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Front Row

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

Tous les épisodes

  • 27.11.2020
    39 MB
    41:33
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    Mandolin player Avi Avital, Marina Abramović, Possessor reviewed

    Avi Avital., the world's leading mandolin player, on his new album The Art of the Mandolin, in which he performs music specially written for the instrument by Vivaldi, Beethoven and Scarlatti through to contemporary composers David Bruce and Giovanni Sollima.Yesterday the Government announced which areas of England will be in Tiers 1, 2 or 3. For theatres and live performance venues in Tier 3 it's disappointing news as they will have to remain closed. What will be possible in Tier 2? Matt Hemley of The Stage joins us to look at the picture across the nation including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and we hear from Chris Stafford of the Curve Theatre in Leicester.Marina Abramović, the celebrated performance artist, discusses her takeover of a whole evening of Sky Arts next weekend. The five-hour series of programmes she’s curating and directing will delve into a hundred years of performance art, and guest Jarvis Cocker will explore meditation according to the ‘Abramović Method’.Possessor is a sci-fi psychological horror film written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, son of visionary film-maker David Cronenberg, starring Andrea Riseborough. Film critic Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and crime novelist Abir Mukherjee review.Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Sarah Johnson Studio Manager: Matilda MacariMain image: Avi Avital Image credit: Christoph Kostlin

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  • 26.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:23
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    Hollywood star Amy Adams, Corrie at 60 and Musician Jake Blount

    The actress Amy Adams is one of Hollywood’s brightest stars with multiple Oscar nominations and a roster of unforgettable roles to her name from the adorable pregnant teenager in Junebug, to the lovable Disney Princess in Enchanted, to full on 1970s disco in American Hustle. Now she’s taken on the distinctly un-glamorous role of a drug addicted mother in the movie version of the best-selling memoir Hillbilly Elegy, a book that aimed to explain Trump’s appeal to white working class America. Nick Ahad talks to Amy Adams about poverty, Trump and what happens next.When ITV’s Coronation Street began in 1960 a columnist in a national newspaper predicted it wouldn't last more than three weeks. Now, as it prepares to celebrate 60 years on air next month, it’s the longest running TV soap opera in the world. Nick discusses the enduring charm of Weatherfield with former writer and archivist Daran Little and superfan BBC 6 Music DJ Chris Hawkins, who chose Coronation Street as his topic when invited on celebrity Mastermind.Jake Blount is black, queer and used to play guitar in punk-rock bands. He's also the first black musician to reach the finals at the prestigious Appalachian String Band Festival. He tells Nick Ahad about discovering the African-Americans roots of bluegrass and old time Appalachian fiddle and banjo songs, and repossess them. And he has recorded one of those songs, from his acclaimed new album, Spider Tales, especially for Front Row.Presenter: Nick Ahad Producer: Olive Clancy Picture credit: Lacey Terrell/Netflix

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  • 25.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:22
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    Playwright Roy Williams, Poet Fred D'Aguiar, Defending Digga D documentary

    Roy Williams joins Samira Ahmed to talk about Death of England: Delroy. Just before Lockdown 2, this play’s opening night became its closing night. The understudy Michael Balogun had just stepped into the role. Luckily the press and audience loved it, and the film of that performance will be available on the National Theatre’s youtube channel this Friday. Directed by Clint Dyer, and written by Roy Williams and Clint Dyer, this powerful monologue explores the experiences of a working class Black British man who has been told by his best friend that he ‘will never be one of us’.Fred D’Aguiar spent his childhood in Guyana, his teens in South London and now lives in California. All this experience is distilled in his novels, plays and, especially, his many books of poetry. We talk to him about his new collection, Letters to America which addresses his adopted country in poems such as ‘Burning Paradise’ and ‘Downtown L.A’, but also Britain and the Caribbean, with work influenced by Philip Larkin, Derek Walcott and Calypso.Digga D is a twenty year old star of the UK Drill music scene on the brink of global fame and fortune. He has also been convicted and imprisoned for planning a knife attack. A new BBC Three documentary follows him as he leaves prison and attempts to return to his recording career. Can he rehabilitate himself in spite of being saddled with a Criminal Behaviour Order that means the police vet his lyrics line by line? And can Drill music escape its connection to gangs and violence? We’ll ask the journalist Andre Johnson, presenter and director of Terms and Conditions, a YouTube commissioned documentary about the UK Drill scene.Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May Studio Manager: Emma Harth

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  • 24.11.2020
    26 MB
    28:04
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    Simon Russell Beale; Costa Book Awards shortlists; Guy Garvey

    We exclusively reveal and analyse the 2020 Costa Book Prize shortlists. Critics Alex Clark and Jade Cuttle discuss the books chosen in the five categories: Novel, First Novel, Poetry, Biography and Children's fiction. Category winners will appear on the programme in January and Front Row will announce the overall prize-winner on 26 January 2021.Guy Garvey from Elbow reports on what he said to MPs earlier today during the DCMS inquiry into the rise of music streaming services and the effect on musicians themselves. Are artists being fairly re-numerated or does the business model of streaming need an urgent overhaul?Simon Russell Beale, always a busy actor, gives his voice to Scrooge in a new dance-film version of A Christmas Carol directed by Jacqui and David Morris and will be giving his voice, and the rest of him, playing the epitome of meanness in Nicholas Hytner’s new production – with just three actors – at the Bridge Theatre. He talks to Irenosen about performing the role in the film and in the theatre, navigating the arc from misanthropy to philanthropy – and how to say ‘Bah, humbug’ as if no one has ever said that before.Presenter: Irenosen Okojie Producer: Jerome Weatherald

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  • 24.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:24
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    Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart on Shuggie Bain

    On Front Row last week, Douglas Stuart was awarded the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction for Shuggie Bain, his debut novel about a boy in 1980s Glasgow who supports his mother as she struggles with addiction.Tonight Douglas Stuart talks in-depth with John Wilson about his extraordinary journey from Glasgow to becoming a fashion designer in New York and now a best-selling novelist, after being rejected by more than 30 publishers.Plus we announce the winner of this year’s George Devine Award – the £15,000 prize for an original stage play.Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prossermain image: Douglas Stuart Image credit: Martyn Pickersgill

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  • 20.11.2020
    38 MB
    40:36
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    Tim Minchin, Jan Morris remembered, new gaming consoles, Nicholas Pinnock

    Tim Minchin - the Australian actor, comedian, performer, musician, and composer and lyricist of the Olivier Award-winning RSC stage show Matilda The Musical – discusses his first solo album Apart Together, the themes he chooses to reflect on, and his approach to composition.Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 are in the shops. The much-anticipated new generation of gaming consoles has arrived seven years after the previous iteration. We review both consoles as well as new games Spiderman: Miles Morales and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla with video games broadcaster and writer Aoife Wilson.Travel writer and journalist Jan Morris, whose death was announced today at the age of 94, is remembered by fellow travel writer Horatio Clare.British actor Nicholas Pinnock on his leading role in the American TV drama series For Life, in which he plays a prisoner who trains to become a lawyer whilst incarcerated.Presenter Tom Sutcliffe Producer Jerome Weatherald

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  • 19.11.2020
    41 MB
    43:31
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    The 2020 Booker Prize Ceremony

    Live from the Roundhouse, London, Front Row brings you the 2020 Booker Prize ceremony. Who will be the winner of the £50,000 prize for fiction in this extraordinary year?Taking part in the socially distanced proceedings will be Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, last year's winners Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo, chair of judges Margaret Busby, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, former President of the United States Barack Obama - and of course, the winner. The evening will be hosted by Front Row's John Wilson and broadcast simultaneously on BBC iPlayer.The shortlisted authors and titles are: Diane Cook, The New Wilderness Tsitsi Dangarembga, This Mournable Body Avni Doshi, Burnt Sugar Maaza Mengiste, The Shadow King Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain Brandon Taylor, Real LifePresenter: John Wilson Producer: Sarah Johnson

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  • 18.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:26
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    Gillian Anderson, South Georgia artist commission, the role of literary prizes

    Gillian Anderson on her technique for perfecting Margaret Thatcher’s distinctive voice in the fourth season of The Crown, and the recent debate the TV series has ignited over what is fact and fiction.South Georgia is a remote, windswept and icy Antarctic island, with no permanent population. But much of the industrial whaling industry was based here until the 1960s, when there were scarcely any whales left to slaughter. Now, though, whales are returning. Rats and mice that came with the whaling ships and ate chicks in their nests and burrows have been eradicated, and the seabirds are flourishing. To mark this history and celebrate the change there's been a competition to create an artwork on the site of the Grytviken whaling station. We speak to the Scottish sculptor Michael Visocchi about his inspiration and plans.We’ll soon know who has been awarded the 2020 Booker Prize. Novelist Sara Collins, whose debut The Confessions of Frannie Langton won the 2019 Costa First Novel Award, Ellah Wakatama, Editor at Large at Canongate, and literary critic John Self discuss the role of literary prizes with the BBC’s Elle Osili-Wood on the eve of one of the biggest highlights of the literary calendar.Producer: Julian May Presenter: Kirsty LangMain image: Gillian Anderson as Margaret thatcher in The Crown Image credit: Des Willie/Netflix

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  • 17.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:23
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    Patrick, Colm Tóibín on James Joyce, Amy Macdonald, Christopher Reid

    Patrick is a black comedy from Belgium set in a woodland nudist camp. After his father dies and leaves him to run the campsite, Patrick’s favourite hammer is stolen, and he finds himself on an existential quest as he attempts to recover his beloved tool. The film is by Tim Mielants who directed the third series of Peaky Blinders. Briony Hanson gives us her verdict.The Dublin residence known as The House Of The Dead because James Joyce used it as the setting for part of his 1914 short story The Dubliners is in the news because developers want to turn it into a 50-bed hostel. Many important Irish writers have objected, saying that it would 'destroy an essential part of Ireland’s cultural history'. Colm Tóibín explains why he thinks the development shouldn’t go ahead.The poet Christopher Reid won the Costa Book of the Year in 2009 with A Scattering, in which he reflected on the death of his wife Lucinda. Today he discusses his new collection The Late Sun, in which he also memorialises those recently departed, including his mother, but also celebrates the vitality of living, as well as travel and the reality of the day-to-day experience.Scottish singer songwriter Amy Macdonald talks about her fifth album The Human Demands, which spans a range of emotions, from the happiness of falling in love to a feeling of loneliness.Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Oliver Jones

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  • 16.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:18
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    Fela Kuti documentary; writing and reading trauma; The Queen's Gambit review

    Fela Kuti was the creator of Afrobeat – a blend of traditional Yoruba and Caribbean music with funk and jazz that exhilarated the global music scene in the 1970s and gave rise more recently to the Afrobeats scene from Burna Boy to Tiwa Savage. A new documentary by the Nigerian novelist and playwright Biyi Bandele aims to chart Fela Kuti’s rise to fame and politicisation in 1960s Lagos and the US. As Nigerians march the streets to protest at police brutality, using Fela Kuti’s music as a backdrop, Samira talks to Biyi Bandele about his musical and political legacy.With the Booker shortlist featuring books which deal with trauma – from Diana Cook’s The New Wilderness following a mother trying to keep her daughter safe after an environmental disaster and Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain about a childhood blighted by poverty and addiction in 1980s Glasgow we explore the issues for writers in writing about trauma in both fiction and non fiction with writers Meg Rosoff and Monique Roffey and the critic Suzi Feay.The Queen’s Gambit is a new miniseries on Netflix which tells the story of a young female chess genius. It’s being hailed as “one of their best ever shows” but how is a drama about 32 chess pieces and 64 black and white squares so compelling? Roisin O’Connor is a big fan and eager to tell everyone how wonderful it is.Main image: Fela Kuti Image credit: Ian Dickson/Redferns

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  • 13.11.2020
    39 MB
    41:20
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    Steve McQueen, The Simpsons, Brutal North, Jenny Sturgeon

    The Simpsons is the longest running scripted primetime TV show ever. As season 31 kicks off in the UK we explore its potent popularity with comedian and fan David Baddiel and writer, producer, and story editor on thes how Tim Long who’s worked on more than 450 episodesPhotographer Simon Phipps discusses his book Brutal North, a celebration of modernist and brutalist architecture in the north of England. The post-war years saw the building of some of the most aspirational and successful modernist architecture in the world, from Newcastle’s Byker Wall Estate to the Preston bus station, completed in 1969. But how vulnerable are these buildings today?British film director Steve McQueen has achieved Oscar success but his latest project sees him returning to the small screen with a series of five new dramas for BBC TV, set in London’s West Indian community between 60s and the 80s.Jenny Sturgeon’s new album is inspired by and takes its title from Nan Shepherd’s book about the Cairngorms, The Living Mountain, which, though slender, has had a profound influence, changing the way we relate to high and wild places. There are 12 chapters and Sturgeon has written a song for each. She talks about recording them in the mountains, with a backing track of natural sounds. She tells, too, the story of her guitar, made from local materials – an old shelf from a local bar and even heather and lichen growing in the Cairngorms.Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May

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  • 12.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:24
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    Booker Prize Book Group, Julian Lloyd Webber on Malcolm Arnold, Nick Park's lockdown discovery

    We conclude our tour of the novels shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2020 tonight with a final book group where listeners put their questions to Brandon Taylor, author of Real Life. A campus novel and a coming-of-age story, it tells the experiences of a gay, Black doctoral student in a predominantly White, PhD programme at a supposedly enlightened American university.With part of Sir Malcolm Arnold’s archive under threat of destruction by the Ministry of Justice, cellist Julian Lloyd Webber argues that these papers are important to the 20th Century British composer’s legacy.Throughout the period of two lockdowns, self-isolation and working from home, we’ve been hearing from individuals in the creative industries about something that has given them a lot of pleasure, and occasionally brought them solace, in these challenging times. Tonight it’s the turn of Nick Park, the Oscar-winning creator of Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run, and many other Aardman classics, to reveal his personal Lockdown Discovery.Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Oliver Jones Studio Manager: Donald MacDonald

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  • 11.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:30
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    Tana French, Mary Wollstonecraft statue, Industry, Ralph McTell's The Unknown Warrior

    Tana French is the creator of the Dublin Murder Squad crime books, that inspired the 2019 BBC TV series. Her gritty urban mysteries have been translated into 37 languages and sold around 7m copies worldwide, gaining praise from the likes of Stephen King and Marian Keyes. Her latest novel, The Searcher, moves the action to rural Ireland for the first time. A retired Chicago police officer reluctantly takes on the search for a missing teenager in a small town that seems tranquil on the surface but in reality is anything but.A new statue dedicated to Mary Wollstonecraft, the 18th-century advocate of women's rights, was unveiled this week at Newington Green in Islington, London, created by Maggi Hambling. It very quickly drew criticism from some because of its inclusion of a naked female figure. The art historian Jacky Klein gives her assessment.Industry is a new BBC2 drama, directed by Lena Dunham, set in the financial district in London and focuses on a new intake of 20-somethings who must all compete for a limited set of positions at a top investment bank in London. Kohinoor Sahota reviews.Today is Armistice Day, and the day that, 100 years ago, the body of an unidentified soldier killed in the First World War was drawn in a solemn procession through London to be laid to rest at Westminster Abbey. The story of The Unknown Warrior moved the English musician Ralph McTell to write a song chronicling it. In Front Row he talks about this, the powerful symbolism of the ceremony and how he recruited Billy Connolly, Anthony Hopkins and Liam Neeson from each of the other nations of the United Kingdom, to speak some of his words.Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Jerome WeatheraldMain image: Tana French Image credit: Jessica Ryan

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  • 10.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:33
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    Abel Selaocoe, Billie Holiday, Edoardo Ponti on Sophia Loren

    The cellist and singer Abel Selaocoe grew up in a township in the south of Johannesburg and creates music that draws on classical, African and contemporary music. He talks to Samira about As You Are, the music he’s composed for Opera North’s sound-walks in Leeds and about the celebration of music from Africa which he’s leading in collaboration with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at this year's London Jazz Festival.At the age of 86, film legend Sophia Loren stars in her first film in almost a decade, The Life Ahead. Directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, she plays a former sex worker who looks after a Senegalese migrant boy. Edoardo talks to Samira about directing his mother sixty years after she won a Best Actress Oscar for Two Women.Billie is a new online documentary about the jazz singer Billie Holiday which uses material collected by the journalist Linda Kipnack Kuehl: archive, colourisation techniques and previously unheard recordings of interviews with people who knew her. Tega Okiti reviews.Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Hilary Dunn

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  • 09.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:26
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    The Voices of the Women in Classical Myths in 15 Heroines; Front Row's Book Group with Booker Nominee Douglas Stuart

    Ulysses, Hercules, Jason and Achilles - classical mythology is all about men of action. The women tend to have things - often horrible - happen to them: they get kidnapped, raped, abandoned. The Roman poet Ovid wrote a series of fictional letters, The Heroides, giving voice to these put-upon women. 15 leading British dramatists, all women or non-binary, have drawn on Ovid, recasting their stories for our times, and filmed live in an empty theatre for streaming. Front Row hears about the 15 Heroines project from director Adjoa Andoh and writers Natalie Haynes and Juliet Gilkes Romero.In advance of the winner announcement on the 19th of November here on Front Row, we’ve another of our Booker Prize Book Groups. Tonight’s it’s the turn of Douglas Stuart, who will be meeting readers to answer questions about his novel Shuggie Bain. It’s the story of a powerful bond between a mother suffering from addiction and a son whose nascent sexuality marks him out as different. The Booker Prize 2020 judges called the book “an amazingly intimate, compassionate, gripping portrait of addiction, courage and love.”Front Row reveals how, as well as reading from Seamus Heaney's The Cure at Troy on the campaign trail, and quoting the 'To every thing there is a season' verses from Ecclesiastes, in his victory speech President Elect Biden made a reference to the Langston Hughes poem Harlem - a subtle touch that will not be lost on African American voters.Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Julian MayMain image above: Olivia Williams as Hypsipyle by Natalie Haynes, part of 15 Heroines. Image credit: marc Brenner

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  • 06.11.2020
    39 MB
    41:36
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    Dame Judi Dench and Wendy Craig remember Geoffrey Palmer; Ruth Wilson; Graeae; Kylie and Little Mix albums; Ted Hughes's Crow

    The death of Geoffrey Palmer was announced today. Two of his leading co-stars, Dame Judi Dench and Wendy Craig, pay tribute.Ruth Wilson plays the sinister and ruthlessly ambitious Mrs Coulter in the BBC’s lavish adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. We catch up with her as series two begins to discuss the relationship with her estranged daughter Lyra, working with a digital monkey, and to ask if baddies are just more fun to play.November marks the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act, criminalising discrimination against disabled people in many areas of life. The anniversary is being marked on BBC TV and radio with a focus on the arts. For Radio 4, Jenny Sealey, of Graeae Theatre, and Polly Thomas have directed an adaptation of a Ben Johnson play - Bartholomew Fair - reimagined as The Bartholomew Abominations, set in a dystopian future.Two major pop acts have new releases out – longstanding international treasure Kylie Minogue and relative newcomers on the block, Little Mix. Katie Puckrik and Roisin O’Connor join John to discuss the merits (or otherwise?) of the albums and also to select a cultural highlight they’ve been enjoying recentlyFifty years ago Ted Hughes published Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow. The Crow is a violent shape-shifter, a ruthless trickster who is determined to survive. A new edition of Crow has just been published and in Front Row Marina Warner, who has written the foreword, reveals the brutal beauty that Hughes achieved. The poet Zaffar Kunial reflects on how the rough music of the Songs of the Crow echoes across half a century to us today. We hear, too, from the archive, powerful readings of the poems by Ted Hughes himself.Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Sarah Johnson

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  • 05.11.2020
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    28:14
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    Could being visually impaired enhance an artist’s work?

    Could being visually impaired enhance an artist’s work? We’ll discuss that with Richard Butchins who’s made a BBC 4 documentary - The Disordered Eye - arguing just that. He looked at the work of artists who are known to have had low vision, such as Degas and Monet and those who were blind like Sargi Mann. And heard from contemporary artists like landscape painter Keith Salmon and sensory photographer Sally Booth. And we’ll hear from the British-Lebanese poet Claudine Toutungi about her new collection - Two Tongues – full of poignant and funny poems about identity, language and how her own low vision has changed her world. Plus Ethiopian-American novelist Maaza Mengiste is the latest subject of the Front Row Booker Prize Book Group. Three guests from around the world will join the author to discuss her Booker-shortlisted novel The Shadow King, about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935.Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Oliver Jones Studio Manager: Giles Aspen

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  • 04.11.2020
    26 MB
    27:37
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    Alice Oswald's Weather Anthology, What a Carve Up!, Memoir writing

    We can't go to the movies for a fix of action now. We can, though, witness spectacle that even the biggest budget blockbusters can't match - by simply going outside into the weather. 'Use should be made of it,' wrote Virginia Woolf. 'One should not let this gigantic cinema play perpetually to an empty house.' The poet Alice Oswald discusses Gigantic Cinema: A Weather Anthology that she's compiled with editor Paul Keegan, capturing writing about the weather, from the deluge in Gilgamesh, the earliest known poem, to 'Billie's Rain' one written a few years ago, about sitting in a van listening as rain hammers on the roof.Missing the stage? Don’t despair - three regional theatres just got together to stage a lockdown-proof digital production of Jonathan Coe’s classic 1994 satirical novel What A Carve Up! They’ve re-imagined it for 2020, and added an all-star cast from Tamzin Outhwaite to Sharon D Clark, with cameos from Stephen Fry and Derek Jacobi. Katie Popperwell reviews.In recent years, the growing popularity of Life Writing - creative writing based on autobiography or memoir - can be seen across book awards shortlists as well as the sheer number of creative writing courses dedicated to the subject. As the annual Spread the Word Life Writing Prize opens for entries, we talk to judge Frances Wilson about the kind of work the prize is seeking as well as the latest developments in this type of writing. She’ll be joined by Poet and teacher Anthony Anaxagorou, whose book How to Write It - published this month by Stormzy’s publishing imprint, Merky Books - aims to encourage budding writers to tell their story.Presenter Ben Bailey Smith Producer Jerome Weatherald

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  • 03.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:18
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    Kristin Scott Thomas talks about playing Mrs Danvers in Rebecca

    In an extended interview, Dame Kristin Scott Thomas talks about relishing her latest role as the scary housekeeper Mrs Danvers in the new Netflix adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.Kristin first trained to teach drama, not to perform in it and when she tried to transfer to the acting course, she was told, without any consoling words, that her only real chance of playing a big part was to join an amateur drama group. Devastated, Kristin went to Paris to become an au-pair and eventually trained as an actor there. After a terrific review for a performance with a travelling theatre troupe, she landed a part in a Prince video which was followed by her first big break, playing the amoral, adulterous wife Brenda in an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust. Since then she's often been associated with a kind of bone-china English womanhood — playing characters who are beautiful, refined, perhaps a little brittle too— characters such as Katherine in Anthony Minghella's film The English Patient or Fiona in Four Weddings and a Funeral.Kristin reflects on how her upbringing taught her to hold back on emotions, and how she’s always sought out roles like Fiona, where the character is not all she seems and drops a mask. And she describes how her recent appearance in Fleabag struck a chord with a lot of women, where she gave a hilarious and rousing speech about reaching the menopause.Interviewed guest : Dame Kristin Scott Thomas Presenter : Tom Sutcliffe Producer : Dymphna Flynn Studio Manager : Jackie Margerum

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  • 02.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:59
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    Cellist Steven Isserlis plays, the lockdown's impact on the arts and Booker shortlisted Avni Doshi

    Steven Isserlis tells John Wilson about his new album of late works by Sir John Tavener. It is a very personal project: Tavener and Isserlis were friends, the composer wrote pieces for the cellist and Isserlis gave the first performances of some of Tavener's works. His music was greatly influenced by the liturgy and traditions of the Orthodox Church, but this album reveals his openness to other religions. One piece echoes the call and response form of the Anglican church, in another the cello duets with a Sufi singer. There isn't a piece for solo cello so Isserlis plays part of Tavener's famous piece, The Protecting Veil, which was written for him, . Avni Doshi’s debut novel Burnt Sugar was longlisted for the Booker Prize two days before it was even published in the UK, and just weeks later she gave birth to her second child. Now she’s on the shortlist and has a three month old to look after as well as a toddler, but she’s found the time to join some readers for Front Row’s Booker Prize Book Group. Avni answers listeners questions about her story of a fractious mother daughter relationship, set in and around Pune, India.The latest announcement about renewed lockdown restrictions which will remain in place until at least December 3rd have thrown the plans of theatres, museums and many other public institutions into disarray. They had just emerged from the first lockdown and reworked their plans to incorporate social distancing. Now all that effort seems to have come to naught as new rules have been announced. John Wilson speaks to Matt Hemley from The Stage and Adrian Vinken, CEO at Theatre Royal Plymouth, whose Christmas show may have to be cancelled…again.Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Simon Richardson

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  • 30.10.2020
    40 MB
    41:53
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    Sam Smith, Turner's Modern World, Cold War Steve, US elections on film

    When the singer Sam Smith came out as non-binary last year it was headline news around the world. After two global number one albums, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, multiple Grammys and 3 Brit awards, the 28-year-old singer is very much an international household name. And yet, as they release their third album, Love Goes, they are still beset by self-doubt. Sam Smith talks to Front Row about fame, heartbreak and songs to put a smile on your face.Turner’s Modern World, a new exhibition at Tate Britain in London, explores how the painter JMW Turner (1775-1851) responded to the momentous events of his day, from technology’s impact on the natural world to the dizzying effects of modernisation on society. Charlotte Mullins reviews the exhibition which also reflects on the artist’s interest in social reform, especially his changing attitudes towards politics, labour and slavery.Satirist Cold War Steve, aka Christopher Spencer, has been described as the ‘Brexit Bruegel’ and ‘A modern day Hogarth’. The collage artist is famous for his provocative look at the state of art and politics, depicting international political figures in uncompromising terms.As the drama surrounding next week’s US presidential election reaches fever pitch, film critic Tim Robey picks his choice of the best portrayals of the contest on film, from Betty Boop for President to Primary Colours.Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian MayMain image: Sam Smith Image credit: Alasdair McLellan

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  • 30.10.2020
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    Dawn French talks about her comedy and novel writing careers

    Samira Ahmed talks to comedienne, actress and writer Dawn French. Dawn became famous with her comedy performimg partner of many decades; Jennifer Saunders. Together they won British Comedy Awards and BAFTAs but Dawn has also achieved acting success on her own - The Vicar Of Dibley, Murder Most Horrid, Delicious, Psychoville and many more.And she is also a best-selling, highly successful writer of 4 novels. Her latest is Because Of You, the story of a baby stolen from the maternity ward and raised by a different mother who lost her own baby the same day.Dawn reflects on her life and career: growing up as a Forces kid, meeting Jennifer, their stand-up and TV work together and as part of The Comic Strip Presents, working with Richard Curtis on The Vicar of Dibley and the power of comedy to agitate politically.Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Oliver Jones

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  • 28.10.2020
    27 MB
    28:25
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    His House director Remi Weekes, Booker Prize Book Group with Tsitsi Dangarembga

    For the second of Front Row's Booker Prize Book Groups, listeners put their questions to Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga whose novel This Mournable Body is shortlisted for the title. It’s the third part of a trilogy that began with the highly-acclaimed Nervous Conditions in 1988. The books tell the story of Tambudzai, a woman whose life has been full of promise but who now finds herself mired in the conditions of late 20th century Harare and pushed to the very edge. The author will also talk about her arrest after a protest earlier this summer, its consequences and the support she has received from other writers.First-time feature film director Remi Weekes had his horror thriller snapped up by Netflix for an eight-figure sum at Sundance earlier this year. This week you’ll be able to see the film and Weekes joins Samira Ahmed to talk about His House - the story of Bol and Rial who escape war-torn South Sudan and arrive in the UK aboard a boat that sinks in the channel. The peeling walls of the Essex house they are allocated hold an evil spirit that has followed them from Africa. The authorities say they must not leave and the couple are left to deal with a haunted house that is almost as horrible as their own past.Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Simon Richardson

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  • 27.10.2020
    27 MB
    28:16
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    Elisabeth Moss, Julia Bullock, memorialising loved ones in video games

    Elisabeth Moss on her latest role as the horror and mystery writer Shirley Jackson in the new film Shirley. And she discusses the new series of The Handmaid’s Tale, which she’s now directing as well as starring in, and which has had to be filmed during the pandemic.Presenter: Elle Osili-Wood Producer: Timothy ProsserMain image: Elisabeth Moss as Shirley Image credit: Neon Films

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  • 26.10.2020
    27 MB
    28:35
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    Sofia Coppola, Booker Book Group with Diane Cook, Olivier Awards

    Film-maker Sofia Coppola talks about reuniting with Bill Murray for her new film On The Rocks, a comedy about a martini-drinking playboy father who reconnects with his daughter (Rashida Jones) on an adventure through New York.Front Row is convening a series of Booker Prize book groups in which readers can put questions to the six shortlisted authors, ahead of the announcement of the winner on the programme in November. We start with American author Diane Cook who's nominated for her debut novel, The New Wilderness. Set in the near future in an unnamed country, it's about a mother who takes her daughter away from the life-threatening pollution of The City to live in the wilderness with an experimental community. Cook is joined by Front Row listeners to talk about the book.And with many venues still closed, the pandemic has hit the theatre sector particularly hard this year. But the industry was finally able to pay tribute to some of the best performances of the past year at last night's re-scheduled Olivier Awards.Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Dymphna Flynn

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  • 23.10.2020
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    Frankenstein, William Boyd, Rachel Whiteread, The Sister

    In Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster, six performers from Battersea Arts Centre's Beatbox Academy interpret Mary Shelley’s classic novel from their own perspective; as young people growing up in 21st-century Britain. Using only their own mouths and voices to make every sound in the film, they explore how today’s society creates its own monsters. John Wilson talks to one of the creator performers, Nadine Rose Johnson.Acclaimed author William Boyd talks about his new novel, Trio. Set in the summer of 1968, the year of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, there are riots in Paris and the Vietnam War is out of control. While the world is reeling, three characters - a producer, a novelist and an actress - are involved in making a Swingin' Sixties movie in sunny Brighton and each of them is harbouring a dangerous secret.Artist Rachel Whiteread discusses her series of works she has been creating in lockdown at her home in the Welsh countryside: March-Sept Drawings, as well as a newly-revealed resin sculpture, Untitled (Pinboard), which goes on digital display today.Author Irenosen Okojie and journalist Mik Scarlet review the new ITV drama series The Sister, written by Neil Cross (creator of Luther) and starring Russell Tovey. Mik will also be discussing the Shaw Trust Power 100, an annual publication aiming to further inclusivity by celebrating 100 most influential disabled people, and Irenosen celebrates her current cultural highlight, the Netflix American comedy film The 40-Year-Old Version.Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Oliver JonesMain image: Grove in Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster Image credit: Lukas Galantay

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  • 22.10.2020
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    James Graham, Nottingham's Rock City celebrates 40 years, Liam Bailey, Phoebe Boswell

    Geeta Pendse presents Front Row live from Nottingham in a shared broadcast with BBC Radio Nottingham.In spite of virus restrictions, Nottingham Playhouse goes live for the first time since March this week with a season they're calling Notthingham Unlocks. We'll talk to the playwright and local James Graham about his brand new play, a lockdown romance played by TV stars Jessica Raine and Pearl Mackie. James Graham, who's known for stage and TV dramas that take on big topical issues, from Brexit to Rupert Murdoch's rise to power, will explain why the the story of a couple who meet on a perfect date and then have to decide what to do when lockdown begins, is the perfect story for now.The live music venue Rock City is celebrating forty years of launching a thousand music careers and Nottingham relationships this year. We'll have memories right from the beginning but also from students who are finding the venue's pioneering socially distanced gigs a lifetime.We'll talk to the Nottingham-born musician Liam Bailey who fulfilled his dream of playing at Rock City. He was signed by Amy Winehouse, supported Paloma Faith and tours with Drum and bass duo Chance and Status. But his new album Ekundayo – named for a Yoruba word meaning sorrow becomes joy – is a new departure for the singer-songwriter. It’s an album motored by stories from his own life – from his search for his absent Jamaican father to his struggles with mental health to managing to make the most of lockdown against all the odds.And Phoebe Boswell will talk about her forthcoming exhibition - Here - at Nottingham's New Art exchange. She was born in Kenya, raised in the Arabian Gulf but now lives and works in the UK. Her work combines drawing with video, sound and digital animation but the themes are simple ones of identity and belonging. She’ll be talking about her brand new interactive work which struck an unexpected chord with lockdown-weary participants.Presenter: Geeta Pendse Producer: Olive Clancy

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  • 21.10.2020
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    Francois Ozon's Summer of '85; Acclaimed violinist Tasmin Little; Derry International Choir Festival

    Acclaimed violinist Tasmin Little announced her retirement from the stage recently. The musician is selling her beloved violin to focus on teaching. She will perform her final UK recital at London's Royal Festival Hall tomorrow night. We talk to her about her career, why she took the decision to retire now and her plans for the future.Covid has had a huge impact on choral singing with choirs having to cease singing in the same space and many moving online. As Derry International Choir Festival opens, online, and the Rock Choir announce a christmas single, recorded virtually, we ask how can they reimagine their role and traditions, and how might they sing together again?Directed by Francois Ozon and adapted from the novel Dance on my Grave by English author Aidan Chambers, Summer of 85’ is a story of friendship and love between two teenage boys at a seaside resort in Normandy in the mid-1980s. When 16-year-old Alexis capsizes off the coast of Le Tréport, 18-year-old David heroically saves him. Alexis thinks he’s just met the friend of his dreams. But will the dream last more than one summer? Caspar Salmon reviews.Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Simon Richardson

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  • 20.10.2020
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    Aké Festival special: Tayari Jones, Derek Owusu, Victor Ehikhamenor, Sara-Jayne Makwala King

    A collaboration with the Aké Festival: leading black writers and artists discuss Black Lives Matter and related issues of this year in connection to their work. With Tayari Jones, Derek Owusu, Victor Ehikhamenor and Sara-Jayne Makwala King.The Aké Festival is the world's largest literary festival of black voices on black issues. Usually held in Lagos, Nigeria, this year it's online and free, from 22 to 25 October. See below for details.Tayari Jones' novels include Silver Sparrow and An American Marriage, which won the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction.Derek Owusu's novel That Reminds Me won this year's Desmond Elliot Prize. He has also published Safe: 20 Ways to be a Black Man in Britain Today.Victor Ehikhamenor is a writer and artist who has represented Nigeria at the Venice Biennale.Sara-Jayne Makwala King is a South African radio host and author of the autobiographical novel Killing Karoline.Presenter: Elle Osili-Wood Producer: Timothy ProsserMain Image: Tayari Jones Credit: Tyson Alan Horne

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  • 19.10.2020
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    Nicole Kidman, Professional magicians and COVID, Birmingham Royal Ballet

    Nicole Kidman talks about starring in new thriller The Undoing. A therapist's life unravels after she learns that her husband might be responsible for a horrific murder. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself. The Undoing will be available from October 26 on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.Abracadabra! We find out how professional magicians have been especially badly hit by Covid 19 restrictions and social distancing.Plus, social distancing has inspired the latest piece by the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Choreographer Will Tuckett explains how they’re using architectural costumes, projection and augmented reality to bring the ballet to life, and how they’ve achieved a live performance bringing dancers, musicians and an audience together in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Julian May

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  • 16.10.2020
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    Roddy Doyle, Gairloch Museum, Kronos Quartet, Dr Blood's Old Travelling Show

    Roddy Doyle talks about his latest novel, Love. In the course of one summer’s evening in Dublin, two old drinking buddies revisit the pubs and the love affairs of their youth, and talk openly about their marriages and other relationships, downing several pints of stout along the way.Gairloch Museum in the Highlands of Scotland is one of the winners of the 2020 Art Fund Museum of the Year prize. Its curator Karen Buchanan explains how they renovated a local nuclear bunker to house the museum and how the local community helped raise the £2.4m needed for the project as well as curating the exhibitions on Gaelic culture inside.As theatres attempt to work around the current restrictions, many are putting on outdoor performances and at the Leeds Playhouse last week, imitating the dog put on Dr Blood’s Old Travelling show, which is now touring. Nick Ahad went to see his first show since March and reports back. He’ll also discuss a nationwide project, Signal Fires, which sees theatres across Britain uniting in storytelling around the fire.The Kronos Quartet have just released their latest album, Long Time Passing. It is a celebration of the music and life of Pete Seeger, singer, banjo player and activist. Violinist David Harrington explains why one of the most renowned classical quartets is playing If I had a Hammer and Where Have All the Flowers Gone? This is a collaboration with several other artists and we hear from one, the Ethiopian-American singer, Meklit.Presenter Tom Sutcliffe Producer Jerome Weatherald

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  • 15.10.2020
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    Anais Mitchell on creating her musical, Hadestown

    Anaïs Mitchell took the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and turned it into Hadestown, which became an immensely successful musical at the National Theatre and on Broadway. Now she has written Working on a Song, a book that gets down to the nitty-gritty of writing for musical theatre, tracing the development of the songs of Hadestown from the spark of an idea to performance by a big ensemble and a full band on a huge stage.Northern Ireland’s foremost cultural event – Belfast International Arts Festival – is in full swing. As the city is introducing strict coronavirus restrictions, its mainly online content is proving a welcome distraction. But it's also a chance for everybody around the UK to watch the highlights from their front rooms as tickets are largely free. Marie Louise Muir gives her picks of the festival from a Macbeth reboot to an operatic version of the Good Friday agreement.Every day this week we’re hearing from one of the five winners of the 2020 Art Fund Museum of the Year. Today it’s the turn of the South London Gallery, who in the past year have doubled the size of their exhibition space by acquiring the fire station across the road. The gallery’s Director Margot Heller takes Samira on a tour.The photographer Chris Killip produced a series of black and white photographs of the North East of England in the 70s and 80s as it de-industrialised, called In Flagrante. Images such as a boy hunched on a wall and a ship towering beside children in the street have become iconic. Fellow photographer Martin Parr joins Front Row to mark the death of someone he calls one of the key players in post-war British photography.Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Simon RichardsonMain Image: Anais Mitchell. Credit: Shervin Lainez

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  • 14.10.2020
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    Jodi Picoult, Science Museum, winners and losers of the Cultural Recovery Fund

    The global bestselling author Jodi Picoult discusses her 26th novel The Book Of Two Ways. It’s the story of a hospice worker who - when her plane crashes in the opening pages -is surprised at the life that flashes before her eyes. Rather than her scientist husband and teenage daughter, she sees the life that might have been had she made different choices when she was a student. Jodi Picoult discusses life, death and Egyptology with Tom Shakespeare.Every day this week we’re hearing from one of the five winners of the 2020 Art Fund Museum of the Year. Today it’s the turn of the Science Museum in London. The institution’s director Sir Ian Blatchford looks back over a significant year, opening two extensive new galleries and receiving more visitors than ever in its history, and then having to close down and re-think its future in light of Covid.On Monday the recipients of the first round of the Cultural Recovery Fund grants were announced - just over 70% received something, but what then for those who didn't? James Tillit led a major restoration of the Astor Theatre in Deal just ten years ago and is now its general manager. They were not awarded a grant. He explains how catastrophic this will be for the them.Tom is then joined by Matt Hemley of The Stage, who has been taking a look at those who did and didn't receive a grant from the Cultural Recovery Fund, and assesses what impact this will have on the arts across the country.Presenter: Tom Shakespeare Producer: Timothy Prosser Studio Manager: Duncan HannantMain image: Jodi Picoult Image credit: Nina Subin

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  • 13.10.2020
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    Hugh Laurie on new drama Roadkill, Aberdeen Art Gallery, Arts degrees and Covid

    Hugh Laurie talks about Roadkill, a major new political drama for BBC One written by David Hare. Roadkill is a four-part fictional thriller about a self-made, forceful and charismatic politician trying to outrun his past.Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum is one of the winners in Art Fund’s Museum Of The Year 2020. We discover how they’ll be spending their £40,000 prize to benefit the local artistic community.And we talk to three students currently studying arts subjects at university or college which require them to undertake in-person tuition. How has the pandemic affected their studies and what are their views on the future for their industry? Lloyd Pierce, chair of the Conservatoires UK Student Network also joins the discussion.Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Julian May Studio Manager: Giles Aspen

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  • 12.10.2020
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    Museum of the Year recipients. Arts minister Caroline Dinenage on the Cultural Recovery Fund results

    This year’s Art Fund Museum of the Year Prize will be split 5 ways rather than a winner being chosen from a shortlist. Jenny Waldman, director of Art Fund, announces the museums who will each receive £40,000. We’ll also be looking at each individual museum over the course of this week on Front RowOn the day that the government awarded Culture Recovery Fund grants totalling £257m to arts organisations, culture minister Caroline Dinenage discusses concerns being faced by the arts and entertainment sector. Stephanie Sirr, chief executive of Nottingham Playhouse which received a grant of nearly £800,000, outlines the significance of this cash boost.Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Oliver Jones Studio Manager: Tim Heffer

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  • 09.10.2020
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    Alex Wheatle, Miranda July, Football club appoints Artistic Director, London Film Festival roundup

    Alex Wheatle discusses his new novel Cane Warriors, based on the true story of a group of slaves in Jamaica who, in 1760, rose up against their white British slavemasters in a fight for the freedom of all enslaved people in the nearby plantations.As Forest Green Rovers become the UK's first football club to appoint an Artistic Director, Robert Del Naja, founding member of Massive Attack, explains his artistic plans for the club.Amanny Mohamed considers how the Covid pandemic has affected this week's London Film Festival and chooses her stand-out films.Miranda July tells us about her latest film Kajillionaire, a comedy starring a family of very petty criminals scraping a living who decide to involve an outsider in a scam.The American poet Louise Glück is the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. While not exactly a recluse, Louise Glück rarely gives interviews, so we hear from John Mcauliffe of Carcanet Press, Glück’s British publisher for a quarter of a century, to tell us about the poet and her work.Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Timothy Prosser Studio Manager: Donald McDonald

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  • 08.10.2020
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    Skunk Anansie's Skin on her new memoir

    Skin - the singer, songwriter, DJ and lead vocalist of the multi-million-selling British rock band Skunk Anansie - looks back over her life in her new memoir It Takes Blood and Guts.Born to Jamaican parents, Skin - real name Deborah Dyer - grew up in Brixton in the 1970s which influenced her musical direction. The shaven-headed singer reflects on how a gay, black, working-class girl with a vision fought poverty and prejudice to write songs, produce and front her own band, headline Glastonbury, and become one of the most influential women in British rock.Presenter Tom Sutcliffe Producer Jerome Weatherald

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  • 07.10.2020
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    Melanie C, live music industry in crisis, Johnny Nash remembered

    We discuss the future of music making in the UK.We speak to Mel C, formerly Sporty Spice, about her eighth studio album, Melanie C, which reflects her new influences – as a dance music DJ, an LGBTQ+ icon and mother to a music-mad daughter. She joins John Wilson to talk about musical reinvention, putting aside her demons and how to read the dancefloor when you’re the DJ.Freelance musicians unable to work are receiving 20% of what they previously earned. Yesterday outside the Houses of Parliament and in Centenary Square in Birmingham musicians gathered and played Mars from Holst's 'The Planets' - 20% of it. John Wilson talks to the violinist, Jessie Murphy, whose idea this was.Marie-Louise Muir, who presents Radio Ulster's arts show, reports on the impact of new Covid regulations that effectively ban live music in Northern Ireland.Chancellor Rishi Sunak has spoken of ways 'for new business models to emerge' and John hears from Dominique Fraser, who has been running a successful music venue The Boileroom in Guildford for years, but is now radically changing her operation to survive, and it doesn’t involve music.We pay tribute to the US musician, Johnny Nash, who’s died at the age of eighty. He was best known for his reggae-inspired hit I Can See Clearly Now and for his record company which helped launch the career of his friend Bob Marley.Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Timothy Prosser Studio Manager: Tim Heffer

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  • 06.10.2020
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    2020 BBC National Short Story Award and the BBC Young Writers' Award

    We announce the winner of the 2020 BBC National Short Story Award and the Young Writers' Award on its 15th anniversary.Judges Irenosen Okojie and Jonathan Freedland discuss the merits of the entries from the shortlisted authors. In contention for the £15,000 prize are Caleb Azumah Nelson, Jan Carson, Sarah Hall, Jack Houston and Eley Williams.Writer and musician Testament performs Point Blank - a poem on writing specially commissioned to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the prize.Radio 1 presenter Katie Thistleton will announce the winner of the BBC Young Writers' Award and consider the strengths and emerging themes of the stories with fellow judge Laura Bates.The BBC National Short Story Award is presented in conjunction with Cambridge University and First Story.Later this month Front Row is running a series of Booker Prize book groups with the six shortlisted authors. To take part email [email protected] : Tom Sutcliffe Producer : Dymphna Flynn Studio Manager: Nigel Dix

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  • 05.10.2020
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    Grace Jones exhibition, Steve McQueen's film Mangrove, A newly rediscovered work by Henry Purcell

    The London Film Festival opens this week with Mangrove, by the Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen. It’s the first in an ambitious five-part film series looking at individual stories about the West Indian Community in London from 1968 to 1985. Anna Smith joins us to review Mangrove, the story of a notorious 1970 prosecution that exposed police harassment of Black Britons, as well as to give us her picks from this year's London Film Festival, and to discuss the news about Cineworld's announcement of the closure of its venues.Front Row gives the first modern day performance of a lost piece by the great English baroque composer Henry Purcell. The song was recently discovered by Purcell scholar Rebecca Herissone, Professor of Music at Manchester University, who explains the significance of her find.Grace Jones has had a varied and highly successful career as a model, singer/songwriter and actress, lasting more than four decades. A new exhibition Grace Before Jones at Nottingham Contemporary looks at her life and her achievements. We speak with curator Cedric Fauq.Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome WeatheraldPurcell’s O That my Grief was performed on Front Row by The English Concert Anthony Gregory – Tenor 1 Hugo Hymas – Tenor 2 Ashley Riches – Bass Kristian Bezuidenhout – Harpsichord Joseph Crouch – Cello

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  • 02.10.2020
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    Radha Blank, Chuck D, Dramas The Trial of the Chicago 7 and The Comey Rule reviewed

    Radha Blank won the Directing Prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival for her debut film, The 40-Year-Old Version. She also wrote and stars in the movie which is inspired by her own experiences as a Black New York based playwright and rapper approaching her 40th birthday and frustrated at the lack of creative opportunities. It’s been praised as astute and funny and it’s filmed in black and white echoing many iconic New York films. She joins u to talk about the making of the movie.We talk to Chuck D, the frontman and lyricist of pioneering hip hop group Public Enemy. More than 30 years on from their debut, the group's new album 'What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?' addresses contemporary American issues, including the Coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter.Novelist Lionel Shriver and journalist Michael Goldfarb make up our Friday Review Panel. They’ll be discussing two new US political dramas: The Trial of the Chicago 7, Aaron Sorkin’s film about the prosecution of Vietnam War protesters in 1969, and Sky Atlantic drama The Comey Rule, based on the memoir of the FBI boss James Comey that he wrote after being sacked by Trump, starring Brendan Gleeson as the President.This week the Governor of California declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Shasta counties because of devastating wildfires. Dana Gioia, who was the Poet Laureate of California until last year, lives in Sonoma, on a wooded hillside, in a wooden house. He reads the piece he has written especially for Front Row about trying to live and work as a poet while the country around you is in flames and, at any moment, you might have to flee.Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Sarah Johnson Studio Manager: Matilda Macari

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  • 01.10.2020
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    An extended interview with Graham Norton

    Graham Norton is one of the most successful entertainment presenters in British broadcasting. He has a popular Radio 2 show, is the face of the BBC's Eurovision song contest coverage and, above all, his Friday night BBC1 chat show draws the biggest names to his sofa. His shows have won him nine BAFTAs and he begins a new series on BBC1 tomorrow.His journey is a fascinating one: raised in county Cork, he went to drama school in London with the plan to be an actor, but after a start in stand up and TV comedy, including the sitcom Father Ted, it was quickly the chat show that became his natural home. More recently Norton has won recognition as a best selling novelist, always drawing on his Irish roots.His latest novel, Home Stretch, is about the consequences of a fatal car accident. The lives of the families involved are shattered and the rifts between them are felt throughout the small Irish town where they live. Connor is one of the survivors, but staying among the angry and the mourning is almost as hard as living with the shame of having been the driver. He leaves the only place he knows for another life, taking his secrets with him.Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Simon RichardsonMain image: Graham Norton Image credit: Hodder & Stoughton

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  • 30.09.2020
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    Miss Virginia, Helen Reddy remembered, Sarah Nicolls, Gary Clarke

    Miss Virginia is a new film based on the story of Virginia Walden Ford’s fight to create positive educational opportunities for African-American students in Washington D.C. and stars Uzo Aduba. Elle Osili-Wood reviews.Australian singer Helen Reddy has died at the age of 77. Her biggest hit, I am Woman, became an anthem for the feminist movement. Writer Lucy O’Brien was an admirer and a fan, and she joins Samira to discuss why Helen Reddy is crucial to the story of women in popular music, and also feminism.Sarah Nicolls discusses her new composition, 12 Years, inspired by the 2018 IPCC report that said we have 12 years to prevent irreversible climate change. Sarah performs the narrative work that includes newspaper headlines and invented characters on her unique Inside-Out Piano, a vertical grand designed so that she can play the strings directly to create an array of incredible sounds.The choreographer Gary Clarke grew up in 1980s Grimethorpe, North Yorkshire, at the time one of Europe’s most deprived towns. So when he was asked to create a piece reflecting the experience of lockdown, his dance was inspired by a 1903 film of Alice in Wonderland, but draws heavily on the experiences of his youth.Presenter Samira Ahmed Producer Jerome Weatherald

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  • 29.09.2020
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    Little Mix: The Search, Artemisia Gentileschi, No Masks

    The 17th Century Italian artist Artemisia Gentileschi is the subject of a major new exhibition at London's National Gallery. Critic Waldemar Januszczak considers the importance of the artist who struggled against the male Establishment, but who gained fame, patronage and adoration in her lifetime.No Masks is a new co-production between Sky Arts and the Theatre Royal Stratford East; a TV drama based on the real-life testimonies of key workers during the pandemic, starring Russell Tovey and Anya Chalotra. Theatre Royal’s Artistic Director Nadia Fall discusses the series of monologues she’s co-written alongside playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz.As TV talent show winners Little Mix launch their own TV talent show (Little Mix: The Search) to find a band to accompany them on their next tour, we discuss the creation of manufactured pop bands with music journalist Roisin O'Connor from the Independent and Simon Webbe from the best-selling boy band Blue.Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Oliver Jones

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  • 29.09.2020
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    2020 Booker shortlist, Nicholas Serota, author Sarah Hall

    Earlier today the shortlist for the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction was announced. Two time winner Hilary Mantel has not made the list for the final part of her Cromwell series and four out of six of the books chosen are by debut authors. John speaks to Chair of Judges Margaret Busby and critics Sara Collins and Toby Lichtig give their verdict on the chosen few.Today Arts Council England published two new pieces of research into the value of the cultural institutions it funds to our high streets and how they are reanimating local economies. For instance, more than 300 cultural venues are in unemployment hotspots. There are 500 cafes in cultural centres across the country – almost as many outlets as Pret a Manger. Sir Nichola Serota, the Chair of ACE, unpicks this work with John Wilson, who will ask him, too, what is happening with the £1.57 billion pledged by the government to save the arts and livelihoods of artists. Last week on Front Row Lucy Noble, who runs the Royal Albert Hall, said that no one had yet received any money.Sarah Hall has been nominated for the National Short Story Award for the fourth time for her story The Grotesques. Ahead of the story being broadcast on Radio 4 tomorrow, we speak to the writer about exploring covert control, scapegoating and dysfunctional mother-daughter relationships in her story.Presenter: John Wilson Producer: Dymphna Flynn Studio Manager: John Boland

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  • 28.09.2020
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    Michael Kiwanuka, Boys in the Band film, the future for arts freelancers

    Michael Kiwanuka said he was seriously surprised when he won the 2020 Mercury Prize last week. Tom Sutcliffe talks to the singer-songwriter about dropping out of his music degree, hanging out in Hawaii with Kanye West and asks why such modesty when his self-titled album had rave reviews on release, and reached number 2 in the charts.Director Joe Mantello on his new film version of The Boys in the Band, Mart Crowley’s ground-breaking 1968 play about a group of gay friends at a birthday party in New York.As the Covid crisis continues, last week Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced viable jobs will receive support. As the creative industries rely on freelance workers Front Row discusses what this means for them, first talking to set designer Rebecca Brower, who has lost most of her work this year because theatres are closed. Plus Philippa Childs, head of the union Bectu, to which many freelance creatives belong, explains why so many won’t qualify for help. And director Fiona Laird offers an overview, suggesting ways to create future work for freelancers in the industry.Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May Studio Manager: John BolandMain image: Michael Kiwanuka Image credit: Olivia Rose

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  • 25.09.2020
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    Poetry and performance from Cumbria's Contains Strong Language festival

    Dove Cottage Grasmere is the heart of Romantic poetry and is hosting part of this year's Contains Strong Language festival. We'll be asking what the Romantics have to tell us now, with the poet Kate Clanchy who has adapted Samuel Taylor Coleridge's unfinished poem Christabel with a newly commissioned score by composer Katie Chatburn.Novelist, poet and playwright Zosia Wand was born in London but didn't speak English till she went to school and spent all her holidays in Poland. Now she's written a radio play Bones - set on the sandbanks of Morecambe Bay - exploring how it feels to be a migrant and the emotional impact on the generations that follow.In 2005 the award winning poet and novelist Jacob Polley’s home town of Carlisle flooded catastrophically after heavy rain. Three people died and thousands were left homeless in an event that was supposed to be a one in a hundred year event. Now Jacob Polley’s returned to that time for a new play Emergency. It’s a love story set against a merciless storm voiced through ancient Anglo-Saxon riddles about the power of nature.And we discuss the impact of poetry in isolation with the young poet Hannah Hodgson who is living with a life limiting disease. She'll read from her lockdown collection and discuss how poetry managed to say what we needed to say this year from zoom poetry slams to tik tok haikus.

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  • 24.09.2020
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    David McKee - BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award, Royal Academy dilemma, Serlina Boyd on Cocoa Girl

    David McKee has just been named as the recipient of the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Author and illustrator of the Elmer books which with vivid colour and humour make a case for inclusion and acceptance, and the creator of the magical Mr Benn, he also wrote and illustrated Not Now, Bernard, a funny and perceptive plea for children not to be ignored. Now 85, he is still working. Front Row talks to him about his life and career.It has been reported that the Royal Academy in London is considering selling off its rare Michelangelo marble masterpiece known as the Taddei Tondo in an effort to avoid sacking 150 of its staff, as a result of lockdown. Axel Rϋger, Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy, and Alison Cole, Editor of The Art Newspaper, discuss the RA’s dilemma.A brand new bi-monthly magazine – Cocoa Girl – is unusual in many ways. First the editor is 6 years old, second it’s an actual physical magazine, not just an online offer and third it’s been a great success, selling more than 15,000 copies since its launch in June. We speak to Serlina Boyd, founder and publisher of the UK’s first magazine for Black children (and mum to editor Faith!)Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Jerome WeatheraldMain image: David McKee drawing Elmer the Elephant Image credit: Jean Marc Chautems

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  • 23.09.2020
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    Mike Bartlett, Miss Juneteenth film, theatres repurposed as courtrooms, Susanna Clarke

    Doctor Foster creator, Mike Bartlett, has come up with a new drama for BBC1. Set in Manchester, Life follows the stories of the residents of a large house divided into four flats, and explores love, loss, birth and death, and features some of the characters from Doctor Foster. Nick Ahad reviews.Channing Godfrey Peoples talks about writing and directing her debut film, Miss Juneteenth, about a beauty queen pageant commemorating the day slaves in Texas were freed – two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Life for Turquoise Jones didn’t turn out as beautifully as winning the title promised, so she is cultivating her daughter, Kai, to become Miss Juneteenth, even if Kai wants something else.Show Trials: The Lowry in Salford has come up with a unique way to bring in revenue whilst its regular artistic functions are paused because of pandemic regulations and social distancing. They’re going to become a temporary ‘Nightingale Court’. Julia Fawcett, Chief Executive of The Lowry, reveals how it’s going to work and what the implications will be.Susanna Clarke, who enjoyed enormous success with her novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, talks to Kirsty Lang about Piranesi, not a biography of the C18th Italian artist, but a novel set somewhere he might have imagined. The House is an endless sprawl of halls lined with statues, but it is falling apart, flooded by tides and populated, at first, by just the eponymous narrator and someone he knows only as The Other. An intriguing story of parallel realities, interrogating reality itself, unravels. She discusses her new novel with Kirsty.Presenter: Kirsty Lang Producer: Simon Richardson Studio Manager: Donald McDonald

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  • 22.09.2020
    27 MB
    28:34
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    Skin, The Box in Plymouth, Sean Borodale

    Lead singer of Britpop band Skunk Anansie, Skin has headlined Glastonbury, sold millions of albums, and recently competed in The Masked Singer. As her memoir, Skin - It takes Blood and Guts, is published, we ask her about channelling rage into her performances and if she thinks her achievements as queer black woman have been overlooked.After a six-month Covid delay, Plymouth’s new £40m arts and heritage museum space The Box is due to open next week. This weekend also sees the Plymouth Art Weekender, a city-wide festival of art and events. Sarah Gosling, BBC’s arts and culture presenter in Plymouth, considers the role of art and culture in helping to transform the city.It is the season of moths and spiders. Many people strive to keep these out of their houses. Not so the poet Sean Borodale whose new collection, Inmates, records close encounters with all manner of insects, in all stages of their existence – egg, maggot, flight, in death and decay. He talks about co-existing with the natural world and writing the process in poetry.Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe Producer: Julian May

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