new play, We're Still Here, inspired by the threatened closure of the town's steelworks in 2015 and the hundreds of people who lost their jobs. Kirsty talks to the creators Rhiannon White and Evie Manning, and Sam Coombes, the steelworker who has taken a sabbatical to star in the production. If you've ever wondered what it take to be a great conductor, Vasily Petrenko, winner of the Gramophone Artist of the Year 2017, gives his top tips of dos and don'ts. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
September 13, 2017
The comedian and writer Sara Pascoe explains to Kirsty Lang why Pride and Prejudice, great as the book is, was in need of a comic stage adaptation. Her play based on Jane Austen's novel is about to open at the Nottingham Playhouse. It includes scenes with modern commentary, original music from Emmy the Great, and jokes. The Man Booker Prize shortlist, announced today, includes some surprises - omissions as well as inclusions. Critics Alex Clark and Toby Lichtig deliver their verdicts and nominate their favourite to win. Actor Robert Lindsay talks to Kirsty about playing Jack Cardiff in Prism, a play about the cinematographer's life. Prism looks back at Cardiff's career which includes working on the film sets of The Red Shoes, The African Queen and Sons and Lovers. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Kate Bullivant.
September 12, 2017
The death of Sir Peter Hall was announced today, at the age of 86. Friends and colleagues look back on his life. We'll be hearing from those who lived and worked with him including the Opera singer Maria Ewing, who was married to Sir Peter Hall for eight years and who was directed by him many times. We'll also speak to former heads of the National Theatre Sir Nicholas Hytner and Sir Richard Eyre, the director Sir Trevor Nunn, playwright David Edgar and theatre critic Michael Billington. Peter Hall, whose career spanned more than six decades, was a director of theatre, opera and film. As well as founding the Royal Shakespeare Company, running the National Theatre for 15 years, working as artistic director at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and setting up the Peter Hall Company, he will be remembered for his extensive work which ranged from Shakespeare and the Greek classics to Pinter and of course Peter Shaffer's Amadeus with Paul Scofield and Simon Callow. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Helen Fitzhenry.
September 11, 2017
This week sees Judi Dench reprise the role of Queen Victoria, in Victoria and Abdul a film about the friendship between the queen and a young Indian clerk. John talks to director Stephen Frears and the actor Ali Fazal, who plays Abdul, about making the film which comically takes on a the unlikely and forgotten friendship. Pears' Cyclopaedia has announced that the recently published 126th edition will be its last. With the Encyclopaedia Britannica heading online in recent years, as well as the explosion in popularity of sites such as Wikipedia, the way we access knowledge is changing. What does this mean for the future of reference books? And what has their significance been over the years? Historian Kathryn Hughes and QI researcher Andrew Hunter Murray discuss. John speaks to BAFTA award winner Jeff Pope (The Moorside, Philomena, Mrs Biggs) about turning his TV drama of Cilla Black's life into a new stage musical. By the age of just 25 Priscilla White was recognised as international singing star Cilla Black and by the age of 30 she had become Britain's favourite television entertainer. Jeff explains why he wanted to focus on Cilla's early years and tell the story of her rise to fame. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
September 8, 2017
Joanne Froggatt was taken to the nation's hearts when she played Anna Bates, the lady's maid in Downton Abbey. One of the storylines which had a huge impact, and won her a Golden Globe, showed the aftermath of her being raped. Now she takes on similar territory but a very different character in Liar, a new ITV thriller in which she plays Laura, a woman who says she's been raped. She talks to Samira about her choice of roles and not shying away from difficult subjects. Black Swan and The Wrestler director Darren Aronofsky discusses his controversial new film Mother! The film, which stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, was booed, and cheered, when it premiered at Venice Film Festival this week, and the reviews have been similarly divisive with some hailing it as a masterpiece and others a hyperbolic mess. As Classic FM celebrates its 25th anniversary, Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail and The Spectator's Kate Chisholm consider what influence it has had on the coverage of classical music on the radio, and the impact its arrival had on BBC Radio 3. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jerome Weatherald.
September 7, 2017
Marian Keyes discusses her new novel The Break, in which Amy's husband announces he is leaving her for six months to travel the world. A portrait of a family in contemporary Ireland, the novel explores blended families, caring for parents with Alzheimer's, and unwanted pregnancies. A favourite of Quentin Tarantino, Tim Roth has played Mr Orange in Reservoir Dogs and stole the opening scene of Pulp Fiction. His three-decade-long career has included blockbusters, indie films and TV drama, often playing sinister or near-psychotic characters. The actor and director discusses his latest role as a British detective who moves his family from London to become Police Chief in a Canadian mountain town in new Sky Atlantic thriller Tin Star. Comedian Joe Lycett talks about his innovative approach to writing stand-up, how he tackles the problems of modern life via email and how it all comes together on stage, as his 2018 UK tour I'm About To Lose Control And I Think Joe Lycett is announced. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hannah Robins.
September 6, 2017
Roddy Doyle talks to John Wilson about his new novel, Smile. 30 years since he wrote The Commitments, Smile is his 11th novel, in which a middle-aged man looks back over his unfulfilled life, as dark and disturbing memories of being taught by the Christian Brothers begin to surface. Head of BBC Drama Piers Wenger has said he would like to see fewer dark dramas on TV and more inspiring stories, specifically programmes that examine heroism. We ask TV critics Chris Dunkley and Caroline Frost whether the golden age of television has left viewers swamped in anti-heroes and whether they would like to see more heroes on screens. Matt Thorne reviews IT, the latest film to be adapted from a Stephen King horror novel. It stars Bill Skarsgård as the demonic entity of evil which shapeshifts into Pennywise the clown. Matt also describes his own relationship with the story - and Pennywise - since first reading King's novel aged 12. Plus, as veteran football commentator John Motson announces his retirement, Alex Clark examines the art of sports commentary. Presenter John Wilson Producer Dymphna Flynn.
September 5, 2017
The Woman's Hour Craft Prize saw 1500 applicants whittled down to just 12 finalists whose work goes on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London this week. Samira takes a look round the exhibition, which features a handmade bicycle and a dissolving fountain made from raw clay, and discusses the £10,000 prize with Woman's Hour presenter Jane Garvey, along with Alun Graves of the V&A and Annie Warburton of the Crafts Council, who were involved in the judging process. Businessman and arts benefactor Lloyd Dorfman reveals what motivates his support of the Royal Academy and sponsorship of cheap seats at the National Theatre. From the archive, the late American poet John Ashbery talks about his approach to work and how he views his back catalogue. And the contemporary British poet Karen McCarthy Woolf talks about her technique, including the use of 'found' words in composing her poems, and reflects on nature in her new collection Seasonal Disturbances. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Harry Parker.
Suranne Jones returns as Doctor Foster, Lancashire's Fabrications Festival, Josephine Barstow on Sondheim's Follies
September 4, 2017
As Doctor Foster returns to BBC One this week, Suranne Jones discusses reprising her BAFTA Award-winning title role. We remember Walter Becker, guitarist, bassist and co-founder of Steely Dan, who has died at the age of 67. Stephen Sondheim's rarely-staged musical Follies opens this week at the National Theatre in London. John Wilson speaks to director Dominic Cooke, actress Janie Dee and veteran soprano Dame Josephine Barstow about the demands of the show - a tale of lost youth, romance and nostalgia for a bygone showbiz era. Front Row goes on the road with Harriet Riddell, a textile performance artist who is cycling a 22-mile stretch of the Leeds to Liverpool canal as part of the Fabrications Festival, exploring textiles through the eyes of artists. We follow Harriet as she uses her portable sewing machine to make a record of the places and people she meets.
September 1, 2017
As news breaks of a new all-female film version of William Golding's classic Lord of the Flies, the novelist Joanne Harris and film critic Karen Krizanovich join Andrea Catherwood to discuss whether it's a good idea. Patti Cake$ stars Danielle Macdonald as an unlikely rapper with talent but little opportunity. It's the first film for writer-director Geremy Jasper and won a warm reception at the Sundance Film Festival. Critic Mark Eccleston reviews. The American writer Nicole Krauss' books include The History of Love, which became an international bestseller, and Great House - both were shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Ten years ago she was chosen as one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists. Now her first book for 7 years, Forest Dark, is published: a contemplation of identity and shaking off the stories we tell about ourselves. She talks about the novel's characters including 68-year-old former New York lawyer Epstein... and a novelist called Nicole. The Market Theatre is bringing its award-winning production of The Suitcase from Johannesburg to Hull and the northeast. It's about a young couple who leave their village hoping for a better life in Durban. It doesn't work out and when the husband steals a suitcase - with no idea what's inside - life really unravels. It is, says director James Ngcobo, very different from the anti-apartheid, oppositional theatre that made the Market famous around the globe in the years of struggle. Presenter: Andrea Catherwood Producer: Sarah Johnson Image: Jheri (played by Siddharth Dhananjay) and Patti Cake$ (played by Danielle Macdonald). Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.
Brian Cox on playing real people, Author Omar Robert Hamilton, Game of Thrones legacy, Venice Film Festival opening
August 31, 2017
Following speculation as to who might play Nigel Farage in a forthcoming film about Brexit, actor Brian Cox, who recently played Winston Churchill, and casting director Leo Davis, who cast Michael Sheen as Tony Blair, discuss the challenges for actors in playing non-fictional characters; what sort of preparation is required, how important are physical characteristics and what advice would they offer to actors on portraying "a real life" character? The fantasy series Game of Thrones has been of the most successful TV shows worldwide in the last decade. But it hasn't just caused a stir on our screens; it's also transformed the film industry in Northern Ireland where much of the mega series is filmed. Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, explains whether the burgeoning business can be sustained after GoT airs its next and final season. English-Egyptian writer Omar Robert Hamilton's debut novel, The City Always Wins, has been released to acclaim by writers including Philip Pullman and JM Coetzee. His story is set during the Arab Spring of 2011, and follows a group of young activists in Cairo. The book mirrors Omar's own involvement in the revolution. Kirsty asks him what it was like to experience the hopeful fervour at the beginning of the uprising and what became of their aspirations. Film critic Jason Solomons reports from the opening of the Venice Film Festival, including the showing of Downsizing with Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig.
August 30, 2017
Twelve year-old composer, pianist and violinist Alma Deutscher tells Kirsty Lang about her new piano concerto and her opera Cinderella, which was performed in Vienna to rave reviews. Critics Stephen Armstrong and Lucy Mangan discuss the return of The Great British Bake off, now on Channel 4. Games critic Jordan Erica Webber reviews Last Day of June, a new videogame in which players time travel to try and avoid the tragic death of the protagonist's wife. Following on from the controversy surrounding the removal of Confederate statues in the US, what is the role of the artist in commemorating our past? Afua Hirsch and Griselda Pollack debate the ethics of celebrating historical figures in stone. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser.
August 29, 2017
Best known for his series of crime novels starring private detective Charlie Parker, John Connolly's new novel, He, is a fictional reimagining of the life of one of the greatest screen comedians the world has ever known, Stan Laurel, and his enduring partnership with Oliver Hardy, the man he knew as Babe. Actor Ed Skrein has stepped own from the role of Major Ben Daimo in the film Hellboy because he is British and the character Japanese American. Samira Ahmed probes the significance of this, the first time an actor has made such a move, with Rebecca Ford, an Asian American journalist who has been covering the story in Los Angeles for The Hollywood Reporter. Tanika Gupta talks to Samira about her new play Lions and Tigers, which opens tonight at Shakespeare's Globe. The play is based on Tanika Gupta's great-uncle Dinesh Gupta, and his violent resistance against British Rule in 1930s Calcutta. The playwright explains how family recollections of Dinesh and his letters from prison helped inspire the drama. Based on David Harrower's Oliver-Award winning play Blackbird, the film Una is the cinematic debut of acclaimed theatre director Benedict Andrews, starring Rooney Mara as a woman who confronts the older neighbour who sexually abused her when she thirteen. Kate Maltby reviews. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May.
August 28, 2017
More often associated with comic films, actor Bill Nighy turns his hand to gothic horror in his latest movie The Limehouse Golem. Based on the Peter Ackroyd novel, Nighy plays Inspector Kildare, a compassionate detective, drafted in to investigate a series of grisly murders in Victorian London. He talks to Samira about the safety of comedy and how he hates a challenge. As Londoners were treated to three different productions of Hamlet this summer, we explore why audiences can never seem to get enough of The Prince of Denmark. Samira is joined by Dame Janet Suzman, who has both acted in and directed the play; Kosha Engler who is currently playing Gertrude and Ophelia in a 3 person abridged version with her husband Benet and her father-in-law Gyles Brandreth; and psychotherapist Mark Vernon. American photographer Steve McCurry's most famous image is Afghan Girl, a photo taken in 1984 for the cover of National Geographic Magazine. The multi award-winning photographer has been travelling regularly in Afghanistan since the 1979 Russian invasion and tells Samira about his latest book; Afghanistan, a collection of pictures taken over a four decade career. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Edwina Pitman.
August 25, 2017
Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood discusses his passion for painting, drawing and sculpture. In the year that marks his seventieth birthday, he tells Stig Abell how his relationship with art began. Veteran director James Ivory claimed this week he was struggling to get investors for his film Richard II, because financiers feared that no money could be made from films based on Shakespeare's plays. We ask film-maker Anne Beresford and Jerry Brotton, Professor of Renaissance literature, if there is a problem adapting the Bard for the big screen. After a social-media purge and a lot of speculation, Taylor Swift has released the first single from her new album, Reputation. Kate Mossman gives her verdict on What You Made Me Do, a song that credits Right Said Fred for an interpolation of the melody from their 1991 hit I'm Too Sexy. Danish writer Peter Hoeg found fame with his second novel, Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow. He talks about his new novel, The Susan Effect, which, like his most famous book, focuses on a woman who risks everything to get to the truth. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Kate Bullivant.
August 24, 2017
Making TV comedy about of illness, with Peep Show writer Sam Bain, whose new series Ill Behaviour features a cancer sufferer refusing conventional treatment, and Alison Vernon Smith, producer of Bad Salsa, Radio 4's comedy drama about women who take up salsa dancing after their cancer treatment. Thomas Meehan was behind successful musicals including Annie, The Producers, and Hairspray but he's not the name you're likely to know because he wrote the book: the narrative glue that holds a musical together. Theatre critic Matt Wolf assesses his legacy and discusses his partnership with Mel Brooks. Ned Beauman on his latest novel Madness Is Better Than Defeat. Beauman is the author of four novels including Boxer, Beetle. He has been longlisted for the Man Booker prize, won a Somerset Maugham award, and in 2013 was named one of Granta's best British novelists under 40. This latest novel is inspired by the making of the films Apocalypse Now and Fitzcarraldo, though its setting is the earlier Hollywood golden age of the 1930s. As Oscar-winning film-maker Michael Moore takes on Donald Trump in a new one man show Terms of My Surrender, Matt Wolf evaluates his attempt to "convert the unconverted" and whether the the stage is the best place to do it. Main Image: Ill Behaviour: Nadia (Lizzy Caplan), Charlie (Tom Riley), Joel (Chris Geere), Tess (Jessican Regan) Image Credit: BBC / Fudge Park Productions / Jon Hall.
Authors' better, but not-so-famous, books; Kathryn Bigelow; Eric Ravilious; a Shakespeare Sonnet in Pidgin
August 22, 2017
Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow's new film is set during the five days of unrest that took place in Detroit in 1967. The drama is based on first hand recollections, police records and eye-witness accounts of the race-riots. Bigelow talks to Front Row about why these 50-year-old events feel as contemporary and urgent as ever. 75 years ago the English painter, war artist, designer, book illustrator and wood engraver Eric William Ravilious was killed aged 39 when the aircraft he was in was lost off the coast of Iceland. Many of his works are seen as capturing a sense of Englishness that existed between the wars. He also designed many popular pieces for Wedgwood including a commemorative mug for the abortive Coronation of Edward VIII and the Alphabet Mug of 1937. Art critic Richard Cork explains the significance of his work and the artist design movement he was part of. Famous for the wrong book. It's 170 years since Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre was published, 160 years since Flaubert published Madam Bovary and 50 since Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude but are they their writer's best book? Critics Kevin Jackson and Alex Clark show off their literary knowledge of the famous writers whose "other" books we may have never heard of - and certainly not read - but possibly should have done. The BBC has just opened a service broadcasting to the 75 million people of West Africa who speak Pidgin. Stig Abell talks to one of the reporters, Helen Oyibo, about the language and its literature, and hears Shakespeare's Sonnet 18, 'Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day' translated into Pidgin by Oyibo especially for Front Row. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Julian May.
August 21, 2017
Peter Kosminsky talks to Stig about his new drama The State, which follows four British men and women who travel to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State. Kosminsky made his reputation with difficult drama documentaries and the storylines in The State are all based on documented events. As writer and director, he discusses the challenges of humanising these characters, and the decision to focus on portraying life inside IS. Did Vermeer really use a camera obscura to help him paint? Artist Jane Jelley explains how she recreated 17th century painting techniques to find out the truth behind the Dutch Master's luminous paintings. And in his new stage role Ben Whishaw plays Luke, your average Silicon Valley aerospace billionaire...until God tells him to 'go where there is violence', and he sets out to change the world. With Ben Whishaw and the director Ian Rickson, Stig delves into the ideas and issues in their new play, Against. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
August 18, 2017
In front of a live audience in the BBC's Big Blue Tent at the Edinburgh Festival, comedian Lucy Porter and comedy tutor Jojo Sutherland give John Wilson a lesson in stand-up - but can you really teach people to be funny? A one-woman show with 10 characters - Nilija Sun discusses her play Pike St, about the residents in the Lower East Side of Manhattan as they prepare for an imminent hurricane. Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed explains what his show Words and Music is really about - plus a performance from Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Hannah Robins.
August 17, 2017
Val McDermid presents a special edition from the Edinburgh International Books Festival. American author Paul Auster talks about his Man Booker longlisted novel 4 3 2 1, which offers four different versions of the central character's life. Denise Mina on her first true crime novel, The Long Drop, about one of Scotland's most notorious criminals, Peter Manuel. Glasgow Student Slam Poetry Champion Catherine Wilson performs a poem written specially for Front Row. Mike Heron from The Incredible String Band discusses the joint memoir he's written with the Scottish novelist Andrew Greig, You Know What You Could Be. Folk singer Sam Lee performs The Incredible String Band song, The Circle is Unbroken. Presenter: Val McDermid Producer: Timothy Prosser.
John Eliot Gardiner, Apphia Campbell, The Nature of Forgetting, Reviewing at the Edinburgh Festivals
August 16, 2017
Sir John Eliot Gardiner, who has devoted much of his long and distinguished career to the revival of early music, discusses his latest project Monteverdi 450, an international tour of Claudio Monteverdi's three surviving operas in celebration of his 450th anniversary. Apphia Campbell's one-woman show, Woke, interweaves the story of two women, 42 years apart, who become involved in the struggle for civil rights. One, notorious Black Panther Assata Shakur, the other Ambrosia, a present day university student caught up in Black Lives Matter in Ferguson. Two critics - Gayle Anderson, comedy reviewer for the Herald, and Chiara Margiotta, deputy editor of Ed Fest Magazine - discuss their experiences of this year's Edinburgh Festivals. Inspired by recent neurobiological research and interviews with people living with dementia, Theatre Re's The Nature of Forgetting is a part-mime, part-theatre show which focuses on Tom, a 55-year-old man, embroiled in the tangled threads of his disappearing memories. Guillaume Pigé, artistic director of Theatre Re, talks about the music, movement and energy that he uses to tell the story. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
August 14, 2017
Shappi Khorsandi is the first guest in a week of programmes from the Edinburgh Festival. On stage in front of a live audience in the BBC's Big Blue Tent, she discusses her new show Mistress and Misfit, about Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson's mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton. In Nassim, Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour sets out to teach the audience his native language Farsi in a show which features a different performer from the Festival each day. So how does he prepare when the deal is that performers have not even seen the script before stepping out in front of an audience? The former National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke, discusses her new poetry collection Zoology. As the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe celebrate their 70th birthday this year, the International Festival's director Fergus Lenehan is joined by 90-year-old Dr Pamela Epps, who has attended every festival in the city since 1947. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
August 11, 2017
A special edition exploring the life and legacy of the playwright Joe Orton Leonie Orton, Joe Orton's youngest sister, has written a memoir of her life, I Had It In Me, in which she describes the childhood in Leicester she shared with Joe Orton and how his death led her to question and change her life. She meets Samira at the Pork Pie Library which she and Joe used to regularly visit. Dr Emma Parker has co-curated two exhibitions inspired by Joe Orton: What the Artist Saw: Art Inspired by the Life and Work of Joe Orton, is on at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester until 22 October and Crimes of Passion: The Story of Joe Orton is on at the National Justice Museum in Nottingham until 1 October Sally Norman, co-founder and co-director of Soft Touch Arts in Leicester, and her assistant Jenna Forbes, discuss their new community arts exhibition Breaking Boundaries: Joe Orton and Me which is on at Soft Touch Arts until 8 September. Theatre critic John Lahr, author of the acclaimed Joe Orton biography, Prick Up Your Ears, discusses Orton's skill and significance as a playwright. The actor Sheila Hancock shares her memories of performing in Joe Orton's first stage play, Entertaining Mr Sloane, during its first Broadway run in 1965. The artistic director of Curve theatre, Nikolai Foster, talks about his experience of staging Joe Orton's final play, What The Butler Saw, at Curve earlier this year. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ekene Akalawu.
August 10, 2017
Actor Henry Goodman talks about his latest stage role as the celebrated portrait painter Lucian Freud in Looking at Lucian, a new play by Alan Franks. The number of published British black and minority ethnic authors writing for young adults is lamentably low. A new collection of short stories and poetry, A Change is Gonna Come, is setting out to change that - the collection includes work by established YA writers like Tanya Byrne and Patrice Lawrence but also introduces four new unpublished BAME writers. The writer Nikesh Shukla and The Bookseller's Online Editor Sarah Shaffi discuss who are the rising stars in diversity in British YA fiction and look at the publishing industry's attempts to improve their representation. British-born, Bangkok-based best-selling author Lawrence Osborne's novels often focus on travellers coming unstuck in foreign lands, and his new book Beautiful Animals, is no exception. A thriller set amongst the tourists and wealthy expats on a Greek Island, it explores what happens when two young women stumble upon a Syrian immigrant washed up on the shore. For our Queer Icons series, Isaac Julien champions Derek Jarman's film about the Renaissance artist Caravaggio. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Hilary Dunn.
August 9, 2017
An international figure in architecture Daniel Libeskind is renowned for his ability to evoke cultural memory in buildings. Born in Poland in 1946, Libeskind emigrated to the United States as a teenager and performed as a musical virtuoso, before eventually leaving music to study architecture. He began his career as an architectural theorist and professor, holding positions at various institutions around the world. In 1989, he won the international competition to build the Jewish Museum in Berlin. A series of influential museum commissions followed, including Imperial War Museum North, Manchester; Denver Art Museum; Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; Royal Ontario Museum; and the Military History Museum, Dresden. In 2003, Studio Libeskind won another historic competition-to create a master plan for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. In this extended interview, Daniel Libeskind gives John Wilson insights into his design process and the sometimes surprising artistic inspirations behind his buildings.
August 8, 2017
Philippa Gregory talks about her new novel The Last Tudor - the 15th book in her Tudor/Plantagenet series in as many years. In the Last Tudor, Gregory tells the stories of the Grey sisters, starting with Lady Jane Grey who was queen of England for just nine days. The classically-trained singer-songwriter Regina Spektor defies categorisation but wins admiration and a loyal following for her distinctive pop drawing on influences from Boris Pasternak to the Beatles. She joins Kirsty in the studio to perform live from her current album, Remember Us To Life. For Front Row's Queer Icons series, the actor Rebecca Root talks about the Mary Oliver poem Wild Geese which helped her through her transition. This week Channel 4 airs the reality TV series Eden: Paradise Lost - the reality show set on a Scottish island which was cancelled after just four episodes last year. Elizabeth Day gives her verdict. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Dymphna Flynn.
August 8, 2017
Highlights from Front Row's Queer Icons project, presented by Alan Carr. With guests including Mary Portas, Olly Alexander, Christine and the Queens, Paris Lees, Maggi Hambling, Rebecca Root, A.Dot, Stella Duffy and the Oscar-winning writer of Moonlight, Tarell Alvin McCraney. Celebrating LGBTQ culture from the poetry of Sappho to the songs of Frank Ocean, we've asked guests to champion a piece of LGBTQ artwork that is special to them - one that has significance in their lives. Will Young picks the Joan Armatrading song that inspired him to come out; Christine and the Queens talks about Jean Genet's Our Lady Of The Flowers; and Sir Antony Sher reveals his regrets about not being out publicly when he starred in Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy. For the full interviews head to Front Row's Queer Icons website, where you can hear Queer Icons from Neil MacGregor, Asifa Lahore, Colm Toibin, Tony Kushner, Emma Donoghue, Nicholas Hytner and many more. Presenter: Alan Carr Readers: Lorelei King and Simon Russell Beale Producer: Timothy Prosser.
August 7, 2017
When a renowned writer or artist dies, those left behind can find themselves in an ethical quandary - should work that is unfinished or incomplete be kept private or is there a public interest in revealing it to the world? Hunter Davies's wife, the author Margaret Forster, passed away last year, and left behind a substantial amount of unpublished writing. Hunter shares his story with us in the studio, and Virginia Woolf's great-niece and advisor to the Woolf estate, Virginia Nicholson, also joins us to discuss the issue. TV writer and part-time emergency room doctor Dan Sefton talks about his latest TV drama Trust Me, starring the future Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker. A psychological thriller about a nurse who takes drastic measures after losing her job, the four-part BBC series examines the many facets and layers of telling lies. The new Charlize Theron action spy thriller Atomic Blonde is not for the faint-hearted. Set in Berlin in the final days of the Cold War, the film features numerous very physical fight sequences - its director is a former stuntman and it shows. But does this approach offer more style than substance, threatening a good storyline? And with more and more of these movies fronted by women, are female action heroes becoming as bankable as their male counterparts? Film critic Anna Smith joins us to discuss. For Front Row's Queer Icons series, the Irish writer Colm Toibin nominates The Married Man by Edmund White. Presenter John Wilson Producer Rebecca Armstrong.
August 4, 2017
Irvine Welsh discusses Performers, a new one-act play he has co-written with Dean Cavanagh about the '60s cult film Performance. Directed by Donald Cammell and cinematographer Nicolas Roeg, it starred James Fox and Mick Jagger. Welsh's play dramatises the casting process in which East End criminals were sought for the villain roles. When James Daunt became Managing Director of the bookshop chain Waterstones in 2011, the company was receiving £27m per year selling its window space and high-profile in-store locations to publishers who wanted greater visibility for their books. He immediately stopped the practice, but what were the repercussions? James Daunt and Will Atkinson, Managing Director of Atlantic Books, discuss bookshop economics and the role of the 'recommendation'. Morrissey's early years get the rock-star biopic treatment in the film England Is Mine. Anita Sethi reviews. For Front Row's Queer Icons series, singer-songwriter and LGBTI rights activist CN Lester chooses Leslie Feinberg's semi-autobiographical novel Stone Butch Blues, a coming-of-age story about Jess Goldberg, who challenges sexual and gender definitions in a pre-Stonewall America. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
August 3, 2017
Best known for her performances in the 1978 film Grease and in the 1990s TV series The West Wing, the Emmy and Tony-winning actor Stockard Channing talks about her new role in Alexi Kate Campbell's Apologia at the Trafalgar Studios in London. Channing plays a famous art historian who has written a memoir which does not mention her two sons. The action takes place at a birthday party to which the sons - and their girlfriends - are invited. An installation in an old Roman fort near Hexham recreates the sound of 500 cavalry horses, and the Royal British Legion are commemorating the centenary of the Battle Of Passchendaele with immersive online videos. The poet and historian Katrina Porteous reviews both 360-degree representations of war. Matisse in the Studio is a new exhibition at the Royal Academy which focuses on the artist's personal collection of treasured objects, and how they were both subject matter and inspiration for his paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and cut-outs. Ann Dumas, the exhibition's curator, explains the relevance and importance of the 35 objects that are on display alongside 65 of Matisse's works. For Front Row's Queer Icons series, composer Thomas Adès explores the character of Countess Geschwitz in Alban Berg's opera Lulu, the first explicitly gay character in opera. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rachel Simpson.
August 2, 2017
As public services come under increasing pressure from government cuts the demand for documentaries about them is reflected in the number of programmes on TV. Last week, ITV's Inside London Fire Brigade featured previously unheard accounts of fire fighters from inside Grenfell Tower. In the same week, Channel 4's 24 hours in A&E returned for its 13th series, alongside 999 What's Your Emergency which is in its fourth; earlier in July, the second series of Hospital was screened on BBC Two. TV executives Simon Dickson and Ed Coulthard discuss why programmes about public services are so popular and what is involved in turning hours of documentary material into compulsive viewing. Writer Damian Barr champions Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City novels for Front Row's Queer Icons series. Sally Hawkins stars as Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, in new biopic Maudie. The actress discusses Maud's remarkable life in a remote part of Nova Scotia living in very basic conditions while suffering from juvenile arthritis, her unlikely romance with local fisherman Everett Lewis played by Ethan Hawke in the film, and Maud's joyful spirit that comes through in her paintings. Josette Bushell-Mingo talks about her one-woman show 'Nina - a Story about Me and Nina Simone' in which she explores Nina Simone's musical and political influence not only on the young Josette but on the American civil rights movement of the 1960s and onwards. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Jack Soper.
August 1, 2017
For our Queer Icons series, director Sir Nicholas Hytner chooses the Rodgers and Hart song Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, which he reveals was written by Lorenz Hart with a gay subtext. Northern Irish writer Bernard MacLaverty returns with his first novel in 16 years, Midwinter Break: the small details of a retired couple's trip to Amsterdam build into a portrait of ageing, alcoholism, faith and love. The new Postal Museum in London features the art and artefacts which have shaped the British postal service. Samira and Trainspotting Live presenter Tim Dunn ride the 100-year-old Mail Rail, the small train that runs on miles of subterranean track linking the capital's main railway stations which used to carry millions of letters and parcels across the city. The Californian company SciFuture are commissioning science fiction writers to help corporations cope with change. Scientist Susan Stepney explains the interplay between science fiction and the future. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
July 31, 2017
David Walliams has just notched up his 100th week as the UK's best-selling children's author. Among his most popular books is Gangsta Granny, and a stage version is about to open at the London's Garrick Theatre. David Walliams tells Samira Ahmed why he thinks the play is better than the book, and how his career as a children's author developed out of the comedy sketch show he created with Matt Lucas - Little Britain. Cultural commentator Agnès Poirier reflects on the life of Jeanne Moreau, the French film actress and leading light of the Nouvelle Vague, whose death was announced today; and New York Times London theatre critic Matt Wolf remembers the American Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and actor Sam Shepard, who has died aged 73. Debut novelist Zinzi Clemmons was brought up in the USA, with roots in South Africa and Trinidad. She discusses her fragmentary book What We Lose, which was inspired by her own experiences nursing her mother through terminal cancer and explores motherhood, race and grief. Ever since Mamma Mia! burst onto the West End stage in 2001, the jukebox musical - using a popular artist's back catalogue of music to tell a theatrical story - has become a phenomenon. But why do some make millions and some spectacularly flop? Are they a great way of bringing theatre to the masses, or simply a lazy ploy by producers to guarantee a cash cow? Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Harry Parker.
July 28, 2017
For our Queer Icons series, Mary Portas champions Donna Summer's classic disco track, I Feel Love. The lexicographer Susie Dent pulls the stops out to tell John about words and phrases in the English language that have their origins in music, painting, the theatre or literature. The poet Michael Symmons Roberts describes his creation of a city that's rooted in Manchester, but isn't quite the real thing, for a new collection of poetry, Mancunia. And as the film Howard's End, starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, celebrates its 25th anniversary, a new technically improved version of it is being released in cinemas. To get an unusual insight into the film-making process, Front Row brought together the film's cinematographer, Tony Pierce-Roberts, and colourist, Steve Bearman to discuss how they upgraded the visual quality for the digital age. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Sarah Johnson.
Patrick Gale's Man in an Orange Shirt, Olly Alexander's Queer Icon, Man Booker Prize longlist, Mercury Prize shortlist
July 27, 2017
A family secret inspired novelist Patrick Gale's first TV screenplay Man in an Orange Shirt. Part of the BBC's Gay Britannia season, the drama focuses on gay relationships in two interlinking episodes set during the '40s and in the present day. The Man Booker Prize 2017 longlist has just been announced and includes big names including previous winner Arundhati Roy, as well as Zadie Smith and Sebastian Barry, and Colson Whitehead and his Pulitzer-prizewinning The Underground Railroad. There are a few surprises there too including debut novelist Fiona Mozley's Elmet. Literary critic Alex Clark and Toby Lichtig of the Times Literary Supplement join John to talk about the significance of this year's choices. The 12 Albums of the Year nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize were announced earlier today. From pop to jazz to grime, the diverse shortlist includes some of the UK's biggest acts, and then some you may never have heard of - we'll be discussing it with BBC Radio 6 music presenter Tom Ravenscroft. For our Queer Icons series, Olly Alexander - lead singer of the band Years & Years - talks about Anne Carson's verse novel Autobiography of Red, and his identification with its central character, a red winged monster. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Harry Parker Main Image: Michael (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), and Thomas (James Mcardle) in Man in an Orange Shirt. Image Credit: BBC / Kudos / Nick Briggs.
Horror on film; Crime writer Kathy Reichs; Actors who become artistic directors; LGBT youtuber Ben Hunte's Queer Icon
July 26, 2017
The films 47 Metres Down, Wish Upon and Hounds of Love are all out this week and all play on familiar tropes in horror. Samira Ahmed asks horror fan Kim Newman and horror sceptic Isabel Stevens if these movies have anything new to say, and take a wider look at the genre. In 1997 Kathy Reichs made her crime-writing debut and introduced the world to Dr Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist whose powers of observation and logic lay at the heart of what would become a bestselling series of 18 novels. But Reichs' latest novel, Two Nights, is a departure with a new and very different type of investigator seeking to escape her past and unravel the clues. As actor Michelle Terry is appointed Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe in London, we explore the tradition of actor-managers from Garrick to Olivier with actor Robert Hastie, who became the Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres in November 2016, and former actor, now theatre critic, David Benedict. What can actors bring to the role of artistic director and what are the pitfalls? For our Queer Icons series, journalist and LGBT YouTuber Ben Hunte champions Jonathan Harvey's 1996 film Beautiful Thing. Ben is also presenting the Gay Britannia Season on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Marilyn Rust.
July 25, 2017
Daniel Mays, the actor who came to prominence for his roles in Vera Drake, Line of Duty, Life on Mars and Mrs Biggs, discusses his new BBC drama Against The Law. He plays Peter Wildeblood, a man imprisoned for homosexual acts in the 1950s, who then went on to campaign for a change in the law. Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith star in Girls Trip, a film where four old friends reunite for a wild weekend away. It has had a strong opening weekend at the US box office, which the director Malcolm D Lee ascribes to 'black girl magic'. Dreda Say Mitchell gives her verdict. Asifa Lahore, the UK's first out Muslim drag queen, chooses Dana International's Eurovision-winning song Diva for our Queer Icons series. Helen Mort has been described by Carol Ann Duffy as 'among the brightest stars in the sparkling new constellation of British poets'. But she first came to prominence in 1998 as one of the winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. Helen Mort tells Samira Ahmed why young people should enter the competition this year. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Kate Bullivant.
July 24, 2017
Jack O'Connell, who starred in the TV series Skins, and on the big screen in Starred Up, '71 and Unbroken, discusses his latest role as Brick in Tennessee Williams's classic play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Tomorrow the conductor Jules Buckley will perform the first of his two BBC Proms 2017. Buckley - who founded The Heritage Orchestra and in 2015 performed The Ibiza Prom in conjunction with Radio 1's Pete Tong - discusses this year's works which will be taking their inspiration from Scott Walker and Charles Mingus. For our Queer Icons series, best-selling novelist Emma Donoghue champions Patricia Rozema's film, I've Heard the Mermaids Singing. Plus, Ashley Gething is the producer/director of the much talked about television film Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, in which Princes William and Harry give a rare interview about their mother Diana Princess of Wales who died 20 years ago. Ashley explains how the programme came about, and the insight it gives into how the Princes coped with her death. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Jerome Weatherald (Main Image: Jack O'Connell as Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Photographer credit: Johan Persson).
July 21, 2017
Kate Muir explains the unexpected appeal and popularity of Love Island. Is it just another television reality show or has it got something extra? The first season of Top of the Lake was garlanded with praise and won an Emmy for its cinematography and a Golden Globe for Elisabeth Moss; season 2 is about to begin on BBC2. The action moves away from New Zealand to the brothels and backstreets of Sydney, Australia. Celebrated director Jane Campion is the co-writer and co-director and she's joined by her daughter, Alice Englert, who stars along with Nicole Kidman. They talk to Kirsty about creating the unique atmosphere of the series and how to ensure more opportunities for women directors. For our Queer Icons series, E.M. Forster's novel Maurice is championed by Chris Smith, the former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who in 1984 became the first MP to come out publicly. Lucy Kirkwood discusses her new play Mosquitoes which focuses on two sisters played by Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams. One sister works for CERN on the Large Hadron Collider and the other in a call centre. Kirsty asks the playwright about the appeal of physicists as characters, increasing scepticism about expert opinion and whether scientists are really trying to play god. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Harry Parker.
July 20, 2017
It's 50 years this summer since the artist Richard Long took steps across a Wiltshire field to create A Line Made By Walking, now regarded as a classic piece of conceptual art. John meets him in a rare interview in his studio near Bristol. Theatre director Marcus Romer and former arts funder and marketing consultant Roger Tomlinson discuss the holy grail of arts funding bodies: how to measure the quality of art that the public is paying for. For our Queer Icons series, Stella Duffy champions the novel Carol, Patricia Highsmith's love story set in fifties New York. And Radio 4's Poet in Residence, Daljit Nagra, comes in to tell us about the poetry of Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died earlier this month. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Sarah Johnson.
July 19, 2017
Mark Rylance discusses his role in Christopher Nolan's new film Dunkirk, in which he plays the civilian captain of a small vessel commandeered for the rescue of some of the hundreds of thousands of British and Allied troops stranded on the French beach in 1940 as the enemy closes in. Critic Alex Clark and broadcaster and literary programmer Rosie Goldsmith give their recommended reads for this summer, including a selection of best books in translation from France, Italy and Russia. The seventh season of Game of Thrones began this week, and the television series has now overtaken the George RR Martin book series the show is based on. We ask TV critic Sarah Hughes, who has written The Guardian's Game of Thrones Blog since the first season, how she thinks the show will fare without the influence of the books. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.
July 18, 2017
Nicola Barker is one of Britain's most unconventional novelists. Her new novel H(A)PPY is set in a post-post apocalyptic future where everyone is eternally young, eternally knowledgeable and eternally happy, until cracks start to appear. Nicola talks to Samira about the novel. For Front Row's Queer Icons, Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner champions Alison Bechdel's graphic novel Fun Home, which has been turned into a hit musical. In the new Netflix drama Ozarks Jason Bateman plays a financial adviser trying to keep his family safe from a Mexican drug cartel after a money laundering scheme goes wrong. Although very different in tone to TV shows like Arrested Development and films like Horrible Bosses, Bateman is once again cast as the most normal character, the one the audience can connect with. He talks to Samira Ahmed about the appeal of such roles, why he wanted to direct the series and life as a child star. In Front Row's new series Hooked, actors, writers and musicians share the films, podcasts and music they currently love. Actress Jodie Whittaker - who has just been revealed as the 13th Doctor Who - explains why she's hooked on the podcast S-Town and Pete Tong's album Classic House. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jack Soper.
July 14, 2017
Sofia Coppola discusses her new film The Beguiled starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell. Described as a feminist remake of the Clint Eastwood version in 1971, Coppola explains her approach, why she decided to cut the black character Hallie, and teaching the cast of women to be Southern belles. For our Queer Icons series, museum director Neil MacGregor chooses The Warren Cup, a Roman goblet from the British Museum that depicts men making love. Design journalist Corrine Julius looks at the new exhibition about plywood at the Victoria and Albert Museum and discovers its surprising versatility and appeal. Plus Kirsty speaks to Kate Wakeling, winner of this year's CLiPPA prize for Children's poetry, about her debut collection Moon Juice. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Harry Parker.
July 13, 2017
As the Natural History Museum in London replaces Dippy the Dinosaur with a Blue Whale skeleton, we debate which animal group has inspired the best art. Broadcaster Matthew Sweet champions whales while historian Tom Holland is on the side of the dinosaurs, but who will convince Samira theirs is best? Frank Ocean's ground-breaking album Channel Orange is chosen for our Queer Icons series by rapper A.Dot, who presents the BBC Radio 1Extra Breakfast Show. Samira talks to pianist Igor Levit backstage at the Royal Albert Hall as he prepares to perform Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.3 in the First Night of the Proms tomorrow. The poet and novelist Nick Laird's new book, Modern Gods, is set in Ulster and New Ulster, which is an imaginary part of very real Papua New Guinea. Despite seeming worlds apart, Laird explores the strange parallels between these contested tribal lands. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hannah Robins.
Alan Carr's Queer Icon, New Tate boss Maria Balshaw, The role of the understudy, The Sunbathers on The Southbank
July 12, 2017
A month ago, Maria Balshaw took over the role of Director of Tate from Sir Nicholas Serota, having been Director of The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. In one of her first interviews the only woman to hold the post discusses her plans for the future of the institution. For our Queer Icons series, Alan Carr chooses My Father and Myself, J.R Ackerley's memoir about being gay and out in the first half of the 20th Century, and the complex relationship with his father. We cross live to the National Theatre to speak to actress Paksie Vernon, who may get to go on stage tonight, and hear from theatre critic Susannah Clapp about the art of the understudy. The Festival of Britain sculpture The Sunbathers, by Peter Laszlo Peri was in a terrible state of repair when John Wilson took the artist's daughter to see it in the restoration studio. Now the pair see it back where it belongs on London's Southbank.
July 11, 2017
As the Planet of the Apes reboot reaches its climactic third chapter, film critic Kate Muir reviews War of the Planet of the Apes and explores the themes of the franchise from 1968's first with Charlton Heston as well as its source material, Pierre Boulle's novel. The Tate Modern's Soul of a Nation exhibition looks at the relationship between art and Black Power in the 1960s and 70s. We discuss how one influenced the other and talk to two of the founders of the Coalition of Black American artists. For our Queer Icons series, Man Booker prize winning author Alan Hollinghurst champions Ronald Firbank's humorous novel The Flower Beneath the Foot. Plus, after the vinyl revival, music journalist Ben Wardle celebrates the surprising return of the cassette. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
July 10, 2017
As Shirley MacLaine releases a new film about a woman curating her obituary, she reflects on her long career in Hollywood, including working with Alfred Hitchcock, being the only female member of the Rat Pack and starring in Downton Abbey alongside Maggie Smith. As the Bolshoi Ballet cancels the eagerly awaited adaptation about Nureyev, ballet critic Ismene Brown discusses what might have caused this to come about. For our Queer Icons series, trans rights activist and journalist Paris Lees chooses Neil Jordan's 1992 film The Crying Game, about an IRA man's relationship with a British soldier's lover. The baritone and composer Roderick Williams talks about his upcoming performances at the Cheltenham Music Festival and at the Proms where a world premiere of his new BBC commission, inspired by the text of a well-known aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni, will be performed.
July 7, 2017
Sarah Hall's short story Mrs Fox won her the BBC National Short Story Award. Now it forms part of her new collection of short stories, Madame Zero, and she talks to John Wilson about depicting extraordinary transformations and where human behaviour meets the animal. For our Queer Icons series, actor Sir Antony Sher chooses the play and film Torch Song Trilogy by Harvey Fierstein, which tells the story of a New York drag queen's search for love and a family. As Fatherland, a play exploring relationships between fathers and sons, premieres at the Manchester International Festival, Front Row invites filmmaker Josh Appignanesi and Jeremy Davies of the Fatherhood Institute to discuss contemporary portrayals of fatherhood. And as world leaders at G20 settle down to a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony conducted by Kent Nagano in Hamburg tonight, Tom Service talks about what he thinks is the most dangerous piece of music ever composed. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Sarah Johnson.
Tarell Alvin McCraney's Queer Icon; Romola Garai and Helen Edmundson on Queen Anne; Jamaica's Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison
July 6, 2017
The Royal Shakespeare Company production of Queen Anne has opened at London's Theatre Royal Haymarket. Set in the early 18th century, the play charts the intimate and increasingly fraught relationship between the childless and insecure queen and her closest confidante Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. Romola Garai who plays Sarah Churchill and writer Helen Edmundson discuss this often overlooked British monarch. For our Queer Icons series, the Oscar-winning writer of Moonlight, Tarell Alvin McCraney, champions the film Paris is Burning, about drag houses, drag balls and fabulousness in 1980s New York. Queer Icons is Front Row's celebration of LGBTQ culture, to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. The philanthropist Lloyd Dorfman today announced a major donation to the Royal Academy of Arts in London with a view to transforming the future of architecture at the institution. Architecture critic Hugh Pearman assess the significance of his contribution. The outgoing Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Mervyn Morris, was on Front Row recently. Today Samira meets his successor, Lorna Goodison, the first female to hold that post. She explains her role as 'praise-singer to the nation'. Her Collected Poems has just been published and from this monumental book she reads work that expresses her admiration for the Jamaican people, their language and her love of the landscape of the island. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Edwina Pitman.
Christine and the Queens' Queer Icon; Spider-Man: Homecoming; Acting Guilty; Museum of the Year - 5th contender
July 5, 2017
For our series Queer Icons, Christine and the Queens chooses Jenet Genet's novel Our Lady of the Flowers, set in the Parisian underworld of thieves and drag queens, as her favourite LGBTQ artwork. Christine and the Queens is the stage name of Héloïse Letissier, the French singer-songwriter of the best-selling album Chaleur Humaine. As the Spider-Man gets its third reboot in 15 years Jason Solomon reviews what Spider-Man: Homecoming brings to the franchise. On Front Row Rachel Weisz remarked that in order to play the title role in My Cousin Rachel she had to decide whether or not she was guilty, but she told no one, not even the director. Michael Simkins has played a murderer, and a suspect who turned out not to be guilty. He also played Sion Jenkins, who was tried for the murder - and eventually found not guilty - of his foster-daughter Billy-jo Jenkins, in a docu-drama. Michael talks to Samira Ahmed about acting guilty - and not. In our final look at the shortlisted institutions vying for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 prize, Front Row visited the Lapworth Museum of Geology in Birmingham which re-opened in June 2016 after a £2.7 million redevelopment and expansion. Since re-opening, the museum, which used to receive 20,000 visitors a year, has recently welcomed its 50,000th visitor. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May.
July 4, 2017
She was nominated for the Turner Prize as an artist and directed a movie which grossed $571 million world-wide but now Sam Taylor-Johnson has turned her attention to TV with Gypsy. The Netflix drama stars Naomi Watts as Jean, a well-heeled New York therapist who gets overly involved with the people in her patient's lives through her alter-ego Diane; putting her own family life at risk in the process. Sam Taylor-Johnson directed the first two episodes and is an executive producer on the series. She has been talking to John Wilson about the difficulties she encountered directing her last film Fifty Shades of Grey and her reasons for getting into TV. For Queer Icons, Front Row's celebration of LGBTQ culture, singer Will Young chooses Joan Armatrading's Everyday Boy, a song which helped him come to terms with his sexuality when he was a teenager. Titus Andronicus is Shakespeare's bloodiest play involving rape, incest, cannibalism and massacres. As the RSC begin their new production they have announced they will be conducting research into the effect the violence on stage has on the audience both in the stalls and in the live cinema broadcast. We ask which is more shocking violence on stage or on screen, whether either have got more violence in recent years and if audience expectations and tolerance has changed as a result. Plus, Tate Modern in London is the subject of the latest report on the finalists for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017.
July 3, 2017
Today we launch Queer Icons, Front Row's celebration of LGBTQ culture to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. Prominent LGBTQ guests will champion the queer artwork that is special to them, from the poetry of Sappho to the songs of Frank Ocean. Guests include Alan Carr, Tony Kushner, Mary Portas, Olly Alexander, Paris Lees, Christine and the Queens, and opening the season tonight is the artist Maggi Hambling. The musician, producer and composer Nitin Sawhney was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award at this year's Ivor Novello Awards. He talks to John about 25 years in music and forthcoming projects including a fully choreographed production of his album Dystopian Dream, and writing soundtracks for big budget blockbusters. Sir John Soane's Museum in London is the subject of the latest report on the finalists for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017. Artist Marc Quinn discusses his fascination with the eclectic collection. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
Newmarket's Museum of the Year, Committee Musical, Fair Field - Piers Plowman re-imagined, Ebb and Flow
June 30, 2017
The Donmar Theatre's latest show is catchily titled 'The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee takes oral evidence on Whitehall's relationship with Kids Company'. Kirsty Lang finds out from composer Tom Deering and lyricist Hadley Fraser how they turn such proceedings into a thought provoking and entertaining musical. Producer Tom Chivers reckons the Middle English poem 'The Vision of Piers Plowman' is entirely relevant to modern England. He explains why, and how, he's taking 'Fair Field', his theatrical version of it home to the Malvern Hills, where William Langland composed the poem 650 odd years ago. We hear the original language, the modern take on this, and music from the production. With the announcement next week of the winner of this year's Art Fund Museum of the Year, Front Row reports on each of the five finalists. Today the focus is on The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art in Newmarket, where visitors can learn about the history, science, art and culture of horseracing, and can meet racehorses in the restored stables. Composer, beatboxer, vocal sculptor and sound artist, Jason Singh, has been working with the people of Hull to create music for his sound installation, 'Ebb And Flow'. This 23-speaker, fully immersive work explores people's memories of the city, its links to water, its transformation, regrowth and change. It runs this weekend and Front Row gives you a taste. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Julian May.
Manchester International Festival, Poet turned novelist Kenneth Steven, Museum of the Year nominee Hepworth Wakefield
June 29, 2017
For the first time the opening event of the Manchester International Festival isn't a big show or concert, instead it's a large-scale public event, What Is The City But The People, starring Mancunians. We hear from some of those selected to represent their city, and Jeremy Deller, the artist behind the commission, discusses making art for the public with the public. A Man Called Ove was a surprise international bestseller in 2014. The book, which depicts the effect of new neighbours on a grumpy middle aged man called Ove, has now been made into a film in the book's original language, Swedish. Briony Hanson reviews. In 2015 Kenneth Steven, a poet known for writing about the wilds of Scotland and the distant past, started writing a novel set five years hence. His story revolves around terrorist atrocity, retaliation from the far right and a fractured society. He talks to Samira Ahmed about his prescient book, called 2020. The Art Fund Museum of the Year is the world's biggest museum prize and back in April we revealed the finalists in a special programme from The British Museum. The overall winner will be announced next Wednesday but on the run up to the ceremony Front Row will be looking at each of the five shortlisted finalists. Tonight, photographer Martin Parr and art collector Tim Sayer share their appreciation for The Hepworth Wakefield.
June 28, 2017
This Friday the new Exhibition Road Quarter at London's Victoria & Albert Museum opens to the public. The architect behind the six-year project, Amanda Levete, and the museum's new director Tristram Hunt, discuss the £48m design which features a new porcelain-tiled courtyard, entrance hall, and a cavernous underground gallery for the museum's temporary exhibitions. Risk, a new documentary about Julian Assange from Academy Award-winning director Laura Poitras, was filmed over six years and with unprecedented access to the Wikileaks founder. The film was originally shown at last year's Cannes Film Festival, but Poitras has since re-cut it to incorporate the DNC email leaks that took place during the US Presidential election, and the sexual abuse allegations brought against one of the film's subjects. The director discusses her controversial film. After the result of last year's European referendum, Meike Ziervogel, founder of Peirene Press, commissioned Anthony Cartwright to write a novel in response to it, one that explored the conflict that was so evident in society. They discuss their working relationship throughout the writing process, and the resulting novel, The Cut. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Jerome Weatherald.
June 27, 2017
2017 sees the 30th anniversary of Ian Rankin's creation Detective Inspector Rebus. Rankin was just 24 when he wrote the first book Knots & Crosses in his Edinburgh student flat and he's now gone on to sell over 30 million copies making him the UK's No 1 best selling crime writer. He talks to John about the enduring popularity of John Rebus. American artist Gregory Crewdson is known for his large cinematic photographs of suburban America - he often takes days or weeks to prepare, light and stage a single shot. As his latest exhibition of new work opens - Cathedral of the Pines - Gregory discusses his move to a more rural subject matter and the lasting appeal of ambiguous narratives which leave the viewer unsettled. The National Rural Touring Forum supports high quality art experiences at rural venues. As Arts Council England announce increases to investment outside London, board member Elizabeth Freestone discusses the Forum's work as well as the inaugural awards which are presented on 28 June. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is the first in Britain to embrace a new classical music app which sends programme notes to audience members' phones during the performance. BBC Music critic Daniel Jaffé reviews the app Octava which was trialled in London's Cadogan Hall earlier this year. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
June 26, 2017
After the very British flavours of the Cornetto Trilogy: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End, director Edgar Wright has made a very American heist movie. Baby Driver tells the story of a young getaway driver who listens to music constantly to sound track his great escapes and combat tinnitus. The cast includes Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Lily James and Jamie Foxx, but as Kirsty Lang found out, music is the big star. She spoke to the director about car chases, Star Wars and of course killer tracks. In the first of a new Front Row series, Hooked, in which actors, singers and writers discuss their current cultural obsessions, actor Julie Hesmondhalgh reveals her love for Manchester, poet Tony Walsh, and Oasis. Earlier this month the artist Sam Durant gave the rights to his controversial artwork, Scaffold, to the Dakota community in Minneapolis. The artwork had been bought by the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis but after its installation in their sculpture garden there were protests from the local Native American community who said the work trivialised the hanging of 38 Dakota men by the US Army in 1862 - the largest mass execution in US history. Svetlana Mintcheva, Director of Programmes at the National Coalition Against Censorship, explains why the NCAC believe that this case sets an 'ominous precedent' in the world. The singer and writer Alba Arikha's father was the painter Avigdor Arikha, her mother is the poet Anne Atik and her godfather was Samuel Beckett. She talks to Kirsty about her memoir, Major/Minor, which recounts growing up in an artistic Parisian household in the 1970s, and sings a song from her album, Dans les Rues de Paris. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
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. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman
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
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.
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.
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 18, 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 5, 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 28, 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.