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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.






Windrush cultural contribution, Dale Winton remembered, Poet Imtiaz Dharker, BBC Proms season

When the Empire Windrush docked, the first contribution of the arrivals from the Caribbean was cultural - Lord Kitchener singing his calypso "London is the Place for Me". Stig Abell talks to publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove and calypsonian Alexander D Great about the artistic contribution of the Windrush Generation, and their offspring. Alexander sings 'After the Windrush', a new calypso written especially for Front Row. Comedian David Walliams pays tribute to his friend the television...


Tina the Musical, Nicola Walker, Venue Accessibility, Cherry Blossom Poetry

Tina Turner has been closely involved with Tina, the musical which tells the story of her tempestuous life. It has just opened and Front Row has a review. The actor Nicola Walker discusses her role in Abi Morgan's new television drama series about divorce lawyers, The Split, and some of her other roles. A report was published last week looking at booking accessible tickets for people with disabilities, for music and entertainment venues. Samira Ahmed speaks to Claire Griffin from the...


The royals on TV, Luke Evans, Stabat Mater at the Sistine Chapel

Following last night's broadcast of The Queen's Green Planet on ITV, which features the Queen in intimate conversation with Sir David Attenborough, we talk to the documentary's director Jane Treays about working with the Queen and look back over the history of royal TV projects with critic Chris Dunkley. Luke Evans has featured in many Hollywood films including The Girl on the Train, Fast & Furious, the Hobbit franchise and last year as Gaston in Disney's live-action remake of Beauty and the...


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society director Mike Newell, Joanna Walsh, Milos Forman, 1978 in music

Mike Newell discusses his film The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which stars Lily James as a writer uncovering a mystery from World War II on the Channel island. The director looks back at his career which includes Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Donnie Brasco. Joanna Walsh is one of the UK's leading experimental writers. She discusses her new novel, Break.up about a nameless woman recovering from a relationship with a man which was...


Sharlene Teo, Alice Oswald, William Tillyer, The Chelsea Hotel, Coronation Street's women

Sharlene Teo on her debut novel Ponti, an account of teenage friendship and fraught mother/daughter relationships set in a sweltering Singapore, that's been called remarkable by Ian McEwan. Is Coronation Street the most feminist soap on television? Emma Bullimore makes the case. Radio 4 poet-in-residence Alice Oswald and artist William Tillyer discuss their collaboration Nobody. Both a book and an exhibition, it fuses the written word with watercolour. They talk about the nature of...


Janelle Monáe's PYNK, Young People's Laureate for London, A Clockwork Orange score, Oldest bridge in the world

As singer Janelle Monaé's video for her new single PYNK goes viral, music journalist Ruth Barnes looks back at other game-changers in the genre. The new Young People's Laureate for London was announced yesterday evening as Momtaza Mehri. We bring her together with the outgoing post holder Caleb Femi to discuss what he learnt in the role and ask Momtaza what she hopes to achieve. The soundtrack to the film "A Clockwork Orange" is as famous as Kubrick's film is notorious. What's less well...


Naomie Harris, Working class talent, Gurrumul

Actress Naomie Harris talks about her latest role in Brad Peyton's big-screen video game adaptation Rampage, which sees her fighting a trio of oversized genetically-modified predators alongside Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. Has it got harder for working class talent to make a career on stage and screen? This week the Anna Scher Theatre School, which is responsible for launching the careers of working class actors such as Kathy Burke, Daniel Kaluuya and Adam Deacon, celebrates 50 years, and...


Viv Albertine, Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall reopens, BBC Three controller Damian Kavanagh

Viv Albertine was the guitarist in the cult punk band The Slits and a key player in British counter culture before working as a film maker and launching a solo career. Her new memoir, To Throw Away Unopened, unpicks family secrets which shaped her childhood and her early creative influences. This book begins when she is at the launch party for her hugely successful first book Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys and her sister calls with news that their mother...


Tate Liverpool's Exploring the Unseen, Ben Okri and Joanne Harris, Fortnite Battle Royale, Universal Love album

Tate Liverpool's arts handler Ken Simons has just retired after working there since its opening 30 years ago. To mark his retirement, Tate have allowed him to curate his own exhibition, Exploring the Unseen, using works from the Tate collection. He explains how he chose the 30 works - one for each of his years at the gallery. As Audible launches three new podcasts featuring original short stories written exclusively for audio, Ben Okri, Booker prize-winning writer of The Famished Road,...


Front Row 20th Anniversary

To mark 20 years of Front Row Kirsty Lang and John Wilson host a celebratory extended edition live from the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House in London. Liz Carr, Bob Geldof, Lionel Shriver and Testament make their case for what they think is the most significant art work of the last 20 years. Neil MacGregor, the former director of the British Museum and familiar voice to Radio 4, considers cultural developments and diplomacy since 1998. There's a live performance from singer-songwriter...


The City and The City, Monet and Architecture, Rapid Response Unit Liverpool

Actor David Morrissey, well known for his roles in TV dramas like State of Play, The Deal, Red Riding, The Walking Dead and Britannia. He talks about his latest role is as Inspector Tyador in BBC Two's adaption of the China Miéville's novel The City and The City. The drama is a speculative science-fiction meets police procedural, set in two cities which share a geographical location but whose residents are trained to "unsee" the other city. Claude Monet had a fascination with buildings in...


Cuba Gooding Jr in Chicago; Sean Penn - novelist; Love, Simon, teen rom-com with a twist

Cuba Gooding Jr is taking to the stage in the new West End production of one of the world's most successful musicals - Chicago. He talks to Stig Abell about his role as the lawyer Billy Flynn and his career; starring in Boyz n the Hood, playing OJ Simpson, the impact of winning an Oscar for Jerry Maguire, and how Hollywood is changing its attitude to black actors. Bob Honey who Just Do Stuff is a new novel. Its author is Sean Penn. He's not the only film star to feel, after coming to fame...


Aminatta Forna, romantic fiction post #MeToo, the Hollywood sign

Prize-winning author Aminatta Forna on the many different ingredients that make up her new novel, Happiness, a multi-layered story set in modern London, seen from the perspective of those passing through. The Alpha male sweeping a woman off her feet has long been a common trope in romantic fiction but can it survive in a world where the #MeToo movement has transformed the debate around gender politics? The Hollywood sign, on Mount Lee in Los Angeles, is one of the world's most famous...


Nottingham: Rebel City

Ever since the legendary heroic outlaw Robin Hood first stole from the rich to give to the poor, Nottingham has had a tradition of political defiance, addressing social injustice and encouraging free expression. Sandeep Mahal, Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, assesses to what extent that still holds today in the city's rich cultural landscape, and talks to writers, poets, singers and actors about the challenges Nottingham has faced over the years. Samantha Morton discusses...


Leonard Bernstein: A Centenary Celebration

This year marks the centenary of Leonard Bernstein's birth and to celebrate the occasion Front Row explores his life and music. John Wilson is joined by his son, Alexander Bernstein, who remembers his father composing at home, and who attended many of his Young People's Concerts; by his friend and biographer, Humphrey Burton, who discusses Bernstein's multiple talents as a conductor, composer and educator; and by his pupil, the conductor Marin Alsop, who was inspired by Bernstein to take...


David Mamet, Meghan Markle in Suits, Poetry Jukebox

David Mamet, the American playwright, director and novelist, talks to Stig about his new novel, Chicago, set amongst the gangster rivalry of the 1920s. He explains his fascination with that era in the city of his birth, discusses the writers who have inspired him and explains the importance of imagination, inspiration and dialogue in the storyteller's craft. Meghan Markle's final season in US drama Suits is currently being broadcast on Netflix, last year the actress revealed she was...


Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs, Sporting theme tunes, National poetry competition winner, AJ Pearce

Wes Anderson discusses his film Isle of Dogs, including working with stop-motion animation and drawing inspiration from Studio Ghibli director Miyazaki for the Japanese setting for the film. What makes a great sports theme tune? As the 2018 Formula 1 season kicks off with a specially composed anthem, we speak to its composer Brian Tyler and consider the essential components of an iconic sports theme tunes with former BBC sport correspondent Adrian Warner. Seven publishers were in a bidding...


Ready Player One, Church Ministers for the Arts, Mental Institutions in Film, The York Realist

Steven Spielberg, director of films like The Post, The BFG and Bridge of Spies, returns to the science fiction genre with an action adventure set in a virtual-reality game world sometime in the future. Julia Hardy reviews the film and tells Samira whether it is a classic of the genre like Close Encounters of the Third Kind or Back to the Future. The York Realist is a play set in 1963 when John, up from London and working as assistant director on a production of the York Mystery Plays,...


Anna Chancellor, Harshdeep Kaur, Hilton Als

Anna Chancellor stars in the new TV adaptation of Agatha Christie's murder mystery Ordeal By Innocence this weekend, in which she plays Rachel Argyl, heiress, philanthropist and mother of five adopted children found murdered on Christmas Eve. Samira talks to the actress, who is well-known for her roles in Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Hour, Spooks and Mapp & Lucia. Harshdeep Kaur, the popular Indian playback singer known for her Bollywood Hindi, Punjabi and Sufi songs, performs live....


Sonia Boyce, Debussy, Black Men Walking

Artist Sonia Boyce's career has been punctuated by series of firsts - the first black woman to have her work collected by the Tate, the first black woman to be elected a Royal Academician. As her first retrospective opens, Sonia discusses her art and why she removed a painting from the walls of Manchester Art Gallery. On the 100th anniversary of Debussy's death two interpreters of his music discuss his life, legacy and influences. Lucy Parham tours a show playing his piano music...


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