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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.






In Fabric, Queer books of the '90s, HMS Caroline, A forgotten female script

A killer dress is on the hunt in Peter Strickland’s new kitsch horror film In Fabric, which stars Marianne Jean-Baptiste as an innocent sales shopper. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews. We continue our exploration of LGBT literature marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The events of 28th June 1969 were a key moment in the birth of the gay rights movement. Today novelist and salon host Damian Barr reflects on growing up gay in 1990s Scotland and the queer books he loves from that...


British-Vietnamese playwright Tuyen Do, Cindy Sherman exhibition, Michael Jackson 10 years on, Queer Books - the 80s

Tuyen Do has acted at the Royal Court and the National Theatre and now sh'e written a play. Not only is it her first drama, it’s the first by British-Vietnamese writer to have a full professional production in the UK. Summer Rolls is a family saga that centres on Mai, whose parents have escaped war-torn Vietnam, but carry psychological wounds. They are anxious not just for their children to succeed, but that their daughter in particular should not stray from Vietnamese culture and language....


BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019, 50 years of queer books, Museum of the Year nominee Pitt Rivers

The 2019 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition has been won by the Ukrainian baritone Andrei Kymach. The week-long competition held every two years is one of the most significant competitions in the classical calendar and has helped make stars of many participants since its inception in 1983. We hear from this year's winner Andrei Kymach and from music critic Anna Picard. This week marks the 50th anniversary since the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York, a key moment in the birth of the...


Richard Curtis's Film Yesterday, a summer solstice poem, Bradford Literature Festival protests

Richard Curtis talks to John Wilson about The Beatles, the rom-com and time itself. He's written Yesterday, a musical fantasy comedy directed by Danny Boyle in which a musician, after an accident, finds himself in another world. Here he is the only person who remembers The Beatles, a fact he turns to his advantage. He takes the credit and becomes famous for writing and performing their songs. Himesh Patel stars as the singer and Lily James, Kate McKinnon, and Ed Sheeran also appear. Several...


Lee Krasner, Ben Platt, Chasing Rainbows

Ben Platt has been acting or singing for most of his life, and after winning critical acclaim, and a Tony for the title role in Dear Evan Hansen, and also for playing the loveable, if quirky, Benji, in Pitch Perfect, he’s now shed his characters and written his debut album, very much from the heart. He tells Shahidha why he felt compelled to write an autobiographical album and why it was important not to hetero-wash it. American artist Lee Krasner was a true innovator working with bold...


Mark Ronson, Arts sponsorship, Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley

Producer Mark Ronson releases his fifth studio album ‘Late Night Feelings’ which features female singers from an eclectic range of pop music including Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys. A ‘breakup album’ consisting of songs charting the disintegration of a relationship, Mark talks about how collaboration works on such personal material. In the past weeks, both the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Opera House have faced protests from climate campaigners over BP sponsorship, and more look set...


Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal winners, Nottingham Contemporary, Sculpture since Hepworth and Moore

The CILIP Carnegie Medal, and CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal are the most prestigious prizes for literature for children and young people. Both winners were announced today and are on tonight's Front Row. Elizabeth Acevedo’s Carnegie-winning novel tells the story of Xiomara, a Dominican-American girl growing up modern-day Harlem. Elizabeth explains why she chose to unfold the story of The Poet X in a long series of short lyrics. The Lost Words, for which illustrator Jackie Morris has won the...


Joseph O'Connor, Paula Rego retrospective, The role of the film critic

Joseph O’Connor, whose book Star of the Sea was critically acclaimed and a global bestseller, talks about his latest novel Shadowplay. Taking the well-known presumption that Bram Stoker based the character of Dracula on the Shakespearean actor Henry Irving, Shadowplay is about the close collaboration and intense friendship between Stoker, Irving and his famous acting partner Ellen Terry. Portuguese-born artist Dame Paula Rego's work across paint, pastel, etching and fabric is often based on...


Tracy K Smith; New albums from Madonna, Springsteen and Avicii; Tory leadership and the arts

Tracy K. Smith has just completed her time as the Poet Laureate of the United States and published Eternity, her selected poems. For Front Row she reads poems reflecting the variety of her work: the story of a clandestine border crossing; a poem linking David Bowie with the cosmos; another that she did not write so much as discover, a letter to Abraham Lincoln from a mother appealing for the release of her son from the Union army in the American Civil War. Political commentator Helen Lewis...


Rob Lowe, Russian Protest Art, Keith Haring

Rob Lowe, the Brat Pack Hollywood heart-throb who went on to star in hit American series such as The West Wing and Parks and Recreation, talks to Kirsty Lang about his surprising role as a Chief Constable in Boston, Lincolnshire in ITV’s darkly comic new series Wild Bill. Live in Moscow Maria Kornienko outlines the repression and harassment faced by artists making work publicly critical of Vladimir Putin's regime, and the moves they are taking to counter this. Keith Haring was also an artist...


Bill Nighy, unreliable narrators in video games, how to watch ballet

Bill Nighy on his latest film Sometimes Always Never, about a family torn apart and then reunited by a love of the board game Scrabble, written by Frank Cotterell Boyce and directed by Carl Hunter. The unreliable narrator is a much loved staple of fiction but it's now a key ingredient in videogame storytelling. Ragnar Tornquist, author of the mystery game Draugen, which features an unreliable narrator, discusses with games writer Jordan Erica Webber. Stig, who has always been intimidated by...


Ai Weiwei, Yacht Rock

Artist and activist Ai Weiwei has designed a flag to be flown across the UK from 24th June to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He has also just screened his latest documentary The Rest, which focuses on the plight of individual refugees in 23 countries. John Wilson visits the artist in his Berlin studio to discuss art, activism and his current relationship with China. Yacht Rock might be a term you’ve never heard of but you’ll definitely know the bands...


Gwendoline Christie, Get Up, Stand Up Now, Young Poets Laureate

Gwendoline Christie, famous for playing warrior Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones, discusses her new stage role as the fairy queen Titania in Nicholas Hytner’s immersive new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Works by Steve McQueen, Lubaina Himid and Yinka Shonibare feature in a new exhibition Get Up, Stand Up Now at Somerset House in London, which explores the impact of 50 years of Black creativity in Britain and beyond. Curator and artist Zak Ové and artist Zoe Bedeaux discuss the...


Julianne Moore, Big Little Lies, Tales of the City, Dr John

Oscar winner Julianne Moore talks about her starring role in Gloria Bell, Chilean director Sebastian Lelio's English-language remake of his celebrated 2013 film Gloria, about a divorcee looking for love on the dance floors of Los Angeles. The much anticipated return of two TV series: Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and the second season of Big Little Lies, in which Meryl Streep joins Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. Angie Errigo reviews. Jools Holland pays tribute to Dr John, the...


Matt Berry, Claire McGlasson, National Trust acquires view that inspired Turner, Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad

Dulcet-toned comedian Matt Berry joins us to discuss two new projects: a BBC TV spin-off of the 2014 cult mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows in which Berry plays a jaded 700 year-old vampire, and his new role as Detective Inspector Rabbit, a hardened Victorian booze-hound, in Channel 4’s period comedy Year of the Rabbit. Men make a mess of the world with the First World War. Afterwards a female messiah emerges to lead humanity to salvation, through the work of a community of women in...


Emma Thompson, Winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction, Anthony McCarten, D-Day weather play

Emma Thompson discusses her role as a TV chat show host in her new film Late Night and, as she embarks on her first stand-up show, talks about politics, performing , and how much things have changed for women in comedy. As the winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 is announced, we talk to her live from the ceremony. The books are: It’s The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker; My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite; Milkman by Anna Burns; Ordinary People by Diana Evans; An...


Okwui Okpokwasili, Literary events at non-literary festivals, Tiananmen Square, Apple moves to streaming

Samira talks to Nigerian American performer, choreographer and writer Okwui Okpokwasili about the UK premiere of Bronx Gothic at London’s Young Vic. How does the piece delve into one woman’s attempt to shake loose memory in a performance at the intersection of dance, theatre and visual installation. Musical acts always used to be the headliners and sole draw for music festivals. Recently we have seen the rise of alternative stages at these events – often including literary events. But what...



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


Elizabeth Gilbert, BTS and K-pop, Natalia Goncharova

Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat Pray Love has sold fifteen million copies around the world and was made into a film with Julia Roberts. Her new novel is City of Girls, the story of a young woman discovering an exhilarating life in a theatre in New York in the summer of 1940. She talks about why she was unafraid of writing about a young woman’s sexual desire and about the dramatic and difficult events in her personal life that shaped the writing of the book. “The biggest thing since the...


Aladdin composer Alan Menken, Amitav Ghosh, Georgia boycott

At the piano, composer Alan Menken discusses his music which led the rebirth of Disney animation with hits such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, which he’s reworked for the new live-action version currently top of the box office. Georgia's state governor has signed legislation banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected (except in reported cases of rape or incest). In response, several major production companies including Netflix and Disney have said they are...