Front Row

Front Row

United Kingdom

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

Episodes

Gurinder Chadha on Viceroy's House, America after the Fall, Christopher Bailey  

Director Gurinder Chadha discusses her new film Viceroy's House, which tells the story of the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, seen from the vantage point of Lord and Lady Mountbatten (played by Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson) and the British and Indian staff who worked in the Viceroy's palace. America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s, a new exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, begins with 'the fall' that the US experienced after the Crash of 1929. Curator Adrian Locke takes John Wilson round the exhibition which offers artists' reactions to the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the rise in racial tensions and a huge swell in immigration, starting with Grant Wood's famous American Gothic which has left North America for the first ever time. The fashion house Burberry has teamed up with the Henry Moore Foundation to collaborate on an exhibition celebrating the company's new collection. Alongside some of Henry Moore's work, Christopher Bailey - chief executive and chief creative officer at Burberry - shows how the sculptor's work has influenced and inspired his designs and his working process. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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Patriots Day, Stephen Karam, EU Baroque Orchestra, Syria documentaries  

Mark Wahlberg stars in new film Patriots Day, which focuses on the bombing at the Boston Marathon in 2013 which killed three people and injured 264. Michael Carlson reviews the film which was directed by Peter Berg, who also worked with Wahlberg recently on Deepwater Horizon. Stephen Karam is one of the hottest playwrights in America right now - his play The Humans recently won several Tony Awards. As his work is performed in the UK for the first time, he discusses Speech and Debate, his early play about three misfit teenagers caught up in a sex scandal. The Oxfordshire-based European Union Baroque Orchestra has announced it will give its last UK concert in its current form on 19 May, before moving to Antwerp, citing the prospect of reduced funding and administrative difficulties post-Brexit. Director General Paul James explains the orchestra's decision. The situation in Aleppo in Syria has been the focus for a number of documentary-makers recently, and two of them are nominated for an Oscar for the Documentary (Short Subject) category which will be announced on Sunday. The makers of Watani: My Homeland and The White Helmets discuss the challenges they faced. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hannah Robins.

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Gary Barlow's The Girls, SS-GB, Sidney Nolan, The Great Wall  

Gary Barlow has written his first musical with his long-time friend, the screenwriter Tim Firth. The Girls, like the film Calendar Girls, charts the true life story of a group of friends who meet at the Burnsall Women's Institute and decide to pose for a nude calendar to raise money for charity. Gary and Tim discuss stage nudity and body confidence, and meeting the real Yorkshire 'girls'. The new five-part TV drama series SS-GB imagines the UK under Nazi occupation in 1941 after the Germans won The Battle of Britain. The writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who wrote the last six James Bond films, discuss this adaptation of the 1978 Len Deighton thriller, and their approach to re-imagining history. Famous for his paintings of Ned Kelly, Sidney Nolan is often seen as the most prominent Australian painter of the 20th century. Yet he spent most of his life in Britain recreating the landscapes of his birth country from his imagination. Art critic Richard Cork reviews Transferences, a new exhibition at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, which kicks off a year of events marking the centenary of the artist's birth. Veteran director Zhang Yimou and Hollywood star Matt Damon have teamed up to create The Great Wall, a film spectacular set in ancient China, which sees European mercenaries and Chinese soldiers working together to defeat a mythical horde of ravening beasts. It's the largest Hollywood co-production to be filmed entirely on location in China. Film critic Angie Errigo reviews. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.

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The Founder, Neil Jordan, See Me Now, Luke Jerram's Treasured City  

Academy Award winning screenwriter and director Neil Jordan talks about his latest novel Carnivalesque. During a trip to a carnival, schoolboy Andy gets trapped inside the glass in the hall of mirrors and his reflection takes his place in his family. A new theatre production created and performed by current and former sex workers aims to challenge stereotype and stigma. Writer Molly Taylor and member of the cast Jane discuss bringing together a group of male, female and transgender performers to share their stories on stage. He's the artist who put a giant water slide in the centre of Bristol, and pianos at stations inviting passing musicians to play; now Luke Jerram has cast five small artefacts from the North Lincolnshire Museum in 18 carat gold and hidden them across Scunthorpe for the public to find. As Treasured City, his artistic treasure hunt, begins, he explains why art is better when the public is involved, and why it doesn't need to be confined to galleries. In Michael Keaton's new film The Founder he plays Ray Kroc, a salesman from Illinois who turned one small takeaway burger bar in California called McDonalds into the globally-franchised billion-dollar empire it is today. The film's writer Robert Siegel - who also wrote The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke - discusses his fascination for the story and what it says about America in the 1950s.

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John Adams  

John Adams is one of the world's most critically acclaimed and popular composers whose music is performed frequently and globally. Over more than four decades he's covered a lot of musical ground, from experiments in recorded sound, and the harmony and rhythm of Minimalism to grand-scale symphonies and operas that tell big stories of global politics, science and terrorism. As he turns 70 he looks back at his musical life with John Wilson. Producer: Rebecca Armstrong Playlist: Hallelujah Junction Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture Bozo the Clown's theme tune Grand Pianola Music On The Transmigration Of Souls Steve Reich's Drumming Philip Glass's Knee Play from Einstein on the Beach Phrygian Gates Beginning from Nixon in China The People Are The Heroes Now from Nixon in China Chorus of Exiled Palestinians from The Death of Klinghoffer Chorus of Exiled Jews from The Death of Klinghoffer Marilyn Klinghoffer: "You embraced them!" from The Death of Klinghoffer Tale of the Wize Young Woman from Scherherazade 2 Image: John Adams Image credit: Brad Barket/Getty Images.

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Eduardo Paolozzi, Self-publishing, Neil Gaiman  

As a major new retrospective of the British artist Eduardo Paolozzi opens, John Wilson explores 'the godfather of Pop Art', with reflections from Paolozzi's friend and collaborator Sir Terence Conran, and the artist himself, from a Front Row interview recorded before his death in 2005. Neil Gaiman talks about his new book Norse Mythology, as he returns to the original sources to create his own version of the great northern tales. The Pros and Cons of self-publishing, with literary critic Alex Clark and author Mark Dawson, who left a traditional publishing company to self publish and now regularly tops the best-seller lists. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser.

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Hidden Figures, Dirty Dancing writer, Muslim Othello, Simon Armitage  

Hidden Figures tells the story of three brilliant African-American women mathematicians working at NASA during the early years of the Space programme. Science expert Sue Nelson reviews the film which stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing, the coming-of-age film starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, set in the 1960s, about a wide-eyed teen on a family holiday who discovers a forbidden underworld of sexy dancing. The film's writer Eleanor Bergstein explains how she drew on her own experiences as a teen, but also reflected the politics of the time. To celebrate the bicentenary of Branwell Brontë, the brother overshadowed by his more talented sisters - Charlotte, Emily, and Anne - the poet Simon Armitage discusses a new exhibition he has curated at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and a new series of poems he has written inspired by some of Branwell's possessions. A new production of Othello at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol aims to emphasise Othello as an Islamic convert to Christianity rather than focusing solely on the race dimension to the play. Writer and journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and historian Jerry Brotton discuss the impact this has on how we understand the text. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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Keanu Reeves, Chad Stahelski, Petrograd Madonna, Rag'n'Bone Man  

Keanu Reeves talks to John Wilson about his three decade career, from Hamlet and My Own Private Idaho to action hero John Wick. Chad Stahelski, who was Keanu Reeves' stunt double in the Matrix films, on moving to behind the camera, as director of both John Wick films. Rag'n'Bone Man, the unorthodox-looking pop star from Brighton who recently won the Brits' Critics' Choice 2017, discusses his debut album, Human. As part of Front Row's series on artworks about the Russian Revolution, Natalia Murray champions a painting by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin called the Petrograd Madonna, on show at the Royal Academy. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser.

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Artist Keith Tyson, dark comedy Prevenge, novelist John Boyne, Shostakovich Symphony No 12  

In Prevenge, writer and director Alice Lowe stars as an expectant mother whose unborn child convinces her to commit murder. Meryl O'Rourke reviews this dark comedy which was filmed whilst Lowe was actually pregnant. John Boyne is one of Ireland's bestselling novelists. His book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has sold six million copies worldwide. He talks to Samira about his latest novel, The Heart's Invisible Furies, the story of social developments in post-war Ireland told through the life of his main character, Cyril Avery. The Turner-prize winning artist Keith Tyson talks about his latest exhibition at the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, in which he explores the universe and our place in it. Featuring more than 360 studio wall drawings created over the last 20 years of his career, it aims to form a visual diary of Tyson's practice. To mark centenary of the Russian Revolution - which saw the collapse of the Russian Empire and the rise of the Soviet Union - Front Row has asked figures from the Arts world to select the work inspired by the events of 1917 that they admire most. Tonight, conductor Vasily Petrenko selects Symphony No. 12, composed by Dmitri Shostakovich. Plus, in the podcast edition of this programme, illustrator and storyteller Raymond Briggs who has been recognised with this year's BookTrust lifetime achievement award, speaking to John Wilson. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jack Soper.

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Vanessa Bell exhibition, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Alan Simpson remembered, The poetry of Anna Akhmatova  

Ang Lee's latest film, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, stars British actor Joe Alwyn as 19-year-old private Billy Lynn, who is caught on camera saving a comrade and, after the video goes viral on YouTube, becomes a pin-up for the war in Iraq. Through a sequence of flashbacks the realities of the war are revealed in contrast with the public's distorted perceptions of heroism. Kirsty talks to Ben Fountain, the novelist on whose book the film is based, and Joe Alwyn who was offered the part whilst still in drama school. Widely acclaimed as a central figure of the Bloomsbury Group, the modernist painter, Vanessa Bell (1879-1961) was a pivotal player in 20th century British art, but her reputation as an artist has long been overshadowed by her family life and romantic entanglements. Dulwich Picture Gallery in London seeks to rectify that with the first major solo exhibition of her work. Its curator, Sarah Milroy, shows Kirsty around. To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Front Row has asked figures from the arts world to select the art work, inspired by the events of 1917, they most admire. Tonight writer, comedian and lifelong Russophile, Viv Groskop selects a poem by Anna Akhmatova. We remember sitcom writer Alan Simpson who has died at the age of 87. As one half of writing duo Galton and Simpson, the pair created sitcoms including Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Edwina Pitman.

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The Moorside, 20th Century Women, Russian Revolution at 100  

The Moorside, which airs on BBC1 at 9pm tonight, is a drama about events surrounding the disappearance of nine year old Shannon Matthews in 2008. Starring Sheridan Smith as Julie Bushby, the woman who orchestrated the hunt for Shannon and Gemma Whelan as Shannon's mother Karen, who was eventually found guilty of the kidnap and false imprisonment of her daughter, the programme has been criticised by some as inappropriate subject matter for a TV show. Executive producer Jeff Pope defends the making of The Moorside and discusses the ethics and challenges of turning real-life events into drama. In 20th Century Women, Annette Bening stars as a freethinking Santa Barbara mother who enlists the help of two young women in raising her adolescent son during a period of cultural and social turmoil. Film critic Jenny McCartney reviews. To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Front Row has asked figures from the arts world to champion their favourite work, inspired by events in 1917. Today, film director Peter Greenaway makes the case for Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin. As a new contemporary staging of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion opens at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Samira met the team behind the production - director Sam Pritchard, sound designer Max Ringham, lead actors Alex Beckett and Natalie Gavin- to discover why they think Shaw's ideas about language and accent as a repository of class and power remain just as relevant in 2017 as they were when the play premiered just over a century ago. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Ella-mai Robey.

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David Hockney, Guy Garvey from Elbow, Max Richter, Russian Revolution at 100  

From his paintings of Californian swimming pools, to his Polaroid collages; his iPad drawings, to videos of his favourite country lane - as he approaches his 80th birthday, David Hockney continues to change his style and embrace new technologies. In a major retrospective of his work, Tate Britain in London is showing many of his most famous works from the 1960's to the present day. Charlotte Mullins reviews. Elbow front man Guy Garvey and bassist Pete Turner discuss the band's new album Little Fictions, and the new approach they've taken following the departure of the drummer Richard Jupp after 25 years. To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Front Row asks five figures from the arts world to select a cultural offering inspired by events in 1917. Today writer, comedian and lifelong Russophile Viv Groskop selects a poem by Anna Akhmatova. Max Richter on composing a ballet about Virginia Woolf, Woolf Works, writing the music for BBC1's Taboo, and why his piece On the Nature of Daylight has been used in so many films, including Arrival. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.

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Viola Davis, Rory Gleeson, Phil Mazanera and Waterstones' revival  

Viola Davis on her Oscar-nominated performance in August Wilson's Fences, co-starring and directed by Denzel Washington. With a father and two brothers in the acting profession, it's not surprising that Rory Gleeson's first passion was for the stage. However writing proved to have a stronger appeal. He discusses his debut novel, Rockadoon Shore, a story of six young friends with a plan for a wild weekend in rural Ireland that goes awry. The Waterstones book chain has reported a profit for the first time in five years. Waterstone's buying director, Kate Skipper, and editor of The Bookseller, Philip James, discuss how, under the leadership of James Daunt, the chain has turned around its fortunes and how it's affected the kind of books we buy and the bookshops we visit. Speaking at this year's Hay Festival in Cartagena, Roxy Music guitarist and record producer Phil Manzanera, discusses his Columbian roots and his new concept album Corroncho 2. The album tells the story of two hapless compadres from the Caribbean coast of Colombia, "Corronchos", who go on a road trip to the promised land, specifically Queens, in New York. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rachel Simpson.

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Diverse casting in historical dramas, Roots returns, Beyonce's pregnancy portrait, John Burnside  

Chichester Festival Theatre's production of Half a Sixpence has been criticised for casting all-white actors. Julian Fellowes wrote the book and addresses this on tonight's Front Row. Then to discuss the issue of diverse casting in historical drama, Samira is joined by Talawa Theatre Company producer, Gail Babb, and writer and critic Ekow Eshun. It's nearly 40 years since the TV mini-series Roots shook America with its portrayal of slavery and the brutal civil war. Now a new series has been made. Writer and critic Ekow Eshun explores whether this version can have the same impact on audiences today. The picture that Beyoncé released announcing that she's pregnant with twins has become an internet sensation. As the numbers of views and likes continues to rise, art critic Laura Freeman discusses the long history of images that Beyoncé's photograph draws upon. John Burnside is a prolific award-winning poet and novelist. As his new novel, Ashland & Vine, and new collection of poems, Still Life with Feeding Snake, are published, he talks to Samira Ahmed about these stories, and his different approaches to telling them.

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Loving, Hayley Squires, Nathan Hill  

Hayley Squires, the young actor who played Katie, the struggling single mother in Ken Loach's film I, Daniel Blake, discusses her first stage role since the film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes - in Philip Ridley's dystopian play The Pitchfork Disney. Loving is the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple in 1960's Virginia who had to fight the American legal system to stay together, starring Oscar-nominated Ruth Negga. Gaylene Gould reviews. Author Nathan Hill talks about his debut novel The Nix, which has won rave reviews in the US. Ten years in the writing, it's an ambitious book covering 50 years of American history and radical protest, as well as the story of a son and the mother who left him as a child. They next meet in adulthood, after a video of her throwing stones at a Trump-like candidate goes viral. The novel is out in the UK now. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.

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Cyrano, Víkingur Ólafsson plays Philip Glass, Toni Erdmann  

As an actress, Deborah McAndrew is probably best remembered as Angie in Coronation Street. As a playwright, she's written a new adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac to mark the 25th anniversary of the theatre company, Northern Broadsides. She describes how she's added a dash of 21st century reasoning to this classic 19th century play set in 17th century France. The German comedy film Toni Erdmann won rave reviews at Cannes 2016 and is tipped to win best Foreign Film at the Oscars. Briony Hanson reviews Maren Ade's film about a father attempting to reconnect with his high powered daughter. It's the first German comedy released in the UK for over a decade. New research from the University of York shows that audiences to European cinema almost halved between 2007 & 2013. Clare Binns, Director of Programming at Picturehouse Cinemas, and Briony Hanson discuss why audiences are declining, and recommend their best European films. Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson has won all the major prizes in his native country, and is the Artistic Director of two music festivals. He's just made a new recording of Philip Glass' Études on Deutsche Grammophon, a label that has been important to him since he was a child looking through his parents' record library. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Angie Nehring.

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Matthew McConaughey, Lizzie Nunnery, Charles Dance on John Hurt, Collecting Europe  

Matthew McConaughey discusses the challenge of playing a hard-drinking, hard-smoking prospector - and piling on the pounds - in his latest film Gold. Sir John Hurt is remembered by his friend and fellow actor Charles Dance, who stars with him in That Good Night, a forthcoming film in which Hurt plays a writer with a terminal illness. Playwright and folk singer-songwriter Lizzie Nunnery discusses the stories that she heard from her grandfather about his naval experiences during World War II, and which lie at the heart of her new play Narvik. As the Victoria & Albert in London opens an installation across the gallery where artists imagine how Europe today might be viewed looking back from 4017, we visit the museum to meet some of the artists adding the final touches. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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David Hare, John Akomfrah, Liverpool Everyman Rep  

Playwright David Hare discusses his screenplay for the film Denial, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Wilkinson, about Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt's legal battle with Holocaust denier David Irving As the Liverpool Everyman Repertory Company is revived, after over two decades, John talks to Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz and actors Melanie La Barrie and Elliott Kingsley about their opening production of Fiddler on the Roof, and the history of the company, which in its previous 1970s incarnation launched the careers of Julie Walters, Jonathan Pryce and Bill Nighy. The £40,000 Artes Mundi art prize, the UK's biggest contemporary art prize, has been won by filmmaker and artist John Akomfrah, who discusses his winning artwork, Auto Da Fé, which weaves together different moments over 400 years of history when communities were persecuted or driven from their land. Do dogs prefer Bach or Bob Marley? Neil Evans, professor of integrative physiology at the University of Glasgow reveals the results of a study examining canine musical preferences. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.

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Evelyn Glennie, Christine, Mary Tyler Moore, Turner Contemporary, Garth Jennings  

Samira Ahmed talks to percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, who is inviting the residents of Kings Cross, London to help her create a new musical work over the next twelve months. Lyse Doucet, the BBC's Chief International Correspondent, reviews the film Christine, which stars Rebecca Hall as American newscaster Christine Chubbuck, who killed herself live on TV in 1974. Karen Krizanovich discusses the extraordinary television and film career of Mary Tyler Moore, whose death was announced today. British director Garth Jennings, whose previous films include Son of Rambow and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, ventures into the world of animation with the hit American musical comedy Sing. And Andrea Rose reviews a new exhibition at Turner Contemporary Margate, featuring 40 international artists working with knitting, embroidery, weaving and sewing. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.

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Hacksaw Ridge, film; Jamie, new musical; author Vic James; the allure of Napoleon; some Robert Burns  

A new musical, Everybody's talking about Jamie, is based on the story of a 16 year old boy determined to go to his prom in a dress and become a drag queen. Samira Ahmed went to rehearsals to meet Dan Gillespie Sells from band The Feeling, and screenwriter Tom MacRae who have created their first musical, as well as Jamie Campbell, now 21, on whom it is based. Vic James's debut novel, Gilded Cage, is set in a Britain where the magically-skilled aristocracy compels all commoners to serve them for ten years. Vic wrote it on Wattpad, an online storytelling website. It was read over a third of a million times and went on to win Wattpad's Talk of the Town award. She joins Samira, live. The Allure of Napoleon is the opening exhibition in the Bowes Museum's year-long celebration of its 125th anniversary. Dr Tom Stammers, lecturer in European Cultural History at the University of Durham, discusses this show which presents Napoleon as one of the first celebrity statesmen, who burnished his ascent from political outsider to national leader with the power of art. Hacksaw Ridge has six Oscar nominations; including Mel Gibson for Best Director. The film tells the true story of Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to earn the Congressional Medal of Honour for saving the lives of 75 soldiers in Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. It's been hailed as a new kind of war movie because it graphically exposes the effects of guns on the human body while celebrating a central character who refuses to pick one up. Michael Leader reviews. This evening is Burns Night when, all over the world, people celebrate the great Scottish makar, Robert Burns. Front Row has a reading his work from Scotland's current Makar, Jackie Kay. Producer: Julian May.

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