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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.






The Power of Pinter, Javaad Alipoor, Richard Hawley's musical

The recent Pinter season at the Pinter Theatre in London, culminating in the current production of Betrayal starring Tom Hiddleston, Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox, suggests that Harold Pinter has a durability that other writers of his generation may not be able to claim. What are the qualities that give his work resonance to an audience today? The director Jamie Lloyd, theatre critic and Pinter biographer Michael Billington, and Dr Catriona Fallow, research fellow on the Harold Pinter:...


David Bailey, Joseph Hillier Plymouth Sculpture

Photographer David Bailey has shot some of the most iconic portraits of the last six decades, from the Kray twins to the Queen. He talks about his life and career and how to achieve the perfect portrait shot. Tomorrow the UK’s largest cast bronze sculpture is unveiled in Plymouth. John talks to artist Joseph Hillier, who has been working on the crouching female figure called Messenger for the last two years. Sophie Wright from Magnum considers the different ways photographers have captured...


Tom Hiddleston, Zawe Ashton, Charlie Cox in Betrayal, plus TV drama Pose

Tom Hiddleston, Zawe Ashton, and Charlie Cox star in a new production of Betrayal – Harold Pinter’s play based on his affair with Joan Bakewell. The actors discuss being on stage throughout the play, even in scenes they’re not scripted in, the difference between a Pinter pause and a silence, and how playing squash helped them get into character. Plus the 1980's New York drag 'ballroom' scene in ground-breaking new BBC drama series Pose, which features five trans actresses in lead roles....


National Theatres, Mark Morris, It Must Schwing!

70 years ago, with the passing of the National Theatre Act, Parliament authorised the Treasury to contribute up to £1 million to the building and equipment of a national theatre. In 1963 the UK’s first national theatre opened. Now, as devolution has risen up the political agenda, the UK has four national theatre companies and all four artistic directors - Rufus Norris, Artistic Director of the Royal National Theatre, Arwel Gruffydd, Artistic Director of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Kully...


The White Crow reviewed and tackling difficult issues in theatre

Ralph Fiennes' third film as director is The White Crow, the story of how Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev came from a peasant upbringing to be one of the greatest dancers, and how whilst on tour in Paris in 1961 he defected to the West from the Soviet Union. Critic Sarah Crompton reviews. Last week dozens of well-heeled American parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, were charged with involvement in a scheme to fabricate academic and athletic credentials to get...


Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges, Jessica Hynes, the art of the meme

Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges discuss their new film Ben is Back, in which a mother faces difficult challenges when her drug-addicted son returns to the family home from rehab unexpectedly for Christmas. We consider the art of internet memes as the World Wide Web turns 30. Elise Bell, co-founder of Tabloid Art History, explains how they make memes that go viral on Twitter and Instagram, and art historian Richard Clay explains where the term comes from, and considers their place in our wider...


Jordan Peele, The rise of country music, Christian Marclay's show reviewed

Jordan Peele talks about Us - his new film about a family terrorised by their doppelgängers. Having upturned the horror genre with his Oscar-winning racial satire Get Out, Jordan takes aim at the American dream in this follow up, starring Lupita Nyong’o. The artist Christian Marclay is best known for The Clock - a 24-hour long film composed of nearly 12 000 clips, taken from films depicting time references across a full day. Critic Sarah Crompton assesses his latest two 'collage' video works...


Girl reviewed, Long Lost Likely Lads, Winners of a $165,000 literature prize, News from the London Book Fair

Briony Hanson reviews the Golden Globe nominated film, Girl, which tells the story of a trans teenage girl who, training to be a ballerina is struggling to adapt to dancing “on pointe” during her transition from male to female. Two long lost episodes of The Likely Lads have recently been discovered and are coming out on DVD and Blu Ray. Dick Clement who, with Ian La Frenais, wrote the television comedy series tells John Wilson how tapes of what now be considered classic programmes were...


Simon Amstell, The Taming of the Shrew, Mind the Gap's learning disability theatre

Comedian Simon Amstell discusses his new film, Benjamin, based on his own life, and which he's both written and directed. He describes how making the film - about a rising young filmmaker who uses his real life relationships as material for his work - has helped him with his own anxieties. Gender swapping in The Taming Of The Shrew. Two radical new productions of Shakespeare’s misogynistic comedy are currently playing at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff and at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in...


Turn Up Charlie, Fisherman's Friends, Cheeky chappies, David Bowie demo

Idris Elba has a new Netflix comedy series: Turn Up Charlie. He plays a struggling DJ and eternal bachelor, who is given a final shot at success when he reluctantly becomes a ‘manny’ to his famous best friend's problem-child daughter, Gabby. Julia Raeside reviews. 25 years ago the Fisherman’s Friends were just a crew of friends in Port Isaac, Cornwall. Some of them were fishermen. They sang sang shanties, nautical and Cornish songs, for fun to locals and holidaymakers. In 2010 they signed a...


Waitress, Sadie Jones, Internet at 30

In 2016 Waitress made history as the first Broadway musical with an all-female creative team. Millie Taylor reviews the new West End production, with music and lyrics by the American singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles. Sadie Jones, author of the Costa-winning The Outcast, discusses her fourth book, The Snakes, which is a tale of power, greed, secrets and shame that ends in tragedy. As the internet turns 30 next week we consider how the world wide web has affected how artists create work by...


Maggie Gyllenhaal, BalletBoyz

Maggie Gyllenhaal discusses her new film The Kindergarten Teacher, in which she plays a teacher who believes one of her students is a child prodigy and begins to pass his poems off as her own. She also talks about having an intimacy director on the set of The Deuce, and her upcoming directorial debut - an adaptation of an Elena Ferrante novel. This week Akwaeke Emezi became the first non-binary author to be long-listed for the Women's Prize for Fiction. Critic Vic Parsons discusses the...


Cheat, Richard Billingham, Club culture, Diana Athill

In ITV’s new psychological thriller Cheat, a university lecturer accuses a student of cheating in her essay, sparking a series of retaliations which threaten to spiral out of control. Film and TV lecturer James Walters reviews the show which stars Katherine Kelly and Molly Windsor. Photographer Richard Billingham, dubbed the 'pioneer of squalid realism', won a Turner Prize nomination for his images of his parents’ alcoholic and troubled life in a Black Country tower block. He discusses his...


Samuel L Jackson, British-Chinese play Under The Umbrella and the launch of Scala Radio

The career of Hollywood superstar Samuel L Jackson was recently revealed to have made him the highest-grossing actor of all time. He joins Samira to discuss the new Marvel superhero film, Captain Marvel; in which he reprises the role of Nick Fury... This time around he's playing a Nick Fury who is twenty years younger than before, as the film is set in the 90s. He reveals how he de-aged himself for the part and also talks to Samira about The Oscars, why he chooses “popcorn” films to star in,...


The Specials' Terry Hall, the plays of Athol Fugard, Artemisia Gentileschi

When The Specials released their new album Encore recently, their first new music with Terry Hall since the classic Ghost Town in 1981, it went straight to Number One. Nearly four decades on from their split, the Coventry band’s lead singer Terry Hall discusses the new album and how he found himself back in the recording studio with his long-term collaborators Lynval Golding and Horace Panter after all these years. This year is the 25th anniversary of the first universal democratic elections...


Stephen Merchant, Novels review, Clean Break at 40

Stephen Merchant has written and directed the feature film Fighting with my Family, which tells the unlikely true story of a young British woman from Norwich who found fame on the women’s wrestling circuit in America. Merchant discusses going in at the deep end and working alongside former champion wrestler and Hollywood star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Arifa Akbar reviews new books by Leila Aboulela (Bird Summons), Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister the Serial Killer) and 2015 Man Booker winner...


Ricky Gervais, Tom Walker, Andre Previn remembered, Young adult literature

In his new series After Life, Ricky Gervais plays a local journalist who tries to find humour as he struggles in the wake of his wife’s death, with a dog as his closest companion. Gervais discusses how he copes with people’s reactions and offence at his work and the controversy surrounding historical social media posts and celebrity redemption. Tom Walker, winner of this year’s British Breakthrough Act at the Brits, performs his new single Just You and I live in studio. He describes his...


Charlotte Rampling, Berlioz Anniversary, Leveret Perform Live

Charlotte Rampling discusses her new film Hannah, for which she won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival playing a woman shunned by her family and society. She also talks about her five decade career, from Georgy Girl to her recent Oscar-nominated performance in 45 Years. Hector Berlioz died 150 years ago next week. Best-known for his Symphony Fantastique - described by Leonard Bernstein as the first musical work of psychedelia, he wrote the first symphony to feature the viola as a solo...


Leaving Neverland, Jacob Collier, Dorothea Tanning at Tate Modern

How much should we separate art from the artist’s behaviour? With new sexual abuse allegations concerning Michael Jackson in the forthcoming documentary Leaving Neverland and R Kelly being charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse – writers Anna Leszkiewicz, Ekow Eshun and Dreda Say Mitchell consider the extent to which we should boycott or continue to appreciate an individual’s work in the light of questions over their behaviour. On the eve of his world tour, multi-instrumentalist, singer,...


The return of Fleabag, Nikki Sixx on Motley Crue biopic, Oscars analysis

The return of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s black comedy Fleabag: we preview the new series of BBC3's biggest success. The main character continues to battle with her family and her own self-destructive behaviour, but can Fleabag be as fresh and surprising as before? And because it'll be broadcast weekly, one episode at a time (after the news on BBC1) rather than being released as a box set for bingeing), we consider how viewers' watching habits are changing. American glam metal band Mötley Crüe...