Front Row

Front Row

United Kingdom

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

Episodes

Patrick Gale's Man in an Orange Shirt, Olly Alexander's Queer Icon, Man Booker Prize longlist, Mercury Prize shortlist  

A family secret inspired novelist Patrick Gale's first TV screenplay Man in an Orange Shirt. Part of the BBC's Gay Britannia season, the drama focuses on gay relationships in two interlinking episodes set during the '40s and in the present day. The Man Booker Prize 2017 longlist has just been announced and includes big names including previous winner Arundhati Roy, as well as Zadie Smith and Sebastian Barry, and Colson Whitehead and his Pulitzer-prizewinning The Underground Railroad. There are a few surprises there too including debut novelist Fiona Mozley's Elmet. Literary critic Alex Clark and Toby Lichtig of the Times Literary Supplement join John to talk about the significance of this year's choices. The 12 Albums of the Year nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize were announced earlier today. From pop to jazz to grime, the diverse shortlist includes some of the UK's biggest acts, and then some you may never have heard of - we'll be discussing it with BBC Radio 6 music presenter Tom Ravenscroft. For our Queer Icons series, Olly Alexander - lead singer of the band Years & Years - talks about Anne Carson's verse novel Autobiography of Red, and his identification with its central character, a red winged monster. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Harry Parker Main Image: Michael (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), and Thomas (James Mcardle) in Man in an Orange Shirt. Image Credit: BBC / Kudos / Nick Briggs.

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Horror on film; Crime writer Kathy Reichs; Actors who become artistic directors; LGBT youtuber Ben Hunte's Queer Icon  

The films 47 Metres Down, Wish Upon and Hounds of Love are all out this week and all play on familiar tropes in horror. Samira Ahmed asks horror fan Kim Newman and horror sceptic Isabel Stevens if these movies have anything new to say, and take a wider look at the genre. In 1997 Kathy Reichs made her crime-writing debut and introduced the world to Dr Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist whose powers of observation and logic lay at the heart of what would become a bestselling series of 18 novels. But Reichs' latest novel, Two Nights, is a departure with a new and very different type of investigator seeking to escape her past and unravel the clues. As actor Michelle Terry is appointed Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe in London, we explore the tradition of actor-managers from Garrick to Olivier with actor Robert Hastie, who became the Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres in November 2016, and former actor, now theatre critic, David Benedict. What can actors bring to the role of artistic director and what are the pitfalls? For our Queer Icons series, journalist and LGBT YouTuber Ben Hunte champions Jonathan Harvey's 1996 film Beautiful Thing. Ben is also presenting the Gay Britannia Season on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Marilyn Rust.

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Daniel Mays, Girls Trip, Asifa Lahore's Queer Icon, Young Poets competition  

Daniel Mays, the actor who came to prominence for his roles in Vera Drake, Line of Duty, Life on Mars and Mrs Biggs, discusses his new BBC drama Against The Law. He plays Peter Wildeblood, a man imprisoned for homosexual acts in the 1950s, who then went on to campaign for a change in the law. Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith star in Girls Trip, a film where four old friends reunite for a wild weekend away. It has had a strong opening weekend at the US box office, which the director Malcolm D Lee ascribes to 'black girl magic'. Dreda Say Mitchell gives her verdict. Asifa Lahore, the UK's first out Muslim drag queen, chooses Dana International's Eurovision-winning song Diva for our Queer Icons series. Helen Mort has been described by Carol Ann Duffy as 'among the brightest stars in the sparkling new constellation of British poets'. But she first came to prominence in 1998 as one of the winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. Helen Mort tells Samira Ahmed why young people should enter the competition this year. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Kate Bullivant.

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Jack O'Connell; Emma Donoghue's Queer Icon; Diana, Our Mother; Jules Buckley  

Jack O'Connell, who starred in the TV series Skins, and on the big screen in Starred Up, '71 and Unbroken, discusses his latest role as Brick in Tennessee Williams's classic play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Tomorrow the conductor Jules Buckley will perform the first of his two BBC Proms 2017. Buckley - who founded The Heritage Orchestra and in 2015 performed The Ibiza Prom in conjunction with Radio 1's Pete Tong - discusses this year's works which will be taking their inspiration from Scott Walker and Charles Mingus. For our Queer Icons series, best-selling novelist Emma Donoghue champions Patricia Rozema's film, I've Heard the Mermaids Singing. Plus, Ashley Gething is the producer/director of the much talked about television film Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, in which Princes William and Harry give a rare interview about their mother Diana Princess of Wales who died 20 years ago. Ashley explains how the programme came about, and the insight it gives into how the Princes coped with her death. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Jerome Weatherald (Main Image: Jack O'Connell as Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Photographer credit: Johan Persson).

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Jane Campion and Alice Englert, Chris Smith's Queer Icon, Lucy Kirkwood, Love Island  

Kate Muir explains the unexpected appeal and popularity of Love Island. Is it just another television reality show or has it got something extra? The first season of Top of the Lake was garlanded with praise and won an Emmy for its cinematography and a Golden Globe for Elisabeth Moss; season 2 is about to begin on BBC2. The action moves away from New Zealand to the brothels and backstreets of Sydney, Australia. Celebrated director Jane Campion is the co-writer and co-director and she's joined by her daughter, Alice Englert, who stars along with Nicole Kidman. They talk to Kirsty about creating the unique atmosphere of the series and how to ensure more opportunities for women directors. For our Queer Icons series, E.M. Forster's novel Maurice is championed by Chris Smith, the former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who in 1984 became the first MP to come out publicly. Lucy Kirkwood discusses her new play Mosquitoes which focuses on two sisters played by Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams. One sister works for CERN on the Large Hadron Collider and the other in a call centre. Kirsty asks the playwright about the appeal of physicists as characters, increasing scepticism about expert opinion and whether scientists are really trying to play god. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Harry Parker.

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Artist Richard Long, Stella Duffy chooses her Queer Icon, Daljit Nagra on Liu Xiaobo  

It's 50 years this summer since the artist Richard Long took steps across a Wiltshire field to create A Line Made By Walking, now regarded as a classic piece of conceptual art. John meets him in a rare interview in his studio near Bristol. Theatre director Marcus Romer and former arts funder and marketing consultant Roger Tomlinson discuss the holy grail of arts funding bodies: how to measure the quality of art that the public is paying for. For our Queer Icons series, Stella Duffy champions the novel Carol, Patricia Highsmith's love story set in fifties New York. And Radio 4's Poet in Residence, Daljit Nagra, comes in to tell us about the poetry of Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died earlier this month. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Sarah Johnson.

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Mark Rylance on Dunkirk, Game of Thrones, best summer reads  

Mark Rylance discusses his role in Christopher Nolan's new film Dunkirk, in which he plays the civilian captain of a small vessel commandeered for the rescue of some of the hundreds of thousands of British and Allied troops stranded on the French beach in 1940 as the enemy closes in. Critic Alex Clark and broadcaster and literary programmer Rosie Goldsmith give their recommended reads for this summer, including a selection of best books in translation from France, Italy and Russia. The seventh season of Game of Thrones began this week, and the television series has now overtaken the George RR Martin book series the show is based on. We ask TV critic Sarah Hughes, who has written The Guardian's Game of Thrones Blog since the first season, how she thinks the show will fare without the influence of the books. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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Jodie Whittaker, Nicola Barker, Jason Bateman - plus Tony Kushner's Queer Icon  

Nicola Barker is one of Britain's most unconventional novelists. Her new novel H(A)PPY is set in a post-post apocalyptic future where everyone is eternally young, eternally knowledgeable and eternally happy, until cracks start to appear. Nicola talks to Samira about the novel. For Front Row's Queer Icons, Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner champions Alison Bechdel's graphic novel Fun Home, which has been turned into a hit musical. In the new Netflix drama Ozarks Jason Bateman plays a financial adviser trying to keep his family safe from a Mexican drug cartel after a money laundering scheme goes wrong. Although very different in tone to TV shows like Arrested Development and films like Horrible Bosses, Bateman is once again cast as the most normal character, the one the audience can connect with. He talks to Samira Ahmed about the appeal of such roles, why he wanted to direct the series and life as a child star. In Front Row's new series Hooked, actors, writers and musicians share the films, podcasts and music they currently love. Actress Jodie Whittaker - who has just been revealed as the 13th Doctor Who - explains why she's hooked on the podcast S-Town and Pete Tong's album Classic House. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jack Soper.

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Sofia Coppola on The Beguiled, Neil McGregor, Plywood, Children's Poetry prizewinner  

Sofia Coppola discusses her new film The Beguiled starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell. Described as a feminist remake of the Clint Eastwood version in 1971, Coppola explains her approach, why she decided to cut the black character Hallie, and teaching the cast of women to be Southern belles. For our Queer Icons series, museum director Neil MacGregor chooses The Warren Cup, a Roman goblet from the British Museum that depicts men making love. Design journalist Corrine Julius looks at the new exhibition about plywood at the Victoria and Albert Museum and discovers its surprising versatility and appeal. Plus Kirsty speaks to Kate Wakeling, winner of this year's CLiPPA prize for Children's poetry, about her debut collection Moon Juice. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Harry Parker.

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Whales vs dinosaurs in art; A.Dot; Nick Laird; Igor Levit  

As the Natural History Museum in London replaces Dippy the Dinosaur with a Blue Whale skeleton, we debate which animal group has inspired the best art. Broadcaster Matthew Sweet champions whales while historian Tom Holland is on the side of the dinosaurs, but who will convince Samira theirs is best? Frank Ocean's ground-breaking album Channel Orange is chosen for our Queer Icons series by rapper A.Dot, who presents the BBC Radio 1Extra Breakfast Show. Samira talks to pianist Igor Levit backstage at the Royal Albert Hall as he prepares to perform Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.3 in the First Night of the Proms tomorrow. The poet and novelist Nick Laird's new book, Modern Gods, is set in Ulster and New Ulster, which is an imaginary part of very real Papua New Guinea. Despite seeming worlds apart, Laird explores the strange parallels between these contested tribal lands. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hannah Robins.

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War for Planet of the Apes, Alan Hollinghurst's Queer Icon, Soul of a Nation exhibition  

As the Planet of the Apes reboot reaches its climactic third chapter, film critic Kate Muir reviews War of the Planet of the Apes and explores the themes of the franchise from 1968's first with Charlton Heston as well as its source material, Pierre Boulle's novel. The Tate Modern's Soul of a Nation exhibition looks at the relationship between art and Black Power in the 1960s and 70s. We discuss how one influenced the other and talk to two of the founders of the Coalition of Black American artists. For our Queer Icons series, Man Booker prize winning author Alan Hollinghurst champions Ronald Firbank's humorous novel The Flower Beneath the Foot. Plus, after the vinyl revival, music journalist Ben Wardle celebrates the surprising return of the cassette. Presenter : Samira Ahmed Producer : Dymphna Flynn.

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Shirley MacLaine, Bolshoi Ballet, Paris Lees' Queer Icon, baritone and composer Roderick Williams  

As Shirley MacLaine releases a new film about a woman curating her obituary, she reflects on her long career in Hollywood, including working with Alfred Hitchcock, being the only female member of the Rat Pack and starring in Downton Abbey alongside Maggie Smith. As the Boilshoi Ballet cancels the eagerly awaited adaptation about Nureyev, ballet critic Ismene Brown discusses what might have caused this to come about. For our Queer Icons series, trans rights activist and journalist Paris Lees chooses Neil Jordan's 1992 film The Crying Game, about an IRA man's relationship with a British soldier's lover. The baritone and composer Roderick Williams talks about his upcoming performances at the Cheltenham Music Festival and at the Proms where a world premiere of his new BBC commission, inspired by the text of a well-known aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni, will be performed.

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Sarah Hall, Antony Sher, Fatherhood, Beethoven's 9th Symphony  

Sarah Hall's short story Mrs Fox won her the BBC National Short Story Award. Now it forms part of her new collection of short stories, Madame Zero, and she talks to John Wilson about depicting extraordinary transformations and where human behaviour meets the animal. For our Queer Icons series, actor Sir Antony Sher chooses the play and film Torch Song Trilogy by Harvey Fierstein, which tells the story of a New York drag queen's search for love and a family. As Fatherland, a play exploring relationships between fathers and sons, premieres at the Manchester International Festival, Front Row invites filmmaker Josh Appignanesi and Jeremy Davies of the Fatherhood Institute to discuss contemporary portrayals of fatherhood. And as world leaders at G20 settle down to a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony conducted by Kent Nagano in Hamburg tonight, Tom Service talks about what he thinks is the most dangerous piece of music ever composed. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Sarah Johnson.

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Tarell Alvin McCraney's Queer Icon; Romola Garai and Helen Edmundson on Queen Anne; Jamaica's Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison  

The Royal Shakespeare Company production of Queen Anne has opened at London's Theatre Royal Haymarket. Set in the early 18th century, the play charts the intimate and increasingly fraught relationship between the childless and insecure queen and her closest confidante Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. Romola Garai who plays Sarah Churchill and writer Helen Edmundson discuss this often overlooked British monarch. For our Queer Icons series, the Oscar-winning writer of Moonlight, Tarell Alvin McCraney, champions the film Paris is Burning, about drag houses, drag balls and fabulousness in 1980s New York. Queer Icons is Front Row's celebration of LGBTQ culture, to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. The philanthropist Lloyd Dorfman today announced a major donation to the Royal Academy of Arts in London with a view to transforming the future of architecture at the institution. Architecture critic Hugh Pearman assess the significance of his contribution. The outgoing Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Mervyn Morris, was on Front Row recently. Today Samira meets his successor, Lorna Goodison, the first female to hold that post. She explains her role as 'praise-singer to the nation'. Her Collected Poems has just been published and from this monumental book she reads work that expresses her admiration for the Jamaican people, their language and her love of the landscape of the island. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Edwina Pitman.

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Christine and the Queens' Queer Icon; Spider-Man: Homecoming; Acting Guilty; Museum of the Year - 5th contender  

For our series Queer Icons, Christine and the Queens chooses Jenet Genet's novel Our Lady of the Flowers, set in the Parisian underworld of thieves and drag queens, as her favourite LGBTQ artwork. Christine and the Queens is the stage name of Héloïse Letissier, the French singer-songwriter of the best-selling album Chaleur Humaine. As the Spider-Man gets its third reboot in 15 years Jason Solomon reviews what Spider-Man: Homecoming brings to the franchise. On Front Row Rachel Weisz remarked that in order to play the title role in My Cousin Rachel she had to decide whether or not she was guilty, but she told no one, not even the director. Michael Simkins has played a murderer, and a suspect who turned out not to be guilty. He also played Sion Jenkins, who was tried for the murder - and eventually found not guilty - of his foster-daughter Billy-jo Jenkins, in a docu-drama. Michael talks to Samira Ahmed about acting guilty - and not. In our final look at the shortlisted institutions vying for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 prize, Front Row visited the Lapworth Museum of Geology in Birmingham which re-opened in June 2016 after a £2.7 million redevelopment and expansion. Since re-opening, the museum, which used to receive 20,000 visitors a year, has recently welcomed its 50,000th visitor. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May.

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Sam Taylor-Johnson, Will Young, Stage and screen violence, Museum of the Year finalist  

She was nominated for the Turner Prize as an artist and directed a movie which grossed $571 million world-wide but now Sam Taylor-Johnson has turned her attention to TV with Gypsy. The Netflix drama stars Naomi Watts as Jean, a well-heeled New York therapist who gets overly involved with the people in her patient's lives through her alter-ego Diane; putting her own family life at risk in the process. Sam Taylor-Johnson directed the first two episodes and is an executive producer on the series. She has been talking to John Wilson about the difficulties she encountered directing her last film Fifty Shades of Grey and her reasons for getting into TV. For Queer Icons, Front Row's celebration of LGBTQ culture, singer Will Young chooses Joan Armatrading's Everyday Boy, a song which helped him come to terms with his sexuality when he was a teenager. Titus Andronicus is Shakespeare's bloodiest play involving rape, incest, cannibalism and massacres. As the RSC begin their new production they have announced they will be conducting research into the effect the violence on stage has on the audience both in the stalls and in the live cinema broadcast. We ask which is more shocking violence on stage or on screen, whether either have got more violence in recent years and if audience expectations and tolerance has changed as a result. Plus, Tate Modern in London is the subject of the latest report on the finalists for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017.

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The launch of Queer Icons; Maggi Hambling; Nitin Sawhney; Museum of the Year finalist  

Today we launch Queer Icons, Front Row's celebration of LGBTQ culture to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. Prominent LGBTQ guests will champion the queer artwork that is special to them, from the poetry of Sappho to the songs of Frank Ocean. Guests include Alan Carr, Tony Kushner, Mary Portas, Olly Alexander, Paris Lees, Christine and the Queens, and opening the season tonight is the artist Maggi Hambling. The musician, producer and composer Nitin Sawhney was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award at this year's Ivor Novello Awards. He talks to John about 25 years in music and forthcoming projects including a fully choreographed production of his album Dystopian Dream, and writing soundtracks for big budget blockbusters. Sir John Soane's Museum in London is the subject of the latest report on the finalists for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017. Artist Marc Quinn discusses his fascination with the eclectic collection. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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Newmarket's Museum of the Year, Committee Musical, Fair Field - Piers Plowman re-imagined, Ebb and Flow  

The Donmar Theatre's latest show is catchily titled 'The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee takes oral evidence on Whitehall's relationship with Kids Company'. Kirsty Lang finds out from composer Tom Deering and lyricist Hadley Fraser how they turn such proceedings into a thought provoking and entertaining musical. Producer Tom Chivers reckons the Middle English poem 'The Vision of Piers Plowman' is entirely relevant to modern England. He explains why, and how, he's taking 'Fair Field', his theatrical version of it home to the Malvern Hills, where William Langland composed the poem 650 odd years ago. We hear the original language, the modern take on this, and music from the production. With the announcement next week of the winner of this year's Art Fund Museum of the Year, Front Row reports on each of the five finalists. Today the focus is on The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art in Newmarket, where visitors can learn about the history, science, art and culture of horseracing, and can meet racehorses in the restored stables. Composer, beatboxer, vocal sculptor and sound artist, Jason Singh, has been working with the people of Hull to create music for his sound installation, 'Ebb And Flow'. This 23-speaker, fully immersive work explores people's memories of the city, its links to water, its transformation, regrowth and change. It runs this weekend and Front Row gives you a taste. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Julian May.

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Manchester International Festival, Poet turned novelist Kenneth Steven, Museum of the Year nominee Hepworth Wakefield  

For the first time the opening event of the Manchester International Festival isn't a big show or concert, instead it's a large-scale public event, What Is The City But The People, starring Mancunians. We hear from some of those selected to represent their city, and Jeremy Deller, the artist behind the commission, discusses making art for the public with the public. A Man Called Ove was a surprise international bestseller in 2014. The book, which depicts the effect of new neighbours on a grumpy middle aged man called Ove, has now been made into a film in the book's original language, Swedish. Briony Hanson reviews. In 2015 Kenneth Steven, a poet known for writing about the wilds of Scotland and the distant past, started writing a novel set five years hence. His story revolves around terrorist atrocity, retaliation from the far right and a fractured society. He talks to Samira Ahmed about his prescient book, called 2020. The Art Fund Museum of the Year is the world's biggest museum prize and back in April we revealed the finalists in a special programme from The British Museum. The overall winner will be announced next Wednesday but on the run up to the ceremony Front Row will be looking at each of the five shortlisted finalists. Tonight, photographer Martin Parr and art collector Tim Sayer share their appreciation for The Hepworth Wakefield.

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