Front Row

Front Row

United Kingdom

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

Episodes

Apple Tree Yard, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Elisabeth Frink  

The BBC's new Sunday night drama Apple Tree Yard is a thriller featuring a middle-aged scientist who embarks on an unlikely and increasingly dangerous affair. Staring Emily Watson as the eminent Dr Yvonne Carmichael it was adapted for screen by Amanda Coe from the novel by Louise Doughty. Director Jessica Hobbs, whose past projects include Broadchurch, River and The Slap, talks about how this female-led production impacts what we see on screen. Mark-Anthony Turnage discusses his new composition, Remembering, which is being premiered at the Barbican tomorrow night by Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO. Written in memory of a family friend who died from cancer at the age of 26, Turnage talks about how he approached the composition, and his collaboration with Rattle who requested there be no violins involved. Is the sculptor Elisabeth Frink due a renaissance? A new exhibition, Elisabeth Frink: Transformation, at Hauser and Wirth Somerset offers a chance to reassess the artist following her death in 1993. Richard Cork reviews. Presenter John Wilson Producer Angie Nehring.

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Conductor Simon Rattle, artist Lubaina Himid and playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig  

As Simon Rattle announces his first season as Musical Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, Kirsty Lang asks him about his plans. The film Split is a psychological horror by M. Night Shyamalan (The Visit, Sixth Sense). It stars James McAvoy as Kevin Crumb, who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder and who exhibits 23 alternate personalities. After kidnapping three teenage girls, there's a race against the clock as his captives try to convince one of his personalities to set them free - before the arrival of the 24th personality, the 'beast'. Writer and psychotherapist Mark Vernon reviews. For the last three decades, artist Lubaina Himid's work has explored historical representations of people from the African diaspora and their cultural contribution to the West. With two big solo shows at Spike Island in Bristol and Modern Art Oxford, Himid talks about making art as an act of political revelation. It doesn't open in London until November, but hip-hop musical Hamilton is the West End's hottest ticket and touts are offering them for up to £2,500 each. Despite a paperless system - audience members have bring a confirmation email, the bank card used and photo ID - tickets made it onto secondary sites within hours of going on sale. Reg Walker, expert on combating ticket sales irregularity, reveals how touts circumvent such safeguards, and the impact on the audience. Roland Schimmelpfennig is Germany's most prolific living dramatist. Responding to the rise of the far right in Europe his play Winter Solstice reveals how Fascism insinuates itself, rather than marches in. He talks about the highly unusual form of the play, in which the characters comment on the action, and how such a subject can be funny. Producer: Julian May.

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Jackie, The Transports, TS Eliot Prize, 'Yellowface' row  

Following the casting of Tilda Swinton as a character originally identified as Tibetan in the recent film Dr Strange, and the furore surrounding the casting of a new production of Howard Barker's play, In The Depths of Dead Love - Kumiko Mendl, Artistic Director of Yellow Earth Theatre, and Deborah Williams, Executive Director of Creative Diversity Network join Samira to discuss the issue of 'Yellowface' - the practice of non-Asian actors playing Asian roles. Sarah Crompton reviews the film Jackie, directed by Pablo Lorrain and starring Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, which focuses on the immediate aftermath of JFK's assassination in 1963. The Transports is a ballad opera telling the true story of two convicts who fell in love in prison as they were waiting to be sent on the First Fleet to Australia. They had a child, were cruelly separated, but thanks to a kind gaoler, were eventually united. It was recorded in 1977 by giants of the folk world - June Tabor, Nic Jones, Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson. 40 years on a new generation of folk stars - Nancy Kerr, Faustus, the Young'Uns - are touring their new production. Samira meets them as they rehearse and finds The Transports has plenty to say about exile and migration today. Britain's most prestigious award for poetry, the TS Eliot Award, is announced this evening. The prize is for the best collection of poems published in 2016, and Front Row will have the first interview with the winner. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.

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Ben Affleck, Untitled in Nottingham, V&A news, Lord Snowden remembered  

Ben Affleck discusses writing, directing, producing and starring in Live By Night, in which a bunch of Boston gangsters make their way to Florida and find themselves up against the competition in the Prohibition era. With news that the Labour MP and historian Tristram Hunt is to become the new director of the V&A in London, former Chair of Arts Council England Liz Forgan gives her reaction. The death of photographer Lord Snowdon - Antony Armstrong-Jones - was announced today. His former dealer, Giles Huxley-Parlour, remembers the former husband of Princess Margaret, who has died aged 86. Untitled is the name of a new exhibition at Nottingham's New Art Exchange. It refers to a longstanding practice where artists choose not to title their work in case it influences the viewer. This exhibition offers 12 contemporary African diaspora artists an open platform so visitors can come to their own conclusions on the message behind their art. Morgan Quaintance reviews. As a new species of gibbon discovered in the tropical forests of SW China is named Skywalker, comedian and writer Danny Robins reflects on the weird world of animals named after cultural figures. And to mark the severe flood warnings issued today for the east coast of England, we remember the flood in 1571 in Boston, which Jean Ingelow describes in her 1863 poem High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire.

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Natalie Clein; Lemony Snicket; The OA; Velázquez  

Natalie Clein has had a distinguished career as a classical cellist since winning the 1994 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition aged only 16. She talks about her new album of 20th century solo cello music as well as the challenges and rewards of the cellist's repertoire. Lemony Snicket's Unfortunate Series of Events has been enthralling young readers and their parents since it was first published in 1999. The 13 books follow the turbulent lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire after their parents' death in a fire. Now Netflix has made a drama series of the first four books. Children's Laureate Chris Riddell reviews. Are streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon changing the way TV series are written? Zal Batmanglij, the co-writer of The OA, a new mystery drama on Netflix, explains why he chose to make each episode a different length, and Danny Brocklehurst, writer of Shameless and Clocking Off, describes how writing without restraints can be a curse as well as a blessing. Art critic and author, Laura Cumming discusses her book The Vanishing Man - In Pursuit of Velázquez. The story of Victorian bookseller obsessed with proving a painting he owned was by the Spanish master, it also reveals the latest documentary evidence in the mystery. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.

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Dev Patel, Tina and Bobby, Harvey and the Wallbangers  

Bafta-nominated Dev Patel discusses his role in the film Lion, based on the autobiography of Indian-born Australian businessman Saroo Brierly who - after being separated from his birth mother and adopted by an Australian couple - goes on a quest 25 years later to find her. Tina and Bobby, a new 3-part ITV drama series based on the life of the football legend Bobby Moore, focuses on his marriage to Tina Dean and their relationship from the early 1960s to their divorce in the 1980s. Sportswriter Alyson Rudd reviews the drama, which features Lorne MacFadyen as Bobby and Michelle Keegan as Tina. Choreographer Steve Elias discusses bringing dance to the streets of four Yorkshire towns in a new BBC Two documentary, Our Dancing Town. The successful 1980s jazz vocal harmony group Harvey and the Wallbangers have reunited after a 30-year hiatus. Three of the original line-up plus two new female singers will be touring some of their early repertoire as well as new material. Founder Harvey Brough and new Wallbanger Clara Sanabras discuss the draw of doo-wop. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ella-mai Robey.

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Common Sense on TV, Bafta nominations, Mozart at 11, Is there a Northern Aesthetic?  

La La Land leads the Bafta field with 11 nominations, closely followed by Arrival and Nocturnal Animals with nine apiece but does this celebration of Hollywood come at the expense of home-grown British movies? We explore with Chief Film Critic of The Times, Kate Muir. Common Sense is a new reality TV show from the makers of Gogglebox, in which a regular cast of British people respond to the week's news. The show's creator Stephen Lambert and TV critic Boyd Hilton discuss. 250 years ago this year, an 11-year-old Mozart composed his first operas. Ian Page, artistic director of Classical Opera, will be presenting those childhood operas this year, and he talks to Kirsty Lang about his company's 27-year commitment to perform each of Mozart's works exactly 250 years after it was composed. North: Identity, Photography, Fashion has just opened at Liverpool's Open Eye Gallery, looking at the global influence of Northern fashion and photography. We talk to its curator Adam Murray and fashion designer and cultural commentator Wayne Hemingway about the idea of a Northern aesthetic. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Marilyn Rust.

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Hull Blade, Manchester By the Sea, John Lockwood Kipling, Francis Spufford  

Samira Ahmed talks to the artist behind The Blade, a huge artwork installed this weekend in the heart of Hull as part of UK City of Culture 2017. Briony Hanson reviews the film Manchester By the Sea, for which Casey Affleck won a Best Actor Golden Globe last night for his role as a janitor forced to look after his nephew. Costa First Novel Award winner Francis Spufford on Golden Hill, set in mid 18th Century Manhattan. And a V&A exhibition about the life and work of Rudyard Kipling's father, John Lockwood Kipling, an influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement who was steeped in the art of Punjab. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Timothy Prosser.

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Film-maker Alex Gibney, soul singer Ray BLK, author Brian Conaghan and Ben Wardle on yet more TV talent shows  

In his latest film, Alex Gibney, whose recent work includes 'Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room' and 'Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief', turns his attention to global cyber warfare. 'Zero Days' tells the story of the most sophisticated piece of malware ever created. Gibney talks to Kirsty Lang about the visual and practical challenges of making a film about a computer code that nobody wants they created. Soul singer Ray BLK is number 1 on the BBC's Sound Of 2017 list, which predicts the most exciting new music for the year ahead. Artists who have topped the list previously include Adele, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding. Ray BLK came to attention with her song 'My Hood' which describes the joys and tribulations of growing up female, black and in South London. She explains why she believes in 'socially conscious' music. Brian Conaghan has won the Costa Children's Book Award for 'The Bombs That Brought Us Together'. It tells the story of Charlie, who has lived in Little Town all his life, and Pav, a refugee from Old Country - Little Town's sworn enemy. Pav is "the wrongest person in the world to make friends with" but the pair form a bond as life around them falls apart. Influenced by recent world events, Conaghan describes his book as "an otherworldly, allegorical tale". Tomorrow evening BBC One embarks on its latest quest for singing talent in 'Let It Shine', presented by Gary Barlow. In direct competition an hour later 'The Voice' makes its transition from the BBC to ITV. Music writer Ben Wardle looks back at the history of Saturday night talent shows - from Popstars to The X Factor and BGT - and ponders whether these new offerings are what the nation really needs for its Saturday Night entertainment. Producer: Julian May.

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Steven Knight - writer of Taboo, CGI resurrections, the Bard's medical knowledge, Alice Oswald  

Peter Cushing died in 1994 yet curiously he reprises his famous role of Grand Moff Tarkin in the new recently-released Star Wars film Rogue One. A lawyer, an actor and a film critic consider Hollywood's increasing use of CGI in giving film actors a screen life well beyond the grave, from the early days of Peter Sellers in Trail of the Pink Panther and Oliver Reed in Gladiator. The hero of Taboo, the new Saturday night BBC1 block buster, is an arresting amalgam of Bill Sykes, Sherlock Holmes, Hannibal Lecter and Heathcliff! Screen writer Steven Knight describes how he worked with star Tom Hardy and his dad Chips to work their initial idea into a gripping eight part historical drama. Today scientists announced a breakthrough in the medical use of spider silk. But it's clear from A Midsummer Night's Dream that Shakespeare already knew about the healing properties of cobwebs. Historian of Medicine Anna Maerker looks at other examples of the Bard's surprising medical knowledge. Alice Oswald's latest collection of poems, Falling Awake, has won this year's Costa Poetry Award. With its classical themes and exploration of the natural world, she discusses why carving rather than writing might be a better verb for describing her approach to creating new work. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.

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Damien Chazelle on La La Land; Bright Lights; David Bowie: The Last Five Years; Keggie Carew  

Writer and director Damien Chazelle on the Hollywood musical La La Land, hotly tipped as the frontrunner for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards, and only his second feature film. Since the death of Carrie Fisher and - just a day later - her mother Debbie Reynolds, a documentary charting their complex relationship called Bright Lights has inadvertently become a touching memorial to the two actresses. Tim Robey reviews. A new BBC film examining the last five years of David Bowie's life is to be screened on BBC2 on Saturday, marking the first anniversary of the singer's death and featuring unseen footage. John talks to director Francis Whately. The winner of the 2016 Costa Biography Award is Dadland by Keggie Carew, which charts her father's activities as an SOE operative behind enemy lines at the D-Day landings and his descent into dementia later in life. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.

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John Berger, Costa Book Awards winners, Sebastian Barry, Unforgotten  

The art critic and writer John Berger has died. He changed our perception of art with his 1972 BBC TV series and book Ways of Seeing. An accomplished poet and playwright, he also wrote several novels including the Booker Prize-winning G which tells the story of a Casanova-like figure who gradually comes to political consciousness. Writer Lisa Appignanesi assesses his work. What were "the most enjoyable" books published in 2016? Chair of Judges, historian Kate Williams reveals that the Costa Book Awards category winners are: Francis Spufford for the First Novel Award; Keggie Carew who wins the Costa Biography Award; Alice Oswald who wins the Poetry Award; Brian Conaghan for the Children's Book Award; Sebastian Barry who wins the Costa Novel Award. He tells us about writing Days Without End. Chris Lang, the creator of the ITV hit drama Unforgotten, began his career in the mid-1980s as part of a comedy trio, The Jockeys of Norfolk, alongside Hugh Grant. As the new series of Unforgotten begins, Chris discusses the screenwriter's art of wrong-footing the audience. Presented by Samira Ahmed. Produced by Angie Nehring.

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US Composers: Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams  

Philip Glass, Steve Reich and John Adams are America's greatest living composers. Between them, they have helped change the way music is made and heard, repeating rhythms, highlighting melodies and overlapping time signatures to create new musical languages that are widely heard in the looped and sampled soundtrack to the 21st century. As they reach milestone birthdays, they talk to John Wilson about their work, and about the musical movement that links the three of them - Minimalism. Playlist: Philip Glass - Closing Steve Reich - Clapping John Adams - Phrygian Gates Bartok - Concerto For Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra, 3rd movt Stravinsky - Rite of Spring Bach Brandenburg 5 Charlie Parker - Be Bop Tchaikovsky's - 1812 Overture Bozo the Clown Philip Glass - Dance 8 Steve Reich - Livelihood John Adams - On the Transmigration of Souls Steve Reich - Different Trains Philip Glass - Floe Philip Glass - Facades Steve Reich - Clapping Steve Reich - Piano Phase Steve Reich - Drumming Steve Reich - Clapping John Adams - Grand Pianola Music Philip Glass - Knee Play 1 from Einstein on the Beach Philip Glass - Evening Song from Satyagraha John Adams - The People Are The Heroes Now from Nixon in China Steve Reich - The Cave John Adams - Hallelujah Junction Philip Glass - The Hours Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.

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Liam Neeson; Dancing Mad Hatters; Author Christian Jungersen; Assassin's Creed  

Actor Liam Neeson starts the new year with two new films. In Martin Scorsese's Silence he plays a Jesuit priest who relinquishes his faith and in A Monster Calls, the treelike monster. He talks to Samira Ahmed about both, as well as being a late blooming action hero and watching the Reverend Ian Paisley preach. How do you write about mass murder, holocausts, war crimes and how ordinary people reach a point when they kill their neighbours, and torture their former friends? The Danish author Christian Jungersen approaches this subject by setting his novel "The Exception" in an office - The Danish Centre for Information on Genocide - and documenting the behaviour of the women who work there. In 2014, ZooNation Dance Company performed the first full-length hip hop production at the Royal Opera House in London with their take on Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland where the familiar characters are recast as patients at a mental health institution. ZooNation's Artistic Director Kate Prince talks about re-staging The Mad Hatter's Tea Party for the Roundhouse in London and how she incorporated advice from the mental health charity Time to Change. A film version of Assassin's Creed is about to go on nationwide release but can this video game favourite make the leap onto the silver screen when so many have failed?

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Made in Hull: UK City of Culture 2017  

One Man, Two Guvnors playwright Richard Bean, artist Spencer Tunick and film-maker Sean McAllister are some of the leading contributors to Hull UK City of Culture 2017. John Wilson reports from the city on the banks of the Humber in the East Riding of Yorkshire on its year-long festival of arts and culture which is about to begin, and discovers that urban regeneration linked to cultural investment and its new status as UK City of Culture is already well underway. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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Jane Austen  

Samira Ahmed celebrates the life and work of Jane Austen, ahead of the 200th anniversary of her death. As Jane Austen's portrait is chosen for the new £10 note, Samira Ahmed explores how money dominates her novels, visiting her home at Chawton in Hampshire. John Mullan and Viv Groskop choose the best and worst Austen screen adaptations. Plus, as Austen's final and unfinished novel Sanditon is being turned into a film, Samira talks to adaptor Simon Reade and Emma Clery, writer of Jane Austen - The Banker's Sister. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Dymphna Flynn.

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Award Winners of 2016  

Arts news, interviews and reviews.

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The Front Row Cultural quiz  

Tonight's Front Row tests how much you've been paying attention to cultural events this year. With quiz master John Wilson is Boyd Hilton, the film and TV editor of Heat magazine, writer and broadcaster Ekow Eshun, Charlotte Higgins, who is the chief culture writer of the Guardian, and film critic Rhianna Dhillon. So can you beat their score?

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Riz Ahmed, Delicious, The Kite Runner on stage and Angela Carter  

Riz Ahmed is currently in our cinemas as part of a rebel crew in Star Wars spin-off Rogue One. But his acting roles have ranged from appearing in low-budget indie films like The Road to Guantanamo to HBO prison drama The Night Of, for which he's just been nominated for a Golden Globe. As a rapper, he's part of the group Swet Shop Boys and has released three albums. He discusses how he got started and his varied career. Delicious, a new four-part TV drama series, stars Iain Glen as a chef and hotel owner in Cornwall, and Dawn French as his ex-wife who taught him all he knows about food. Love, sex, lies and betrayal feature significantly when things start to unravel. Sarah Crompton reviews. As a stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's 2003 bestseller The Kite Runner opens in London's West End, its adapter, the American playwright Matthew Spangler, explains the challenges of turning an epic novel, spanning 30 years of Afghan history and politics, into a piece of theatre. Novelist Angela Carter is famous for the vivid imagery she evoked in her feminist takes on folk tales and fairy stories. Strange Worlds, an exhibition at the RWA (Royal West of England Academy of Art) in Bristol explores which paintings may have been the inspiration behind books like The Bloody Chamber and Nights At The Circus. Curator Marie Mulvey-Roberts talks through her choices. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Rachel Simpson.

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Alison Balsom, To Walk Invisible, Beautiful books, Flying on stage  

On her latest album Jubilo, Alison Balsom plays two incarnations of the trumpet: the natural trumpet - ascendant during the Baroque period of the 17th and 18th centuries - and the 19th century creation that is the modern trumpet. She discusses the appeal of both instruments and what they've brought to the album. Screenwriter Sally Wainwright made her name with award-winning contemporary dramas such as Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax. She's now written and directed her first period TV drama, To Walk Invisible, an exploration of the lives of the Brontës during the tumultuous years when the four siblings - Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne - were at home with their father Patrick. Critic and historian Kathryn Hughes reviews. The big show for Christmas at the National Theatre this year is Peter Pan which features a lot of aerial action. Front Row goes behind-the-scenes to find out how the flying is done. Still looking for a last-minute Christmas gift? Danuta Kean makes her selection this year's 'beautiful books'. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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