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.
February 23, 2017
Monty Python legend John Cleese has adapted George Feydeau's 1892 French comedy BANG BANG for a brand-new staging at Colchester's Mercury Theatre. He talks about his enthusiasm for farce. Jay Z is to become the first rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Jacqueline Springer discusses the significance and why it's taken four decades for rap to be recognised in this way. Authors Hannah Kent and Kate Summerscale discuss the process of using real court cases as inspiration for their books. Hannah's novel, The Good People, is based on a mysterious case of a 'fairy doctress' in 1820s Ireland and Kate tells us about The Wicked Boy which she based on a grisly murder in Victorian England. From Galvani and twitching frogs' legs to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; from Sci-fi to Bovril; electricity has inspired inventors, scientists and artists alike. As a new exhibition Electricity: The spark of life opens at the Wellcome Collection in London, curator Ruth Garde and Irish artist John Gerrard show us round. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
February 22, 2017
David Tennant discusses his return to the Dorset coast in the final series of the ITV crime drama Broadchurch which begins next week. The actor also gives his response to the secrecy surrounding the script of the new series and the challenge he faced not being allowed to know the full storyline before shooting began. The Royal Society of Literature has launched a vote to find the Nation's Favourite second novel. Chair of Judges Alex Clark explains the challenges of writing a second novel and talks through the list, which ranges from Pride and Prejudice to David Walliams's Mr Stink. In the middle of awards season, and following controversies around race at both last year's Brits and Oscars, we ask if awards are still relevant and who they're actually for. Film journalist and President of the Critic Circle Anna Smith gives us an insight into the role of a judge, and music commentator Jacqueline Springer discusses whether a wake-up call has been heeded. Presented by: John Wilson Produced by: Rebecca Armstrong.
February 21, 2017
Director Gurinder Chadha discusses her new film Viceroy's House, which tells the story of the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, seen from the vantage point of Lord and Lady Mountbatten (played by Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson) and the British and Indian staff who worked in the Viceroy's palace. America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s, a new exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, begins with 'the fall' that the US experienced after the Crash of 1929. Curator Adrian Locke takes John Wilson round the exhibition which offers artists' reactions to the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the rise in racial tensions and a huge swell in immigration, starting with Grant Wood's famous American Gothic which has left North America for the first ever time. The fashion house Burberry has teamed up with the Henry Moore Foundation to collaborate on an exhibition celebrating the company's new collection. Alongside some of Henry Moore's work, Christopher Bailey - chief executive and chief creative officer at Burberry - shows how the sculptor's work has influenced and inspired his designs and his working process. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
February 20, 2017
Mark Wahlberg stars in new film Patriots Day, which focuses on the bombing at the Boston Marathon in 2013 which killed three people and injured 264. Michael Carlson reviews the film which was directed by Peter Berg, who also worked with Wahlberg recently on Deepwater Horizon. Stephen Karam is one of the hottest playwrights in America right now - his play The Humans recently won several Tony Awards. As his work is performed in the UK for the first time, he discusses Speech and Debate, his early play about three misfit teenagers caught up in a sex scandal. The Oxfordshire-based European Union Baroque Orchestra has announced it will give its last UK concert in its current form on 19 May, before moving to Antwerp, citing the prospect of reduced funding and administrative difficulties post-Brexit. Director General Paul James explains the orchestra's decision. The situation in Aleppo in Syria has been the focus for a number of documentary-makers recently, and two of them are nominated for an Oscar for the Documentary (Short Subject) category which will be announced on Sunday. The makers of Watani: My Homeland and The White Helmets discuss the challenges they faced. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hannah Robins.
February 17, 2017
Gary Barlow has written his first musical with his long-time friend, the screenwriter Tim Firth. The Girls, like the film Calendar Girls, charts the true life story of a group of friends who meet at the Burnsall Women's Institute and decide to pose for a nude calendar to raise money for charity. Gary and Tim discuss stage nudity and body confidence, and meeting the real Yorkshire 'girls'. The new five-part TV drama series SS-GB imagines the UK under Nazi occupation in 1941 after the Germans won The Battle of Britain. The writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who wrote the last six James Bond films, discuss this adaptation of the 1978 Len Deighton thriller, and their approach to re-imagining history. Famous for his paintings of Ned Kelly, Sidney Nolan is often seen as the most prominent Australian painter of the 20th century. Yet he spent most of his life in Britain recreating the landscapes of his birth country from his imagination. Art critic Richard Cork reviews Transferences, a new exhibition at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, which kicks off a year of events marking the centenary of the artist's birth. Veteran director Zhang Yimou and Hollywood star Matt Damon have teamed up to create The Great Wall, a film spectacular set in ancient China, which sees European mercenaries and Chinese soldiers working together to defeat a mythical horde of ravening beasts. It's the largest Hollywood co-production to be filmed entirely on location in China. Film critic Angie Errigo reviews. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
February 16, 2017
Academy Award winning screenwriter and director Neil Jordan talks about his latest novel Carnivalesque. During a trip to a carnival, schoolboy Andy gets trapped inside the glass in the hall of mirrors and his reflection takes his place in his family. A new theatre production created and performed by current and former sex workers aims to challenge stereotype and stigma. Writer Molly Taylor and member of the cast Jane discuss bringing together a group of male, female and transgender performers to share their stories on stage. He's the artist who put a giant water slide in the centre of Bristol, and pianos at stations inviting passing musicians to play; now Luke Jerram has cast five small artefacts from the North Lincolnshire Museum in 18 carat gold and hidden them across Scunthorpe for the public to find. As Treasured City, his artistic treasure hunt, begins, he explains why art is better when the public is involved, and why it doesn't need to be confined to galleries. In Michael Keaton's new film The Founder he plays Ray Kroc, a salesman from Illinois who turned one small takeaway burger bar in California called McDonalds into the globally-franchised billion-dollar empire it is today. The film's writer Robert Siegel - who also wrote The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke - discusses his fascination for the story and what it says about America in the 1950s.
February 15, 2017
John Adams is one of the world's most critically acclaimed and popular composers whose music is performed frequently and globally. Over more than four decades he's covered a lot of musical ground, from experiments in recorded sound, and the harmony and rhythm of Minimalism to grand-scale symphonies and operas that tell big stories of global politics, science and terrorism. As he turns 70 he looks back at his musical life with John Wilson. Producer: Rebecca Armstrong Playlist: Hallelujah Junction Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture Bozo the Clown's theme tune Grand Pianola Music On The Transmigration Of Souls Steve Reich's Drumming Philip Glass's Knee Play from Einstein on the Beach Phrygian Gates Beginning from Nixon in China The People Are The Heroes Now from Nixon in China Chorus of Exiled Palestinians from The Death of Klinghoffer Chorus of Exiled Jews from The Death of Klinghoffer Marilyn Klinghoffer: "You embraced them!" from The Death of Klinghoffer Tale of the Wize Young Woman from Scherherazade 2 Image: John Adams Image credit: Brad Barket/Getty Images.
February 14, 2017
As a major new retrospective of the British artist Eduardo Paolozzi opens, John Wilson explores 'the godfather of Pop Art', with reflections from Paolozzi's friend and collaborator Sir Terence Conran, and the artist himself, from a Front Row interview recorded before his death in 2005. Neil Gaiman talks about his new book Norse Mythology, as he returns to the original sources to create his own version of the great northern tales. The Pros and Cons of self-publishing, with literary critic Alex Clark and author Mark Dawson, who left a traditional publishing company to self publish and now regularly tops the best-seller lists. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser.
February 13, 2017
Hidden Figures tells the story of three brilliant African-American women mathematicians working at NASA during the early years of the Space programme. Science expert Sue Nelson reviews the film which stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing, the coming-of-age film starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, set in the 1960s, about a wide-eyed teen on a family holiday who discovers a forbidden underworld of sexy dancing. The film's writer Eleanor Bergstein explains how she drew on her own experiences as a teen, but also reflected the politics of the time. To celebrate the bicentenary of Branwell Brontë, the brother overshadowed by his more talented sisters - Charlotte, Emily, and Anne - the poet Simon Armitage discusses a new exhibition he has curated at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and a new series of poems he has written inspired by some of Branwell's possessions. A new production of Othello at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol aims to emphasise Othello as an Islamic convert to Christianity rather than focusing solely on the race dimension to the play. Writer and journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and historian Jerry Brotton discuss the impact this has on how we understand the text. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
February 10, 2017
Keanu Reeves talks to John Wilson about his three decade career, from Hamlet and My Own Private Idaho to action hero John Wick. Chad Stahelski, who was Keanu Reeves' stunt double in the Matrix films, on moving to behind the camera, as director of both John Wick films. Rag'n'Bone Man, the unorthodox-looking pop star from Brighton who recently won the Brits' Critics' Choice 2017, discusses his debut album, Human. As part of Front Row's series on artworks about the Russian Revolution, Natalia Murray champions a painting by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin called the Petrograd Madonna, on show at the Royal Academy. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser.
February 9, 2017
In Prevenge, writer and director Alice Lowe stars as an expectant mother whose unborn child convinces her to commit murder. Meryl O'Rourke reviews this dark comedy which was filmed whilst Lowe was actually pregnant. John Boyne is one of Ireland's bestselling novelists. His book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has sold six million copies worldwide. He talks to Samira about his latest novel, The Heart's Invisible Furies, the story of social developments in post-war Ireland told through the life of his main character, Cyril Avery. The Turner-prize winning artist Keith Tyson talks about his latest exhibition at the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, in which he explores the universe and our place in it. Featuring more than 360 studio wall drawings created over the last 20 years of his career, it aims to form a visual diary of Tyson's practice. To mark centenary of the Russian Revolution - which saw the collapse of the Russian Empire and the rise of the Soviet Union - Front Row has asked figures from the Arts world to select the work inspired by the events of 1917 that they admire most. Tonight, conductor Vasily Petrenko selects Symphony No. 12, composed by Dmitri Shostakovich. Plus, in the podcast edition of this programme, illustrator and storyteller Raymond Briggs who has been recognised with this year's BookTrust lifetime achievement award, speaking to John Wilson. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jack Soper.
Vanessa Bell exhibition, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Alan Simpson remembered, The poetry of Anna Akhmatova
February 8, 2017
Ang Lee's latest film, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, stars British actor Joe Alwyn as 19-year-old private Billy Lynn, who is caught on camera saving a comrade and, after the video goes viral on YouTube, becomes a pin-up for the war in Iraq. Through a sequence of flashbacks the realities of the war are revealed in contrast with the public's distorted perceptions of heroism. Kirsty talks to Ben Fountain, the novelist on whose book the film is based, and Joe Alwyn who was offered the part whilst still in drama school. Widely acclaimed as a central figure of the Bloomsbury Group, the modernist painter, Vanessa Bell (1879-1961) was a pivotal player in 20th century British art, but her reputation as an artist has long been overshadowed by her family life and romantic entanglements. Dulwich Picture Gallery in London seeks to rectify that with the first major solo exhibition of her work. Its curator, Sarah Milroy, shows Kirsty around. To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Front Row has asked figures from the arts world to select the art work, inspired by the events of 1917, they most admire. Tonight writer, comedian and lifelong Russophile, Viv Groskop selects a poem by Anna Akhmatova. We remember sitcom writer Alan Simpson who has died at the age of 87. As one half of writing duo Galton and Simpson, the pair created sitcoms including Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Edwina Pitman.
February 7, 2017
The Moorside, which airs on BBC1 at 9pm tonight, is a drama about events surrounding the disappearance of nine year old Shannon Matthews in 2008. Starring Sheridan Smith as Julie Bushby, the woman who orchestrated the hunt for Shannon and Gemma Whelan as Shannon's mother Karen, who was eventually found guilty of the kidnap and false imprisonment of her daughter, the programme has been criticised by some as inappropriate subject matter for a TV show. Executive producer Jeff Pope defends the making of The Moorside and discusses the ethics and challenges of turning real-life events into drama. In 20th Century Women, Annette Bening stars as a freethinking Santa Barbara mother who enlists the help of two young women in raising her adolescent son during a period of cultural and social turmoil. Film critic Jenny McCartney reviews. To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Front Row has asked figures from the arts world to champion their favourite work, inspired by events in 1917. Today, film director Peter Greenaway makes the case for Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin. As a new contemporary staging of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion opens at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Samira met the team behind the production - director Sam Pritchard, sound designer Max Ringham, lead actors Alex Beckett and Natalie Gavin- to discover why they think Shaw's ideas about language and accent as a repository of class and power remain just as relevant in 2017 as they were when the play premiered just over a century ago. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Ella-mai Robey.
February 6, 2017
From his paintings of Californian swimming pools, to his Polaroid collages; his iPad drawings, to videos of his favourite country lane - as he approaches his 80th birthday, David Hockney continues to change his style and embrace new technologies. In a major retrospective of his work, Tate Britain in London is showing many of his most famous works from the 1960's to the present day. Charlotte Mullins reviews. Elbow front man Guy Garvey and bassist Pete Turner discuss the band's new album Little Fictions, and the new approach they've taken following the departure of the drummer Richard Jupp after 25 years. Max Richter on composing a ballet about Virginia Woolf, Woolf Works, writing the music for BBC1's Taboo, and why his piece On the Nature of Daylight has been used in so many films, including Arrival. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
February 3, 2017
Viola Davis on her Oscar-nominated performance in August Wilson's Fences, co-starring and directed by Denzel Washington. With a father and two brothers in the acting profession, it's not surprising that Rory Gleeson's first passion was for the stage. However writing proved to have a stronger appeal. He discusses his debut novel, Rockadoon Shore, a story of six young friends with a plan for a wild weekend in rural Ireland that goes awry. The Waterstones book chain has reported a profit for the first time in five years. Waterstone's buying director, Kate Skipper, and editor of The Bookseller, Philip James, discuss how, under the leadership of James Daunt, the chain has turned around its fortunes and how it's affected the kind of books we buy and the bookshops we visit. Speaking at this year's Hay Festival in Cartagena, Roxy Music guitarist and record producer Phil Manzanera, discusses his Columbian roots and his new concept album Corroncho 2. The album tells the story of two hapless compadres from the Caribbean coast of Colombia, "Corronchos", who go on a road trip to the promised land, specifically Queens, in New York. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rachel Simpson.
February 2, 2017
Chichester Festival Theatre's production of Half a Sixpence has been criticised for casting all-white actors. Julian Fellowes wrote the book and addresses this on tonight's Front Row. Then to discuss the issue of diverse casting in historical drama, Samira is joined by Talawa Theatre Company producer, Gail Babb, and writer and critic Ekow Eshun. It's nearly 40 years since the TV mini-series Roots shook America with its portrayal of slavery and the brutal civil war. Now a new series has been made. Writer and critic Ekow Eshun explores whether this version can have the same impact on audiences today. The picture that Beyoncé released announcing that she's pregnant with twins has become an internet sensation. As the numbers of views and likes continues to rise, art critic Laura Freeman discusses the long history of images that Beyoncé's photograph draws upon. John Burnside is a prolific award-winning poet and novelist. As his new novel, Ashland & Vine, and new collection of poems, Still Life with Feeding Snake, are published, he talks to Samira Ahmed about these stories, and his different approaches to telling them.
February 1, 2017
Hayley Squires, the young actor who played Katie, the struggling single mother in Ken Loach's film I, Daniel Blake, discusses her first stage role since the film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes - in Philip Ridley's dystopian play The Pitchfork Disney. Loving is the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple in 1960's Virginia who had to fight the American legal system to stay together, starring Oscar-nominated Ruth Negga. Gaylene Gould reviews. Author Nathan Hill talks about his debut novel The Nix, which has won rave reviews in the US. Ten years in the writing, it's an ambitious book covering 50 years of American history and radical protest, as well as the story of a son and the mother who left him as a child. They next meet in adulthood, after a video of her throwing stones at a Trump-like candidate goes viral. The novel is out in the UK now. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
January 31, 2017
As an actress, Deborah McAndrew is probably best remembered as Angie in Coronation Street. As a playwright, she's written a new adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac to mark the 25th anniversary of the theatre company, Northern Broadsides. She describes how she's added a dash of 21st century reasoning to this classic 19th century play set in 17th century France. The German comedy film Toni Erdmann won rave reviews at Cannes 2016 and is tipped to win best Foreign Film at the Oscars. Briony Hanson reviews Maren Ade's film about a father attempting to reconnect with his high powered daughter. It's the first German comedy released in the UK for over a decade. New research from the University of York shows that audiences to European cinema almost halved between 2007 & 2013. Clare Binns, Director of Programming at Picturehouse Cinemas, and Briony Hanson discuss why audiences are declining, and recommend their best European films. Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson has won all the major prizes in his native country, and is the Artistic Director of two music festivals. He's just made a new recording of Philip Glass' Études on Deutsche Grammophon, a label that has been important to him since he was a child looking through his parents' record library. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Angie Nehring.
January 31, 2017
Matthew McConaughey discusses the challenge of playing a hard-drinking, hard-smoking prospector - and piling on the pounds - in his latest film Gold. Sir John Hurt is remembered by his friend and fellow actor Charles Dance, who stars with him in That Good Night, a forthcoming film in which Hurt plays a writer with a terminal illness. Playwright and folk singer-songwriter Lizzie Nunnery discusses the stories that she heard from her grandfather about his naval experiences during World War II, and which lie at the heart of her new play Narvik. As the Victoria & Albert in London opens an installation across the gallery where artists imagine how Europe today might be viewed looking back from 4017, we visit the museum to meet some of the artists adding the final touches. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
January 27, 2017
Playwright David Hare discusses his screenplay for the film Denial, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Wilkinson, about Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt's legal battle with Holocaust denier David Irving As the Liverpool Everyman Repertory Company is revived, after over two decades, John talks to Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz and actors Melanie La Barrie and Elliott Kingsley about their opening production of Fiddler on the Roof, and the history of the company, which in its previous 1970s incarnation launched the careers of Julie Walters, Jonathan Pryce and Bill Nighy. The £40,000 Artes Mundi art prize, the UK's biggest contemporary art prize, has been won by filmmaker and artist John Akomfrah, who discusses his winning artwork, Auto Da Fé, which weaves together different moments over 400 years of history when communities were persecuted or driven from their land. Do dogs prefer Bach or Bob Marley? Neil Evans, professor of integrative physiology at the University of Glasgow reveals the results of a study examining canine musical preferences. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
January 26, 2017
Samira Ahmed talks to percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, who is inviting the residents of Kings Cross, London to help her create a new musical work over the next twelve months. Lyse Doucet, the BBC's Chief International Correspondent, reviews the film Christine, which stars Rebecca Hall as American newscaster Christine Chubbuck, who killed herself live on TV in 1974. Karen Krizanovich discusses the extraordinary television and film career of Mary Tyler Moore, whose death was announced today. British director Garth Jennings, whose previous films include Son of Rambow and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, ventures into the world of animation with the hit American musical comedy Sing. And Andrea Rose reviews a new exhibition at Turner Contemporary Margate, featuring 40 international artists working with knitting, embroidery, weaving and sewing. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.
Hacksaw Ridge, film; Jamie, new musical; author Vic James; the allure of Napoleon; some Robert Burns
January 25, 2017
A new musical, Everybody's talking about Jamie, is based on the story of a 16 year old boy determined to go to his prom in a dress and become a drag queen. Samira Ahmed went to rehearsals to meet Dan Gillespie Sells from band The Feeling, and screenwriter Tom MacRae who have created their first musical, as well as Jamie Campbell, now 21, on whom it is based. Vic James's debut novel, Gilded Cage, is set in a Britain where the magically-skilled aristocracy compels all commoners to serve them for ten years. Vic wrote it on Wattpad, an online storytelling website. It was read over a third of a million times and went on to win Wattpad's Talk of the Town award. She joins Samira, live. The Allure of Napoleon is the opening exhibition in the Bowes Museum's year-long celebration of its 125th anniversary. Dr Tom Stammers, lecturer in European Cultural History at the University of Durham, discusses this show which presents Napoleon as one of the first celebrity statesmen, who burnished his ascent from political outsider to national leader with the power of art. Hacksaw Ridge has six Oscar nominations; including Mel Gibson for Best Director. The film tells the true story of Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to earn the Congressional Medal of Honour for saving the lives of 75 soldiers in Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. It's been hailed as a new kind of war movie because it graphically exposes the effects of guns on the human body while celebrating a central character who refuses to pick one up. Michael Leader reviews. This evening is Burns Night when, all over the world, people celebrate the great Scottish makar, Robert Burns. Front Row has a reading his work from Scotland's current Makar, Jackie Kay. Producer: Julian May.
January 24, 2017
The nominations for the 2017 Oscars were announced earlier today, including La La Land equalling the record and Meryl Streep getting her 20th, making her the most nominated performer in Oscars history. John Wilson is joined by film critics Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and Rhianna Dhillon to consider the winners and losers, and to assess whether Hollywood has learned from the controversies last year about its failure to recognise the contribution of black actors and film-makers. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Jerome Weatherald.
January 23, 2017
Twenty-one years since the release of Trainspotting, the film based on Irvine Welsh's novel, the sequel is about to be released. T2 Trainspotting is set in the present day with the main characters now in middle age. Irvine Welsh and screenwriter John Hodge discuss the challenges of making a film to satisfy both fans and newcomers and why, despite the comedy, it's a much bleaker film than the original. How do you write a successful stage play? As the biggest national prize for playwriting, the Bruntwood Prize, opens for submissions, Sarah Frankcom, the artistic director of the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and writer Tanika Gupta discuss the craft of the playwright. As part of Radio 4's Reading Europe series, the Norwegian writer Agnes Ravatn discusses her prize-winning novel, The Bird Tribunal, a tense psychological thriller which begins its serialisation on Book at Bedtime tonight. Locals are mourning the destruction of 200 mature beech trees near Caerphilly which have been destroyed by a mystery feller and it won't be long before someone writes a poem about their loss. The writer and academic Jonathan Bate reflects on how Gerard Manley Hopkins, Charlotte Mew, John Clare and William Cowper all wrote poems lamenting the felling of loved trees. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
January 20, 2017
Sir Peter Bazalgette made his name as the TV producer behind shows like Big Brother and Ready Steady Cook. As he steps down as Chair of Arts Council England, he discusses the achievements and disappointments of his four-year tenure, funding for the arts in testing financial times and his latest book, The Empathy Instinct, in which he defends art and popular culture as a means of bridging the empathy gap and creating a more civil society. In her new performance installation entitled material / rearranged / to / be, dancer and choreographer Siobhan Davies has invited seven artists to explore human gesture and the relationship between mind and body. She discusses her approach to the project with collaborator Jonathan Cole, professor of clinical neurophysiology. The Royal Albert Hall has been called a 'national disgrace' by its former president after members - about 330 individuals who own roughly a fifth of the seats at the venue - exchanged tips on how to use controversial 'secondary' ticketing sites such as Viagogo and StubHub to resell their tickets. Former Royal Albert Hall president Richard Lyttelton and current President Jon Moynihan debate the issue. Last night, writer, director and star Woody Harrelson completed a live film, streamed to cinemas as it was being shot on London's streets in one single, uninterrupted take. Was it a cinematic first to remember? Film critic Jason Solomons reviews. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
January 20, 2017
Urban Myths, the new Sky Arts drama series, re-imagines 'True-ish stories', starting with Bob Dylan's infamous visit to Euythmic's star Dave Stewart's Crouch End flat. Julia Raeside reviews the series which has achieved notoriety by casting white actor Joseph Fiennes to play Michael Jackson in an episode which has subsequently been dropped. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon discusses his latest novel Moonglow, in which a dying grandfather tells the secrets of his life to his grandson. His stories are in turn bawdy and moving, violent and very funny. The novel has just been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle awards in the US. Rimsky-Korsakov's opera, The Snow Maiden hasn't been staged in the UK for 60 years, but director John Fulljames is about to put that right. He's taking Opera North's new production of the Russian folk-tale inspired work on tour to Newcastle, Salford, Belfast, and Nottingham. Ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration tomorrow as the 45th President of the United States, film writer Adam Smith looks back at cinema's depiction of the Commander in Chief, from Peter Sellers in Dr Strangelove to Alan Rickman as Reagan and Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln.
January 18, 2017
The BBC's new Sunday night drama Apple Tree Yard is a thriller featuring a middle-aged scientist who embarks on an unlikely and increasingly dangerous affair. Staring Emily Watson as the eminent Dr Yvonne Carmichael it was adapted for screen by Amanda Coe from the novel by Louise Doughty. Director Jessica Hobbs, whose past projects include Broadchurch, River and The Slap, talks about how this female-led production impacts what we see on screen. Mark-Anthony Turnage discusses his new composition, Remembering, which is being premiered at the Barbican tomorrow night by Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO. Written in memory of a family friend who died from cancer at the age of 26, Turnage talks about how he approached the composition, and his collaboration with Rattle who requested there be no violins involved. Is the sculptor Elisabeth Frink due a renaissance? A new exhibition, Elisabeth Frink: Transformation, at Hauser and Wirth Somerset offers a chance to reassess the artist following her death in 1993. Richard Cork reviews. Presenter John Wilson Producer Angie Nehring.
January 17, 2017
As Simon Rattle announces his first season as Musical Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, Kirsty Lang asks him about his plans. The film Split is a psychological horror by M. Night Shyamalan (The Visit, Sixth Sense). It stars James McAvoy as Kevin Crumb, who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder and who exhibits 23 alternate personalities. After kidnapping three teenage girls, there's a race against the clock as his captives try to convince one of his personalities to set them free - before the arrival of the 24th personality, the 'beast'. Writer and psychotherapist Mark Vernon reviews. For the last three decades, artist Lubaina Himid's work has explored historical representations of people from the African diaspora and their cultural contribution to the West. With two big solo shows at Spike Island in Bristol and Modern Art Oxford, Himid talks about making art as an act of political revelation. It doesn't open in London until November, but hip-hop musical Hamilton is the West End's hottest ticket and touts are offering them for up to £2,500 each. Despite a paperless system - audience members have bring a confirmation email, the bank card used and photo ID - tickets made it onto secondary sites within hours of going on sale. Reg Walker, expert on combating ticket sales irregularity, reveals how touts circumvent such safeguards, and the impact on the audience. Roland Schimmelpfennig is Germany's most prolific living dramatist. Responding to the rise of the far right in Europe his play Winter Solstice reveals how Fascism insinuates itself, rather than marches in. He talks about the highly unusual form of the play, in which the characters comment on the action, and how such a subject can be funny. Producer: Julian May.
January 16, 2017
Following the casting of Tilda Swinton as a character originally identified as Tibetan in the recent film Dr Strange, and the furore surrounding the casting of a new production of Howard Barker's play, In The Depths of Dead Love - Kumiko Mendl, Artistic Director of Yellow Earth Theatre, and Deborah Williams, Executive Director of Creative Diversity Network join Samira to discuss the issue of 'Yellowface' - the practice of non-Asian actors playing Asian roles. Sarah Crompton reviews the film Jackie, directed by Pablo Lorrain and starring Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, which focuses on the immediate aftermath of JFK's assassination in 1963. The Transports is a ballad opera telling the true story of two convicts who fell in love in prison as they were waiting to be sent on the First Fleet to Australia. They had a child, were cruelly separated, but thanks to a kind gaoler, were eventually united. It was recorded in 1977 by giants of the folk world - June Tabor, Nic Jones, Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson. 40 years on a new generation of folk stars - Nancy Kerr, Faustus, the Young'Uns - are touring their new production. Samira meets them as they rehearse and finds The Transports has plenty to say about exile and migration today. Britain's most prestigious award for poetry, the TS Eliot Award, is announced this evening. The prize is for the best collection of poems published in 2016, and Front Row will have the first interview with the winner. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
January 13, 2017
Ben Affleck discusses writing, directing, producing and starring in Live By Night, in which a bunch of Boston gangsters make their way to Florida and find themselves up against the competition in the Prohibition era. With news that the Labour MP and historian Tristram Hunt is to become the new director of the V&A in London, former Chair of Arts Council England Liz Forgan gives her reaction. The death of photographer Lord Snowdon - Antony Armstrong-Jones - was announced today. His former dealer, Giles Huxley-Parlour, remembers the former husband of Princess Margaret, who has died aged 86. Untitled is the name of a new exhibition at Nottingham's New Art Exchange. It refers to a longstanding practice where artists choose not to title their work in case it influences the viewer. This exhibition offers 12 contemporary African diaspora artists an open platform so visitors can come to their own conclusions on the message behind their art. Morgan Quaintance reviews. As a new species of gibbon discovered in the tropical forests of SW China is named Skywalker, comedian and writer Danny Robins reflects on the weird world of animals named after cultural figures. And to mark the severe flood warnings issued today for the east coast of England, we remember the flood in 1571 in Boston, which Jean Ingelow describes in her 1863 poem High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire.
January 12, 2017
Natalie Clein has had a distinguished career as a classical cellist since winning the 1994 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition aged only 16. She talks about her new album of 20th century solo cello music as well as the challenges and rewards of the cellist's repertoire. Lemony Snicket's Unfortunate Series of Events has been enthralling young readers and their parents since it was first published in 1999. The 13 books follow the turbulent lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire after their parents' death in a fire. Now Netflix has made a drama series of the first four books. Children's Laureate Chris Riddell reviews. Are streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon changing the way TV series are written? Zal Batmanglij, the co-writer of The OA, a new mystery drama on Netflix, explains why he chose to make each episode a different length, and Danny Brocklehurst, writer of Shameless and Clocking Off, describes how writing without restraints can be a curse as well as a blessing. Art critic and author, Laura Cumming discusses her book The Vanishing Man - In Pursuit of Velázquez. The story of Victorian bookseller obsessed with proving a painting he owned was by the Spanish master, it also reveals the latest documentary evidence in the mystery. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
January 11, 2017
Bafta-nominated Dev Patel discusses his role in the film Lion, based on the autobiography of Indian-born Australian businessman Saroo Brierly who - after being separated from his birth mother and adopted by an Australian couple - goes on a quest 25 years later to find her. Tina and Bobby, a new 3-part ITV drama series based on the life of the football legend Bobby Moore, focuses on his marriage to Tina Dean and their relationship from the early 1960s to their divorce in the 1980s. Sportswriter Alyson Rudd reviews the drama, which features Lorne MacFadyen as Bobby and Michelle Keegan as Tina. Choreographer Steve Elias discusses bringing dance to the streets of four Yorkshire towns in a new BBC Two documentary, Our Dancing Town. The successful 1980s jazz vocal harmony group Harvey and the Wallbangers have reunited after a 30-year hiatus. Three of the original line-up plus two new female singers will be touring some of their early repertoire as well as new material. Founder Harvey Brough and new Wallbanger Clara Sanabras discuss the draw of doo-wop. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
January 10, 2017
La La Land leads the Bafta field with 11 nominations, closely followed by Arrival and Nocturnal Animals with nine apiece but does this celebration of Hollywood come at the expense of home-grown British movies? We explore with Chief Film Critic of The Times, Kate Muir. Common Sense is a new reality TV show from the makers of Gogglebox, in which a regular cast of British people respond to the week's news. The show's creator Stephen Lambert and TV critic Boyd Hilton discuss. 250 years ago this year, an 11-year-old Mozart composed his first operas. Ian Page, artistic director of Classical Opera, will be presenting those childhood operas this year, and he talks to Kirsty Lang about his company's 27-year commitment to perform each of Mozart's works exactly 250 years after it was composed. North: Identity, Photography, Fashion has just opened at Liverpool's Open Eye Gallery, looking at the global influence of Northern fashion and photography. We talk to its curator Adam Murray and fashion designer and cultural commentator Wayne Hemingway about the idea of a Northern aesthetic. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Marilyn Rust.
January 9, 2017
Samira Ahmed talks to the artist behind The Blade, a huge artwork installed this weekend in the heart of Hull as part of UK City of Culture 2017. Briony Hanson reviews the film Manchester By the Sea, for which Casey Affleck won a Best Actor Golden Globe last night for his role as a janitor forced to look after his nephew. Costa First Novel Award winner Francis Spufford on Golden Hill, set in mid 18th Century Manhattan. And a V&A exhibition about the life and work of Rudyard Kipling's father, John Lockwood Kipling, an influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement who was steeped in the art of Punjab. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.
Film-maker Alex Gibney, soul singer Ray BLK, author Brian Conaghan and Ben Wardle on yet more TV talent shows
January 6, 2017
In his latest film, Alex Gibney, whose recent work includes 'Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room' and 'Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief', turns his attention to global cyber warfare. 'Zero Days' tells the story of the most sophisticated piece of malware ever created. Gibney talks to Kirsty Lang about the visual and practical challenges of making a film about a computer code that nobody wants they created. Soul singer Ray BLK is number 1 on the BBC's Sound Of 2017 list, which predicts the most exciting new music for the year ahead. Artists who have topped the list previously include Adele, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding. Ray BLK came to attention with her song 'My Hood' which describes the joys and tribulations of growing up female, black and in South London. She explains why she believes in 'socially conscious' music. Brian Conaghan has won the Costa Children's Book Award for 'The Bombs That Brought Us Together'. It tells the story of Charlie, who has lived in Little Town all his life, and Pav, a refugee from Old Country - Little Town's sworn enemy. Pav is "the wrongest person in the world to make friends with" but the pair form a bond as life around them falls apart. Influenced by recent world events, Conaghan describes his book as "an otherworldly, allegorical tale". Tomorrow evening BBC One embarks on its latest quest for singing talent in 'Let It Shine', presented by Gary Barlow. In direct competition an hour later 'The Voice' makes its transition from the BBC to ITV. Music writer Ben Wardle looks back at the history of Saturday night talent shows - from Popstars to The X Factor and BGT - and ponders whether these new offerings are what the nation really needs for its Saturday Night entertainment. Producer: Julian May.
January 5, 2017
Peter Cushing died in 1994 yet curiously he reprises his famous role of Grand Moff Tarkin in the new recently-released Star Wars film Rogue One. A lawyer, an actor and a film critic consider Hollywood's increasing use of CGI in giving film actors a screen life well beyond the grave, from the early days of Peter Sellers in Trail of the Pink Panther and Oliver Reed in Gladiator. The hero of Taboo, the new Saturday night BBC1 block buster, is an arresting amalgam of Bill Sykes, Sherlock Holmes, Hannibal Lecter and Heathcliff! Screen writer Steven Knight describes how he worked with star Tom Hardy and his dad Chips to work their initial idea into a gripping eight part historical drama. Today scientists announced a breakthrough in the medical use of spider silk. But it's clear from A Midsummer Night's Dream that Shakespeare already knew about the healing properties of cobwebs. Historian of Medicine Anna Maerker looks at other examples of the Bard's surprising medical knowledge. Alice Oswald's latest collection of poems, Falling Awake, has won this year's Costa Poetry Award. With its classical themes and exploration of the natural world, she discusses why carving rather than writing might be a better verb for describing her approach to creating new work. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
January 4, 2017
Writer and director Damien Chazelle on the Hollywood musical La La Land, hotly tipped as the frontrunner for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards, and only his second feature film. Since the death of Carrie Fisher and - just a day later - her mother Debbie Reynolds, a documentary charting their complex relationship called Bright Lights has inadvertently become a touching memorial to the two actresses. Tim Robey reviews. A new BBC film examining the last five years of David Bowie's life is to be screened on BBC2 on Saturday, marking the first anniversary of the singer's death and featuring unseen footage. John talks to director Francis Whately. The winner of the 2016 Costa Biography Award is Dadland by Keggie Carew, which charts her father's activities as an SOE operative behind enemy lines at the D-Day landings and his descent into dementia later in life. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
January 3, 2017
The art critic and writer John Berger has died. He changed our perception of art with his 1972 BBC TV series and book Ways of Seeing. An accomplished poet and playwright, he also wrote several novels including the Booker Prize-winning G which tells the story of a Casanova-like figure who gradually comes to political consciousness. Writer Lisa Appignanesi assesses his work. What were "the most enjoyable" books published in 2016? Chair of Judges, historian Kate Williams reveals that the Costa Book Awards category winners are: Francis Spufford for the First Novel Award; Keggie Carew who wins the Costa Biography Award; Alice Oswald who wins the Poetry Award; Brian Conaghan for the Children's Book Award; Sebastian Barry who wins the Costa Novel Award. He tells us about writing Days Without End. Chris Lang, the creator of the ITV hit drama Unforgotten, began his career in the mid-1980s as part of a comedy trio, The Jockeys of Norfolk, alongside Hugh Grant. As the new series of Unforgotten begins, Chris discusses the screenwriter's art of wrong-footing the audience. Presented by Samira Ahmed. Produced by Angie Nehring.
January 2, 2017
Philip Glass, Steve Reich and John Adams are America's greatest living composers. Between them, they have helped change the way music is made and heard, repeating rhythms, highlighting melodies and overlapping time signatures to create new musical languages that are widely heard in the looped and sampled soundtrack to the 21st century. As they reach milestone birthdays, they talk to John Wilson about their work, and about the musical movement that links the three of them - Minimalism. Playlist: Philip Glass - Closing Steve Reich - Clapping John Adams - Phrygian Gates Bartok - Concerto For Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra, 3rd movt Stravinsky - Rite of Spring Bach Brandenburg 5 Charlie Parker - Be Bop Tchaikovsky's - 1812 Overture Bozo the Clown Philip Glass - Dance 8 Steve Reich - Livelihood John Adams - On the Transmigration of Souls Steve Reich - Different Trains Philip Glass - Floe Philip Glass - Facades Steve Reich - Clapping Steve Reich - Piano Phase Steve Reich - Drumming Steve Reich - Clapping John Adams - Grand Pianola Music Philip Glass - Knee Play 1 from Einstein on the Beach Philip Glass - Evening Song from Satyagraha John Adams - The People Are The Heroes Now from Nixon in China Steve Reich - The Cave John Adams - Hallelujah Junction Philip Glass - The Hours Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
December 30, 2016
Actor Liam Neeson starts the new year with two new films. In Martin Scorsese's Silence he plays a Jesuit priest who relinquishes his faith and in A Monster Calls, the treelike monster. He talks to Samira Ahmed about both, as well as being a late blooming action hero and watching the Reverend Ian Paisley preach. How do you write about mass murder, holocausts, war crimes and how ordinary people reach a point when they kill their neighbours, and torture their former friends? The Danish author Christian Jungersen approaches this subject by setting his novel "The Exception" in an office - The Danish Centre for Information on Genocide - and documenting the behaviour of the women who work there. In 2014, ZooNation Dance Company performed the first full-length hip hop production at the Royal Opera House in London with their take on Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland where the familiar characters are recast as patients at a mental health institution. ZooNation's Artistic Director Kate Prince talks about re-staging The Mad Hatter's Tea Party for the Roundhouse in London and how she incorporated advice from the mental health charity Time to Change. A film version of Assassin's Creed is about to go on nationwide release but can this video game favourite make the leap onto the silver screen when so many have failed?
December 29, 2016
One Man, Two Guvnors playwright Richard Bean, artist Spencer Tunick and film-maker Sean McAllister are some of the leading contributors to Hull UK City of Culture 2017. John Wilson reports from the city on the banks of the Humber in the East Riding of Yorkshire on its year-long festival of arts and culture which is about to begin, and discovers that urban regeneration linked to cultural investment and its new status as UK City of Culture is already well underway. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
December 28, 2016
Samira Ahmed celebrates the life and work of Jane Austen, ahead of the 200th anniversary of her death. As Jane Austen's portrait is chosen for the new £10 note, Samira Ahmed explores how money dominates her novels, visiting her home at Chawton in Hampshire. John Mullan and Viv Groskop choose the best and worst Austen screen adaptations. Plus, as Austen's final and unfinished novel Sanditon is being turned into a film, Samira talks to adaptor Simon Reade and Emma Clery, writer of Jane Austen - The Banker's Sister. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
December 27, 2016
We speak to the big award winners from the past year. Paul Beatty is the first American to win the Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his satirical novel The Sellout; Denise Gough was on the point of giving up acting when she was offered the role that would win her an Olivier; Sonia Friedman, who won Best Producer at the Stage Awards, brought Harry Potter to the stage; Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar after being nominated 5 times; Helen Marten won not only the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture but the Turner Prize and split the winnings; 17 year old Sheku Kanneh-Mason won the BBC's Young Musician of the Year playing Shostakovich. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Hannah Robins.
December 26, 2016
Tonight's Front Row tests how much you've been paying attention to cultural events this year. With quiz master John Wilson is Boyd Hilton, the film and TV editor of Heat magazine, writer and broadcaster Ekow Eshun, Charlotte Higgins, who is the chief culture writer of the Guardian, and film critic Rhianna Dhillon. So can you beat their score?
December 23, 2016
Riz Ahmed is currently in our cinemas as part of a rebel crew in Star Wars spin-off Rogue One. But his acting roles have ranged from appearing in low-budget indie films like The Road to Guantanamo to HBO prison drama The Night Of, for which he's just been nominated for a Golden Globe. As a rapper, he's part of the group Swet Shop Boys and has released three albums. He discusses how he got started and his varied career. Delicious, a new four-part TV drama series, stars Iain Glen as a chef and hotel owner in Cornwall, and Dawn French as his ex-wife who taught him all he knows about food. Love, sex, lies and betrayal feature significantly when things start to unravel. Sarah Crompton reviews. As a stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's 2003 bestseller The Kite Runner opens in London's West End, its adapter, the American playwright Matthew Spangler, explains the challenges of turning an epic novel, spanning 30 years of Afghan history and politics, into a piece of theatre. Novelist Angela Carter is famous for the vivid imagery she evoked in her feminist takes on folk tales and fairy stories. Strange Worlds, an exhibition at the RWA (Royal West of England Academy of Art) in Bristol explores which paintings may have been the inspiration behind books like The Bloody Chamber and Nights At The Circus. Curator Marie Mulvey-Roberts talks through her choices. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rachel Simpson.
December 22, 2016
On her latest album Jubilo, Alison Balsom plays two incarnations of the trumpet: the natural trumpet - ascendant during the Baroque period of the 17th and 18th centuries - and the 19th century creation that is the modern trumpet. She discusses the appeal of both instruments and what they've brought to the album. Screenwriter Sally Wainwright made her name with award-winning contemporary dramas such as Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax. She's now written and directed her first period TV drama, To Walk Invisible, an exploration of the lives of the Brontës during the tumultuous years when the four siblings - Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne - were at home with their father Patrick. Critic and historian Kathryn Hughes reviews. The big show for Christmas at the National Theatre this year is Peter Pan which features a lot of aerial action. Front Row goes behind-the-scenes to find out how the flying is done. Still looking for a last-minute Christmas gift? Danuta Kean makes her selection this year's 'beautiful books'. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
December 21, 2016
Helen Mirren talks about her latest film Collateral Beauty, seeing more women on screen, that infamous interview with Michael Parkinson, and being "a damn fine woman". Edward Gardner, Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, discusses their forthcoming UK tour and his recent Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance for his album of Janáček's Glagolitic Mass and other orchestral works. Continuing Radio 4's poetic celebration of the Winter Soltice, Kayo Chingonyi reads his poem, Winter Song, written especially for the occasion. Ben Wardle scrutinises the delicate issue of ageing musicians and their hair, or rather its scarcity.
December 20, 2016
Barry Jenkins' film Moonlight is nominated in five categories in the Golden Globes and eight in the Screen Actors' Guild Awards. In his first broadcast interview Barry Jenkins talks about the making of this coming-of-age film set in the dangerous Miami neighbourhood where he grew up. The Witness for the Prosecution is a new Agatha Christie adaptation by Sarah Phelps for BBC One starring Kim Cattrall and Andrea Riseborough. Novelist Lauren Henderson gives us her thoughts. Gemma Arterton takes on the title role in Bernard Shaw's classic play Saint Joan. Medieval literature expert Laura Ashe reviews the production at the Donmar Warehouse in London. 2013 was the year that musician Meilyr Jones ended a relationship, broke up the indie pop band he'd been a member of for eight years, and headed to Rome in search of adventure. The result was his debut solo album - 2013. Meilyr joins Kirsty to discuss the album's inventive mix of styles and ideas which has led to it winning this year's Welsh Music Prize. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Edwina Pitman.
December 19, 2016
The last installment of the hit television drama Sherlock - The Abominable Bride - was broadcast on New Year's Day 2016 and went on to become the most watched programme across all channels over the festive season, with 11.6 million viewers. With a fourth series starting on New Year's Day 2017, Martin Freeman who plays Watson, and Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss discuss maintaining the drama's appeal with John Wilson. What's the best album from 2016? We have three selections from across the world of music chosen by Sara Mohr-Pietsch, Kate Mossman and Kieran Yates. Robin Shaw and Joanna Harrison are the co-directors of a new animated film based on Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury's hugely successful illustrated children's book, We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Shaw and Harrison discuss the challenges of bringing a children's classic to life on screen. From the quay Michael Bird describes the Christmas lights in the harbour at Mousehole and considers this popular and poignant work of vernacular art. Producer Julian May.
December 16, 2016
Dance choreographer and director Matthew Bourne's adaptation of The Red Shoes, inspired by the 1948 Powell and Pressburger film and the fairy-tale by Hans Christian Andersen, opened at Sadler's Wells last night before embarking on a national tour. John Wilson talks to Sir Matthew Bourne about bringing his adaptation to the stage, and the forthcoming year-long programme celebrating the 30th anniversary of Bourne's company, New Adventures. Bafta-winning music producer and composer Marius de Vries, who has worked extensively in film and contemporary music, talks to John Wilson about his latest role on the hit musical film La La Land, and his involvement in some of the most high-profile artists of the past two decades, including Madonna, Bowie, and U2. Donald Trump provided plenty of material for comedians when he was running for president, but what effect will the notoriously litigious businessman have on satirists when he is in office? Political comedian Andy Zaltzman, photographer Alison Jackson, and comedy journalist Elise Czajkowski join us to discuss. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
December 15, 2016
Richard Strauss's comic opera Der Rosenkavalier is about to open at the Royal Opera House in London. Singers Renée Fleming and Alice Coote discuss the challenges of tackling Strauss's masterpiece. Quarry, a new TV crime drama, centres on the story of a Vietnam vet who struggles to return to normality after his experiences of war and finds himself lured into a life as a professional assassin. The series is directed by Greg Yaitanes (Lost, House, Heroes) and stars Logan Marshall-Green, Jodi Balfour, and Scottish actor Peter Mullan. Critic Stephen Armstrong reviews. The world of Tove Jansson and her famous creation Family Moomintroll is brought to life in the first major UK exhibition of the writer and artist's work. Her niece, Sophia Jansson, and Paul Denton, producer of Adventures In Moominland, discuss the artist's creations and how they reflected the world she inhabited. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
December 14, 2016
Peter Capaldi tells Samira Ahmed what it's like for a young sci-fi fan to regenerate as one of his heroes - he's Dr Who in the Christmas Special. He touches, too, on another doctor, Martin Tucker, the eloquently foul-mouthed spin man in The Thick of it. Rogue One is a new Star Wars story that goes back before the beginning. It's a prequel to the original 1977 block-buster. Lots of familiar archetypes, a C3PO-type droid, Darth Vader himself and storming troops of Stormtroopers. But is it adequately Force-full? Critic Catherine Bray considers. Ben Lerner recently wrote a monograph, The Hatred of Poetry, in which he questions why there is such anxiety and embarrassment about the art, and so reveals his love of it. Now he has published, No Art, which brings together his many poems old and new. He explains that in a world of Trump, climate change and poverty, poetry is as important as ever. E.R. Braithwaite has died aged 104. His novel 'To Sir With Love', about a black teacher's struggles, and eventual success, as a teacher in an East End London school in the 1950s, made a profound impact. It was made into a film starring Sidney Poitier - with Lulu - in 1967. The playwright Roy Williams, who dramatised the book for radio and the stage, remembers the man, and his work.
Darcey Bussell on Margot Fonteyn; Pevsner guides; Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo on Broadway; How to get a Christmas no 1
December 13, 2016
Darcey Bussell discusses her new documentary, Darcey Bussell: Looking For Margot, in which she traces the dramatic life and career of the dancer who inspired her own ballet career. The survey of every significant building in England, Scotland and Wales started in 1951 by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner has come to a close with the publication of the 68th and final volume of the Pevsner Architectural Guides. Its editor Simon Bradley and Pevsner's biographer Susie Harries discuss one of the most quintessentially British cultural projects. A new production of Othello has just opened on Broadway starring Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo. Chief Theatre Critic of The Hollywood Reporter David Rooney gives us his verdict. As charity singles compete with X Factor winners for the much-coveted 'Christmas Number 1', music writer Ben Wardle reveals the four essential rules you need to follow if you want to be in with a yuletide shout. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
December 12, 2016
The Eagle Huntress reviewed by author Mark Cocker, Love - a new play about hostel living, hidden treasures of Scunthorpe, diversity in the arts, John Montague remembered.
December 9, 2016
New film The Birth of a Nation takes the title from DW Griffith's 1915 silent film but not much else. Directed by and starring Nate Parker, it tells the true story of an 1831 slave rebellion in Virginia. Ashley Clarke reviews. Poet Ruth Padel discusses her latest book Tidings, a narrative Christmas poem about a little girl, a homeless man and a fox. It takes the reader all around the world, from St Pancras churchyard in London to Bethlehem, Australia and New York. Joan Eardley's painting career lasted only 15 years but, at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, her work gets more requests than Picasso. The gallery's curator Patrick Elliott discusses a new exhibition of her work alongside composer Helen Grime, whose composition Snow is inspired by Eardley's paintings. In the spring of 1995, actor Mark Lockyer was playing Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet for the Royal Shakespeare Company when he was overcome with anxiety, fear and paranoia. It was the start of a bipolar attack. Now he has turned that experience into a one man show called Living With The Lights On at the Young Vic in London. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
December 8, 2016
Oliver Stone's new film Snowden stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the controversial employee of the National Security Agency in the US who leaked thousands of classified documents to the press in 2013. Science journalist Angela Saini reviews. The Christmas books market has been flooded this year with titles that poke fun at everything from Ladybird to I-Spy books. Author Bruno Vincent explains his modern take on Enid Blyton's The Famous Five series, and journalist Cathy Rentzenbrink discusses the phenomenon that is shaking up the bestseller lists this year. Following the recent reaction from actors about inappropriate behaviour on film sets, writer Karen Krizanovich and actor Malcolm Sinclair give their take on the issue. The artist Wynford Dewhurst, born in Manchester in 1864, was a proud Brit and a devoted Francophile. He was a conservative by nature who championed Impressionism at the time it was regarded as a radical art movement. Dewhurst was passionate about the work of Claude Monet and his mastery of Monet's technique led to him being dubbed Manchester's Monet. Curator Roger Brown discusses an artist who played an important role in opening British minds to the Impressionists. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
Zaha Hadid's new gallery at The Science Museum, Oscar-winning film editor Anne V Coates, Office Christmas Party - the film
December 7, 2016
Earlier this year celebrated architect Zaha Hadid died suddenly in Miami. Now, as the Serpentine Gallery exhibits a collection of her early drawings and a new wing of the Science Museum designed by the architect opens to the public, Front Row considers the breadth of her work. Last month, 90-year-old British film editor Anne V Coates received an honorary Oscar - her second statuette. She won an Oscar for editing Lawrence of Arabia in 1963. Anne discusses her remarkable career which has included cutting David Lynch's The Elephant Man, Stephen Soderbergh's Out of Sight and, just last year, Sam Taylor-Johnson's 50 Shades of Grey. In Jennifer Aniston's new film the office Christmas bash, that annual opportunity for excruciating embarrassment, assumes new significance. The office workers have to host an epic Christmas do in an effort to impress a potential client and close the sale that will save their jobs. The cast includes Kate McKinnon, of Saturday Night Live. Laroushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews Office Christmas Party, and casts her eye over the other Christmas films. Producer: Julian May.
Dreamgirls, Australia's Impressionists, Sharing the Turner Prize cheque, actor Peter Vaughan remembered
December 6, 2016
Dreamgirls was a hit Broadway show which became an Oscar-winning film starring Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy. As the musical arrives in the UK for the first time since it opened there 31 years ago, we speak to the composer and co-creator, Henry Krieger. Helen Martens recently shared her cheque for winning The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture with the other shortlisted artists. Now she's done the same with her Turner Prize winnings. What does this desire to share say about the artist? 41 paintings from four of the most innovative Australian Impressionist artists are on show at The National Gallery in London for the first time. As curator Chris Riopelle explains, they reveal how the artists were influenced by European Impressionism, a growing sense of national identity, and their desire to capture the great Australian landscape. Porridge co-creator Dick Clement remembers the actor Peter Vaughan who has died aged 93. Vaughan played a devoted butler in The Remains of the Day, a villainous prisoner in Porridge, and a wise elder in Game of Thrones. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Marilyn Rust.
December 5, 2016
Thriller writers Lee Child, Megan Abbott and Lawrence Block discuss their new collection of short stories inspired by the paintings of American artist Edward Hopper. The anthology, In Sunlight or in Shadow, also includes stories by Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates and Robert Olen Butler. English National Opera's CEO Cressida Pollock discusses the company's recent struggles, which have seen stringent funding cuts, strikes and, most recently, the postponement of a season in Blackpool. Tim Robey reviews the film The Pass, about two young professional football players whose kiss echoes through the next ten years of both their lives. ITV's new drama, In Plain Sight, is based on the true story of Scottish serial killer, Peter Manuel and the attempts of Lanarkshire detective William Muncie to bring him to justice in the 1950s. The writer Nick Stevens and actor Martin Compston, who plays Manuel, discuss the challenges of making a drama about real life crime. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
December 2, 2016
As Alison Steadman wins the Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Contribution to Film at the British Independent Film Awards, and the BFI announces a season dedicated to her TV work in the New Year, we speak to the actress about her career. What links baroque bad-boy painter Caravaggio and a present-day retired docker from Merseyside? Compassion, according to Anders Lustgarten's new play The Seven Acts of Mercy. Kirsty talks to the playwright and political activist about his latest work for the Royal Shakespeare Company. After news in October that AQA, the last exam board in England offering History of Art A-level, was dropping the subject from 2018, the schools standards minister, Nick Gibb, has announced that a new A-level in art history is being developed by the Pearson exam board for teaching from September 2017. Artist Cornelia Parker and Griselda Pollock, Director of the Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory & History at Leeds University, give their reaction. The Top 40 Singles chart this week includes The Weeknd's Starboy (featuring Daft Punk), Sia's The Greatest (featuring Kendrick Lamar) and Jonas Blue's By Your Side (featuring Raye). Music writer Ben Wardle has spent decades glued to the radio, and he's got a bit of an issue with this increasing use of the F-Word - 'Featuring'. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
December 1, 2016
The City Sculpture Projects 1972 was a six-month initiative to bring contemporary sculpture to the streets of Britain's cities, but the chosen cities proved resistant and none of the commissioned sculptures was kept. The enterprise is now the subject of a new exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. Curator Dr Jon Wood, one of the original artists Liliane Lijn, and Professor Susan Tebby who worked on the project in Sheffield, look back at the concept. Baz Luhrmann's film Strictly Ballroom has been adapted for the stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Olivier award-winning Drew McOnie, the choreographer of Strictly Ballroom The Musical, discusses his adaptation. Disney's latest movie is Moana, about a Polynesian girl charged with saving her island by taking on a deadly mission and enlisting the help of demi-god Maui, played by Dwayne Johnson. The film's directors Ron Clements and John Musker discuss their approach to the latest Disney princess. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Ekene Akalawu.
November 30, 2016
Robert Rauschenberg was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer and performance artist who worked with John Cage and Jasper Johns and has influenced artists today like Damien Hurst and Tracey Emin. John Wilson talks to his son Christopher Rauschenberg and curator Catherine Wood on the day a major retrospective opens at Tate Modern. This Friday sees the unveiling of a memorial stone to poet Philip Larkin at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, 31 years after his death. Fellow poets Carol Rumens and Blake Morrison discuss Larkin's legacy. The trailer for new US comedy drama This Is Us has had a record-breaking 64 million Facebook views and 8.5 million on Youtube, so with its first episode about to be shown on Channel 4 on Tuesday 6 December, Katie Puckrik joins John Wilson to see what all the fuss is about. Plus, on the 50th anniversary of Barbados gaining independence from the UK, music journalist Kevin LeGendre looks at the Caribbean Island's influence on hip-hop, jazz and reggae. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
November 29, 2016
Clint Eastwood's latest film Sully tells the story of Captain Chesley Sullenberger who landed an airliner on New York's Hudson river in 2009. Critic Angie Errigo discusses how Eastwood's 35th film as a director fits into his remarkable career. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Robert Olen Butler discusses his latest book, Perfume River, which explores how the Vietnam war resonates down the generations. Roger Law used to make the puppets for Spitting Image, the satirical TV show which poked fun at celebrities and politicians showing them with grotesque mouths and rheumy eyes. Now he makes porcelain vases and plates portraying Weedy Sea-Dragons and Long-nosed Poteroos. As his exhibition Transported opens at The Scottish Gallery, in Edinburgh, he explains why he's made the change. Last month, the Culture Secretary announced that the British Army would establish a specialist cultural property protection unit. As the bill comes closer to becoming law, Lt Colonel Tim Purbrick, an art dealer and British army reservist who was a tank commander during the Desert Storm campaign, discusses how such a unit could work.
November 28, 2016
The Rolling Stones release their first studio album in over a decade this Friday. Blue & Lonesome, which takes the band back to their blues roots, was recorded over the course of three days, at British Grove Studio near Eel Pie Island. Where the band started playing the pubs and clubs. Music critic Kate Mossman reviews the album. Actor Miles Teller discusses his new film Bleed For This, based on the true story of world champion boxer Vinny Pazienza and his recovery from a life-threatening road accident. Teller, who played a jazz drummer in the film Whiplash, talks about his own brush with death in a car crash in 2007. Could the post-referendum fall in sterling be the reason why the National Gallery is struggling to secure a Pontormo's portrait, despite having raised more than £30million to keep it in the UK? Martin Bailey of The Art Newspaper joins John Wilson to discuss the unusual case of the Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap. The Last Poets are a radical group of African American poets and musicians whose recordings and performances became part of the soundtrack of the Black Power movement of the 1960s. The writer Christine Otten, and founder member of The Last Poets, Abiodun Oyewole, discusses Otten's new book, The Last Poets - a novel based on her encounters with the African American group regarded by many as the godfathers of Rap.
November 25, 2016
Game of Thrones meets Bake Off as Mel Giedroyc and Gemma Whelan discuss their involvement in New Songs 4 New Shows, a gala evening showcasing four new musicals currently in development, directed by West End grandee Maria Friedman. The Booker Prize-winning author Penelope Lively discusses her latest collection of short stories, The Purple Swamp Hen & Other Stories. After J.K. Rowling sends copies of her Harry Potter novels to a girl in Aleppo, Syria, fellow children's writer Michael Morpurgo discusses the importance of books in war zones. Billy Bob Thornton reprises his role as the foul-mouthed, whisky-fuelled 'Father Christmas' in Bad Santa 2. Mark Eccleston reviews. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Marilyn Rust.
November 24, 2016
It was announced today that William Finnegan has won the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year for his book Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. John Wilson reports from the ceremony and speaks to each of the authors of the seven shortlisted books, including Diana Nyad, who, aged 64, became the first person to swim the 100-mile stretch of shark-infested ocean between Cuba and Florida. Rillington Place, a street in West London, became notorious as the home of John Christie, the serial killer who framed another man, Timothy Evans, for one of his murders. Evans was hanged in 1950 and it would be another three years before Christie was convicted. The story is the subject of a new three-part BBC drama starring Tim Roth and Samantha Morton. Crime writer Natasha Cooper reviews. Johnny Cash Forever Words is a collection of previously unpublished and unseen poems by the singer songwriter. They were discovered by his son, John Carter Cash, who asked the poet Paul Muldoon to select 41 poems from 200. Muldoon discusses Cash's strengths as a poet and what distinguishes poems from lyrics. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
November 23, 2016
The Chancellor today pledged £7.6million to save the stately home Wentworth Woodhouse, for the nation. Campaigner Simon Jenkins explains the significance of Britain's largest private home. In a rare interview, the artist Anselm Kiefer discusses his new exhibition Walhalla, which features a dimly-lit, lead-lined dormitory full of lead sheets and pillows, and a series of large-scale new paintings covered in molten metal. Chi-raq is Spike Lee's latest film set in a black suburb of Chicago, where two rival gangs are at war. A musical drama, the film is a contemporary take on the Aristophanes' Lysistrata. Ekow Eshun reviews. Nice Fish is a comic play written by Mark Rylance based on the poems of Louis Jenkins. He describes why he set it on a frozen Minnesota lake and director Claire van Kampen talks about the challenges that presents for the stage. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.
November 22, 2016
Adam Driver played Lena Dunham's love interest in Girls, and Han Solo and Princess Leia's evil son in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The actor discusses his latest role as a poetry-writing bus driver in Jim Jarmusch's new film Paterson. Front Row reveals this year's Costa Book Awards shortlists. Critics Alex Clark and Toby Lichtig comment on the writers chosen in the five categories: novel, first novel, poetry, biography and children's fiction. Nearly a decade after the finale of the popular family TV series Gilmore Girls, Netflix has revived the drama in four extended 90-minute episodes. Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life reunites the cast with the show's creator and original writer Amy Sherman-Palladino, who had been absent for its final season. Rachel Cooke of The Guardian gives her verdict. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
November 21, 2016
We celebrate the life and work of the award winning writer William Trevor, renowned for his short stories and novels. His editor, Tony Lacey, and poet Paul Muldoon pay tribute. Novelist and essayist, Zadie Smith (White Teeth, On Beauty, NW) talks to Kirsty about black and white musicals, childhood friendships, and dancing, as she discusses her new novel, Swing Time. Tim Robey reviews Robert Zemeckis' romantic thriller Allied, which stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as two World War II spies who fall in love while on undercover assignment in Casablanca. Lucy Kirkwood, who's 2013 play Chimerica launched her as a playwright to watch, returns to the stage with The Children. It focuses on three retired nuclear physicists living under the shadow of a disaster in their former workplace. Kirsty Lang speaks to Lucy about the play and about our responsibility to the generations to come. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
November 18, 2016
Actor Ed Harris, star of The Right Stuff, The Truman Show and Westworld, on making his West End debut in Buried Child, Sam Shepard's play which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979, at a time of economic decline in the US when rural people felt forgotten. As choirs of children and young people around the world sing today to mark Benjamin Britten's birthday, Jonathan Dove on the 12 new songs he's written for the annual event, Friday Afternoons. Jan Patience, arts writer for The Herald, and Christopher Baker, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery discuss Sir Edwin Landseer's 1851 painting The Monarch of the Glen. Its owners, the drink giant Diageo, had planned to put the painting up for auction but has agreed to gift half the value of the painting, provided the National Galleries of Scotland can raise £4m in four months. Gavin Turk discusses his first major solo exhibition since 2002, showcasing works from throughout his career, from the life-sized wax figure of Gavin as Sid Vicious to the dirty sleeping bags which he cast to draw attention to the plight of the homeless. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
November 17, 2016
The inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture recognises a UK-based artist who has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture. Vying for the prize are four artists: Helen Marten, Phyllida Barlow, Stephen Claydon and David Medalla. Their work featuring household junk, hammocks, foam bubbles, magnetised pennies and paintings suggests sculpture is a broad church these days. Front Row announces the winner. 16 years after the £21m New Art Gallery Walsall opened its doors, which has also served as a catalyst for the regeneration of the Midlands town, the council is about to withdraw 100% of its funding, which will most likely lead to the gallery's closure. Its director Stephen Snoddy speaks out about the challenges the gallery faces and what the implications of the closure would be for the area. The director of Northern Ireland Opera, Oliver Mears, discusses his forthcoming production of Don Giovanni, set on a cruise ship in the 1960s, and, as he prepares to take up the role of Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, he looks back on his work in Belfast, and forward to his plans for Covent Garden. Indignation is the ninth film adaptation of a Philip Roth novel. As it opens in the UK, critics Leslie Felperin and Jason Solomons discuss whether this particular book transfers well to the screen, why so many of Roth's books rarely do, and why so many film directors are attracted to his work. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
November 16, 2016
Internationally-acclaimed writer Paulo Coelho discusses his new novel The Spy, based on the life of the dancer Mata Hari. Coelho is best-known for The Alchemist, an allegorical novel about a young shepherd boy, first published in 1988, which has now sold more than 65m copies worldwide. Your Name is the latest Japanese anime film to attract large global audiences, and is written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, regarded by many as the successor to Studio Ghibli's legendary Hayao Miyazaki. The film, about a teenage boy and girl who wake up and find themselves living in the other's body, is reviewed by Larushka Ivan-Zadeh. Last night the lawyer Philippe Sands won the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. His book, East West Street, explores the origins of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide as concepts but it is also a detective story and a thriller. To discuss the art of writing non-fiction, Philippe Sands is joined by Cathy Rentzenbrink who wrote The Last Act of Love, a memoir about her late brother who was seriously injured by a dangerous driver. We explore what happens when a high-profile art gallery turns to the local community of artists and makers to commission a work. Kirsty Lang visits Margate and Turner Contemporary's Studio Group to meet Kashif Nadim Chaudry, the artist they chose to work with on his large-scale textile artwork The Three Graces. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Marilyn Rust.
November 16, 2016
Front Row - Paulo Coelho, Your Name, Turner Contemporary, the art of writing non-fiction
November 15, 2016
David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike discuss A United Kingdom, a new film which tells the true story of Seretse Khama, the future King of Bechuanaland, and Ruth Williams, a clerk from South London. When they married in 1948 they not only faced fierce opposition from both of their families but from the British and South African governments. It had been claimed that the lost sketchbook from Van Gogh's time in Arles, France, has been discovered. However, in a statement released this afternoon, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has said they are of the opinion that these sketches 'could not be attributed to Vincent van Gogh'. We talk to the museum and the expert behind the 'discovery'. Cape Town City Ballet, the oldest ballet company in South Africa, has been resident at Cape Town University for eight decades. It's now caught in the long-running student protests for decolonisation of the curriculum. With the university deciding not to renew the company's lease, Gerard Samuel, Director of the School of Dance at Cape Town University and a Cape Town City Ballet board member, discusses the troupe's uncertain future. And 60 years after Ray Charles made his eponymous album, the music critic Kevin Le Gendre re-evaluates the moment that an artist who played rhythm & blues, the music from which rock & roll was born, was about to change the music world. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
J K Rowling's Fantastic Beasts, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, French film Divines, Chris Riddell on school libraries
November 14, 2016
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of Harry Potter author JK Rowling. The film tells the tale of magizoologist Newt Scamandar and his menagerie of fantastical creatures which are accidentally set free in 1920s New York, a place riven with political turmoil and persecution of the magical community. Producer David Heyman, who produced all eight of the Harry Potter films, and director David Yates, who helmed the final four of the franchise, discuss the latest instalment from the Potter universe. Divines, the debut movie from female French director Houda Benyamina won the Caméra d'Or at Cannes this year. Ginette Vincendeau reviews the drama that, 20 years after La Haine, takes place in a rough Parisian housing estate and focuses on the women's experience of drugs, power, crime and religion. It's almost 40 years since the Sex Pistol's released their landmark album Anarchy in the UK. The band's guitarist Steve Jones discusses his new autobiography Lonely Boy, which charts how punk gave him - a petty thief - a purpose. The Children's Laureate, Chris Riddell talks about why he, along with all eight of his predecessors, has sent a letter to education secretary Justine Greening protesting the undermining of school library services and the loss of specialist librarians. And, as the moon comes closer to earth than it has in a lifetime, a recording of Ted Hughes reading his great poem about seeing the full moon. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Julian May.
November 11, 2016
With news of the death of Leonard Cohen at the age of 82, we broadcast a rare interview the singer-songwriter did with Front Row in 2007, on a visit to Manchester for the opening of an exhibition of his art. To mark Armistice Day, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, artistic directors of the all-male dance troupe BalletBoyz, discuss Young Men, the film of their stage production which explores the soldiers' experience of the First World War, and why they felt it was important to shoot the film in the cold, rain and mud on location in northern France. And poetry from the battlefield. When we use the term 'war poet' we immediately think of WWI but what about verse inspired by more recent conflict? How do contemporary war poets compare to the likes of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke and Isaac Rosenberg? American Iraq War veteran and poet Kevin Powers, and Radio 4's poet-in-residence Daljit Nagra, discuss modern war poetry. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Ella-mai Robey.
November 10, 2016
Published in 2012, Zadie Smith's postcode-named novel NW was seen as a lyrical love letter to north-west London. This contemporary tale of the entwined lives of four Londoners has now been adapted for television. Critic Gaylene Gould reviews. Roger Bowdler of Historic England reveals its mission to get 2,500 war memorials listed by November 2018. He announces 50, and another nine by the controversial sculptor Eric Gill, and discusses what a war memorial can reveal about its location and the people it's dedicated to. Norman Ackroyd is widely considered one of Britain's great landscape artists. As a young man in the 1960s he rejected the lure of pop art and devoted his energy to capturing the coastline of Britain in black and white etchings. As his work goes on show in Norman Ackroyd: Just Be A Poet, he invites us to his studio to see how he works. For its 90th birthday, Rambert is performing Haydn's The Creation with 100 dancers, musicians and singers. Artistic director Mark Baldwin discusses this new work as well as the state of contemporary dance in the UK. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
November 9, 2016
Lord Lloyd Webber discusses joining forces with Downton creator Julian Fellowes and a cast of 39 children for his new stage adaptation of the Jack Black film School of Rock. He tells Samira how he hopes the production will serve as a reminder of how important the arts are in education. Actor Ewan McGregor talks about adapting Philip Roth's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, American Pastoral, in his directorial debut and why he's returning to the role of Renton, 20 years on from Trainspotting. Elton John owns one of the best photography collections in the world and now he's loaned some of them to the Tate Modern in London. The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography includes Man Ray's Glass Tears, Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother and Edward Weston's portrait of Igor Stravinsky. Newell Harbin, Sir Elton John's curator, shows us around. The Goldsmiths Prize was established three years ago to recognise fiction that breaks the mould or opens up new possibilities for the novel. Previous winners have included Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and Ali Smith's How to be Both. We talk to this year's winner Mike McCormack about his book Solar Bone. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Marilyn Rust.
November 8, 2016
The North East of England's Case for Culture is a bold plan to raise £300 million for art projects. Instead of being an adjunct to development culture is seen as the key to the region's redevelopment. But only a few years ago Newcastle cut its arts budget entirely. Organisations are exploring new ways of working. Jim Beirne of Live Theatre takes John Wilson to the pub the theatre runs, the profits of which pay for a new play every year. It also owns restaurants and prime office space, to fund its theatre and outreach projects. The Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell has just launched a new organisation, Magnetic North East, to foster the identity, music and traditions of the North East. It has released an album of songs and tunes, new and old, about the River Tyne, by artists ranging from Jimmy Nail to the Unthanks. Last Friday it held a grand concert in the region's village hall - Auditorium One of The Sage, featuring famous North East artists such as Paul Smith of the band Maximo Park, young folk musicians and a host of children giving a world premiere of a work by David Almond. Kathryn Tickell, John Mowbray - the High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, and a prime mover in the Case for Culture, David Almond, who wrote Skellig, the Olivier Award winning playwright, Shelagh Stephenson, whose new play is set in her hometown of Tynemouth, all contribute to John Wilson's exploration, as he rambles around Newcastle, of the role of art in the regeneration of the North East of England. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Julian May.
November 7, 2016
In 1991, R.E.M. released Out of Time, the album that turned them into international superstars. 25 years on, the album is being re-released. Lead singer Michael Stipe and bassist Mike Mills look back on those classic songs, including Losing My Religion and Shiny Happy People, and reflect on their decision five years ago to disband the group. Illuminated River is a new scheme that intends to light central London's 17 bridges along the River Thames. As the six shortlisted entries are unveiled we speak to Hannah Rothschild who leads the project. The Achates Philanthropy Prize is a new annual award which aims to show that anyone can become a cultural philanthropist. Nigel Farnall from Essex talks about winning the inaugural prize for his support for Theatre Royal Stratford East. Director Abel Gance's 51/2-hour silent film Napoleon flopped when it was first released in 1927. Silent film expert Pamela Hutchinson reviews a new digitally restored version of Gance's epic which is now regarded as an undisputed cinematic landmark. Stephen Poliakoff discusses his new TV drama, Close to the Enemy. Set in 1946, this period tale examines the change in moral certainties which began to emerge in Britain in the year after World War II ended. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
November 4, 2016
In his new film The Light Between Oceans, Michael Fassbender takes on the role of a man who becomes a lighthouse keeper in order to escape the atrocities he witnessed in World War One. He talks about playing a decent man struggling to overcome his past and what it was like to work on a remote location in New Zealand. As part of the BBC's celebration of reading, Love to Read, Front Row has challenged five authors to confess to a classic book they've never read - and then read it. Today Neel Mukherjee, best known for his Booker Prize-shortlisted The Lives of Others, reads Mark Twain's tale of a rebel boy and a runaway slave, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Comedian Nish Kumar, singer Sarah McQuaid and The Pitmen Poets discuss the tricky logistics of putting together a busy touring schedule, visiting every corner of the UK in just a few weeks. How do they choose where to appear, how many miles does it involve, and what happens when it doesn't go according to plan? The Goldfinch, the 17th-century painting of a chained bird that inspired Donna Tartt's Pulitzer prize winning novel, is on display at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh from today. Art critic Charlotte Mullins and literary critic Alex Clark discuss how this painting and others have sparked writers' imaginations. Presenter: Clemency Burton-Hill Producer: Angie Nehring.
Director Stephen Daldry on The Crown, Novelist Linda Grant, Nocturnal Animals, Francesca Simon reads The Scarlet Letter
November 3, 2016
Film and theatre director Stephen Daldry discusses his latest project with Clemency Burton Hill. The Crown charts Queen Elizabeth II's reign starting with her marriage to Philip Mountbatten in the post-war period in 1947. The Netflix drama series is Daldry's first foray into TV, written by Peter Morgan, which is reportedly the UK's most expensive ever. Nocturnal Animals is the latest film from fashion designer turned director Tom Ford. The psychological thriller stars Amy Adams as a lonely art gallery owner & Jake Gyllenhaal as her ex-husband. Jason Solomons reviews. As part of the BBC's celebration of books, Love to Read, the creator of Horrid Henry, Francesca Simon talks about the classic book she's read for Front Row: Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 story about guilt and sin, The Scarlet Letter. Linda Grant talks about her new novel The Dark Circle, which set in a tuberculosis sanatorium in the early 1950s. Producer: Julian May.
November 2, 2016
The murder of Damilola Taylor in 2000, came to symbolise youth crime in Britain and brought knife attacks into the public consciousness. Writer Levi David Addai explains why he chose to tells the story of the schoolboy's death from the family's point of view in new drama Our Loved Boy. Frederick, Lord Leighton's Flaming June, one of the most famous works of nineteenth-century British art, returns to the house in which it was painted. We speak to the curator at Leighton House Museum Daniel Robbins and art dealer Rupert Mass whose father briefly owned the work. For Love to Read, the BBC season celebrating the joy of books, author Kit de Waal confesses to a classic book she hasn't read - George Orwell's caustic satire of literary life, Keep the Aspidistra Flying - and reads it especially for Front Row. Between Diwali and Bonfire Night the writer on contemporary art Louisa Buck traces the history of fireworks, reveals why they are so attractive to artists and argues they are the most democratic of all art forms. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Jack Soper.
November 1, 2016
American actress Amy Adams has been nominated for five Oscars and is tipped to receive a sixth for her performance in sci-film Arrival, in which she plays a linguist trying to contact extra-terrestrials. She discusses her latest role and her career which has seen her play a con artist in American Hustle, a Disney princess in Enchanted and an art gallery owner with a sinister ex in Tom Ford's film Nocturnal Animals. As part of the BBC's Love to Read season, which celebrates the joy of books, author Tracy Chevalier, best known for Girl with a Pearl Earring, confesses to a classic book she's never read and reads it especially for Front Row. Her choice is Frances Hodgson Burnett's 1911 novel The Secret Garden. The Achates Philanthropy Prize is a new annual award which aims to show that anyone can become a cultural philanthropist. The prize's founder Caroline McCormick talks about how philanthropic gifts to arts organisations - from the smallest to the largest - could be encouraged in the UK. Composer and conductor John Rutter talks about his latest work Visions, which is a violin concerto unusually combined with a choir, and why he's made a new recording of his Requiem, which was memorably performed at a service for the 9/11 firefighters in St Patrick's Cathedral, New York. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
October 31, 2016
Sting discusses 57th & 9th, his first rock album in 13 years, the title being a reference to New York City, his adopted home for the last 35 years. "Art was, seriously, the only thing I'd ever wanted to own." So said David Bowie, who gathered a huge and distinguished collection, particularly of post-war British painting. As an exhibition of the work opens at Sotheby's, ahead of its sale next month, Beth Greenacre, who was Bowie's curator, walks John Wilson around the collection and discusses what it reveals about him. As part of the BBC's Love to Read campaign which celebrates the pleasures of reading, author Mark Haddon - best known for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - confesses to a classic book he's never read, and reads it especially for Front Row. His choice of classic book: John Bunyan's 1678 Christian allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress. Enoch Powell's 1968 "Rivers of Blood" speech is at the heart of a new play that examines the shifting nature of identity. Playwright Chris Hannan and actor Ian McDiarmid discuss bringing Powell the man and Powell the politician to life in the premiere production of What Shadows at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
October 28, 2016
Benedict Cumberbatch takes the lead role in Doctor Strange, the latest blockbuster from Marvel studios. He discusses playing one of their less well-known superheroes; the former surgeon who protects the earth with his two mystical objects - the Cloak of Levitation and Eye of Agamotto - and explains how his preparation for this physically demanding film coincided with his performing Hamlet on stage at the Barbican in London. Elena Ferrante, the author of the Neapolitan Quartet, has always insisted that nothing should come between a reader and her books, and regards public interest in her as an unnecessary distraction. Her new book - Frantumaglia: A Writer's Journey - is a collection of her correspondence and prompted a media storm when it was used as the justification for investigating and revealing her identity. Critic Alex Clark reviews Ferrante's latest literary offering. Violinist Tasmin Little has, for the first time, recorded Vivaldi's Four Seasons, along with a complementary contemporary piece, Four World Seasons by Roxanna Panufnik. In this new composition each season is evoked by a different country and its music, including autumn in Albania and summer in India. Musician and composer discuss their collaboration. One glance at the UK album charts reveals that alongside the Drakes, the Two Door Cinema Clubs and the Craig Davids, there is one musical category that refuses to go away. Writer Ben Wardle tries to fathom the enduring appeal of 'Middle of the Road' music. Presenter: Clemency Burton-Hill Producer: Angie Nehring.
October 27, 2016
37 years after its landmark first production starring Paul Scofield as Salieri and Simon Callow as Mozart, Peter Schaffer's play Amadeus returns to the National Theatre in London. Director Michael Longhurst and Lucian Msamati - who plays Salieri - discuss their new production which features a 30-piece orchestra live on stage. Before she became famous for creating the freckle-faced optimist Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren was an aspiring author living in Stockholm at the outbreak of World War II. Astrid's daughter Karin Nyman and author Meg Rosoff discuss A World Gone Mad - Astrid Lindgren's War Diaries, now available for the first time in English, which paint a picture of life in a neutral country during the conflict, and her emergence as a writer. As the Creative Industries Federation publishes its report on the possible impact of Brexit on the Arts, we speak to its Chief Executive John Kampfner about the key findings. Turner Prize-winning artist Richard Wright discusses his gold-leaf, ornamental design for the ceiling and walls of the Queen's House in Greenwich, the 17th century Palladian villa designed by the celebrated British architect Inigo Jones, which re-opened to the public recently. Presenter Clemency Burton-Hill Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 26, 2016
Bryan Cranston played a hapless dad in Malcom in the Middle, a dentist to the stars in Seinfeld, and most famously a teacher-turned-drugs-lord in Breaking Bad. Now he has written an autobiography. Cranston discusses A Life in Parts which recalls the many odd parts he's played in real life - paperboy, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, husband, father and, of course, actor. One of the last projects David Bowie worked on was his musical Lazarus which includes new music and some of his best-known hits. The production which broke box office records when it played in New York has now transferred to a specially-built venue in London. We speak to Enda Walsh, Bowie's co-writer on the project, and the show's director Ivo van Hove about bringing Bowie's vision to life. Paul Beatty has become the first US author to win the Man Booker Prize, with his racial satire The Sellout. It marks the second win in a row for independent publisher Oneworld who also published last year's winner, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. So what is their secret? How do they talent spot the authors who go on to win big? We will hear from one of the founders, Juliet Mabey. We remember theatre director Howard Davies whose death at the age of 71 was announced today. During his long career he won three Best Director Olivier Awards, and established and ran the Warehouse Theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company, now the Donmar Warehouse in London. He also did much work for the Royal National Theatre, where he directed 36 productions. Former NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner recalls working with him there, and Matt Wolf, theatre critic for The International New York Times, assesses his work. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
Emma Rice to leave The Globe, plus Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton and the new Design Museum
October 25, 2016
Shakespeare's Globe artistic director Emma Rice is to leave the theatre in 2018 after its board decided her methods are not authentic enough. Rice took charge of the London theatre in January but has come in for fierce criticism, including for her use of sound and lighting technology. Theatre critics Sarah Hemming, of the Financial Times, and Ann Treneman of the Times, discuss the reasons for Rice's departure and The Globe's future. In a month's time the new Design Museum in London will be unveiled, having moved from its Thames-side home to its new, larger location, the building that was the Grade II* listed Commonwealth Institute in Kensington High St. John Pawson, the architect who has designed the interiors, and Dejan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum, give John Wilson the first access to the £83m project. As Boyz N The Hood goes back into cinemas to mark its 25th Anniversary - and as a centrepiece of the British Film Institute's Black Star season - John Singleton talks to John Wilson about writing and directing what would become a ground-breaking film by the age of 23, and why the industry is more difficult than ever for black filmmakers. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Jack Soper (Photo: Emma Rice. Credit: Imeh Akpanudosen / Getty Images for Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts).
October 24, 2016
Jude Law stars as a young dogmatic pontiff in Oscar winning director Paolo Sorrentino's new television drama The Young Pope. John Wilson speaks to actor and director about papal politics, football playing nuns and working on the small screen. As Tate Britain opens their retrospective of Paul Nash we speak to curator Emma Chambers and comic artist Dave McKean, who has created a graphic novel inspired by Paul Nash's dreams, about why Nash was such an important artist both on and beyond the battlefield. As libraries are closing around the country South Shields opens a new one which goes way beyond books and shelves. The Word is a state of the art cultural venue and the National Centre for the Written Word. John hears from Tanya Robinson, who has steered the project, and writer Tom Kelly about his ongoing interactive exhibition Lost Dialects, seeking to bring local words back to life, and find new ones. The ballet critic Luke Jennings thinks the art is in crisis because even when the dance is new, the stories are always old. He, David Nixon, Artistic Director of Northern Ballet, and John Wilson discuss this - if it is true, why and what might be done to allow classical ballet to address the times in which we live. Producer: Julian May.
October 21, 2016
Chrissie Hynde, singer and founding member of the Pretenders, discusses Alone, the band's first album in eight years. A new £30,000 arts award, The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture, aims to recognise an artist who has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture in Britain. The shortlisted artists Phyllida Barlow, Steven Claydon, Helen Marten and David Medalla share their thoughts on the practice of sculpture today. Today Historic England published its annual Heritage At Risk register featuring buildings identified as in danger of being lost due to neglect or decay. The Grade I listed medieval house, West Horsley Place, inherited by the historian and broadcaster Bamber Gascoigne, has been added to the register. He discusses what this means for his plans to create an opera house on the site. Joe Queenan reports from New York on the cultural hinterland of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 20, 2016
In 1912, 24 scouts from the slums of South East London set sail from Waterloo Bridge, but in a tragic accident eight drowned. Stella Duffy discusses her new novel, London Lies Beneath, in which she recreates that area of London and imagines the lives of the families involved in the months leading up to the tragedy and beyond. With news that the £21m New Art Gallery Walsall is being threatened with closure just 16 years after it opened, Bob and Roberta Smith, former artist-in-residence, gives his response. At the age of 19, Yves Klein identified the blue sky in Nice as his first artwork. It marked the beginning of an artistic career which ended with his heart attack at the age of 34. Art critic Richard Cork reviews a new exhibition of Klein's work at Tate Liverpool. Barrie Kosky's directorial debut at the Royal Opera House is Shostakovich's The Nose, based on a satirical story by Gogol, with a huge cast of singers and even more noses, all inspired, he says, by a very famous one - Barbara Streisand's. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Marilyn Rust.
Ali Smith, Osmo Vänskä, the Nicholas Brothers, Islamic Art & the Supernatural, A Martian Sends a Postcard Home
October 19, 2016
Ali Smith discusses her Brexit-era novel, Autumn, with Samira Ahmed. It's the first of a quartet which very much reflects the issues of today. Osmo Vänskä is about to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra playing all the symphonies of Sibelius. He speaks about the composer and Sibelius' place in Finnish national identity. In 1943 two African American brothers from Philadelphia performed a dance routine in the film Stormy Weather, which Fred Astaire would come to refer to as the greatest movie musical sequence he had ever seen. For Fayard and Harold Nicholas - otherwise known as The Nicholas Brothers - entering the Hollywood arena this was no small feat in the 1940's America, a time when racial prejudice was commonplace. Choreographer Stuart Thomas reflects on the achievement of the brothers who were regulars at Harlem's Cotton Club - working with the orchestras of Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington - and one of whom taught Michael Jackson to dance. There are old saws that depicting figures is prohibited in Islam and that the religion, apart from devotion to the one God, has no truck with the supernatural. Francesca Leoni, curator of a new exhibition at the the Ashmolean Museum, and Professor Tariq Ramadan, discuss with Samira Ahmed how things are a good deal more complicated than that. And, on the day a spacecraft lands on Mars to send messages back about the planaet, we hear part of a poem that reverses that process.
October 18, 2016
50 years since he made Cathy Come Home, Ken Loach discusses his latest film I, Daniel Blake, a characteristically angry indictment of Britain's welfare system. Following the announcement of the scrapping of A and AS levels in archaeology, Sir Tony Robinson reveals why he's backing the protest against this decision. Towards the end of his career the great French sculpture Auguste Rodin became fascinated with dance and bodies captured in extreme acrobatic poses. Now a new exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery - Rodin & Dance: The Essence of Movement - will display a series of experimental sculptures known as the Dance Movements made in 1911. John Wilson was joined there by the curator Dr Alexandra Gerstein and Royal Ballet Principal Dancer Sarah Lamb. Madness frontman Suggs discusses the band's new album Can't Touch Us Now, which as usual features colourful London characters, including Mr Apples, Amy Winehouse and Pam the Hawk.
October 17, 2016
As Phil Collins announces his return to the stage for his first live dates in 10 years, the former Genesis frontman discusses that and his new memoir Not Dead Yet. Two laureates, Gillian Clarke, who was the National Poet of Wales, and Carol Ann Duffy, talk about The Map and the Clock, their new anthology that moves through 14 centuries, several languages and all over these islands, to present their choice of the poetry of Britain and Ireland. Writer Patrick Ness is best known for his Carnegie-winning novels for young adults, including Monsters of Men and A Monster Calls. He discusses his first foray into television with Class, a new BBC spin-off of Doctor Who which sees a group of students try to save their school from attack. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 17, 2016
Music legend Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature on the day the death of previous winner, playwright Dario Fo, was announced. We get reaction to both the singer-songwriter becoming a Nobel laureate and the legacy of the Italian who penned Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Tutankhamun is the new Sunday evening drama on ITV, focusing on Howard Carter's discovery in 1922 of the grave of the boy pharaoh buried in Egypt 3,300 years ago. The drama's writer Guy Burt discusses his approach to his telling of the story of 'King Tut'. Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov is embarking on a monumental Tchaikovsky project, with three concerts and the release of the 6th Symphony, the Pathétique, the first in a cycle of new recordings. He talks to Samira Ahmed about his lifelong relationship with the music of the composer he calls his 'beloved friend'. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Marilyn Rust.
Earl Cameron, David Gledhill, The art of Alphonse Mucha, Simon Callow on David Gascoyne, Northampton theatre to open a school
October 14, 2016
Earl Cameron CBE was one of the first black stars of British cinema, making his big screen debut in 1950 with the crime drama, Pool of London. He's continued acting into his 90s, taking on roles in The Queen and Inception. Now 99, with a restored version of Pool of London about to released, and taking part in Black Star - the BFI's nationwide celebration of black screen stars - he talks to John Wilson about his long career. For his album, Release, music producer David Gledhill (aka SOULS) spent five years searching old field recordings of singers from the American south. He cleaned and edited each recording and built new songs around them. Gledhill discusses the making of the album with John Wilson, and explains how these songs were part of his grieving following the death of his wife. Alphonse Mucha is widely viewed as the Father of Art Nouveau. The Czech painter and illustrator first attracted attention when his beautifully detailed posters of actress superstar Sarah Bernhardt appeared around Paris in 1895. By the time of his death in 1939, his illustrations were considered outmoded, but in the 1970's they became hugely popular again. Jan Patience reviews an exhibition in Glasgow of work by the artist who influenced the city's own master of Art Nouveau, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Just as Art History 'A' Level is axed the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton announces plans to develop a bid for a free school specialising in the cultural and creative industries. John Wilson talks to CEO Martin Sutherland about their ambitions for the school and their motivations behind the bid. David Gascoyne was born 100 years ago this week. Simon Callow remembers the man he regards as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Producer: Julian May David Gascoyne was born 100 years ago this week. Simon Callow remembers the man he regards as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Producer: Julian May.
October 12, 2016
With her new film American Honey, British filmmaker Andrea Arnold has left behind the housing estates and tower blocks of her previous films Red Road and Fish Tank for a road movie set among the endless highways of America. Critic Briony Hanson reviews. American writer Bernice McFadden discusses her latest novel The Book of Harlan, which contrasts the music scene of the Harlem Renaissance and 1930s Paris with the story of the black victims of the Holocaust whose story is rarely heard, and in many cases wasn't believed when those who survived returned to the US. When the activist George Monbiot wrote an article about the scourge of loneliness, it had a huge impact, and publishers urged him to write a book. Instead, for the first time, he wrote some songs and got together with the musician Ewan McLennan. They talk about the resulting album, Breaking the Spell of Loneliness. Ella Hickson's new play Oil explores the history of the product, from its discovery to its role in the economy today, through the eyes of a mother and daughter relationship. She joins Director Carrie Cracknell to discuss why it's important to drill deep into our relationship with this finite resource. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 11, 2016
Director Mira Nair and Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o discuss their new film Queen of Katwe, which is based on the true story of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi. Newcastle Gateshead has beaten Sheffield, Blackpool and Bradford and been selected by the government to host a £5m Great Exhibition of the North in 2018. Carol Bell, Culture & Major Events Director, Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, talks about their plans for the major exhibition, which will showcase art, design and innovation from the north of England. 12 years after the last episode of Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker is back on the small screen in Divorce, a comedy drama about the end of a marriage written by Catastrophe's Sharon Horgan. Stephen Armstrong reviews. In 1974 the Gaul trawler set off from Hull never to return, disappearing off the northern coast of Norway with all hands lost. Playwright Janet Plater talks about her new drama The Gaul at Hull Truck Theatre, which charts the experience of the wives and relatives left behind. Shahidha Bari reviews The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined, a new exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery in London which explores the aesthetics of taste through the prism of fashion. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rachel Simpson.
October 10, 2016
Director Kwame Kwei-Armah and writer Kemp Powers discuss their new production of One Night in Miami, a fictional account of the night in 1964 when boxer Cassius Clay chose to celebrate his world heavyweight victory in a hotel room with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football star Jim Brown. Poet, rapper and writer Kate Tempest describes her new album Let Them Eat Chaos, the follow-up to her Mercury-shortlisted album Everybody Down. It's a long poem, written for live performance, which centres on seven residents of a London street all awake at 4:48am. The Oscar-winning Polish film director Andrzej Wajda has died at the age of 90. During the war he joined the Polish resistance, and then studied to be a painter, before entering the Lodz Film School. Wajda's films chart the history of Poland through the wartime Warsaw Uprising, the suppression of the Solidarity movement, the fall of Communism and joining the EU. Ian Christie, professor of Film and Media History, looks back at the director's career. Shock and Awe: A History of Glam Rock is music journalist Simon Reynolds's new book. He charts the outrageous styles, gender-fluid sexual politics and retro-future sounds that came to define the first half of the 1970s, from Bolan to Bowie and Suzi Quatro to Roxy Music. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.
October 7, 2016
Supersonic is a new documentary charting the success of Oasis, the Manchester band with 8 number one albums and estimated sales of over 70 million. John talks to director Mat Whitecross - who also directed Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, the biopic of Ian Dury - about charting brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher's rapid rise to stardom. In Mel Gibson's new film Blood Father, the actor is cast as a recovering alcoholic with anger issues, capitalising on the actor's off-screen controversies over the past decade. Antonia Quirke reviews. Beyond Caravaggio at the National Gallery, which focuses on the work of the Italian painter and his influence on the art of his contemporaries and followers, is reviewed by Waldemar Januszczak. Sir Karl Jenkins discusses his new choral work Cantata Memoria - For the Children, in commemoration of those killed in the Aberfan disaster 50 years ago, which has its world premiere in Cardiff tomorrow. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
October 6, 2016
Documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux discusses his new film My Scientology Movie, Jimmy Savile, and his particular documentary-making style. To celebrate National Poetry Day, PJ Harvey, Daljit Nagra and Holly McNish will each be introducing and reading a new poem each for Front Row. Sara Lloyd from the Welsh-language National Theatre Wales, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, and Thomas Cloarec from Breton company Teatr Piba discuss their collaboration on a new play. Merch yr Eog (The Salmon's Daughter) is performed in Welsh, Breton, French and Creole and translated for the audience through a smartphone app. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Marilyn Rust.
October 5, 2016
Christopher Frayling, Guest Curator of this year's Widescreen Weekend festival at the National Media Museum, and the filmmaker Mike Figgis, famed for his technologically ground-breaking films such as Timecode, discuss the possibilities of the latest cinematic evolution - Virtual Reality. Samira hears from director Phyllida Lloyd about the final production in her trilogy of Shakespeare plays with all-female casts and set in a prison - The Tempest - with Harriet Walter playing Prospero and with Shakespeare's songs newly set by Joan Armatrading. A new exhibition of Pablo Picasso's portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London is the first time in 20 years that so many of his representations of his family and friends have been brought together and, as the curator Prof Elizabeth Cowling explains, it reveals his wit, humour and passion as well as the extraordinary range of styles and media he employed during his life. As a child Simon Gronowski was pushed from a moving train by his mother. Her actions saved his life as the train was bound for Auschwitz, where she died along with his sister. Now his extraordinary story has been transformed into an opera by composer and librettist Howard Moody, and is being performed as part of the ROOT 1066 festival in Hastings. Presented by Samira Ahmed Produced by Ella-mai Robey.
October 4, 2016
John Wilson hosts the BBC National Short Story Award live from the BBC Radio Theatre. This year's shortlisted authors are Hilary Mantel, K J Orr, Tahmima Anam, Claire-Louise Bennett and Lavinia Greenlaw. Four of the five join John on stage to discuss their stories and explore the art of writing a short story. The winner of the £15000 prize will be announced by Chair of Judges, Jenni Murray. In addition, Radio 1 DJ Alice Levine will announce the winner of the BBC Young Writer's Award. The BBC National Short Story Award is presented in conjunction with BookTrust. Presenter John Wilson Producer Rebecca Armstrong.
October 3, 2016
Tom Stoppard discusses the new production of his "dishevelled comedy" Travesties, Brexit and his desire to write a new play about the migrant crisis. The Girl on The Train, Paula Hawkins' thriller about a divorced alcoholic who becomes caught up in a missing person investigation, has sold 11 million copies worldwide and been turned into a film starring Emily Blunt. But has the transition onto the silver screen and the move from London to New York worked? Mark Eccleston reviews. We report from Shapes of Water, Sounds of Hope, a mass participatory performance artwork, led by the distinguished American artist Suzanne Lacy which took place in Pendle, Lancashire this weekend. As a new exhibition opens exploring the Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s, artist Lynn Hershman Leeson and historian Professor Hilary Robinson look back at those years and ask if there's still a need for feminist art today? And we remember the conductor and violinist Sir Neville Marriner, who has died aged 92. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rachel Simpson.
September 29, 2016
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the worst environmental disaster in US history. Now a new film starring Mark Wahlberg tells the story of the explosion which destroyed the offshore drilling rig. He joins director Peter Berg to discuss the making of this biographical disaster movie. It's Woody Allen's first television series, and stars Miley Cyrus and Allen himself. Rachel Cooke reviews Crisis in Six Scenes, the story of a young 1960s radical and the elderly couple she moves in with. As he turns 60, the pianist Melvyn Tan talks about popularising the fortepiano, the predecessor to the modern piano, and what it's like to perform on Beethoven's own instrument. Maria Semple wrote for TV shows such as Saturday Night Live and Arrested Development before she turned to novels, including Where'd You Go, Bernadette, which was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction in 2013. She discusses Today Will Be Different which follows one disastrous day in the life of a middle-aged woman. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.
September 28, 2016
The American composer Steve Reich will be celebrating his 80th birthday next week. As he prepares to attend a series of events around the UK to mark his eight decades, the influential pioneer of minimal music looks back over his career, including his compositions It's Gonna Rain, Drumming, Clapping Music, and Different Trains. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.
September 27, 2016
Samira Ahmed talks to Gillian Anderson, who returns as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson in the third series of Belfast-set psychological TV drama The Fall. Choreographer Jasmin Vardimon on her new dance version of Pinocchio, which goes back to the original text, and which tours the UK. Linda Marshall-Griffiths talks about her radical updating of Charlotte Bronte's final novel Villette for West Yorkshire Playhouse, marking Bronte's bicentenary. And Imogen Russell Williams reviews Tim Burton's film Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.
September 26, 2016
As the work of the Turner Prize-shortlisted artists go on show at Tate Britain, Charlotte Mullins assesses what the exhibition says about the strength of contemporary art in the UK. Brian McCormick, Seamus Heaney's nephew and director of a new arts and literary centre dedicated to the Nobel laureate, talks about opening the exhibition space in the poet's home town of Bellaghy, Northern Ireland. Meg Rosoff, who completed the new novel Beck by her friend Mal Peet after he passed away, and Samantha Norman, who finished her mother Ariana Franklin's historical thriller Winter Siege, discuss the challenges - and joys - of completing books after the death of their authors. Actor Dominic Cooper and director Terry Johnson discuss their new production of The Libertine, Stephen Jeffreys' 1994 play about the rake and poet John Wilmot who scandalised the court of Charles II. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.
September 23, 2016
John Wilson talks to ballet star Tamara Rojo and choreographer Akram Khan, as their radical new version of Giselle for English National Ballet opens in Manchester. Grace Coddington, the former creative director of American Vogue, on her five decades at the top of the fashion world. Krissah Thompson of The Washington Post reviews the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. 950 years after William the Conqueror arrived on our shores, historian Tom Holland assesses the cultural impact of the Norman invasion. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser.
September 22, 2016
Martin Green, CEO of Hull City of Culture 2017, reveals what's in next year's programme, and film-maker Sean McAllister discusses his plans for the opening seven-day event, Made In Hull. Emma Donoghue, author of Room, talks about her new novel, The Wonder. It's a gothic thriller set in 19th-century Ireland, where a young girl is said to have eaten nothing for months but appears to be thriving miraculously. To celebrate the autumn equinox, poet Zaffar Kunial will perform his poem Prayer, which recalls his father's first words to him as a new-born, and the last words he whispered in his mother's ear. Director Ira Sachs discusses his new film Little Men, which tells the story of a pair of best friends who have their bond tested by their parents' battle over a dress shop lease. Today's shortlisted author for the BBC National Short Story Award is K J Orr, whose story Disappearances is told from the perspective of a retired cosmetic surgeon in Buenos Aires who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a waitress in a cafe.