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Front Row

Front Row

By BBC Radio 4

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


James Graham on Boys from the Blackstuff, and are maestros behaving badly?

Alan Bleasdale’s Boys From The Blackstuff is widely regarded as television drama at its best with a cultural footprint that led to the phrase “Gi’s a job” being heard up and down the country. Forty years on from the first broadcast, James Graham, known for plays such as This House, about the UK’s hung parliament of the 1970s, and Dear England about the England football team, has adapted Alan’s screenplays for a stage production at the Royal Court theatre in Liverpool. He discusses why now was the right time to revisit and remodel. Chester Contemporary is a new visual arts biennial curated by artist Ryan Gander who was born and raised in Chester and has created a citywide event that features some of the visual art world’s biggest names. Front Row visited Chester on the opening weekend to talk to Turner Prize-nominated artist Fiona Banner, emerging artist William Lang, Chester native Tim Foxon whose art pops up all over the city centre, and Turner Prize-winning artist Elizabeth Price, about their creations for the cathedral city. The renowned conductor John Eliot Gardiner has cancelled all his appearances for the rest of this year after allegedly slapping and punching a singer backstage after a performance. He is far from the only conductor linked to reportedly bad behaviour. But as society puts conductors on a cultural as well as physical podium, and addresses them as ‘maestro’, perhaps such behaviour isn’t surprising. Perhaps, too, marshalling a large orchestra requires dictatorial leadership. Igor Toronyi-Lalic, music critic of The Spectator, and the conductor Ben Gernon join Nick Ahad to discuss how conductors conduct themselves, and how they should. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
27/09/23·42m 35s

Front Row hosts the BBC National Short Story Award Ceremony

The announcement of the winners of the BBC National Short Story Award and the BBC Young Writers’ Award with Cambridge University, live from the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House in London. Joining presenter Tom Sutcliffe to celebrate and interrogate the short story form are the broadcaster and NSSA chair of judges Reeta Chakrabarti, alongside fellow judges and writers Jessie Burton, Roddy Doyle and Okechukwu Nzelu. The shortlisted stories and authors in alphabetical order are: 'The Storm' by Nick Mulgrew, 'It’s Me' by K Patrick, 'Guests' by Cherise Saywell, 'Churail' by Kamila Shamsie and 'Comorbidities' by Naomi Wood. The BBC Young Writers Award, for writers aged between 14 and 18, will be announced by the BBC Radio One presenter Katie Thistleton, who’ll be joined on stage by fellow judge, the psychotherapist, writer and rugby player Alexis Caught. The shortlisted stories and authors in alphabetical order are: ‘Fridays’ by Evie Alam, 16, from South Shields, ‘Jessie’s God’ by Elissa Jones, 16, from Merseyside, ‘Creation’ by Daisy Kaye, 16, from Nottingham, ‘Skipper’ by Iona McNeish, 17, from Glasgow and ‘The Wordsmith’ by Atlas Weyland Eden, 18, from Devon. All of the stories are available to listen to on BBC Sounds. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Nicki Paxman
26/09/23·42m 12s

Philip Barantini on Boiling Point, The Archers cast on Lark Rise to Ambridge

As the cast of the Archers star in a new adaptation of Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford, Samira is joined by actors Louiza Patikas, who plays Helen in the Archers, and Susie Riddell, who plays Tracy, to discuss the two-part Radio 4 drama, now called Lark Rise to Ambridge. Actor and chef turned director Philip Barantini joins Samira to discuss making the sequel for BBC television to his BAFTA-nominated, one-take film, Boiling Point, set in the febrile atmosphere of a high-end restaurant kitchen. An ambitious series of spaces at the National Gallery of Scotland opens this week to display Scottish art created in the last 150 years. BBC Scotland’s arts correspondent Pauline McLean visits the new galleries and explains what the building and the works tell us about Scottish identity and how Scottish artists have been representing their country and people. The Writers Guild of America has reached a tentative deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios, streaming services and producers, to end the strike by writers over pay and AI. The strike has had an impact on film and television production here and Lisa Holdsworth, Chair of the Writers Guild of Great Britain, explains the significance of the settlement for the UK. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner
25/09/23·42m 38s

Live from the Contains Strong Language festival

Front Row opens this year’s Contain’s Strong Language festival live in Leeds. Nick Ahad talks to Detectorists star Toby Jones about his stage adaptation of Italo Calvino’s If On A Winters Night A Traveller, to the festival poet and rapper Testament about 50 Years of Hip Hop and the choreographer and artist Katja Heitmann about turning the everyday gestures of Leeds citizens into art. Plus poetry from the newly appointed Yorkshire Young Laureate.
21/09/23·43m 39s

Marina Abramovic and The Long Shadow reviewed, Dmitry Glukhovsky's The White Factory

Writer Joan Smith and art historian Katy Hessel review a retrospective exhibition of the performance artist Marina Abramovic at the Royal Academy and a new ITV drama about the Yorkshire ripper, The Long Shadow. The Russian journalist, novelist and now playwright Dmitry Glukhovsky talks about his stage drama The White Factory telling the story of the ghetto in Łódź, Poland during the second world war. In it he explores the corrosive nature of compromise as the Jews are forced to choose which amongst them will be sent to the death camps and which will survive. He also talks to Tom about his exile from his homeland having spoken out against the war in Ukraine. And Front Row celebrates of the centenary the publication of Harmonium, the first collection of poetry by the American Wallace Stevens. John Lightbody reads The Emperor of Ice Cream. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May Marina Abramovic 1:10 The White Factory 13:05 Wallace Stevens 24:42 The Long Shadow 26:31
20/09/23·42m 26s

Carlos Acosta on the Black Sabbath ballet; Birmingham arts funding; the business of British fashion

Birmingham Royal Ballet is celebrating the city’s pioneering heavy metal band in a new production, Black Sabbath – the Ballet. Tom Sutcliffe talks to the director of BRB Carlos Acosta about how the marriage of apparently conflicting cultures came about. He also hears from the composer and arranger Christopher Austin on adapting the music for contemporary choreography and the dramaturg Richard Thomas about creating a narrative structure for an abstract dance form. Today it was announced that Michael Gove has appointed commissioners to take over Birmingham Council. To find out how this might affect arts organisations in the city, Tom speaks to the Birmingham-based journalist and broadcaster Adrien Goldberg. In our occasional series on cultural bugbears we hear from the author and Guardian journalist Tim Dowling. As London Fashion Week draws to a close, we put the business of the British fashion industry under the spotlight with the Yorkshire-based designer and Professor of Fashion Matty Bovan, the New York Times fashion journalist Elizabeth Paton and the designer, academic and curator Andrew Ibi, whose exhibition The Missing Thread: Untold Stories of Black British Fashion is about to open at Somerset House. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Emma Wallace Black Sabbath Ballet 1:18 Birmingham Funding 17:20 Immersive Theatre 22:18 Fashion 28:12
19/09/23·42m 39s

Jane Austen fashion, poet Daljit Nagra, musician Alice Phoebe Lou performs live

From the enduring legacy of Colin Firth’s wet shirt to the colourful extravagance of Bridgerton, costumes have always been central in period dramas. But how much does adaptation match up to reality when it comes to regency fashion? To discuss this - and what’s revealed by the closet of the real-life Austen - Samira is joined by Hilary Davidson, author of ‘Jane Austen’s Wardrobe’, and the award-winning costume designer Dinah Collin. Radio 4’s first poet-in-residence, Daljit Nagra, discusses his new poetry collection, indiom, set in an imaginary workshop where Indic heritage poets discuss the future of poetry and the kind of language(s) they should write in in these post-colonial times. It's a wide ranging mock heroic epic, with references ranging from Shakespeare to The Simpsons, written in Daljit Nagra's innovative, idiosyncratic and exuberant style. The South African singer songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou discusses her music, which has been described as a melding of folk, jazz, electronic and dance music. Her song ‘She’ was shortlisted for the Oscar for best original song in 2018 for the documentary film Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. She performs live. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Corinna Jones Jane Austen Fashion 1:03 Daljit Nagra 17:28 Alice Phoebe Lou 28:39
18/09/23·42m 25s

Paul Simon and Charlie Mackesy, the V&A’s Chanel exhibition and author Kamila Shamsie.

When the artist Charlie Mackesy, best-known for his book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, heard Paul Simon’s most recent album, the acclaimed Seven Psalms, he was inspired to create a sketch for each ‘psalm’. They both join us on Front Row. In the last of our interviews with all the authors shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award we talk to Kamila Shamsie about her story Churail. Gabrielle Chanel opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and Das Rheingold, the first part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle opens at the Royal Opera House in London. Head of Fashion at the Telegraph, Lisa Armstrong and writer Philip Hensher join us to review them both. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Olivia Skinner Paul Simon 1:10 Chanel 11:12 Kamila Shamsie 22:04 Das Rheingold 30:52
14/09/23·46m 54s

Katherine Rundell on Impossible Creatures, the rise of crafts on social media

Katherine Rundell on her new children’s fantasy book, Impossible Creatures. It's a story of two worlds, ours and one where the animals of myth and legend still survive, and thrive. A fantasy which does not shirk from dark themes, and was inspired by the metaphysical poetry of John Donne. The next finalist in the National Short Story Award is South African writer Nick Mulgrew . His story, The Storm, is set in suburban Durban describes a toxic family dynamic against a backdrop of the dramatic and dangerous thunderstorms he remembers from his own childhood. Traditional crafts are associated with homeworking: individuals squirrelled away in studios producing things that end up in galleries or shops. But social media has completely changed that for makers - whose films can attract the interest of the public for reasons as varied as teaching, selling, relaxing or even ASMR, and which at the same time open that craft and maker to a wider world. We talk to two makers – Florian Gadsby, a potter who sells online to his 1.39m followers on YouTube and 788 thousand on Instagram, and Marion Deuchars, illustrator of 20 books, who also has an online audience of thousands. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Kirsty McQuire Katherine Rundell 1:00 Crafts 14:36 Nick Mulgrew 31:34
13/09/23·42m 16s

The impact of the Hollywood strikes, author K Patrick, the iconic chant from the Halo video game

Front Row looks at the impact of the Hollywood strikes. Film critic Leila Latif, Equity UK’s Secretary General Paul Fleming, and Lisa Holdsworth, screenwriter and Chair of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain explain the impact and the knock on effect on UK film and TV. The theme to the video game Halo has become one of the best known pieces of game music ever released. Earlier this year fans from around the world were invited to join a virtual choir of thousands to sing the iconic chant. The BBC's Will Chalk signed up to take part. Author K Patrick, talks about their short story, It’s Me, which has been nominated for this year’s BBC National Short Story Award. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May Hollywood Strikes 01:09 Halo Chant 19:56 K Patrick 34:16
12/09/23·42m 17s

The British Museum’s missing gems, a drinking game drama, National Short Story Award

Front Row gets an exclusive look at some of the treasures confirmed as missing by the British Museum, as art dealer, academic and whistleblower Dr Ittai Gradel, who says he bought them in good faith on eBay, returns them. Deborah Frances White, the comedian and writer behind the hit podcast The Guilty Feminist, joins Samira to discuss her debut play, Never Have I Ever. Named after the confessional drinking game, at its heart is an explosive dinner party dissecting identity politics and infidelity, running at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester. And we hear how writer Cherise Saywell transformed the making of a cup of coffee by a refugee neighbour into a special act of hospitality in her shortlisted National Short Story Award tale, Guests. Missing Treasures 1:22 Deborah Frances White 16:05 Cherise Saywell 28:47 Fake Encores 37:29
11/09/23·42m 21s

Lise Davidsen, film Past Lives and Black Atlantic: power, people, resistance exhibition

Presenter Samira Ahmed is joined by the broadcaster and Chair of Judges Reeta Chakrabarti to announce the shortlist of the 2023 BBC National Short Story Awards with Cambridge University. Front Row will interview each of the shortlisted authors in the coming weeks, ahead of hosting the award ceremony live from the BBC Radio Theatre on 26th September. Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen has been described as possessing “a once-in-a-generation-voice.” Samira spoke to her between performances as Elizabeth of Valois in Verdi’s Don Carlo at the Royal Opera House, looking ahead to her starring role in the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and the BBC on Saturday. Our reviewers Alayo Akinkugbe, art historian and founder of the Instagram platform A Black History of Art, and Amon Warmann, Contributing Editor of Empire magazine and co-host of the Fade To Black podcast review the exhibition “Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance” at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, which asks questions about Cambridge’s role in the trade of enslaved people and how related objects and artworks have influenced our history and perspectives. We also review “Past Lives” from South Korean director Celine Song, about two childhood friends, Nora and Hae Sung, who are separated when Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, with Nora married to an American, they are reunited in New York for a week as they consider what might have been and perhaps still could be. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Corinna Jones NSSA Shortlist 00:57 Fitzwilliam Museum review 03:57 Naomi Wood 13:25 Past Lives review 21:14 Lise Davidsen 30:02
07/09/23·42m 21s

Sir Ken Dodd exhibition; RIBA Stirling Prize for architecture shortlist; A Life on the Farm documentary

Curator Karen O’Rourke, and the actor and writer Arthur Bostrom discuss Sir Ken Dodd - the man behind the the tickling stick, the Diddymen, and the new exhibition, Happiness! at the Museum of Liverpool. The Stirling Prize shortlist, the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize, was announced today. Architecture critic Oliver Wainwright and Catherine Croft, Director of the Twentieth Century Society, discuss what this year’s shortlist reveals about the state of architecture in Great Britain. When his grandfather died in rural Somerset, filmmaker Oscar Harding inherited a bizarre home movie video made by a neighbour, Charles Carson. Harding was intrigued and inspired by it and talks to Nick about his new debut documentary, A Life on The Farm, which reflects on Carson’s life and work. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu Happiness: 1:28 Stirling Prize: 16:32 A Life on the Farm: 31:54
06/09/23·42m 26s

Stephen Lawrence anniversary drama; small publishers; Pablo Larrain on his film El Conde; RAAC in theatres

The Architect - a play marking the 30th anniversary of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence - will take place on a double-decker bus travelling the route on which Stephen was attacked in 1993. Presenter Allan Little speaks to the director Matthew Xia and one of the playwrights, Bola Agbaje. Small independent publishers appear to be on a winning streak - last year several prestigious literary prizes were won by small presses, despite the inflationary pressures that have put some out of business. To discuss what’s behind the rise - and fall - of small publishers, Allan is joined by Natania Jansz of Sort of Books, Valerie Brandes of Jacaranda Books, and Kevin Duffy of Bluemoose Books. Chilean film director Pablo Larrain has switched from biopics on Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana to create a world in which dictator General Pinochet is a vampire - he talks to Alan about his new film, El Conde. Schools are being closed because of the discovery in their buildings of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC), which can crumble and cause sudden collapse. It was used from the 1950s to the 1980s, not only in schools and hospitals, but also in theatres and venues. Already, two theatres and a concert hall have had to close. Matthew Hemley of The Stage newspaper has been investigating and discusses the implications. Presenter: Allan Little Producer: Julian May The Architect 05:59 Small Publishers 14:56 El Conde 29:50
06/09/23·42m 18s

Anna Wintour on Vogue World; Bloomsbury Group fashion; BBC Singers conductor Sofi Jeannin

Dame Anna Wintour, Global Editorial Director of Vogue, tells Samira Ahmed about Vogue World, the magazine’s fashion and performance spectacular which makes its UK debut this month at the start of London Fashion Week. You may know the early 1900s Bloomsbury Group for its art and philosophy, but the collective was also in the vanguard of sartorial revolution. In the studio to discuss its impact on fashion are writer Charlie Porter, author of Bring No Clothes: Bloomsbury and the Philosophy of Fashion, and British-Turkish fashion designer Erdem Moralıoğlu. The Swedish-French conductor of the BBC Singers, Sofi Jeannin, joins Samira to discuss the choir's range, reputation and morale after a period of uncertainty over its future. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Paul Waters
04/09/23·42m 21s

Front Row reviews new British film Scrapper, French writer director Louis Garrel

Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and Mickey-Jo Boucher discuss A Mirror, a new play by Sam Holcroft about staging a drama in a country where state censorship controls the arts. It stars Trainspotting's Jonny Lee Miller. They’ll also look at Charlotte Regan’s film Scrapper about a young girl who is left living alone after her mother dies, then her father turns up. What happens next? Many will know Louis Garrel from his role as Professor Bhaer in Greta Gerwig’s film Little Women but he is also an accomplished filmmaker in his own right. As his new film, The Innocent, opens in the UK, after multiple César Award nominations and wins for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress, he discusses what it’s like to move from writing, directing and starring in his own films to acting in films by other directors. 01:42 A Mirror Review 12:57 Louis Garrel Interview 28:55 Scrapper Review
24/08/23·42m 29s

Authors Helen Macdonald and Sin Blaché, Stewart Lee on Macbeth, musician Connie Converse rediscovered

Authors Helen Macdonald and Sin Blaché are live in the studio to discuss their new queer sci-fi thriller Prophet. Theatre director Wils Wilson has invited the comedian Stewart Lee to rewrite the Porter’s scene in a new RSC production of Macbeth. Wils and Stewart join Samira Ahmed to discuss drawing on stand-up comedy, pantomime and the politics of today to refresh Shakespeare's comic relief. And we rediscover the American singer-songwriter Connie Converse, fifty years after she disappeared without trace. Samira speaks to Howard Fishman – writer, songwriter, bandleader, producer of Connie’s Piano Songs, and author of To Anyone Who Ever Asks: The Life, Music, and Mystery of Connie Converse. PRESENTER: Samira Ahmed PRODUCER: Olivia Skinner
23/08/23·42m 22s

Louise Doughty, sign language at music festivals, The Missing Madonna podcast

Author Louise Doughty talks to Samira Ahmed about her new novel, A Bird in Winter. A fast-paced thriller set in the world of espionage, it follows a woman on the run who must work out who is on her trail. This summer for the first time British Sign Language interpretations were streamed live for all acts on the Glastonbury Pyramid Stage. Samira speaks to professional BSL music performance interpreters Stephanie Raper - who has signed for Stormzy and Eminem - and @Fletch, who is deaf and has signed for Ed Sheeran and P!nk. We also hear from deaf music lover William Ogden, who pushes for more interpretation at music events. New BBC Sounds podcast The Missing Madonna features the daughter of a Liverpool publican who played a key role in recovering a stolen Da Vinci masterpiece – and the Dutch “art detective” Arthur Brand who traces stolen art for a living. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Paula McGrath
22/08/23·42m 21s

Corinne Bailey Rae, playwright Peter Arnott, new short story collections

Musician Corinne Bailey Rae performs live in the studio and discusses the inspiration for her new album, Black Rainbows. Writer Peter Arnott on his new play about the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, Group Portrait In A Summer Landscape, opening at Pitlochry Festival Theatre on Friday. Plus short stories: critics Stephanie Merritt and Suzi Feay on two new collections - by Kate Atkinson and by US 'flash fiction' writer Diane Williams. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Emma Wallace
21/08/23·42m 31s

Edinburgh Festival review: The Grand Old Opera House Hotel; Funeral; Kieran Hodgson: Big In Scotland; Vanessa 5000; AI Art; Food

A review of two of the big shows at this year’s Edinburgh Festival: Olivier award-winning writer Isobel McArthur has had great success with her genre-busting works Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of) and Kidnapped. Her latest play The Grand Old Opera House Hotel is a rom-com set in a haunted house filled with opera arias – it’s worlds apart from Funeral, a calm, interactive meditation on the nature of life and death by the Belgian theatre company Ontroerend Goed. Our reviewers give their verdicts on the comedy shows they’ve sampled this year. Kieran Hodgson is a Yorkshireman outsider in TV’s Two Doors Down: his new show Big in Scotland reflects on identity and belonging; magician and clown Geoff Sobelle explores the comedy of consumption in his show Food; and Sonja Doubleday’s comedy of the absurd – Cheekykita: An Octopus, The Universe, ‘n’ Stuff – features a nonsense trip through space. The impact of artificial intelligence has been cited as one of the reasons for the current writers’ and actors’ strikes in Hollywood. AI is also the topic at the heart of Courtney Pauroso’s Vanessa 5000, which features a sex robot and in Edinburgh University’s Inspace gallery exhibition, The Sounds of Deep Fake, where the human voice is put through its paces by AI. Presenter: Kate Molleson Producer: Ekene Akalawu
17/08/23·41m 57s

TV's I Claudius; Jules Buckley's Stevie Wonder Prom; the difficulty buying concert tickets

As the acclaimed 1976 Roman Empire drama series I Claudius returns to television screens, classicist Natalie Haynes and cultural critic Charlotte Higgins discuss the reasons for its success, whether its historical inaccuracies are any bar to its enjoyment, and if it stands the test of time. Plus conductor, curator, and composer Jules Buckley discusses his Stevie Wonder Prom celebrating 50 years of the ground-breaking album Innervisions. And why is it often so hard to buy tickets for big gigs, like Taylor Swift’s Eras tour? We talk to ticketing security expert Reg Walker, and to Martin Haigh of ticketing system provider Total Ticketing and a previous head of Ticketmaster Asia. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker
16/08/23·42m 30s

Live from the Edinburgh Festival: Nicola Benedetti, Colson Whitehead, Karine Polwart, Susie McCabe, Andrew O’Hagan

Front Row is live from Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh for festival season, presented by Kate Molleson. Scotland’s own Grammy award-winning violinist Nicola Benedetti will be with us to share her vision for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, as she makes her debut as Festival Director. Kate will also be joined on stage by the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Colson Whitehead to discuss Crook Manifesto, the latest instalment in his Harlem saga, set in 1970s New York. We’ll have music from the Scottish folk singer Karine Polwart with pianist Dave Milligan, ahead of their appearance at the Book Festival. Glasgow comedian Susie McCabe will share stand-up from her new Fringe show exploring her womanhood, Femme Fatality. Novelist and fellow Glaswegian Andrew O’Hagan will reflect on making his directorial debut, as he brings his new play The Ballad of Truman Capote to the Fringe. Presenter: Kate Molleson Producer: Kirsty McQuire
15/08/23·42m 6s

Christy Lefteri's The Book of Fire, Artistic Directors in theatre, Palestinian Embroidery

As the death toll from wildfires in Hawaii rises, The Beekeeper of Aleppo author Christy Lefteri explains how similar tragedies in Greece inspired her new novel The Book of Fire. Battersea Arts Centre’s Artistic Director and CEO Tarek Iskander, critic Andrzej Lukowski and theatre consultant Amanda Parker discuss what could be behind the current exodus of artistic directors from theatres across the UK. Curator Rachel Dedman and artist Aya Haider reflect on the roots of the striking needlework in Material Power, an exhibition of Palestinian Embroidery. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer Paula McGrath
14/08/23·42m 22s

Composer György Ligeti, L'immensità starring Penelope Cruz, La Cage Aux Folles

György Ligeti: on the 100th anniversary of his birth, we celebrate the Hungarian-Austrian composer and the 2023 Proms performances of his work - music which was famously used by filmmaker Stanley Kubrick in The Shining and A Space Odyssey. Pianist Danny Driver, and music critic, author and librettist Jessica Duchen join Tom to discuss. Plus we review La Cage Aux Folles - the musical story of a gay couple running a drag nightclub, and new Italian film L'immensita, starring Penelope Cruz - about a young girl in 70s Rome who yearns to be a boy, Our reviewers are theatre critic David Benedict, and writer, editor and podcaster Thea Lenarduzzi. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Emma Wallace
10/08/23·42m 22s

Anohni, artists' intellectual property, Bruntwood Prize-winning play Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz

Mercury Prize winning and Oscar-nominated artist Anohni returns with a soulful new album, My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross, released under the moniker Anonhi and the Johnsons for the first time. The artist Michael Moebius is preparing to launch another legal battle to protect his intellectual property, after successfully suing 399 companies for infringing his copyright in a landmark lawsuit. To discuss why artists and designers need better protection, Nick Ahad is joined by US lawyer Jeff Gluck and Margaret Heffernan, Chair of the Design and Artists Copyright Society. Playwright Nathan Queeley-Dennis is in Edinburgh appearing in his debut play, a monologue which won the Bruntwood Prize last year. Nathan tells Nick about writing and performing Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz, a love letter to Brimingham, barbers and love itself. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
09/08/23·42m 16s

Bruce Lee, mental health in reality TV, poet Sean Street on birdsong

On the 50th anniversary of the release of the martial arts film Enter The Dragon, actor and filmmaker Daniel York Loh and Bruce Lee’s biographer Matthew Polly discuss the star of the film, Bruce Lee, and his continuing influence across culture. As reality TV remains a staple of our television schedules, Carolyn Atkinson reports on the work that television production companies are now doing to support the mental wellbeing of the members of the public who become contestants on their shows. The author, poet and sound recordist Seán Street talks about how the challenge of describing the sounds of nature in words makes us listen differently, and why it may encourage us to care more for our environment. His new book is Wild Track - Sound, Text and the Idea of Birdsong. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Paul Waters
08/08/23·42m 11s

Lucy Prebble on The Effect, Welsh band Adwaith perform and Is the Critic Dead?

When you fall in love how do you know it’s for real, and not just the result of chemicals in your brain? Lucy Prebble’s play The Effect is back at the National Theatre - Tristan and Connie fall in love during a clinical trial for a new antidepressant and wonder if their passion is merely drug-fuelled. The Welsh band Adwaith play their online hit Fel I Fod (How To Be) – just before the Camarthen band appear at the National Eisteddfod. And could it be true that the art of criticism is dying? Theatre critic Mark Shenton believes it might be – but social media influencer Mickey-Jo Boucher says he’s bringing in new audiences. Head critic and reviews editor at The Stage Sam Marlowe says the art of reviewing is evolving and there’s room for both approaches. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker
07/08/23·42m 19s

Soprano Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha; Joy Ride film and Ann Patchett’s novel Tom Lake reviewed; composer Carl Davis

The South African soprano Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha talks to Front Row ahead of returning to the Proms this Saturday to sing Strauss’s Four Last Songs with the National Youth Orchestra. Critics Sharlene Teo and Max Liu review Joy Ride, the feature film debut of Adele Lim, who also wrote Crazy Rich Asians - and also Ann Patchett’s new novel Tom Lake, a story about how we tell the story of our lives – and how we fill the inevitable gaps. And the composer and conductor Carl Davis has died. His film and television successes include the themes for the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, ITV's landmark history series the The World At War, and the TV adaptation of Far Pavilions. He wrote part of the Liverpool Oratorio with Paul McCartney to mark the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s 150th anniversary. The composer and author Neil Brand joins us to celebrate the work of Carl Davis. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Paul Waters
03/08/23·42m 28s

Welsh Fleabag, Social media and comedy in Edinburgh; Moon Palace in Leeds

A new Welsh version of the comedy hit Fleabag is about to premiere at the National Eisteddfod in Boduan. Branwen Davies’ adaptation of the one-woman show for Theatr Clywd has been given the thumb’s up by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who wrote and starred in the original version ten years ago at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It was later turned into an award-winning BBC television series. Davies says she wanted to create a Welsh voice for Fleabag rather than do a word-for-word translation. Her Fleabag talks about her interactions with men in English – but it’s the Welsh language she shared with her dead mother that reveals her most honest and vulnerable moments. Just over halfway through Leeds2023, the city's year-long celebration of culture, Nick visits one of the major commissions - Moon Palace. A new social sculpture and working mobile observatory created by artists Heather Peak and Ivan Morison. They took inspiration from the man known as the "father of civil engineering", John Smeaton, who was born in East Leeds nearly 300 years ago and as well as building his own observatory, designed and built many bridges, canals, water mills, and lighthouses across the UK. And how is social media transforming comedy? Comedian Abi Clarke who’s in Edinburgh did standup for a year but gained more than 900,000 followers on TikTok after posting sketches since the pandemic. Comedy promoter Toby Jones believes it’s a bigger revolution than television and takes comedy directly to consumers, helping to improve diversity and build audiences without so much financial risk. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
02/08/23·42m 20s

The Booker Prize longlist; Freddie Mercury's costume archive, Scottish theatre

As the Booker Prize longlist is announced, literary critic Alex Clark takes us through the contenders for the £50,000 literary award for fiction, to be announced on 26th November. In September, a treasure trove of personal items belonging to Freddie Mercury - from fine art to furniture and fashion - will be sold at auction. In the run up to the sales, the collection will go on display to the public at Sotheby’s New Bond Street Galleries. Ahead of the exhibition, Samira gets an exclusive tour of Freddie’s on and off-stage wardrobe by entertainment memorabilia specialists, Wallace and Hodgson. A new report into Scottish theatre is calling for a commercially driven theatre company specialising in new work to be established in Scotland. To find out why, we’re joined by David Brownlee, chief executive of the arts data specialists Data Culture Change, theatre critic of the Scotsman Joyce MacMillan, and Patricia Stead who's executive director and Joint CEO of the Tron Theatre company in Glasgow. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Paula McGrath
01/08/23·42m 8s

West End producer unmasked, Reassessing the poetry of Virgil, Adjani Salmon on Dreaming Whilst Black

Adjani Salmon is the writer of the award-winning web-series Dreaming Whilst Black, now on BBC Three. He tells Tom Sutcliffe about the reality and his fictional portrayal of the everyday struggles of being an aspiring filmmaker. Also on Front Row - the Aeneid, the epic poem written by Virgil more than 2000 years ago. As well as being one of the great works of classical literature, it's also one of the earliest examples of a work commissioned as political propaganda. Maria Dahvana Headley - the writer behind Vergil! A Mythological Musical, a new audiobook that fuses the life of the poet with that of his greatest work, and Sarah Ruden, who recently updated her translation of the Aeneid and publishes a new biography of the poet in October, discuss why the Aeneid still packs a punch today. And - the Twitter sensation known only as West End Producer, has finally removed his mask and revealed his true identity - one of the theatre industry's biggest secrets. He's... actor Christian Edwards and he's telling Tom about life behind the mask and why he did it. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker
31/07/23·42m 25s

Cellist Ana Carla Maza performs, the Mercury Music Prize shortlist

Cuban composer, cellist and singer Ana Carla Maza performs live in the Front Row studio, ahead of her appearance at WOMAD, and discusses the unusual combination of cello and vocals. Tom Sutcliffe is joined by critics Neil McCormick and Tara Joshi to review two of the week’s cultural highlights – the shortlist for this year’s Mercury Music Prize and a new documentary Reframed: Marilyn Monroe. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Corinna Jones
27/07/23·42m 25s

Sinéad O'Connor tribute, Edinburgh Fringe previews, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Efua Traoré on children’s books

Kathryn Ferguson, director of the documentary feature Nothing Compares, pays tribute to Sinéad O'Connor whose death was announced today. The film explores the five years at the start of Sinéad O’Connor’s career. Before appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe many performers hone their acts in a series of previews round the country. How does road-testing the shows prepare them for the festival? To discuss, we're joined by experienced comedian Paul Sinha, by Ned Blackburn - producer of a student revue at the Fringe for the first time, and by the artistic director of the Clapham Omnibus Theatre, Marie McCarthy, who is running a season of previews. Frank Cottrell-Boyce's new book The Wonder Brothers tells of two young aspiring magicians who witness the disappearance of Blackpool Tower and vow to get it back. Efua Traoré was frustrated by the lack of diversity in children’s books so decided to write her own. In her latest, One Chance Dance, the hero Jomi heads to Lagos to audition for his missing mother's favourite television dance show so she will spot him. Frank and Efua discuss the magical appeal of pre-teen literature. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker
26/07/23·42m 28s

Pianist Christian Blackshaw, tech-inspired funding for artists, playwright Rabiah Hussain

Christian Blackshaw is a renowned classical pianist but has made only a handful of records preferring the concert platform. Ahead of his appearance at the Oxford Piano Festival on 29 July and as a prelude to that talks to Samira about his career and plays in the Front Row studio. What can the world of fine art learn from the tech start-ups of Silicon Valley? Samira speaks to entrepreneur and musician Joey Flores, the co-founder of Inversion Art, a company proposing a new training programme and business model for artists. We also hear from painter and sculptor Servane Mary, one of the first artists to sign up to the programme and from Melanie Gerlis, art market author and columnist for the Financial Times. Rabiah Hussain’s new play at the Royal Court explores the power of words – how the ripple effect of what someone in a position of power says publicly can influence views, create mindsets and even incite violence. She joins Samira to discuss. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Kirsty McQuire
25/07/23·42m 13s

Elizabeth Fremantle on Artemisia Gentileschi, French horn player Felix Klieser, logo design

Elizabeth Fremantle talks about her novel ‘Disobedient’, which explores the story of the extraordinary C17th woman artist, Artemisia Gentileschi, and how the traumatic events of her seventeenth year influenced her visceral biblical paintings like ‘Judith Slaying Holofernes’. Ahead of his premiere at the Proms, French horn player Felix Klieser plays in the studio for Front Row and tells Samira Ahmed how, aged four, he surprised his family with his choice of instrument. Born without arms, he explains how he plays by pressing the valves with the toes of his left foot. The potential of digital logo design is investigated by graphic artists Adrian Shaughnessy and Marina Willer.
24/07/23·42m 24s

Sarah Phelps on BBC drama The Sixth Commandment, Blur's new album reviewed

Sarah Phelps on BBC drama The Sixth Commandment, Blur's new album reviewed.
20/07/23·42m 18s

Christopher Nolan on Oppenheimer, what is Cynghanedd?, club culture under threat

Presenter Nick Ahad meets Christopher Nolan, director of the much anticipated Oppenheimer film. It tells the story of the American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer who, in 1943, assembled a group of scientists in Los Alamos to create the world’s first atomic bomb. Ahead of the National Eisteddfod, the annual festival of Welsh poetry and music, we learn about the poetic tradition of Cynghanedd from Dr Mererid Hopwood and Ceri Wyn Jones. And as nightclubs continue to close across Britain, we look at club culture and why people need to dance together. Nick is joined by the music journalist John Harris and Emma Warren, author of Dance Your Way Home. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Simon Coe
19/07/23·42m 18s

20 years of Podcasting, Black Venus, AI Songwriting Challenge

Aindrea Emelife and black women in art. Nigerian-British curator on her Somerset House exhibition Black Venus, addressing colonial history and the representation of black women in art as subject and artist, and her new curatorial role at the Edo Museum of West African Art, opening in Nigeria from 2024. Earlier this year a viral song purporting to feature Drake and The Weeknd was removed from streaming services when it emerged that vocals on the track were not the artists, but were generated by Artificial Intelligence. Songwriters are increasingly concerned that AI could put them out of business, but how worried should they be? The BBC’s Will Chalk is joined by two professional songwriters, Aaron Horn and Holly Henderson, to see who can write the most convincing pop hit – the humans or the machines. 20 years since the launch of the first ever podcast, we look back at the highlights of the medium’s explosive growth. Tom Sutcliffe is joined by podcast pioneer and host of The Allusionist, Helen Zaltzman, and by Dino Sofos, founder and CEO of audio production company Persephonica.
18/07/23·42m 23s

Greta Gerwig, Tudor tapestry, Tanika Gupta, Jane Birkin farewell

This Friday sees the release of the much anticipated ‘Barbie’ starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Samira meets director, Greta Gerwig to discuss the making of the film and her myriad of influences. A tapestry commissioned by Henry VIII has come up for sale in Spain. Historian of early modern textiles Isabella Rosner tells Samira why ‘Saint Paul Directing the Burning of the Heathen Books’ is so significant. We also hear from the collector and philanthropist behind the Auckland Project, Jonathan Ruffer, about why he's campaigning for the tapestry to be saved for the nation and installed at Auckland Castle. Last year, Tanika Gupta’s play, The Empress, was put on the GCSE curriculum for the first time. Set in the late 19th century, the play intertwines the story of Queen Victoria’s relationship with her Indian teacher Abdul Karim, with the story of Rani Das, a young Indian woman brought to the UK by an English family. It was premiered by the RSC in 2013 and Tanika joins Front Row to discuss updating it for a new production. Front Row bids farewell to the actress and singer, Jane Birkin, whose death was announced yesterday. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Corinna Jones
17/07/23·42m 22s

Mission Impossible, Herzog & de Meuron, Walter Murch

Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One - the long awaited seventh film in the series - and the Royal Academy's new exhibition about architecture practice Herzog & de Meuron. Ryan Gilbey and Oliver Wainwright review. Plus Walter Murch. The renowned film editor and sound designer has won Oscars for his work with directors like Francis Ford Coppola and Anthony Minghella. On the occasion of his 80th birthday he leads Antonia Quirke through several key scenes from his films, including the Godfather and Apocalypse Now, and explains his use of sound. He also talks about his own films, Return to Oz and the documentary Coup 53. Presenter: Antonia Quirke Producer: Harry Parker
13/07/23·42m 19s

Remembering Milan Kundera, author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Northern Soul Prom, the winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year

Front Row remembers the renowned Czech-born novelist, poet and essayist Milan Kundera who has died aged 94. Novelist Howard Jacobson and French journalist Agnès Poirier discuss the influence of his magical realist writing. Imagine a world where prison inmates fight to the death, for entertainment. That’s the premise of Chain-Gang All-Stars, the debut novel of Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, who joins Samira live in the studio to discuss writing inspired by his dislike of the American justice system. The first Northern Soul Prom is happening this weekend. Writer and broadcaster Stuart Maconie, who has co-curated the Prom, joins Samira to discuss this celebration of the northern club culture of the 1960s and 1970s. And the £120,000 Art Fund Museum of the Year award is announced this evening. In recent weeks, we’ve been spotlighting all of the shortlisted nominees: The Burrell Collection, Glasgow; Leighton House, London; The MAC, Belfast; Natural History Museum, London and Scapa Flow Museum, Orkney. Samira will be speaking to the Director of the winning museum, live from this evening’s ceremony at The British Museum. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Kirsty McQuire
12/07/23·42m 20s

Film-maker Sally Potter on her first music album, the British Library turns 50, romance in later life on stage

Sally Potter is best known as a filmmaker- from Orlando starring Tilda Swinton to The Roads Not Taken with Javier Bardem. But she's also a musician, collaborating on the scores for all of her films. Now Sally has released her first album as a singer-songwriter, Pink Bikini and joins Nick Ahad to reflect on this musical coming of age. This month the British Library celebrates its 50th anniversary - a half century of caring for the UK’s research collection. For Front Row, reporter JP Devlin hears the stories of the people gathered at the UK’s national library for their own unique purposes. Why are love stories so often centred on the young? Two playwrights join Nick to discuss dramatizing love in later life. Jennifer Lunn has written Es & Flo about two women in a four decades-long relationship that began in Greenham Common. In Ben Weatherill's Frank and Percy, two men, neither of whom will see sixty again, embark on a romance after meeting while walking their dogs. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
11/07/23·42m 14s

PJ Harvey, the Scapa Flow museum, pianist Benjamin Grosvenor performs

PJ Harvey talks to Samira Ahmed about her new album, I Inside the Old Year Dying. She explains how her poetry and lyrics were influenced by the Dorset dialect and how the film-maker Steve McQueen helped her to find new inspiration. Benjamin Grosvenor wowed audiences for the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year competition when he was just eleven years old and is now regarded as one of the most exciting pianists working today. As he prepares for this year’s Proms, he performs in the Front Row studio and explains what drew him to the music he will play. Front Row is hearing from the museum’s shortlisted for this year’s Art Fund Museum of the Year award and tonight reporter Huw Williams is at the Scapa Flow Museum on the island of Hoy in Orkney. He hears about how the refurbished museum, which is named after the Scapa Flow body of water off the island of Hoy, reflects the area’s wartime history. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner
10/07/23·42m 22s

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Disney Pixar film Elemental reviewed

Kwame Kwei-Armah discusses his play Beneatha's Place, which imagines a future for Beneatha Younger, a character from Lorraine Hansberry’s ground-breaking 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun. He talks to Samira Ahmed about the themes of race and politics in the play, which is set in 1950s Nigeria and the present day. Samira is joined by critics Leila Latif and Ekow Eshun to review some of the cultural highlights of the week: A World in Common, an exhibition of contemporary African photography at Tate Modern in London and Disney Pixar film Elemental, which imagines a world where the inhabitants are all elements. The Edinburgh Film Festival re-launches today, following its forced closure in 2022 when the charity that ran it went into administration. The festival’s director Kate Taylor joins Samira to outline the plans for the re-vamped festival. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Corinna Jones
06/07/23·42m 22s

Manchester International Festival Special

Yayoi Kusama: You, Me & The Balloons is the inaugural show in Aviva Studios, the new headquarters for the Manchester International Festival. In a variety of ways Kusama’s distinctive polka dots fill the new Warehouse space. Economics the Blockbuster – It’s Not Business As Usual at The Whitworth is a very different kind of visual art show which asks artists to re-imagine that most topical of subjects, the economy. Art critic Laura Robertson and novelist Okechukwu Nzelu review. In his illustrious career Benji Reid has moved from the world of breakdancing, to contemporary dance, to physical theatre, to hiphop theatre. After pursuing his interest in photography, he has now created a new art form which he calls Choreo-Photolism. He talks to Nick about the importance of curiosity both for artists and the arts. Grammy award winning composer John Luther Adams and the composer Ailís Ní Ríain have been commissioned to create brand new work inspired by the environment as part of the Manchester International Festival. The premiere is Friday, we’ll hear all about it on tonight’s programme. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
05/07/23·42m 21s

Ben Okri, film director Shamira Raphaela, Leighton House Museum

The Booker Prize-winning author Sir Ben Okri joins Antonia Quirke to reflect on his new collection Tiger Work, intended as a wake up call for a warming world. It blends fiction, essays and poetry inspired by environmental activism in the face of climate crisis. Film director Shamira Raphaela discusses her documentary Shabu, which follows an aspiring teenage musician from Rotterdam during a single summer. Antonia visits Leighton House in London, one of five finalists for this year's Art Fund Museum of the Year award. The Victorian 'studio house' was once the home of Fredric Leighton, artist, collector and former president of the Royal Academy. Presenter: Antonia Quirke Producer: Olivia Skinner
04/07/23·42m 20s

The legendary Dolly Parton and celebrating children's books

Dolly Parton, one of the few global stars to have truly earned the title icon, talks to Samira Ahmed about departing from her Country sound to record an album of Rock songs. Rockstar sees her collaborate with some of the biggest names in music including Paul McCartney, Sting, Elton John and new generation of musicians such as Miley Cyrus and Lizzo. She discusses her long career and mentoring women in music as well as her philanthropy, funding for the COVID vaccine, and the influence of her films and music on feminism. Are musicians at home being unfairly hit with noise abatement notices? Lewisham council have recently issued a notice which prevents one musician from practicing in her own home. We find out more. The Booktastic schools programme: author Patrice Lawrence on the importance of the UK’s only book festival to focus on engaging disadvantaged children and reflecting the diversity of children’s lives in literature. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Paul Waters
03/07/23·42m 20s

Front Row reviews Indiana Jones; author Brandon Taylor; Young V&A reviewed

Our critics Hanna Flint and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh watch Harrison Ford’s last outing as the title character in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, also starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Is it a crowd-pleasing exit? Presenter Tom Sutcliffe talks to Brandon Taylor about his new novel, The Late Americans. Taylor's debut, Real Life, was Booker Prize nominated and his collection of short fiction, Filthy Animals, won the Story Prize. He discusses interweaving tales of sex and aspiration, played out amongst friends in a mid-western university town. Hanna and Larushka also review Young V&A, the new incarnation of the Museum of Childhood in London’s Bethnal Green, which is reopening after a £13 million 3-year redevelopment. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker
29/06/23·42m 29s

Playwright Kimber Lee, the art of pattern discussed, Elgan Llŷr Thomas on queer culture in classical song

In 2019 Kimber Lee won the first International Award from the Bruntwood Prize, the UK’s biggest national competition for playwriting, with her work - Untitled F*ck M*ss S**gon Play. As the play’s world premiere production prepares to open this year’s Manchester International Festival, Kimber joins Front Row to discuss how Groundhog Day helped her to take on a century of East Asian stereotypes. Finding queer musical stories: tenor and composer Elgan Llyr Thomas has been exploring LGBTQ+ representation in vocal music and performs live. Eric Broug, writer and artist specialising in Islamic geometric design and Annemarie O’Sullivan, basket-maker and artist, join Nick Ahad to discuss the nature of pattern in their respective fields and its fundamental presence in culture. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
28/06/23·42m 21s

Michael R Jackson on his hit musical, Ray BLK on Champion, the Natural History Museum

Playwright and composer Michael R Jackson talks about his musical A Strange Loop, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The musical is based on his own experiences and follows a black man working as an usher at the musical The Lion King, who is himself writing a musical about a black male usher writing a musical. Michael R Jackson talks about why his reflective drama was such a hit in the United States. Singer songwriter Ray BLK discusses making her acting debut in new BBC and Netflix drama Champion. Written by Candice Carty Williams, the series is set in the cut-throat world of the British music industry. Samira Ahmed is at the Natural History Museum in London, which has been shortlisted for the Art Fund Museum of the Year Award. She takes a tour of the Titanosaur exhibition and hears about the museum’s expertise in mammals and dinosaurs. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Kirsty McQuire
27/06/23·42m 18s

Wes Anderson on Asteroid City, Bob Stanley on his biography of the Bee Gees

Wes Anderson, known for his quirky storylines and individual aesthetic, talks about his latest film Asteroid City. Set in 1955, at a science competition in the middle of the desert, it follows a cast of characters who are thrown into close contact when an alien appears. Wes Anderson discusses his fascination with America in the 1950s and working with his high profile cast, including Scarlett Johansson and Tom Hanks. The Bee Gees were megastars across four decades, but to musician and music journalist Bob Stanley, they remain critically underrated. In his new biography, Bee Gees: Children of the World, Stanley argues that the Gibb brothers were far more influential than they’ve been given credit for since they emerged in the 1960s. He joins Samira to discuss their rise, endless reinvention and why he believes they should be reclaimed. Stephen Smith reports on the opening up of Pompeii's treasures at the Naples Museum of Archaeology. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Corinna Jones
26/06/23·42m 24s

Elliot Page, Wicker Man music, Jewish Museum and Holocaust Memorial

Oscar-nominated Elliot Page, best known as star of comedy drama Juno, on coming out as gay and as a trans man, all in the glare of the Hollywood spotlight - and sharing this now in his new memoir, Pageboy. Marking Jewish history. With proposals for a Holocaust Memorial in London, and the closure of the Jewish Museum building, historian Sir Simon Schama, and Aviva Dautch, poet and Executive Director at Jewish Renaissance, discuss what recent developments mean for Jewish culture. The Wicker Man. As the cult horror film turns 50, Scottish folk musician Alasdair Roberts and ex-Pogues hurdy gurdy player Jem Finer celebrate with music, live in the Front Row studio. Plus, writer on architecture Gillian Darley appreciates the work of the late Sir Michael Hopkins. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker This programme has been edited since broadcast
26/06/23·42m 21s

National Portrait Gallery refurbishment and play Dear England reviewed, violinist Rachel Podger

Tom is joined by reviewers Boyd Hilton and Susannah Clapp who look at Dear England, a new play by James Graham at the National Theatre which examines the changes in England’s football since Gareth Southgate became manager. And the National Portrait Gallery reopens today having had the most extensive refurbishment since 1896, including a redisplay, a new entrance and public spaces. Violinist Rachel Podger performs from the Baroque repertoire live in the Front Row studio. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson
22/06/23·42m 26s

The winner of the Yoto Carnegie Medal, the MAC in Belfast and does the UK need more music arenas?

Front Row hears from the winner of this year’s Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing, which is awarded for a book for children or young people. Manon Steffan Ros has won for her novel The Blue Book of Nebo, the first time the prize has been awarded to a book in translation. Originally written in Welsh, it explores Welsh identity and culture. There are plans for eight new arenas across the UK, including ones in Cardiff, Bristol, Gateshead and Dundee. But does the UK really need more arenas when smaller, grassroots music venues are said to be struggling, closing at the rate of one per week? Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust, and Tom Lynch of ASM Global, who run arenas all over the world, discuss. Steven Rainey reports from the MAC, the Metropolitan Arts Centre, in Belfast, which has been shortlisted for this year’s Art Fund Museum of the Year. The museum’s chief executive Anne McReynolds and creative director Hugh Mulholland discuss how the venue has thrived as a creative hub in a Belfast looking to the future after the Troubles. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
21/06/23·42m 40s

The Beatles at Stowe, Nick Drake, Maggi Hambling

The Beatles at Stowe School: Front Row made the news with the discovery of the earliest recording of a concert by The Beatles in this country, at Stowe School in April 1963. Today Samira brings news of a new home for that recording, one where anyone interested will be able to hear it. And, remarkably, another Beatles recording, made that day, has surfaced too. Plus Maggi Hambling discusses her new exhibition, Origins, which has just opened at Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury in Suffolk. Like Gainsborough, Maggi Hambling was born in Sudbury and these works reflect on her early life as an artist and the influence of her parents and lifelong friends on her career. And Nick Drake. Today would have been the musician’s 75th birthday. He died aged 26, before he found worldwide fame and admiration. His sister Gabrielle Drake and biographer Richard Morton Jack join Samira to remember his life and music. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Emma Wallace
19/06/23·42m 29s

Glenda Jackson remembered, Wayne McGregor, Black Mirror reviewed

Front Row plays tribute to Oscar winning actor Glenda Jackson, who has died aged 87. Theatre critic Sarah Crompton remembers the power of her stage performances, and Aisling Walsh discusses directing her in her TV drama Elizabeth is Missing. Choreographer Wayne McGregor talks about his new ballet, Untitled 2023, which was inspired by the works of Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera. And Tom Sutcliffe is joined by critics Erica Wagner and Isabel Stevens to review some of the week’s cultural highlights, including the new series of dystopian TV drama Black Mirror and the new novel from Lorrie Moore, I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson
15/06/23·42m 28s

The Burrell Collection, Accordion Quartet, Women's Prize Winner Barbara Kingsolver, Folk Film Gathering

Allan Little visits the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, which re-opened last year after a £68 million transformation and is now a finalist for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023. He talks to Director Duncan Dornan and Caroline Currie, Learning and Access curator. Ahead of their performance at the St Magnus Festival in Orkney which gets underway on Friday we have a live performance from members of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's Accordion Ensemble whose theatrical performances breathe new life into existing repertoire from tango to classical. We hear from one the players who'll be performing in the ensemble and in a number of other concerts throughout the festival; BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Ryan Corbett and Serbian born accordion professor at the RCS, Djordji Gajic who'll also perform with Ryan a duet of Puccini's Crisantemi. The winner of the Women's Prize is announced tonight. We hear live from the winner direct from the ceremony. Jamie Chambers founded The Folk Film Gathering in 2015. He explains what that is to Allan Little and introduces the focus this year on Ukrainian folk filmmaking. There are also documentaries about second sight in the Hebrides, and rarely screened Scottish classics from the 1970s. Each screening is preceded with live music and storytelling. Presenter: Allan Little Producer: Tim Prosser
14/06/23·42m 14s

Two debuts: novelist Cecilia Rabess, film director Dionne Edwards; the cost of maintaining arts organisations' buildings

Author and former data scientist, Cecilia Rabess joins Samira Ahmed to discuss her debut novel, Everything’s Fine, which explores the unlikely and complicated relationship between a liberal black woman working in the world of investment banking and her conservative white male colleague, during the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Following yesterday’s announcement that the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool is to close by the end of the month, Front Row takes a close look at the cost for arts organisations of maintaining infrastructure and cultural heritage sites across the UK. Joining Samira to discuss this are: architecture correspondent for The Times, Jonathan Morrison; Gillian Miller, CEO of Liverpool’s Royal Court, who reflects on the challenges of maintaining and modernising that grade II listed art deco theatre; and CEO of the Southbank Centre in London, Elaine Bedell, who thinks it’s time for new era of regeneration of the arts. Pretty Red Dress, which captured a lot of attention when first shown at the BFI London Film Festival last year, is the debut feature film of screenwriter and director Dionne Edwards. She joins Front Row to talk about how the eponymous red dress becomes a way for the black family members, at the heart of the film, to define and redefine themselves. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Oliver Jones
13/06/23·42m 19s

Mad Musicals, Eric Whitacre, Women's Prize - Laline Paull

Surprising musicals: new musicals are packing in audiences - and some with quite unlikely subjects. Whilst the classic Broadway musical, like 42nd Street, Guys and Dolls, and Oklahoma!, remain as popular as ever, there’s now a musical based on Bake Off, and the plot of Operation Mincemeat is itself a plot - to hoodwink the Nazis with a corpse in disguise. Critic David Benedict, Natasha Hodgson, co-writer of Operation Mincemeat, and Matthew Iliffe, Assistant Director of Assassins, discuss what’s happening with the musical. Eric Whitacre is one of the world’s most popular living composers. He specialises in choral music and is a virtual choir pioneer, uniting thousands of singers all over the globe. He talks to Samira Ahmed about Home, his new album with acclaimed vocal ensemble Voces8. Plus, the Women’s Prize For Fiction. In the last of our interviews from authors on the shortlist, we speak to Laline Paull - whose novel Pod explores sealife in the Indian Ocean, with themes of war and migration under the shadow of climate change. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May
12/06/23·42m 25s

Film Chevalier and new TV drama Significant Other reviewed

Gaming isn’t just something you play, it is also a spectator sport! Comedian and streamer Ellie Gibson and journalist and gamer Marie Le Conte join us to discuss the cultural phenomenon of game streaming. Linton Stephens, bassoonist and presenter of Radio 3’s Classical Fix, and filmmaker and journalist Catherine Bray join Front Row to review Chevalier, the new film about the life of the French-Caribbean musician Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, played by Kelvin Harrison Jr. They’ll also give their verdicts on ITV comedy drama Significant Other about neighbours thrown together in adverse circumstances, starring Katherine Parkinson and Youssef Kerkour. And to mark the start of Pride month, the UK’s annual celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, Front Row hears from the French music star Christine and the Queens, who is curating this year’s Meltdown festival. He discusses Jean Genet’s 1943 novel Our Lady of the Flowers and its significance as a queer work of art.
08/06/23·42m 21s

Dave Johns on I, Daniel Blake; the Liverpool Biennial; why Dario Fo's plays speak to this moment?

The Liverpool Biennial, the UK’s largest contemporary visual arts festival, begins this weekend. Arts journalist Laura Robertson reviews, and the curator of the biennial, Khanyisile Mbongwa, discuss coming up with this year’s theme – uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost things – which reflects on Liverpool’s history as a slave port but also provides a sense of hope and joy. Nobel Prize-winning Italian playwright Dario Fo was famous for plays that careered between farce and current affairs. He wrote his most successful plays during Italy’s years of economic crisis in the 1970s, and there’s been an upsurge in productions of them in the UK this year. Playwrights Deborah McAndrew and Tom Basden discuss their respective adaptations of They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! and Accidental Death of an Anarchist. For Dave Johns, the lead role in Ken Loach’s multi-award winning film, I, Daniel Blake, marked his debut as a film actor. His performance as a man trapped and impoverished in the Catch-22 of the benefits system was admired by many. Now Dave has adapted the film for the stage. It opened at Northern Stage in Newcastle and begins a nationwide tour next week. He talks to Nick Ahad retelling the story of the film in a new way. Presenter: Nick Ahad Presenter: Ekene Akalawu
07/06/23·42m 44s

Rufus Wainwright, hairdressing film Medusa Deluxe, the rise of the understudy

Rufus Wainwright talks to Samira Ahmed about his new album Folkocracy, a collection of reimagined Folk songs. The album includes collaborations with artists including John Legend, Chaka Khan and his sister Martha Wainwright. Thomas Hardiman talks about his new film Medusa Deluxe, a gritty murder mystery set at a hairdressing competition. He explains where his unusual idea came from and why he uses his films to explore obsession, whether with hairdressing or carpet sales. Before Covid, many theatre productions didn’t cast understudies at all but now plays are casting two for one role. The BBC’s Carolyn Atkinson investigates the rise of the understudy. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner
06/06/23·43m 16s

Author Maggie O’Farrell, New opera Giant, The consumerism in creativity

Charles Byrne was an 18th-century “Irish giant” whose skeleton was stolen and put on display against his wishes. 240 years after his death, he is being remembered in a new electro acoustic opera rather than as a museum-piece curiosity. Dawn Kemp of the Hunterian Museum discusses removing the famous skeleton from their collection, and composer, musician, and robotic artist Sarah Angliss tells us about her new opera, Giant, which celebrates Byrne on stage, and is opening the Aldeburgh Festival. The Irish writer Maggie O’Farrell’s last novel “Hamnet” is now playing on stage at the Globe Theatre and won the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her latest “The Marriage Portrait” has made it onto the 2023 shortlist, and was an instant Sunday Times Bestseller. Both focus on the lives of women hidden in history behind men of influence. In the next of our series meeting the Women’s Prize finalists, we’ll be finding out what it is about these stories that inspire her, and how it feels to make the shortlist for a second time. It is commonly accepted, including here at Front Row, that creativity is a good thing. But two new books: Samuel. W. Franklin’s The Cult of Creativity and Against Creativity by Oli Mould, challenge that view, arguing that creativity is a recent invention and that the artistic impulse has been co-opted by the capitalist military industrial complex. Both authors discuss their ideas with Tom Sutcliffe. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May
05/06/23·42m 40s

Punk exhibition reviewed, Reality film director, TV drama White House Plumbers reviewed

Critics Katie Puckrik and Michael Carlson join Front Row to review the exhibition Punk: Rage and Revolution at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery and Soft Touch Arts. The American writer and director Tina Satter talks about her new film Reality, starring Sydney Sweeney. The script is based on the transcript of the FBI interrogation of the whistleblower Reality Winner, who leaked secret documents about Russian interference in the 2016 US election. And Katie Puckrik and Michael Carlson also review a new TV drama series about Watergate starring Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux, White House Plumbers. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson
01/06/23·42m 18s

Shane Meadows on The Gallows Pole, and GoGo Penguin perform live

Writer/director Shane Meadows and actor Michael Socha on the new BBC TV adaptation of Benjamin Myers' novel, The Gallows Pole. The Mercury Music Prize-nominated minimal jazz trio GoGo Penguin play tracks from their new album, Everything Is Going To Be OK, live in the studio – and discuss how they alter their instruments to extend their range of sound. As the interests and concerns of the First Nations people rise up the cultural agenda in Australia exemplified by the plan for the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, Ce Benedict, based in Australia and a Senior Producer at ABC Radio National, reports on how that story is resonating in their homeland and in the UK. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
31/05/23·42m 50s

Chita Rivera, a new funding model for the arts discussed, Priscilla Morris

Broadway legend Chita Rivera, who made her name playing Anita in the original stage production of West Side Story, talks to Samira Ahmed about the highlights of her seven decade career, ahead of the publication of her memoir. Arts consultant Amanda Parker, formerly editor of Arts Professional magazine and now of the Forward Institute, and theatre director Tom Morris, who until recently ran Bristol Old Vic, discuss new approaches to funding the arts. Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist: Priscilla Morris on her nominated debut novel Black Butterflies Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May
30/05/23·42m 20s

The 75th anniversary of the Windrush - the cultural legacy of a generation

The Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks on 22 June 1948 from Jamaica. Front Row marks the artistic and cultural contribution of a generation of people from the Caribbean, now characterised as the Windrush Generation, who arrived then, soon before or in the years following. Samira talks to the Jamaican-born actor and director Anton Phillips about his career, including starring in the cult classic Space 1999 and directing James Baldwin's The Amen Corner in a landmark production on the London stage. Andrea Levy's highly acclaimed 2004 novel Small Island tells the story of four people caught up in the Caribbean migration story and has been adapted for radio, TV and stage. The playwright Patricia Cumper, poet and writer Hannah Lowe and novelist Louise Hare discuss the impact of the book on them and their own writing. The composer Shirley J Thompson OBE talks about how her Jamaican heritage shaped her music making and about composing for the Coronation. And Kevin LeGendre explains the impact of the arrival of calypso and steel pan on the musical life of the nation. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Sarah Johnson
29/05/23·42m 18s

Jhalak Book Prize, Tate Britain Rehang, The Little Mermaid, Cannes

The Jhalak Prize is an annual literary prize for British or British-Resident writers of colour, established in 2016. Previous winners include Reni Eddo-Lodge and Johny Pitts. Tom speaks to the winners of this year’s Jhalak Prize and Jhalak Children’s and Young Adult Prize, announced at the British Library this evening. This week Tate Britain revealed a complete rehang of its free collection displays - the first in ten years. There are over 800 works by over 350 artists, featuring much-loved favourites and recent discoveries, including 70 works which entered the collection in the past 5 years. The rehang intends to reflect revolutionary changes in art, culture and society, and present new work by some of Britain’s most exciting contemporary artists. Associate arts editor of The Times, Alice Jones, and TV and film critic Amon Warmann give their view. Plus The Little Mermaid. In their 100th year, Disney have reworked their 1989 Oscar winning animated musical classic into a live action version, starring Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King and Melissa McCarthy. Alice and Amon review. And the Cannes Film Festival - critic Jason Solomons offers his round up of this year's films. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Corinna Jones
25/05/23·42m 24s

Playing Putin on stage in Patriots, DJ Taylor on Orwell, new V&A Photography Centre

Patriots, Peter Morgan’s play set in Russia in 1991, traces the rise and fall of Boris Berezovsky, who helped Vladimir Putin take power. As Patriots transfers to the West End, Allan Little – who as the BBC’s Moscow correspondent met Berezovsky – talks to the director Rupert Goold and Will Keen, winner of an Olivier Award for his performance as Vladimir Putin. The V&A Photography Centre opens this week, the largest suite of galleries in the UK dedicated to a permanent photography collection. Allan is joined by curator Marta Weiss and AI deep fake photographer Jake Elwes. DJ Taylor won the 2003 Whitbread Prize for Biography for his first telling of George Orwell’s life. He reveals why, twenty years later, he’s returned to the subject with the publication of Orwell: The New Life. Presenter: Allan Little Producer: Timothy Prosser
24/05/23·42m 5s

Sparks, EM Forster adaptations, nature mystery writer Bob Gilbert

Sparks, the American pop duo formed in 1960s Los Angeles, are back with their 26th album, The Girl is Crying in her Latte. Samira Ahmed meets brothers Ron and Russell Mael to discuss how Cate Blanchett came to be dancing in the music video for the title track and their extraordinary longevity. E. M. Forster’s 1908 novel A Room with a View is being dramatised for Radio 4, as is the novel The Ballad of Syd and Morgan, which imagines a meeting between Forster and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd. Samira is joined by the producers Marcy Kahan and Roger James Elsgood to explore Forster's enduring appeal and transposing prose into audio drama. Nature writer Bob Gilbert's new book The Missing Musk: A Casebook of Mysteries from the Natural World sets out to discover why, all over the world, a popular fragrant flowering plant has lost its scent. Samira talks to the former urban nature columnist about how his book has invented a new literary genre, the detective nature mystery. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner
23/05/23·42m 17s

Arlo Parks, Martin Amis remembered, depicting The Troubles

Singer songwriter Arlo Parks talks about following her highly acclaimed first album with a new release, My Soft Machine, which includes a collaboration with American musician Phoebe Bridgers. Film director James Bluemel discusses his new documentary, Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland, which reflects on the troubles using human stories. He’s joined by Craig Murray, curator of the Imperial War Museum’s new exhibition Living With The Troubles, which takes the same approach. The writer Martin Amis has died aged 73. To discuss how his novels defined an era and reflect on his literary criticism, Tom Sutcliffe is joined by critics John Self and Alex Clark. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May
22/05/23·42m 31s

Caleb Azumah Nelson, Reviews of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret & China's Hidden Century

Caleb Azumah Nelson’s debut novel, Open Water, won the Costa First Novel award and critical acclaim. He joins Front Row to talk about his second, Small Worlds, the story of a young musician looking for his own space in the streets of Peckham, finding his way with love, family and his Ghanaian heritage. The exhibition China’s Hidden Century at the British Museum is billed as a world first, bringing together 300 artefacts from the Qing Dynasty’s ‘long 19th Century’- the final chapter of dynastic rule in China. Joining Tom Sutcliffe to review it are Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford and the film critic Larushka Ivan-Zadeh. Larushka and Rana have also been watching one of this week’s big film releases, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, starring Rachel McAdams and based on the classic young adult novel by Judy Blume, first published in 1970. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Corinna Jones
18/05/23·42m 32s

Chuck D of Public Enemy on watercolours; author Jacqueline Crooks; artist Andy Holden

Chuck D on his watercolour art. He is regarded as one of hip-hop's greatest MCs with his powerful lyrical dexterity a key component in Public Enemy's international success, but what is less well known is that visual art was his first passion. It's a love that he has returned to in recent years and he joins Front Row to discuss the first collection of his watercolour and pen paintings. Plus author Jacqueline Crooks on her first novel, Fire Rush, which has been nominated for the Women’s Prize For Fiction. 16 years in the making, it draws on many of the author’s own experiences of loss, belonging and discrimination to create a music and memory-filled dramatic narrative. And artist Andy Holden on his exhibition Full of Days. Intrigued after discovering unknown amateur artist Hermione Burton’s body of work in a charity shop after her death, he turned it into her fantasy exhibition – along with his own new work inspired by her, including an animation with Saint Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell. Full of Days: Hermione Burton and Andy Holden is at the Gallery of Everything in London until 21 May and then tours. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
17/05/23·42m 27s

Contemporary sari design; the politics of museum labelling; Mat Osman's novel The Ghost Theatre

Samira Ahmed talks to Priya Khanchandani, the curator of The Offbeat Sari, an exhibition of contemporary saris at the Design Museum in London. The art critic Louisa Buck and the journalist James Marriott consider the vexed politics of museum labels. Mat Osman, bass player with the band Suede, joins Samira to discuss his new novel, The Ghost Theatre, which dramatises the lives of boy actors in 1601. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner
16/05/23·42m 24s

Brokeback Mountain on stage, Venice architecture biennale, author Tan Twan Eng

Brokeback Mountain on stage: musician and librettist Dan Gillespie Sells discusses writing the songs for a new stage production of Brokeback Mountain, adapted from Annie Proulx’s short story about the romance between two men working as sheep herders in 1960s Wyoming. Venice Architecture Biennale: the exhibition at the British Pavilion this year draws on traditions practised by different diaspora communities in the UK - such as Jamaicans playing dominoes and Cypriots cooking outside - and explores how they occupy space, so this can be included in planning the built environment. Two of the curators, Meneesha Kellay and Joseph Henry, discuss how architecture goes beyond buildings and economic structures. Plus art generates art in Malaysian novelist Tan Twan Eng’s new book The House of Doors, inspired in part by the life of William Somerset Maugham and the stories he wrote drawing on his travels in Malaysia. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May
15/05/23·42m 27s

June Givanni on the PanAfrican cinema archive, Gwen John at Pallant House Gallery reviewed

In 2021, June Givanni was presented with the British Independent Film Awards Special Jury Prize for what was described as “an extraordinary, selfless and lifelong contribution to documenting a pivotal period of film history” with her extensive archive focussed on African and African diaspora cinema. The archive is now the subject of a new exhibition - PerAnkh: The June Givanni PanAfrican Cinema Archive. June joins Front Row to discuss turning her personal passion into a public resource. Gwen John: the modern painter of interiors and solitary women, was once in the shadow of the men in her life - brother Augustus, Rodin, and Whistler. Critics Hettie Judah and Ben Luke review a new exhibition of her work at Pallant House Gallery, which considers her art and life, and her status as one of the most significant artists of the early 20th century. They also review Claire Kilroy’s novel Soldier Sailor: a searing portrait of new motherhood. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Eliane Glaser
11/05/23·42m 29s

Author Louise Kennedy, Royal patronage in the arts, beatboxer SK Shlomo

Louise Kennedy's debut novel Trespasses has been shortlisted for this year's Women's Prize for Fiction. Set in Belfast in 1975 at the height of the Troubles it traces the love affair between a young Catholic schoolteacher and an older man, a married Protestant barrister. Front Row will be talking to the authors on the shortlist in the weeks before the announcement of the prize on June 14th. Musician and beatboxer SK Shlomo has collaborated with Björk, performed with Damon Albarn, Ed Sheeran and Rudimental, became World Looping champion and artist in residence at London’s Soutbank centre and played Glastonbury. They discuss their new show, which explores coming back to performance after struggling with their mental health. And how might the patronage of King Charles III impact the arts? Art critics Jonathan Jones and Ruth Guilding discuss the history of Royal patronage and what his tastes may mean for culture in the coming years. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker
10/05/23·42m 13s

Dennis Potter’s newly discovered play, Cathi Unsworth on goth culture, artist Isaac Julien

Samira Ahmed speaks to John Cook, Professor of Media at Glasgow Caledonian University about his discovery of a previously unknown early version of the seminal screenplay The Singing Detective by Dennis Potter. Samira is also joined in the studio by Ken Trodd, who co-produced The Singing Detective for television. Music writer Cathi Unsworth discusses her new book, Season of the Witch: The Book of Goth, which explores the enduring influence of Goth counterculture. And the artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien reflects on his major retrospective, What Freedom is to Me, at Tate Britain. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Olivia Skinner
10/05/23·42m 7s

Eurovision comes to Liverpool

Recorded at the Hornby Library inside Liverpool Central Library, in front of a live audience, as Liverpool gears up to host The Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukraine. Two novelists from The Big Eurovision Read, a list of 12 books from The Reading Agency and BBC Arts talk to Nick Ahad about the unifying power of music: Pete Paphides on his autobiography Broken Greek, A story of chip shops and pop songs, and Matt Cain tells us about his novel The Madonna of Bolton. Yemeni British poet and activist Amina Atiq performs her poem Daifa, commissioned for the Big Eurovision Welcome concert. Former conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Vasily Petrenko is one of the city’s Citizens of Honour. He’s returned to the city for a concert with the orchestra. He explains how music can be a unifying force and why he has suspended his work in Russia. There’s music from the Liverpudlian electro pop band Stealing Sheep, along with local singer songwriter Natalie McCool, who open the EuroFestival with Welcome to Eurotopia. And Ukrainian singer and musician Iryna Muha performs her next single Come Back. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Andrea Kidd
08/05/23·42m 14s

Playwright Jonathan Harvey on A Thong for Europe, Tom Hanks’s new novel reviewed

Merseyside-native Jonathan Harvey discusses his new play, A Thong For Europe, which combines his love of Liverpool with his passion for Eurovision to create an exuberant comedy where the Eurovision final really does become a family affair. And this week our panel of cultural critics review two debuts - Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks’s first novel The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece, and Harka, the debut feature from the Egyptian-American filmmaker Lotfy Nathan. The literary critic Max Liu and the film critic Leila Latif join Samira Ahmed to give their assessment of Hanks’s time travelling tour of the film industry on the page and Nathan’s portrait of Tunisia on screen, set some ten years after the Arab Spring.
04/05/23·42m 6s

Writer Jack Thorne, Derek Jarman’s Blue reimagined, music for the King’s coronation

Jack Thorne talks about his new play, The Motive and the Cue, which is about John Gielgud directing Richard Burton in a 1960s production of Hamlet on Broadway. He discusses the relationship between the two famous figures in the world of stage and screen. Composers Debbie Wiseman and Sarah Glass, who have both been commissioned to write music for the King’s Coronation, discuss composing for a landmark Royal occasion. To mark 30 years since the release of Derek Jarman’s final film Blue - which reflects his battle with HIV - director Neil Bartlett and composer Simon Fisher Turner have created a live performance of the film, called Blue Now. They explain the importance of Jarman and of Blue, both then and now. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Eliane Glaser
03/05/23·42m 34s

Sir Lenny Henry on his new play, music from the Tashi Lhunpo monastery, publishing and net zero

Sir Lenny Henry is making his debut as a playwright for the stage with August in England, a one-man drama about the Windrush scandal. Tom Sutcliffe meets Lenny to discuss his move from stage to page and back again, as he takes on the title role of August at The Bush Theatre in London. 50 years ago, after the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the ancient Tashi Lhunpo Monastery relocated to South India, where the exiled monks are dedicated to maintaining the culture and religion of their homeland. Simon Broughton reports from the monastery where he meets some of the monks about to tour the UK performing ritual dance and music. At the Gutor festival he witnesses elaborate masked dances and hears the awe-inspiring sound of Tibetan trumpets - four metres long. Can books ever be sustainable? How can publishing reach net zero? Children’s author Piers Torday, Chair of the Society of Authors’ Sustainability Committee, and commercial publishing veteran Amanda Ridout, CEO of Boldwood Books and Chair of the Independent Publishing Guild’s Sustainability Group discuss the challenges of making the book industry greener. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Harry Parker
02/05/23·42m 19s

Rachmaninoff - the 20th century's great romantic

Samira celebrates the music and life of Sergei Rachmaninoff to mark the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth. With pianist Kirill Gerstein, who has just released a new recording of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic, Marina Frolova-Walker, Professor of Music at Cambridge, pianist Lucy Parham, who has created a Composer Portrait concert about Rachmaninoff that she is currently touring across the UK. Plus film historian and composer Neil Brand discusses the use of Rachmaninoff's music in film classics such as Brief Encounter. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser
01/05/23·42m 8s

Patrick Bringley on being a museum guard and TV drama Citadel reviewed

Patrick Bringley sought solace after the death of his brother and found it as a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where he worked for ten years. He joins Front Row to talk about his memoir of that time, All the Beauty in the World. Novelist Tahmima Anam and film critic Jason Solomons review the Russo Brothers' new spy thriller series Citadel starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Stanley Tucci, as well as the satirical action comedy film Polite Society, directed by Nida Manzoor. And art critic Rachel Campbell-Johnston reacts to the Turner Prize shortlist, announced today. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson
27/04/23·42m 29s

The making of the new RSC production of Cymbeline

A special edition following the Royal Shakespeare’s Company’s new production of Cymbeline, the final play in Shakespeare’s First Folio - a collection that reaches its 400th anniversary this year. Acclaimed and award-winning Shakespearean, Greg Doran, has directed every play in the First Folio except Cymbeline. For him it’s one of Shakespeare’s most complex creations and he will be directing it for the first time as his swansong as the RSC's Artistic Director Emeritus. From the start of the production’s rehearsal period until its first performance, Front Row follows Greg and his team as they get to grips with a play criticised and celebrated for its genre-busting, location-hopping, multiple plotlines, topped by the appearance of the god Jupiter descending from the heavens on an eagle. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
26/04/23·42m 24s

Playwright Ryan Calais Cameron, musician Stewart Copeland and is Morris dancing having a moment?

The playwright Ryan Calais Cameron's critically acclaimed play For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy has just transferred to London's West End. Samira Ahmed talks to him about its success and his new play at The Kiln in London, Retrograde, set in 1950s Hollywood and following a young Sidney Poitier. Stewart Copeland, founder member and drummer of The Police, now a composer for film, opera and ballet, has reinterpreted the 80s rock band's biggest hits. He talks to Samira about his operas, movie soundtracks and his new album and tour, Police Deranged for Orchestra. Next Monday is May Day when morris dancers will perform at dawn to greet the summer. Morris dancing is itself enjoying a moment in the sun: Boss Morris, an all-female folk dance group, performed with the Best New Artist winners, Wet Leg, at this year's Brit Awards. Samira is joined by Michael Heaney, author of a new history of the dance; the musician Rob Harbron, who composes new morris tunes; and Lily Cheetham of Boss Morris – who will dance for us. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Paul Waters
25/04/23·42m 17s

Patrick Radden Keefe on the Sackler family, Iestyn Davies performs live, sustainable theatre

Patrick Radden Keefe, who has been shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize of Prizes award, discusses his book Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty. It tells the shocking story of the Sackler family and the part their company, Purdue Pharma, played in America's opioid crisis. “The word ‘divine’,” Iestyn Davies says, ”has changed its meaning to indicate nowadays beauty as well as Divinity.” The songs countertenor Iestyn Davies has selected for his new album, Divine Music: An English Songbook, reflect this change. There are settings by Purcell, Britten and Butterworth and words by Shakespeare, de la Mare and Housman. That prolific artist Anonymous makes a significant contribution, too. Iestyn Davies talks to Tom Sutcliffe about his choices and, accompanied by pianist Joseph Middleton, performs one of them, appropriately titled, ‘A Hymn on Divine Music’. Theatre is not only becoming increasingly focused on telling stories about our climate crisis, but also thinking more about how sustainably it actually stages those stories. Paddy Dillon, theatre architect and founder of the Theatre Green Book, and Kate McGrath, director of Fuel Theatre Company, talk about cutting the carbon footprint of fixed theatres and touring productions. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May
24/04/23·42m 9s

Everything But the Girl, French film Pacifiction and TV drama The Diplomat reviewed

Tom Sutcliffe meets Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt of Everything But the Girl as they release Fuse, their eleventh studio album and their first in almost 24 years following 1999’s Temperamental. Today's critics are Briony Hanson, Director of Film at the British Council and Carne Ross, former British diplomat and writer. They'll be talking about The Diplomat on Netflix which follows the story of the newly appointed US Ambassador to the UK. Briony and Carne will also review French film Pacifiction, which taps into the world of the high commissioner in French Polynesia. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson
20/04/23·42m 27s

Opera composer Jeanine Tesori, Margaret MacMillan on Paris 1919, new ideas in architecture

Composer Jeanine Tesori's Blue for the ENO; Baillie Gifford winner of winners for non-fiction shortlist - Margaret MacMillan; new ideas in architecture discussed Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jerome Weatherald
19/04/23·42m 21s

Jazz singer Georgia Cecile, the controversy surrounding Barcelona’s La Sagrada Família

Plans to finish Barcelona’s famous church, La Sagrada Família, have been causing controversy as they involve demolishing apartment blocks to make way for the new entrance. Journalist Guy Hedgecoe, who reports on Spain for the BBC, and the Twentieth Century Society’s director, Catherine Croft, discuss the issues raised as the completion of the emblematic building draws near. Singer Georgia Cecile topped the Jazz charts with her latest album, Sure of You. She joins Samira Ahmed to perform live in the Front Row studio and discuss the resurgence of Jazz. The Northumbrian police and crime commissioner has redirected some of the proceeds of crime into the arts. Bex Lindsey reports on how Tyneside based theatre company Workie Ticket are using the funding from “Operation Payback” to create productions with social impact. And Front Row remembers the actor and director Murray Melvin, best known for his role in Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey, who has died aged 90. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Paul Waters
18/04/23·42m 18s

Colin Currie performs live, author Catherine Lacey, the influence of Noel Coward

Percussionist Colin Currie performs live in the Front Row studio. He discusses his new interpretation of one of minimalist composer Steve Reich’s best known works, Music for 18 Musicians. 50 years on from the death of playwright Noel Coward, biographer Oliver Soden and theatre director Michael Longhurst look at his legacy and ask what he means to theatre audiences today, as a new production of Coward’s Private Lives opens. Author Catherine Lacey on Biography of X, her genre redefining new novel about a mysterious artist, which includes fictionalised footnotes and references. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Julian May
17/04/23·42m 27s

Front Row reviews Hamnet at the RSC and TV drama Obsession; Michael Frayn on his memoir

The RSC's production of Hamnet brings the bestselling, award-winning novel by Maggie O'Farrell to the stage. To review this reinterpretation of O'Farrell's imagined account of the short life of Shakespeare's son, which also foregrounds his wife Agnes, Tom Sutcliffe is joined by theatre critic Susannah Clapp and the novelist and screenwriter Louise Doughty. Michael Frayn is the author of almost 50 works, including the farce Noises Off, the novel Spies, and translations of Chekhov’s plays. In his ninetieth year, Frayn talks to Tom Sutcliffe about Among Others: Friendships and Encounters, a memoir less about him than the people who shaped him. Our critics Susannah Clapp and Louise Doughty also review the new Netflix drama Obsession, a tale of erotic obsession, based on the late Josephine Hart's 1991 novella Damage. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Paul Waters
13/04/23·42m 29s

Max Porter on new novel Shy, Chris Killip exhibition at the Baltic, Kevin Sampson on The Hunt for Raoul Moat

Screenwriter Kevin Sampson on the complexities of his new true crime drama for ITV, The Hunt for Raoul Moat. Max Porter found huge success with his first book, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, acclaimed as a tender, funny and original story of loss. His latest, Shy, completes the trilogy about grief that began with that book. It tells the story of a teenage boy in the 90s, setting off in the middle of the night from a residential house in the countryside for disturbed children. Opera director Adele Thomas on the reaction to her Twitter thread about what a stage director earns. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, photographer Chris Killip immersed himself in communities in the north-east of England. The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead presents a career retrospective, with the stark yet tender images he made at its heart. The poet Katrina Porteous, who like Killip has worked on the Durham coast, reviews the exhibition. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
12/04/23·42m 20s

Wade Davis on George Mallory, Benbrick on AI and creativity

A new exhibition of the Pre-Raphaelite Rossettis at Tate Britain in London explores the 'radicalism' of Dante Gabriel, Christina and Elizabeth (Siddal), and their 'revolutionary' approach to life, love and art in Victorian Britain. It emphasises Elizabeth as artist rather than muse, and charts the emergence of the Pre-Raphaelites through to Gabriel’s famous romanticised female portraits. However, despite their popularity, views of the Rosettis' art are often polarised. To discuss whether the Rossettis are radical or overrated, Samira is joined by the curator of the exhibition, Carol Jacobi, and by critic Jonathan Jones. Artificial intelligence can now write sonnets, paint portraits and compose symphonies. Benbrick, the Peabody Award-winning producer of the BBC Sounds’ series Have You Heard George’s Podcast?, reflects on the impact of AI on creativity and his own creative practice. In the latest of Front Row’s interviews with the shortlisted authors for this year’s Baillie Gifford, Winner of Winners Award, Samira talks to Wade Davis about his book - Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Kirsty McQuire
11/04/23·42m 10s

The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio

Front Row marks the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare's First Folio with former RSC Artistic Director Greg Doran, Guildhall Principal Librarian Peter Ross, and Shakespeare experts Emma Smith, Farah Karim-Cooper and Chris Laoutaris. Without the Folio we might not have had The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure and many others. Front Row considers the rich, complicated and sometimes paradoxical history of its compilation, printing, and significance over the centuries. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Sarah Johnson
10/04/23·42m 9s

Ai Weiwei at the Design Museum and TV drama Rise of the Pink Ladies

Ai Weiwei: Making Sense. We look at the new exhibition which opens at the Design Museum in London tomorrow. Plus we review the new Grease prequel Rise of the Pink Ladies, streaming on Paramount+ from tomorrow. Samira is joined by reviewers Nancy Durrant, Cultural Editor of the Evening Standard, and critic Karen Krizanovich. Plus 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement. Two very different new plays marking the anniversary open this week. Agreement at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast dramatizes the negotiations that led to the deal, and Beyond Belief at the Derry Playhouse is a musical about the life of Irish politician John Hume - one of the architects of the peace agreement. Steven Rainey talks to the creative teams behind both productions about marking the moment. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jerome Weatherald
06/04/23·42m 18s

Boris Becker documentary, Commemorating the Good Friday Agreement in art, Artist-led organisations

For his latest project, the Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney has turned his attention to the original tennis wunderkind Boris Becker. He talks about the making of his documentary, Boom! Boom!: The World vs Boris Becker, and what it was like to follow the sports legend during the period which saw him land in jail. The BBC's Kathy Clugston looks at how artists are commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and talks to Gail Ritchie and Raymond Watson about the different approaches they have taken to marking moment when the agreement was made. What happens when a working artist leads an arts organisation and should artists be leading more organisations? Poet, writer, and performance artist Keisha Thompson, who is also the artistic director and CEO of Contact, the theatre and arts venue in Manchester, and visual artist-curator Gavin Wade, who is also the co-founder and director of Eastside Projects in Birmingham, discuss what artists bring when they are at the helm. Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Ekene Akalawu
05/04/23·42m 14s

Joe Pearlman on his Lewis Capaldi film, author Craig Brown, Tartan at the V&A

BAFTA-winning director Joe Pearlman talks about his new Netflix documentary on Scottish pop superstar Lewis Capaldi, which is out tomorrow. In Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now, Joe follows Lewis as he struggles with his mental health and writing his second album during the pandemic. Tartan, the textile of tradition and rebellion is celebrated at the Victoria & Albert Museum in Dundee, which is apt - Queen Victoria loved tartan and Prince Albert designed several tartan setts. BBC Scotland arts correspondent Pauline McLean reports on the exhibition which tells the story of tartan and how the rules of the grid have inspired creativity around the world. Continuing Front Row's series of interviews with all the authors shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction ‘winner of winners’ award, Tom Sutcliffe speaks to Craig Brown about his book, One, Two, Three, Four: The Beatles In Time. The renowned Japanese musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto died at the weekend. In an interview for Front Row from 2018 Sakamoto reveals the inspirations behind some of his most famous film scores. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May
04/04/23·42m 19s

Ria Zmitrowicz on The Power, The ENO’s The Dead City and God’s Creatures reviewed

Ria Zmitrowicz talks about her role in The Power, the TV adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s novel. She plays Roxy Monke, the daughter of a notorious crime boss whose aspirations to join the family business are realized when she gains a mysterious new power. Tom Sutcliffe is joined by author Michael Arditti and critic Alexandra Coughlan review the ENO’s new production of Korngold’s opera The Dead City and new film God’s Creatures, which stars Paul Mescal and Emily Watson . Lee Stockdale has won the National Poetry Competition for a poem about his father. His poem won out over 17,000 other entries from more than 100 countries. He explains how he became a poet and what winning means to him. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Kirsty Starkey
30/03/23·42m 24s

Cash Carraway on BBC drama Rain Dogs, the might of the UK gaming industry, Kidnapped on stage

Rain Dogs, billed as ‘a love story told from the gutter,’ is a new comedy drama series starring Daisy May Cooper. Shahidha Bari is joined in the studio by the writer and creator of the series, Cash Carraway. Ahead of the BAFTA Games Awards we discuss the state of play in the UK games industry with Chris Allnutt, gaming critic for the Financial Times and with games producer Charu Desodt, whose interactive crime drama As Dusk Falls is nominated for Best Debut Game. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped is being retold as a swashbuckling rom-com by the National Theatre of Scotland. Shahidha speaks to Isobel McArthur and Michael John McCarthy about adapting the 1868 coming–of-age classic. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Harry Parker
29/03/23·42m 31s

Musician Natalie Merchant, poet Victoria Adukwei Bulley, library funding

Singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant talks to Samira Ahmed about Keep Your Courage, her first album in nearly a decade. Libraries were awarded the smallest amount of money from the Cultural Investment Fund, which was announced last week. Front Row speaks to Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP, the Library and Information Association. And Victoria Adukwei Bulley discusses winning the Rathbones Folio Prize for poetry for her collection Quiet. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Kirsty McQuire
28/03/23·42m 18s

Barbara Demick on North Korea; Dungeons and Dragons controversy; folk musicians Hack-Poets Guild

Award-winning journalist Barbara Demick’s book 'Nothing to Envy' has been short-listed for this year’s Baille Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction Winner of Winners Award; North Korean defectors spoke about love, family life and the terrible cost of the 1990’s famine. Front Row examines the controversy surrounding Dungeons and Dragons, the world's most popular table-top role playing game and now a Hollywood film, as fans protest against a clampdown on fan-made content. Professional Dungeons and Dragons player Kim Richards and Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law, Dr. Hayleigh Bosher, join Tom Sutcliffe to discuss what this means for fans and copyright owners. Hack-Poets Guild is a collaboration between the renowned folk musicians Marry Waterson, Lisa Knapp and Nathaniel Mann. Their new album Blackletter Garland is inspired by the collection of broadside ballads in the Bodleian Library, news sheets that circulated between the 16th and 20th Centuries. Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Olivia Skinner
27/03/23·42m 34s

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