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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.






Lucy Porter, Martin Creed, and Soweto Gospel Choir on stage at the Edinburgh Festival

In front of a live audience in the BBC's Big Blue Tent at the Edinburgh Festival, comedian Lucy Porter and comedy tutor Jojo Sutherland give John Wilson a lesson in stand-up - but can you really teach people to be funny? A one-woman show with 10 characters - Nilija Sun discusses her play Pike St, about the residents in the Lower East Side of Manhattan as they prepare for an imminent hurricane. Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed explains what his show Words and Music is really about -...

Duration: 00:29:52

Edinburgh International Books Festival: Val McDermid talks to Paul Auster and Denise Mina

Val McDermid presents a special edition from the Edinburgh International Books Festival. American author Paul Auster talks about his Man Booker longlisted novel 4 3 2 1, which offers four different versions of the central character's life. Denise Mina on her first true crime novel, The Long Drop, about one of Scotland's most notorious criminals, Peter Manuel. Glasgow Student Slam Poetry Champion Catherine Wilson performs a poem written specially for Front Row. Mike Heron from The Incredible...

Duration: 00:32:11

John Eliot Gardiner, Apphia Campbell, The Nature of Forgetting, Reviewing at the Edinburgh Festivals

Sir John Eliot Gardiner, who has devoted much of his long and distinguished career to the revival of early music, discusses his latest project Monteverdi 450, an international tour of Claudio Monteverdi's three surviving operas in celebration of his 450th anniversary. Apphia Campbell's one-woman show, Woke, interweaves the story of two women, 42 years apart, who become involved in the struggle for civil rights. One, notorious Black Panther Assata Shakur, the other Ambrosia, a present day...

Duration: 00:28:40

Shappi Khorsandi and Gillian Clarke on stage in the BBC's Big Blue Tent at the Edinburgh Festival

Shappi Khorsandi is the first guest in a week of programmes from the Edinburgh Festival. On stage in front of a live audience in the BBC's Big Blue Tent, she discusses her new show Mistress and Misfit, about Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson's mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton. In Nassim, Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour sets out to teach the audience his native language Farsi in a show which features a different performer from the Festival each day. So how does he prepare when the deal is that...

Duration: 00:28:38

Joe Orton

A special edition exploring the life and legacy of the playwright Joe Orton Leonie Orton, Joe Orton's youngest sister, has written a memoir of her life, I Had It In Me, in which she describes the childhood in Leicester she shared with Joe Orton and how his death led her to question and change her life. She meets Samira at the Pork Pie Library which she and Joe used to regularly visit. Dr Emma Parker has co-curated two exhibitions inspired by Joe Orton: What the Artist Saw: Art Inspired by...

Duration: 00:28:11

Henry Goodman; YA BAME writers; Lawrence Osborne; Isaac Julien

Actor Henry Goodman talks about his latest stage role as the celebrated portrait painter Lucian Freud in Looking at Lucian, a new play by Alan Franks. The number of published British black and minority ethnic authors writing for young adults is lamentably low. A new collection of short stories and poetry, A Change is Gonna Come, is setting out to change that - the collection includes work by established YA writers like Tanya Byrne and Patrice Lawrence but also introduces four new unpublished...

Duration: 00:30:40

Daniel Libeskind

An international figure in architecture Daniel Libeskind is renowned for his ability to evoke cultural memory in buildings. Born in Poland in 1946, Libeskind emigrated to the United States as a teenager and performed as a musical virtuoso, before eventually leaving music to study architecture. He began his career as an architectural theorist and professor, holding positions at various institutions around the world. In 1989, he won the international competition to build the Jewish Museum in...

Duration: 00:29:20

Philippa Gregory, Regina Spektor, TV's Eden and Rebecca Root's Queer Icon

Philippa Gregory talks about her new novel The Last Tudor - the 15th book in her Tudor/Plantagenet series in as many years. In the Last Tudor, Gregory tells the stories of the Grey sisters, starting with Lady Jane Grey who was queen of England for just nine days. The classically-trained singer-songwriter Regina Spektor defies categorisation but wins admiration and a loyal following for her distinctive pop drawing on influences from Boris Pasternak to the Beatles. She joins Kirsty in the...

Duration: 00:29:08

Queer Icons

Highlights from Front Row's Queer Icons project, presented by Alan Carr. With guests including Mary Portas, Olly Alexander, Christine and the Queens, Paris Lees, Maggi Hambling, Rebecca Root, A.Dot, Stella Duffy and the Oscar-winning writer of Moonlight, Tarell Alvin McCraney. Celebrating LGBTQ culture from the poetry of Sappho to the songs of Frank Ocean, we've asked guests to champion a piece of LGBTQ artwork that is special to them - one that has significance in their lives. Will Young...

Duration: 00:27:54

Trust Me writer Dan Sefton, Atomic Blonde, Colm Toibin's Queer Icon, Posthumous publishing

When a renowned writer or artist dies, those left behind can find themselves in an ethical quandary - should work that is unfinished or incomplete be kept private or is there a public interest in revealing it to the world? Hunter Davies's wife, the author Margaret Forster, passed away last year, and left behind a substantial amount of unpublished writing. Hunter shares his story with us in the studio, and Virginia Woolf's great-niece and advisor to the Woolf estate, Virginia Nicholson, also...

Duration: 00:28:46

Irvine Welsh's Performers, Bookshop economics, England Is Mine, CN Lester on Stone Butch Blues

Irvine Welsh discusses Performers, a new one-act play he has co-written with Dean Cavanagh about the '60s cult film Performance. Directed by Donald Cammell and cinematographer Nicolas Roeg, it starred James Fox and Mick Jagger. Welsh's play dramatises the casting process in which East End criminals were sought for the villain roles. When James Daunt became Managing Director of the bookshop chain Waterstones in 2011, the company was receiving £27m per year selling its window space and...

Duration: 00:29:17

Stockard Channing, Matisse in the studio, Thomas Ades, Representations of war

Best known for her performances in the 1978 film Grease and in the 1990s TV series The West Wing, the Emmy and Tony-winning actor Stockard Channing talks about her new role in Alexi Kate Campbell's Apologia at the Trafalgar Studios in London. Channing plays a famous art historian who has written a memoir which does not mention her two sons. The action takes place at a birthday party to which the sons - and their girlfriends - are invited. An installation in an old Roman fort near Hexham...

Duration: 00:28:39

Emergency services on screen; plus Sally Hawkins, Josette Bushell-Mingo, and Damian Barr

As public services come under increasing pressure from government cuts the demand for documentaries about them is reflected in the number of programmes on TV. Last week, ITV's Inside London Fire Brigade featured previously unheard accounts of fire fighters from inside Grenfell Tower. In the same week, Channel 4's 24 hours in A&E returned for its 13th series, alongside 999 What's Your Emergency which is in its fourth; earlier in July, the second series of Hospital was screened on BBC Two. TV...

Duration: 00:30:10

Writer Bernard MacLaverty, Nicholas Hytner's Queer Icon, Riding the Mail Rail

For our Queer Icons series, director Sir Nicholas Hytner chooses the Rodgers and Hart song Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, which he reveals was written by Lorenz Hart with a gay subtext. Northern Irish writer Bernard MacLaverty returns with his first novel in 16 years, Midwinter Break: the small details of a retired couple's trip to Amsterdam build into a portrait of ageing, alcoholism, faith and love. The new Postal Museum in London features the art and artefacts which have shaped the...

Duration: 00:28:25

David Walliams, Jeanne Moreau and Sam Shepard remembered, Zinzi Clemmons, Jukebox musicals

David Walliams has just notched up his 100th week as the UK's best-selling children's author. Among his most popular books is Gangsta Granny, and a stage version is about to open at the London's Garrick Theatre. David Walliams tells Samira Ahmed why he thinks the play is better than the book, and how his career as a children's author developed out of the comedy sketch show he created with Matt Lucas - Little Britain. Cultural commentator Agnès Poirier reflects on the life of Jeanne Moreau,...

Duration: 00:30:20

Michael Sheen, Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant's favourite novel and review of television series Ackley Bridge

As Michael Sheen releases his new film, Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, John Wilson talks to the actor about his career. He delves into how Sheen prepared for some of his most well-known roles, playing real people such as Tony Blair, David Frost and Brian Clough. Sheen considers, too, his connection to his home town, Port Talbot, and his increasing social and political activism. Ackley Bridge is set in a newly opened school which integrates the largely...

Duration: 00:28:33

Pretty Yende, Dennis Lehane, The Handmaid's Tale

Pretty Yende, the South African soprano, discusses making her debut at the Royal Opera House in Donizetti's comic opera L'elisir d'amore, and the TV advert that inspired her to abandon her plans to become an accountant and to pursue a career in opera instead. As a new adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is broadcast on Channel 4 and the book hits the top of the bestsellers list, academic Sarah Churchwell reassesses this dystopian novel and its significance, and considers to...

Duration: 00:27:54

Will Self, My Life as a Courgette, Raphael drawings

French animation My Life as a Courgette has wowed the critics at Cannes. The children's film is about a boy nick-named Courgette and takes a refreshing look at life in an orphanage and explores the reasons why the children are there. Briony Hanson reviews. Will Self talks about his new novel Phone, the third and final instalment of his experimental trilogy which started with 2012's Man Booker nominated Umbrella. Written with no paragraphs or chapter breaks, the novel is a stream of...

Duration: 00:28:44

Sgt. Pepper at 50; Jimmy McGovern; RIBA North

For the bank holiday, Samira is in Liverpool for the art premieres celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of the album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. She meets Sean Doran, the co-artistic director of the Sgt. Pepper at 50: Heading for Home arts festival, as he transforms the city into a turntable for the album by commissioning 13 world premieres - one for for each track. Samira also meets two of the artists commissioned to come up with their interpretation of these classic...

Duration: 00:28:28

Live from Hay Literary Festival - Elizabeth Strout and Julia Donaldson

Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Elizabeth Strout, discusses her latest novel, Anything is Possible, which looks in detail at some of the lives of those in a small town in Illinois and explores the long term impact of war, abuse and extreme poverty upon the human condition. Kully Thiarai took up her post of Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Wales just a year ago and has recently unveiled two major projects which take steel and the NHS as their inspiration. She reveals more to John....

Duration: 00:37:20

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