Front Row

Front Row

United Kingdom

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

Episodes

Sculpture on the streets, Strictly Ballroom the Musical, Moana  

The City Sculpture Projects 1972 was a six-month initiative to bring contemporary sculpture to the streets of Britain's cities, but the chosen cities proved resistant and none of the commissioned sculptures was kept. The enterprise is now the subject of a new exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. Curator Dr Jon Wood, one of the original artists Liliane Lijn, and Professor Susan Tebby who worked on the project in Sheffield, look back at the concept. Baz Luhrmann's film Strictly Ballroom has been adapted for the stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Olivier award-winning Drew McOnie, the choreographer of Strictly Ballroom The Musical, discusses his adaptation. Disney's latest movie is Moana, about a Polynesian girl charged with saving her island by taking on a deadly mission and enlisting the help of demi-god Maui, played by Dwayne Johnson. The film's directors Ron Clements and John Musker discuss their approach to the latest Disney princess. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Ekene Akalawu.

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Robert Rauschenberg, The poetry of Philip Larkin, This is Us reviewed  

Robert Rauschenberg was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer and performance artist who worked with John Cage and Jasper Johns and has influenced artists today like Damien Hurst and Tracey Emin. John Wilson talks to his son Christopher Rauschenberg and curator Catherine Wood on the day a major retrospective opens at Tate Modern. This Friday sees the unveiling of a memorial stone to poet Philip Larkin at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, 31 years after his death. Fellow poets Carol Rumens and Blake Morrison discuss Larkin's legacy. The trailer for new US comedy drama This Is Us has had a record-breaking 64 million Facebook views and 8.5 million on Youtube, so with its first episode about to be shown on Channel 4 on Tuesday 6 December, Katie Puckrik joins John Wilson to see what all the fuss is about. Plus, on the 50th anniversary of Barbados gaining independence from the UK, music journalist Kevin LeGendre looks at the Caribbean Island's influence on hip-hop, jazz and reggae. Presenter : John Wilson Producer : Dymphna Flynn.

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Clint Eastwood's Sully, Robert Olen Butler, Roger Law  

Clint Eastwood's latest film Sully tells the story of Captain Chesley Sullenberger who landed an airliner on New York's Hudson river in 2009. Critic Angie Errigo discusses how Eastwood's 35th film as a director fits into his remarkable career. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Robert Olen Butler discusses his latest book, Perfume River, which explores how the Vietnam war resonates down the generations. Roger Law used to make the puppets for Spitting Image, the satirical TV show which poked fun at celebrities and politicians showing them with grotesque mouths and rheumy eyes. Now he makes porcelain vases and plates portraying Weedy Sea-Dragons and Long-nosed Poteroos. As his exhibition Transported opens at The Scottish Gallery, in Edinburgh, he explains why he's made the change. Last month, the Culture Secretary announced that the British Army would establish a specialist cultural property protection unit. As the bill comes closer to becoming law, Lt Colonel Tim Purbrick, an art dealer and British army reservist who was a tank commander during the Desert Storm campaign, discusses how such a unit could work.

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Rolling Stones new album, Miles Teller on Bleed for This, The Last Poets  

The Rolling Stones release their first studio album in over a decade this Friday. Blue & Lonesome, which takes the band back to their blues roots, was recorded over the course of three days, at British Grove Studio near Eel Pie Island. Where the band started playing the pubs and clubs. Music critic Kate Mossman reviews the album. Actor Miles Teller discusses his new film Bleed For This, based on the true story of world champion boxer Vinny Pazienza and his recovery from a life-threatening road accident. Teller, who played a jazz drummer in the film Whiplash, talks about his own brush with death in a car crash in 2007. Could the post-referendum fall in sterling be the reason why the National Gallery is struggling to secure a Pontormo's portrait, despite having raised more than £30million to keep it in the UK? Martin Bailey of The Art Newspaper joins John Wilson to discuss the unusual case of the Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap. The Last Poets are a radical group of African American poets and musicians whose recordings and performances became part of the soundtrack of the Black Power movement of the 1960s. The writer Christine Otten, and founder member of The Last Poets, Abiodun Oyewole, discusses Otten's new book, The Last Poets - a novel based on her encounters with the African American group regarded by many as the godfathers of Rap.

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Mel Giedroyc on new musicals showcase, Michael Morpurgo, Bad Santa 2, Penelope Lively  

Game of Thrones meets Bake Off as Mel Giedroyc and Gemma Whelan discuss their involvement in New Songs 4 New Shows, a gala evening showcasing four new musicals currently in development, directed by West End grandee Maria Friedman. The Booker Prize-winning author Penelope Lively discusses her latest collection of short stories, The Purple Swamp Hen & Other Stories. After J.K. Rowling sends copies of her Harry Potter novels to a girl in Aleppo, Syria, fellow children's writer Michael Morpurgo discusses the importance of books in war zones. Billy Bob Thornton reprises his role as the foul-mouthed, whisky-fuelled 'Father Christmas' in Bad Santa 2. Mark Eccleston reviews. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Marilyn Rust.

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William Hill Sports Book of the Year, Rillington Place, Johnny Cash  

It was announced today that William Finnegan has won the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year for his book Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. John Wilson reports from the ceremony and speaks to each of the authors of the seven shortlisted books, including Diana Nyad, who, aged 64, became the first person to swim the 100-mile stretch of shark-infested ocean between Cuba and Florida. Rillington Place, a street in West London, became notorious as the home of John Christie, the serial killer who framed another man, Timothy Evans, for one of his murders. Evans was hanged in 1950 and it would be another three years before Christie was convicted. The story is the subject of a new three-part BBC drama starring Tim Roth and Samantha Morton. Crime writer Natasha Cooper reviews. Johnny Cash Forever Words is a collection of previously unpublished and unseen poems by the singer songwriter. They were discovered by his son, John Carter Cash, who asked the poet Paul Muldoon to select 41 poems from 200. Muldoon discusses Cash's strengths as a poet and what distinguishes poems from lyrics. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.

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Mark Rylance and Claire van Kampen on Nice Fish; Anselm Kiefer; Spike Lee's Chi-raq  

The Chancellor today pledged £7.6million to save the stately home Wentworth Woodhouse, for the nation. Campaigner Simon Jenkins explains the significance of Britain's largest private home. In a rare interview, the artist Anselm Kiefer discusses his new exhibition Walhalla, which features a dimly-lit, lead-lined dormitory full of lead sheets and pillows, and a series of large-scale new paintings covered in molten metal. Chi-raq is Spike Lee's latest film set in a black suburb of Chicago, where two rival gangs are at war. A musical drama, the film is a contemporary take on the Aristophanes' Lysistrata. Ekow Eshun reviews. Nice Fish is a comic play written by Mark Rylance based on the poems of Louis Jenkins. He describes why he set it on a frozen Minnesota lake and director Claire van Kampen talks about the challenges that presents for the stage. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Edwina Pitman.

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Adam Driver, Costa Book Awards shortlist announced, Gilmore Girls  

Adam Driver played Lena Dunham's love interest in Girls, and Han Solo and Princess Leia's evil son in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The actor discusses his latest role as a poetry-writing bus driver in Jim Jarmusch's new film Paterson. Front Row reveals this year's Costa Book Awards shortlists. Critics Alex Clark and Toby Lichtig comment on the writers chosen in the five categories: novel, first novel, poetry, biography and children's fiction. Nearly a decade after the finale of the popular family TV series Gilmore Girls, Netflix has revived the drama in four extended 90-minute episodes. Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life reunites the cast with the show's creator and original writer Amy Sherman-Palladino, who had been absent for its final season. Rachel Cooke of The Guardian gives her verdict. Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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William Trevor, Zadie Smith, Lucy Kirkwood, Allied  

We celebrate the life and work of the award winning writer William Trevor, renowned for his short stories and novels. His editor, Tony Lacey, and poet Paul Muldoon pay tribute. Novelist and essayist, Zadie Smith (White Teeth, On Beauty, NW) talks to Kirsty about black and white musicals, childhood friendships, and dancing, as she discusses her new novel, Swing Time. Tim Robey reviews Robert Zemeckis' romantic thriller Allied, which stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as two World War II spies who fall in love while on undercover assignment in Casablanca. Lucy Kirkwood, who's 2013 play Chimerica launched her as a playwright to watch, returns to the stage with The Children. It focuses on three retired nuclear physicists living under the shadow of a disaster in their former workplace. Kirsty Lang speaks to Lucy about the play and about our responsibility to the generations to come. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.

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Ed Harris on stage, Jonathan Dove, Gavin Turk  

Actor Ed Harris, star of The Right Stuff, The Truman Show and Westworld, on making his West End debut in Buried Child, Sam Shepard's play which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979, at a time of economic decline in the US when rural people felt forgotten. As choirs of children and young people around the world sing today to mark Benjamin Britten's birthday, Jonathan Dove on the 12 new songs he's written for the annual event, Friday Afternoons. Jan Patience, arts writer for The Herald, and Christopher Baker, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery discuss Sir Edwin Landseer's 1851 painting The Monarch of the Glen. Its owners, the drink giant Diageo, had planned to put the painting up for auction but has agreed to gift half the value of the painting, provided the National Galleries of Scotland can raise £4m in four months. Gavin Turk discusses his first major solo exhibition since 2002, showcasing works from throughout his career, from the life-sized wax figure of Gavin as Sid Vicious to the dirty sleeping bags which he cast to draw attention to the plight of the homeless. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.

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The Hepworth Prize, New Art Gallery Walsall, Indignation, Don Giovanni  

The inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture recognises a UK-based artist who has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture. Vying for the prize are four artists: Helen Marten, Phyllida Barlow, Stephen Claydon and David Medalla. Their work featuring household junk, hammocks, foam bubbles, magnetised pennies and paintings suggests sculpture is a broad church these days. Front Row announces the winner. 16 years after the £21m New Art Gallery Walsall opened its doors, which has also served as a catalyst for the regeneration of the Midlands town, the council is about to withdraw 100% of its funding, which will most likely lead to the gallery's closure. Its director Stephen Snoddy speaks out about the challenges the gallery faces and what the implications of the closure would be for the area. The director of Northern Ireland Opera, Oliver Mears, discusses his forthcoming production of Don Giovanni, set on a cruise ship in the 1960s, and, as he prepares to take up the role of Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, he looks back on his work in Belfast, and forward to his plans for Covent Garden. Indignation is the ninth film adaptation of a Philip Roth novel. As it opens in the UK, critics Leslie Felperin and Jason Solomons discuss whether this particular book transfers well to the screen, why so many of Roth's books rarely do, and why so many film directors are attracted to his work. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Angie Nehring.

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Paulo Coelho, Your Name, Turner Contemporary, the art of writing non-fiction  

Front Row - Paulo Coelho, Your Name, Turner Contemporary, the art of writing non-fiction

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Paulo Coelho, Your Name, Turner Contemporary, The art of writing non-fiction  

Internationally-acclaimed writer Paulo Coelho discusses his new novel The Spy, based on the life of the dancer Mata Hari. Coelho is best-known for The Alchemist, an allegorical novel about a young shepherd boy, first published in 1988, which has now sold more than 65m copies worldwide. Your Name is the latest Japanese anime film to attract large global audiences, and is written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, regarded by many as the successor to Studio Ghibli's legendary Hayao Miyazaki. The film, about a teenage boy and girl who wake up and find themselves living in the other's body, is reviewed by Larushka Ivan-Zadeh. Last night the lawyer Philippe Sands won the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. His book, East West Street, explores the origins of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide as concepts but it is also a detective story and a thriller. To discuss the art of writing non-fiction, Philippe Sands is joined by Cathy Rentzenbrink who wrote The Last Act of Love, a memoir about her late brother who was seriously injured by a dangerous driver. We explore what happens when a high-profile art gallery turns to the local community of artists and makers to commission a work. Kirsty Lang visits Margate and Turner Contemporary's Studio Group to meet Kashif Nadim Chaudry, the artist they chose to work with on his large-scale textile artwork The Three Graces. Presenter Kirsty Lang Producer Marilyn Rust.

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Rosamund Pike & David Oyelowo on A United Kingdom, Van Gogh controversy, Cape Town City Ballet  

David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike discuss A United Kingdom, a new film which tells the true story of Seretse Khama, the future King of Bechuanaland, and Ruth Williams, a clerk from South London. When they married in 1948 they not only faced fierce opposition from both of their families but from the British and South African governments. It had been claimed that the lost sketchbook from Van Gogh's time in Arles, France, has been discovered. However, in a statement released this afternoon, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has said they are of the opinion that these sketches 'could not be attributed to Vincent van Gogh'. We talk to the museum and the expert behind the 'discovery'. Cape Town City Ballet, the oldest ballet company in South Africa, has been resident at Cape Town University for eight decades. It's now caught in the long-running student protests for decolonisation of the curriculum. With the university deciding not to renew the company's lease, Gerard Samuel, Director of the School of Dance at Cape Town University and a Cape Town City Ballet board member, discusses the troupe's uncertain future. And 60 years after Ray Charles made his eponymous album, the music critic Kevin Le Gendre re-evaluates the moment that an artist who played rhythm & blues, the music from which rock & roll was born, was about to change the music world. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Ella-mai Robey.

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J K Rowling's Fantastic Beasts, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, French film Divines, Chris Riddell on school libraries  

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of Harry Potter author JK Rowling. The film tells the tale of magizoologist Newt Scamandar and his menagerie of fantastical creatures which are accidentally set free in 1920s New York, a place riven with political turmoil and persecution of the magical community. Producer David Heyman, who produced all eight of the Harry Potter films, and director David Yates, who helmed the final four of the franchise, discuss the latest instalment from the Potter universe. Divines, the debut movie from female French director Houda Benyamina won the Caméra d'Or at Cannes this year. Ginette Vincendeau reviews the drama that, 20 years after La Haine, takes place in a rough Parisian housing estate and focuses on the women's experience of drugs, power, crime and religion. It's almost 40 years since the Sex Pistol's released their landmark album Anarchy in the UK. The band's guitarist Steve Jones discusses his new autobiography Lonely Boy, which charts how punk gave him - a petty thief - a purpose. The Children's Laureate, Chris Riddell talks about why he, along with all eight of his predecessors, has sent a letter to education secretary Justine Greening protesting the undermining of school library services and the loss of specialist librarians. And, as the moon comes closer to earth than it has in a lifetime, a recording of Ted Hughes reading his great poem about seeing the full moon. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Julian May.

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Leonard Cohen, BalletBoyz, Contemporary war poetry  

With news of the death of Leonard Cohen at the age of 82, we broadcast a rare interview the singer-songwriter did with Front Row in 2007, on a visit to Manchester for the opening of an exhibition of his art. To mark Armistice Day, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, artistic directors of the all-male dance troupe BalletBoyz, discuss Young Men, the film of their stage production which explores the soldiers' experience of the First World War, and why they felt it was important to shoot the film in the cold, rain and mud on location in northern France. And poetry from the battlefield. When we use the term 'war poet' we immediately think of WWI but what about verse inspired by more recent conflict? How do contemporary war poets compare to the likes of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke and Isaac Rosenberg? American Iraq War veteran and poet Kevin Powers, and Radio 4's poet-in-residence Daljit Nagra, discuss modern war poetry. Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Ella-mai Robey.

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Zadie Smith's NW, Rambert, Norman Ackroyd, War memorials  

Published in 2012, Zadie Smith's postcode-named novel NW was seen as a lyrical love letter to north-west London. This contemporary tale of the entwined lives of four Londoners has now been adapted for television. Critic Gaylene Gould reviews. Roger Bowdler of Historic England reveals its mission to get 2,500 war memorials listed by November 2018. He announces 50, and another nine by the controversial sculptor Eric Gill, and discusses what a war memorial can reveal about its location and the people it's dedicated to. Norman Ackroyd is widely considered one of Britain's great landscape artists. As a young man in the 1960s he rejected the lure of pop art and devoted his energy to capturing the coastline of Britain in black and white etchings. As his work goes on show in Norman Ackroyd: Just Be A Poet, he invites us to his studio to see how he works. For its 90th birthday, Rambert is performing Haydn's The Creation with 100 dancers, musicians and singers. Artistic director Mark Baldwin discusses this new work as well as the state of contemporary dance in the UK. Presenter John Wilson Producer Jerome Weatherald.

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Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ewan McGregor, Elton John's photos, Goldsmiths Prize winner  

Lord Lloyd Webber discusses joining forces with Downton creator Julian Fellowes and a cast of 39 children for his new stage adaptation of the Jack Black film School of Rock. He tells Samira how he hopes the production will serve as a reminder of how important the arts are in education. Actor Ewan McGregor talks about adapting Philip Roth's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, American Pastoral, in his directorial debut and why he's returning to the role of Renton, 20 years on from Trainspotting. Elton John owns one of the best photography collections in the world and now he's loaned some of them to the Tate Modern in London. The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography includes Man Ray's Glass Tears, Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother and Edward Weston's portrait of Igor Stravinsky. Newell Harbin, Sir Elton John's curator, shows us around. The Goldsmiths Prize was established three years ago to recognise fiction that breaks the mould or opens up new possibilities for the novel. Previous winners have included Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and Ali Smith's How to be Both. We talk to this year's winner Mike McCormack about his book Solar Bone. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Marilyn Rust.

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Musician Kathryn Tickell, Writer David Almond, Live Theatre  

The North East of England's Case for Culture is a bold plan to raise £300 million for art projects. Instead of being an adjunct to development culture is seen as the key to the region's redevelopment. But only a few years ago Newcastle cut its arts budget entirely. Organisations are exploring new ways of working. Jim Beirne of Live Theatre takes John Wilson to the pub the theatre runs, the profits of which pay for a new play every year. It also owns restaurants and prime office space, to fund its theatre and outreach projects. The Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell has just launched a new organisation, Magnetic North East, to foster the identity, music and traditions of the North East. It has released an album of songs and tunes, new and old, about the River Tyne, by artists ranging from Jimmy Nail to the Unthanks. Last Friday it held a grand concert in the region's village hall - Auditorium One of The Sage, featuring famous North East artists such as Paul Smith of the band Maximo Park, young folk musicians and a host of children giving a world premiere of a work by David Almond. Kathryn Tickell, John Mowbray - the High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, and a prime mover in the Case for Culture, David Almond, who wrote Skellig, the Olivier Award winning playwright, Shelagh Stephenson, whose new play is set in her hometown of Tynemouth, all contribute to John Wilson's exploration, as he rambles around Newcastle, of the role of art in the regeneration of the North East of England. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Julian May.

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R.E.M., Illuminated River, Napoleon and Stephen Poliakoff  

In 1991, R.E.M. released Out of Time, the album that turned them into international superstars. 25 years on, the album is being re-released. Lead singer Michael Stipe and bassist Mike Mills look back on those classic songs, including Losing My Religion and Shiny Happy People, and reflect on their decision five years ago to disband the group. Illuminated River is a new scheme that intends to light central London's 17 bridges along the River Thames. As the six shortlisted entries are unveiled we speak to Hannah Rothschild who leads the project. Director Abel Gance's 51/2-hour silent film Napoleon flopped when it was first released in 1927. Silent film expert Pamela Hutchinson reviews a new digitally restored version of Gance's epic which is now regarded as an undisputed cinematic landmark. Stephen Poliakoff discusses his new TV drama, Close to the Enemy. Set in 1946, this period tale examines the change in moral certainties which began to emerge in Britain in the year after World War II ended. Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Rachel Simpson.

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