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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.






Last Flag Flying director, literary fiction in decline, poet Danez Smith

Director Richard Linklater discusses his new film Last Flag Flying, starring Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne and Steve Carell, about three former US servicemen who re-unite in 2003 for a road trip to bury the son of one of the men, killed in the Iraq War. A recent Arts Council England report into literary fiction shows that sales, advances and prices have slumped over the last 15 years with the average writer earning around £11,000 a year - less than the minimum wage. The Arts Council...

Duration: 00:32:12

Bridget Riley, Nick Park, David Lodge, Bayeux Tapestry

Bridget Riley is known for her abstract geometric images featuring grids, lines, circles and squares. As the artist prepares to open a new exhibition of her recent work, art critic Charlotte Mullins assesses the importance and impact of the canvases and murals created in the last four years. As the Bayeux Tapestry is set to come to the UK from France we consider the extraordinary qualities of this artwork, the soft power of such cultural moves and the messages that might lie within Macron's...

Duration: 00:32:42

Carleen Anderson, Elif Shafak, the commuter in film

Carleen Anderson, former singer with Young Disciples and the Brand New Heavies, discusses her album and 'tribal opera' Cage Street Memorial, and performs a song from it in the studio. Turkish writer Elif Shafak discusses her bestselling novel The Bastard of Istanbul about a family of women, for which she was accused of 'insulting Turkishness' in 2006 and put on trial. The novel has been made into a two-part drama as part of Radio 4's Reading Europe season. Kirsty will be exploring the state...

Duration: 00:31:50

Will & Grace revived, Disney and Pixar's evolution, the London Sinfonietta at 50

As Will & Grace is revived twenty years after its premiere, TV critic Louis Wise discusses how the ground-breaking sitcom about two gay men and their best girl pal comes across in 2018. Disney and Pixar's new film Coco is about a Mexican boy who travels through the Land of the Dead to unlock a family mystery. We consider the evolution of Disney films, how they depict and reflect international cultures, and also ask where they sit in the wider animation landscape. The London Sinfonietta,...

Duration: 00:36:03

Liam Neeson, Gorillaz artist Jamie Hewlett, TS Eliot Poetry Prize winner, fake Modiglianis

Liam Neeson stars in action thriller The Commuter in which an insurance salesman is caught up in danger and conspiracy on his way home from work. He talks about the appeal of the ordinary man as hero. Jamie Hewlett is best known for his artwork for the comic strip Tank Girls, the group Gorillaz, and Damon Albarn's Chinese opera Monkey: Journey to the West. With the publication of a new monograph which features more than 400 of his artworks, Hewlett discusses his approach to graphic art and...

Duration: 00:32:28

Tom Hanks, Sir Simon Rattle, French heritage funding

Tom Hanks discusses his new film The Post, co-starring Meryl Streep and directed by Steven Spielberg, which tells the story of the part The Washington Post played in publishing the top secret Pentagon Papers that changed American public opinion about the Vietnam War. Sir Simon Rattle is conducting the European concert premiere of The Genesis Suite, a work with narration based on stories from the first book of the Bible, such as Adam and Eve, the Flood and the Tower of Babel. The conductor...

Duration: 00:28:44

Director Vicki Featherstone, philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer, poet Sasha Dugdale

In December the Royal Court withdrew and then reinstated its invitation to stage a new touring production of Andrea Dunbar's semi-autobiographical 1982 play Rita Sue and Bob Too as a result of sexual harassment allegations made against its co-director Max Stafford Clark - himself a former Artistic Director of the Royal Court and one of the most influential theatre directors of his generation. The Royal Court's current Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone and theatre critic Lyn Gardner...

Duration: 00:30:59

Melvyn Bragg, TV arts programmes, '(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay' by Otis Redding, the Fire and Fury

As The Southbank Show marks its 40th anniversary we discuss the legacy of this historic arts programme with host Melvyn Bragg. As ITV makes a return to arts programing with Great Art, and the BBC prepares to revive its landmark series Civilisations, we discuss the state of arts on TV today. With Phil Grabsky, the award-winning executive producer of Great Art and the founder of Seventh Art Production, and the TV writer Julia Raeside. 50 years ago this week saw the release the song Sittin' on...

Duration: 00:32:06

The Vagina Monologues 20 years on, French crime drama Spiral

The 1996 radical feminist theatre piece, The Vagina Monologues, made a huge impact in America and around the world as well as inspiring V-Day, an organisation working to stop violence against girls and women. As the writer Eve Ensler updates it with some contemporary voices, we ask about the original production and why now is the right time to revisit it. We also look at feminist theatre in Britain today. In an age where so many people describe themselves as feminist, what defines a play as...

Duration: 00:28:46

Costa Book Awards Special: Jon McGregor, Katherine Rundell, Rebecca Stott, Helen Dunmore and Gail Honeyman

A special episode featuring all five winners of the Costa Book Awards 2017. The winner of the novel category Jon McGregor talks about how he wrote his stunning portrait of an English country village, Reservoir 13. Katherine Rundell, winner of the children’s book category, reveals how she ate tinned tarantula for her adventure story The Explorer. The biography winner Rebecca Stott discusses In the Days of Rain which tells the story of her family’s life in a cult and how they escaped. The...

Duration: 00:49:34

Kiri, Golden Globes, Gail Honeyman, Contemporary portraiture

Kiri, Channel 4's new drama series, is about the disappearance of a young girl, written by Jack Thorne. It stars Sarah Lancashire as the girl's social worker and Lucian Msamati as her grandfather. Dreda Say Mitchell reviews. The winner of the Costa First Novel prize is Gail Honeyman for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It tells the story of a 29-year-old woman who lives alone, surviving, but not really living. Gail discusses how she was inspired to write the book after reading an article...

Duration: 00:28:43

Christopher Plummer, Saudi Arts, Helen Dunmore

Christopher Plummer discusses replacing Kevin Spacey as John Paul Getty in the Ridley Scott-directed All the Money in the World after Spacey was dropped from the film due to allegations of sexual misconduct. Film critic Larushka Ivan-Zadeh considers whether this bold move by the director pays off. As Saudi Arabia announces that it will reopen its cinema doors, we look at the arts scene in the country and ask if this reflects a more liberal attitude towards culture. BBC Arabic Correspondent...

Duration: 00:31:07

Michelle Terry, Jez Butterworth, Rebecca Stott, Hostiles

Michelle Terry takes over as Artistic Director at Shakespeare's Globe in London in April, and today she announced details of her first season. She discusses her plans, as well as the drama off-stage that led to her predecessor Emma Rice's controversial early departure. Rebecca Stott, winner of the Biography category in this year's Costa Book Awards announced on Front Row this week, discusses In the Days of Rain, her part-memoir, part-biography, about her family's historical involvement...

Duration: 00:33:16

Neil Cross, Katherine Rundell, Book prize judging

Neil Cross, the creator of Luther talks about his new BBC One series Hard Sun. The pre-apocalyptic crime drama follows two detectives who stumble upon proof that the world faces certain destruction, a fact the British Government is trying to suppress Katherine Rundell is the winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2017 for The Explorer, a classic adventure story of four children whose plane crashes in the Amazon. Scholar, tightrope walker and amateur pilot Katherine Rundell explains the...

Duration: 00:28:40

Costa Book Awards winners, Elizabeth Friedlander, musical interpolation

Novelist Wendy Holden announces the category winners of the Costa Book Awards 2017 exclusively on Front Row and Stig talks to the winner of the Novel Category. Artist Elizabeth Friedlander is the subject of a new exhibition at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft. The work of Friedlander is instantly recognisable as mid-20th century design at its best including her Penguin book covers and Bauer Type Foundry typeface named for her - Elizabeth. Curator Katharine Meynell talks about her life and...

Duration: 00:28:39

Making Culture At Home

The opening of V&A Dundee will be one of the big arts stories in 2018 and it's in Dundee that Samira Ahmed begins today's programme which looks at how arts organisations nationwide are seeking to make themselves open and relevant to their local communities. In Dundee, Samira visits the new V&A Dundee community garden in the company of volunteers Denis Harkins and Derek Cassie and Communities Producer Peter Nurick; she talks to Sarah Saunders, Director of Learning and Engagement at V&A...

Duration: 00:28:24

Kay Mellor, Frankenstein, Swimming with Men

Kay Mellor discusses her new ITV drama, Girlfriends, about three women in their late 50s, early 60s, and reveals how closely she's drawn on her own life and friends to write it. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was published on New Year's Day 1818. Christopher Frayling, author of Frankenstein The First Two Hundred Years, joins Janet Todd, the biographer of Mary Shelley's mother Mary Wollstonecraft, to discuss how we read Frankenstein in our era of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence...

Duration: 00:32:06

Vic and Bob, Angela Gheorghiu, Theatre ghost stories

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer are back on TV with Vic and Bob's Big Night Out. Three decades after starting out they discuss their surreal and anarchic style of comedy. The legendary Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu returns with a new album Eternamente - her first studio album in six years. She discusses her affinity with the role of Tosca, and why she feels like the "black sheep" of the opera world. Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its...

Duration: 00:30:30

Incredible! The unstoppable rise of the comic book superhero

The surprise success of this year's Wonder Woman film emphasized the current dominance of superhero movies at the box office. Stig Abell investigates the comic book origins of these characters and explores why they have become such a presence in our culture. Dave Gibbons, the comic book writer and artist most famous for his collaboration with Alan Moore on The Watchman, shows Stig around his studio. Gibbons, who has also worked on Superman, Green Lantern, and Frank Miller's Give Me...

Duration: 00:28:46

Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman on his 30 year career in film, from playing punk rebel Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy to a barnstorming performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. He tells Kirsty why he was reluctant at first to take on the role. How he transformed himself into Britain's wartime Prime Minister and the challenge of recreating Churchill's distinctive voice. How when he was young his drama teachers told him that he wouldn't amount to anything. And as he approaches his 60th birthday, why he...

Duration: 00:28:24

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