Front Row

Front Row

United Kingdom

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

Episodes

Gemma Arterton, Post-war public art, Martin Parr, Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly!  

In her new film, Their Finest, Gemma Arterton plays a screenwriter during World War II whose job it is to write women's dialogue - referred to as "the slop" by her male colleagues - for morale boosting films for the home front. Gemma discusses the role and her own experiences of being a woman in the film industry. In January last year, curator Sarah Gavanta came on to Front Row to talk about her exhibition for Historic England called Out There: Our Post-War Public Art. It was an exploration of the boom in public art created by the likes of Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Elizabeth Frink between 1945 and 1985. But it was also a call to arms to trace the missing sculptures of the period. Sarah returns to the programme to tell us how one of those lost pieces, The Sunbathers by Peter Laszlo Peri, has been discovered in a hotel garden. The new Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler broke box office records last year, exceeding $9 million on the first day tickets went on sale. Theatre critic Matt Wolf reviews Midler's performance - her first in a musical for 50 years - and discusses the big Broadway contenders vying for Tony awards this season. Martin Parr is known for his social documentary photographs - everything from the new BBC One idents to his earliest work documenting the rural farming communities of Yorkshire. As the Sony World Photography Awards acknowledge him for his Outstanding Contribution to Photography, he shows us around his exhibition at Somerset House in London and looks back over his work and influences. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.

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Joan Bakewell, 2017 Proms, The Zookeeper's Wife  

In 1978 Harold Pinter sent Joan Bakewell a copy of his new play Betrayal. Upon reading it she discovered that it was based with vivid accuracy on an affair they'd had years earlier and which had remained a secret. Shocked and bewildered she wrote her own play in response. Keeping In Touch has been hidden away ever since, but is now being broadcast on Radio 4, reworked. Joan Bakewell talks to Kirsty about the play, Betrayal and her changing relationship with both. Yesterday Emma Rice, the Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe in London, posted an open letter on the theatre's own website addressed to the future Artistic Director. The post is being advertised after Emma Rice announced her departure last October - a decision which was apparently sparked by her use of artificial lights and sound. The open letter is just the latest in an ongoing saga that's been evolving off-stage at the theatre so, with the Bard's birthday just days away, literary critic Matt Thorne helps us to untangle a drama that Shakespeare himself might have been proud of. David Pickard took up his role as Director of the BBC Proms last year. He joins Kirsty to announce highlights of this year's season, including the first Front Row commission, and to discuss the intricacies of putting on the world's largest classical music festival. New film The Zookeeper's Wife is a based on a true story of Antonina Żabińska and her husband Jan who ran the Warsaw Zoo and who during the Nazi occupation helped save hundreds of people and animals. The film stars Jessica Chastain and is directed by Niki Caro. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews.

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Awol Erizku; Robert Macfarlane; Little Boy Blue; Gemma Bodinetz  

The young American artist Awol Erizku was the man responsible for the photograph of Beyoncé as she announced she was pregnant with twins back in February. It became Instagram's most-liked image ever. As he prepares to open Make America Great Again, his first solo show in Europe, he discusses the political nature of his work and that famous photo. The Word-Hoard is an exhibition at Wordsworth House in Cumbria celebrating the natural world and the words we once used to describe it. It is curated by Robert Macfarlane, writer, walker, Cambridge don and author of the bestselling book Landmarks. He explains why it's important not to forget that clinkerbells, dagglers and ickles are all another way of naming icicles. ITV's latest drama Little Boy Blue focuses on the murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones in Liverpool, in 2007. Mad about Everton, he was shot dead as he innocently walked home from football practice. The four-part series explores the family's ordeal, the community response and how Rhys's murderer was brought to justice. Broadcaster and journalist Shelagh Fogarty, who went to school in Croxteth, close to where Rhys died, reviews the drama. At the beginning of the year, the Liverpool Everyman resurrected its repertory company for the first time in 25 years. Front Row paid a visit to the new company at the start of their rehearsals in January. Three months on, and two productions opened, Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz discusses the challenges of the new repertory project. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.

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Murray Lachlan Young, Violinist Kyung Wha Chung, Hisham Matar on Clash  

Kirsty Lang talks to the violinist Kyung Wha Chung, who after five years recovering from a finger injury is now performing the complete Bach Partitas and Sonatas. Murray Lachlan Young, the first poet to receive a million pound contract from EMI, discusses his collection How Freakin' Zeitgeist Are You? Hisham Matar, who recently won the Pulitzer Prize, and Briony Hanson review the Egyptian film Clash, which is set entirely in a police truck in Cairo in 2013. Michael Pennington pays tribute to the late theatre director Michael Bogdanov, who founded the English Shakespeare Company. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.

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Warren Beatty in Rules Don't Apply, Inua Ellams, Born to Kill  

Warren Beatty has written, directs and stars in Rules Don't Apply, his film about the billionaire film producer, businessman and aviator, Howard Hughes. Writers Karen Krizanovich and Michael Carlson review. Nigerian-born poet Inua Ellams discusses and performs from his new collection #Afterhours, in which he responds to other poets and their poetry. Writer Stella Duffy reviews the new Channel 4 drama Born to Kill, from the producers of Line of Duty, starring Romola Garai, Daniel Mays and young actors Jack Rowan and Lara Peake. Music writer and former A&R man Ben Wardle strokes his stubbly chin and ponders his long-lasting love affair with that classic music genre - pop. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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Tom Stoppard  

Kirsty Lang talks to the playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, who turns 80 this summer. The Old Vic's production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire, will be broadcast live into cinemas across the UK on Thursday 27 April. Travesties, starring Tom Hollander and Freddie Fox, is on in the West End until the end of the month. Tom Stoppard talks about fleeing Czechoslovakia in 1939, his fascination with word play, and his secret role as a script doctor in Hollywood. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser.

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Adrian Lester and Deborah Kermode, Frog Stone, Kim Stanley Robinson  

As councils across the UK struggle to meet the pressure on their budgets, art organisations have had to take their share of cuts. So how are they bringing their creative minds to the issue? The mac birmingham, an arts centre with close links to the local community, has had a 70% cut to its council funding. Its chief executive and artistic director, Deborah Kermode, is joined by actor and mac alumni Adrian Lester to discuss the issue. Actress and writer Frog Stone discusses her new comedy Bucket, in which she stars alongside Miriam Margolyes. Exploring the relationship between a free spirited mother and her reserved daughter from a proudly female viewpoint, Frog Stone explains why she wanted to explore the minutiae of female relationships. Kim Stanley Robinson's latest novel, New York 2140, imagines the city 40 years after it has been completely flooded, when every street is a canal, every skyscraper an island. The bestselling sci-fi author, whose works include the Mars trilogy, discusses with Samira his fascination with environmental issues and exploring alternative futures. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jack Soper.

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Jim Broadbent; I Heard It Through the Grapevine; Johana Gustawsson and Matt Johnson  

Jim Broadbent stars as an elderly divorcee who receives a letter that unlocks memories of a relationship he had back in the 1960s. He and director Ritesh Batra describe how they've reinterpreted Julian Barnes' novel The Sense of an Ending for film. 50 years ago this week Marvin Gaye finished recording a track that would go on to become one of the most iconic love songs ever written. To mark the moment, music journalist Kevin Le Gendre records his own tribute to I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Novelist Matt Johnson started writing as part of his treatment for PTSD after a career in the army and police. Author Johana Gustawsson tackled the horror of her grandfather's deportation to a Second World War concentration camp, to form a family bond that wasn't possible during his lifetime. They discuss how writing has helped them to process difficult life experiences. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.

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Katherine Jenkins, The Hatton Garden Job, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction  

Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins has had seven Number One albums and sung around the world to huge audiences, but is a self-described 'newbie' to acting. Making her stage debut in the English National Opera's Carousel, she talks to John about her love of Rodgers and Hammerstein, learning an American accent and her dressing-room nerves. Netflix has replaced its users' star ratings with a simple thumbs up or down because, they say, the five-star system had begun to feel antiquated. Caroline Frost, Huffington Post UK's Entertainment Editor, and Sarah Crompton, Chief Theatre critic for WhatOnStage and former Arts editor of The Telegraph, discuss the pros and cons of star ratings. In April 2015, an underground safe deposit facility in London's Hatton Garden was burgled. Estimates for the amount stolen range from £25m to £200m, but the heist became as notorious for the gang of ex-criminals in their 60s and 70s who carried it off, as it did for the theft itself. John Wilson visits the vault where the burglary took place to talk to the stars of a new film about the story - Larry Lamb, who plays the group's ringleader, and Phil Daniels who plays the youngest criminal of the group. As Colson Whitehead's novel The Underground Railroad wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction we talk to literary critic Alex Clark about the win. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Ella-mai Robey.

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Ray Davies; Guerrilla; The Odyssey; Damien Hirst's exhibition  

Ray Davies is best known as frontman to the Kinks, a quintessentially English band, yet it is America which is at the heart of his most recent project. He talks to us about his first solo album in a decade, Americana, an ambivalent yet deeply personal homage to the country which has inspired him, banned him and almost killed him. Unlike the American Black Panther movement, the British version was largely non-violent. Members included the late writer Darcus Howe, poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and photographer Neil Kenlock. Guerrilla, a new six-part series by Sky Atlantic, uses the movement as a springboard for a tense thriller set in a fictional Black Power underground cell in 1970's London. Broadcaster and author Dreda Say Mitchell has seen it. The Odyssey Project is a new Radio 4 series which sees ten poets offer contemporary poetic responses to Homer's The Odyssey. Poet in Residence, Daljit Nagra reads his own poem and discusses the process of curating the project. This weekend saw the opening in Venice of Damien Hirst's new exhibition Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, which the artist claims cost millions of pounds of his own money. The exhibition, reportedly 10 years in the making, has divided critics. Matthew Collings gives his response. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.

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Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, S-Town reviewed, Queer British art and gender neutral awards  

The film Going In Style stars Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman as septuagenarians facing poverty after their pensions are cancelled and their bank threatens to foreclose on their homes. Desperate to support their families and pay the bills, they decide to hold up the local bank. They discuss this new genre of "geriatric lads" movies, the bad behaviour of some younger actors, and remember a time when they both did not have enough money to eat. Podcasts have been around for over a decade, but with S-Town breaking all records with 16 million downloads this week, they have become a fixture in the mainstream cultural landscape. Radio critic Pete Naughton takes us through his top picks of the most exciting, innovative ones to listen to right now. As the rainbow flag flies atop the Tate Britain in London to accompany its exhibition Queer British Art 1861-1967, curator Clare Barlow and artist Jack Tan discuss the ideas and issues raised by the show. After the MTV Movie and TV awards have scrapped gender-specific categories, film critic Tim Robey discusses whether it's time to drop the gender tag altogether and how this might affect prestigious awards like the Oscars. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Rachel Simpson.

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Fay Weldon; Raw review; Duchamp's Fountain; Simon Callow and Christopher Hampton  

Fay Weldon made her debut as a novelist in 1967. She's been a prolific writer but it's her 1983 novel, The Lives and Loves of a She Devil, that's been her most celebrated work. The tale of a downtrodden wife who exacts a terrible revenge on her husband and his glamorous mistress became a feminist classic and went on to be adapted for television, cinema, and radio. Three decades later she has written a sequel, so why is now was a good time for the She Devil to return? The French-Belgian horror film Raw, written and directed by Julia Ducournau, follows the story of a young vegetarian who turns cannibal after a stint in veterinary school. We review the film that's had people fainting in the aisles and discuss the new wave of women horror directors, with the Director of Film for the British Council, Briony Hanson. One hundred years since Marcel Duchamp purchased a porcelain urinal, signed it with a pseudonym and called it Fountain, art critic Richard Cork discusses how readymade art first shocked and then opened a world of artistic possibilities. Simon Callow directs a revival of Christopher Hampton's The Philanthropist, an inversion of Moliere which he wrote when he was 23. The two of them discuss this cutting campus comedy, which playfully satirises the liberal elite and explores what it means to find contentment in an insular world. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.

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David Vann, Terence Davies, Albert Moore  

David Vann is an Alaskan novelist with a love of the sea and boats. He talks about his latest novel Bright Air Black, which is a visceral retelling of the Medea Myth, imagining her journey across the Black Sea with Jason as they flee with the stolen Golden Fleece. Film director Terence Davies discusses him latest film, A Quiet Passion, about the American poet Emily Dickinson. He reveals how a passion for her poetry became a fascination with her life, and how the more he discovered about her - her withdrawal from life and her spiritual quest to make sense of religion - the more he empathised with her. A 19th century son of York - the artist Albert Moore - is the subject of a new exhibition at York Art Gallery which makes the argument that Moore is a forefather of British abstract art. Moore, known for his detailed paintings of women draped in classical robes, never achieved the kind of fame and prosperity enjoyed by his friends such as Whistler who described him as "the greatest artist that, in the century, England might have cared for and called her own". Professor Elizabeth Prettejohn explains why Moore matters. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Jack Soper.

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Neruda, Casting on screen, Magnus Mills  

Author Elif Shafak reviews Neruda, the new film about the Chilean poet and communist by director Pablo Larraín. We discuss the alchemic art of casting on screen with the casting directors Lucinda Syson, who has cast Hollywood blockbusters including Gravity, Batman Begins and the new Wonder Woman, and Victor Jenkins, who was responsible for pairing Olivia Colman and David Tennant in Broadchurch as well as working on Humans, Episodes and Grantchester. Busdriver Magnus Mills shot to fame in 1999 when his debut novel The Restraint of Beasts was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, but despite plaudits from the literary world such as Thomas Pynchon, he returned to his day job and continues to write. He talks about his latest novel The Forensic Records Society, about a small group of blokes who meet in the backroom of pub every week to listen, in piously enforced silence, to their vinyl collections. Presenter : Kirsty Lang Producer : Dymphna Flynn.

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Yevgeny Yevtushenko remembered, Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist announced  

The writer Viv Groskop reflects on the life of the Soviet-era poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, best known for his epic work Babi Yar, who died at the weekend aged 84. The shortlist for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction is announced live by judge and novelist Aminatta Forna, who discusses the novels that made it though from the longlist of 16. Pulitzer Prize nominee Rajiv Joseph discusses the European premiere of his award-winning play Guards at the Taj. Taking as its starting point the legends surrounding the building of the Taj Mahal, Joseph's play examines the human price paid throughout history for the whims of those in power. The duelling Slovakian violinists, brothers Vladimir and Anton Jablokov, who have performed on the Last Night of the Proms, bring their instruments to the Front Row studio, and discuss the influence of their Russian grandfather on their choice of the music they perform. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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Decline and Fall; Adrian Mole turns 50; Hollie McNish  

As Evelyn Waugh's classic first novel Decline and Fall has been made into a new BBC television series starring Jack Whitehall, we speak to its adapter James Wood and literary critic Suzi Feay and discuss how Waugh's distinctive but potentially offensive brand of satire plays for a modern audience. Sunday 2 April 2017 is the 50th birthday of Adrian Mole, diarist, poet and would be novelist. In 1982 Leicester-born Sue Townsend took the publishing world by storm with her first book, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 and became the best-selling author of the 1980s, with follow up volumes until her death in 2014. Adrian's poems are now published together in one volume, Adrian Mole the Collected Poems. Radio 4's Poet in Residence Daljit Nagra reads and discusses them with Stig. A new touring play Offside focuses on the beautiful game and puts women centre stage. Poet Hollie McNish, who co-wrote the play, joins director Caroline Bryant to discuss their depiction of women, football, race, sexuality, and the politics of the sport across the centuries. This year Australian artist Patricia Piccinini drew bigger crowds that any contemporary artist worldwide. While the Tate Modern in London remains the most popular modern and contemporary art museum in the world. Facts revealed this week as The Art Newspaper publishes its annual museum and exhibitions visitor surveys. Javier Pes, the papers' editor in chief, talks us through the results. Presenter: Stig Abell Producer: Ella-mai Robey.

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Hari Kunzru, Mica Levi, Patrick Marber, Turner Prize  

The author Hari Kunzru discusses his new novel White Tears, about a pair of blues fans in New York who find themselves in very deep water, and the issues he now faces as a British Indian legal immigrant living in that city. Mica Levi's debut film score for Under The Skin was nominated for a Bafta. Her second film score for Jackie was nominated for an Oscar. And when this classically trained musician is not bringing her sonic talents to the big screen, she's the lead singer of an experimental pop band, Micachu and the Shapes . Currently touring a live performance of her Under The Skin soundtrack, Mica joins John Wilson to discuss why listening to her instincts are her best musical guide. Patrick Marber's Don Juan in Soho was a salacious and satirical swipe at the hypocrisies of society, and has now been revived a decade later with David Tennant as the hedonistic libertine. The writer and director guides us through the seedy, but increasingly sanitised, underbelly of modern London which inspired the play. As it is announced that the Turner Prize is to scrap the rule that eligible artists must be aged under 50, art writer Louisa Buck, who was a jurist for the prize in 2005 discusses the move and considers which artists might have won previously if the age limit had not been in place. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jack Soper.

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42nd Street director, Anish Kapoor, Ted Hughes poetry prize, Humber Bridge sounds  

As the Broadway classic 42nd Street tap dances its way into the West End, the show's director and writer Mark Bramble discusses the great 'star is born' tale, which sees understudy Peggy Sawyer thrown into the spotlight to take the lead. Anish Kapoor takes Samira round his latest exhibition in which he blurs the line between two-dimensional paintings and three-dimensional sculptures, including a pair of red stainless-steel mirrors. The vast Humber Bridge is the focus of a new artwork for Hull UK City of Culture 2017. Norwegian musician Jan Bang and Hull-based sound recordist Jez Riley French discuss The Height of the Reeds, an interactive soundtrack they have created for Opera North, to be listened to on headphones as you cross the length of the 2,200m bridge. The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry highlights exciting new work by recognising not just poems on the page, but poetry written for a wide variety of contexts - such as the stage and art instillations. Previous winners have included Andrew Motion, Kate Tempest and Alice Oswald. We hear from this year's winner. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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Sir Nicholas Serota, Glen Matlock, Pina Bausch's Rite of Spring  

As Sir Nicholas Serota delivers his inaugural speech as the new Chair of Arts Council England today, the former director of the Tate art galleries discusses his vision for his new role, and to what extent he intends to change the focus of the London-based institution. Set to the Stravinsky score, Pina Bausch's Rite of Spring tells a brutal story of ancient ritual and sacrificial maidens. Jo Ann Endicott, a dancer who trained with Bausch, has been coaching the English National Ballet in their current performance at Sadler's Wells in London. She joins dancer Madison Keesler to talk about this extraordinary, exhausting, and demanding ballet. Some of punk's greatest hits have been covered by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and English National Opera for a new album - The Anarchy Arias. Former Sex Pistols bassist, Glen Matlock - the man behind the project - explains why he wanted to fuse punk with opera. Plus music critic Kate Mossman reviews. Main Image: Sir Nicholas Serota. Credit Hugo Glendinning 2016.

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Anthony Head, Tamburlaine, Ai Weiwei, Line of Duty  

Anthony Head, who started his career in the Nescafe Gold Blend adverts and then went on to achieve international fame in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is now on stage in Terence Rattigan's Love In Idleness. He talks about his career spanning several decades. Dreda Say Mitchell reviews the return of BBC drama Line of Duty, starring Thandie Newton. Tim Marlow explores the underground studio of artist Ai Weiwei for the new World Service documentary strand In the Studio, which launches tomorrow. As a British East Asian, mostly female cast perform Christopher Marlowe's Tamburlaine, director Ng Choon Ping and Kumiko Mendl of Yellow Earth Theatre Company discuss the contemporary resonances in this brutal and controversial play. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.

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