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Front Row


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

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


London, United Kingdom




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






Rachel Maclean, arts education cuts, Richard Osman, British Book Awards Author of the Year

Author of the Year was announced today at the British Books Awards. Tom speaks to the winner, Richard Osman, game show host and author of the hugely successful crime novel The Thursday Murder Club. In the middle of the forest sits an abandoned toy shop. It appears to be a fairy tale house, but as you inch closer you see that it is defaced and decaying. Inside there are rows of upside down dolls. Upside Down Mimi is artist Rachel Maclean’s first permanent outdoor commission, an installation...


As theatres in England reopen soon, we ask what the experience will be like for audiences and staff?

From next Monday theatres in England will legally be allowed to reopen with social distancing and strict capacity restrictions. We find out what it will be like for audiences and staff as they return to venues. We also hear from one theatre director in Scotland who's not reopening and ask why. The Cultural Recovery Fund has provided a lifeline for some arts organisations who would have gone under as well as some individuals but how are the millions of pounds of public money being spent? We...


Two Distant Strangers, Golden Globes, Resident Evil, U.Me The Musical

It was after the death of George Floyd that television writer and producer Travon Free, and filmmaker Martin Desmond Roe came together to create a response to this traumatic event. The result was Two Distant Strangers which won Best Live Action Short Film at this year’s Oscars. Travon and Martin join Elle to talk about making art out of tragedy. NBC has dropped the 2022 Golden Globes Award ceremony and Tom Cruise has returned his three Golden Globes in protest at the lack of diversity at the...


David Hockney, TV drama Three Families and novelist Rónán Hession

David Hockney has captured the unfolding of Spring during the pandemic, creating 116 new works on his ipad which have been blown up for a new exhibition at London’s Royal Academy. Art critic Ben Luke reviews the prolific 83 year old’s new work. He also discusses the shortlist for this year’s Turner Prize; for the first time, no one on the list is an individual artist: they are all artist collectives. A new BBC TV drama, Three Families, is set in Northern Ireland looks at the controversial...


Emily Mortimer on The Pursuit of Love, Jupiter's Legacy, Rag'n'Bone Man

The actress and writer Emily Mortimer discusses her directorial debut The Pursuit of Love, her 3-part adaptation of Nancy Mitford's novel starring Lily James, Emily Beecham and Andrew Scott, which centres on two women born into privilege, trying to seize life and love with both hands but constrained by societal expectations. Today sees the release of Rag ‘n’ Bone Man’s second album Life by Misadventure, the follow-up to 2017's Human, which was the decade's fastest-selling album by a male...


Don Warrington, Gillian Reynolds, Benjamin Myers

Don Warrington stars as the head of a family, united and divided by grief in Sian Davila’s debut play for Radio 4, Running with Lions. We speak to both Sian and Don about the play and its particular significance now. Last Sunday, the doyenne of radio criticism, Gillian Reynolds CBE, wrote her final column for the Sunday Times. She joins Front Row to discuss a career that dates back to the late 1960s and shares her thoughts on the future of radio. Durham-born novelist Benjamin Myers has made...


Anna Kerrigan, events testing, Sunjeev Sahota

A mother and father struggling to come to terms with their trans child are at the centre of Anna Kerrigan’s new film, Cowboys. She talks to Samira about creating a family drama set in the woodlands of Montana. After Liverpool took part in a Covid recovery pilot scheme testing live events over the weekend - including an open-air film screening, a comedy gig and a club night - we talk to the city's Director of Culture, Claire McColgan, about how the events went and what happens next. Sunjeev...


Essay collections from novelists and poets. Review of TV series Bloods, New Pokemon Snap explored

This year sees a number of writers we know primarily as poets or novelists releasing collections of essays - from Jeanette Winterson to Lucy Ellman and Karl Ove Knausgaard. Tom talks to two of them: Kei Miller, whose latest collection is called Things I have Withheld, and Rachel Kushner, whose new collection is called The Hard Crowd. Dreda Say Mitchell reviews new Sky TV series, Bloods. Samson Kayo and Jane Horrocks star in this six-part comedy series as paramedic partners in the South...


How should we memorialise in the 21st century?

The National Covid Memorial Wall on the bank of the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament is an unofficial site of remembrance and reflection for the 150,000 or so individuals who've died from Covid. Artists and writers consider the role and design of memorials in the 21st century, from the poppies at The Tower of London in 2014 which toured the UK, to the recent controversy of the toppling of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol, and the proposed memorial to enslaved Africans and their...


Theresa Lola and 70 years of the RFH; The Mosquito Coast reviewed; Royal Blood's new album; Andrew Miller on events pilots

Adapted from Paul Theroux’s bestselling book, The Mosquito Coast follows a family on the run from the US government and seeking escape in Mexico, where they hope to build a simpler life away from American consumerist culture. Critics Tanya Motie and Kohinoor Sahota join Tom to discuss the new TV series and to share their cultural picks of the week. Royal Blood is a 2 piece rock band from Brighton whose new album - Typhoons - looks set to top the UK charts like their previous two. They’ve...


Raoul Peck, Camilla Greenwell and Tufting on TikTok

Raoul Peck is a Haitian filmmaker whose documentary I Am Not Your Negro, based on the words of James Baldwin, was Oscar-nominated and won a Bafta in 2018. Now he has made a new documentary series in 4 parts, Exterminate All the Brutes, looking at the impact of colonialism and the development of racist ideas using a mixture of voice-over, dramatisation, animation and Hollywood movies. He talks about the making of it and why he wanted to tell both a personal and a global history. While...


Women's Prize Shortlist, Jamie MacDonald, Rotten Tomatoes

Today the shortlist for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction is revealed. Chair of judges Bernardine Evaristo joins Front Row to talk through the chosen books and explain why they’re worth their place on the list and literary critic Alex Clark gives her reactions. Citizen Kane has been knocked off the top spot on Rotten Tomatoes as a unfavourable review from 1941 has been found ruining its 100% critics rating. Taking its place is Paddington 2. Critic Jason Solomons digests the news. Jamie...


Shadow and Bone, Lemn Sissay, Gwendoline Riley

We review new Netflix fantasy series Shadow and Bone. It's being touted as the new Game of Thrones but is it worth the hype? Children's and YA author Katherine Webber Tsang gives her verdict. This weekend the Brighton Festival opens and will be the first UK city festival since lockdown. Last year the guest director Lemn Sissay was ready to launch the festival when Lockdown restrictions meant the whole thing had to be cancelled. This year, he’s back as guest director again with a festival...


Nicola Benedetti, Mark Simpson, Oscars roundup, Mr Wickham

Violinist Nicola Benedetti is performing a new concerto by Mark Simpson, who was winner of both the BBC Young Musician of the Year (as clarinettist) and the BBC Proms/Guardian Young Composer of the Year. Commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Mark wrote it specifically with Nicola in mind. We speak with both of them ahead of this Thursday's premiere. Adrian Lukis discusses his one man show, Being Mr Wickham, which imagines Mr Wickham from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice at the age...


Tom Jones looks back at his life and career

In a wide ranging extended interview, Sir Tom Jones looks back at his life and career, from his coal-mining upbringing in South Wales to global superstardom. He talks about the therapy he underwent to restore his ability to sing after the death of his wife and the two year quarantine he endured as a child because of tuberculosis. He recalls the time he lost his temper with John Lennon, and the singing teacher who urged him to become on operatic tenor. At the age of 80, Tom has recorded a new...


Rose Matafeo, Isobel Waller-Bridge, Ninebarrow

Rose Matafeo discusses her new BBC3 comedy Starstruck. It follows Jessie, a millennial living in East London juggling two dead end jobs and navigating the awkward morning-after-the-night-before, when she discovers the complications of accidentally sleeping with a famous film star. She talks about creating a rom-com, diversity and why her comedy hero is the Dude in the Big Lebowski. The composer Isobel Waller-Bridge is known for her eclectic influences and celebrated scores for stage and...


Actor and director Noel Clarke reflects on his career

Actor, writer and director Noel Clarke discusses his latest role in the new five-part ITV drama series Viewpoint, in which he plays a surveillance detective tracking the movements of the prime suspect in the disappearance of a young woman. In the interview he looks back over a career which started with his breakthrough role in Kidulthood in 2006, which he wrote and starred in, and his further success in its sequels Adulthood and Brotherhood. His acting roles have included Auf Wiedersehen,...


Kayo Chingonyi; Joyce DiDonato; The Importance of Being Earnest reviewed

Kayo Chingonyi is an award-winning poet, producer, DJ and lyricist. Kayo joins Tom to talk about his much anticipated new collection A Blood Condition, exploring family, identity and his Zambian heritage. Plus his new music podcast series Decode, which takes a deep dive into Dave’s Mercury Prize-winning debut album Psychodrama, revealing its musicality and lyricism over 11 episodes. Schubert’s song cycle, Winterreise, is regarded as the pinnacle of German Lied. This musical story of a young...


London Grammar, Frank of Ireland, Photographer of the Year Craig Easton

London Grammar's debut album in 2013 won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Song. Their follow up four years later topped the album charts. Singer and songwriter Hannah Reid talks about their latest album Californian Soil, about sexism in the music industry, and using lockdown as a chance to learn to read music. Craig Easton was last week announced as Photographer of the Year at the Sony World Photography Awards. He discusses his project Bank Top, a photographic celebration of the residents of a...


Deborah Warner on Peter Grimes, Helen McCrory remembered, Mare of Easttown

Director Deborah Warner discusses her new production of Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes, which opens at the Teatro Real in Madrid on Monday. The staging of this multinational co-production has become significantly more difficult in the wake of Brexit and more recently she has had to adapt to the numerous challenges posed by Covid. The death was announced today at the age of 52 of Helen McCrory, whose credits included Peaky Blinders, The Queen, Harry Potter and many highly-praised stage...