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Front Row


Radio 4's daily live magazine programme reporting on the world of arts, literature, film, media and music.

Radio 4's daily live magazine programme reporting on the world of arts, literature, film, media and music.
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London, United Kingdom




Radio 4's daily live magazine programme reporting on the world of arts, literature, film, media and music.






Golden Age of Irish Prose - North and South of the Border, Hepworth Sculpture Prize Winner

In Sebastian Barry’s inaugural speech as Laureate for Irish Fiction earlier this year, he stated that Ireland was in a 'golden age of prose'. As Northern Irish writer Anna Burns scooped the Man Booker Prize for her novel Milkman last month, Front Row hears voices from the No Alibis bookstore in Belfast. We speak to former Irish Laureate and Booker Prize winner Anne Enright; Professor of Irish History and Literature, Roy Foster; award-winning, Belfast-born writer Lucy Caldwell; and writer,...


Arts Education - a live debate from Leicester

Arts education has become the focus of a great deal of passion and concern recently, since the core, knowledge-based subjects took precedence over the creative subjects when the EBacc was introduced in England by the then Education Minister Michael Gove, announced in 2010. With the arts not being a requirement in the GCSE syllabus for the English Baccalaureate (the EBacc), leaders in the arts and the lucrative creative industries have been very vocal in their criticism of government policy....


Fantastic Beasts 2, Viruses turned into art, Fernand Léger, Heart of Darkness

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise from JK Rowling which explores the Wizarding World before Harry Potter. Eddie Redmayne and Johnny Depp star, and Jude Law joins the cast as a young Dumbledore. James Walters, Head of the Department of Film at the University of Birmingham reviews. As CAPSID, a new exhibition which explores how viruses behave, opens in Manchester, Front Row brought together the artist behind it, John Walter, and...


The Coen Brothers, stage fright, The Interrogation of Tony Martin

Getting butterflies is something many performers admit to, and although some thrive off it, others are often more badly affected. Professor of Performance Science, Aaron Williamon and West End psychologist Dr Anna Colton discuss the power of stage fright and how to overcome it. This week Channel 4 airs a true crime drama about Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer who in 1999 shot dead a burglar at his Norfolk farmhouse. His actions and subsequent murder trial sparked a national debate about...


Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Schott, 11-11: Memories Retold video game

Helena Bonham Carter discusses how she drew on her own experience of depression for her new film 55 Steps which is based on the life of Eleanor Riese. Riese was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 25 and successfully sued a hospital in San Francisco for the right to refuse anti-psychotic medication. At the time of her court case in 1989 Riese was 44, and had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for several years. This interview is part of Front Row’s occasional series exploring...


Marin Alsop, Russell Howard, Political cartoonists

To mark Armistice Day, Marin Alsop will be conducting Brahms's A German Requiem this weekend, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and in a break from tradition, she will be introducing the work from the podium. Marin discusses the reasons behind this move, and also reveals the various ways in which this requiem also broke from tradition. Russell Howard makes comedy out of political issues such as the tampon tax, junior doctors and the housing crisis, and is hugely successful with...


Danny Boyle's Armistice Day tribute, White Teeth the musical, singer-songwriter and poet Emily Maguire

On Folkestone beach, film-maker Danny Boyle discusses Pages of the Sea, his Armistice Day tribute to the servicemen and women who left these shores in the First World War, many never to return. Members of the public will be invited to visit a number of beaches around the country to pay their respects, and will be given a specially-commissioned poem The Wound in Time, by Carol Ann Duffy. Zadie Smith’s White Teeth gets a musical makeover, we review the new theatrical production put on in the...


Paul Dano, Venice floods and the impact on its cultural heritage, the department store in art

Paul Dano: we speak to the BAFTA- and Golden Globe-nominated actor about going behind the camera for his star-studded directorial debut, Wildlife. Starring Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal, his film focuses on a family in a small American town whose 14-year-old son must bear the emotional burden of his parents' marital troubles. Venice: after the worst flooding in a decade - with waters reaching over five feet - what is being done to protect this world class cultural heritage site, its art...


Steve McQueen, Erica Whyman on Romeo and Juliet, Gender-swapped theatre

Steve McQueen discusses his return to the big screen with Widows, an adaptation of the Lynda La Plante thriller. Set this time in Chicago, the widows must learn to survive after their husbands die in a botched heist leaving debts that need to be repaid in a city rife with professional crime and political corruption. Romeo and Juliet is more relevant to our young people than ever according to the RSC deputy director Erica Whyman. She's directed a new production which involves local young...


Boy George, Colourisation of film, John Cooper Clarke

As Boy George releases his first new album with Culture Club in almost 20 years – simply called Life - he talks about being a changed man and contrasts making music today with the band’s heyday in the 80s. Academy award winning director Peter Jackson has added colour to archival footage from WWI for the first time in his new film They Shall Not Grow Old. But how is this colourisation achieved and how does changing its colour affect the way we experience the film? BFI National Archive Curator...


Cecelia Ahern, The world's tallest statue, Pansori opera, Homecoming TV adaptation

Best-selling Irish novelist Cecelia Ahern discusses her new short story collection, Roar, which features 30 stories about 30 different women. India has unveiled the world's tallest statue, which cost £330 million to build. The 182m high structure in the western state of Gujarat is a bronze-clad tribute to independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Pratiksha Ghildial in the BBC’s Delhi bureau reports on reactions within India. Lecturer in Korean Studies, Dr Anna Yates-Lu, explains the...


Wilfred Owen Commemoration, Markus Zusak, Sarah DeLappe

Published in 2005, The Book Thief was an international bestseller that went on to become a successful Hollywood film. Now more than a decade later its author, Markus Zusak, is back with a new story, Bridge of Clay, about how five brothers deal with the disappearance of their father. American playwright Sarah DeLappe discusses her award-winning debut play, The Wolves, as it transfers to the UK. Played out through conversations that happen between the players of an American high school girls'...


Dark Heart, La Traviata, Parks and concerts

Actor, comedian and opera fan Chris Addison discusses his role in La Traviata: Behind the Curtain, a new series of talks exploring the historical and social context of Verdi’s opera La Traviata for this year’s Glyndebourne Tour. He’s joined by musicologist Flora Willson, who explains why this 19th century work is the most-performed opera in the world. Dark Heart is the new ITV police procedural by Unforgotten writer Chris Lang, in which troubled detective DI Wagstaff takes on a case...


Florence Pugh and Alexander Skarsgård in The Little Drummer Girl, Darkness and writing, Tom Odell

A six part adaptation of John le Carré’s 1983 spy thriller The Little Drummer Girl has begun BBC One. Florence Pugh and Alexander Skarsgård discuss their roles playing young actress Charlie who is sucked into the shadowy world of espionage amid rising tensions in the Middle East, and Becker, the Israeli intelligence officer who recruits her. As the clocks go back we investigate the affect the darkening days has on writers, particularly those with mental health issues. Poet Helen Mort and...


Thom Yorke, Audiobooks and reading, Beetlejuice at 30

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke explains how he composed his first feature film soundtrack for Suspiria, Luca Guadagnino’s remake of the 1977 Dario Argento horror film. If you've listened to an audiobook, can you say you've read the book? According to the Publishers Association UK, spending on audiobooks has more than doubled in the past five years, to £31m in 2017. We ask literary journalists Sarah Ditum and Sarah Shaffi whether listening to an audiobook counts the same as reading one. Tim...


Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, Composer Howard Blake, Hepworth Prize for Sculpture

Bohemian Rhapsody, the new biopic of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, is finally in cinemas after eight years in the making. During production, two leading actors quit the project before Rami Malek took on the role of Freddie Mercury, Kate Mossman considers if film is worth the wait. As he approaches his 80th birthday this week, the conductor and composer Howard Blake looks back over his career which has included more than 700 compositions, including the music for 65 films – most famously for...


The Hate U Give, House of Cards, Measure for Measure

The Hate U Give: the hugely popular Young Adult novel which charts the personal and political fallout from the police shooting of a young African-American man, viewed from the perspective of his close friend, Starr Carter. As the film adaption of the novel is released, the author and producer Angie Thomas discusses the book’s genesis in Black Lives Matter and bringing her story to the big screen. House of Cards: the US political thriller returns to Netflix, but without Kevin Spacey, who...


Mike Leigh on Peterloo, CJ Sansom, The rise of adult gaming

Mike Leigh discusses his latest film Peterloo, an historical epic that depicts the infamous 1819 Peterloo Massacre, where a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St Peter's Field in Manchester turned into one of the most notorious episodes in British history. The massacre saw British government forces charge into a crowd of over 60,000 that had gathered to demand political reform. Novelist CJ Sansom discusses Tombland, his latest in his Tudor mystery series. The Lady Elizabeth sends lawyer Matthew...


Author Luke Jennings on his Killing Eve trilogy, Disgusting artworks, Maggie Gyllenhaal on The Deuce

Author Luke Jennings on his Killing Eve novels, which inspired the recent television series. Jennings reveals what motivated him to create the ruthless assassin, Villanelle, and Eve, the agent hunting her, and the somewhat bizarre relationship the two of them seem to have. Revulsion is one of the strongest human reactions and if art is designed to instil an emotional response in the viewer, what is the role of disgust in art? As Halloween approaches we explore what makes us disgusted and how...


The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Billboard art and US politics, Emma Rice and Wise Children

The Tattooist of Auschwitz: the author Heather Morris talks about her novel, based on the true story of Lale Sokolov, who tattooed numbers on prisoners’ wrists at Auschwitz/Birkenau and tattooed and fell in love with a young Jewish woman who survived and became his wife. Billboard art and politics: in the US more than 100 artists have designed billboards to encourage political participation, to be erected in each of the 50 states ahead of the midterm congressional elections in November....