Front Row

Front Row

By BBC Radio 4

Live magazine programme on the worlds of arts, literature, film, media and music.


Steven Knight on Great Expectations, After Impressionism at the National Gallery

Writer and director Steven Knight, whose work includes Peaky Blinders and SAS Rogue Heroes, discusses his new BBC adaptation of Great Expectations which stars Olivia Coleman as Miss Havisham. Tom Sutcliffe is joined by critics Ben Luke and Isabel Stevens to review some of the week’s cultural highlights including Spanish film The Beasts, the After Impressionism exhibition at the National Gallery and the return of TV drama Succession. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson
23/03/23·42m 24s

Touchstones Rochdale art gallery's radical 80s history, James Shapiro on Shakespeare

A Tall Order! Rochdale Art Gallery in the 1980s is the name of the show currently on at Touchstones Rochdale, which reflects on the gallery’s radical history supporting those who were, at the time, overlooked by the mainstream of the art world, some of whom have gone on to prestigious careers. Co-curators Derek Horton and Alice Correia join Front Row to discuss the show. We begin our interviews with the writers shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize’s Winner of Winners Award. The award picks an overall favourite from across the prize’s 25 year history. James Shapiro will be discussing 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, his portrait of the most impactful year of Shakespeare’s life during which he wrote Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It and, most remarkably, Hamlet. And we talk to arts minister Lord Parkinson on the new £60 million Cultural Investment Fund. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Main Image: Touchstones Rochdale - Gallery 2
22/03/23·42m 25s

Danny Lee Wynter and play Black Superhero; badly behaved theatre audiences; violinist Pekka Kuusisto

Are theatre audiences behaving badly? After recent complaints, we discuss expectations of audience etiquette. Tom is joined by: Dr Kirsty Sedgman, Lecturer in Theatre at University of Bristol, researcher of audiences, and author of The Reasonable Audience: Theatre Etiquette, Behaviour Policing, And The Live Performance Experience; Lyn Gardner, theatre critic and Associate Editor of The Stage; and by front of house worker Bethany North. British composer Anna Clyne and Finnish violinist and conductor Pekka Kuusisto discuss their new collaborations, including this week’s premiere of Anna’s clarinet concerto, Weathered, at the Royal Festival Hall in London, which Pekka will conduct. Plus they talk about their forthcoming partnership at the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in which Anna and Pekka will serve as Composer-in-Residence and Artistic Co-Director respectively. Plus, actor turned playwright Danny Lee Wynter on his new play Black Superhero at the Royal Court Theatre in London – revealing a world where fantasy and reality meet with devastating consequences. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Simon Richardson (Main image credit: Ajamu X)
21/03/23·42m 28s

Lisa O’Neill performs live, Dance of Death from the National Theatre of Norway

Irish singer songwriter Lisa O’Neill talks to Samira Ahmed about her latest album, All Of This Is Chance, and performs live in the Front Row studio. The National Theatre of Norway have brought their production of Strindberg’s Dance of Death to the UK. Director Marit Moum Aune explains what led her to delve into the work of Strindberg, and acclaimed Norwegian actor Pia Tjelta reveals how she connected to her character. Africa’s biggest film festival, FESPACO, has just taken place in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou. The biannual festival is a showcase for African talent and a marketplace for the industry. Film curator Carmen Thompson talks Samira through the upcoming African films to look out for. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Tim Prosser
20/03/23·42m 25s

Richard Eyre on his film Allelujah, and climate change TV drama Extrapolations reviewed

Richard Eyre on directing the screen version of Alan Bennett’s play Allelujah, starring Jennifer Saunders, set on the geriatric ward of a fictional Yorkshire hospital, the Bethlehem, and on raising questions about how society cares for its older population. We review the star-studded Apple TV+ climate change series Extrapolations, and a new exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers - Black Artists from the American South. Our reviewers are writer and comic artist Woodrow Phoenix - and YA author, script editor and founder of the international Climate Fiction Writers League, Lauren James. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson
16/03/23·42m 19s

Scottish-Iranian film Winners, playwright Calum L MacLeòid, neurodiversity and creativity

Filmmaker Hassan Nazar talks to Kate Molleson about his new film Winners, a love letter to the art of cinema. Set in Iran, it follows two children who find an Oscars statuette. Playwright Calum L MacLeòid on his new Western, Stornaway, Quebec, which is set in 1880s Canada and performed in Gaelic, Québécois, and English. And to mark Neurodiversity Celebration Week, Front Row discusses neurodiversity and creativity with impressionist Rory Bremner, stand-up comedian Ria Lina, and psychologist Professor Nancy Doyle. Presenter: Kate Molleson Producer: Paul Waters
15/03/23·42m 21s

Diversity at the Oscars and Baftas; plays and the cost of living; children's books; Phyllida Barlow

The conclusion of the Oscars marks the end of the film awards season, so Front Row took the opportunity to look at the progress made on representation in film and at awards. Tom is joined by the film critic Amon Warmann, Katherine Pieper of LA's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which looks at equalities at the Oscars, and Marcus Ryder of the Lenny Henry Centre For Media Diversity. Plus, with a host of new productions exploring the cost of living crisis, we look at how playwrights are tackling this. Writer Emily White talks about her new play, Joseph K and the Cost of Living, being staged as part of a three-part project at the Swansea Grand Theatre, and the writer and critic Sarah Crompton discusses theatre's response to social and political issues on stage. Bex Lindsay, presenter on Fun Kids Radio and children’s books expert, joins us for a round-up of some of the most interesting and engaging new releases for young independent readers. Books discussed: Like A Curse by Elle McNicoll Montgomery Bonbon: Murder at the Museum by Alasdair Beckett-King Skandar and the Unicorn Thief/The Phantom Rider by AF Steadman Jamie by L D Lapinski Onyeka and the Rise of the Rebels by Tola Okogwu I Spy, A Bletchley Park Mystery by Rhian Tracey Saving Neverland, by Abi Elphinstone Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Emma Wallace Main Image: Michelle Yeoh
14/03/23·42m 24s

Author Percival Everett, director Pravesh Kumar on Little English

Author Percival Everett on his novel Dr No; Director Pravesh Kumar on his film Little English; the new Yeats Smartphones poetry trail in Bedford Award-winning US novelist Percival Everett on his surreal new book, Dr No – in which unlikely heroes and uber-wealthy super villains chase after a box containing absolutely nothing. Pravesh Kumar has been running a theatre company for over two decades and last year received an MBE in the New Year Honours List for services to theatre. As he makes his debut as a filmmaker with romantic comedy Little English - centred on a British South Asian family living in Slough - he discusses the importance of nuanced portrayals and overturning stereotypes. It’s a century this year since W. B. Yeats won the Nobel Prize in literature for his poetry, ‘which…gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.’ This is marked by a new guided, smartphone app trail around places where he lived and that influenced him early in life. It is narrated and with poems read by Oscar nominated actor Ciarán Hinds. But it is not, as you might assume, in Ireland. Front Row reports from the launch. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May (Picture of Percival Everett. Photographer credit: Nacho Goberna)
13/03/23·42m 12s

Film My Sailor, My Love; Atwood’s Old Babes In The Wood; Baillie Gifford prize; Nicole Flattery

New Irish film, My Sailor, My Love, by Finnish director, Klaus Härö, and a new collection of short stories, Old Babes in the Wood, by Margaret Atwood. To review, Tom is joined by author Ashley Hickson-Lovence and academic Sarah Churchwell. Plus the Baillie Gifford prize – the six books shortlisted for the ‘winner of winners’ award. And Irish author Nicole Flattery on her debut novel Nothing Special. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Paul Waters
09/03/23·41m 53s

Pioneering play Top Girls turns 40, do publishers owe a duty of care to memoirists? and the benefits of stopping the show

A reimagining of Caryl Churchill’s ground-breaking and celebrated play, Top Girls, opens this week at the Liverpool Everyman which sets the play – about female ambition and success across centuries and cultures - in Merseyside. Playwright Charlotte Keatley and theatre critic Susannah Clapp discuss the play’s themes and its continuing impact forty years after its premiere. Prince Harry’s book Spare and the ripples it’s created have led to questions about the writing and publication of memoirs. In recent years, there has been a widening of the voices encouraged to write and getting published, but what is the impact on the authors, and should there be a greater duty of care? Agent Rachel Mills and Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act of Love, a memoir about losing her brother, join Front Row to discuss. The show must go on has long been the mantra of those working in theatre but last August, David Byrne, Artistic Director of New Diorama Theatre, made an astonishing announcement which began with the words, “The end of the show must go on” and went on to state that the theatre would be closing its doors for at least six months to allow time for an artistic reset. As New Diorama Theatre reopens, David joins Front Row to discuss what the resetting has revealed. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Picture: Top Girls – Lauren Lane as Pope Joan – Photographer’s Credit Marc Brenner
08/03/23·36m 30s

Daniel Mays on a new production of Guys and Dolls, and how accessible are venues and film sets for performers?

Daniel Mays talks to Samira Ahmed about starring as Nathan Detroit in a new immersive production of the musical Guys and Dolls at the Bridge Theatre in south London. Front Row investigates how accessible theatres and gig venues are, not just for audiences but for performers. Reporter Carolyn Atkinson talks to a comedian and a DJ who have struggled with access and asks how venues should be addressing the problem. And actor Julie Fernandez and producer Sara Johnson discuss a new scheme to train access co-ordinators in film and television. The scheme aims to make the industry more accessible for deaf, disabled and neurodivergent cast and crew. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May
07/03/23·42m 22s

Steven Moffat and Lucy Caldwell on writing about the Hadron Collider

Sherlock and Dr Who writer Steven Moffat, and Lucy Caldwell, winner of the BBC National Short Story Award, discuss writing short stories inspired by the science of the Large Hadron Collider for a new collection called Collision. The project pairs a team of award-winning authors with Cern physicists to explore some of the discoveries being made, through fiction. From interstellar travel using quantum tunnelling, to first contact with antimatter aliens, to a team of scientists finding themselves being systematically erased from history, these stories explore the dark matters that only physics can offer answers to. A new documentary called Subject explores the life-altering experience of sharing one’s life on screen, through the participants of five acclaimed documentaries. Samira Ahmed talks to Camilla Hall, one of the film’s directors, about the ethics of documentary making. Writer Mojisola Adebayo and director Matthew Xia talk about their new play Family Tree, which won the Alfred Fagon Best New Play Award. The play, which opens at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry, explores the extraordinary story of Henrietta Lacks, the African American woman whose cancer cells were taken without her permission or knowledge in 1951 and which are still informing medical science today. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Eliane Glaser
06/03/23·42m 28s

Daisy Jones & The Six on TV. Lukas Dhont’s film Close. Edmund De Waal on potter Lucie Rie

Riley Keough and Sam Claflin star in the 10-part adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Daisy Jones And The Six, the story of a fictional 70s band loosely inspired by Fleetwood Mac. Belgian director Lukas Dhont’s film Close, about two teenage boys whose close friendship is challenged by their schoolmates, won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Critics Tim Robey and Kate Mossman join Front Row to review both. Plus Edmund de Waal on late fellow potter Lucie Rie's life and work as a new retrospective opens at Kettle's Yard in Cambridge. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Sarah Johnson
02/03/23·42m 28s

Barry Male Voice Choir, new play Romeo and Julie, WNO’s Blaze of Glory and Welsh culture minister Dawn Boden

On St David's Day Front Row is coming from Cardiff with Huw Stephens bringing the latest arts and culture stories of Wales. Welsh National Opera’s latest production is Blaze of Glory. The librettist Emma Jenkins and composer David Hackbridge Johnson talk to Huw Stephens about their new opera. Set in a Welsh Valleys’ village in the 1950s, it follows the a group of miners who raise spirits following a pit disaster by reforming their male voice choir. Dawn Bowden, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sports, and Chief Whip in the Welsh Government, discusses cultural policy in Wales. Gary Owen talks about his new play Romeo and Julie, the story of young lovers in the Cardiff district of Splott. They’re faced with circumstances that threaten to separate them but there the similarity to Shakespeare ends. And the Barry Male Voice choir, who are involved in the production of Blaze of Glory, perform live in the Front Row studio. Presenter: Huw Stephens Producer: Julian May and Rebecca Stratford
01/03/23·42m 14s

Tracy-Ann Oberman, Director Michael B Jordan, Oldham Coliseum

Tracy-Ann Oberman on playing a female Shylock in the RSC's new 1936 version of The Merchant Of Venice at Watford Palace Theatre. As the Oldham Coliseum is forced to close at the end of March, reporter Charlotte Green updates the story of the diversion of Arts Council funding from the theatre to the local council. Actor Michael B Jordan tells Samira about making his directorial debut with Creed III, while reprising the role of boxing champion Adonis Creed in the third sequel to the Rocky franchise. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Eliane Glaser
28/02/23·42m 25s

Conductor Antonio Pappano on Puccini’s Turandot and the Ukrainian cabaret artists performing in exile

Conductor Sir Antonio Pappano tells us about his two new versions of Puccini’s opera, Turandot – a revival on stage at the Royal Opera House, and a new recording with tenor Jonas Kaufman, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky and the Orchestra dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. A year on from the invasion of Ukraine, Luke Jones hears from some of the Ukrainian performers living and working in exile. He joins Hooligan Art Community, a performance group that started in the bomb shelters of Kyiv, as they rehearse for their new show, Bunker Cabaret. There are two blistering performances on the London stage today: Janet McTeer in Phaedra at the National Theatre and Sophie Okonedo as Medea at Soho Place. The plays' directors, Simon Stone and Dominic Cooke, discuss the hold these stories of two transgressive and tragic women have had over audiences for two and a half millennia, and why they speak to us today. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Olivia Skinner
27/02/23·42m 30s

Immersive David Hockney art and Korean film Broker reviewed; artist Mike Nelson; AI-generated writing

Reviews of the new immersive show David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away) at Lightroom in London and Korean film Broker, with Larushka Ivan Zadeh and Ekow Eshun. Installation artist Mike Nelson on the art in his new retrospective at the Hayward Gallery in London and the challenge of reconstructing such epic work. Plus AI writing. Neil Clarke, Editor of The American science fiction and fantasy magazine Clarkesworld, on suspending new submissions after being swamped by AI-generated stories, and why AI could be a serious challenge the way we think about literature. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson Photo: David Hockney with his work at Lightroom. By Justin Sutcliffe
23/02/23·42m 22s

New film The Strays, artists Chila Kumari Singh Burman and Dawinder Bansal, Janet Malcolm’s photography memoir

Nathaniel Martello-White on making his directorial debut with the psychological thriller The Strays, set between a south London estate and an affluent English suburb. Chila Kumari Singh Burman’s show at FACT in Liverpool, Merseyside Burman Empire, references her MBE for services to Visual Art, awarded last year in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, and her experiences growing up in Bootle as the daughter of Punjabi-Hindu parents. Dawinder Bansal’s Jambo Cinema installation, which explored her life growing up in 1980s Wolverhampton with Indian-Kenyan parents, was one of the big commissions at last year’s Commonwealth Games Cultural Festival in Birmingham. Chila and Dawinder discuss making art that draws upon their South Asian heritage. Throughout her career, the distinguished writer Janet Malcolm, who died in 2021, was fascinated by photography. She came to prominence through her journalism for the New Yorker including six years as the magazine’s photography critic. Photography was the subject of her first book and it has turned out to be the subject of her final book, a memoir – Still Pictures: On Photography and Memory. Photographer of the Year Craig Easton reviews. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Photo caption: Ashley Madekwe as Neve in The Strays Photo credit: Chris Harris/ Netflix © 2023
22/02/23·42m 18s

Michael Douglas, culture in Ukraine a year after invasion, visual effects and animation in the UK

Hollywood star Michael Douglas talks about his double-Oscar winning movie career, how he’s still learning the craft of acting and about his new film, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, which is in cinemas now. As the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches, we hear from two artists working in the country under conflict - Oksana Taranenko, director of the opera Kateryna in Odesa and Hobart Earle, Conductor of the Odessa Philharmonic. William Sargent, the founder of Framestore, the visual effects studio behind Top Gun: Maverick and Sean Clark, the CEO of Aardman, the creators of Wallace and Gromit, join Tom Sutcliffe to discuss their fears for the future of visual effects and animation in the UK. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker Image: Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas in the film Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.
21/02/23·42m 21s

Hugh Jackman, Kevin Jared Hosein, the future of opera

Hugh Jackman talks to Samira Ahmed about his role in Florian Zeller's new film The Son, in which he plays a father struggling with his child’s mental health issues. Kevin Jared Hosein, who won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2018, talks about his first novel for adults. Hungry Ghosts tells the stories of the marginalised Hindu people of Trinidad, focusing on a family who, close by a luxurious estate, live in poverty in a ‘barrack’, in the early 1940s. Philip Oltermann, the Guardian’s Berlin bureau chief tells us why, despite it winning Best Film at the BAFTAs last night, critics in Germany are not showering praise on Netflix’s German-language film, All Quiet on the Western Front. And in the light of funding cuts and plans for English National Opera to be moved out of London, the former head of Opera Europa Nicholas Payne and English Touring Opera’s chief Robin Norton-Hale discuss what a strategy for opera in the UK could look like. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Paul Waters
20/02/23·42m 6s

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, Alice Neel, Spitting Image

On today's Front Row, Samira Ahmed talks to stand-up comedian Al Murray about putting the puppets of the political satire TV show Spitting Image on stage for the first time, in a new production, Spitting Image - Idiots Assemble, at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. And she discusses the Oscar and Bafta-nominated animation Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, and a new exhibition of work by the American visual artist, Alice Neel, which opens at the Barbican in London today, with arts critics Hanna Flint and Louisa Buck. Producer: Kirsty McQuire
16/02/23·42m 25s

Asif Kapadia's dance film Creature; the Barbellion Book Prize winner; South Asian and South East Asian galleries in Manchester

The Oscar-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia tells Tom Sutcliffe about collaborating with the Olivier-winning choreographer Akram Khan on the dance film Creature. Originally conceived for English National Ballet on stage, Creature is inspired by Georg Büchner’s play Woyzeck and Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Today Letty McHugh was announced as the winner of the Barbellion Book Prize, awarded annually to an author whose work has best represented the experience of chronic illness and / or disability. Letty joins us live from Yorkshire, to give an insight into the creation of her Book of Hours: An Almanac for The Seasons of The Soul, a collection of lyric essays and poetry. In Manchester, two cultural institutions reopen their doors- Manchester Museum, now with the UK’s first permanent gallery celebrating the South Asian diaspora, and esea- short for East and South East Asia- contemporary, formerly the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. Shahidha Bari speaks to Esme Ward, Director of Manchester Museum and Xiaowen Zhu, director of esea contemporary. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker Image: Jeffrey Cirio in Creature, an Asif Kapadia film, based on an original concept by Akram Khan (courtesy of BFI Distribution and English National Ballet)
15/02/23·42m 24s

Tracy Chevalier on Vermeer exhibition; live v streaming theatre audiences; American poet A. E. Stallings; The King's Singers

Tracy Chevalier discusses a historic Vermeer exhibition at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, the largest collection of his paintings ever assembled including Girl with a Pearl Earring, which was celebrated by Chevalier's 1999 novel of the same name. Bristol Old Vic is collaborating with four universities in the West Country for a major study into audience reactions in the theatre. Do reactions in the auditorium differ from those watching it online? Melanie Abbott investigates, talking to Iain Gilchrist from University of Bristol, Mike Richardson from University of Bath, Charlotte Geeves from Bristol Old Vic, actor Sophie Steer and Emma Keith, Director of Digital Media at the National Theatre. The finely wrought rhyming and metrical poetry of A. E. Stallings has won her prizes in the US, but until now she has not been published in the UK. Manchester-based publisher Carcanet is putting this right with This Afterlife, her Selected Poems. A. E. Stallings talks about living in Greece, drawing on classical mythology, making art out of the minutiae of life, and the joy of rhythm and rhyme. Jonathan Howard of The King's Singers tells us about the recent cancellation of a concert they were due to perform at Pensacola Christian College in Florida, over what the group says were "concerns related to the sexuality of members." Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Paul Waters (Photo: Photo Rijksmuseum)
14/02/23·42m 27s

Kate Prince on her suffragette musical, the art of casting, set design at the Brits.

Sylvia is a new hip hop, funk and soul musical telling the story the fight for women’s – and universal – suffrage, through the life of Sylvia Pankhurst. It wasn‘t just the patriarchy she had to struggle with, but her family, especially her mother, the indomitable Emmeline. Kate Prince has co-written, choreographed and directed it. She talks to Samira Ahmed about the story and the contemporary resonances of her show. In 2021, casting director Lucy Pardee won her first BAFTA for her work on the coming-of-age drama, Rocks, which was celebrated in part for the range and skill of its young cast. She's now up for another BAFTA for new film Aftersun, which tells the story of a troubled single father through the eyes of his 11-year-old daughter. She discusses the art of 'street casting' actors for their cinema debuts. Reporter Will Chalk goes back stage at the Brit Awards to meet production designer Misty Buckley, who specialises in creating sets for huge spectacles like the Brits, the Commonwealth Games and the Grammys. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Main image: The Company in Sylvia at The Old Vic 2023, Photographer - Manuel Harlan
13/02/23·42m 25s

Georgia Oakley director of Blue Jean, Burt Bacharach obituary, Salman Rushdie's Victory City and Peter Doig exhibition reviewed

Director and screenwriter Georgia Oakley talks about her BAFTA nominated debut feature film Blue Jean, which tells the story of a female closeted PE teacher in Newcastle in 1988 when Section 28 came into effect. The death of Burt Bacharach has been announced. The acclaimed lyricist Don Black pays tribute to the extraordinary composer and we hear archive of him talking on Front Row. Salman Rushdie was violently attacked last summer but before that had completed the novel Victory City, about a fantastical empire brought into existence by a woman, Pampa Kampana, who is given powers by the goddess Parvati. Bidisha Mamata and Ingrid Persaud review the novel and also visit the Peter Doig exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery in London highlighting recent work from the highly acclaimed artist who has returned from Trinidad to live in London. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson Photo from Blue Jean credit Altitude Film Distribution
09/02/23·42m 23s

The Reytons, film-maker Saim Sadiq, The Beekeeper of Aleppo

From a pop-up shop in Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield to the top spot in the album charts - The Reytons join Front Row to discuss their breakthrough second album, What’s Rock and Roll?, making their music videos with family and friends, and the power of telling your own story. Since Saim Sadiq’s feature film debut, Joyland, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year, it has swung between celebration and controversy. It was awarded the Jury Prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard category and selected as Pakistan's official entry for best international feature for this year’s Oscars but was banned throughout Pakistan and when that ban was revoked, it was banned in Sadiq’s home state of Punjab by the local government. As the film opens this month in the UK, he talk to Nick about the making and the showing of Joyland. Christy Lefteri’s novel, The Beekeeper of Aleppo, about a traumatized Syrian refugee couple, beekeeper Nuri and artist Afra, trying to get to and settle in the UK, became a bestseller and has now been adapted for the stage by Nesrin Alrefaai and Matthew Spangler. As the production premieres at Nottingham Playhouse, Nesrin and Matthew discuss working together to create a theatrical version of the popular novel. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Main Image: The Reytons, L-R Jamie Todd, Jonny Yerrell, Joe O'Brien, Lee Holland
08/02/23·42m 7s

Les Dennis and Mina Anwar, writer Tania Branigan, Kerry Shale on Yentl

Mina Anwar and Les Dennis discuss their new production of Spring and Port Wine at the Bolton Octagon. They explain why the 1960s classic play about a family in Bolton, and tensions between the generations, still has resonance today. Writer Tania Branigan talks about her new book Red Memory. Based on her research as a journalist in China, it tells the story of the Cultural Revolution through the memories of individuals including a composer, an artist and a man who denounced his own mother. It’s nearly 40 years since Barbra Streisand’s film Yentl was released. Based on a short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, it follows a young woman who lives as a man so that she can study Jewish scripture. Kerry Shale, who had a part in Streisand’s film, discusses returning to Singer’s story to adapt it for a new Radio 4 drama, Yentl the Yeshiva Boy. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner Image Credit: Pamela Raith Photography
08/02/23·42m 4s

Costume designer Sandy Powell, playwright Chris Bush, Donatello sculptures at the V&A

Sandy Powell is the first costume designer to receive a BAFTA Fellowship. She talks to Tom Sutcliffe about collaborating with directors Martin Scorsese and Todd Haynes and designing costumes for films including Velvet Goldmine and Shakespeare in Love. Postponed the pandemic, and after a second run at the Crucible in Sheffield, the musical At the Sky’s Edge at last reaches the National Theatre in London. Playwright Chris Bush tells Tom Sutcliffe about the new production of her love letter to Sheffield which, through the stories of the famous park Hill Estate, tells a history of modern Britain. ‘The greatest sculptor of all time’ is the claim as an exhibition of the work of Donatello is about to open at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Curator Peta Motture and art critic Jonathan Jones discuss how his creativity was a driving force of the Italian Renaissance. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May
06/02/23·42m 21s

TV drama Nolly and film The Whale reviewed, director M Night Shyamalan

Noele Gordon was the star of Crossroads, the soap that ran on ITV from 1964 to 1988, attracting audiences of 15 million in its heyday. She was sacked from the show in 1981, returning briefly a few years later. What happened? And what was the role of TV soap at that time, with women at the heart of its casts and audience? Russell T Davies' new drama, Nolly, starring Helena Bonham Carter, tells the story. Our critics David Benedict and Anna Smith review that and new film The Whale. Brendan Fraser is Oscar-nominated for his performance as a man whose size means he can no longer leave his apartment and who tries to re-build his damaged relationship with his daughter. And director M. Night Shyamalan on his new film Knock At The Cabin – a home invasion thriller where a family must make a terrible choice in order to avert the apocalypse. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson
02/02/23·42m 28s

Sonia Boyce, The Quiet Girl, Theatre Freelance Pay, Oldham Coliseum

Sonia Boyce’s exhibition, Feeling Her Way, won the top prize at the Venice Biennale international art fair. As the sound, video and wallpaper installation arrives at the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate, Sonia tells Samira why she wanted to form her own girl band and help them to achieve imperfection through improvisation. Director Colm Bairéad on his film The Quiet Girl – a small scale Irish-language drama, but the highest grossing Irish-language film in history, and the first to be nominated for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars, and BAFTA nominated for Best Film Not In The English Language and Best Adapted Screenplay. Equity general secretary Paul Fleming and freelance theatre director Kate Wasserberg discuss the ongoing problem of low pay and poor conditions in the UK theatre sector. Artistic director and chief executive of Oldham Coliseum, Chris Lawson, discusses the decision to cancel its programme of shows after losing its Arts Council England funding. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Eliane Glaser Main Image - Sonia Boyce courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery. Photographer: Parisa Taghizadeh
01/02/23·42m 15s

Beethoven's Für Elise, playwright Garry Lyons, film director Rajkumar Santoshi

Beethoven’s love life has long fascinated music scholars primarily because so little is known about it despite some tantalising clues. In his new book, Why Beethoven, music critic Norman Lebrecht, identifies the dedicatee of Beethoven’s well-loved melody Für Elise, while Jessica Duchen has written a novel, Immortal, which provides one answer to the question, who was Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved”? Both join Front Row to discuss why their explorations bring us closer to the composer. Garry Lyons on his new play Blow Down at Leeds Playhouse, written to mark the demolition of the iconic cooling towers at Ferrybridge Power Station. It’s based on stories collected from people in Knottingley and Ferrybridge in Yorkshire. Blow Down will go on tour with performances in theatres and community centres across Yorkshire and the North East. A new film about Mahatma Gandhi and his assassin Nathuram Godse has caused some controversy in India. Gandhi Godse Ek Yudh (War of Ideologies) imagines a world in which Gandhi survived and went on to debate with Godse, a premise that some have found offensive. Director Rajkumar Santoshi discusses the reaction to his film and BBC journalist Vandana Vijay explains why there’s increased sensitivity around some movies in India at the moment. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Emma Wallace
31/01/23·42m 22s

Film director Sarah Polley, novelist Ann-Helen Laestadius and deep fakes on TV

Director Sarah Polley discusses her latest film, Women Talking, nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Based on the true story of the women in a remote Mennonite colony who discovered men had been attacking the women in their community, the film focuses on their debate about what to do next. Deep Fake Neighbour Wars, the new ITVX comedy which uses digital technology to place international celebrities in suburban Britain, arrives at a time when the technology is under increasing scrutiny. Zoe Kleinman, the BBC’s Technology Editor, and television critic Scott Bryan review and discuss the issues raised by the new series. Swedish and Sami novelist Ann-Helen Laestadius talks about her bestselling novel, Stolen – a portrait of the plight of the reindeer-herding Indigenous Sámi people. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner
30/01/23·42m 22s

The Fabelmans and Noises Off reviewed, Joe Cornish on new TV drama Lockwood and Co.

Tom Sutcliffe is joined by critics Karen Krizanovich and Michael Billington to review The Fabelmans and the 40th anniversary production of Noises Off. Steven Spielberg’s new film, The Fabelmans, is a portrait of the artist as a young man, chronicling the development of Sam Fabelman, a boy drawn irresistibly to film-making. He finds meaning, and achieves some power, through his art. Critics Karen Krizanovich and Michael Billington assess Spielberg’s fictional autobiography. They also review the fortieth anniversary production of Noises Off, Michael Frayn’s farce about a troubled touring company putting on a farce, as it opens in the West End with a cast including Felicity Kendal, Tracy-Ann Oberman and Joseph Millson. Director Joe Cornish, best known for his sci-fi comedy Attack the Block, talks about heading up a new TV drama series Lockwood and Co. Based on the young adult novels by Jonathan Stroud, it follows a group of teenage ghost hunters. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Kirsty McQuire
26/01/23·42m 23s

Mel C on dancing with Jules Cunningham, film-maker Laura Poitras, musician Rasha Nahas

Melanie C, aka Sporty Spice, is best known for being in one of the most successful girl groups of all time. But this week she’s swapping the pop world for the dance world and performing a new contemporary piece by the choreographer Jules Cunningham at Sadler’s Wells. Melanie C and Jules Cunningham discuss their collaboration, How Did We Get Here? Rasha Nahas is a Palestinian singer-songwriter who was born in Haifa and now lives in Berlin. She tells Samira about her new album, Amrat, which is her first album in Arabic, and which explores nostalgia, sense of place, and the importance of authentic instrumental music. Film-maker Laura Poitras talks about her new documentary, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, which has been nominated for this year’s Academy Awards. Following the photographer Nan Goldin’s campaign against Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, for their part in the opioid crisis, the film paints an intimate portrait of Goldin’s life, work and activism. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Eliane Glaser Photo of Mel C, Harry Alexander and Jules Cunningham credit: Camilla Greenwell
25/01/23·42m 12s

Artist John Akomfrah, Oscar Nominations, Arts Council England responds

John Akomfrah was announced today as the artist chosen to represent the UK at the next Venice Biennale - the world's biggest contemporary art exhibition. Known for his films and video installations exploring racial injustice, colonial legacies, migration and climate change, he discusses why watching a Tarkovsky film as a teenager opened his mind to the possibilities of art. Film critics Jason Solomon and Leila Latif discuss the nominations for this year's Oscars, which are led by Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Banshees of Inisherin, and All Quiet of the Western Front. Darren Henley, Arts Council England Chief Executive, responds to criticism the organisation has been facing since its new funding settlement was announced last November. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Emma Wallace Main Image: John Akomfrah at his London studio, 2016 © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery.
24/01/23·42m 41s

The play Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons; conductor Alice Farnham; the short film An Irish Goodbye.

Jenna Coleman (Clara in Dr Who) and Aidan Turner (Poldark) are appearing in a new production of Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons at The Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End, before touring to Manchester and Brighton. Playwright Sam Steiner tells Samira Ahmed about his romantic comedy in which the characters are restricted to speaking just 140 words a day. And the director, Josie Rourke, talks about bringing the play to the stage, and how, in the theatre, language isn’t everything. Alice Farnham, one of Britain’s leading conductors and the co-founder and artistic director of Women Conductors with the Royal Philharmonic Society, shares insights from her new book, In Good Hands- The Making of a Modern Conductor. And the filmmaking duo Tom Berkeley and Ross White join Samira to discuss their Bafta nominated short film An Irish Goodbye. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Image: Aidan Turner as Oliver and Jenna Coleman as Bernadette in Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons at The Harold Pinter Theatre
23/01/23·41m 59s

Spain and the Hispanic World exhibition, new film Holy Spider, artist Clarke Reynolds

Samira Ahmed and guests Maria Delgado and Isabel Stevens review two of the week’s top cultural picks. They discuss a new exhibition of Spanish art, Spain and the Hispanic World, at the Royal Academy in London and Holy Spider, a film by Iranian director Ali Abbasi based on the true story of a serial killer in the holy city of Mashhad in 2001. Blind artist Clarke Reynolds talks about his exhibition The Power of Touch and explains how he’s creating colourful tactile braille art for both blind and sighted audiences to enjoy. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson Picture Credit: Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, The Duchess of Alba, 1797, From the exhibition Spain and the Hispanic World: Treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library, Royal Academy of Arts
19/01/23·42m 0s

Hepworth, Moore, landscape and cows' backs; fiddle player John McCusker; novelist Victoria MacKenzie

A new exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield celebrates the relationship that two of the UK’s greatest sculptors, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, had with the Yorkshire landscape they grew up in. Eleanor Clayton, the curator of the exhibition, Magic in this Country, joins the landscape photographer Kate Kirkwood - who has just published a new book, Cowspines, that blends the landscape of the Lake District with the backs of the cows that graze upon it – to discuss the power of landscape to draw an artist’s eye. John McCusker discusses and performs live from his new ‘Best of ‘Album, which celebrates his 30-year career as one of Scotland’s most acclaimed fiddle players and musical collaborators. Writer of fiction and poetry Victoria MacKenzie tells Shahidha Bari about her first novel, For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain, which is based on the lives of two extraordinary, trail-blazing fourteenth-century Christian mystics, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Eliane Glaser Main image from Cowspines by Kate Kirkwood
18/01/23·42m 32s

Poet Anthony Joseph, new novels about witches and the fall in female film-makers

Over the last three weeks Front Row has broadcast a poem by each of the 10 writers shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry. The winner was announced last night: Anthony Joseph, for his collection Sonnets for Albert. Anthony talks to Samira Ahmed about his sequence of sonnets exploring his relationship with his often absent father, winning the prize and the attraction of the sonnet form. Research from the film charity Birds Eye View shows that the number of female made films released in UK cinemas fell by 6% last year. The charity’s director Melanie Iredale and film director Sally El Hosaini discuss why women are failing to progress in the UK film industry. Books about witches and witchcraft are increasingly popular, with several new novels published this year. Authors Emilia Hart, Kirsty Logan and Anya Bergman, who have all written about witches, explain why this subject matter provided such a rich source of inspiration. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner Image: Antony Julius, picture credit: Adrian Pope
17/01/23·42m 24s

Rebecca Frecknall on A Streetcar Named Desire, Rick Rubin, Clarinetist Kinan Azmeh

Nine-time Grammy winning record producer and Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin has produced hits for artists including Run DMC, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Johnny Cash. He discusses drawing on his experience for his new book The Creative Act: A Way of Being. Theatre director Rebecca Frecknall discusses her new production of A Streetcar Named Desire and the nuances that Tennessee Williams’s writing has for contemporary audiences. Syrian virtuoso Clarinetist Kinan Azmeh discusses the influence of his homeland, and combining performance, composition and improvisation, and plays live in the Front Row studio. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May Image: Paul Mescal and Patsy Ferran in A Streetcar Named Desire. Credit: Marc Brenner.
16/01/23·42m 17s

The Last of Us & Enys Men reviewed

The film critic Clarisse Loughrey and literary editor Sam Leith join Tom Sutcliffe live in the studio to review the new HBO series The Last of Us, based on the critically acclaimed video game, and the film Enys Men, a Cornish folk horror by Mark Jenkin, the BAFTA winning director of BAIT. In the most recent in an occasional series of interviews about the artistic influence of mentors, the musician and composer Nitin Sawhney discusses his relationship with his mentor, the sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar. Ahead of next week's announcement of the winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, Victoria Adukwei Bulley reads her poem The Ultra-Black Fish from her shortlisted collection Quiet. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Kirsty McQuire Picture: Pedro Pascal as Joel & Bella Ramsey as Ellie HBO / Warner Media© 2022 Home Box Office, Inc.
12/01/23·42m 23s

Filmmaker Todd Field on Tár, Glyndebourne tour cancellation, Debut novelist Jyoti Patel

Tár is a psychological drama about an imaginary conductor, Lydia Tár, which has already made waves both for its central performance by Cate Blanchett and for its striking, sometimes dreamlike story about the abuses of power. It is tipped for awards and Cate Blanchett has already won the Golden Globe for her performance. The writer and director, Todd Field, joins Front Row. The news that the celebrated opera company Glyndebourne has cancelled its national tour for 2023, due to the recent cut to its Arts Council funding, was received as the latest bombshell on the UK’s opera landscape. Glyndebourne’s artistic director, Stephen Langridge, and the music writer and critic Norman Lebrecht discuss the company’s decision and explore what kind of support and vision opera in the UK needs. Jyoti Patel on winning musician Stormzy's Merky Books New Writer’s Prize in 2021 and now making her debut as novelist with her book, The Things We Have Lost. Continuing Front Row's look at the shortlist for this year's TS Eliot Prize For Poetry, today Anthony Joseph reads from his collection Sonnets For Albert – poems exploring being the Trinidad-born son of a mostly-absent father. The poem is called El Socorro. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Emma Wallace Main Image Credit: Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár - Universal
11/01/23·42m 30s

How AI is changing art, the TS Eliot Prize for poetry and the folk music of wassailing

Designer Steven Zapata and artist Anna Ridler discuss whether AI art poses a threat to artists and designers. Imagine reading more than 200 new books of poetry. That was the task faced by the judges of the T S Eliot Prize. Jean Sprackland and fellow judge Roger Robinson talk to Tom Sutcliffe about their experience and what they learned about the art of poetry today. It’s the time of year when lovers of orchards, apples and cider gather to bless and encourage their trees. The tradition of wassailing is ancient, and modern too. Jim Causley from Whimple, Dartmoor, sings wassails old and new, and with artist Simon Pope talk about their project ‘Here’s to Thee’. And in the latest of the poems shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize, Jemma Borg read her poem Marsh Thistle from her collection Wilder. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Paul Waters
10/01/23·41m 57s

The Light in the Hall, The Shipping Forecast photographs, Nell Zink

The Light in the Hall, a crime drama starring Joanna Scanlan, has launched on Channel 4 following its previous incarnation in Welsh on S4C, as Y Golau. Director Andy Newbery joins Shahidha to discuss directing a bilingual ‘back to back’ TV production with a single cast and crew. Photographer Mark Power discusses his seminal book The Shipping Forecast, which has been re-released with over 100 previously unseen photographs. And the writer Nell Zink, known for her dark humour, discusses her latest novel, Avalon, which focuses on the life of the indefatigable teenager, Bran, who grows up in the pie-less version of America and embarks on a contradictory love affair. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Eliane Glaser Image: Joanna Scanlan as Sharon Roberts in TV drama The Light in the Hall on Channel 4/ Y Golau on S4C.
09/01/23·42m 24s

Two of the year's major films, Till and Empire of Light, reviewed and John Preston on his TV drama Stonehouse.

John Preston, the Costa Award-winning biographer of media tycoon Robert Maxwell, makes his screenwriting debut with a drama about another infamous figure of the 1970s, the MP John Stonehouse. He joins Tom Sutcliffe to discuss the line between fact and fiction in dramatising the story of the MP who faked his own death. Reviewers Amon Warmann and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh give their verdicts on two major films out this week: Till, the story of Emmett Till’s mother Mamie’s fight for justice after her son was lynched in 1955, featuring a powerful performance by Danielle Deadwyler; and Empire of Light, written and directed by Sam Mendes. Set in a seaside town cinema in the 70s it stars Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward, and is inspired in part by Mendes’ mother’s experiences. And James Conor Patterson reads his poem “london mixtape” from his debut collection “bandit country”, which has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Poetry Prize. Front Row is featuring each of the 10 poets shortlisted and we’ll hear from the winner when they’re announced on Tuesday 17th January. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Paul Waters (Till picture credit: Lynsey Weatherspoon / Orion Pictures)
05/01/23·42m 31s

Vocal ensemble Stile Antico, Fay Weldon obituary, director John Strickland

The English composer William Byrd died 400 years ago. To mark this the acclaimed vocal ensemble Stile Antico is about to release an album of his music. Five of the twelve members of the ensemble come to the Front Row studio to sing and talk about Byrd's extraordinary and moving music. The author and founder of the Women's Prize for Fiction Kate Mosse and actor Julie T Wallace, who played Ruth in the BBC TV production of The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, join Front Row to mark the work of writer Fay Weldon, whose death was announced today. Veteran director John Strickland talks about filming The Rig, a new 6-part big budget Amazon Prime eco-thriller set on an oil rig cut off from all communication in the North Sea. An ensemble cast of familiar faces from Line of Duty, Game of Thrones and Schitt's Creek contend with a mysterious deep-sea entity. And Zaffar Kunial reads his poem Brontë Taxis from his TS Eliot Prize-nominated collection England's Green. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson Photograph of Stile Antico credit: Kaupo Kikkas
04/01/23·42m 22s

Tom Hanks On A Man Called Otto, Author Deepti Kapoor, The London Ticket Bank

Tom Hanks talks about playing a curmudgeonly older man whose life changes when a young family moves in next door in his latest film, A Man Called Otto. Author Deepti Kapoor on her new novel, Age of Vice, which explores crime and corruption in the world of New Delhi’s elites. The London Ticket Bank – promising tens of thousands of theatre and music tickets across the capital to those most impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. Samira is joined by Co-Founder Chris Sonnex to explain the new initiative from the Cultural Philanthropy Foundation and Cardboard Citizens, in partnership with The Barbican, Roundhouse, and The National, Almeida, Bush, Gate, and Tara Theatres. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Tim Prosser
03/01/23·42m 22s

Leeds 2023 Year of Culture

Front Row visits Leeds as the city prepares to celebrate culture throughout 2023. Following Brexit, Leeds’ bid for European Capital of Culture was ruled ineligible. Sharon Watson, Principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, reflects on the initial disappointment and the decision to press ahead anyway, and creating a new dance work for The Awakening - the opening event of Leeds 2023 Year of Culture. The Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage joins his LYR bandmates, singer-songwriter Richard Walters and instrumentalist Patrick Pearson, to perform two songs ahead of headlining at The Awakening. Kully Thiarai, Creative Director of Leeds 2023, explains why she thinks the city’s decision to press ahead with a year-long celebration of culture even after Brussels said no, has been transformative. Theatre maker Alan Lyddiard is gathering 1001 stories from those aged 60 and over for a takeover event at Leeds Playhouse this spring. He reveals why he feels Leeds was the perfect city for this project. The poet Khadijah Ibrahiim will be performing at The Awakening but for her 2023 is not just about Leeds’ cultural celebrations, it also marks the 20th anniversary of the creative writing organisation for teenagers, Leeds Young Authors, that she founded in 2003. She concludes tonight’s programme, with her poem, Roots Runnin II. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Image credit (c) Lorne Campbell, Guzelian for LEEDS 2023
02/01/23·42m 26s

The Pale Blue Eye and Happy Valley reviewed, Artist Alexander Creswell

Critics Tim Robey and Rhianna Dhillon join Front Row to watch the murder-mystery gothic horror film The Pale Blue Eye, starring Christian Bale, Gillian Anderson and Harry Melling, as Edgar Allan Poe, and the return of Happy Valley starring Sarah Lancashire and written by Sally Wainwright for what will be its final series. After the Windsor Castle fire in 1992, the artist Alexander Creswell was commissioned by the Queen to initially chart the destruction and five years later to capture the restoration of the castle. It was the only series of paintings that the Queen ever commissioned. Alexander Creswell reflects on the commission that led to him creating twenty-one watercolour paintings. The series is not currently on public display, but can be viewed on the Royal Collection Trust website. Picture credit of Harry Melling and Lucy Boynton in The Pale Blue Eye: Scott Garfield/Netflix © 2022 Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson
22/12/22·41m 56s

Marie Kreutzer on the film Corsage, Film director Mike Hodges remembered, Artistic buzzwords, The T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry

Film director Marie Kreutzer on her new period drama film, Corsage, about the rebellious Elisabeth, 19th-century empress of Austria and queen of Hungary. Matthew Sweet joins Front Row to mark the work of Mike Hodges, the celebrated director of the classic films Get Carter and Flash Gordon, whose death has just been announced. When does an 'art-speak' buzzword, such as 'immersive' or 'liminal,' add to our aesthetic landscape and when does it get in the way? Times critic James Marriott and the artist Bob and Roberta Smith discuss how words shape our experience of art. And, ahead of the announcement of the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry in January, we hear a poem from nominee Fiona Benson’s shortlisted collection Ephemeron. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Jerome Weatherald Image: Vicky Krieps as Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the film Corsage Photographer credit: Felix Vratny
21/12/22·42m 18s

Terry Hall remembered, state of UK theatre, board games of the last 40 years

Terry Hall of The Specials remembered after his sad passing. We hear him talking to John Wilson in 2019, and Pete Paphides looks back on his life and music. Plus, the state of UK theatre and its future outlook. Samira is joined by Nica Burns, co-owner of Nimax, who runs seven West End theatres and recently opened Soho Place - the first new theatre to open in the West End in 50 years; plus Matthew Xia - Artistic Director of the Actors' Touring Company; and Matt Hemley – Deputy Editor of the industry newspaper The Stage. And the best board games of the past 40 years. For many, Christmas would not be complete without one. Ancient forms like chess, oware or backgammon, and more modern classics including Monopoly, Scrabble and Cluedo, have been joined in the last 40 or so years by new inventions such as Rummikub, Catan and Ticket to Ride - all winners of the German prize Spiel des Jahres, or Game of the Year, which started in 1979. James Wallis, author of a book on board games, Everybody Wins, explains the enduring popularity of the pastime and why he thinks the games are an artform. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Tim Prosser
20/12/22·42m 20s

Lucy Prebble, immersive experiences, what next for ENO

Lucy Prebble, acclaimed playwright and Succession screenwriter, talks to Tom about the return of I Hate Suzie Too, her TV collaboration with Billie Piper about a B-list celebrity making a reality TV comeback, following an intimate phone hacking scandal. Immersive and interactive exhibitions, performances and ‘experiences’ are everywhere, from the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Reel Store in Coventry to a Peaky Blinders experience in London. Tom is joined by author Laurence Scott and art critic Rachel Campbell-Johnson to ask if we’ve reached peak immersion. After having its funding slashed and being told it must move out of London, where does the English National Opera go from here? Manchester has been mooted, although there are reports that the Arts Council may be about to grant the ENO a reprieve. The company’s chief executive Stuart Murphy will give us an update, and we’ll hear from Richard Mantle, chief executive of Leeds-based Opera North, which tours to cities including Greater Manchester. And Manchester-based opera singer Soraya Mafi, who has performed with ENO, explains what the move might mean to her. Image: Billie Piper as Suzie Pickles in I Hate Suzie Too Photographer: Tom Beard Copyright: Sky UK Ltd.
20/12/22·42m 22s

Quentin Blake discussion, reviews of Avatar and Magdalena Abakanowicz

For our Thursday review, film critic Leila Latif and art critic Ben Luke join Samira to discuss the much anticipated release of the Avatar sequel, The Way of Water and the exhibition of the late Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz: Every Tangle Of Thread And Rope at Tate Modern in London. The much-loved and much-celebrated illustrator and author Sir Quentin Blake will be 90 on December 16th. He is well known for his collaborations with Roald Dahl, Michael Rosen and many others as well as for his own stories such as Cockatoos and Mrs Armitage on Wheels. Fellow illustrators and writers Lauren Child and Axel Scheffler join Front Row to celebrate the work and influence of this distinctive artist as plans proceed to open The Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration in 2024. Image: courtesy of the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration
15/12/22·42m 24s

Neil Gaiman, China's art censorship in Europe, Decline of the working class in the creative industries

Neil Gaiman reflects on The Ocean at the End of the Lane as the stage adaption of his award-winning novel begins a nationwide tour. A new report investigating China's art censorship in Europe has just been published. Jemimah Steinfeld, Editor-in-Chief of Index-on-Censorship, and art journalist Vivienne Chow, discuss its findings. Professor Dave O'Brien from the University of Sheffield and poet and trustee of the Working Class Movement Library, Oliver Lomax, discuss the decline of the working-class in the creative industries. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Image: Neil Gaiman
14/12/22·42m 18s

Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody; Qatar art, architecture & the World Cup; Hannah Khalil

Director Kasi Lemmons discusses her new film, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, a biopic of the performer Whitney Houston, whose unmatched vocal power saw her become one of the best-selling musical artists of all time. She talks about exploring the darker sides of Whitney’s life and working with British actor Naomi Ackie who stars in the title role. Hannah Khalil, writer-in-residence at Shakespeare's Globe theatre, tells Luke about her retelling of the classic 1001 Nights story cycle - Hakawatis: Women of the Arabian Nights, which reimagines Scheherazade's storytelling feat as a team writing effort. Plus, in the final week of the World Cup in Qatar, we look at the new art and architecture in the country: the huge public art programme featuring the work of over 100 artists, including Jeff Koons, Louise Bourgeois, and Olafur Eliasson, plus new galleries, museums, and stadiums. To discuss Qatar’s cultural ambitions, and the question of culture washing in the face of rights concerns, Luke is joined by Hannah McGivern of The Art Newspaper, and Rowan Moore, architecture critic at The Observer. Presenter: Luke Jones Producer: Julian May
13/12/22·42m 22s

Zadie Smith on The Wife of Willesden, David Tennant on Litvinenko and Rick Wakeman's stolen gear

Zadie Smith talks about her play The Wife of Willesden, a modern re-telling of Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath starring Clare Perkins in the title role at Kiln Theatre, London. David Tennant discusses playing Russian Alexander Litvinenko in a new ITV drama based on the real life events of his shocking death. Keyboard player Rick Wakeman discusses how he's having to adapt his UK tour after a load of his musical gear was stolen from his van last week. And film critic Larushka Ivan-Zadeh expresses her frustration at the confusion surrounding current film releases since the start of the pandemic. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Jerome Weatherald Image: Clare Perkins as Alvita in The Wife of Willesden by Zadie Smith at Kiln Theatre, London Photographer credit: Michael Wharley
12/12/22·42m 34s

Orlando starring Emma Corrin & Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio reviewed, Damian Lewis on A Spy Among Friends

Orlando starring Emma Corrin at the Garrick Theatre in London and Guillermo del Toro’s animated film Pinocchio are reviewed by Shon Faye, author of The Transgender Issue, and Observer theatre critic Susannah Clapp. The story of double agent and defector Kim Philby has been told many times. A Spy Among Friends, a new six-episode series on ITVX, focuses on Nicholas Elliott, Philby’s lifelong friend. Damian Lewis, who plays Elliott, and writer Alexander Cary talk to Tom Sutcliffe about telling the story of political and personal betrayal anew. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker Picture of Emma Corrin as Orlando credit Marc Brenner
08/12/22·42m 14s

The Turner Prize winner, poet Kim Moore, Razorlight's Johnny Borrell

The winner of this year's Turner Prize will be announced at St George’s Hall in Liverpool. Art critic Louisa Buck reflects on this year’s Turner Prize and responds to the news of the winner of this prestigious award for contemporary art. Razorlight’s Johnny Borrell tells Samira about the band reforming, their new album - Razorwhat? The Best Of Razorlight, and a new documentary, Fall To Pieces, which charts the meteoric rise, break-up and make-up of the band. And poet Kim Moore was recently announced as the winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2022, for her second collection, All The Men I Never Married. It was described as 'phenomenal' by the judges. She talks about putting the complexities of past relationships and encounters into poetry.
07/12/22·41m 59s

Antoine Fuqua on Emancipation, NDAs in film and TV casting, playwright April De Angelis

Film director Antoine Fuqua discusses his new film, Emancipation, which stars Will Smith. He discusses basing his film on the true story of an enslaved man in 1860s Louisiana. Earlier this year, Front Row revealed how non-disclosure agreements were being misused in film and TV casting, with actors being kept in the dark about the roles they were auditioning for. The actor’s union Equity has come up with new guidance on NDAs. Carolyn Atkinson explains what this means for auditions. April De Angelis discusses her new play Kerry Jackson, which is at the National Theatre in London. Starring Faye Ripley in the title role of café owner Kerry, it explores class and gentrification. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Eliane Glaser
06/12/22·42m 19s

Fergus McCreadie, Leyla Josephine, Scottish National Gallery

Jazz pianist Fergus McCreadie performs live from his latest album Forest Floor, which recently won the Scottish Album of the Year award and a Mercury Prize nomination. Performance poet Leyla Josephine discusses her debut poetry collection In Public / In Private. Patricia Allerston, chief curator of the Scottish National Gallery, on the transformation of the museum and creation of a new exhibition space. Plus Kate goes behind the scenes to meet conservators who are restoring the works of art, Lesley Stevenson and Keith Morrison. Anna Burnside reports on the significance of this Autumn's closure of the Modern Two Gallery in Edinburgh, part of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Presenter: Kate Molleson Producer: Carol Purcell
05/12/22·42m 3s

Veronica Ryan - shortlisted for the Turner Prize, reviews of new Stormzy album and film White Noise

Veronica Ryan OBE is shortlisted for the Turner Prize. She talks to Front Row about her Windrush Commission sculptures in Hackney that have won the hearts of both the community and critics, how she uses materials from old fruit trays to volcanic ash, and how her work contains multitudes of meaning. Nii Ayikwei Parkes, writer, commentator and performance poet and Lisa Verrico, music critic for the Sunday Times review White Noise, an extraordinary film written and directed by Noah Baumbach and based on the novel by Don DeLillo, and the much-anticipated album by Stormzy, This is What I Mean. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson Photo of Veronica Ryan credit Holly Falconer
01/12/22·42m 16s

Maxine Peake on Betty! A Sort of Musical, Turner Prize nominee Heather Phillipson, Signal Film and Media in Barrow-in-Furness

Maxine Peake discusses playing Betty Boothroyd, former Speaker of the House of Commons in Betty! A Sort of Musical, which is about to open at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre. Turner Prize nominated artist Heather Phillipson, best known for her sculpture of a giant cherry topped ice cream on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, discusses her exhibition 'RUPTURE NO 1: blowtorching the bitten peach', using recycled materials, video, sculpture, music and poetry, currently on display at Tate Liverpool. Laura Robertson visits Signal Film and Media in Barrow in Furness to hear about how the charity has benefited from the latest Arts Council funding announcement and to find out what they have planned for the future. The artist Tom Phillips has died at the age of 85. In a Front Row interview from 2012, he discusses his long running artistic projects as a painter, printmaker and collagist. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Olivia Skinner Image: Maxine Peake as Betty Boothroyd, former Speaker of the House of Commons in Betty! A Sort of Musical at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.
30/11/22·42m 30s

Clint Dyer on Othello, Turner Prize nominee Ingrid Pollard, should museums close controversial galleries?

Clint Dyer discusses directing Othello starring Giles Terera at the National Theatre, the first Black director to do so. He talks about how he is approaching the racism and misogyny in the play, and the history of previous productions. In the second of Front Row’s interviews with the artists nominated for this year’s Turner Prize, Ingrid Pollard discusses her work, Carbon Slowly Turning, and how she explores themes of nationhood, race, history and identity through portraiture and landscape. And as the Wellcome Collection decides to close an exhibition described as sexist, racist and ableist, Front Row discusses whether museums should display historical objects that may offend gallery visitors. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Eliane Glaser Image: Giles Terera as Othello and Rosy McEwan as Desdemona. Image credit: Myah Jeffers
29/11/22·42m 21s

Turner Prize nominee Sin Wai Kin, Katherine Rundell on John Donne, Ballet Black

Author Katherine Rundell talks to Tom Sutcliffe about her book Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne, which has won this year’s The Baillie Gifford. In the first in a series of interviews with the artists shortlisted for this year’s Turner Prize, Sin Wai Kin discusses how they use performance to challenge misogyny and racism. The acclaimed dance company Ballet Black, known for giving a platform to Black and Asian dancers and choreographers, turns 20 this year. Michael McKenzie visits rehearsals to hear how they are marking the anniversary. And as the Horniman Museum in London hands back their collection of Benin Bronzes to Nigeria, Professor Abba Tijani, the Director General of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, discusses what receiving the artworks means for Nigeria. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Emma Wallace Image credit: Sin Wai Kin by Holly Falconer
28/11/22·42m 30s

Joan Armatrading, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye exhibition and film She Said reviewed

The much-celebrated singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading on her 50-year career, her book of lyrics, The Weakness in Me, and new album Live at Asylum Chapel. Arts journalist Nancy Durrant, and art historian and writer Chloe Austin review Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s new show at the Tate Britain, and the film She Said, starring Carey Mulligan, which details the New York Times investigation into Harvey Weinstein. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Ellie Bury
24/11/22·42m 12s

Lady Chatterley's Lover reviewed, Jake Heggie on It's A Wonderful Life, casting Ukrainian actors, Wilko Johnson

Lara Feigel and Tom Shakespeare review Netflix’s new adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, starring Emma Corrin. The English National Opera stages an operatic reimagining of It’s a Wonderful Life, the classic 1946 Christmas film, by the composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer. Jake joins Samira. The casting of Ukrainian actors who have arrived here escaping the conflict, with actors Kateryna Hryhorenko and Yurii Radionov, and casting directors Olga Lyubarova and Rachel Sheridan. And the death has been announced of Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson. We hear an extract from his memorable interview on Front Row following what he thought was a terminal diagnosis. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson
23/11/22·42m 22s

Matthew Warchus on Matilda, Kapil Seshasayee performs, climate protests in galleries

Director Matthew Warchus discusses his new film Matilda the Musical. Based on the Tony and Olivier award winning stage play, it brings Roald Dahl’s much loved children’s story to the screen. Scottish-Indian protest musician Kapil Seshasayee performs live and talks to Samira about his new album Laal. And art critics Louisa Buck and Bendor Grovenor discuss the impact of the recent climate protests in museums and galleries. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Kirsty McQuire
22/11/22·42m 21s

Director Luca Guadagnino on Bones and All, Gainsborough’s House, writer Ronald Blythe at 100

Luca Guadagnino won the Silver Lion for Best Director at this year's Venice Film Festival for his latest film, Bones and All, starring Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell. He talks to Tom Sutcliffe about confronting the taboo of cannibalism on screen and reuniting with Chalamet after Call Me By Your Name. Mark Bills, the Director of Gainsborough’s House, joins Tom to discuss the reopening of the painter's home in Suffolk. Ronald Blythe, the man who’s been described as the greatest living writer on the English countryside, celebrates his 100th birthday this month. His friend and fellow writer Richard Mabey and the academic and author Alexandra Harris discuss his work and a new collection of his columns on Suffolk life, Next to Nature. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May IMAGE: Taylor Russell (left) as Maren and Timothée Chalamet (right) as Lee in Bones and All, directed by Luca Guadagnino, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. CREDIT: Yannis Drakoulidis / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
22/11/22·42m 28s

The Wonder, Making Modernism, Frantic Assembly, Opera and elitism

With Samira Ahmed. Guests Katy Hessel and Lillian Crawford review Florence Pugh's drama The Wonder, based on an Emma Donoghue novel, and the Royal Academy's Making Modernism exhibition, which explores the lives of a group of female artists active in Germany in the early twentieth century. The theatre company Frantic Assembly is running a nationwide programme to find the actors of the future, hopefully from unexpected places. Luke Jones talks to Frantic Assembly’s artistic director Scott Graham about their plan to get a wider range of young people into theatre and to some of the aspiring actors taking part in this year’s programme. As the fallout of the Arts Council announcements continues, Lillian Crawford and composer Gavin Higgins consider why opera is still being branded elitist and what can be done about it. Producer: Ellie Bury Photo credit: Florence Pugh as Lib Wright in The Wonder. Cr. Aidan Monaghan
17/11/22·42m 24s

Football Inspired Art, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Bruntwood Playwriting Prize winner, Chornobyldorf opera

Julie Hesmondhalgh, who played Hayley Cropper on Coronation Street, on writing a survival guide for new actors- An Actor’s Alphabet. What happens when football is taken from the pitch and put on the canvas? Nick Ahad is joined by the curators of three football-inspired exhibitions: Art of the Terraces at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, plus The Art of the Football Scarf and It's The Hope That Keeps Us Here at OOF Gallery in Tottenham Hotspur's stadium. Chornoblydorf, a new opera that looks at a post-apocalyptic world, opens this year's Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. Co-composer Illia Razumeiko joins Front Row to talk about the optimism behind this dark production. The Bruntwood Playwriting Prize winner, Nathan Queeley-Dennis, on getting the top prize with his debut play, Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz, about a young Black man on a journey of self-discovery with the help of his barber and Beyoncé's lyrics. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Image: Square Gogh by Ross Muir, on display in the exhibition Art of the Terraces at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool
16/11/22·42m 18s

BBC Centenary, The Art of Radio, Joy Whitby, Climate Fiction

With Samira Ahmed. To mark the centenary of the first BBC radio broadcast, Samira Ahmed discusses the art of radio and radio’s influence on art with the novelist and radio enthusiast Tom McCarthy and with Benbrick, sound designer and co-producer of the Peabody award-winning Have You Heard George’s Podcast? From early on the BBC made programmes especially for children. Samira Ahmed speaks to Joy Whitby, a pioneer of children’s programmes – she started Play School and Jackanory – and hears how her approach to these owed much to her early days creating sound effects as a radio studio manager. How should writers respond to the climate crisis? As the COP 27 climate conference continues in Egypt, Samira is joined live from Cairo by the novelist Ahdaf Soueif and in the studio by the playwright Greg Mosse, whose debut novel The Coming Darkness has been described as climate fiction. Producer: Ian Youngs
14/11/22·42m 23s

The Crown, Jafar Panahi's No Bears, Jez Butterworth, Goldsmiths Prize

The Crown: as series five is with us, we review the next ten part instalment of Netflix's royal drama as it slips into more recent territory - the turmoil of the nineties. Plus jailed Iranian film director Jafar Panahi’s new metafiction No Bears, in which he plays himself, forced to direct online from a village near Iran’s Turkish border. With Kate Maltby and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh. Jez Butterworth: the playwright and screenwriter on his new show Mammals starring James Corden, airing on Amazon Prime. The Goldsmiths Prize: live from the ceremony, we hear from the winner of this year’s £10,000 reward for fiction that, “breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form.” Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson
10/11/22·42m 28s

Black Panther Director Ryan Coogler, Photographer Craig Easton

Filmmaker Ryan Coogler discusses returning to Black Panther after the death of Chadwick Boseman and how that experience has inspired the making of the sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. In the wake of this year’s annual Museums Association conference which asked its members to “to reimagine our future if we are going to survive”, Front Row brings together Rowan Brown, CEO of Museums Northumberland and Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board to discuss how museums are responding to the challenge of the cost of living crisis and rising energy prices. In 1992 Craig Easton photographed Mandy and Mick Williams and their children for the first time for a series he called Thatcher's Children. In 2016, he was able to reconnect with the family and has continued to photograph them since then. As he prepares to publish the photographs in a new book, Craig talks about taking pictures for posterity. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Main image: Nick Ahad and Ryan Coogler
09/11/22·42m 29s

Jennifer Lawrence, mandolin player Chris Thile, Chokepoint Capitalism

Jennifer Lawrence and director Lila Neugebauer discuss their new film Causeway. Grammy award-winning mandolin player Chris Thile plays live in the studio from his latest album Laysongs, on the eve of his UK tour. A new book, Chokepoint Capitalism, looks at how big tech companies and large corporations control large parts of creative markets. The authors, Rebecca Giblin, a professor at Melbourne Law School and Cory Doctorow, writer and activist, join Front Row to discuss what that means for both consumers and creators. Presenter: Luke Jones Producer: Olivia Skinner Image: Jennifer Lawrence in Causeway
08/11/22·42m 19s

Arts Council Funding, the art of the infographic, film director Tas Brooker

Arts Council England have announced the most dramatic shift in funding for decades, diverting investment from London towards other parts of the country. The Chair of Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, Stuart Murphy of English National Opera, which is set to relocate out of London, and arts journalist Sarah Crompton discuss the details. Director Tas Brooker discusses her new film When We Speak, a documentary about female whistleblowers, including Rose McGowan and Katherine Gun, whose evidence lifted the lid on abuse and corruption. To mark the start of the COP 27 climate conference in Egypt, Samira explores the art of the infographic and the appeal of data visualisation with Professor Ed Hawkins, creator of the viral Show Your Stripes temperature change graphic and information designer Stefanie Posavec. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ellie Bury Image: Show Your Stripes infographic representing the global average temperature for each year since 1850 to 2021 (data source: UK Met Office) Credit: Creator: Professor Ed Hawkins, National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Reading Licensor: University of Reading Licence: Creative Commons
07/11/22·42m 24s

The English and Living reviewed, Royal Opera's Director of Opera Oliver Mears

Joan Bakewell and Hanna Flint give their verdicts on Hugo Blick's new TV Western on BBC2 starring Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer, 'The English'. They've also watched new film 'Living' starring Bill Nighy and Aimee Lou Wood with a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro, based on an Akira Kurosawa film, 'Ikiru', about a man at the end of his life. Royal Opera House Opera Director Oliver Mears discusses his new production of Benjamin Britten’s 'The Rape of Lucretia' and the challenges he’s faced staging a work that deals with sexual violence. Image: 2022 The English (c) Drama Republic/BBC/Amazon Studios Photographer: Diego Lopez Calvin Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Sarah Johnson
03/11/22·42m 24s

Live from Cardiff with Connor Allen, Zoë Skoulding and music from Catrin Finch and Aoife Ni Bhriain

Playwright, poet and Children’s Laureate for Wales Connor Allen talks about his grime-theatre mash-up The Making of a Monster, a semi-autobiographical production about a young man struggling to find his place in the world. Harpist Catrin Finch and Irish violinist Aoife Ni Bhriain perform live in the Front Row studio and discuss their appearance at the Other Voices Festival in Cardigan, which will celebrate connections between Ireland and Wales. Poet Zoë Skoulding talks about her latest collection, A Marginal Sea, written in Ynys Mon, Anglesey, on the edge of Wales. Bilingual rapper, Sage Todz, on turning O Hyd - Still Here - a song from the '80s rallying people to the cause of the Welsh language, into one rallying them in support of the Welsh national football team, which is still here, in the World Cup competition. Presenter: Huw Stephens Producer: Julian May
02/11/22·42m 16s

Nick Hornby, dancer Cecilia Iliesiu, Derek Owusu and Anthony Anaxagorou

Author Nick Hornby on the similarities of Dickens and Prince, as he publishes his new book on the “genius” of the Victorian novelist and the sex-funk pop musician. On the eve of World Ballet Day, we talk to Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancer, Cecilia Iliesiu, about the new project she has co-founded – Global Ballet Teachers - to make the teaching of ballet more accessible to ballet teachers worldwide. We also hear from Vivian Boateng, a ballet teacher based in Accra, Ghana, who has been taking part in the Global Ballet Teachers project. Derek Owusu has written a book about his mother, who came to Britain from Ghana. But rather than a prose memoir he has imagined the journey of her life as a long poem titled Losing the Plot. Anthony Anaxagorou also writes about his family, life here and in Cyprus, where they came from, in his new collection Heritage Aesthetics. Rather than interviewing the two writers separately Front Row asked each to read the other's. Derek Owusu and Anthony Anaxagorou join Front Row to discuss their work. Photo credit for Nick Hornby: Parisa Taghizadeh Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Kirsty McQuire
01/11/22·42m 25s

Alison Lapper on Sarah Biffin, Ric Renton, Plastics at the V&A Dundee

Artist Alison Lapper and co-curator Emma Rutherford discuss a new exhibition Without Hands: The Art of Sarah Biffin, which takes a fresh look at the work of the pioneering Victorian painter. Actor and writer Ric Renton talks about his new play One Off at Theatre Live in Newcastle. Inspired by the time he spent in prison as a young man, it addresses a crisis in the prison system. As a new exhibition about Plastic opens at the V&A Dundee, critic Anna Burnside takes a look at the 20th Century’s most intriguing and controversial materials. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ellie Bury Image Credit: Sarah Biffin (1784-1850) Self-portrait , 1821 © Philip Mould & Company
31/10/22·42m 11s

Tammy Faye musical, Paul Newman's memoir, Daniel Arsham, Simon Armitage

Reviewers Karen Krizanovich and David Benedict give their verdicts on Tammy Faye, A New Musical at the Almeida Theatre in London, starring Katie Brayben, and from the combined creative forces of Elton John, Jake Shears, James Graham, and Rupert Goold. Plus they review Paul Newman, The Extraordinary Life Of An Ordinary Man - a memoir of the film star created from recently rediscovered transcripts of conversations Newman had in the 1980s. The Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, reads his poem to mark 100 years of the BBC. And the American artist Daniel Arsham is known for sculptures which look like archaeological remains or as he describes them “future relics.” As an outdoor exhibition of his work opens at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Luke Jones finds out what inspires his work. Photo credit: Marc Brenner Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Emma Wallace
27/10/22·42m 32s

Turn It Up: The Power of Music exhibition; The Turner Prize at Tate Liverpool; Linton Kwesi Johnson

Art critic Laura Robertson reviews this year's Turner Prize show at Tate Liverpool. Presenter Nick Ahad pays a visit to the immersive exhibition, Turn It Up: The Power of Music at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester. Laura Robertson brings us up to date on the latest arts news, from the delayed funding announcement by Arts Council England, to Berlin's Hamburger Bahnhof gallery's response to rising energy costs. Plus Nick Ahad speaks to the pioneering dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson about his new collection, Selected Poems. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Image: The Musical Playground in Turn It Up The Power of Music exhibition © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum Group
26/10/22·42m 25s

Eliza Carthy, Ruben Östlund, Brutalist Architecture

Eliza Carthy is celebrating 30 years as a professional musician with a new album, Queen of the Whirl. She talks about this, the legacy of her musical family – as the daughter of Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy – the way traditional music develops, and her own song-writing, and performs live in the Front Row studio. Double Palme d'Or winning Swedish director Ruben Östlund tells Samira about his first English language film, Triangle of Sadness - a satire on the fashion industry, influencer culture, and the world of the super-rich. Plus the threat to brutalist architecture. Last year the Dorman Long Tower in Redcar was demolished, and now the Kirkgate Shopping centre in Bradford is condemned too. Brutalist architecture provokes both love as well as hate, but around the country its buildings are in peril. Author John Grindrod and Duncan Wilson from Historic England discuss how much is being lost, and if it matters. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Photo: Eliza Carthy. Credit: Elodie Kowalski
25/10/22·42m 12s

Taylor Swift and Arctic Monkeys

Taylor Swift and the Arctic Monkeys both released their debut albums in 2006. Their latest studio albums, Swift’s tenth, Midnights, and Arctic Monkeys seventh, The Car, have just been released. Laura Barton reviews them and compares their unexpected similarities. As new exhibition The Horror Show! opens at Somerset House, horror in art and film is discussed by the exhibition's co-curator Jane Pollard and BFI film programmer Michael Blyth. May Sumbwanyambe on his new play Enough of Him which explores the 18th century story of Joseph Knight, an African man enslaved by plantation owner Sir John Wedderburn and brought to Scotland to serve in his Perthshire mansion. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Harry Parker
24/10/22·42m 31s

Front Row reviews popular culture of 1922

For the poet Ezra Pound it was ‘year zero for Modernism’ but what were people in Britain really reading, watching, listening to and looking at in 1922? To mark the BBC’s centenary, Front Row reviews the popular culture of 1922: from the West End musical comedy The Cabaret Girl by Jerome Kern and PG Wodehouse to May Sinclair’s novel The Life and Death of Harriett Frean, via the silent film epic Robin Hood with Douglas Fairbanks and a fond farewell to Gainsborough’s portrait of The Blue Boy at The National Gallery, all set to a soundtrack of jazz, music hall and early radio. Tom Sutcliffe is joined by academic Charlotte Jones (Queen Mary, University of London), the writer and broadcaster Matthew Sweet and the music critic Kevin Le Gendre. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Kirsty McQuire Image: Enid Bennett, Douglas Fairbanks and Sam De Grasse in Robin Hood, 1922
20/10/22·42m 16s

Martin McDonagh on The Banshees of Inisherin and The Royal National Mòd

Director Martin McDonagh talks about his new film The Banshees of Inisherin. The former Young People's Laureate for London, Selina Nwulu, discusses her latest collection of poems. John McDiarmid reports from The Royal National Mòd, Scotland’s festival of Gaelic culture.
19/10/22·42m 19s

New theatre @sohoplace, director Edward Berger, Jenny Beavan on fair pay for costume designers

Theatre producer Nica Burns talks about her brand new theatre building @sohoplace which is about to open in London’s West End. Film director Edward Berger discusses his German anti-war film All Quiet on the Western Front. Jenny Beavan has designed costumes for some of Hollywood’s most celebrated and loved films, including Mad Max: Fury Road, Gosford Park, and A Room with a View. The film that led to her winning her third Oscar, Cruella, has also led her to question the position of costume and wardrobe workers in the film industry. She joins Front Row, along with Charlotte Bence, a negotiator for Equity, the trade union for the performing arts and entertainment industries. Presenter: Kate Molleson Producer: Eliane Glaser Photo Credit: Tim Soar and AHMM
18/10/22·42m 27s

The Booker Prize for Fiction 2022

The live ceremony for the 2022 Booker Prize for Fiction, hosted by Samira Ahmed. The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced by the chair of judges Neil MacGregor in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen Consort, who will award the trophy. The author Elif Shafak reflects on the recent violent attack on Sir Salman Rushdie, whose novel Midnight's Children was chosen as the Booker of Bookers. And the singer songwriter Dua Lipa gives her thoughts on the power of books. Photographer credit: John Williams Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson
17/10/22·42m 6s

Hieroglyphs at the British Museum, Emily Brontë biopic, Shehan Karunatilaka

Emily is a new film starring Emma Mackey (of Sex Education fame) as the author of Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë. Emily is as wild as the windswept moorland she lives in; her relationships with her sisters, Anne and Charlotte, her dissolute brother, Branwell, and her lover, the curate Weightman, are as raw as the relentless rain, and as tender as the flashes of sunshine. But writer and Director Frances O’Connor’s debut film is very much an imagined life. So, what will reviewers Samantha Ellis, author of a biography of Emily’s sister, Anne, and the archaeologist Mike Pitts make of it? Samantha and Mike will also review Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt. The new exhibition at the British Museum brings together more than 240 objects, some shown for the first time, and some very famous -the Rosetta Stone, Queen Nedjmet’s Book of the Dead - to tell the story of the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Exhibitions about ancient Egypt tend to focus on the dead – mummies, Tutankhamun – this one is about how the Egyptians lived, wrote, and spoke. Lord Vaizey, former Conservative Culture Minister from 2010- 2016 has been appointed Chair of the Parthenon Project advisory panel. He joins Front Row to discuss the campaign to return the “Elgin Marbles” to Greece. Concluding Front Row's interviews with all of this year's Booker Prize shortlisted novelists is Shehan Karunatilaka. He discusses his second novel, The Seven Moons of Maali Almedia, a dark satire set against the backdrop of a civil war-ravaged Sri Lanka. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Kirsty McQuire Main Image: Temple lintel of King Amenenhat III, Hawara, Egypt, 12th Dynasty, 1855 - 08 BC. © The Trustees of the British Museum.
13/10/22·42m 23s

Live from Belfast with Ruth McGinley, Conor Mitchell, Claire Keegan

Front Row comes from Belfast where Steven Rainey hears about some of the highlights of this year’s Belfast International Festival. Pianist Ruth McGinley talks about her new album AURA, a collection of traditional Irish airs re-imagined for classical piano. Ruth found success at a young age after winning the piano final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition but felt burnt out by the pressure and demands of life as a concert pianist. She discusses her return to playing and the freedom she’s found in collaborating with other musicians and composers. Composer and theatre maker Conor Mitchell is known for his ground-breaking operas covering topics including the trial of Harvey Weinstein and homophobic comments from a DUP politician. His new musical, Propaganda, is set during the Berlin blockade and asks questions about the ransoming of supplies. He discusses Propaganda’s contemporary parallels and using a musical to explain political turmoil. Claire Keegan has been shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize for her novel Small Things Like These. Set in the 1980s in County Wexford, Ireland, at a time when the infamous Magdalene laundries were still operating, the book follows a coal merchant and father of five daughters who is faced with a moral choice. Presenter: Steven Rainey Producer: Olivia Skinner
13/10/22·42m 24s

Camilla George, Elizabeth Strout and Iranian artist Soheila Sokhanvari

Jazz saxophonist Camilla George plays live in the studio and talks about her new album Ibio-Ibio - a tribute to her Ibibio roots in Nigerian. Iranian artist Soheila Sokhanvari joins Samira to discuss Rebel Rebel, her first major work in the UK. The exhibition at the Barbican’s Curve features 27 miniature portraits of pioneering female performers who blazed a trail in cinema, music and dance before the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Elizabeth Strout is the latest of the authors shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize to be featured on Front Row. She's been shortlisted for the third novel in her series of Lucy Barton novels, Oh William! We hear an extract from her interview with Open Book about the novel. BBC Scotland's arts correspondent, Pauline McLean, reports on the financial pressures that are besieging Scotland's cultural institutions. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Main image: Camilla George Photographer's credit: Daniel Adhami
11/10/22·41m 59s

Alan Garner Booker Shortlisted, Orfeo Reimagined, Baz Luhrmann on Peter Brook

Alan Garner’s 10th novel, Treacle Walker, may be one of the shortest books to make the Booker Prize shortlist but once read the slim volume which explores the nature of time weighs on the reader’s mind. Alan talks to Nick Ahad about the creation of Treacle Walker and what’s it like to be the oldest author ever to be nominated for the UK’s most celebrated literary prize. Monteverdi’s opera, Orfeo, is regarded as the first great opera and while there have been numerous productions since its premiere in 1607 none of those have attempted the approach being taken by Opera North this week. Monteverdi’s opera is being recreated through a collaboration between Indian and Western classical music traditions. The co-music directors - composer and sitarist Jasdeep Singh Degun and conductor and harpsichordist Laurence Cummings - along with the opera’s director, Anna Himali Howard, join Nick to discuss why Monteverdi’s opera provides the perfect gateway to a new form of music storytelling. When Baz Luhrmann was a young theatre and opera director he had the opportunity to assist Peter Brook on his epic production of the Mahabharata, which Brook was staging in a quarry in Australia. Luhrmann tells Nick Ahad that he didn't have much to do he did a good deal of observing, and that he learned a great deal. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Production Co-ordinator: Lewis Reeves Main image: Alan Garner Photographer’s credit: David Heke
10/10/22·42m 11s

Booker-nominated author Percival Everett, The Lost King reviewed

Author Percival Everett talks to Tom Sutcliffe about his Booker Prize nominated novel, The Trees, which uses dark humour to explore gruesome events in Mississippi. Science Fiction writer Una McCormack and historian Prof Anthony Bale review Stephen Frears's new film The Lost King, about the real life search for the remains of Richard III and a new exhibition at the Science Museum devoted to Science Fiction. And writer Hari Kunzru on the life and work of Annie Ernaux, who has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Emma Wallace Image Credit: Photographer - Graeme Hunter, © PATHÉ PRODUCTIONS LIMITED AND BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION 2022ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
06/10/22·42m 23s

Björk, NoViolet Bulawayo, James Bond at 60

Mercurial musician Björk has just released her tenth album Fossora. She discusses the experience of making the album and her interest in mushrooms. Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize for the second time, this time for her second novel Glory. It recounts the political turmoil of Zimbabwe’s recent past through a cast of animal characters. NoViolet tells Samira what made her want to approach the subject in this way. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of James Bond, Samira speaks to producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson about the immense impact and legacy of the franchise. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Eliane Glaser Main image: Björk Photographer's credit: Vidar Logi
05/10/22·41m 58s

BBC National Short Story Award and BBC Young Writers' Award winners

The announcement of the winners of the BBC National Short Story Award and Young Writers’ Award with Cambridge University live from the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House in London. Joining Tom Sutcliffe to celebrate the imaginative potential of the short story are chair of judges Elizabeth Day, previous winner Ingrid Persaud, and the poet Will Harris. All the stories are available on BBC Sounds. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson
04/10/22·42m 27s

Viola Davis in The Woman King, playwright Rona Munro and artist Amy Sherald

American actress Viola Davis, who has won an Oscar, Emmy and a Tony for her outstanding performances, plays a female warrior in the historical epic The Woman King. Viola Davis and director Gina Prince-Bythewood discuss bringing the story of a 19th Century female general to life. Rona Munro’s trilogy The James Plays were one of the theatrical highlights of the year when they premiered in 2014. She has now returned to Scottish history with two further monarchal plays – James IV: Queen of the Fight, and Mary. She talks to Samira about how her new plays challenge the traditional histories about the court of James IV and the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. Amy Sherald is a celebrated American painter, known for her striking official portrait of Michelle Obama. As her first European exhibition opens in London, she joins Samira in the Front Row studio to discuss her new paintings, which continue to explore themes of American realism and Black portraiture. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Image: Viola Davis in The Woman King
03/10/22·42m 53s

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare North Playhouse and artist Samson Kambalu

Artist Samson Kambalu talks to Shahidha Bari about his sculpture Antelope, a thought provoking commentary on colonialism which has just been unveiled on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth. Period gangster drama Peaky Blinders has been turned into a ballet by dance company Rambert. As it opens in Birmingham, Rambert Dance's Helen Shute explains how they've interpreted the TV show for the stage. Screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce and critic Helen Nugent review the first Shakespeare production at the new Shakespeare North theatre in Prescot, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Joyland, the the first Pakistani film to be selected at the Cannes Film Festival.
29/09/22·42m 33s

The Blackwater Lightship, Filmmaker Kirsty Bell, Black Art

The Blackwater Lightship is a novel by Colm Tóibín, published in 1999 and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was later made into a film and has now been dramatized for the Dublin Theatre Festival. Set in the early nineties, it tells of a young gay man suffering from AIDS who visits his grandmother in rural Wexford and the repercussions his arrival has on her, his mother, and sister. Elle talks to the writer and director David Horan about adapting the novel for the stage, and the issues it raises about mother-daughter relationships and attitudes to AIDS then and now. On the 40th anniversary of the First National Black Art Convention, held at Wolverhampton Polytechnic, and an accompanying exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, we look at that foundational moment for black art now, 40 years on. Elle speaks to Marlene Smith, artist, curator, and a founding member of the BLK Art Group, and to Alice Correia - art historian and editor of a new collection of documents from that time. Plus filmmaker Kirsty Bell discusses her directorial debut, A Bird Flew In - set during lockdown, and featuring a stellar cast, including Sadie Frost, Derek Jacobi, and Frances Barber. Presenter: Elle Osili-Wood Producer: Ellie Bury
29/09/22·42m 13s

Anthony Roth Costanzo, Unboxed's See Monster, and the cost of living crisis

Luke Jones meets the countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, whose show Only An Octave Apart is about to begin a month long run at Wilton’s Music Hall in London. He discusses how he discovered his range, why he fuses opera with pop and his return to the ENO next year in Philip Glass’s Akhnaten. Luke takes a tour round See Monster in Weston-super-Mare, a retired North Sea rig that's been turned into one of the UK's largest art installations as part of the Unboxed festival. And a discussion on the impact of the cost of living crisis on theatre and live music. Jamie Njoku-Goodwin speaks from the Labour Party Conference and Mark Davyd from the Music Venue Trust. Eleanor Lloyd from (SOLT) The Society of London Theatres/UK Theatre.
27/09/22·42m 13s

Michael Winterbottom, Welsh arts project GALWAD, Hilary Mantel remembered

Michael Winterbottom discusses writing and directing a SKY TV drama, This England, starring Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson during his tumultuous first months as Prime Minister and the first wave of the COVID pandemic. GALWAD, an ambitious, multiplatform arts project set in Wales, imagines what it would be like if we could receive messages from people living in 2052. Audiences can follow the story as it unfolds across the week, both online and on social media, and watch a broadcast of the whole event on Sky Arts. The lead producer Claire Doherty and lead writer Owen Sheers, explain why they wanted to push the boundaries of storytelling. The literary critic John Mullan and the novelist Katherine Rundell discuss the life and work of Hilary Mantel.
26/09/22·42m 2s

Blonde and Inside Man reviewed, Anna Bailey interview

Critics Boyd Hilton and Sarah Crompton review Blonde, Andrew Dominik’s film adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel about Marilyn Monroe. They also discuss Inside Man, a new drama from Sherlock creator Steven Moffat, starring David Tennant and Stanley Tucci. Anna Bailey is the last of the authors shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award. They’ll be talking about their story Long Way to Come for a Sip of Water, about a man’s road journey across the vast expanses of Texas, which will be broadcast on Radio 4 tomorrow at 1530. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Ellie Bury
22/09/22·42m 24s

Beth Orton, Jodi Picoult, South Korean Art

Beth Orton performs two songs from her new album, Weather Alive, and discusses creative partnerships as well as life after being dropped by her record label. American author Jodi Picoult has turned Markus Zusak’s best-selling novel The Book Thief into a musical, which has just had its world premiere at the Bolton Octagon. She discusses adapting a novel for the stage and explains why she feels the UK is a more fertile landscape for launching musicals. Jordan Erica Webber, arts and culture broadcaster and video games expert, reviews Hallyu! The Korean Wave, the V&A’s new exhibition exploring the South Korean art, music, TV, cinema and fashion that’s spreading its influence around the world: from Gangnam Style to Squid Game, Parasite to Nam June Paik. Samira speaks to Vanessa Onwuemezi, who's the latest of the authors shortlisted for this year's BBC National Short Story Award for her story, Green Afternoon. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Eliane Glaser Main Image Credit: Eliot Lee Hazel
21/09/22·43m 13s

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams is one of our country's greatest ever composers. Born 150 years ago in 1872, he is known for creating a sense of Englishness in twentieth century music by drawing on his love of folk song, Tudor church music and landscape, in pieces like the perennially popular The Lark Ascending and Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. Samira Ahmed explores his musical language and revels in live performance with her guests, the solo violinist Jennifer Pike , baritone Roderick Williams, Paul Sartin of the folk band Bellowhead, Kate Kennedy from Oxford University, and composer, writer and pianist Neil Brand. This programme was recorded before the sad news of Paul Sartin's death. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Nicki Paxman
21/09/22·41m 58s

Louise Doughty on her BBC drama Crossfire, singer-songwriter Miki Berenyi from Lush, author Jenn Ashworth

Bestselling author Louise Doughty discusses her new BBC One drama Crossfire, a thriller about a terrorist attack in a luxury holiday resort, starring Keeley Hawes. She talks about writing for the screen for the first time, after her novels Apple Tree Yard and Platform 7 were adapted for television. Singer songwriter Miki Berenyi, who is best known as part of the 1980s/90s indie rock band Lush, talks about her memoir Fingers Crossed: How Music Saved me from Success. Her book covers her jaw-dropping childhood and the highs and lows of being a woman in the music business, touring America and the dark side of Britpop. The novelist and short story writer Jenn Ashworth is the latest of the authors shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2022. She joins Front Row to talk about Flat 19, inspired by a work by Doris Lessing, exploring the daily pressures on a woman who finds a surprising way to escape them. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Paul Waters
20/09/22·41m 46s

Ticket to Paradise film, Winslow Homer exhibition, National Short Story Award shortlist announcement

Journalist and author Hadley Freeman, and Art UK editor and art historian Lydia Figes, review Ticket to Paradise starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, and the Winslow Homer exhibition at the National Gallery. And head judge Elizabeth Day joins Front Row for the announcement of the shortlist for the 2022 BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University. The first two shortlisted authors will be talking about what inspired their stories. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Eliane Glaser
15/09/22·42m 27s

Cellist Abel Selaocoe, Art & History, Curlews In Music

Genre-defying South African cellist Abel Selaocoe speaks to Samira and performs a piece from his new album Where Is Home (Hae Ke Kae), which will be launched at a performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. He is about to become Artist In Residence at London's Southbank Centre. His inventive and virtuosic compositions and performance style fuse Baroque repertoire with traditional African music, combining classical cello with body percussion and voice. A rich crop of recent books shows that art is being viewed from a new perspective. Michael Bird, author of This Is Tomorrow: Twentieth Century Britain And Its Artists, and Frances Spalding, who has written The Real And The Romantic: English Art Between Two World Wars, join Front Row to talk about not the history of art, but art as history. The calls of curlews are memorable, mysterious, and musical. They have appeared in music and poetry over the ages, and they continue to fascinate artists. Simmerdim: Curlew Sounds is an unusual new album - two CDs, one of music inspired by curlews, the other a series of soundscapes capturing their calls, recorded in places where these threatened birds are still to be found. The musician Merlyn Driver, whose idea Simmerdim was, explains his compulsion to make the records. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson
14/09/22·42m 26s

Richard Eyre's The Snail House; Sylvia Anderson and women in TV; the late Jean-Luc Godard

Sir Richard Eyre is one of the UK’s most distinguished and celebrated directors - equally at home in theatre, film, and television. At the age of 79, he has just made his debut as a playwright with his new play, The Snail House, which has just opened at Hampstead Theatre. He talks to Samira about his late literary blooming and what needs to happen for theatre audiences to return to their pre-pandemic levels. The name Sylvia Anderson was recently invoked by Dr. Lisa Cameron MP, during a debate on gender equality in the media in Westminster Hall. The late Sylvia Anderson was a pioneer in the male dominated world of television, co-creating Thunderbirds in the 1960s with her then husband Gerry. But her family say her name has often been omitted from credits and merchandise in the years since then. Samira speaks to Sylvia’s daughter Dee Anderson and Dame Heather Rabbatts, Chair of Time’s Up UK, who are campaigning for her legacy to be restored and to Barbara Broccoli, producer of the James Bond films, who remembers Sylvia as her mentor. The French film director Jean-Luc Godard, who spearheaded the revolutionary French New Wave of cinema, has died at the age of 91. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has described him as “a national treasure, a man who had the vision of a genius." French film critic Agnes Poirier guides us through Godard’s long career, beginning with the classic, À bout de souffle (Breathless), and his influence on directors from Martin Scorsese to Quentin Tarantino. Producer: Kirsty McQuire
13/09/22·42m 19s

Eileen Cooper, Northern Ireland Opera, Basic Income For The Arts In Ireland, Roger McGough

Eileen Cooper is a painter and printmaker who’s been quietly creating boldly coloured figurative images and ceramics since the 1970s. This year finally sees the first major review of her work which, in magic realist style, encompasses huge themes: sexuality, motherhood, life and death. The show is called Parallel Lines: Eileen Cooper And Leicester’s Art Collection, and places Cooper’s work next to that of LS Lowry, Pablo Picasso, and Paula Rego, among others. Eileen Cooper talks about her life, work and role as Keeper of the Royal Academy Schools – the first woman to hold the prestigious post. The Grand Opera House in Belfast is celebrating the return of Northern Ireland Opera to its stage, following a £12 million restoration of the historic building. The company has chosen La Traviata for its homecoming performance, with Australian soprano Siobhan Stagg in the lead role. The BBC’s Kathy Clugston went to the Grand Opera House to find out about their production of one of the world’s most popular operas. As Ireland introduces its ground-breaking new Basic Income For The Arts pilot, we speak to Angela Dorgan, Chair of the National Campaign For The Arts in Ireland, which has long campaigned for a basic income scheme. And poet Roger McGough joins us to shares his new poem written in tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Paul Waters
12/09/22·42m 19s

Trumpet player Alison Balsom and the campaign to revive the works of author Jack Hilton

The trumpeter and musician Alison Balsom has performed with some of the world’s greatest orchestras. She talks about her latest album, Quiet City. Jack Hilton was a plasterer from Rochdale whose groundbreaking writing was praised by both WH Auden and George Orwell. His work fell out of print after the Second World War and he has been largely forgotten. Jack Chadwick, who is running a campaign to revive his works, explains why his works need to be revived. Cabaret performer Rhys Hollis, also known as Rhys’s Pieces, and opera singer Andrea Baker discuss their video piece OMOS showcasing Black Queer Scottish performance at Edinburgh’s Royal Scottish Academy. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Eliane Glaser
07/09/22·41m 56s

Loudon Wainwright III performs live, the Booker Prize shortlist, studying English Literature

American singer songwriter Loudon Wainwright III performs live in the studio and talks about his decades-long career, his current UK tour and his latest album titled Lifetime Achievement. Tonight the six books on this year’s Booker Prize for Fiction shortlist will be announced. The literary critic Max Liu joins us to comment. One of these six shortlisted authors will be chosen as the overall winner on 17 October when the ceremony will be broadcast live on Front Row. English Literature has dropped out of the top ten A-level subjects in England for the first time. What does it reveal about the status of the subject and its importance in the creative industries? Samira hears from Vicky Bolton, head of English at Wales High school in Sheffield; Sam Cairns, co-director of The Cultural Learning Alliance; and Geoff Barton, a former English teacher and head teacher, now the general secretary of the teaching union, the Association of School and College Leaders. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Paul Waters Image: Loudon Wainwright III Photographer credit: Shervin Lainez
06/09/22·42m 21s

David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future, Venice Film Festival, Booker Longlisted Shehan Karunatilaka, Tom Chaplin

David Cronenberg’s new film Crimes of the Future is a science fiction body parts horror movie starring Viggo Mortensen, Kristen Stewart and Léa Seydoux. In a time when pain no longer exists a couple are using organ removal surgery as performance art. Leila Latif reviews and gives a run down on the films being shown at this year’s Venice Film Festival, including The Whale and Banshees of Inisherin. Tom Chaplin came to fame as the lead singer of Keane. With the release of his third solo album Midpoint, he talks to Tom Sutcliffe and performs two songs - Gravitational, and Overshoot - live in the studio. We hear from one of the thirteen writers on the Booker Prize longlist, Sri Lankan Shehan Karunatilaka, who’s waiting to hear if he’ll also be on the shortlist announced tomorrow. His 2010 debut novel, Chinaman, was garlanded with awards, including the Commonwealth Prize. Will his second book, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, also be a winner? Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Nicki Paxman
05/09/22·42m 20s

Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power; Three Thousand Years of Longing; Nick Drnaso; the Edinburgh Festivals

Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power is a prequel and in keeping with the epic scale of Tolkein’s books and their film versions it doesn’t begin a two years before The Hobbit but two thousand. Sci-fi novelist Temi Oh and film critic Tim Robey review the Amazon Prime series. They also consider the merits of another millennia spanning work, George Miller’s film Three Thousand Years of Longing. It’s a radical departure for the director of the Mad Max films; an adaptation of a short story by A. S. Byatt staring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba, who plays a djinn – a genie. So, it should be good…but is it? Samira Ahmed talks to Nick Drnaso, whose Sabrina was the first graphic novel to be selected for the Booker Prize longlist. In his new one, Acting Class, ten strangers come together in the class run by the mysterious John Smith, who is possibly a charlatan. His students, all very different, share one uniting need, for change. The lights went out on the final performances of this year’s Edinburgh Festivals on Monday. It’s being said that there were fewer people attending fewer shows and that prices, especially of accommodation, were prohibitive. And then the binnies went on strike and the elegant streets of Scotland’s capital were strewn with rubbish. So, Pauline McClean, BBC Scotland’s Arts Correspondent wonders, were the festivals successful? Does there need to be some change? And, marking Mikhail Gorbachev’s death, a poem from The Poetry of Perestroika, a pioneering anthology made possible by his reforms. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producers: Yasmin Allen and Julian May Production Co-ordinator: Lizzie Harris Image: taken from Acting Class by Nick Drnaso, published by Granta
01/09/22·42m 18s

Joyce Carol Oates, The comeback of Jungle, RIOPY

Joyce Carol Oates’s latest novel, Babysitter, is the story of a woman caught in an abusive relationship with her lover, set against the background of the hunt for a serial killer in 70s Detroit. Its dark themes are not untypical of the subject matter of much of Oates’s long list of successful books which have won her great critical acclaim over the years. Tom Sutcliffe talks to her about her work and her distinctive literary style. Following the first leg of a sold-out European tour, Riopy – the self-taught Franco-British pianist/composer with nearly half a billion streams to his name and an album which has been at the top of the US Billboard charts for nearly two years – is with us to discuss the release of his album [extended] Bliss. Jungle, the older, grittier sibling of drum and bass, has made a comeback on the club and festival circuit this summer. Reporter and DJ Milly Chowles went to meet Nia Archives, the young musician breathing new life into this 30 year old genre of electronic music. Milly traces the roots of jungle that run through Nia’s music to Milly’s own hometown of Bristol, with the help of DJ Dazee and producer Borai. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker
31/08/22·42m 21s

Best-selling book charts, author Ann Cleeves and Composer James B.Wilson on the last night of the Proms

Bestselling crime novelist Ann Cleeves joins Samira Ahmed to discuss the return of her no-nonsense Northumberland crime-fighter, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, in the Rising Tide. What gets books on the shelves of some of our biggest chain retailers? Tonight Front Row lifts the lid on the behind-the-scenes payments that influence what you get to see and buy. Composer James B.Wilson gives an insight into his writing process, ahead of the premiere of a new piece he's written for the last night of the Proms. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Nicki Paxman Image: Novelist Ann Cleeves Photographer credit: Marie Fitzgerald
30/08/22·42m 16s

Shelea, Reviewing Official Competition and Red Rose, Gus Casely-Hayford

The BBC Proms is celebrating what would’ve been Aretha Franklin’s 80th birthday, and leading the tribute is American singer-songwriter Sheléa. She's a protegee of Quincy Jones who also found a mentor in Stevie Wonder, and names Natalie Cole and Whitney Houston as some of her inspirations. Sheléa shares Aretha Franklin’s influences of gospel, jazz and soul, and her skills to play the piano and turn her voice to a variety of styles. She performs live in the studio and demonstrates the power of Aretha’s voice as well as her own. For our Thursday review Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and Olivia Laing have been watching Official Competition, a comedy film starring Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martínez which takes aim at the film industry and its stars, and Red Rose, a BBC3 teen horror drama set in Bolton looking at the power of smartphones to shape young lives. Torn is a new BBC Radio 4 series exploring ten key moments in the history of fashion, from the allure of mauve to the rebellion of mini-skirts. Presenter Gus Casely-Hayford, curator, historian and the inaugural director of V&A East, joins Shahidha for a whistlestop tour of fashion’s cultural hits and environmental misses over five centuries. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Sarah Johnson
18/08/22·42m 31s

Gregory Doran and the RSC, WASWASA – Whispers in Prayer performance, Taiwan's new cultural landmark

When Gregory Doran was appointed Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2012, his stated ambition was for the company to stage the entire canon of plays in the First Folio, the first printed collection of Shakespeare’s plays. Ten years on and having just completed his plan, with the premiere of a new production of All's Well That Ends Well, he joins Nick Ahad to reflect on the changing nature of his relationship with the Bard. Nick visits Birmingham to see the rehearsals for WASWASA – Whispers in Prayer, an art installation and performance by artist Mohammed Ali which explores the act of Islamic prayer in a secular society. Taiwan has a new cultural landmark, the Taipei Performing Arts Centre. Arts critic Debra Craine was in the Taiwanese capital for the opening of the state of the art building, designed by Dutch architects Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten. Debra joins Nick Ahad to discuss why the Taipei city government commissioned the £185 million complex for theatre, dance and opera. Presenter Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Image: Gregory Doran in rehearsals, 2021 Photographer credit: Ellie Kurttz/ RSC
17/08/22·42m 22s

Anne-Marie Duff on Bad Sisters, Returning the Benin Bronzes, Public Service Broadcasting's Prom

Anne-Marie Duff talks to Samira about her new Apple TV+ series Bad Sisters, where she plays one of five sisters who is trapped in a coercive marriage, from which her sisters plot to free her by any means necessary. Is the Horniman Museum’s decision to return their Benin Bronzes to Nigeria a watershed moment for UK museums? We speak to Errol Francis, artistic director of Culture&, Dan Hicks, author of The Brutish Museums, and Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, who is leading an All-Party Parliamentary Group examining issues around African repatriation and reparations. J Willgoose Esq. from the band Public Service Broadcasting reveals how they are creating a special performance called This New Noise to mark the centenary of BBC Radio at the BBC Proms. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Paul Waters
16/08/22·42m 17s

Jacob Collier and Lizzy McAlpine, Abdul Shayek and Ishy Din, Threats to writers

Jacob Collier has won a Grammy Award for each of his first four albums. In fact, he has five Grammys altogether. He’s back home in London after his recent UK tour and has just brought out a new single, Never Gonna Be Alone. Jacob and his musical collaborators Lizzy McAlpine and Victoria Canal perform the song live in the Front Row studio. Following the attack on Sir Salman Rushdie at the weekend, the writer, human rights activist and PEN International president, Burhan Sönmez, considers the threats faced by writers across the world, from individuals on social media to imprisonment and torture by the state. 15th August 2022 is the 75th anniversary of the Partition of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. We speak to director Abdul Shayek and writer Ishy Din about their play, Silence, which is adapted from Kavita Puri’s book Partition Voices: Untold British Stories, about how they dramatise the real-life stories of those who witnessed this brutal moment in history. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jerome Weatherald Photo: Lizzy McAlpine and Jacob Collier / Credit: Mogli Maureal
15/08/22·42m 24s

Edinburgh Festival: Burn, Counting & Cracking, Aftersun, Festival picks

Live from Edinburgh, with a review of Alan Cumming's one man show, Burn, which sets out to update the biscuit-tin image of Robert Burns. Plus Counting & Cracking - the epic, multilingual life journey of four generations, from Sri Lanka to Australia. To review the Edinburgh International Festival performances, Kate Molleson is joined by Arusa Qureshi, writer and editor of Fest Magazine, and Alan Bissett, playwright, novelist and performer. Plus we speak to Scottish film director Charlotte Wells about her critically acclaimed new film Aftersun, as she returns to her home town to open this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival. Presenter: Kate Molleson Producer: Emma Wallace Photo: Burn - Alan Cumming; picture credit - Gian Andrea di Stefano
11/08/22·42m 2s

Immy Humes and Aindrea Emelife, Charlotte Higgins and David Greig, Stefan Golaszewski

Both journalist Charlotte Higgins and playwright David Greig are fascinated by the Roman occupation of Britain. Higgins’s book Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain, an account of her travels to the Roman remains scattered about Britain, is really about how we today relate to Roman Britain. It seems an unlikely subject for a play but Greig has adapted it for the stage and they both talk to Samira Ahmed about the project. Did the Romans bring civilisation to these islands? Were they violent imperialists? Did British history really begin once they had left? And what of the society that was here already when the Romans arrived? Front Row celebrates the life of author and illustrator Raymond Briggs who has died aged 88. He became famous for his books The Snowman, Father Christmas, Fungus The Bogeyman and his parable of nuclear war When The Wind Blows – all of which were also made into films or TV programmes. American documentary maker Immy Humes has spent the last five years mining the archives for photographs of lone women in majority male environments, from 1862 to the present day, for her book The Only Woman. And British art historian Aindrea Emelife has also been mining the archives, searching for images of black women from 1793 to the present, for her exhibition Black Venus at the Fotografiska Gallery in New York. They join Samira to discuss issues of visibility, tokenism and the female gaze in visual culture, past and present. BAFTA-winning writer and director Stefan Golaszewski talks to Samira about his upcoming BBC One Drama, Marriage, starring Sean Bean and Nicola Walker as a couple navigating the ups and downs of a 30-year relationship. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Image: Shirley Chisholm, Politician, New York, New York, USA, 1972. Credit: Getty Images / Bettmann/ Phaidon
10/08/22·42m 21s

Live from the Edinburgh Festival: Matt Forde, Anne Sofie von Otter, Exodus

Kate Molleson and guests live from Edinburgh Festival. Comedian and impressionist Matt Forde talks about capturing the essence of political figures in his show Clowns To The Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right. Mezzo Soprano Anne Sofie von Otter performs songs by Rufus Wainwright and Franz Schubert on the eve of her Edinburgh International Festival concert. Playwright Uma Nada-Rajah on her topical new farce for the National Theatre of Scotland. Exodus is about the race for political leadership and immigration policy. International festival director Fergus Linehan and Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Shona McCarthy swap notes on innovation, survival and legacy for one of the world's biggest arts festivals. Presenter: Kate Molleson Producer: Nicki Paxman Photo: the cast of Exodus. Picture credit: Brian Hartley
09/08/22·42m 22s

Jordan Peele on Nope, trombonist Peter Moore, Where Is Anne Frank film review, Edinburgh Art Festival

Nope is the latest film from Oscar-winning writer-director Jordan Peele, whose breakthrough was the critically acclaimed 2017 horror Get Out. Tom Sutcliffe speaks to Jordan about reinventing genre- from black horror to sci-fi-western- and examining the exploitation of black talent in Hollywood's history. When the trombonist Peter Moore plays at the Proms next Tuesday it will be the first time that the trombone has featured as a solo instrument at the Proms in twenty years. The former Young Musician of the Year and now Professor of Trombone at the Guildhall School of Music performs live in the studio. Ari Folman, director of the Oscar-nominated film Waltz with Bashir, has a new animated movie coming out this month. Where Is Anne Frank is based on the diary written by Jewish teenager Anne Frank, while she and her family lived in hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam during World War Two. Film critic Tara Judah joins Tom to review the film for Front Row. Jan Patience, visual art columnist for the Sunday Post, has been taking in this year’s Edinburgh Art Festival. With over 100 artists presenting their work and 35 exhibitions, it’s been no small task. She tells Tom about the highlights including the work of Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako, a centenary celebration of the Scottish artist Alan Davie, and Matisse’s Jazz series as it's never been seen before. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Jerome Weatherald Image: Daniel Kaluuya as OJ in the film Nope Credit: Universal Studios
08/08/22·42m 23s

Bullet Train & Mohsin Hamid's The Last White Man reviewed, conductor Semyon Bychkov

Tom Sutcliffe and guest reviewers Bidisha and Amon Warmann discuss Bullet Train, starring Brad Pitt. It's a vivid mixture of comedy and violence from director David Leitch, and is based on a thriller by Japanese author, Kōtarō Isaka. We also discuss Mohsin Hamid's latest novel, The Last White Man - a fable about what happens when white people's skin begins to turn brown. Conductor Semyon Bychkov conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Proms in a programme of a programme of Czech and Russian music. He left the USSR for the USA in 1975 and is currently Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Czech Philharmonic. He talks music and politics too - he's spoken out and taken part in protests against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but has also criticised the dropping of Russian works from concerts around the world. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Paul Waters
04/08/22·42m 26s

The National Eisteddfod of Wales, Ted Gioia on Duke Ellington, musician Carolina Eyck performs

Huw Stephens reports from the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Tregaron, Ceredigion, talking to Archdruid Myrddin ap Dafydd, winner of this year’s Novel Prize Meinir Pierce Jones, and folk singer Owen Shiers. In 1965 the jury recommended that the Pulitzer Prize for Music should be awarded to the jazz composer and band-leader Duke Ellington. But he did not receive the honour. The music historian Ted Gioia has started a petition calling for him to receive it posthumously now. Carolina Eyck brings the eight seasons of Lapland’s Sami people to the Proms, courtesy of a concerto written for her and her instrument - the theremin. She talks to Shahidha about the joy of playing a musical instrument that has fascinated audiences since its creation just over a century ago and that she plays with just the movement of her hands in the air. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Julian May Image: The National Eisteddfod of Wales Photographer credit: Alun Gaffey
04/08/22·42m 28s

Disabled-access ticket booking, Writer Will Ashon, Artists Jane Darke and Andrew Tebbs

Disabled-access ticket booking – for concerts, comedy clubs, theatre, festivals, and more. Carolyn Atkinson reports on problems with new initiatives to make access to the arts much easier for disabled people: the big delays to the National Arts Access Card, and inconsistencies in purchasing ‘companion’ tickets. Will Ashon is a novelist and non-fiction writer whose latest book, The Passengers, is a compilation of voices he recorded with 180 people he came across through chance and random methods – voices who share their hopes, fears and experiences that shaped their lives. Will tells Tom Sutcliffe what the combination of thoughts and tales say about Britain today. Artists Jane Darke and Andrew Tebbs were inspired by the Marianne North Gallery at Kew - in which the walls are covered with North’s natural history paintings made on her travels around the world. They created something similar, looking at the plants insects and animals of a single small parish in Cornwall, St Eval, where Jane lives. The 100 paintings have been exhibited since June at Kresen Kernow, Cornwall’s new state-of-the-art archive centre in Redruth, and today the artists begin a residency there - with workshops, walks, talks, and films. Jane Darke, Andrew Tebbs and Chloe Phillips, of Kresen Kernow, explain this ambitious project. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker
02/08/22·42m 9s

Beyoncé's album Renaissance, poet Don Paterson, the New Diorama Theatre, Free-for-All exhibition, Nichelle Nichols remembered

Beyoncé's Renaissance: we discuss Beyoncé's house and disco inspired new album – her first solo material in six years - and her huge significance as an artist and cultural icon. Nick is joined by Jacqueline Springer – curator, music journalist and lecturer- and by the writer and editor Tara Joshi. The Arctic is Don Paterson’s new collection of poems. The title refers not to the polar region but the third worst bar in Dundee, the resort of survivors of various apocalypses. Other poets are a presence, too, in Paterson’s poems ‘after’ Gabriela Mistral, Montale and Cavafy. Nick Ahad interviews Don Paterson about this poetic cornucopia. David Byrne is the artistic director and chief executive of London’s New Diorama, the Stage newspaper’s Fringe Theatre of the Year. He joins Nick to explain his decision to present no public programme for the rest of the year. Free-for-All is a programme that does what it says on the tin – all artworks on the walls of the Touchstones Gallery have been made by people from Rochdale. Artist Harry Meadley joins Nick to explain the concept. And we remember American actor Nichelle Nichols, best known for her role in Star Trek as Lieutenant Uhura, who has died aged 89. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Image: Beyoncé
01/08/22·42m 5s

Hit the Road & Mercury Pictures Presents reviewed, Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, Bernard Cribbins remembered

Panah Panahi is the son of acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi. Panah's film Hit the Road is a road movie with a difference as a family travel through Iran without acknowledging the real purpose of their trip. It's reviewed by Diane Roberts and Leila Latif. They've also been reading Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra, a novel set in wartime Hollywood where a new arrival is trying to escape her past. As the newly formed Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra prepares to perform at the BBC Proms on Sunday, Tom talks to conductor and founder Keri-Lynn Wilson and double-bass player Nazarii Stets, who has recently been allowed to leave Ukraine to join the orchestra’s world tour. And Matthew Sweet joins Front Row to mark the passing of Bernard Cribbins, the much-loved and admired actor and comedian famous for Jackanory, The Railway Children and Dr Who. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Kirsty McQuire
28/07/22·42m 18s

Sister Act, Dramatising the Ugandan Asian exodus, David Olusoga

Sister Act the Musical is returning to the London stage, after two years of Covid delays and thirty years after the much loved Whoopi Goldberg film. Tom Sutcliffe met the stars of the new Hammersmith Apollo production, Beverley Knight who plays singer on the run Deloris and Jennifer Saunders who takes on the role of Mother Superior, to discuss mixing secular and sacred musical traditions with comedy and choreography. Curve Theatre, Leicester, has commissioned a series of plays called Finding Home to mark 50 years since the Ugandan Asian exodus initiated by the then President Idi Amin. Many of those who fled came to family and contacts in Leicester. Reporter Geeta Pendse talks to some of the writers and performers and visits Leicester Museum to hear the stories of what happened in August 1972. Story Trails is a new project that uses virtual reality to reveal hidden local histories in fifteen places across the UK. Film maker David Olusoga, who is the project’s creative director, explains how the UK’s largest immersive storytelling project will work. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Emma Wallace Picture: Sister Act - Beverley Knight as Deloris van Cartier and Jennifer Saunders as Mother Superior. Photographer Criedit: Manuel Harlan
27/07/22·42m 21s

Mercury Music and Booker Prize longlists; museums’ funding; new LGBTQ+ museum

The Mercury Music and Booker Prize lists - we discuss the albums and books nominated this year for these two major prizes. We're joined by writer and critic Alex Clark, and Ludovico Hunter Tilney, music journalist for the Financial Times, to discuss today's announcements. Queer Britain – the dedicated LGBTQ+ museum, recently opened in London’s King’s Cross. We speak to curator Dawn Hoskin, and to director and founder Joseph Galliano. The complex picture of museum economics. Why are museums facing closure, even as they pick up significant lottery heritage funding? Samira Ahmed talks to Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Kim Streets, member of the English Civic Museums Network and Chief Executive of Sheffield Museums Trust about the different approaches to museum funding. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Nicki Paxman Photo: Ollie Alexander stage costume, Glastonbury 2019. Photo by Rahil Ahmed.
26/07/22·42m 0s

Singer Bella Hardy, Poet Thomas Lynch, Birmingham 2022 Festival

Singer and fiddle player Bella Hardy talks about her new album – her tenth – Love Songs, which sees this adventurous musician return to where she began, with the traditional songs she’s known all her life. Thomas Lynch is an American poet with strong connections to Ireland. He is, too, an undertaker, a career that has informed his verse and essays, which dwell on life and death, faith and doubt, and also place. From his ancestral cottage in County Clare Lynch talks to Shahidha Bari about these things and reads from Bone Rosary, his New and Selected poems, just out. The Birmingham 2022 Festival is the biggest celebration of creativity ever in the region, showcasing the work of artists within the Commonwealth. Ahead of the Commonwealth Games starting this week, the arts festival Executive Producer Raidene Carter and artist Beverley Bennett share their continued vision and excitement with Shahida Bari. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Julian May Photo: Elly Lucas
25/07/22·42m 22s

Notre-Dame On Fire and novel Milk Teeth reviewed; Jennifer Walshe performs live; writer Alan Grant remembered

Notre-Dame On Fire, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, is a film dramatising the events of the horrifying night on April 15, 2019 when the cathedral that symbolises so much in France and beyond started to burn. Milk Teeth is the second novel from Jessica Andrews, whose debut Saltwater won the Portico Prize in 2020. It explores appetite, control and desire in a young woman from the north of England who finds herself in the heat of Spain. The writer Sarah Hall and the journalist Agnès Poirier review both. Ahead of her upcoming Proms performance in the Royal Albert Hall, composer and vocalist Jennifer Walshe joins Tom Sutcliffe to perform one of her original compositions live in the studio. Walshe’s soundscape has been described as transcending the contemporary classical music world and she explains her approach to composing original works. And Sam Leith, literary editor of The Spectator magazine, joins Tom to remember the comic book writer Alan Grant, whose death was announced today. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Kirsty McQuire Photo: a still from the film Notre-Dame On Fire Photo Credit: Mickael Lefevre
21/07/22·42m 21s

Where The Crawdads Sing; On Sonorous Seas; Maison Margiela's Cinema Inferno

Where The Crawdads Sing: director Olivia Newman on bringing the multi-million copy best-selling novel to the big screen. Cinema Inferno: the new catwalk production by Leeds theatre company Imitating the Dog for fashion house Maison Margiela - combining theatre, film, and fashion show. Is this the future of haute couture? On Sonorous Seas: Hebridean artist Mhairi Killin on her multi-media exhibition on the Isle of Mull. Fusing sound, video, whalebone artefacts, and poetry, the work is inspired by research into military sonar in Scottish waters and recent mass strandings of whales. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
20/07/22·42m 22s

Jean Paul Gaultier, Much Ado About Nothing, Music Tours

Reflecting on his 50 years in fashion, designer Jean Paul Gaultier sits down with Samira Ahmed to talk about his life, Madonna, London and how it has inspired his new show at the Roundhouse Fashion Freak Show. An all party parliamentary report has been released documenting the current state of music touring. The Chief Executive of UK Music Jamie Njoku-Goodwin and Jack Brown of the band White Lies join the discussion. Much Ado about Nothing is this year’s Shakespeare play, with a production in Stratford in the spring, one that opened at the National Theatre yesterday, another at Shakespeare’s Globe, running into winter, and one at The Crucible in Sheffield which will open in September. Front Row brings three directors – Simon Godwin (National), Lucy Bailey (Globe) and Robert Hastie (Crucible) – together to discuss the fascination of this funny, but disturbing, love story with Samira Ahmed. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Nicki Paxman Photo Credit: Mark Senior
19/07/22·42m 19s

Kraftwerk's Karl Bartos, the Spooky Men’s Chorale, playwright Lucy Kirkwood

Karl Bartos, musician and composer, on his life in the German band Kraftwerk - as told in his new memoir The Sound of the Machine. Playwright and screenwriter Lucy Kirkwood on her play Maryland - devised in response to normalisation of violence against women, and originally staged at Royal Court Theatre in London in 2021, it has now been adapted for BBC TV screens. The Spooky Men’s Chorale: the strangely comedic but musically marvellous and popular Australian male voice choir stop off in the middle of their UK tour to sing and talk to Samira Ahmed about Georgian polyphony, Swedish folk band Abba, and not being a men’s group. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Image credit: Markus Wustmann
18/07/22·42m 18s

Persuasion & Patriots reviewed, Durham Brass Festival, Museum of the Year winner

The new film Persuasion based on Jane Austen’s novel starring Dakota Johnson and directed by Carrie Cracknell has already attracted a lot of attention for its blend of 21st century millennial dialogue and Austen’s own words. And Peter Morgan, writer of The Crown, returns to the stage for his new play Patriots which looks at the rise of the oligarchs in Russia, in particular Boris Berezovsky, played by Tom Hollander, helping to secure the rise of Putin, played by Will Keen. Guardian foreign correspondent Luke Harding and film critic Hanna Flint join Shahidha to review both. Durham’s International Brass festival, which has been going for more than 20 years, is showcasing bands from as far afield as Cuba, Italy and Ghana. Among this year’s high profile artists taking part are Mercury Prize and Brit Award nominees, a MOBO-winning CBBC star, and an avant garde rock band fronted by the Poet Laureate. The BBC’s Sharuna Sagar went to Durham to see how this traditional style of music is being embraced by new generation of musicians and collaborators. We hear who has been named Art Fund Museum of the Year, and speak to the winner just minutes after it is announced. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Sarah Johnson Photo credit: Nick Wall/Netflix © 2022
14/07/22·41m 36s

Shakespeare North Playhouse, Tŷ Pawb in Wrexham, The Railway Children Return

In the late 16th century, the Merseyside town of Prescot had the only purpose-built, indoor theatre outside London. Now the Shakespeare North Playhouse, a £38 million architectural representation of a Shakespearean stage, opens there this weekend. Samira Ahmed is joined by Laura Collier, the theatre’s creative director and the writer and performer Ashleigh Nugent who have co-curated Open Up, the opening festival. Front Row is hearing from the five museums nominated to be this year’s Museum of the Year and tonight it’s the turn of Tŷ Pawb in Wrexham. Reporter Adam Walton takes a tour of the museum and finds why the museum is at the heart of the local community. Danny Brocklehurst is the Bafta-award winning writer behind Shameless, Clocking Off and Brassic. He joins Samira to discuss turning to more family friendly fare in The Railway Children Return. In his sequel, set 50 years after the classic 1970 film, Jenny Agutter’s Bobbie is a grandmother and former Suffragette, and the titular children are evacuees from Manchester. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner Image: Shakespeare North Playhouse, Prescot
13/07/22·42m 24s

Hildur Guðnadóttir, National Plan for Music Education, Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time

Oscar winning Joker composer Hildur Guðnadóttir talks about her new commission for the BBC Proms, inspired by political division, and the difference between writing for films and games, ahead of the first BBC Prom devoted to gaming music. To discuss the government's National Plan for Music Education for schools in England, Tom is joined by Catherine Barker from United Learning, Colin Stuart from the Incorporated Society of Musicians, and Jimmy Rotheram, a music teacher at Feversham Primary Academy in Bradford. Curb Your Enthusiasm director Robert Weide on his decades long friendship with the American novelist Kurt Vonnegut, which has resulted in his new feature documentary film, Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Timothy Prosser
12/07/22·42m 22s

Jack Absolute Flies Again, Joe Stilgoe, Cattelan / Druet

Jack Absolute Flies Again, at the National Theatre, is an adaptation of Sheridan’s comedy of manners The Rivals. Writers Richard Bean (who wrote One Man, Two Guvnors – a big hit) and Oliver Chris keep the original characters – Lydia Languish, Sir Anthony Absolute and the lexically challenged Mrs Malaprop – but move the action from 18th Century Bath to the Battle of Britain. Samira Ahmed talks to director Emily Burns about this, and to Peter Forbes, who plays Sir Anthony, about finding character in the comedy. Pianist and songwriter Joe Stilgoe on his new album, Theatre - which he describes as a love letter to the theatre - and performs for us live in the studio. In Paris, conceptual art has found itself in the dock, as rights of authorship over some of the artworks created by artist Maurizio Cattelan - including one of his most famous works,'La Nona Ora' (The Ninth Hour), a wax figure of Pope Jean Paul II struck by a meteor – are at the centre of a legal case brought by the French sculptor Daniel Druet. In the wake of the court’s judgment, lawyer Mark Stephens, discusses the issues the case raises. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May
11/07/22·42m 15s

The Story Museum, The Waste Land and Brian and Charles reviewed, Grand Theft Hamlet

This week’s cultural critics, music journalist Jude Rogers and film critic Rhianna Dhillon, join Tom Sutcliffe to review a new Radio 3 drama, He Do The Waste Land in Different Voices, marking the centenary of poet T.S. Eliot’s Modernist masterpiece The Waste Land. They also discuss the film Brian and Charles, a mockumentary directed by Jim Archer, which follows a reclusive man who builds and befriends a robot in rural Wales. The Story Museum in Oxford is the latest of those to be shortlisted for the Art Fund Museum of the Year, all of which we are featuring on Front Row before the announcement of the winner next week. Tom visits the museum and takes a tour through storytelling trees, down a rabbit hole and through the back of a wardrobe. And actor Sam Crane joins us to talk about an extraordinary live performance of Hamlet in the video game Grand Theft Auto. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson Photo: John Cairns
07/07/22·42m 22s

New national poet of Wales, Lucian Freud show, The Royal Cornwall Museum, The Blue Woman opera

The role of National Poet of Wales is demanding: ‘to represent the diverse cultures and languages of Wales at home and abroad, take poetry to new audiences, encourage others to use their creative voice to inspire positive change, be an ambassador for the people of Wales, advocating for the right to be creative and spread the message that literature belongs to everyone.’ Front Row will reveal who will be taking up that challenge, announcing who will be following Ifor ap Glyn as the new National Poet for Wales and talk to them about the role, their work and ambitions. A new exhibition at The Freud Museum in London entitled, Lucian Freud: The Painter and his Family features paintings, drawings, family photographs, books and letters. Front Row speaks to the curator, Martin Gayford about this highly personal exhibition which includes items never, or rarely seen artefacts from Lucian Freud’s life. The future of The Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro is now uncertain because of a change in how the local county council is funding culture. We hear from councillor Carol Mould and Bryony Robins, the Artistic Director of the Royal Cornwall Museum. The composer Laura Bowler and librettist Laura Lomas discuss The Blue Woman - their new opera for the Royal Opera House which explores the psychological impact of violence against women. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Kirsty McQuire Main Image The Painter’s Mother Resting (1975-76) Copyright: The Lucien Freud Archive All Rights Reserved 2022/Bridgeman Images.
06/07/22·42m 16s

Claudia Rankine, Derby's Museum of Making, Streamer Fatigue

The American writer Claudia Rankine is best known for her poetry, which has won critical acclaim and international fans. She discusses her play The White Card, which was written during Donald Trump’s Presidency and examines race and privilege in America and beyond. Front Row is hearing from all the museums shortlisted for this year’s Museum of the Year and tonight it’s the turn of the Museum of Making in Derby. Geeta Pendse takes a walk around the museum and hears about how it’s showcasing the UK’s industrial heritage. Last month Paramount Plus launched in the UK, a new TV screening service to rival Netflix, Apple TV and Prime Video. Streaming services are bringing more films and high quality television to our screens but with so many competitors in the game, are we suffering from streamer fatigue? Media analyst Tim Mulligan joins Nick to explain our new viewing habits. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Harry Parker Photo: MacArthur Foundation
05/07/22·42m 4s

Peter Brook; Gone With The Wind; new children’s laureate Joseph Coelho

Peter Brook: we look back on the life and career of the great theatre and film director, with critic Michael Billington. Gone With the Wind was an instant bestseller when it was published in 1936 and became the most successful Hollywood film ever. In her book, The Wrath to Come, Sarah Churchwell reveals its role in American myth-making, and how it foreshadows the controversies over race, gender, white nationalism, and violence that divide American society to this day. Joseph Coelho: the performance poet, playwright and author of the young adult verse novel The Boy Lost in the Maze was today named as the new Children’s Laureate. Joseph joins Tom to discuss his desire to make poetry accessible, showcase new talent in publishing, and undertake a Library Marathon - joining a library in every local authority in the country. And Faith I Branko: the musical duo and married couple discuss their fusion of Serbian Roma influenced music, cross cultural influences and musical connection, and perform live in the Front Row studio. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May
04/07/22·42m 20s

All Our Yesterdays, Sun & Sea, Laura Veirs

Best-selling novelist Lawrence Norfolk and award-winning writer Joanna Walsh review a new edition of All Our Yesterdays, a novel by the acclaimed post-war Italian novelist Natalia Ginzburg with a new introduction by author Sally Rooney. Lawrence and Joanna also review Sun & Sea, a Lithuanian opera performance about climate change staged on an artificial beach which the audience view from above, which won the is part of LIFT, London’s biennial international theatre festival. Sun & Sea was Lithuania’s national entry for the 2019 Venice Biennale, where it received the festival’s top award, the Golden Lion. From riot grrl to musical stateswoman, singer songwriter Laura Veirs talks about her new album and playing her father’s guitar. She performs live in the studio. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Eliane Glaser
30/06/22·42m 24s

In the Black Fantastic exhibition; Maya Youssef performs live; visual artist Colin Davidson's exhibition

Curator Ekow Eshun on creating In The Black Fantastic: the UK’s first major exhibition dedicated to the work of Black artists who use fantastical elements to address racial injustice and explore alternative realities. With works from 11 contemporary artists from the African diaspora, it delves into myth, science fiction, traditions, and the legacy of Afrofuturism to address colonialism, racial politics and identity. Encompassing painting, photography, video, sculpture and mixed-media installations, the exhibition features artists including Nick Cave, Hew Locke, Chris Ofili and Lina Iris Viktor. Dubbed the Queen of the Qanun, Maya Youssef is a composer and virtuoso of the Syrian instrument. The qanun is typically played by men, but Maya broke the mould as a young musician growing up in Damascus. Her new album ‘Finding Home’ deals with emotions dealing with the loss of her homeland as well as being inspired by coping with lockdowns, and weaves a musical tapestry of traditional Syrian music with Western classical and jazz. Maya performs live in the studio. The artist Colin Davidson is best known for his portraits of high profile figures including Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt and the Queen. A new exhibition of his work spans his whole career, including some works painted while he was still at school. Kathy Clugston joins Colin Davidson on a walk around the exhibition to hear about his process when capturing famous faces and why he never imagined he’d be a portrait painter. Presenter: Elle Osili-Wood Producer: Kirsty McQuire Image: Lina Iris Viktor, Eleventh, 2018. Pure 24 karat gold, acrylic, ink, copolymer resin, print on matte canvas. © 2018. Courtesy the Artist. From In The Black Fantastic at London’s Hayward Gallery.
29/06/22·43m 43s

Arthur Hughes as Richard III, Literary Prizes, Dadaist Interventions

Arthur Hughes, known for his roles in The Archers, in which he plays Ruairi, and the BBC2 drama Then Barbara Met Alan, details the significance of his portrayal as Richard III in the new RSC production as a disabled actor. Earlier this month the literary world was shocked by the announcement that after 50 years the Costa Book Awards, formerly the Whitbread, would be no more. What did this announcement mean and how healthy is the outlook for book prizes in the UK? Damian Barr was a judge last year and joins Tom to make a proposal for a new national prize alongside commentator Alex Clark. We Are Invisible We Are Visible is a day of Dada-inspired art works and performances in UK art galleries by deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists. Organiser Mike Layward explains why he wanted to bring Dada and disability together, while performance artist Aaron Williamson and curator and printmaker Mianam Yasmin Bashir Canvin discuss their respective Dadist offerings, the performance Hiding in 3D at the Ikon Gallery Birmingham and This Is Not a Pipe at the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker Photo: Ellie Kurttz, RSC
28/06/22·42m 23s

Stephen Beresford, A harp concerto about bees, James Graham, Peter Kosminsky

Playwright and BAFTA winning screenwriter Stephen Beresford has returned to writing for the stage with The Southbury Child, a co-production between The Chichester Festival Theatre and The Bridge Theatre in London. Stephen joins Samira to discuss his state of the nation play, focusing on a charismatic vicar at the centre of a controversy, in a Dartmouth parish in decline. Hive explores the life of a beehive over the four seasons of the year. Composer Sally Beamish visits the Front Row studio to tell Samira about her concerto for harp and orchestra, with harpist Catrin Finch who will play Pavan from Sally Beamish's score for a ballet version of The Tempest. From the past in Wolf Hall and the present in The State, writer and director Peter Kosminsky takes us to the near future in his new drama The Undeclared War. It’s a cyberwarfare thriller set in 2024, mixing espionage and politics with coding, bots and hacking. Peter joins Samira to discuss the research that goes into his projects, finding new faces, and how to set the drama of coding on the screen. And playwright James Graham on why he thinks the arts and creative subjects are under serious threat in our schools and universities. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Image: Alex Jennings as David Highland in The Southbury Child at The Chichester Festival Theatre and The Bridge Theatre, London Photographer credit: Manuel Harlan
27/06/22·42m 8s

Reviews of the plays Rock, Paper, Scissors and documentary Studio Electrophonique, The People's History Museum, Michael Rosen

Critic Ben East and academic Catherine Love review Rock, Paper, Scissors, a trilogy of plays written by Chris Bush to mark the 50th anniversary of Sheffield Theatres and A Film About Studio Electrophonique, a documentary about Ken Patten's influential home studio in Sheffield. The three separate but interlinking plays will be performed simultaneously on the three stages of the Sheffield Theatres complex – Rock at the Crucible, Paper at the Lyceum and Scissors at Studio. A Film About Studio Electrophonique premieres this week at Sheffield DocFest. The documentary shines a loving spotlight on Ken Patten who built a recording studio in his council home in Sheffield and through his recording and mixing skills provided the launchpad for Pulp, ABC, Human League and many other burgeoning musicians in the steel city. The People’s History Museum has been shortlisted for this year’s Art Fund Museum of the Year prize. It was the Migration: a human story project which wove stories of contemporary and historic migration into the museum’s existing collection that caught the judges' attention. Dr John Gallagher, associate professor of Early Modern History at Leeds University, went to visit the museum for Front Row. Saturday marks 75 years since The Diary of Anne Frank was published. Poet, writer and broadcaster Michael Rosen has written a sonnet to commemorate this and he joins Front Row to give the first public reading and discuss the enduring significance of Anne Frank's book. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Olivia Skinner Image: Chanel Waddock as Coco and Daisy May as Molly in ROCK at The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. Photographer credit: Johan Persson
23/06/22·42m 27s

Rowan Atkinson, Windrush Sculptures, Susanne Bier

Rowan Atkinson is associated with a lot of ‘B’s – Blackadder, Bean, bumbling British spies... and now bees. He plays an inept house-sitter in a luxury mansion chasing after an insect in Netflix’s new Man Vs Bee. He talks about this, his iconic characters, and why making comedy isn’t always that fun. Artist Thomas J Price’s Warm Shores, a pair of 9 foot tall bronze figures, have just been installed outside Hackney Town Hall in London to mark Windrush Day. 74 years on from the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks, Thomas joins Tom live in the studio to discuss how his work honours the Windrush Generation while playing with ideas of power, public space and 3D body scans. When the Oscar-winning film director Susanne Bier turned her attention to television, the result was the acclaimed series The Night Manager, followed by The Undoing. She talks about her new series, The First Lady, which explores the lives of the wives of three American Presidents – Michelle Obama, Betty Ford, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Emma Wallace
22/06/22·42m 22s

Live music festivals; Roy Williams' play The Fellowship; The Horniman Museum

As Glastonbury returns this week after a two year pandemic hiatus, a summer of festivals gets under way while some festivals are forced to cancel due to difficult conditions. We look at how the festival sector has struggled through the challenges of the last two years, and consider the importance of live music festivals to the UK economy and culture. Shahidha is joined live by Melvin Benn – Managing Director of Festival Republic and a director of Glastonbury Festival, Paul Reed CEO of the Association Of Independent Festivals and Lauren Down, Director of End Of The Road festival. In Roy Williams' new play The Fellowship, sisters Dawn and Marcia are children of the Windrush generation. They were activists together in the struggles for justice in the 1980s. The sisters have little in common now, but the fellowship of family connection is powerful. Roy Williams talks to Shahidha Bari about unflinchingly putting the stories of black British people on the stage. A tour round the Horniman Museum and Gardens in South London, shortlisted for the Art Fund's Museum of the Year, with Chief Executive Nick Merriman and Senior Curator Sarah Byrne. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Nicki Paxman Image: Glastonbury Festival
21/06/22·42m 21s

Baz Lurhmann on Elvis, new productions of Carmen and Tom, Dick and Harry

Director Baz Luhrmann on the making of Elvis, his new biopic of Elvis Presley, starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks. Director Mathilde Lopez talks about drawing on her heritage for a new production of Bizet's opera Carmen at Longborough Festival Opera. Theresa Heskins, Artistic Director of the New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme on Tom, Dick and Harry, a new play about the escape attempt from Stalag Luft III in World War II. And Jessica Moor, author of the feminist thriller Keeper, singles out her 'moment of joy' in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May
20/06/22·42m 30s

Circle of Fifths, reviews of Good Luck to You, Leo Grande and The Lazarus Project

National Theatre Wales is about to open a new production described as a live documentary performance, Circle of Fifths. With cast and stories drawn from the local community, and taking place inside and out, it combines film, performance, storytelling, live music and dance, to tell stories of life, death and grief. The director Gavin Porter joins Front Row to explain how it will work. Because of the bad behaviour of human the world keeps coming to an end. Fortunately there is an organisation of people who can reset time to before disaster, take action and so save the planet. That's the premise of a new eight part action television series starring Paapa Essiedu. Karen Krizanovich and Kerry Shale review The Lazarus Project. They have also been watching the film Good Luck to You, Leo Grande in which Emma Thompson plays a retired R.E. teacher who has never had an orgasm. So, she hires sex worker Leo Grande, played by Daryl McCormack, to teach her about the pleasures of sex. In the process both learn a good deal about themselves. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson Photo credit: Mei Lewis, Mission Photographic
16/06/22·42m 11s

Freddie De Tommaso, Women’s Prize For Fiction Winner, John Byrne, Ukrainian Antiquities

Operatic tenor Freddie De Tommaso on his overnight breakthrough to stardom and performing at the First Night Of The Proms. We announce and speak to the winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. John Byrne, the Scottish artist, playwright and theatre maker: arts critic Jan Patience reviews the new retrospective of his work, A Big Adventure, open now at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. Plus, Kate visits the British Museum in London to see a collection of Ukrainian artefacts trafficked from the country, which recently went on display. Dr St John Simpson, Senior Curator in the Department of the Middle East, explains how they got here and how museums combat the illegal trade in antiquities. Presenter: Kate Molleson Producer: Nicki Paxman
15/06/22·42m 21s

Theaster Gates, Lightyear, Dean Atta, Music Back Catalogues

Chicago based artist Theaster Gates on The Black Chapel - his design for this year’s Serpentine Gallery pavilion, which is created each year by world class artists who have included Ai Wei Wei, Olafur Eliasson, Zaha Hadid, and Rem Koolhaus. The latest Pixar film is Lightyear, which tells the story of Buzz, the square-jawed astronaut, before he touched down in Andy’s toybox in Toy Story. After being marooned on a hostile planet with his commander and crew, Buzz valiantly tries to find his way back home through space and time, while, of course, also confronting a threat to the universe's safety. But does this space odyssey fly? Catherine Bray gives her verdict. Music back catalogues: as Kate Bush’s 1985 hit Running Up That Hill and decades old-catalogues sell for huge sums, we speak to former Spotify Chief Economist Will Page on the new frontiers of the pop music business, and the impact of streaming, licensing and TikTok. Poet Dean Atta’s first young adult novel in verse, The Black Flamingo, won the 2020 Stonewall Book Award. He joins Samira to discuss his second, Only On The Weekends, telling the story of Mack - a gay teenager who finds himself at the centre of a queer love triangle as he attempts a long distance relationship between London and Glasgow. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May
14/06/22·42m 17s

George Ezra performs, TV drama Sherwood reviewed, Norway's National Museum opens

Fresh from performing at the Queen's platinum jubilee concert, singer-songwriter George Ezra plays in the Front Row studio from his new album, Gold Rush Kid. James Graham's new BBC drama, Sherwood, is set in a Nottinghamshire mining village still scarred by the 1984 strike. Former BBC correspondent and journalist Triona Holden, who reported on the disputes at the time, joins Samira Ahmed live to review the new series. The new £500 million National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design has just opened in Oslo, Norway. The director Karin Hindsbo explains why the new cultural centre, which has attracted both criticism and acclaim, has been twenty years in the making. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Kirsty McQuire
13/06/22·42m 28s

Reviews of the film All My Friends Hate Me and the play Cancelling Socrates; the Women's Prize for Fiction nominee Ruth Ozeki

On our Thursday review panel this week: the film critic Leila Latif and Simon Goldhill, Professor of Greek Literature and Culture at the University of Cambridge, review the British comedy horror film All My Friends Hate Me, directed by Andrew Gaynord and Howard Brenton's play Cancelling Socrates, directed by Tom Littler at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London. And the last of our author interviews with the writers shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest, whose novel The Book of Form and Emptiness is the story of Benny, a teenager in the US who finds that objects are starting to talk to him. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson Image: The cast of All My Friends Hate Me Credit: BFI Distribution
09/06/22·42m 27s

Paula Rego Remembered, Cressida Cowell, Elif Shafak, Stones In His Pockets

Artist Paula Rego remembered. Following the sad news today of the death of one of the most important figurative painters of our times, we look back on her life and work with art critic Louisa Buck. Outgoing Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell on why she’s pushing the government to invest £100 million in primary school libraries. Stones in his Pockets. 25 years on, the celebrated stage play returns to the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, with several Northern Irish stars making cameo appearances, including Liam Neeson and Ciaran Hinds. The play’s author, Marie Jones, and Director, Matthew McElhinny, tell Samira all about it. Plus, Elif Shafak. The British-Turkish novelist and most widely read female author in Turkey on her latest book, The Island of Missing Trees, shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Nicki Paxman
08/06/22·42m 18s

Ayanna Witter Johnson performs, Clement Ishmael, digital theatre

Ayanna Witter-Johnson is a singer-songwriter, cellist and composer blurring the boundaries of classical, jazz, reggae and R&B. Performing live in the Front Row studio with Stephen Upshaw, viola player with the Solem Quartet, Ayanna reworks the roots reggae sound of The Abyssinians and shares part of her Island Suite, inspired by the poetry and storytelling traditions of Jamaica. During the height of pandemic lockdowns streaming of plays from theatres became popular – making them more accessible for all, regardless of disability, location, price, time, or care commitments. However new research by Dr Richard Misek and investigations by Front Row have indicated a continuing post-lockdown drop in digital theatre. Dr Misek joins Front Row exclusively to reveal his findings: the scale of the fall, how hurdles such as financing are standing in the way, and why digital streaming is vital to accessibility. Mustapha Matura's play Playboy of the West Indies, based on JM Synge's Playboy of the Western World, has been turned into a musical with a score composed by Dominique Le Gendre and Clement Ishmael. Clement tells Samira about turning Matura's rich Trinidadian patois into song. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Photo: Ayanna Witter-Johnson Photographer credit: Nick Howe
07/06/22·42m 19s

Africa Oyé, Queer Poetry, Maggie Shipstead

Africa Oyé, the UK's largest festival of music from the continent of Africa, celebrates its 30th anniversary in Liverpool's Sefton Park this month. Its Artistic Director, Paul Duhaney, discusses the festival's history and chooses three tracks of music that reflect Africa Oyé's growth and reputation. What is a queer poem? Poets Mary Jean Chan and Andrew McMillan talk to Nick Ahad about how they explore that question in their new anthology, 100 Queer Poems - poems from across the twentieth century to the present day. It reflects the burgeoning range of recent queer poetry, and includes poets whose work is familiar, their queerness less so – Wilfred Owen, for instance. Plus, Maggie Shipstead. In the latest of our interviews with authors shortlisted for the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction, Nick talks to the author of Great Circle - the imagined life of a freedom-seeking woman pilot who embarks on a flight around the globe in 1950. It was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Photo: Africa Oyé, 2014. Credit: Mark McNulty Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
06/06/22·42m 20s

Front Row reviews 1952

To celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee, Front Row discusses some of the cultural highlights of 1952. Samira Ahmed is joined by broadcaster Dame Joan Bakewell, historian Matthew Sweet, film critic Anil Sinanan and the 20th Century Society’s Catherine Croft. They discuss Barbara Pym’s novel Excellent Women, the Bollywood classic Aan, surreal sounds of The Goon Show, how the emerging architecture and style of 1952 influenced the rest of the decade and BBC radio's Caribbean Voices.
02/06/22·42m 28s

Tracey Emin, Anthony Joseph, Bergman Island

Anthony Joseph – poet, musician, and academic – joins us to talk about his new poetry collection, Sonnets for Albert, which considers the personal impact of his absent father, and performs a selection of pieces. Tracey Emin talks to Natasha Raskin Sharp at Jupiter Artland sculpture park near Edinburgh, where her new exhibition includes a giant bronze female figure lying down in the woods, paintings of beds, and other work reflecting on the possibility of love after hardship. Director of Film at the British Council Briony Hanson reviews Bergman Island a new film from director Mia Hansen-Løve about a film making couple who visit the home of Ingmar Bergman to find inspiration. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker Main image: I Lay Here For You by Tracey Emin Photo credit: Alan Pollok Morris, Courtesy Jupiter Artland
01/06/22·41m 59s

Rory Kinnear on the film Men, Lord Parkinson on the new UK City of Culture, The Duchess of Cornwall, Mo Abudu on Blood Sisters

Actor Rory Kinnear plays ten characters- all the male roles but one- in the new psychological horror film from Alex Garland, Men. He joins Samira Ahmed to discuss how he approached playing multiple roles in this exploration of fear and loathing in the English countryside. The UK’s new City of Culture 2025 is announced. The Minister of Arts, Lord Parkinson reveals which bid from the shortlist of Bradford, County Durham, Southampton and Wrexham County Borough has been successful and what the title will mean in terms of investment and attracting visitors to the area. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall is involved with the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Prize as vice patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society. She spoke to Tina Daheley about how the world’s oldest international writing competition for schools promotes literacy and empowers young people. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Photo: Actor Rory Kinnear in the film Men Credit: Entertainment Film Distributors
31/05/22·42m 13s

Refik Anadol, Jasdeep Singh Degun, The British Art Show

Immersive digital art in Coventry, the British Art Show, & music from Jasdeep Singh Degun.
30/05/22·41m 49s

Reviews of The Midwich Cuckoos, Pistol and Edvard Munch, Meg Mason on Sorrow and Bliss

Meg Mason is the latest in our series of interviews with authors shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her novel Sorrow and Bliss is narrated by Martha, a woman whose path in life is shaped by her mental health. Katie Puckrick and Diran Adebayo join us to review the screen adaptation of John Wyndham's fable, The Midwich Cuckoos, the Edvard Munch Masterpieces from Bergen exhibition at The Courtauld Institute and Pistol, Danny Boyle's new drama about the Sex Pistols.
26/05/22·42m 22s

The Art of Burning Man, dementia on stage, dogs on screen at Cannes

Radical Horizons: The Art of Burning Man is an outdoor exhibition on the Chatsworth House estate - a series of monumental sculptures from the festival in the Nevada Desert. Geeta Pendse speaks to Chatsworth’s Senior Curator, Dr Alex Hodby, and to Burning Man artist Dana Albany from San Francisco, who has come to Chatsworth to make a Burning Man sculpture with local material and the help of local children. Sanctuary is another Burning Man inspired structure that can be seen at the Miners’ Welfare Park in Bedworth - a public memorial for the losses experienced in the Covid pandemic. Geeta meets the woman who commissioned the memorial, Helen Marriage - the artistic director of Artichoke; David Best - the artist who designed the work; plus some of those visiting the memorial. Plus, Geeta Pendse speaks to writer Frances Poet about her play exploring dementia, Maggie May – now moving from the Leeds Playhouse, to the Queen's Theatre Hornchurch and on to Leicester’s Curve, on a dementia friendly tour. And the Palm Dog – the Cannes award for dogs on the big screen. Judges Anna Smith and Tim Robey discuss the dogs in the running. Presenter: Geeta Pendse Producer: Tim Prosser
25/05/22·41m 34s

ABBA Voyage, Terence Davies, Zaffar Kunial's poem for George Floyd

48 years after the British jury gave them nul points at the Eurovision song contest, ABBA the avatars begin a long term arena residency in London. Samira talks to the director Baillie Walsh and the choreographer Wayne McGregor about creating the show. Terence Davies, director of some of the finest films ever made in the UK, such as Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Long Day Closes, talks to Samira Ahmed about his new film Benediction. It’s based on the life of Siegfried Sassoon, one of the great poets of the Great War. As well as writing about its horrors and having fought with great courage, he declared his refusal to take any further part in it because he saw that the people in power, who could bring the suffering to an end, were prolonging the slaughter. The film chronicles his troubled life as a gay man after the war. It is two years tomorrow since George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis. To mark this sad anniversary, we asked the poet Zaffar Kunial, whose first collection Us was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize, to reflect on this and see if he could write a poem. He did, and reads Watershed, for the first time.
24/05/22·42m 14s

The Cannes Film Festival, John Godber's Teechers, the winner of the British Book Awards

Jason Solomons reports live from the Cannes Film Festival, with news of the surprise hits of this year's festival and who's in contention for the big prizes. The playwright John Godber on updating Teechers, a play that he wrote in the 1980s about his experiences as a drama teacher, for 2022. The British and Greek governments are due to meet this week to discuss the Parthenon Marbles. Francesca Peacock discusses the latest development in the debate over the contested sculptures. And we announce the winner of this year's British Book Awards, live on Front Row. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe
23/05/22·42m 19s

Cornelia Parker and Emergency reviewed, The Wreckers, Ivor Novello Awards

Melly Still on directing ‘The Wreckers’, by Ethel Smyth, the first ever opera by a woman composer to be performed at the Glyndebourne Festival. Morgan Quaintance and Hettie Judah join us to review Emergency, the new film directed by Carey Williams and the Cornelia Parker exhibition at The Tate. Ivor Novello Awards: Sam Fender’s track Seventeen Going Under, taken from his album of the same name, was today awarded the accolade of Best Song Musically and Lyrically at this year’s Ivor Novello Awards. We step inside the anatomy of the song with singer, musician, composer and lyricist Joe Stilgoe as he talks us through its prize-winning qualities.
19/05/22·42m 24s

Joanna Scanlan; director Indu Rubasingham; the Norfolk and Norwich Festival

Bafta-winning actress Joanna Scanlan on learning Welsh and acting in the language for the very first time in Y Golau - a new crime drama for S4C and BBC iPlayer, set in rural Carmarthenshire and simultaneously filmed in Welsh and English. Indu Rubasingham on directing The Father and The Assassin - a new play by long-time collaborator Anu Chandrasekhar about the death of Ghandi, which opens at the National Theatre in London. Plus, the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. One of the oldest in the world, it began in 1772 to help raise money for healthcare, and is celebrating its 250th anniversary - running for 17 days with a wide variety of cultural events. Andrew Turner from Radio Norfolk talks to the director, Daniel Brine, and some of the artists, programmers, and spectators involved. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker Sound Engineer: Harry Parker
18/05/22·42m 19s

Kay Mellor remembered

Television screenwriter Kay Mellor, the woman behind popular series like Band of Gold, Fat Friends and The Syndicate, is remembered by fellow dramatist Sally Wainwright, Kat Rose Martin holder of the Kay Mellor Fellowship and television critic Julia Raeside. The idea of a minimum wage for artists is discussed by Aisa Villarosa Director of External Relations at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Dr Joe Chrisp of the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath and Angela Dorgan, Chair of the National Campaign for The Arts, in Dublin Nick talks to Chloe Moss writer of a new play, Corinna Corinna, at the Liverpool Everyman about the only woman on board a ship bound for Singapore. Presenter : Nick Ahad Producer Ekene Akalawu
17/05/22·42m 20s

Top Gun Maverick, Joseph Wright of Derby Painting, Kingsway Tram Subway, Louise Erdrich

36 years after playing pilot Pete Mitchell in the first Top Gun film, Tom Cruise returns to the role. Now Mitchell is one of the US Navy's top aviators, a courageous test pilot and instructor. He can dodge planes in the air but avoiding the advancement in rank that would ground him proves more difficult for him. Larushka Ivan Zadeh reviews the film. Joseph Wright of Derby was a fine portrait painter but is best known as the first artist to paint scenes of the Industrial Revolution and its scientific processes, such as in his most famous work, An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump. Today one of his paintings, in a private collection since 1772, became the centre piece of the Joseph Wright collection at Derby Museums and Art Gallery. On one side there is a self-portrait, on the other a study for An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump. Curator Lucy Bamford explains why this is such a significant acquisition. So that the exhibits are not confined to within the museum building, London Transport Museum is running guided tours of the Kingsway Tram Tunnel in Central London. Opened in 1906 the last tram ran through it in 1952. Since it was abandoned it has been a secret space in the heart of the city. Samira visits the tunnel with transport historian Tim Dunn and Siddy Holloway of the London Transport Museum and discovers part of the capital’s hidden heritage. Louise Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band and of Chippewa, and is the latest of our authors shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 for The Sentence. The novel is about a bookshop, a haunting, and the events that unfurled in Minneapolis between All Souls’ Day in 2019 and 2020, including of course the death of George Floyd. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May
16/05/22·42m 21s

Oklahoma! on stage and Conversations with Friends on TV reviewed; The Bob Dylan Centre; The Florence Nightingale Museum reopens

On today's Front Row review, we discuss directors taking a new look at much loved works: Daniel Fish’s Broadway production of Oklahoma!, now at the Young Vic in London, explores the darker aspects of the musical. Conversations with Friends, the debut novel by bestselling author Sally Rooney, has been adapted for television, following the lockdown success of Normal People. Journalist Tara Joshi and Matt Wolf, London theatre critic of the International New York Times, review them both. The Bob Dylan Centre, home to the singer's immense archive, opened this week. Professor Sean Latham, Director of the Institute for Bob Dylan Studies at the University of Tulsa, discusses its cultural significance. And as the Florence Nightingale Museum reopens after two years, its director David Green joins Samira to consider the legacy of the mother of modern nursing. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Harry Parker Image: Members of the cast of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma at The Young Vic Theatre, London (Rebekah Hinds as Gertie Cummings, James Davis as Will Parker and Anoushka Lucas as Laurey Williams) Photographer credit: Marc Brenner
12/05/22·42m 20s

The directors of Everything Everywhere All At Once

Film directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, otherwise known as ‘the Daniels’, join us to discuss their much anticipated sci-fi, multiverse film - Everything Everywhere All At Once. The artist Maurizio Cattelan is being sued over the authorship of some of his most famous works. Art critic Louisa Buck and lawyer Mark Stephens join Front Row to discuss one of the oldest questions in art – how much does the artist need to involved in the making of their artwork to be considered the creator of that work? Plus, singer, stage performer, and actor, Camille O’Sullivan, performs for us live in the studio, and describes the inspiration behind her acclaimed show, Camille O'Sullivan Sings Cave – singing interpretations of Nick Cave’s work in her own theatrical style – and finally taking it back on tour after lockdown silenced stages. Presenter: Elle Osili-Wood
11/05/22·42m 21s

Eurovision; BookTok and young adult publishing; Waldemar Januszczak on art in Ukraine

Eurovision decided to ban Russian participation this year on the grounds that it might bring the contest into disrepute, following the invasion of Ukraine. Dean Vuletic, author of Postwar Europe and The Eurovision Song Contest, spoke to Tom Sutcliffe, ahead of tonight's first semi-final in Turin. The hashtag #BookTok has been viewed on TikTok 52.6 billion times and the platform's viral videos made by booklovers have reshaped the young adult bestseller lists. Joining Tom to discuss the social media trends and how they’re influencing the mainstream industry are the co-founder of @CultofBooks Kouthar Hagi AKA Coco and Dan Conway, incoming CEO of the Publishers Association. Last month the distinguished art critic Waldemar Januszczak visited Ukraine to see what was happening to the country’s art collections, as the war continues. He joins Front Row to discuss his new documentary, My Ukrainian Journey. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson Photo: Kalush Orchestra, Ukraine's entrant for the Eurovision Song Contest 2022
10/05/22·42m 18s

Clio Barnard, Belle and Sebastian, Lisa Allen-Agostini

Clio Barnard talks to Samira Ahmed about directing the television adaptation of Sarah Perry’s bestselling novel The Essex Serpent. It stars Claire Danes as Cora Seaborne, a naturalist who moves to Essex to investigate reports of a giant serpent living in the marshes. Cora thinks it might be a living fossil. She meets Will Ransome, the local vicar, played by Tom Hiddleston, is surprised by his openness to scientific ideas, and they form a bond. But a young girl dies and the locals believe Cora is drawing the serpent to them. Trinidadian author Lisa Allen-Agostini’s first novel for adults, The Bread The Devil Knead, has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. A dark story domestic violence but laced with humour Lisa talks about writing it in her native Trinidadian dialect. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May
09/05/22·41m 56s

PJ Harvey, Radical Landscapes exhibition and TV show The Terror-Infamy reviewed

Singer songwriter PJ Harvey tells us about Orlam, her narrative poem set in a magic realist version of the West Country - a rural, and at times gothic, coming-of-age story and the first full-length book written in the Dorset dialect for many decades. Radical Landscapes is the name of a new exhibition exploring human connections with the landscape, at Tate Liverpool. The Terror-Infamy is a drama on BBC2 depicting the internment camps in the US where those of Japanese heritage were kept after Pearl Harbour - and a strange spirit is abroad. Writers and critics Tahmima Anam and Laura Robertson join Front Row to review both. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Kirsty McQuire PJ Harvey picture credit: Steve Gullick
05/05/22·42m 21s

Deesha Philyaw, Tristan Sharps, County Durham bid for City of Culture

This year’s Brighton Festival has two guest directors for the first time in its history. One of them, Tristan Sharps, artistic director of Brighton based theatre company dreamthinkspeak, joins Elle to discuss the literary inspiration behind his immersive production, Unchain Me, and his collaboration with fellow guest director, Syrian architect Marwa Al-Sabouni. Deesha Philyaw’s debut collection of short stories - The Secret Lives of Church Ladies - arrives in the UK garlanded with prizes including the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award, and the 2020 LA Times Book Prize for First Fiction. Deesha joins Front Row to discuss turning the lives of the black women she grew up with into art. Philippa Goymer explores the various attractions of County Durham that it hopes will earn it the title of City of Culture. Photo: Deesha Philyaw Photo credit: Vanessa German
04/05/22·42m 22s

Nathaniel Price, Alex Heffes, Actors and AI

Nathaniel Price discusses his drama First Touch, opening at the Nottingham Playhouse, about an aspiring young footballer growing up in Nottingham in the 1970s. Inspired by real life events, it explores the ways predatory abusers exploit positions of power within a community, in this case how the actions of a paedophile football coach almost go undiscovered because of the control he exercises in the football careers of his victims. In the wake of the campaign, Stop AI stealing the show, launched by Equity in response to the rise of the use of Artificial Intelligence in the entertainment industry, Front Row asked Paul Fleming, General Secretary of Equity, Dr David Leslie, Director of Ethics and Responsible Innovation at the Alan Turing Institute, and Dr Mathilde Pavis, senior law lecturer at Exeter University, to discuss the questions raised by the use of AI to enhance, extend, and replace human actors. BAFTA nominated film composer Alex Heffes has scored films including The Hope Gap, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Touching the Void. Now he’s releasing a solo piano recording, Sudden Light, reinterpreting his cinematic orchestral scores after an accident that almost put an end to his piano-playing. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Simon Richardson
03/05/22·42m 22s

Caryl Lewis, Gwenno, Anthony and Kel Matsena

Huw Stephens, familiar to listeners to Radio Cymru and Radio Wales presents a multilingual, multicultural Bank Holiday edition of Front Row from Cardiff. Caryl Lewis is a mighty presence in Welsh literature, author of more than 25 books. Her novel Martha, Jac a Sianco is a modern classic, taught at A Level. She wrote the screenplay for the film – and won 6 Welsh Baftas. She wrote for the television series Y Gwyll - Hinterland in English - inventing Cymru Noir, so noir it was shown on Danish television. She was also the main writer of Hidden, screened in 60 countries. Until now all her work has been in Welsh but she wrote her new novel, Drift, in English. Nefyn lives on the Welsh coast, near a military base. She gathers what the tide carries in and her world changes when she finds Hamza, a Syrian cartographer, washed up. Caryl tells Huw about her modern and ancient story, and why she chose to write it in English. In 2009 the Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger declared Cornish extinct. But musician Gwenno Saunders was alive then, and she grew up speaking it. Most of the songs on her new album, Tresor, are in Cornish - the others in Welsh. Gwenno explains why, and performs two songs, one in each language. Choreographers Anthony and Kel Matsena were born in Zimbabwe, in a culture where everyone dances. They moved to Swansea as boys and were nurtured by the people there, and Wales as a whole. They take a break from rehearsing their new work, Shades of Blue, which will premier at Sadler's Wells, to talk about this and Codi, a piece for the National Dance Company Wales that is inspired by Welsh mining communities, and about Brothers in Dance, a BBC documentary film charting their journey. Presenter: Huw Stephens Producers: Nicki Paxman and Julian May
02/05/22·42m 15s

The Corn is Green play and Walter Sickert exhibition reviewed, Cherylee Houston

Observer theatre critic Susannah Clapp and broadcaster and Editor of the Wales Art Review Gary Raymond review The Corn is Green at the National Theatre and Tate Britain's Walter Sickert exhibition. And Samira talks to actor actor Cherylee Houston, best known as Coronation Street’s Izzy Armstrong, who is also co-founder of the The TripleC organisation, which has just won BAFTA’s TV Special Craft award, talks about working to improve access and inclusion for disabled artists in the screen industries. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Harry Parker
28/04/22·42m 20s

Raphael exhibition; The Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist; poet Valzhyna Mort

Dr Matthias Wivel, co-curator of the Raphael exhibition at the National Gallery, discusses the life and death of the Renaissance painter and how he shaped the history of western art. The shortlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction is announced today. Literary critic Alex Clark talks about the six books in contention for the prize, and we’ll be hearing from each of the authors before the winner is announced on June 15th. Belarusian born poet Valzhyna Mort’s third collection, Music for the Dead and Resurrected, was ten years in the making and has only just been published in her home country. She joins Tom to discuss how she blends music and metaphor to confront state sponsored violence and censorship. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson Image: Raphael's The Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist and Child Saint (‘The Terranuova Madonna’), about 1505 Copyright: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie Photo: Jörg P. Anders
27/04/22·42m 25s

Tim Foley, Heartstopper, The Proms, Lawrence Power performs

Emerging playwright Tim Foley is in the distinctive position of having won a prize for every play of his that has been staged. He joins Front Row to discuss his third play, Electric Rosary – a sci-fi exploration of religion and science in the company of a group of nuns and a robot - which has just opened at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. Based on the graphic novel by Alice Oseman, Heartstopper is the new Netflix LGBTQ+ drama set in a British high school about teen friendship and young romance. Jack Remmington is in the studio to review. Music critic and author Jessica Duchen picks out some of the highlights in the Proms 2022 season and gives us her thoughts on the programme. Viola player Lawrence Power performs live.
26/04/22·42m 20s

Punchdrunk's The Burnt City, John Morton on Ten Percent, musician Jack Savoretti

The Burnt City is the biggest production to date from the pioneering immersive theatre company Punchdrunk. As the company takes up residence in the former Royal Arsenal buildings of Woolwich, their first permanent space, they draw on the Greek tragedies of Agamemnon and Hecuba to reinterpret the Trojan war as a dystopian future noir. The French comedy drama, Call My Agent, was one of the breakout hits of lockdown. It has spawned a Turkish version, an Indian version, and now an English version called Ten Percent. John Morton, the creator of BBC mockumentaries Twenty Twelve and W1A, joins Front Row to discuss the challenge of recreating the Parisian series in London. Fresh from a sold-out UK tour this month, singer songwriter Jack Savoretti is live in the studio to perform his new single Dancing Through The Rain. The track is the second to be taken from his forthcoming release Europiana Encore, a special extended edition of his 2021 chart topping album, Europiana. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Jerome Weatherald Photo: Performers Yilin Kong and Steven James Apicello in Punchdrunk's production The Burnt City Photographer credit: Julian Abrams
25/04/22·42m 23s

Atlantis and The Young Pretender reviewed, Martin Green, Venice Biennale

Atlantis (2019) was the Ukrainian entry for that year's Oscars. It now seems incredibly prescient in its depiction of a Ukraine set post-war in 2025. Film critic Laruskha Ivan-Zadeh and historian Kathryn Hughes join Front Row to review it. They'll also be talking about Michael Arditti's novel The Young Pretender. It imagines the life of the real-life child star Master Betty as a young adult attempting to re-enter the flamboyant world of Georgian theatre. The Venice Biennale, one of the art world’s most prestigious events, opens to the public this weekend. Art critic Hettie Judah is currently in Venice and shares her thoughts about what’s on show at the vast international exhibition. Ivor Novello winning composer Martin Green has immersed himself in the world of brass bands to prepare a new composition premiering this weekend at the Coventry Music Biennale. He tells Tom about writing his piece, Split the Air, and the people that create the incredible music they produce. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson
21/04/22·42m 17s

Sarah Solemani on TV's Chivalry; male soprano Samuel Marino performs; Bradford's bid for UK City of Culture

Chivalry, the new Channel 4 comedy which looks at the making of a Hollywood movie in a post MeToo world, has been co-created by its co-stars – Sarah Solemani, and Steve Coogan. Sarah joins Elle Osili-Wood on Front Row to discuss why MeToo has provided new grounds for comedy. Venezuelan singer Samuel Mariño originally trained as a ballet dancer before embracing his rare vocal range as a male soprano and promoting gender and genre-fluid performance. He sings live in the studio, ahead of his debut London recital and the release of his new album, Sopranista, featuring arias recorded by a male soprano voice for the first time. Four cities are in the running to be the UK’s next City of Culture and Front Row is hearing from the places on the final shortlist. Tonight it’s the turn of Bradford as reporter Aisha Iqbal hears about what the UK’s youngest city has to offer. Presenter: Elle Osili-Wood Producer: Simon Richardson Image: Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani in Channel 4's Chivalry
20/04/22·42m 15s

Robert Eggers on The Northman, Oliver Jeffers, the late Sir Harrison Birtwistle

Director Robert Eggers discusses his new film The Northman, set in Iceland at the turn of the 10th century. A Nordic prince sets out on a mission of revenge after his father is murdered. The plot, which is an old Nordic story, is allegedly the basis for the plot of Hamlet. The film stars Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Björk, Willem Dafoe and Ethan Hawke. The Olivier Awards recently returned to The Royal Albert Hall for a glittering ceremony, following a pandemic hiatus. They’re widely regarded as honouring a who’s who of great British theatre but critic David Benedict believes they aren’t truly representative. He joins Samira to make the case for shaking up the Oliviers. Artist and writer Oliver Jeffers discusses Our Place in Space, a 10km sculpture trail representing the solar system which is part of Unboxed, a celebration of creativity, taking place across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and online from March to October. We remember Sir Harrison Birtwistle, one of the most significant British composers of the last century, whose death at the age of 87 was announced yesterday. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald
19/04/22·42m 24s

Abdulrazak Gurnah and the Big Jubilee Read from the Library of Birmingham

The Big Jubilee Read is a reading for pleasure campaign by the Reading Agency and the BBC highlighting 70 books from across the Commonwealth published during the decades of the Queen's reign. To mark the launch, Front Row comes from the Studio Theatre at the Library of Birmingham with an audience. Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah talks to Samira about his novel Paradise from 1994 which has been chosen as a Big Jubilee Read. Emma d'Costa from the Commonwealth Foundation explains how the books were chosen. Local author Kit de Waal comments and we hear from Birmingham's Poet Laureate, Casey Bailey, whose play GrimeBoy has just opened at the Birmingham Rep. He performs poems celebrating his city. And how are libraries faring ten years on from the first austerity cuts and two years after the pandemic? Briony Birdi of the University of Sheffield explains. The full list of books is available from Monday 18 April at BBC Arts Photo credit: Tricia Yourkevich for the BBC Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson
18/04/22·42m 21s

Benedetta film and Let the Song Hold Us exhibition reviewed; Slung Low Theatre

Our Thursday review critics, Dr. Kirsty Fairclough and poet Joelle Taylor, give their assessment of Paul Verhoeven's film Benedetta and the exhibition Let the Song Hold Us at Liverpool's Fact Gallery. Nick meets Alan Lane, Artistic Director of Slung Low Theatre Company in Leeds, to discuss his 'pandemic memoir', The Club on the Edge of Town. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Photo: Daphne Patakia (L) and Virginie Efira (R) in the film Benedetta (Credit: MUBI)
14/04/22·42m 23s

Jude Owusu, Operation Mincemeat, Wrexham's bid for UK City of Culture 2025

Tom Robinson is the black man wrongly accused of raping a white girl in To Kill a Mocking Bird. In Harper Lee's novel and the film he is at the centre of the story but, defended by the white lawyer, Atticus Finch, almost voiceless. In the acclaimed new stage production now in the West End, the actor playing Tom Robinson, Jude Owusu, discusses his approach to the role and the relevance of the story today. The UK’s City of Culture 2025 will be announced next month and Front Row is hearing from the four places on the shortlist. Tonight, Emily Hughes reports on Wrexham County Borough’s bid. Simran Hans reviews the new film Operation Mincemeat, the new British war drama directed by John Madden. Presenter Tom Sutcliffe Producer Julian May
13/04/22·42m 21s

Photographer Edward Burtynsky; Turner Prize shortlist; Novelist Patrick McCabe; Staying well on stage discussion

After being announced as the recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Photography award at the Sony World Photography Awards 2022, the Canadian photographer and artist Edward Burtynsky talks to Tom about his 40-year career as a landscape photographer. This year’s Turner Prize is returning to Liverpool for the first time in 15 years. Laura Robertson, a writer, critic and editor based in the city gives us a rundown of the shortlisted artists announced today at Tate Liverpool: Heather Phillipson, Ingrid Pollard, Veronica Ryan and Sin Wai Kin. Award-winning and twice Booker shorted listed author of The Butcher Boy Patrick McCabe talks to Tom Sutcliffe about his new novel Poguemahone. Described as this century’s Ulysses, the novel takes the form of a free verse monologue set in Margate in the mind and memories of Dan Fogarty and his sister Una. Rafaella Covino, the founder and director of Applause for Thought, which offers free and low cost mental health assistance for people working in theatre, and Wabriya King, Associate Drama Therapist at the Bush Theatre, join Tom to discuss the growing need for wellbeing support across the theatre industry. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Nicki Paxman
12/04/22·42m 19s

Richard Cadell and The Sooty Show; The Handmaid’s Tale opera; actor Liz Carr; gender neutral dance calling

70 years after Sooty first appeared with Harry Corbett on the BBC’s Talent Night, presenter and current owner of The Sooty Show Richard Cadell talks to Samira about Sooty’s enduring appeal, as Sooty’s Magic Show embarks on a new tour and a theme park opens at the end of May. Annilese Miskimmon, Artistic Director of English National Opera, discusses her directorial debut at the ENO. The Handmaid’s Tale, the opera written by Poul Ruders and Paul Bentley, is based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel about a repressive totalitarian state where women are stripped of their identities and their rights. The winner of Best Supporting Actress at last night's Olivier Awards was Liz Carr of Silent Witness fame, for her role in the National Theatre’s revival of The Normal Heart. She tells Samira why she made a plea, after the ceremony, for more Covid-safe theatre performances for vulnerable audiences. As the season for folk festivals approaches, we consider how the times they are a-changing in the world of folk dance. Lisa Heywood, pioneer of gender-free dance calling, and Gareth Kiddier, who organises the dancing at Sidmouth Folk Festival, talk to Samira Ahmed about why gender-free calling matters, how they do it, and how it goes down on the dance floor. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jerome Weatherald Image: Presenter Samira Ahmed with Richard Cadell and Sooty
11/04/22·42m 22s

Jeremy O. Harris's play Daddy, Walt Disney exhibition & Navalny documentary reviewed; musician Kizzy Crawford

American playwright Jeremy O.Harris discusses his play Daddy, at London’s Almeida Theatre, which explores the romantic relationship between Franklin, a young black artist, and Andre, a wealthy white collector. Front Row reviews works that are poles apart today; the exhibition Inspiring Walt Disney, which reveals how Disney’s fascination with France, especially Rococo design, animates films such as Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, and the film Navalny, about the Russian opposition leader who was poisoned with Novichok, recovered in Berlin and returned – to be immediately incarcerated. It is as much a crime thriller, a whodunnit, as a documentary. Film critic Leila Latif and John Kampfner, who began his career as a Reuters Moscow correspondent, but is also Chair of the House of Illustration, discuss these with Tom Sutcliffe. To mark the BBC's Art That Made Us season, Front Row invites artists from across the nations of the UK to choose the piece of art that made them by shaping their artistic and cultural identity. Today we hear from the Welsh-Bajan musician Kizzy Crawford on Robert Williams Parry's poem The Fox. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker Photo: Terique Jarrett and Sharlene Whyte in Daddy at the Almeida Credit: Marc Brenner
07/04/22·42m 23s

Ocean Vuong, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore reviewed, Southampton UK City of Culture bid, Nadifa Mohamed

Ocean Vuong is a Vietnamese-American poet whose recent works include a best-selling novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, and a multi-prize-winning volume of verse, Night Sky with Exit Wounds. He talks about his latest collection of poems, Time Is A Mother, exploring themes of childhood, addiction, sexuality and the death of his mother. The third film in the Fantastic Beasts series, The Secrets of Dumbledore, is reviewed by Anna Smith, film critic and host of Girls on Film podcast. Front Row explores the four places competing to be UK City of Culture 2025, starting with Southampton. BBC Radio Solent’s Emily Hudson reports on Southampton’s bid. To mark the BBC's Art That Made Us season, Front Row invites artists from across the nations of the UK to choose the piece of art that made them by shaping their artistic and cultural identity. Today we hear from the Booker Prize shortlisted author Nadifa Mohamed on the 1979 song London Calling by The Clash. Picture of Ocean Vuong credit Tom Hines Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hilary Dunn
06/04/22·42m 5s

Mike Bartlett, Hannah Hodgson, Nick Laird

The playwright Mike Bartlett is busy. The 47th, his dark comedy about the next presidential race, with Bertie Carvel giving an uncanny performance as Donald Trump is about to open at the Old Vic in London. So too is Scandaltown, his modern day Restoration comedy about social ambition, featuring characters with names such as Hannah Tweetwell and Freddie Peripheral. And he has another play, a love triangle, Cock, in the West End. Mike talks to Tom Sutcliffe about the appeal of writing gags, blank verse and characters who take control. Hannah Hodgson's latest volume of poetry is '163 Days' in which she looks back in verse over her six months in hospital as teenager suffering from a severe and undiagnosed disease. Her poems are juxtaposed with her medical notes. The illness, which later proved to be mitochondrial encephalopathy, is incurable and she explores, in her poems, living with a terminal condition. To mark the BBC's Art That Made Us season, Front Row invites artists from across the nations of the UK to choose the piece of art that made them, by shaping their artistic and cultural identity. Today we hear from the winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, poet Nick Laird who has chosen the 1935 poem Snow, by Louis MacNeice. Ryan Marsh and James Thomas, two of the people involved in Europe’s first Non Fungible Token gallery, the Quantum Gallery, give us an insight into NFT Art and how it works. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May
05/04/22·42m 17s

Rae Morris performs live, author Ashley Hickson-Lovence, video artist Rachel Maclean

Rae Morris discusses her latest single, ‘No Woman is An Island,’ ahead of the release of her new album. Ludovic Hunter-Tilney joins us to discuss the highlights from last night’s Grammy Awards. Novelist Ashley Hickson Lovence talks about his new novel, Your Show, about Uriah Rennie, one of the first black referees to officiate games in the Football League, a story of one man's pioneering efforts to make it, against the odds, to the very top of his profession and beyond. To mark the BBC's Art That Made Us season, Front Row invites artists from across the nations of the UK to choose the piece of art that made them, by shaping their artistic and cultural identity. We begin with Rachel Maclean, the digital artist who represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale, on the 1847 painting The Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania by Sir Joseph Noel Paton. And we pay tribute to the actress June Brown, best known for her iconic role as Dot Cotton on the BBC soap opera EastEnders, who has died. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Simon Richardson Photo: Musician Rae Morris Photo credit: Hollie Fernando
04/04/22·42m 20s

A Clockwork Orange, the National Poetry Competition winner announced, Slow Horses and Coppelia reviewed

Critics Sarah Crompton and Abir Mukherjee review Slow Horses, the brand new series from Apple TV+ starring Gary Oldman, Kristen Scott Thomas, Olivia Cooke, Jack Lowden, Saskia Reeves and Jonathan Pryce. Slow Horses is based on the novel of the same name by Mick Herron, which is part of the author's Slough House series. It tells the story of a team of British intelligence agents who have all committed career-ending mistakes, and subsequently work in a dumping ground department of MI5 called Slough House. New ballet film Coppelia is an innovative family feature with an original score by Maurizio Malagnini, performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra. Choreographed by Dutch National Ballet artistic director Ted Brandsen, it combines 2D and 3D animation with live action dance and features a blend of musical influences from classical to electronic. Based on the original 19th century tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann this modern adaptation tells the love story between Swan and Franz, which is jeopardised by Dr. Coppelius and his uncannily beautiful protégée Coppelia. With a diverse and world-class cast, including Michaela DePrince, Darcey Bussell, Daniel Camargo, Vito Mazzeo and Irek Mukhamedov, the adaptation is created by filmmakers Jeff Tudor, Steven De Beul and Ben Tesseur. Sarah and Abir review. Professor Andrew Biswell, Professor of Modern Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University and Director of the International Anthony Burgess Centre, marks the 50th and 60th anniversaries of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by looking into its history, controversy, and legacy. Front Row will be announcing the winner of the National Poetry Competition this evening. Previous winners include former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and distinguished poets Tony Harrison, and Jo Shapcott.
31/03/22·42m 18s

Glasgow's Burrell Collection reopens; Orphans the musical; Yoga Concerto; Edinburgh’s new Makar Hannah Lavery

Presented by Kate Molleson from Glasgow. As the Burrell Collection reopens in Glasgow after a £68 million refit, Sunday Post art critic Jan Patience discusses the significance of the gallery, which includes rare Persian carpets, Chinese ceramics and sculptures by Rodin. Director Cora Bissett talks about Orphans – the new musical from the National Theatre of Scotland, adapted from Peter Mullan’s 1998 cult classic film set in Glasgow. Belgian clarinettist Annelien Van Wauwe is in Glasgow to perform the world premiere of Sutra with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. She tells Kate about collaborating with composer Wim Henderickx to create a concerto inspired by Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, the first scriptures of yoga, and how yoga can help musicians find their flow. Hannah Lavery is the recently appointed Edinburgh City Makar, the city’s poet laureate. She discusses her new role and her debut poetry collection Blood, Salt, Spring, a seemingly real time meditation on where we are – exploring ideas of nation, race and belonging. Presenter: Kate Molleson Producer: Timothy Prosser Image: The Warwick Vase, a 2nd Century Roman marble sculpture, in The Burrell Collection, Glasgow Photo credit: Timothy Prosser
30/03/22·42m 6s

How to refill theatres; the 2022 Windham Campbell Prizes; crime writing duo Dreda Say Mitchell and Ryan Carter

We look at how audience figures are recovering after two years of shutdown and pandemic restrictions. Carolyn Atkinson reports on the business of seat-filling companies and on new models being considered for ticket sales. We announce the winner of the 2022 Windham Campbell Prizes. The awards recognise eight writers annually for literary achievement across fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama, at every stage of their careers. Each recipient is gifted an unrestricted grant of $165,000 USD to support their writing and allow them to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. And the authors Dreda Say Mitchell and Ryan Carter join us to discuss their new crime novel, Say Her Name, and writing as a partnership. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Simon Richardson Image: Empty auditorium seats Credit: BBC
29/03/22·41m 56s

Sonia Boyce, Cellist Laura van der Heijden, the Oscars

Artist Sonia Boyce discusses her new video work, the product of being embedded with social services in Barking and Dagenham, which addresses domestic violence. She also reveals her process as she prepares to represent the UK at the Venice Biennale. After a dramatic Oscars ceremony, film critics Anna Smith and Tim Robey join us to discuss the Academy Award winning films, the success enjoyed by British contenders, and the slap that was heard around the world. BBC Young Musician Winner Laura van der Heijden is in the studio to talk about her new album with pianist Jâms Coleman. Called Pohádka, it explores the rich folk melodies of Janáček, Kodály and Dvořák. Laura's debut album won BBC’s Newcomer of the Year award and BBC Music Magazine just awarded it 5 stars, saying: “These performers bring sonorous depth and mystery.” Laura and Jâms perform Dvořák’s “Songs My Mother Taught Me” live in the studio. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jodie Keane Image credit: Anne Purkiss
28/03/22·42m 13s

The Hermit of Treig film and Anne Tyler's novel French Braid reviewed; Erich Hatala Matthes on art and morality

Critics Viv Groskop and Hanna Flint review The Hermit of Treig, a documetary film made by Lizzie Mackenzie who follows Ken Smith, a man who has spent the past four decades living in a log cabin nestled near Loch Treig, known as 'the lonely loch' – an intimate and warm picture of a man whose choice of the hermit life becomes more challenging as he ages. Anne Tyler’s latest novel, French Braid, is sure to be welcomed by her legions of fans. As always, it’s the story of a Baltimore family - this time she follows their foibles over the decades. Her books are praised for their deceptively simple style hiding a world of complexity and insight. Viv and Hanna assess whether – at age 80 - this is a vintage story from the novelist. In his book Drawing the Line, philosopher Erich Hatala Matthes explores the relationship between artworks of all kinds and the morality of the minds behind them. Are our aesthetic views tainted by the knowledge that the artist is unethical or immoral? How should we react? Should we boycott or ban them based on the views or behaviour of the creators? Erich joins Tom Sutcliffe to discuss the dilemmas raised by these issues. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker Photo: Ken Smith in a still from the film The Hermit of Treig Credit: Aruna Productions
24/03/22·42m 22s

Bridgerton showrunner Chris van Dusen, choreographer Ivan Michael Blackstock, William Morris wallpaper

Bridgerton is based on Julia Quinn's best-selling novels, set in the competitive world of Regency era London's ton during the season. The series follows the eight close-knit Bridgerton siblings as they navigate London high society in search of love. Produced by Shonda Rhimes, the showrunner is Chris van Dusen and he joins Front Row to talk about its success. Acclaimed choreographer Ivan Michael Blackstock, known for his work on Beyoncé videos, talks about his new dance performance piece, Traplord, which explores and challenges the stereotyping of Black men in contemporary western society. A new exhibition at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh is showcasing the wallpaper designs of the Victorian polymath William Morris. Joining Elle to discuss seeing his intricate patterns afresh, his inspiration from the natural world and his efforts to democratise design are curator Mary Schoeser and Paul Simmons, co-founder of the Glasgow based design studio Timorous Beasties. Presenter: Elle Osili-Wood Producer: Sarah Johnson
23/03/22·42m 24s

Joachim Trier, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Angus Robertson

Director Joachim Trier has been nominated for the Best Original Screenplay and Best International Film Oscars for The Worst Person in the World. If the title refers to his protagonist that’s rather harsh. Julie is, after all, only trying to navigate relationships and career and find happiness and meaning in her life in contemporary Oslo. Trier talks to Nick Ahad about using a novelistic form – prologue, chapters, epilogue – in the creation of a film, working with Cannes Best Actress winner Renate Reinsve, and how his film is full of light, warmth and humour - the very opposite of Scandi Noir. Clare Lilley, curator and new director of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park discusses the first major UK exhibition of American painter, sculptor and printmaker Robert Indiana and the Park's future. There have been several announcements recently from the Scottish Government about funding and supporting the revival of Scotland’s cultural landscape in the wake of the pandemic. We talk to Angus Robertson, the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, about his Government’s plans for culture, north of the border. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Image: Robert Indiana, LOVE (Red Blue Green), 1966–1998, installation view at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2022. Photo: © Jonty Wilde, courtesy of Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Artwork: © 2022 Morgan Art Foundation Ltd./ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London
22/03/22·42m 24s

Hew Locke, Ivo Van Hove, Danielle De Niese, Ernesto Ottone and Dr Maya Goodfellow

The latest in Tate Britain’s series of annual commissions is an installation by the artist Hew Locke. It’s called The Procession and is comprised of approximately 150 life-size figures - adults, children, animals - arranged in a hundred-yard-long parade. Each one is unique, dressed in colourful fabrics, many specially printed, and wearing masks. It evokes carnival parades, protest marches and funeral corteges. Tom talks to Hew about how he set about making such an ambitious and complicated artwork and finds out about his fascination with obsolete share certificates. Theatre director Ivo Van Hove and soprano Danielle de Niese join Tom to explore why Jean Cocteau’s play La Voix Humane is having a moment, with various stage, screen and opera productions opening this Spring. As the war in Ukraine continues, we talk to UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, Ernesto Ottone, about the organisation’s activities protecting Ukrainian culture and heritage artefacts. We also discuss UNESCO’s recent report on the economic impact of the pandemic on creativity across the globe. And Moment of Joy – our occasional series which celebrates those intense moments when watching a film or a play, reading a book or poem, listening to music or looking at a picture makes your heart soar. Dr Maya Goodfellow, academic and professor at The School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London on why Elena Ferrante’s novel ‘My Brilliant Friend’ makes her joyful. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Jodie Keane
21/03/22·41m 55s

Mark Rylance, Julian Knight, Reviews of Hockney's Eye, The Dropout and WeCrashed

Multi award winning actor Mark Rylance on his latest film The Phantom of the Open, a warm hearted comedy about Maurice Flitcroft, a crane operator at the shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness who managed to gain entry to the 1976 British Open qualifying, despite never playing a round of golf before. The Phantom of the Open is in cinemas from March 18th. Mark also talks to Samira about reprising his celebrated role as Johnny ‘Rooster‘ Byron in Jez Butterworth’s award winning play Jerusalem. The Unboxed Festival that kicked off in Paisley earlier this month had a rave review here on Front Row. Unboxed had its origins in Theresa May’s premiership as a cultural celebration to mark a new post Brexit era for the UK. Now a concise new report by the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee of MPs has delivered what can only be described as a scathing criticism of the project, and the government’s whole approach to Major cultural and sporting events. We talk to the Committee’s Conservative Chair, Julian Knight MP. David Hockney has always been fascinated by the role of new technologies in enabling artists to achieve their vision. Now, a new exhibition exploring his merging of science and art is being shown at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Tahmima Anam and Rachel Campbell-Johnston join us to review it. And the Grimms fairy stories of the tech start up age: We review two drama series of entrepreneurs flying high and falling to earth: We Crash about the founders of We Work, starring Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway, and The Drop Out starring Amanda Seyfried about the Theranos scandal.
17/03/22·42m 19s

Olga reviewed, David Hare on Straight Line Crazy, audio postcard from York

The playwright David Hare talks about the resonances of his new play at the Bridge in London, Straight Line Crazy. It's a drama about Robert Moses, a civil planner who was a powerful and divisive figure in mid-twentieth century New York. Jenny McCartney reviews Olga, a Swiss film that follows a Ukrainian gymnast who is forced to flee her country during the Euromaidan protests of 2013 because of her mother’s work as an investigative journalist. Nathan Moore from BBC York sends Front Row an audio postcard from the city, including a visit to the studio of artist Sue Clayton who is painting portraits of York City supporters in the club’s centenary year, and a conversation with the York based rock band Bull. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Sarah Johnson
16/03/22·42m 16s

Liv Ullmann, Hilary McGrady, Literary Translation

Over the past 60 years Liv Ullmann has worked in film and throughout April the BFI celebrates her contribution to the medium as actor, writer and director with Liv Ullmann: Face to Face. The season coincides with the Norwegian cinema legend receiving an Honorary Academy Award for her exceptional contribution to the art of film. Liv Ullmann joins us to talk about her award-winning career in film and her close relationship with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, with whom she made ten movies. National Trust Director General, Hilary McGrady joins us to discuss their recently unveiled plans for the next year. She touches on the role and responsibility of The Trust, their pandemic recovery, and their statement on Ukraine. In the wake of the announcement of the 2022 longlist, we explore the art of literary translation with International Booker Prize chair of judges, Frank Wynne, and one of the nominated translators Jennifer Croft, known for her translations of Nobel Prize in Literature winner Olga Tokarczuk.
15/03/22·42m 17s

The National Theatre's Rufus Norris, smoking on screen, Alison Brackenbury's poetry collection Thorpeness

Rufus Norris’s production Small Island has returned to the National Theatre's Olivier stage, chronicling the experiences of a couple of the Windrush generation. Another epic on the same stage, Our Generation, distills the experience, in their own words, of young people today. Rufus Norris, artistic director of the National Theatre, speaks about the role and responsibility of the National Theatre as we emerge from the pandemic. Benedict Cumberbatch admitted to giving himself nicotine poisoning for his role in BAFTA-winning film The Power of the Dog. Joining Samira to discuss the practicalities as well as the impact of smoking on screen are actor and former president of the actors’ union Equity, Malcolm Sinclair; Philippa Harte, set decorator for BBC period drama A Very British Scandal and Dr. Alex Barker, Lecturer in Psychology at the Nottingham Trent University. During the first lockdown in 2020, when all the museums were closed, the poet Alison Brackenbury became Front Row’s “poet in remote residence”, sharing poems inspired by the museums we couldn’t visit. Alison talks to Samira and reads from her new collection, Thorpeness. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Simon Richardson Image: Rufus Norris Photo credit: Paul Plews
14/03/22·42m 24s

Colin Barrett, reviews of Servant of the People, Run Rose Run and Warsan Shire's new poetry collection

Irish writer Colin Barrett discusses his much anticipated second collection of short stories, Homesickeness, the follow up to his hugely successful 2014 Young Skins. Long before he became the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky played the President of Ukraine. In Servant of the People he was an everyman swept into office to fight corruption. Now, as he fights the Russian advance Zelensky’s comedy is being shown on Channel 4 and All 4. The Sunday Times Europe Editor Peter Conradi joins academic and writer Rommi Smith and Sameer Rahim the Arts and Books Editor at Prospect Magazine. Sameer and Rommi stay with presenter Tom Sutcliffe to discuss the first full-length book of poems from Beyonce favourite, Warsan Shire. In Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head, the Somali-born British poet explores themes of themes of migration, womanhood, Black identity and resilience. Also up for review is Run Rose Run, Dolly Parton’s foray into fiction. Co-written with best-selling author James Patterson, the novel is a thriller about a singer-songwriter on the rise and on the run. The songs written about in the book correspond to an accompanying music album. We know the country music star can write stories in songs but can she write stories in books?
10/03/22·42m 9s

Larry Achiampong, Zinnie Harris, Thomas Sanderling

Front Row goes to the seaside and sends a sonic cultural postcard. The first major solo exhibition by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong opens at the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate on Saturday. The artist shows Samira Ahmed around, but Achiampong’s isn’t the only show in town. Margate has become a destination for artists and art lovers, and Tracey Emin is opening a new space for artists to work in. Samira finds out from curator Rob Diament what else is happening in this happening place, and hears from members of the People Dem Collective, artists and activists of colour who live and work in Margate. Thomas Sanderling has stepped down from his position at the helm of the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Orchestra in protest of the ongoing Russian conflict in Ukraine. He talks to Samira about the Russian dilemma facing the arts world. Zinnie Harris joins Samira to discuss her play The Scent of Roses. Playing at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh it's a study of how secrets and lies can corrode relationships. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jodie Keane
09/03/22·42m 28s

Howard Jacobson, Russian Cultural Philanthropy, Women's Fiction Prize, Turning Red

Howard Jacobson, who won the Booker prize for his novel The Finkler Question, discusses his new memoir Mother's Boy, an exploration of how he became a writer, of belonging and not-belonging, of being both English and Jewish. Katie Razzall, the BBC's Culture Editor, reports on the influence of Russian money and philanthropy in British cultural institutions. What do sanctions mean for the arts? Turning Red is Pixar's first film animation to have an all-female leadership team. Director Domee Shi and producer Lindsey Collins discuss their story of a girl who metamorphoses into a giant red panda. Alex Clark analyses the longlist for this year's Women’s Prize for Fiction. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Helen Roberts
08/03/22·42m 16s

Sean Baker, The Shires, Kaveh Akbar

Director Sean Baker discusses his new film Red Rocket that was nominated for the Palme D’Or - the top prize at Cannes. The Iranian-American poet Kaveh Akbar discusses his new poetry collection, The Pilgrim Bell, and his fascination with the English metaphysical poet, John Donne. Ahead of the release of their new album ’10 Year Plan’ British country stars The Shires discuss song-writing and going back on the road, plus they perform two new tracks live in the studio including their latest single ‘I See Stars'. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jodie Keane
07/03/22·42m 30s

The 50 year anniversary of The Godfather, Our Generation reviewed, Paul Dano on his role in the new Batman

It’s 50 years since The Godfather was released, the first of three films that have had a huge impact in their own right and on so much that followed them, from The Sopranos to The Simpsons. Christina Newland and Carl Anka discuss the power of the films and their legacy as Godfather II joins The Godfather on cinematic re-release. Our Generation is a new play by Alecky Blythe, the author of London Road, whose particular technique of verbatim theatre this time involved following a group of young people in the secondary school years and just beyond for five years. The snapshot of exams, phones, relationships, dreams and aspirations that’s resulted is at the National Theatre and then Chichester. It’s reviewed by poet Anthony Anaxagorou and critic Susannah Clapp. Paul Dano discusses his role as The Riddler in new film The Batman, and reflects on the particular quality shared by many of the characters he has played. And Anthony Anaxagorou and fellow poet Hannah Lowe, who’s just won the Costa Book of the Year Award for her collection The Kids, each recommend a new poetry collection.
03/03/22·42m 15s

Jane Campion on The Power of the Dog, Ukrainian artist Pavlo Makov

Filmmaker Jane Campion is the first woman to be nominated twice for the Oscar for Best Director and the first woman to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival. Known for her female-centred work such as The Piano, she tells Tom Sutcliffe why she decided to focus on toxic masculinity in The Power of the Dog, her first feature film in ten years. The acclaimed Ukrainian artist Pavlo Makov, who was due to be representing his country at next month’s Venice Art Biennale, talks from Kharhiv, where he is sheltering from the bombing. JN Benjamin reviews the play Mugabe, My Dad & Me, a one man show from Tonderai Munyevu which charts the rise and fall of Robert Mugabe through the personal story of the playwright’s family. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May
02/03/22·41m 58s

Tears for Fears, English Heritage, Unboxed Festival, Welsh poetry on St. David's Day

Tears For Fears, the duo who sound-tracked the 1980s with songs such as Shout, Mad World and Everybody Wants to Rule the World, have just released a new album, their first for 17 years. Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal tell Samira Ahmed about The Tipping Point and how they reached it. Kate Mavor, CEO of English Heritage discusses the challenges facing English Heritage in 2022. Unboxed, the festival billed as a celebration of UK creativity, has kicked off in in Paisley, Scotland with About Us, an event charting one hundred and thirty years of history, from the “Big Bang” to the present. Samira is joined by arts journalist Jan Patience to review what was once dubbed the Festival of Brexit. And on St. David's Day, the poet, playwright, and writer, Menna Elfyn shares her choice of poem for the feast day of the patron saint of Wales. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jodie Keane Photo: Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears Photo credit: Frank Ockenfels
01/03/22·42m 11s

Ali & Ava reviewed, Cultural Responses to Ukraine, Cherry Jezebel

On tonight’s Front Row, we take a look at the cultural responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the BBC’s Culture Editor, Katie Razzall. Clio Barnard’s latest film, Ali &Ava, is a love story between two care-worn middle-aged people, set in Bradford. Syima Aslam, co-founder and Director of the Bradford Literature Festival, and Lisa Holdsworth, Chair of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain, review. Cherry Jezebel is the title of a new play which opens at the Liverpool Everyman next week. At its heart are three drag queens with funny one-liners faster and sharper than a Federer forehand. But it’s also a play about ageing, family, and intimacy. The playwright Jonathan Larkin joins Front Row to discuss his new work. With the launch on BBC Three of Nicole Lecky's new drama Mood, critics Imriel Morgan and Gavia Baker-Whitelaw discuss the depiction of social media in TV dramas. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
28/02/22·42m 19s

Mark Neville photographing Ukraine, Whistler's Woman in White exhibition and The Duke film reviewed, Adam McKay on Don't Look Up

Director Adam McKay talks to Tom about his film Don’t Look Up. He discusses why it divided audiences and how he thinks cinema can influence politics. Photographer Mark Neville on the portraits of Ukrainian life collected in his new book Ukraine: Stop Tanks with Books. Charlotte Mullins discusses Whistler's famous portrait of Joanna Hiffernan, known as the Woman in White, the subject of an exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. Film critic Jason Solomons joins Charlotte to review The Duke, the film starring Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent, about the extraordinary theft of a portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in 1961. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Laura Northedge Photo credit: Photograph by and courtesy of Mark Neville
24/02/22·42m 18s

David Byrne, Arts Minister Lord Parkinson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Agnès Poirier on culture in Paris

Musician, film maker and artist David Byrne discusses his new book A History of the World (in Dingbats) - a collection of more than 100 line drawings he created during the Covid-19 pandemic. The striking figurative drawings explore daily life and our shared experiences in recent years, and capture the changes and challenges of life today. As the Government announces fresh plans to ‘level up the arts’ outside of London, we speak to the Minister for the Arts, Lord Parkinson about how and where the additional £75 million of funding will be spent. Journalist and author Agnès Poirier sends us a cultural postcard from Paris, taking in a night at the opera; a film- Paris, 13th District- the new ensemble dating drama from director Jacques Audiard; a major exhibition marking the centenary of Proust’s death and the latest on the restoration of fire-damaged Notre-Dame Cathedral, nearly three years after the blaze. Hope Dickson Leach discusses the new production of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, an innovative production that uses cinematic techniques to create a live filmic experience as well as a theatrical one.
23/02/22·42m 21s

Samuel Bailey, Sensitivity Readers, Social Media Satire

Samuel Bailey’s debut play, Shook, about three young men in a young offender's institution, won the Papatango New Writing Prize in 2019, glowing reviews, and a sell-out run. His new play, Sorry, You’re Not a Winner, explores the social price of higher education. Samuel Bailey talks to Tom Sutcliffe about the cost of great opportunities . Amid the current debate about the merits of sensitivity readers - a specialist editor who checks writers’ manuscripts for offensive content, misrepresentation, stereotypes, bias, lack of understanding - we talk to one: Philippa Willets, who advises on disability and LGBT issues, and a writer who has misgivings about the idea, Zia Haidar Rahman, author of the prize-winning novel In The Light of What We Know. Short form comedy on social media has thrived during the pandemic. Two luminaries of the genre - Munya Chawawa who came to wider public attention with his musical response to the news of Matt Hancock's extra-marital affair - and Rosie Holt - her "Tory MP" persona convinced some that she was the real thing - discuss the art of short form satire. Presenter Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Jodie Keane
22/02/22·42m 4s

Kit Harington, Chris Riddell on Jan Pieńkowski, Jamal Edwards, Surrealism

Game of Thrones star Kit Harington and director Max Webster discuss their new production of Henry V, and why they chose to make Henry a more complex character than the usual patriotic hero. Jan Pieńkowski, who has died aged 85, was a brilliant illustrator of children’s books, including the Meg and Mog series. He was born in Poland and his family fled the Nazis, an experience, along with the fairy tales of Eastern Europe, that influenced his work. Chris Riddell, the former Children's Laureate, pays tribute to Pieńkowski. Radio 2 and 1Xtra presenter Trevor Nelson reflects on the life of Jamal Edwards, DJ and founder of the online music platform SBTV. He discusses Jamal's lasting influence on the music scene and his legacy. A landmark exhibition, Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern, is seeking to reveal the bigger picture beyond the art movement's Eurocentric and male dominated origins in 1920s France. Samira is joined by the co-curator, Matthew Gale and by Chloe Aridjis, the Mexican-American novelist, to consider Surrealism’s reach and resonance.
21/02/22·42m 17s

Living Sculpture Daniel Lismore, Severance and The Real Charlie Chaplin reviewed, Lady Joker crime thriller

Artist Daniel Lismore describes himself as a ‘living sculpture.’ His elaborate creations have been worn by Naomi Campbell, Boy George and the cast of the English National Opera’s The Mask of Orpheus. Now his body of work is on display in the UK for the first time, in the exhibition Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in his hometown of Coventry. Author Naomi Alderman and writer and film critic Pamela Hutchinson join Elle to review new office-based sci-fi comedy Severance and documentary The Real Charlie Chaplin. The book Lady Joker has become a cultural touchstone in Japan since its 1997 publication, twice adapted for film and TV and often taught in high school and college classrooms. The author David Peace explains the excitement behind Lady Joker’s long-awaited translation and first UK publication. Presenter: Elle Osili-Wood Producer: Laura Northedge Image: Artist Daniel Lismore Photographer credit: Colin Douglas Gray
17/02/22·42m 15s

Richard Bean on Hull Truck at 50, portrayal of autism on screen, Sheila Heti

Comedy writer Sara Gibbs and actor and writer JJ Green discuss the portrayal of autistic characters on TV and film and call for change. Half a century ago director Mike Bradwell rented a run-down house in Coltman Street, Hull, gathered a few actor-musicians and started work. Hull Truck Theatre was born. It went on to become one of the most successful and influential companies in the country and is now housed in a beautiful purpose-built theatre. Bradwell had strong views about theatre: plays should be about the kind of people you might meet in Hull, not dead kings. He wasn't keen on jokes, and even less on scripts. So it's a bit of an irony that to celebrate their 50 years Hull Truck has commissioned the playwright Richard Bean, who can't resist a gag - he wrote One Man Two Guvnors - and whose work is carefully wrought and written. Bean, who is from Hull, talks about his new play 71 Coltman Street which recreates the genesis of Hull Truck Theatre. Sheila Heti, acclaimed author of Motherhood, talks about the ideas behind her new novel Pure Colour, an experimental story following a woman’s life through college, a love affair, and coming to terms with her father’s death – whilst God considers creating a second draft of the world. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Main image: Joanna Holden in 71 Coltman Street Photo credit: Ian Hodgson
16/02/22·42m 23s

British dance post-pandemic, Pissarro, Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton

Cassa Pancho and Billy Trevitt on the future of British dance, the "father of Impressionism" Pissarro and Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton on new play The Forest. Presnter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Laura Northedge Main image: The Ballet Black company Photographer's Credit - Ballet Black and Nick Gutteridge
15/02/22·42m 15s

Michael Morpurgo's Private Peaceful on stage, Barbellion prize-winning author Lynn Buckle, singer-conductor Barbara Hannigan

Michael Morpurgo’s book Private Peaceful has been made into a film, a solo stage show and a radio drama. As a new ensemble version opens at Nottingham Playhouse, before touring the country, the author and adapter Simon Reade talks to Nick Ahad about the power of this story of two brothers, caught up in the trauma of the First World War. We talk to the newly announced winner of the Barbellion Prize, dedicated to the furtherance of ill and disabled voices in writing: Lynn Buckle’s on her novel, What Willow Says, a meditation on nature and deafness. Soprano Barbara Hannigan first sang the role of Elle, the jilted lover in Poulenc’s one woman opera La Voix Humaine, in 2015. Now she’s simultaneously singing and conducting the opera, based on Jean Cocteau’s original monologue, with the London Symphony Orchestra at The Barbican. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Simon Richardson Image: Daniel Rainford in Private Peaceful Credit: Manuel Harlan
14/02/22·42m 15s

Drive My Car film review, Shakespeare's problem plays, the Great Yarmouth arts scene

Japanese film Drive My Car has been nominated for four Oscars, including Best Director for Ryusuke Hamaguchi. With his next film Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy released in the UK on Friday, critic Briony Hanson joins Samira Ahmed to review both films. It’s a truism that Shakespeare is as relevant today as ever. But some of his plays are regarded as problematic and recently the celebrated actress Juliet Stevenson requested that a couple of them “should be buried”. Is she right? And which plays speak most powerfully to us? Juliet Stevenson and directors Abigail Graham - whose production of The Merchant of Venice is about to open at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse - and Justin Audibert join Samira. The BBC Concert Orchestra has begun a three year residency in Great Yarmouth, with the aim of ‘raising aspiration and improving wellbeing.’ For Front Row, BBC Radio Norfolk’s Andrew Turner reports on what the town already has to offer and how the cultural scene might benefit from the residency. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Image: Hidetoshi Nishijima and Toko Miura in the film Drive My Car, directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi Credit: Modern Films
09/02/22·42m 23s

The resurgence of black and white films, Oscar nominations and Hannah Silva

Monochrome is having a moment at this year’s awards season in films such as Belfast, The Tragedy of Macbeth and C’mon C’mon. To discuss the comeback of black and white and its enduring appeal, Tom Sutcliffe is joined by Edu Grau, Director of Photography for Passing and Ellen Kuras, who won the Cinematography Award at Sundance for her debut feature film, Swoon, shot in black and white in 1992. She’s since become the first woman to receive the American Society of Cinematographers’ Lifetime Achievement Award and is about to embark on Lee, a biopic of the black and white photographer, Lee Miller. As the 2022 Oscar nominees are announced, we talk to Maggie Gyllenhaal who is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay with The Lost Daughter, the actor’s directorial debut, as well as Andrew Garfield, who bagged a best actor nomination for musical tick, tick... BOOM! Husband and wife animation team Les Mills and Joanna Quinn, writer and director respectively about their Best Animated Film-nominated Affairs of the Art also join us. Film critics Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and Leila Latif provide analysis. And we discuss a new experimental drama for Radio 4, An Artificially Intelligent Guide to Love, which sees writer Hannah Silva collaborate with a machine-learning algorithm to create an audio guide to romance. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Simon Richardson Production co-ordinator: Lizzy Harris Photo: Ruth Negga as Clare Bellew and Tessa Thompson as Irene "Reenie” Redfield in the film Passing Credit: Netflix
08/02/22·42m 21s

Yard Act's debut album, writer Esi Edugyan, Jason Katims on the TV series As We See It

Fresh from a special concert in their home city of Leeds to mark Independent Venue Week, James Smith, lead singer of Yard Act talks to Samira about the group’s success with the release of their debut album. Their character-driven debut album, The Overload - designed to provoke "an open discussion about capitalism" - went straight into the charts at number two. Novelist Esi Edugyan, author of Washington Black and Half Blood Blues, talks to Samira about her latest collection of essays, Out of the Sun, in which she delves into the history of Western Art and the truths about Black lives that it fails to reveal, and the ways contemporary Black artists are reclaiming and reimagining those lives. Jason Katims has written and developed several hit US television series including Friday Night Lights and Parenthood. His latest creation is As We See It, which focuses on the lives of three young people with autism. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jodie Keane Image: Yard Act Photo credit: Phoebe Fox
07/02/22·42m 21s

The Eyes of Tammy Faye & novel They reviewed, Brass Eye anniversary

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a new film starring Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield as televangelists Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker charting their controversial rise and fall in the 1970s and 80s. They by Kay Dick is a rediscovered dystopian novel first published in 1977. Critics Suzi Feay and Michael Carlson give their verdicts on both. It's 25 years since the TV news satire Brass Eye first came to our screens with episodes such as one featuring fake drug Cake becoming the stuff of TV legend. Director Michael Cumming joins Samira. And the Bafta film nominations are announced today. Critic Hanna Flint joins us. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson Studio Manager: Giles Aspen
03/02/22·42m 18s

Erin Doherty on new drama Chloe, Andrei Kurkov on culture in Ukraine, true crime podcasts

Erin Doherty shot to fame playing Princess Anne in The Crown and joins Tom to discuss her latest role as social media obsessed stalker Becky in BBC drama Chloe. The writer Andrei Kurkov talks about literature, TV, music and cultural festivals across Ukraine. Documentary and true crime podcasts are more popular than ever, but does audio offer new ways of telling stories? Narrative expert and former head of BBC Drama Commissioning John Yorke, and Alexi Mostrous, host of Tortoise Media’s hit podcast Sweet Bobby, consider the particular craft of longform audio storytelling. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Simon Richardson Photo Credit (Erin Doherty): Joseph Sinclair
02/02/22·42m 20s

Bastille perform live, independent book sellers, Costa Book Awards Book of the Year Winner

Ahead of the release of their fourth studio album, Give Me the Future, Dan Smith and Charlie Barnes of the alt-pop four piece Bastille perform live in the studio and discuss the creation of this sci-fi-influenced concept album, their most collaborative yet. A new initiative sponsored by The Booksellers Association and bookselling website aims to encourage individuals from under represented backgrounds into the bookselling business, with seed funding available for successful applicants to open their own bricks and mortar bookshop. Historically seen as a more of a labour of love than a viable business or career plan, we explore the current state of the independent bookselling sector in the wake of the pandemic and the ever present pressures of the internet on local high streets. And we have the first interview with the Costa Book Awards Book of the Year winner. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Laura Northedge Photo: Bastille Credit: Sarah Louise Bennett
01/02/22·42m 13s

Van Gogh Self Portraits, Joanna Hogg on The Souvenir Part II, Dr Semmelweis

Van Gogh’s self portraits have defined our sense of his inner life. As a new exhibition gathers many of them together for the first time, The Courtauld’s Curator of Paintings, Karen Serres and the art historian, Martin Bailey join Tom Sutcliffe to consider what they reveal about an artist we feel we know so well. Director Joanna Hogg tells Tom about the making of the sequel to her semi-autobiographical 2019 film The Souvenir, starring real life mother and daughter, Tilda Swinton and Honor Swinton Byrne. Mark Rylance stars in Dr Semmelweis, a new play at the Bristol Old Vic about a pioneering doctor who struggled to make the establishment heed his warnings about hand hygiene. Professor Tim Cook, a consultant intensive care doctor in Bath gives his verdict on the play. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Tim Prosser IMAGE: Self Portrait as a Painter by Vincent Van Gogh (December- February 1888) CREDIT: Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam, Vincent Van Gogh Foundation
31/01/22·42m 21s

Romola Garai, Almodóvar's Parallel Mothers & Francis Bacon: Man and Beast reviewed

The actress Romola Garai talks about her directorial debut, the horror film Amulet. Critics Maria Delgado and Louisa Buck review Pedro Almodóvar's film Parallel Mothers starring Penélope Cruz - an account of two new mothers and his most overtly political film yet. And they give their views on a new exhibition at the Royal Academy, Francis Bacon: Man and Beast. And comedian Arthur Smith pays tribute to comedy genius Barry Cryer, so much loved by the Radio 4 audience. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Laura Northedge
27/01/22·42m 15s

Isabel Allende on her new novel Violeta, Freya McClements on the play The White Handkerchief, William Sitwell and Façade,

Isabel Allende was born in Peru in 1942 and raised in Chile. Most famous for her novel The House of the Spirits, her works have been both bestsellers and critically acclaimed, translated into more than forty-two languages and selling more than seventy-five million copies worldwide. Her latest book, Violeta, is a fictional account of one woman’s life through an extraordinary century of history. Isabel talks about her life, her special relationship with her mother and her pursuit of equality. Freya McClements reports from Derry/Londonderry where The White Handkerchief, a play marking the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, is about to open. Freya speaks to members of the production team and hears about plans for a public memorial to commemorate the dead and injured this coming Sunday. A new recording by Roderick Williams and Tamsin Dalley of Facade, an “entertainment” by Edith Sitwell and William Walton, has been released 100 years after its first performance. Dame Edith’s great nephew William Sitwell and Professor Faye Hammill discuss the story behind the piece, its impact and the part it has played in the movement of Modernism. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Harry Parker Photo: Isabel Allende Credit: Lori Barra
26/01/22·42m 18s

Martin Freeman on The Responder and Cultural Levelling Up

The Responder, a five-part BBC drama broadcast on consecutive nights this week, was written by ex-police response officer Tony Schumacher. He joins Samira along with Martin Freeman, who stars as the disillusioned police responder Chris Carson. A cross party group of MPs from the north of England have just made the case for cultural levelling up in a new report, ahead of the Government's much anticipated white paper on its broader levelling up agenda. We hear from the author of the report, Professor Katy Shaw of Northumbria University and arts policy expert Dr. Abigail Gilmore of the University of Manchester and the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre. Screen Yorkshire’s chief executive Caroline Cooper Charles and Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning at The British Library, tell us about what they're doing to invest in culture in and around Leeds. Samira is also joined in the studio by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, Minister for the Arts in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Simon Richardson Photo: Martin Freeman Credit: BBC
25/01/22·42m 19s

Olly Alexander, Honorée Fannone Jeffers, Femi Elufowoju jr on Rigoletto

The singer and actor Olly Alexander discusses his new album, Night Call, and playing the central role in the Russell T Davies drama acclaimed television drama, It's A Sin; Theatre director Femi Elufowoju jr on making his opera debut with a new transformed production of Verdi's opera, Rigoletto; and the American poet Honorée Fannone Jeffers on expanding into fiction with her debut novel, The Love Songs of W.E.B DuBois. Presenter: Nick Ahad Production Co-ordinator: Lizzie Harris Studio Engineers: John Cole and Chris Hardman Producer: Ekene Akalawu
24/01/22·42m 27s

Ciarán Hinds, Nightmare Alley and The Gilded Age reviewed, the latest Serpentine exhibition on the gaming platform Fortnite

Belfast-born actor Ciarán Hinds tells Tom Sutcliffe about playing Kenneth Branagh’s grandfather in the director’s semi-autobiographical film Belfast, set in the early years of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Historian Hallie Rubenhold and critic Hannah McGill discuss Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley and Julian Fellowes’s US answer to Downton Abbey, The Gilded Age. The latest exhibition at Serpentine North in London stretches beyond the gallery’s confines. There are three ways to view it: at the gallery, in augmented reality on the Acute Art app, and on the gaming platform Fortnite, potentially opening it up to hundreds of millions of people. How radical an idea is this, what does it mean for the future of viewing art and how well does it work? Creator and producer of digital exhibitions Marie Foulston takes a look.
20/01/22·42m 5s

Munich: The Edge of War, Australia, Jo Browning Wroe on her novel, A Terrible Kindness

Munich: The Edge of War is new film set in 1938 at the time of the Munich Agreement when the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was making a last ditch attempt to avoid war with Hitler’s Germany. Starring Jeremy Irons as Chamberlain it concerns the efforts of a young civil servant, played by George MacKay, who is sent to Munich to secure a document which would change the course of history. The German director Christian Schwochow talks about making a fictional thriller set against a background of historical fact. And as a director of episodes of The Crown he reveals what it’s like to be a German making drama out of the British royal family. A postcard from Australia in its multitudes. In the midst of a two year UK-Australia Cultural Exchange, the ABC’s C Benedict looks at what the UK means to Australia now. First Nations Australian creatives – Yorta Yorta composer Deborah Cheetham and Dharug artist Janelle Evans – talk about cultural custodianship and bringing Indigenous voices to the world, and sound artist Sia Ahmad finds surprising resonances between her experimental punk ethos and the Cornish independent film Bait. Jo Browning Wroe grew up in a crematorium in Birmingham. She talks to Tom about her debut novel, A Terrible Kindness, about a newly qualified embalmer, William, called in to attend to the dead after the Aberfan disaster in 1966 and the impact it has on his life.
19/01/22·42m 9s

Tilda Swinton, secrecy in screen casting, proposed cuts at Stoke museums

Tilda Swinton talks to Samira about her new film Memoria, in which she plays a Scottish woman who, after hearing a loud 'bang' at daybreak, begins experiencing a mysterious sensory syndrome while traversing the jungles of Colombia. We investigate the widespread use of NDAs in acting auditions, hearing from actors who are often being asked to sign these non disclosure agreements without even being told what the film is about or what part they are auditioning for. We also hear from agents who say they’re increasingly excluded from the process. Why are NDA’s necessary in the film and TV industry and are actors being treated fairly? Samira explores the issues with Agent Bill Petrie, Producer/Director Simon Tate and Casting Director Debbie McWilliams. Major changes have been proposed to two pottery museums in Stoke-on-Trent, which will see the loss of curators and reduced opening hours. Alasdair Brooks of Re-Form Heritage explains why the plans are of global significance. The city council however says its new budget must save £10m. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jodie Keane
18/01/22·42m 16s

Adrian Lester on Trigger Point; Heal and Harrow perform live; northern writing prizes

Actor Adrian Lester joins Samira to discuss his varied career on stage, in film and now back on UK television in the gripping new ITV police drama, Trigger Point. Scottish musicians Rachel Newton and Lauren MacColl AKA Heal and Harrow perform live ahead of Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival. Their music is a response to the 16th and 17th century Scottish Witch Trials and the women falsely accused. What do two Northern literary prizes reveal about writing from the North of England? Samira is joined by journalist Gary Younge, chair of judges for the Portico Prize, awarded to a book that evokes the spirit of the North of England, and Alison Hindell, chair of the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award, which is for radio drama writers from North. Paul Jones is the winner of the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award 2021. He discusses his radio play, Patterdale and what the term “Northern Writer” means to him. Patterdale will be broadcast on Radio 4 on 14 February. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Tim Prosser Photo: Adrian Lester Credit: BBC
17/01/22·42m 20s

Boiling Point and Hanya Yanagihara's To Paradise reviewed, Costa Children's Award winner Manjeet Mann

Writers Okechukwu Nzelu and Stephanie Merritt join Tom Sutcliffe to review Hanya Yanagihara’s novel To Paradise, eagerly awaited by fans of her Booker-shortlisted A Little Life. Over three distinct time settings it tells a vast story about the United States, Hawaii, love and responsibility, taking in climate change and pandemics along the way. And we’ll be looking ahead to a few of the book titles our critics are looking forward to this year. Tracey MacLeod, one-time restaurant reviewer and critic on Masterchef, joins us to review Boiling Point, the one-take, fast-paced film set in a professional kitchen, starring Stephen Graham Following the attack on the sculpture of Prospero and Ariel outside BBC Broadcasting House, art historian Dr Chris Stephens, Director of the Holburne Museum, gives us an insight into Eric Gill and the problem of bad people making good art. Manjeet Mann joins us to discuss her Costa Children's Award winning novel The Crossing. Written in verse, it tells the story of Natalie and Sammy, two teenagers from opposite worlds, who are both overcoming their own grief.
13/01/22·42m 30s

Ascension, John Preston on Robert Maxwell and is vinyl manufacturing at breaking point?

Kirsty Lang speaks to John Preston who has won the Costa biography award for Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell. As a new vinyl pressing plant opens in Middlesbrough, we hear about the long delays facing bands because of the LP renaissance. And filmmaker Jessica Kingdon discusses her award-winning observational documentary Ascension. Filmed in 51 locations across China, Ascension explores the pursuit of the Chinese Dream through the lives of the people living it, accompanied by a brilliant soundtrack. Presented by Kirsty Lang Produced by Laura Northedge
12/01/22·42m 7s

Winner of TS Elliot Prize for Poetry, Unboxed, Folk at the Hampstead Theatre

We talk to Joelle Taylor fresh from her win last night of the 2021 TS Eliot Prize for Poetry for her collection of poems which explores her life as a lesbian. 2022 has three big cultural events in store: Unboxed, the Birmingham Arts Festival marking the Commonwealth Games and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Samira is joined by the man behind two of them, Chief Creative Officer Martin Green. We also hear from BBC News Culture Editor Katie Razzall, to unpack Unboxed, once dubbed the Festival of Brexit. And Folk, currently playing at the Hampstead Theatre chronicles Cecil Sharp’s mission to preserve England’s rural folk music. Writer, Nell Leyshon and director, Roxana Silbert discuss the process of adapting this real life history for the stage. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Simon Richardson
11/01/22·42m 23s

Sheffield Crucible Theatre at 50, Philosophy in the Gallery, Self Esteem

As Sheffield's Crucible Theatre celebrates its 50th anniversary, Nick Ahad talks to Artistic Director Robert Hastie. Sheffield pop star Self Esteem on her award-winning album Prioritise Pleasure. Plus public debates about philosophy at Sheffield's Graves Gallery. Photo: Presenter Nick Ahad on location at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield Photo credit: Nick Ahad
10/01/22·41m 59s

Joe Wright on Cyrano, Costa poetry winner Hannah Lowe, A Hero

In his latest film Cyrano, director Joe Wright has tackled the 1897 French verse drama, Cyrano de Bergerac. He joins Tom Sutcliffe to discuss turning a classic into a musical and dispensing with Cyrano’s prominent nose. The winner of the Costa Poetry Award Hannah Lowe talks about her collection The Kids, an autobiographical series of sonnets which paint a picture of the decade she spent teaching in an inner city London school. She tells us why an age-old form mastered by Shakespeare is perfectly suited to tackling the politics of race and class in contemporary Britain. And critics Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and Kohinoor Sahota discuss the palme d'or winning Iranian film A Hero. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Laura Northedge Production Co-ordinator: Lizzie Harris
06/01/22·42m 18s

Andrea Arnold, Claire Fuller, Afghanistan National Institute of Music

Filmmaker Andrea Arnold on her first documentary film, Cow, about the life of two cows, which one critic described as 'a meaty slice of bovine socio-realism.' We talk to Dr Ahmad Sarmast, founder and director of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, about the organisation's recent departure from the country. And Claire Fuller has won the Costa Novel Award 2021 for her book Unsettled Ground, about twins in their 50s living in rural England, struggling to make ends meet and negotiating family secrets. She’ll talk about what winning the prize means to her. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Simon Richardson
05/01/22·42m 18s

The Costa Book Awards, Julia Ducournau on Titane, disabled access to arts and culture

The Costa Book Awards are in their 50th year. Tonight on Front Row, Chair of Judges Reeta Chakrabarti will join Samira Ahmed to announce each of this year’s category winners for First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s. We’ll also be hearing from the winner of the First Novel Award. French director Julia Ducournau discusses her film Titane, which won the Palme d'Or at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival- the first film directed by a woman to win the prize in 28 years. At a time when access to performance for disabled artists and audiences looks increasingly imperilled due to the Omicron COVID variant, we talk to the government’s Disability and Access Ambassador for Arts and Culture, David Stanley. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson Photo: Agathe Rousselle as Alexia in Titane Photographer credit: Carole Bethuel
04/01/22·42m 19s

Joan Didion remembered, Call the Midwife, The Tragedy of Macbeth and a review of the year in culture

Writer and essayist Olivia Laing reflects on the work of the American journalist and essayist Joan Didion, who has died at the age of 87. With the Christmas Special of Call the Midwife taking its usual slot on BBC One on Christmas Day – for the tenth consecutive time - the show’s creator and writer Heidi Thomas discusses how she tries to keep the stories fresh, year on year. She’s also joined by ‘super-fan’, the historian Tom Holland, to consider its lasting appeal. The British Council's Director of Film Briony Hanson and writer and broadcaster Ekow Eshun review Joel Coen's film The Tragedy of Macbeth and share their cultural highlights of the year. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Simon Richardson Photo: Call the Midwife Christmas special 2021 Photo credit: BBC
23/12/21·42m 19s

Paul Thomas Anderson, Eliza Carthy and Jon Boden, Postcard from Doncaster

Paul Thomas Anderson discusses directing and writing his new romantic comedy, Licorice Pizza, starring Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper and Tom Waits. The film is a coming-of-age story, complicated by the fact that the protagonist is 15 and his love interest, 25. In our Christmas card from Doncaster, the host of the BBC’s Yorkshire-cast and local boy, James Vincent, meets Deborah Rees, Director of CAST Theatre and Connor Bryson, an actor appearing in the BSL integrated pantomime, Aladdin. Street art duo Nomad Clan reflect on the making of the UK’s longest mural, and local musician Skinny Pelembe shares his lockdown Song for South Yorkshire. Last night, the longest of the year, musicians Eliza Carthy and Jon Boden intended to bring good cheer, light and joyful music with a wassail concert, but the omicron variant put paid to that. Instead Eliza and Jon will be bringing some of what was planned to Front Row, explaining the ancient tradition of wassailing – the word comes from the Anglo Saxon for good health - and singing and playing. Presenter Tom Sutcliffe Producer Julian May
22/12/21·42m 16s

Anything Goes, Live arts venues under Omicron, The Princess Bride

Broadway star Sutton Foster and director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall talk to Samira Ahmed about staging the musical Anything Goes, one of the hottest tickets of the year at The Barbican, ahead of a Boxing Day screening on BBC 2. In light of the increasing uncertainty facing the performance sector because of the Omicron variant, we talk to Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Lucy Powell. We also hear the experiences of Dominique Fraser, the director and founder of the Boiler Room - a live music venue in Guildford and the views of Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venues Trust and Philippa Childs, the head of the entertainment workers’ union, BECTU. And Stephen Keyworth has adapted cult classic novel and film The Princess Bride for BBC Radio 4, beginning on Christmas Day. He joins Samira to discuss the challenges of creating satisfying swordfights for radio. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Tim Prosser Photo: Sutton foster and the cast of Anything Goes, performing at The Barbican, London Photo credit: Tristram Kenton
21/12/21·42m 22s

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kehinde Wiley, Christmas book gifts

Maggie Gyllenhaal discusses her new film The Lost Daughter, an adaptation of the novel by Elena Ferrante. Gyllenhaal has written the film and it is her directorial debut, which stars Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Ed Harris. Samira talks to American artist Kehinde Wiley, best known for his portraits that render people of colour in the traditional settings of Old Master paintings, about his new exhibition at the National Gallery in London. The show, titled The Prelude, sees Wiley shifting his focus from Grand Manner portraiture to landscape painting. And with Christmas approaching fast, writers Kit de Waal and Michael Rosen are on hand to suggest some last-minute book ideas: Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan Walking with Ghosts by Gabriel Byrne The Correct Order of Biscuits: And Other Meticulously Assembled Lists of Extremely Valuable Nonsense by Adam Sharp When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari The Island Of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper Recovery: The Lost Art of Convalescence by Dr Gavin Francis Everything, All the Time, Everywhere by Stuart Jeffries Fallen Idols by Alex von Tunzelmann Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jerome Weatherald
20/12/21·42m 19s

Don't Look Up, Around the World in 80 Days, Cutting It Fine

Jonathan Freedland, Sarah Churchwell and Leila Latif review Adam McKay's satire Don't Look Up, with a stellar cast including Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, and Around the World in 80 Days starring David Tennant, one of the BBC's Christmas TV offerings. Cutting it Fine is a new exhibition in Salisbury, showcasing the art of British wood engraving - those small, black-and-white prints we see in books as well as in picture frames. Great artists including Eric Ravilious, Paul Nash and Gertrude Hermes have been attracted to the medium. Tom visits the exhibition as well as the studio of the wood engraver Howard Phipps, who shows him how the details and textures are achieved. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson
16/12/21·42m 24s

Postcard from Scarborough, Derek Jarman Protest!, Benjamin Cleary

A major retrospective of Derek Jarman’s work, Protest!, opens at the Manchester Art Gallery this week. One of the most influential figures in 20th century British culture the exhibition focuses on the diverse strands of Jarman’s practise as a painter, film maker, writer, set designer and political activist. Novelist Okechukwu Nzelu reviews. Benjamin Cleary talks about his new science fiction film Swan Song starring Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Awkwafina and Glen Close And Nick Ahad visits Scarborough to discover an impressive arts scene in the latest in our postcard series, with Sally Gorham, Adam Cooper, Emily Kaan and Sefton Freeman-Bahn. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
15/12/21·42m 12s

Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín on winning the David Cohen prize, the sudden rise in Covid-19 related theatre closures and a seasonal dance round-up with Sarah Crompton.
14/12/21·42m 11s

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, Sarah Phelps, puppetry on stage

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, which transforms a West End theatre into a Berlin night club in the late 1920s, stars Eddie Redmayne as the Emcee and Jessie Buckley as chanteuse Sally Bowles. Alice Saville reviews the show. Screenwriter Sarah Phelps discusses her new BBC TV series A Very British Scandal, starring Claire Foy and Paul Bettany, which tells the true story of the divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll in 1963, one of the most notorious, extraordinary, and brutal legal cases of the 20th century. We remember the author Anne Rice who has died aged 80. Rice is best known for her gothic novels, including Interview with the Vampire, which was made into a film starring Tom Cruise. From the Front Row archives from 2012, Anne Rice discusses the sensuality of the vampires in her novels, her parallel career writing erotic fiction and her relationship with Christianity. Elephants, a lion, a tiger...animals are stampeding across our the form of puppets, large and small. Samira Ahmed discusses the reasons for the arrival of this menagerie and the role of puppets in contemporary theatre, with three leading puppetry specialists whose shows include The Magician’s Elephant, Life of Pi, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Olivia Skinner
13/12/21·42m 26s

Cat Power performs live. Amanda Gorman poetry, Sex And The City follow up and Drive My Car reviewed

What makes a good cover version? And is it an underrated musical genre? American singer-songwriter and queen of the cover-version Cat Power AKA Chan Marshall joins Samira live in the studio to discuss and perform from her forthcoming album, Covers. Critics Hadley Freeman, Jade Cuttle and Tim Robey join our review panel to discuss Call Us What We Carry, a new volume of poetry by Amanda Gorman, the film C’mon C’mon and the latest instalment from Sex and the City, And Just Like That…. Photo credit: Mario Sorrenti Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Laura Northedge
09/12/21·42m 35s

Musician Carwyn Ellis performs; The Rules of Art? exhibition; filmmaker Rosemary Baker; Port Talbot postcard

Front Row comes from Cardiff this evening. Joining presenter Huw Stephens to play live in the studio is Welsh musician Carwyn Ellis, who has been collaborating with Brazilian musicians and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Huw also looks closely at The Rules of Art?, an exhibition at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, which sets out the classical hierarchy of art, then challenges this by juxtaposing works spanning 500 years, from a Botticelli Virgin and Child, to a recent photograph by Helen Muspratt of a mother and child in Merthyr Tydfil. Rosemary Baker talks about her powerful film, Lesbian, that focuses on that word. It has been shortlisted for The Iris Prize for short films made by LGBT+ artists, awarded every year in Cardiff. And Huw sends an audio postcard from Port Talbot, the town which produced Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins and Michael Sheen, and boasts a Banksy, too. Presenter: Huw Stephens Producer: Julian May Photo: Carwyn Ellis Photo credit: Paul Kelly
08/12/21·42m 13s

Steven Spielberg, Working Class Heritage, Will Sharpe

Samira talks to Steven Spielberg about his new version of the musical West Side Story, along with Ariana DeBose who plays Anita. Following the recent demolition of the Dorman Long Tower at the former steelworks in Redcar and the auction of George Harrison’s childhood home in Liverpool, we consider how working class cultural heritage is defined, valued and protected. Joining Samira in discussion are Historic England’s Chief Executive Duncan Wilson, who advises the Government on heritage status and writer and broadcaster Lynsey Hanley, author of Estates: An Intimate History. We’ll also hear from Catherine Croft, Director of the 20th Century Society, a charity campaigning to save British buildings from 1914 onwards. Will Sharpe on directing Landscapers, a new drama starting on Sky which tells the story of film fanatics Susan and Christopher Edwards who were arrested for the murder of Susan’s parents. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Simon Richardson
07/12/21·42m 19s

Playwright James Graham on Best of Enemies; Lamb film review; The Belarus Free Theatre; remembering actor Antony Sher

Britain’s foremost writer of political drama, James Graham, has written a new play ‘Best of Enemies’, about the television debates in the US in 1968 between the right wing thinker William Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal, the left wing writer. When they began yelling at each other ratings soared - and political coverage changed. Graham talks to presenter Tom Sutcliffe about his play and the striking parallels between what happened in 1968 and what’s going on today, in politics and on social media. Lamb is a new Icelandic movie about a farming couple, María and Ingvar, who are shocked to learn that one of their pregnant sheep has given birth to a bizarre human/sheep hybrid. The film is directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson, who also co-wrote the screenplay with author, Sjón. Lamb, which stars Noomi Rapace, was selected Iceland’s entry for the Best International Feature Film at this year’s Oscars. Briony Hanson reviews. Earlier this year Front Row covered the imprisonment of members of the Belarus Free Theatre. Now, the entire company has left the country. As the ensemble works on a play that will be staged at the Barbican in the spring, Front Row visits their rehearsal room to hear the experiences of some of the cast. Svetlana Sugako, the theatre’s managing director, joins us live in the studio to discuss why they are determined to carry on making theatre. Front Row remembers the actor Antony Sher, who has died aged 72. Sher was best known for his Shakespearian roles, including Richard III for which he won an Oliver award. In an interview from Front Row’s archives, Antony Sher discusses why playing a New York drag queen in Torch Song Trilogy by Harvey Fierstein meant so much to him. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Olivia Skinner Photo: James Graham
06/12/21·41m 50s

The Hand of God and Dürer exhibition reviewed, Aaron Sorkin on Lucille Ball

Paolo Sorrentino’s film The Great Beauty won an Oscar. Now he has returned to his home city of Naples to make a film based on his own autobiography, The Hand of God, which shows how his passion for the footballer Maradona saved his life. At the National Gallery a new exhibition, Dürer’s Journey: Travels of a Renaissance Artist, looks at how the Nuremberg artist had links with the artistic flowering happening all over Europe, and how that shaped his own work and identity. The artist Bob and Roberta Smith and the literary editor Thea Lenarduzzi review the film and exhibition and give their thoughts on the week’s cultural happenings. Aaron Sorkin, who has won Oscars as screenwriter for The Social Network and Molly’s Game, is also a director. In his latest film, Becoming the Ricardos, Nicole Kidman plays Lucille Ball, one of the most famous and powerful television stars ever, with an audience of 60 million. Off screen she is also Lucille Ricardo, a woman in a troubled marriage, longing for a home. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson Photo: A scene from The Hand of God, directed by Paolo Sorrentino Photo credit: Gianni Fiorito
02/12/21·42m 20s

The 2021 Turner Prize Ceremony

Front Row is live from the 2021 Turner Prize Ceremony at Coventry Cathedral. Samira Ahmed hears from Turner Prize judges actor Russell Tovey and curator Zoe Whitley, and the director of Tate Britain Alex Farquharson, about why they chose artists' collectives for this year's shortlist. Pauline Black reflects on what it means to Coventry to host this year's Turner Prize exhibition as part of the City of Culture celebrations and curator Hammad Nasar explains how he put together an exhibition of work that's not usually shown in galleries. And the winner of this year's Turner Prize is announced live on air. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner
01/12/21·42m 14s

The Parthenon Marbles; Get Back documentary review; Turner Prize nominees Project Artworks; the literary canon

As the debate over the Parthenon Marbles has resurfaced in recent weeks, we take a deep dive into this decades old dispute. Alexander Herman, Assistant Director of the Institute of Art and Law joins presenter Tom Sutcliffe to provide insight and analysis. Renowned folk musician Eliza Carthy reviews Peter Jackson's Beatles documentary series Get Back. We meet the Turner Prize nominated neurodivergent artist collective Project Artworks in Hastings. And who determines the literary canon? Kadija Sesay, co-author of This Is The Canon: Decolonize Your Bookshelf In 50 Books, and Henry Eliot, author of The Penguin Modern Classics Book, join Tom to discuss. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Simon Richardson Photo: Marble horses on the West Frieze of the Parthenon Sculptures in Room 18 of the British Museum, photographed in 2009 Photo credit: BBC
30/11/21·42m 18s

Kelly Lee Owens, Stephen Sondheim, Rowan Williams, Black Obsidian Sound System

The electronic musician Kelly Lee Owens won this year’s Welsh Music Prize for her album Inner Song. She tells Samira Ahmed about her inspiration - and her collaborations with John Cale, Björk and Michael Sheen. This evening theatres in the West End dim their lights in honour of the great composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the words for the songs in West Side Story, and the musicals Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, Company, Assassins, and more. From Front Row's archive we hear Sondheim himself talking about matching words to music, and his biographer, David Benedict, looks closely at one song, explaining how it demonstrates his remarkable skill. Throughout his life Rowan Williams, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 until 2012, has written poetry. Now his previous collections have been gathered with new pieces in a single volume, his Collected Poems. He talks about his work, which ranges from poems inspired by the landscape of West Wales to a sequence of sonnets inspired by Shakespeare's plays, another commissioned to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Aberfan disaster, and translations from German, Russian and Welsh and, his latest poem set in a vaccination centre in Splott. The nominees for this year’s Turner Prize are all artists’ collectives and Front Row has been hearing from them in the run up to the announcement of the winner. Tonight, we hear from Black Obsidian Sound System, a London based collective who use their sound system to organise events that connect communities. They tell Samira how their collective works and explain why being nominated for the UK’s biggest art prize hasn’t been a totally positive experience. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Production Co-ordinator: Lizzie Harris Photo: Kelly Lee Owens Photo credit: Sarah Stedeford
29/11/21·42m 23s

House of Gucci, Adele's 30 and The Every by Dave Eggers

The designer Henry Holland and writers Stephanie Merritt and Tahmima Anam review House of Gucci, The Every by Dave Eggers and Adele's new album 30. In the run up to the Turner Prize, Front Row is hearing from the artists’ collectives nominated for the award. Tonight, we hear from Array, a Belfast based collective who use their art to draw attention to social and political issues in Northern Ireland. Array tell Marie-Louise Muir what the nomination means to them. Sound and music from Array Collective’s Turner Prize installation The Druthaib's Ball including 'The Hard Border' Poem by Seamus O' Rourke and music by Cleamairí Feirste, activist storyteller Richard O'Leary and performance of The Mother Within by Dani Larkin. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Laura Northedge
25/11/21·42m 13s

Suzanne Lacy, Bishop Auckland, Silent Night

As her first major retrospective in the UK opens in Manchester, the distinguished American artist Suzanne Lacy discusses a career which has seen her standing at the junction of aesthetics and activism, filmmaker Camille Griffin on her Christmas comedy horror - Silent Night, and a postcard from Bishop Auckland as the town undergoes a philanthropic arts transformation. Presenter: Nick Ahad Studio Engineers: Phillip Halliwell and Jonathan Esp Production Co-ordinator: Lizzie Harris Producer: Ekene Akalawu Photo: Presenter Nick Ahad outside the Spanish Art Gallery in Bishop Auckland
25/11/21·42m 45s

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Turner Prize nominees Gentle / Radical, Costa Book Awards

During the pandemic Andrew Lloyd Webber has been more of a campaigner than a composer. He talks to Samira Ahmed how to keep theatres open now, taking his show Cinderella to Broadway and his latest ambition - to write a musical about the refugee crisis. The Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread) celebrate their 50th anniversary this year. Front Row announces the shortlists for the 2021 awards tonight across all categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book. Literary critic Alex Clarke will be on hand to offer analysis of this year’s choices. The nominees for this year’s Turner Prize are all artists’ collectives and, in the run-up to the prize ceremony, Front Row will be hearing from them. Tonight it’s the turn of Gentle / Radical, a collective based in Riverside in Cardiff. Rabab Ghazoul and Tom Goddard explain the community based ethos behind their work and how they feel about the nomination.
23/11/21·42m 23s

The Power of the Dog film review; Turner Prize nominees Cooking Sections; South African literature today

Jane Campion is famous for The Piano and a baby grand plays a crucial role in her new film The Power of the Dog, in which Benedict Cumberbatch plays a heavy smoking, unwashed and deeply troubled rancher in 1920s Montana. Briony Hanson reviews the film for Front Row and considers the lengths to which actors will go to create a character. All the nominees for this year’s Turner Prize are artistic collectives. In the run-up to the award ceremony, Front Row will hear what the prize means to each of them. This evening, we hear from Cooking Sections, an artistic duo who reflect on the climate emergency and how we can make the food we eat more environmentally friendly. When he accepted the Booker Prize earlier this month for his novel The Promise, South African author Damon Galgut said: ‘This has been a great year for African writing and I’d like to accept this on behalf of all the stories told and untold, the writers heard and unheard from the remarkable continent that I’m part of. Please keep listening to us, there’s a lot more to come…’ Tonight we shine a spotlight on contemporary literature from his home country of South Africa and bring Damon together in conversation from Cape Town with the award-winning debut author of Scatterlings, Rešoketšwe Manenzhe. PRESENTER: Tom Sutcliffe PRODUCER: Olivia Skinner PHOTO: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH as PHIL BURBANK and GEORGE MASON as CRICKET in THE POWER OF THE DOG. PHOTO CREDIT: KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX
22/11/21·42m 22s

King Richard, Wheel of Time and new Zadie Smith play reviewed, Playwright Moira Buffini

New movie King Richard stars Will Smith and focuses on the father of Venus and Serena Williams. The Wife of Willesden is the first play by Zadie Smith. And Wheel of Time is a new fantasy series on Amazon Prime Video. Ashley Hickson-Lovence and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh join Samira to review all three. Moira Buffini on her darkly comic new state of the nation play for the National Theatre, Manor, directed by her sister Fiona. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Laura Northedge
18/11/21·42m 22s

Ralph Fiennes on Four Quartets, Songlines exhibition, art postcard from Plymouth

‘A spiritual enquiry into what it is to be human’ is how Ralph Fiennes describes T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. On the eve of the opening in the West End he tells presenter Elle Osili-Wood about his stage presentation and his relationship with the poems. An exhibition that was a smash hit in Australia has come to Plymouth. “Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters” explores the ancient stories of Indigenous Australians through more than 300 works of art. Senior curator Margo Neale explains the meaning of the Seven Sisters Dreaming stories, that are central to the exhibition. Plus BBC Devon presenter Sarah Gosling takes us to the south coast and to Plymouth, where this Friday hip hop takes over the city thanks to Roots Up festival, as part of the Mayflower 400 anniversary celebrations. We also hear about grassroots theatre, comedy, and the thriving music scene which is pulling creatives to the south west from across the country. PRESENTER: Elle Osili-Wood PRODUCER: Julian May PHOTO: Ralph Fiennes on stage in Four Quartets PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Humphrey
17/11/21·42m 14s

Céline Sciamma on her film Petite Maman, author Sarah Moss on The Fell, diversity in folk arts

Céline Sciamma’s last film, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, won awards worldwide after its release in 2019. Now the French filmmaker is back with Petite Maman – a meditative film set in the French countryside in which an eight year old girl, while helping her parents clear her mother’s family home, meets a mysterious girl of the same age in the woods. Less than a year since the UK emerged from lockdown, Sarah Moss has captured the experience of the pandemic in her new novel. The Fell follows a mother and son self-isolating and the fall-out when being confined to the house becomes too much to bear. Many sea shanties, it turns out, have their roots in African-American work songs. Singers, dancers and academics Angeline Morrison and Fay Hield discuss diversity in the folk arts and how their new projects will widen this. PRESENTER: Tom Sutcliffe PRODUCER: Olivia Skinner PHOTO: Céline Sciamma CREDIT: Claire Mathon
16/11/21·42m 23s

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Climate Fiction, Kayleigh Llewellyn

Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his debut as film director with a cinematic retelling of the stage musical - tick, tick…Boom! The film stars Andrew Garfield as a musical theatre composer desperate to succeed in his chosen field before his 30th birthday. In the aftermath of COP 26, with progress made but pledges watered down, how should fiction respond to climate change? Omar El Akkad, journalist and author of American War and Dr Lisa Garforth, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Newcastle, discuss whether utopia or dystopia is more in tune with our times and more helpful in a climate emergency. And, as it returns for a second series writer of the BBC Three comedy drama In My Skin, Kayleigh Llewellyn, tells Samira about how to strike the balance between comedy and tragedy in telling the story of a family beset by mental health issues. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Simon Richardson
15/11/21·42m 15s

Tori Amos performs, The Courtauld Gallery reopening and Dopesick series reviewed, Heidi Stephens live blogs

Tori Amos plays live and tells presenter Tom Sutcliffe about going from rock bottom to renewal in her lockdown album conceived on the Cornish coast, Ocean to Ocean. The Courtauld Gallery in London, renowned in particular for its collection of Impressionist art, reopens after a major 3-year refurbishment. Reviewers Waldemar Januszczak and Subhadra Das join Tom to assess the refreshed setting. They’ll also be watching new series Dopesick, starring Michael Keaton and Rosario Dawson and directed by Barry Levinson, a drama about the impact of OxyContin on a small mining town in the Eastern US. And Heidi Stephens who liveblogs Strictly Come Dancing for The Guardian joins Front Row to talk about the joy of sharing with an online community and how to get it right – fast. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson Photo: Tori Amos Photo credit: Desmond Murray
11/11/21·42m 17s

Art in Shetland, Timothy Ogene, Sharon Heal and Paul McCartney

For many years Shetlanders with ambitions to become artists had to leave to train and work. Not any longer, and young artists are also returning to the islands. Jen Stout reports on the ancient and modern arts in Shetland. Nigerian novelist Timothy Ogene tells Kirsty about the experiences that led him to write Seesaw, his satirical novel about the transatlantic creative writing industry. Fresh from the final day of the Museums Association annual conference, the organisation’s Director, Sharon Heal, joins Front Row to discuss the subjects currently occupying those working in the museum sector, and that will impact those who visit museums. And Paul McCartney's final journey Inside the Songs with You Tell Me. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Julian May Production Coordinator: Lizzie Harris
10/11/21·42m 15s

Venice and climate change, the story that inspired Dostoevsky, Dean Stockwell remembered

The unique cultural heritage of Venice is under threat from increasingly frequent flooding and rising sea levels. Anna Somers Cocks OBE, founding editor of the Art Newspaper and Fellow of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, signed a letter appealing to the Italian Prime Minister to safeguard the city, on the eve of COP 26. She’s joined by Francesco da Mosto, Venetian architect and author, to tell us what’s at stake in the World Heritage Site he calls home. In his new book Kevin Birmingham investigates the true story that inspired Crime and Punishment. Marking the 200th anniversary of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s birth Birmingham joins Russian literature specialist Sarah Hudspith and Samira Ahmed on Front Row to consider Dostoevsky’s continuing relevance today. Paul McCartney explores the inspiration behind Pretty Boys, a song from his most recent album McCartney Three. The Hollywood actor Dean Stockwell, best known for his roles in Blue Velvet and Quantum Leap, has died. Film critic Tim Robey remembers some of his outstanding moments on screen. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Simon Richardson Photo: High water in St. Mark's Square, Venice (stock photo) Credit: Getty Images
09/11/21·42m 21s

Jeymes Samuel on The Harder They Fall, author Sofi Oksanen, John Gilchrist of UK Theatre, Paul McCartney

British filmmaker, singer-songwriter and music producer Jeymes Samuel AKA The Bullitts discusses his new film The Harder They Fall. Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen on her new novel Dog Park. Jon Gilchrist, Executive Director of Home in Manchester and incoming president of UK Theatre, on the state of regional theatre this autumn. And in the latest instalment of our series Inside the Songs, Paul McCartney remembers the loss he felt after the murder of John Lennon in 1980 and how he reconnected with his friend in the song Here, Today. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Photo: A still from the film The Harder They Fall (L to R): Regina King as Trudy Smith, Idris Elba as Rufus Buck, Lakeith Stanfield as Cherokee Bill Photo credit: David Lee/ Netflix 2021
09/11/21·42m 19s

Spencer, Alan Cumming and Paul McCartney

Alan Cumming discusses his autobiography, Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life. This volume chronicles some of his career highs after Hollywood came calling, including working with Stanley Kubrick, filming with the Spice Girls and holidaying with Gore Vidal. Front Row critics Alexandra Shulman and Leila Latif review this week's cultural highlights including Diana biopic Spencer, Israeli drama Valley of Tears and discuss the ABBA revival ahead of the release their new album Voyage. And Paul McCartney describes the painful conflict with John Lennon that inspired his song Too Many People. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Laura Northedge
04/11/21·42m 19s

The 2021 Booker Prize Ceremony

Shortlisted authors Anuk Arudpragasam, Damon Galgut, Patricia Lockwood, Nadifa Mohamed, Richard Powers and Maggie Shipstead join Samira Ahmed live in Broadcasting House's Radio Theatre for the announcement of the winner of the 2021 Booker Prize. Last year's winner Douglas Stuart is in conversation with HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. And 30 years on from his historic Booker win, Ben Okri reflects on how the prize changed his life. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Simon Richardson
03/11/21·42m 19s

Little Amal, Anne Carson, Paul McCartney and The National Trust

Little Amal, a giant puppet of a refugee girl, will complete her epic journey from Gaziantep on the Turkey/Syria border to Manchester tomorrow. Theatre director David Lan discusses what the project has achieved. Euripides’ tragedy Herakles was first performed in 416BC. The poet Anne Carson’s new translation mentions contemporary artist Anselm Kiefer, an Airstream trailer and a lawnmower. The text is torn and pasted, scattered along with drawings. Carson talks Tom Sutcliffe about her version, titled H of H Playbook. On Saturday, the National Trust held its annual general meeting where members expressed their concerns and hopes for the organisation which has been rather embattled in recent months. The art historian, Bendor Grosvenor, and the editor of The Oldie, Harry Mount, join Front Row to discuss whether the National Trust needs to pause or steam ahead with its current plans. Paul McCartney discusses Junk, a song he originally wrote for the Beatles in 1968, but which was first released on his debut solo album McCartney in 1970.
02/11/21·42m 21s

Armando Iannucci, Booker shortlisted author Maggie Shipstead, Paul McCartney on Penny Lane

Meet the anagrammatical Orbis Rex, Queen Dido, Blind Dom’nic, as they battle a wet and withered bat from Wuhan in Front Row as Armando Iannucci, Samira Ahmed’s guest, reads from and talks about Pandemonium, his new mock-heroic epic poem written in response to the Covid pandemic and the times we live in. The sights and sounds of Liverpool are evoked as Paul remembers the 1967 Beatles single Penny Lane. In the last of our Booker Prize Book Groups, listeners put their questions to shortlisted author Maggie Shipstead, whose novel Great Circle tells the story of Marian Graves, a pioneering female pilot in the first half of the 20th century, and in a separate strand in the present, Hadley Baxter, an actress playing Marian in a Hollywood movie. Daniel Clark is one of ten young poets from around the world chosen through a Poetry Society competition to perform work that addresses the climate crisis at Cop 26. He reads, and talks about poetry as activism. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May
01/11/21·42m 16s

Passing film, Colin in Black and White, Booker Prize book group on Bewilderment, Paul McCartney

Critics Michael Donkor and Jan Asante review actor Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut feature film Passing and the series Colin in Black and White, about former NFL player Colin Kaepernick. In the fifth of our Booker Prize Book Groups, listeners put their questions to author Richard Powers, shortlisted for the second time for his novel Bewilderment. He describes it as a story about the anxiety of family life on a damaged planet as well as a kind of ‘planetary romance’. Paul McCartney offers candid insight to the creation of Got to Get You into My Life, in the latest instalment of our series Inside the Songs. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Simon Richardson Photo: Ruth Negga as Clare Bellew and Tessa Thompson as Irene "Reenie” Redfield in the film Passing Credit: Netflix
28/10/21·42m 24s

The reopening of the Hall for Cornwall, Paul McCartney on Eleanor Rigby and Booker Prize nominated author Nadifa Mohamed

Front Row visits Truro to report on the re-opening of the Hall for Cornwall after a 3 year, £26million refurbishment. The new 1300 auditorium complements the granite of the old building, and the Cornish landscape. And the opening show – the world premiere of the Fisherman’s Friends musical, of course. We hear from Matt Hemley, News Editor for The Stage, about the ongoing affect of Covid on theatre audiences. Paul McCartney tell us how he wrote Eleanor Rigby. And Nadifa Mohamed joins a group of Front Row listeners for our latest Booker Prize Book Group, discussing her novel The Fortune Men, about a racist miscarriage of justice in Cardiff's Tiger Bay in the 1950s. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May
27/10/21·42m 17s

Booker shortlisted novelist Patricia Lockwood, Science Museum director Ian Blatchford, Paul McCartney

Patricia Lockwood is the latest author to join our Booker Prize Book Groups. Three listeners will ask her about No One Is Talking About This, a novel that’s been described as “ferociously original”, exploring a relationship with the online world and how it changes when an incredibly moving event happens in real life. The Science Museum has come in for criticism after choosing Adani Group, a company involved with fossil fuels, to sponsor their new energy galleries. Sir Ian Blatchford, Director and Chief Executive of the Science Museum Group explains the thinking behind the partnership. As COP approaches, what is the art world doing to become more sustainable? Chris Garrard from Culture Unstained explains why they feel oil and fossil fuel sponsorship of the arts is a problem and Kate McGarry from the Galleries Climate Coalition discusses what they’re doing to try to fix the biggest problems. And we continue our new series, Inside the Songs, in which Paul McCartney talks about his life and song-writing through the prism of ten key lyrics. Today he offers an analysis of the song, Yesterday. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner
26/10/21·42m 14s

Paul McCartney, Paul Muldoon, Booker Prize Book Group on The Promise

In the first instalment of our new series, Inside the Songs, Paul McCartney talks about his life and song-writing through the prism of ten key lyrics, beginning with The Beatles’ classic All My Loving. Poet Paul Muldoon discusses working with Paul McCartney on his intimate and revealing new book, The Lyrics, and explains why he sees McCartney as a great literary figure. In the latest of our Booker Prize Book Groups, a panel of our listeners talk to the author Damon Galgut about his shortlisted novel The Promise, the story of a white South African family and a promise made to Salome, the black woman who works for them. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson Photo: Paul McCartney photographed by daughter Mary McCartney Photo credit: Mary McCartney
25/10/21·42m 20s

Booker Prize Book Group: Anuk Arudpragasam on A Passage North

Live magazine programme on the worlds of arts, literature, film, media and music
21/10/21·42m 21s

Bradford Postcard; Ron’s Gone Wrong; Re-directing a play

Producer-director Sarah Smith made her animation debut with the festive favourite, Arthur Christmas. Ten years on she’s back with Ron’s Gone Wrong, a warm-hearted romp with a robot and a critique of social media’s impact on young minds. For this week’s audio postcard, presenter and local boy Nick Ahad is in Bradford. He dons his hard hat to check out what’s happening at the famous art deco building, known as the Bradford Odeon, as it’s turned into a new cultural centre for live music. He also visits Kala Sangam, an intercultural arts centre established by two consultant doctors that provides a place for locals to try new arts and crafts and which supports local artists and arts organisations. And he meets one of those emerging local artists, playwright and actor Kamal Kaan. And how can theatre respond to a seismic event like the coronavirus pandemic, or the murder of George Floyd? Erica Whyman, Acting Artistic Director of The RSC and Roy Alexander Weise, joint Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, discuss the experience of returning to their respective productions of The Winter’s Tale and The Mountaintop with fresh eyes and renewed urgency. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Photo: Nick Ahad at The Bradford Odeon building site Photo credit: Mark Nicholson
21/10/21·42m 13s

BBC National Short Story Award and BBC Young Writers' Award winners

We announce the winners of the BBC National Short Story Award 2021 and the BBC Young Writers' Award 2021. Kirsty Lang is joined for the show by National Short Story Award judges James Runcie and Fiona Mozley and Young Writers' Award judges Katie Thistleton and Louise O'Neill. The BBC National Short Story Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. This year's shortlisted stories are ‘All the People Were Mean and Bad’ by Lucy Caldwell, ‘The Body Audit’ by Rory Gleeson, ‘Night Train’ by Georgina Harding, ‘Toadstone’ by Danny Rhodes and ‘Maykopsky District, Adyghe Oblast’ by Richard Smyth. Now in its seventh year, The BBC Young Writers’ Award with Cambridge University 2021 is open to all writers between the ages of 14 –18 years and was created to discover and inspire the next generation of writers. It is a cross-network collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and Radio 1. The 2021 BBC Young Writers’ Award shortlisted stories are ‘Fatigued’ by Luca Anderson-Muller, 18, from Belfast, ‘Another Boring Friday Night’ by Isabella Yeo Frank, 18, from London, ‘Super-Powder by Tabitha Rubens, 19, from London, ‘Blood and Water’ by Eleanor Ware, 17, from Bedfordshire and ‘Pomodoro (and Nasturtium Seeds) by Madeleine Whitmore, 16, from Bath. Kirsty also speaks to Denis Villeneuve about directing the movie remake of Dune, with a screenplay by Jon Spaihts, Villeneuve, and Eric Roth. It is the first of a planned two-part adaptation of the 1965 novel of the same name by Frank Herbert, Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Simon Richardson
19/10/21·43m 25s

Arinzé Kene on playing Bob Marley; Clare Norburn sings John Dowland; the first Working Class Writers Festival

Arinzé Kene talks to Samira Ahmed about playing Bob Marley in the new musical Get Up, StandUp! Singer Clare Norburn is live in the studio to perform a piece by 16th Century composer John Dowland and discuss her new play about Dowland, I, Spie. We discuss the inaugural Working Class Writers Festival taking place in Bristol this weekend with organiser Natasha Carthew and publisher Sarah Fortune. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner
18/10/21·42m 17s

The RIBA Stirling Prize for architecture, Succession, John Le Carré’s final novel, The London Film Festival

Front Row goes live to Coventry to announce the winner of the 2021 Riba Stirling Prize and discuss the shortlist with BBC Arts and Media correspondent David Sillito and architecture critic for the Guardian, Oliver Wainwright. Author Charlotte Philby and arts and books editor for Prospect Magazine Sameer Rahim join Tom Sutcliffe to review the new series of Succession and Silverview, John le Carré’s last novel. Film critic Hanna Flint fills us in on the highlights of this year’s London Film Festival. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Laura Northedge Photo: Brian Cox as Logan Roy in Succession Photo Credit: Sky Atlantic
14/10/21·42m 50s

Theatre director Emma Jordan, Omagh's Ulster American Folk Park and Ridley Scott

Theatre director Emma Jordan discusses The Border Game, a new play to mark 100 years of the Irish border. We hear from Omagh in County Tyrone as reporter Freya McClement explores a moving new installation by artist Paula Stokes at the Ulster American Folk Park. And director Ridley Scott talks to Samira about his new film The Last Duel starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Photo: Liz Fitzgibbon and Patrick McBrearty in The Border Game - photo credit Ciaran Bagnall
13/10/21·42m 20s

Suzan-Lori Parks, Owen Sheers, stolen artefacts and the portrayal of scientists

Suzan-Lori Parks, the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama on her play White Noise, which has its the UK premier tonight. Life is not so bad for four liberal friends, two couples, black with a white partner, until Leo has a run in with the cops and it all begins to unravel. The poet, playwright, and novelist, Owen Sheers, has written a new BBC One drama, The Trick. He talks to Samira about exploring what became known in 2009 as Climategate, when the emails of Professor Philip Jones, Director of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University, were hacked and doubt cast on the research into climate change. For Front Row’s regular Tuesday Arts Audit today we’re exploring ongoing debates around the questionable provenance of artefacts housed in some of the world’s most famous museums with Malia Politzer from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and Alexander Herman, Assistant Director of the Institute of Art and Law. How can broadening the representation of scientists on the page, screen and stage drive diversity among scientists and increase public trust in science itself? Andrea Sella, broadcaster and professor of chemistry at University College London and award-winning debut novelist Temi Oh join Samira live in the studio on Radio 4’s Day of the Scientist. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Kirsty McQuire
12/10/21·42m 23s

Joan Collins, Armistead Maupin and Verbatim Theatre

Joan Collins discusses her memoir My Unapologetic Diaries. Tales of the City author and activist Armistead Maupin on his national tour and why he has moved from his beloved San Francisco to live in the UK. Engineering Value - Scenes from the Grenfell Inquiry is a new play every word of which has been taken from what was said at that public inquiry. Directors Nick Kent and Nadia Fall consider the ethics of verbatim theatre and the different ways of creating it. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Olivia Skinner
11/10/21·42m 23s

Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah, Cush Jumbo's Hamlet, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage

Cush Jumbo’s long-awaited performance as Hamlet and debbie tucker green’s film ear for eye come under the critical gaze of Ekow Eshun, Vanessa Kisuule and Sarah Crompton. Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah has won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. He joins Front Row to discuss his work and how he feels about winning. The Poet Laureate Simon Armitage on his fresh and contemporary new translation of the classic poem The Owl and the Nightingale. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson Photo Credit: Helen Murray
07/10/21·42m 29s

The Arts in Aberystwyth, The Boy with Two Hearts in Cardiff and Welsh film director Craig Roberts

Broadcaster Huw Stephens sends an audio postcard from Aberystwyth, the small seaside town with the big arts centre mounting exhibitions and concerts, the National Library of Wales, the country's oldest University, a thriving bilingual music scene, one of the UK's leading comedy festivals and now - a film industry. The true story of one family’s journey from Afghanistan to Wales twenty one years ago is told on stage at Cardiff’s Millennium Centre this month. Tom hears from the writer of The Boy With Two Hearts, Hamed Amiri and musician Elaha Soroor about finding refuge and the freedom to make music. The British amateur golfer Maurice Flitcroft entertained fans globally and became the scourge of the golfing establishment when he passed himself off as a professional and entered the British Open in 1976. Now Welsh director Craig Roberts has made a new film about his life, starring Mark Rylance and Sally Philips. He explains why he wanted to make a film about a lovable sporting underdog. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Laura Northedge Production Co-ordinator: Lizzie Harris
06/10/21·42m 16s

Wole Soyinka, post-pandemic theatre, Michael Winterbottom

Wole Soyinka, the first African writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, tells Samira Ahmed about what impelled him to write his first new novel in five decades, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth. As theatres re-open across the UK and audiences return, are some theatre fans being left behind? We hear from Jamie Hale, an award-winning theatre director and playwright with a disability, and Richard Misek from the University of Kent, who is investigating the impact of digital arts on audiences. Film director Michael Winterbottom shares insights from his conversations with fellow filmmakers, from Ken Loach to Andrea Arnold and from Lynn Ramsay to Steve McQueen, about the challenges British directors face in getting independent British films made. Michael is joined by the debut feature filmmaker Cathy Brady to discuss what it takes to get a film on the big or small screen. PRESENTER: Samira Ahmed PRODUCER: Simon Richardson Photo: Wole Soyinka Photo credit: Mr TAIWO OLUSOLA-JOHNSON (TOJ Concepts)
05/10/21·42m 20s

Hilary Mantel, Lianne La Havas, Candice Carty Williams, Kieran Hurley

In tonight's new look, 45 minute long Front Row... Hilary Mantel talks about turning her 874 page novel, The Mirror and the Light, the third volume in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, into a play of just a couple of hours. Kieran Hurley on The Enemy, his adaptation of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People for the National Theatre of Scotland. Lianne La Havas joins us live in the studio to perform a track from her self-titled Ivor Novello winning album. And Candice Carty Williams, author of the besteller, Queenie, on writing her first novella for young adults, Empress and Aniya. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May
04/10/21·42m 15s

No Time To Die, Soul Train, Karl Ove Knausgaard

The new 007 film No Time To Die has had its release pushed back and back and back due to Covid. But now it’s finally here with Daniel Craig playing James Bond for the final time. Critical responses have been mixed, what will our reviewers, Charlie Higson -writer of the Young Bond novels – and Naima Khan – who’s never seen a Bond film before – make of it? We’ll also preview Ridley Road a BBC historical drama series written by Sarah Solemani, about a young Jewish woman who fights against an emerging neo-Nazi group in 1960s East London. 1971 was an important year in African-American culture. It was the year that saw the cinema release of Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, and Gordon Park’s Shaft. It was also the year that saw the national launch of Soul Train – the music show that featured the big Soul stars of the day, hosted by the avuncular Don Cornelius who encouraged the audience of young African-Americans to dance and celebrate themselves for all to see. Fifty years on, music Journalist, Jacqueline Springer, assesses the significance of Soul Train. Best selling Norwegian writer of My Struggle Karl Ove Knausgaard talks to Tom Sutcliffe about his new novel The Morning Star. During one long summer’s night in August, nine people are leading their usual live, when a huge star appears in the Norwegian sky above them.
01/10/21·41m 21s

Dave Grohl, Jimmy Savile

Widely known as the nicest guy in rock, Dave Grohl has written a memoir ‘The Storyteller’ documenting his life in the rock and roll business, from early days sleeping in the tour van with Scream, to the moment that inspired him to return to music post-Nirvana, to performing at the White House. It is family and music that has kept him grounded, as well as seeing the toll the dark glamour of a rock and roll life can take on a person. Now he is unashamedly earnest about his love of music and love of life. He tells Nick Ahad about how he feels performing in front of thousands, his ‘pinch-me’ moments, and the magic that happens between musicians. As the tenth anniversary of the death of disgraced celebrity Jimmy Savile approaches, there's a slew of dramas and documentaries being prepared for broadcast. Playwright and journalist Jonathan Maitland wrote his own Jimmy Savile drama - An Audience with Jimmy Savile - in 2015. He joins Front Row to discuss how to approach dramatizing Savile. Presented by Nick Ahad Produced by Ekene Akalawu Studio Engineer - Carwyn Griffith Production Co-ordinator - Caroline Dey
30/09/21·28m 22s

David Chase, Laura Lomas, Betty Campbell statue

American screenwriter, show-runner, director, and producer David Chase is best known for writing and producing the HBO drama The Sopranos which aired for six seasons between 1999 and 2007. He talks to Tom about why he's bringing back Michael Imperioli for The Many Saints Of Newark. Gary Raymond, editor of Wales Art Review, joins us to discuss the unveiling of the statue of the Welsh, black head teacher and heroine, Betty Campbell. Many great playwrights - including William Shakespeare - have written works to be performed at The Globe Theatre on the banks of The Thames. And now 400 years since the venue last had a playwright in residence, there’s a new play, Metamorphoses, written by a team of young writers, making its premiere. We speak with Laura Lomas about creating new work for such an illustrious stage. Also with Simeon Miller, Candle Consultant for the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – recreating pre-electric stage lighting for modern productions. And Danish artist Jens Haaning was commissioned to make a work for the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, and was paid. He as delivered an empty picture frame as says this is a conceptual art word titled Take the Money and Run. How does this latest scam compare with other examples of audacious art? Tom Sutcliffe talks to art critic Louisa Buck. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May Main image: Michael Gandolfini (Left) as the young Tony Soprano with Alessandro Nivolo as his "uncle" Dickie Moltisanti . Image credit: Barry Wetcher/ © 2021 Warner Bros Entertainment Inc
29/09/21·28m 58s

Comedian Njambi McGrath, Turner Prize shortlist review, 25 Years of Buena Vista Social Club

Kenyan British Comedian Njambi McGrath’s work focuses on identity politics, Brexit, colonialism, and race. She joins Kirsty to discuss her 2019 show, Accidental Coconut which opens at the Soho Theatre next week, and her new Radio 4 podcast series Njambi McGrath: Becoming Njambi. Controversy always rages over The Turner Prize. This year not a single artist has been shortlisted. Not one! Instead there are five art collectives, from all over the UK, showing work at the Turner Prize Exhibition which opens tomorrow at the Herbert Gallery in Coventry. The critic Zarina Muhammad reviews the show for Front Row. Kenyan British Comedian Njambi McGrath’s work focuses on identity politics, Brexit, colonialism, and race. She joins Kirsty to discuss her 2019 show, Accidental Coconut which opens at the Soho Theatre next week, and her new Radio 4 podcast series Njambi McGrath: Becoming Njambi. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Oliver Jones
28/09/21·28m 47s

Arthur C. Clarke Award winner, K-pop band BTS address the UN and new film, The Man Who Sold His Skin

Front Row announces this year’s winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction and Samira Ahmed interviews the winner. They are joined by Clarke Award judge Stewart Hotston to discuss the problem of diversity in the science fiction genre. K-pop group BTS opened the UN general debate last week with a speech and performance, which was streamed live by over a million people around the world. What’s the impact of a the biggest band in the world taking this political stage, and what does it say about the music industry? Wim Delvoye’s 2008 artwork, Tim, is an an all-over body tattoo inked on the torso of former Zurich tattoo parlour owner Tim Steiner. The skin of his back, with the tattoo will which join the collection of a German art lover after Steiner's death. This inspired Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania's new film. The Man Who Sold His Skin tells the story of Sam, a Syrian man who agrees to have his back tattooed by one of the world’s most illustrious contemporary artists so he can to travel to Europe and reconnect with his past love, Abeer. Leila Latif joins Samira to review the film. Main image: BTS at BBC R1. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Harry Parker
27/09/21·28m 32s

Dame Elizabeth Blackadder, Megan Swann, Richard Smyth, The Story of Looking.

Megan Swann is the first ever female President of The Magic Circle, and the youngest ever President at just 28 years old. She tells Tom how she got into magic, and how she uses magic to share an environmental message. Richard Smyth is one of the five authors shortlisted for the £15,000, 16th BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University. He tells us what his short story, ‘Maykopsky District, Adyghe Oblast’ and his 2008 appearance on Mastermind have in common. On what would have been her 90th birthday Front Row celebrates the work of the artist Dame Elizabeth Blackadder who died last month. Susan Mansfield, the writer and art critic for The Scotsman, examines one of her paintings - Cat and Flowers (1981) from the Fleming Collection Award winning film maker Mark Cousins’s new film The Story of Looking is a reflection by the film maker as he waits for an operation to restore his vision on the powerful role that the visual experience plays in our individual and collective lives. Playwright Mark Ravenhill and writer on film Sophie Monks Kaufman give their take on the film, and react to the news of the deaths of filmmakers Roger Michell and Melvin van Peebles. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker
24/09/21·41m 30s

The Contains Strong Language Festival

On 6 October 1941 “The Coventry Telegraph” reported that women of Coventry had sent a message of support to the women of Stalingrad. And so began a relationship that became formalised by twin city status in 1844. Coventry now has 26 twin cities and those connections are celebrated in a new project, Twin Cities: Postcard Poems which paired ten poets from Coventry with poets from across the world. The resulting correspondence led to new poems being written and we hear from two of the poets involved: Emile Lauren Jones – the newly announced Coventry Poet Laureate - and David Morley. Boff Whalley came to public attention as part of the exuberant pop group – Chumbawumba. He joins Front Row to discuss the Belgrade Theatre’s new musical, Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency. It’s a show that he’s written the music for, and which is based on a true housing story that happened in London in the 1970s, Members of the cast of The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency perform one of the songs in the musical - B.N.V.A. R The Twin Cities: Postcard poems have also been collected into a new book – To Coventry by Sun. Poet Jane Commane is the editor of the new collection and as well as the organiser of the Twin Cities: Postcard poems project. She talks to Nick about Coventry’s multi-twinned status and how correspondence from abroad can help us to see our homes afresh. The distinguished 19th century African-American actor, writer, and theatre manager, Ira Aldridge, makes an appearance in the world premiere of a new play, This Little Relic, set in present-day Coventry. The writer and actor Karla Marie Sweet, has written the play and discusses why she wanted to bring Ira Aldridge back to the future. Presented by Nick Ahad Studio Engineer: John Cole Produced by Ekene Akalawu
23/09/21·29m 21s

Spiers and Boden, music streaming economics, Calvin Kasulke, Danny Rhodes

There's some excitement in the world of English traditional music: Spiers and Boden have reunited, recorded a new album and are embarking on a month long tour. Squeezebox player John Spiers met fiddle player Jon Boden in a pub session twenty years ago and quickly established themselves as a duo playing English music, winning a devoted following and several awards. They formed the hugely successful 11-piece folk big band Bellowhead, but separated in 2014 and didn't play together again until this year. Spiers and Boden talk about their new album, Fallow Ground, explain how they find old tunes, and write new ones. And they play two tunes inspired by ancient English places. A DCMS Report has called for a “complete reset” of the music industry following an investigation into the economics of music streaming services. Reporter Melanie Abbott describes the impact that streaming and new forms of music distribution have had on the earnings of artists and why the Government have accepted the recommendation to refer major music groups to the Competition and Markets Authority. Although written before the pandemic and the rise of working from home culture, Calvin Kasulke’s novel, Several People are Typing is set entirely on the Slack chat of staff working at a small advertising agency. He joins us to discuss how our online versions of ourselves can interact with our physical lives, as well as the complexities of writing as an online bot. We talk to another of the authors shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2021. Danny Rhodes’s story ‘Toadstone’ tells the story of a man returning to the village of his childhood, and looking to his own future. Danny Rhodes is a novelist and a lecturer in creative writing. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson
22/09/21·28m 28s

We announce the winner of the 2021 Art Fund Museum of the Year

We announce the winner of the 2021 Art Fund Museum of the Year, the world’s largest museum prize. Front Row broadcasts a special programme from London's Science Museum, reflecting on the resilience and imagination of museums throughout the pandemic. John Wilson will be joined by judges Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate; artist Thomas J Price, Lead of Strategic Projects at Google Suhair Khan and broadcaster Edith Bowman. As well as Director of Art Fund Jenny Waldman. We'll also be exploring the future of museums and galleries with Tilly Blyth from the Science Museum and Sandra Shakespeare from the British Black Museum project. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Simon Richardson
21/09/21·42m 25s
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