Front Row

Front Row

United Kingdom

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

Episodes

Jake Gyllenhaal, Pauline Black, Christopher Wheeldon and the business of musicals  

Jake Gyllenhaal on his latest movie Life, a sci-fi thriller about a team of scientists aboard the International Space Station who find a rapidly evolving life form from Mars. He discusses the practicalities of simulating zero gravity on film and also his current role in the musical Sunday in the Park with George on Broadway. Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon talks about directing the Tony Award-winning musical An American in Paris, which has just opened in London. This year thirteen new musicals will receive a Broadway premiere, but in the UK only two new musicals are slated for West End premieres, so is the UK is being left behind by America? Jamie Hendry, producer of the forthcoming West End musical, The Wind in The Willows, and Zoë Simpson, independent producer and board member of the Musical Theatre Network discuss the business of putting on a musical. Pauline Black, lead singer of Midlands ska band The Selecter, reviews One Love: The Bob Marley Musical at The Birmingham Rep. Written and produced by director, actor and playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, the show brings the reggae star's global hits to the stage for the first time and delves into the political turmoil of Marley's native Jamaica. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer Rachel Simpson.

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23/03/2017  

Charlotte Rampling came to attention as an actress and model during the Swinging Sixties. She soon became associated with challenging roles such as Lucia the concentration camp survivor who develops a sadomasochistic relationship with a former SS officer in The Night Porter. After a period of depression in the Nineties she burst onto screens again with a best actress Oscar nomination for the film, 45 years, and for her parts in Dexter and Broadchurch on TV. She's now written a very personal and revealing memoir. Harlots is a new 8-part TV series set against the backdrop of 18th century Georgian London. It follows the career of Margaret Wells played by Samantha Morton as she struggles to reconcile her roles as mother and brothel owner. Creator and writer Moira Buffini discusses becoming seduced by the Georgians and how Harlots was inspired by stories of real women. The Clearing is a vision of how we might live if sea levels rise and petrol pumps run dry. Artists Alex Hartley and Tom James discuss the project, which is centred around a geodesic dome hand built from recycled materials in the grounds of Compton Verney gallery in Warwickshire. After Ukraine bans Russian singer Samoilova from this year's Eurovision Song Contest, William Lee Adams, founder and editor of Eurovision website wiwibloggs, talks about the contest's latest political controversy. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Jack Soper.

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Paula Rego, Danny Huston, Ghetto Film School  

The 82-year-old Portuguese artist Dame Paula Rego is the subject of a new BBC Two documentary Secrets and Stories. The intimate portrait of the artist was made by her son, the film-maker Nick Willing, who discusses the very personal nature of the project. Danny Huston makes his stage debut in a new play about the extraordinary life of Hollywood producer Robert Evans currently at the Royal Court, in London. Hailing from the famous film dynasty; he talks about coming to acting late at the age of 38, his memories of his father John Huston and working behind the scenes in the industry. The Ghetto Film School was founded in 2000 by American social worker Joe Hall. He wanted to provide an opportunity for the young people he worked with to learn how to become filmmakers. Almost two decades on, the school is a flourishing project with branches in New York and Los Angeles, and a new partnership with a youth film project in the UK. Joe Hall and his UK film partner Hannah Barry discuss their desire to develop new generations of filmmakers. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.

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Soaps and social issues, Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzalez, Colin Dexter remembered  

As Coronation Street develops a controversial story-line about a 36 year old man grooming a teenager, we discuss soaps and their depiction of social issues with Coronation Street's Series Producer Kate Oates, Editor of The Archers Huw Kennair-Jones, and former BBC Drama Controller John Yorke. Ian Rankin and Lewis star Kevin Whately discuss the life and work of Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter, whose death was announced today. For Jarvis Cocker's first album in eight years he's teamed up with pianist Chilly Gonzalez to conjure up the ghosts of the legendary Chateau Marmont Hotel in Hollywood. At the piano they imagine what has gone on behind closed doors in Room 29. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Edwina Pitman.

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Chuck Berry remembered, The Lost City of Z, Howard Hodgkin portraits, Poem for the Spring equinox  

Leonard Cohen said of him 'all of us are footnotes to the words of Chuck Berry', while Bob Dylan described him as 'the Shakespeare of rock & roll'. Kandia Crazy Horse, editor of Rip It Up, the Black Experience of Rock'n'Roll, and music critic Kevin Le Gendre, discuss some key Chuck Berry songs to show what they reveal about Berry's influences, his stature as a world-class musician, and the huge influence he had on those that followed him. The Lost City of Z is a film inspired by the real-life adventures of explorer Percy Fawcett. Survival expert Ray Mears gives us his verdict. Continuing Radio 4's poetic celebration of the Spring Equinox, Patience Agbabi reads her poem Mr Umbo's Umbrellas, written especially for the occasion. Of all the paintings by the artist Sir Howard Hodgkin who died earlier this month, it was his portraits that were most often overlooked. However, this week the National Portrait Gallery stages the first exhibition of these works, which cover the period from 1949 to the present. One of Hodgkin's sitters, the writer Ekow Eshun, discusses the experience. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Hannah Robins.

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Derek Walcott, Costume designer Jenny Beavan, St Patrick's Day  

Kirsty Lang discusses the life and work of the Nobel Prize winning poet and playwright, Derek Walcott, whose death at the age of 87 was announced today. Costume designer Jenny Beavan, who won an Oscar for Mad Max: Fury Road and whose previous films include Sherlock Holmes and Tea with Mussolini, discusses the art of creating an iconic costume with film historian Ian Christie. David Darcy in New York reports on President Trump's proposal to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts. Laura Snapes explores the emergence of playlists in music. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Jerome Weatherald.

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Get Out, Lost Without Words, Compton Verney, Music Streaming  

Daniel Kaluuya stars in Get Out, director Jordan Peele's racial satire about contemporary America. Already a hit at the US box office, the casting of a British actor in a film about US race relations has sparked debate about the number of roles for black actors. Film journalist Ashley Clark has the Front Row review. An experimental production at the National Theatre has no script and features a cast in their 70s and 80s. Director Phelim McDermott, actor Anna Calder-Marshall and Joan Bakewell discuss how issues facing older people can, and should, be shown on stage. Kirsty visits Compton Verney's exhibition Creating The Countryside, which examines how artists have represented the great outdoors, from Gainsborough to Grayson Perry. Also part of the new season is The Clearing, a vision of how we may have to live if sea levels rise and petrol pumps run dry. Artists Alex Hartley and Tom James explain. And Front Row continues to look at what the charts reveal about pop music today. Laura Snapes argues that streaming services are changing the music we hear.

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Beauty and the Beast, Dave Spikey, Big Bang Theory prequel, Josef Locke  

As the highly anticipated live action remake of Beauty and the Beast is released, the director Bill Condon talks about working with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, gay references in the film, and how this version of the beast is based on Mr Darcy. Comedian Dave Spikey is best known for co-writing Phoenix Nights with fellow Lancastrian Peter Kaye. As he begins his 30th anniversary UK tour, Juggling on a Motorbike, he explains the process behind planning a new set of shows, why he avoids ridicule and crudity in his comedy, and divulges a rather unusual lucky mascot! A Big Bang Theory prequel has just been announced. Young Sheldon will follow a 9-year-old version of the socially awkward genius as he grows up in east Texas. Big Little Lies actor Iain Armitage will star as the young version of Jim Parsons' Sheldon Cooper. So what chance success? The great Irish tenor Josef Locke was born 100 years ago in Derry-Londonderry. Nuala McAllister Hart, author of a new biography, explains his lasting appeal and talks about the events celebrating Locke's centenary across Northern Ireland. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Angie Nehring.

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Saxophonist John Harle, The Salesman reviewed, London Book Fair highlights, Singer-songwriter ESKA  

John Harle is credited with making the saxophone an accepted instrument in classical music and for inspiring composers such as John Tavener and Sir Harrison Birtwistle to write for it. He's also worked with pop artists like Elvis Costello, Marc Almond and Sir Paul McCartney. After many years training young musicians, he has now collected his insights into a new book, The Saxophone; but can he teach John Wilson to play? The Salesman won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film this year. As it comes to UK cinemas Briony Hansen reviews the film from Iranian director Asgar Farhadi and discusses if it was a worthy winner. Music writer Laura Snapes explains what the charts can tell us about the state of pop. In 2011 the Performing Rights Society Foundation recognised that only 16% of the commissions they were funding involved female music creators and set up a fund to support composers and songwriters. The CEO of the PRS Foundation, Vanessa Reed, reveals their progress, and is joined by ESKA who received support from the fund which enabled her to record her Mercury-nominated album.

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Professor Brian Cox, Sarah Dunant on Michelangelo, My Country, The UK charts  

As Professor Brian Cox adds a number of arena shows to a live tour which has already made the Guinness World Records, he talks about turning science into an art form. The National Gallery's latest exhibition focuses on the creative partnership between Michelangelo (1475-1564) and Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547). Sarah Dunant, who has written novels set in this period of the Borgias, Medicis and Machiavelli, considers the cultural, historical and geographical context of the artists and how they were considered at the time. Ed Sheeran has 9 songs from his latest album in the UK top 10 Singles Chart. Music journalist Laura Snapes explains how. In response to the Brexit referendum, the National Theatre has created a new play, My Country; a work in progress. Critics from both sides of the political fence, Susannah Clapp and Lloyd Evans, review this collaboration between director Rufus Norris and the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hannah Robins.

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Paul Weller, Duncan Macmillan on City of Glass, Catfight, My Feral Heart  

Paul Weller talks about writing his first film score. The forthcoming boxing film Jawbone features Weller's soundtrack which, as he explains, is a completely new departure for him. Speaking from his studio, he demonstrates how he composed the experimental score using his mixing desk as an instrument. In Catfight, Anne Heche and Sandra Oh star as old enemies who become locked in a bitter and violent rivalry. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews Duncan Macmillan's play People, Places and Things was a massive hit last year. Now the playwright is tackling a very different project - adapting Paul Auster's notoriously complex meta detective thriller City of Glass. John Wilson speaks to Duncan about the challenges involved in staging the piece. My Feral Heart tells the story of Luke, an independent young man with Down's Syndrome, and how he comes to terms with the loss of his freedom after his mother dies and he is sent to live in a care home. One of the few films to cast an actor with a disability in a lead role, Steven Brandon, who plays Luke, and director Jane Gull talk about making a movie about disability which celebrates ability. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.

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Howard Hodgkin remembered; Imogen Cooper; Edward Albee  

The death was announced today of the artist Sir Howard Hodgkin at the age of 84. Artist Maggi Hambling and art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon remember the man who was described today as 'one of the great artists and colourists of his generation' by Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota. Classical pianist Imogen Cooper is renowned for her recordings of works by Brahms, the Schumanns, and Chopin. Her latest CD explores the world of another great romantic, Franz Liszt, and places him alongside another giant, Richard Wagner. She explains why she put the two together and performs the music of each, live in the studio. As two of the late Edward Albee's greatest plays open in the West End, starring Imelda Staunton, Conleth Hill, Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo, Kirsty talks to directors James Macdonald (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf) and Ian Rickson (The Goat) about the playwright. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Hannah Robins.

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Roger McGough and Brian Patten on 50 years of The Mersey Sound, Lizzie Nunnery, Andrew McMillan  

Roger McGough and Brian Patten discuss the making of The Mersey Sound - the ground-breaking collection of poetry they created with the late Adrian Henri. Fifty years after the collection was published, and described by one critic as "a flash in the pan from a three-headed pantomime horse", they talk about the inspiration and the impact of The Mersey Sound. The painter, poet, musician, and teacher, Adrian Henri, described by John Peel as "one of the great non-singers of our time", and the third member of The Mersey Sound poets, is the subject of Tonight at Noon - a new season of exhibitions and events in Liverpool. His literary and artistic executor, and curator of the season, Catherine Marcangeli, discusses Henri's total art vision. Playwright and singer-songwriter Lizzie Nunnery performs an extract from her new work, Horny Handed Tons of Soil, which was inspired by both The Mersey Sound and Adrian Henri. Bryan Biggs, artistic director of Bluecoat's 300th anniversary programme, discusses the history of one of the UK's oldest arts centres and its role in supporting generations of contemporary artists such as Jeremy Deller, Yoko Ono and John Akomfrah. Prize-winning poet Andrew McMillan premieres his new poem in response to The Mersey Sound. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Ekene Akalawu.

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Judith Kerr on The Cat in the Hat; Wolfgang Tillmans; Snow in Midsummer  

It is 60 years since Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat was published featuring the anarchic figure who 'entertains' two young children while their mother is away. Using only 236 words and with surreal cartoon characters, children's books were never the same again. Author Judith Kerr and Children's Laureate Chris Riddell talk about his work and how he influenced their own books for children. The Disney live-action Beauty and the Beast will be released in Russia with 16+ rating to prevent children from watching because of the studio's first "exclusively gay moment" involving a character played by Josh Gad. Samira talks to David Austen, Chief Executive of the British Board of Film Classification about the way in which film classifications here are decided and evolve to reflect changing social attitudes. Photographer and artist Wolfgang Tillmans discusses his 14-gallery exhibition at Tate Modern, which covers the period from 2003 to the present. For Tillmans - the first non-British artist to win the Turner Prize - 2003 was the moment the world changed, with the invasion of Iraq and the anti-war demonstrations. A vengeful ghost seeks retribution in the Royal Shakespeare Company's modern adaptation of the 13th Century Chinese classic, Snow in Midsummer. Playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig talks to Samira about blending ancient Chinese traditions with contemporary issues, including organ harvesting and climate change. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ella-mai Robey.

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Sean Foley directs The Miser, Kate Whitley sets Malala's speech to music, Sonia Friedman and David Babani  

Olivier award-winning writer and director behind The Play What I Wrote, The Painkiller and I Can't Sing! The X-Factor The Musical, Sean Foley is serious about comedy. He tells Kirsty why he's brought Moliere to the West End in his new version of The Miser,with a cast of comic heavyweights including Griff Rhys Jones and Lee Mack in his theatrical debut. Controversial new film Elle is a psychological thriller about the fall out after a successful business woman suffers a violent rape in her own home, and is described by its star Isabelle Huppert as 'post-feminist'. Elle is the first feature film in a decade from director Paul Verhoeven known for titles such as Basic Instinct and Showgirls. To discuss the director's complex depiction of women in his films, Kirsty is joined by journalist Karen Krizanovich. As the Olivier Awards nominations are announced, Kirsty speaks to Sonia Friedman whose productions have received a record breaking 31, and to David Babani, artistic director of the self funding Menier Chocolate Factory, who've received 9. Composer Kate Whitley has set Malala Yousafzai's 2013 UN speech to music for a new BBC Radio 3 commission. Speak Out uses extracts from Malala's speech about every girl's right to an education and will be premiered by the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales on 8th March and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 the same evening. Kate Whitley explains the significance of this commission and about her involvement with the Multi-Story Orchestra which brings classical music to unexpected places. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.

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Stormzy, Cornelia Parker, Krzysztof Penderecki  

Grime artist Stormzy became a worldwide sensation when online videos of him and his friends in the park went viral. With the release of his first studio album Gang Signs & Prayer and a national tour, he talks about his range of different styles, trying to please his mum and the police kicking down his door. Poland's greatest living composer, Krzysztof Penderecki, whose powerfully dissonant music has been used in films such as Kubrick's The Shining, reveals that his terrible experience of Nazi occupation inspired his masterpiece St Luke Passion. Ash to Art is the response of 25 artists to the fire that destroyed a significant part of the Glasgow School of Art in 2014. Each was given a piece of charcoal from the burned-out Mackintosh Library and asked to make a work that could be auctioned to raise money for the building's restoration. Cornelia Parker, Chantal Joffe and Ishbel Myerscough show John round the exhibition at Christie's in London. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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Tom Hiddleston, This Country, Certain Women, Gustav Metzger remembered  

Tom Hiddleston stars in the latest outing for Kong. We speak to the actor about the giant ape, mega fans and his media intrusion into his private life. We remember artist Gustav Metzger, the hugely influential pioneer of "auto-destructive art" who has died aged 90. Critics Richard Cork and Hans Ulrich Obrist discuss his work, activism and continued influence on art. BBC Three's mockumentary This Country explores the lives of young people in modern rural Britain, focusing on cousins Kerry and Lee 'Kurtan' Mucklowe, written and performed by real-life siblings Daisy May and Charlie Cooper. They discuss the origins of this word-of-mouth hit comedy. Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart star in Kelly Reichardt's study in northerly melancholy Certain Women. Antonia Quirke reviews. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Edwina Pitman.

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Hugh Jackman, National Poet of Wales Ifor ap Glyn, Richard Bean  

Hugh Jackman talks to Kirsty Lang about his final portrayal of the super-hero Wolverine in the film Logan. Ifor ap Glyn, the National Poet of Wales, writes a new poem for Front Row to mark St David's Day, called Cymraeg Ambarel (Umbrella Welsh). One Man, Two Guvors playwright Richard Bean on The Hypocrite, set in Hull during the English Civil War, which opens tonight at the Hull Truck Theatre. Katharine Quarmby reviews the film Trespass Against Us, which stars Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson as travellers in the West Country. Cymraeg Ambarel 1.3.17 Mae'n bwrw mor aml mewn byd drycinog, ond mae dy ffyn bob tro yn cloi'n gromen berffaith, uwch fy mhen; a than dy adain, caf hedfan yn unfraich, drwy ddychymyg yr hil. I rai, rwyt ti'n 'cau'n deg ag agor, ond o'th rolio'n dynn, mi roddi sbonc i'n cerddediad fel Cymry; ac mi'th godwn yn lluman main i dywys ymwelwyr at ein hanes, a thua'r byd amgen sydd yno i bawb... Tydi yw'r ambarel sydd o hyd yn ein cyfannu, boed yn 'gored, neu ynghau - dim ond i ni dy rannu.... Ifor ap Glyn Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru Umbrella Welsh 1.3.17 It rains so often in our stormy world, but your spokes always lock in a hemisphere above my head; and I can float through our people's wit, hanging by one arm beneath your wing. For some, you simply can't be opened, but rolling you tight lends a Welsh spring to our step; and we lift you, like a narrow flag, to guide visitors to our history, to an alternate reality, that's open to all... You are that brolly, that melds our world, as long as you're jointly held, - whether open or furled... Ifor ap Glyn National Poet of Wales Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser.

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Jojo Moyes, Prime Suspect 1973, Independent bookstores, Swan Lake in Hull  

Jojo Moyes had been writing for ten years and was beginning to wonder if she'd ever find success when her ninth novel, Me Before You, rocketed her to number one in the charts. She discusses her sudden rise to global fame and, as her first short story collection is published, compares the art of writing novels to short form. Prime Suspect 1973 is a new TV drama charting the rise of the young WPC Jane Tennison, the character made famous by Helen Mirren in the successful 1990s series. This prequel, starring Stephanie Martini, shows how Tennison became the formidable character viewers have come to know. Dreda Say Mitchell reviews. As the Waterstones bookshop chain admits to opening shops in three small towns in England that appear to be both local and independent, Rosamund De La Hay, the owner of the Main Street Trading Company in St Boswells, Scotland defends the truly independent bookstore. Hull UK City of Culture 2017 announced today that, after a £16m transformation, the Hull New Theatre will reopen with its first visit from The Royal Ballet in 30 years. Kevin O'Hare, director of The Royal Ballet, explains why he's bringing a programme of Swan Lake-inspired works to the city of his birth; including getting the whole city to dance together as a long line of several hundred cygnets. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Angie Nehring.

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Moonlight at the Oscars, Mary Beard, Author Ross Raisin, Mary Magdalene in art  

After an awkward mix-up, Moonlight was eventually revealed as best picture at the Oscars. Critic Tim Robey discusses why it was a worthy winner over La La Land. Mary Beard discusses Rome and Shakespeare alongside Angus Jackson, season director of a new run of the Roman plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Critically acclaimed writer Ross Raisin talks about his new novel A Natural, which is about a young footballer whose dreams of reaching the upper leagues are rapidly fading and whose identity is conflicted. Guido Cagnacci's masterpiece The Repentant Magdalene is on loan for three months at the National Gallery, the first time the painting has been on view in the UK in over 30 years. Art critic Waldemar Januszczak examines the power of this extraordinary work and discusses the depiction of Mary Magdalene in art.

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