show episodes
 
Noel Clarke (Adulthood), Johnny Harris (This is England '86) and Michelle Ryan (4.3.2.1) are joined by Colin Jones and Simon Godley, to discuss comedian Ben Miller's first feature film, HUGE. The film stars Clarke and Harris as a struggling comedy duo trying to make it big in the cut-throat world of stand-up and features cameos from many of the UK's best-loved comedians. Moderated by film editor of the Sunday Express, Henry Fitzherbert, at the Apple Store, Regent Street, in London.
 
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show series
 
We review a new biopic of jazz singer Billie Holiday, directed by Lee Daniels, which tells the story of the FBI’s campaign against her. They were afraid that performing her most famous song Strange Fruit, about the lynching of Black Americans, would incite unrest. Andra Day stars as Holiday. Barb Jungr and Be Manzini give their verdict, comment on …
 
Artists Gilbert & George open a new exhibition at the White Cube next week. The pair first met in 1967 whilst studying sculpture at Central St Martin’s art college. They’ve lived and worked together in East London for fifty years. The show - New Normal Pictures - consists of twenty-six new pictures which feature the pair in gritty London landscapes…
 
As she is awarded one of British crime writing’s top accolades, the Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger, Samira talks to crime novelist Martina Cole. Hailed as the Queen of Crime Drama, Cole has written 25 novels and sold 10 million books since records began but her work is rarely reviewed - so what’s her secret?Under the road map unveiled by…
 
John Keats was just 25 when he died in Rome 200 years ago. To mark the anniversary The Poetry Society has commissioned new work from award-winning contemporary poets responding to Keats’s work, and two of them – Rachael Boast and Will Harris – join us to share their poems and discuss why Keats is still important to contemporary writers 200 hundred …
 
As the Prime Minister sets out his roadmap to ending the Covid lockdown we get reaction from Dominique Frazer, Founder of the Boileroom, a music venue in Guildford, and Hamish Moseley, Managing Director of an independent film distribution company Altitude Film Entertainment, and ask if this offers them enough information to start to plan for the ye…
 
Leicester Curve’s recent award-winning revival of the musical The Color Purple, based on Alice Walker’s novel, has been reimagined, filmed and is being streamed for audiences. Dreda Say Mitchell and David Benedict review. David Rodigan joins us to celebrate the life of the great Jamaican musician U-Roy, who died recently. He was a master of the toa…
 
Dame Sarah Connolly sings the role of the goddess Fricka in the Royal Opera House's production of Wagner's The Ring Cycle, currently being broadcast on BBC Radio 3. She discusses the challenge of performing this 15 hour operatic epic. Chris Brandon on writing the new BBC crime drama series Bloodlands - which stars James Nesbitt as a detective - is …
 
Is listening to K-Pop like buying sweatshop-made clothes? From rigorous childhood performance academies to long, labour-intensive contracts for young idols, does the South Korean music industry have an exploitation problem? High profile suicides, sexual harassment claims and industry standards are complicating the nature of the industry and the fan…
 
In 2006 a friend of the actor and writer Lorien Haynes died. Haynes's grief has found unusual expression - in a romantic comedy starring Sian Clifford and Nikesh Patel. In Good Grief the central character is dead. Director Natalie Abrahami has created an unusual hybrid of film and theatre, shot in what looks like a rehearsal studio, with a set of c…
 
As the nation waits for the vaccine and lockdown restrictions to ease, what can literature teach us about the art of waiting? Writer Rebecca Stott, critic Alex Clark and poet Anthony Anaxagorou discuss the art of waiting, whether cheerfully or 'with a green and yellow melancholy… like Patience on a monument' as Viola says in Twelfth Night.Lolita Ch…
 
British jazz pianist and broadcaster Julian Joseph joins us to look at the life and music of his good friend; pianist and composer Chick Corea. Chick began his career in the early 60’s, released his first album in 1968 and over more than 5 decades he played with just about every big name in jazz, winning 23 Grammy awards and was still composing and…
 
Screenwriter and novelist Ben Hopkins talks to Tom about his ambitious new novel, Cathedral. It's a portrait of the construction of the medieval period's greatest buildings, featuring a cast of intriguing characters all vying for power - from the bishop to his treasurer to local merchants and lowly stone cutters.Faith, Hope and Glory is a new drama…
 
Documentary-maker Adam Curtis crafts densely-constructed, visually-fragmented work so packed full of ideas and images that you can’t take your eyes off the screen for a moment. He pulls together disparate images and soundtrack to create a mesmerising hypothesis. He discusses his newest work, Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, which debuts on BBC iPlayer…
 
Tom Hanks stars in Paul Greengrass's new film, News of the World. Hanks plays Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a Civil War veteran who crosses paths with Johanna (Helena Zengel), a 10-year-old taken in by the Kiowa people six years earlier and raised as one of their own. Gavia Baker-Whitelaw gives us her verdict on the western. Songwriter Roger Cook di…
 
Twenty years ago this week, the artist Michael Landy famously destroyed every single one of his 7,227 possessions in an artwork called Break Down. The artist looks back on the 14-day event which took place on an industrial conveyor belt inside a disused department store in Oxford St in London, and considers how the process affected him.Since the no…
 
In April the artist Luke Jerram spoke on Front Row about his sculpture of the Covid-19 virus. Since then he has been ill with Covid and has created another sculpture - unveiled today - this time of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Jerram discusses his artistic engagement with Covid, including his piece In Memoriam, 120 flags made of NHS bed-sheets, commemo…
 
Hollywood star Sam Neill joins us from his home in New Zealand to discuss the perils of acting with sheep in his new film Rams, based on an acclaimed Icelandic drama about two estranged brothers and their flocks of a rare horned breed of sheep.A new colour blue has come onto artists’ palettes. Called YInMn it was discovered in 2009 by accident by s…
 
Film critic Leila Latif joins us to discuss today’s Golden Globe nominations, and gives us an overview of some of the highlights from the first ever online Sundance Festival.The folklore of Taiwan is visited and revisited by subsequent generations of women in Bestiary, the debut novel from K-Ming Chang, as a Daughter falls in love and confronts her…
 
The Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald discusses his follow-up to his YouTube film Life In A Day from 2010, where he invited the public to upload their own footage of their lives taken on one specific day. He then edited those contributions to create a finished film to tell the story of a single day on Earth. For Life In A Day 2020 he received …
 
Jill Halfpenny stars in a new tv thriller The Drowning. Nine years ago, Jodie’s little boy disappeared on a picnic by the lake, presumed drowned, and she’s never been able to accept his loss. Now, out of the blue, she catches sight of a teenage boy and she’s sure that it’s her missing son. Jill talks to Samira about why she likes playing morally am…
 
We review The Dig, starring Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes and the Suffolk landscape, a film about the excavation of the Anglo-Saxon burial site at Sutton Hoo. It's also a revealing excavation of class and prejudice in 1930s England. The great ship was discovered, uncovered and conserved by Basil Brown, an autodidact who left school aged 12, He desc…
 
The ceramicist, artist and writer Edmund de Waal today launches the #FrontRowGetCreative project, where artists will be encouraging you, our listeners, to try their hand at creating an artwork with easily-available materials. In his studio he talks us through the creation of a palimpsest, where letters and characters overlap in layers of clay – or …
 
Celeste talks to Front Row about her career from making tracks on a laptop in her bedroom to successes at the Brit and BBC Music Awards, composing and performing the music for last year's John Lewis advert, A Little Love, and the release of her debut album 'Not Your Muse'.She blew her fusilli,my pretty penne,when she found me watchingdaytime taglia…
 
Can you use craft to help make the world a better place, one stitch at a time? In her new BBC Four documentary, Craftivism: Making a Difference, writer, comedian and art lover Jenny Eclair meets people doing extraordinary things with knitting, cross-stitch, banners and felt to change hearts and minds. She tells us all about it.Tom talks to Jon Brow…
 
Choreographer Jonzi D has created a new work for Dancing Nation, the all-day digital festival of dance which is streamed on BBC iPlayer this Thursday. Jonzi discusses the state of Black dance with Pawlet Brookes, who runs Serendipity in Leicester and has edited the collection of essays My Voice, My Practice: Black Dance.In the light of the announce…
 
The White Tiger is a new Netflix film based on Aravind Adiga’s 2008 Booker Prize-winning novel, directed by Ramin Bahrani. It explores Indian society and how hard it can be to climb the social ladder, as Balram, played by Adarsh Gourav, struggles to advance even when he has found rich employers. For our Friday review, writer Abir Mukherjee and film…
 
After weeks of speculation, we heard today that the 2021 Glastonbury festival is to be cancelled amidst uncertainly due to Covid. Tom talks to the Chairman of the Department of Culture Media and Sport parliamentary select committee, the Conservative MP Julian Knight, who today issued a strong statement condemning the government for not stepping in …
 
Singers Roderick Williams and David Webb discuss Schubert’s celebrated 1827 song-cycle Winterreise, about a man dealing with rejection and loneliness who journeys through the winter snow. Roderick has recorded a new CD of Winterreise and David is about to perform it at the Wigmore Hall in London, having cycled 500 miles to raise money for mental he…
 
John is joined by composer, vocalist, violinist and producer Caroline Shaw – the youngest ever winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, winner of a Grammy in 2018 for her album Orange with Attaca Quartet. Caroline Shaw talks about her new album Narrow Sea featuring soprano Dawn Upshaw, Sō Percussion ensemble and the pianist Gilbert Kalish, as well a…
 
English rapper, songwriter and actor Ashley Walters has now turned his hand to directing with a short film called BOYS. Shot in London it follows Noah, who – whilst trying to fulfil a request from his brother who’s in prison – has to decide which way he wants his own life to turn out.To lift our spirits in difficult times Front Row brings you Momen…
 
What will happen with music festivals this year? For Front Row, DJ Emily Dust talks to some of those involved.Keeley Hawes is one of the most in-demand British actors for TV and film, with exceptional performances in a wide variety of roles. Coming soon for UK viewers there’ll be ITV’s dark comedy Finding Alice; To Olivia – a film about Roald Dahl’…
 
Stardust is the new film about David Bowie’s promotional tour of the United States in 1971 during which he began to develop the concept of Ziggy Stardust. Bowie is played by musician and actor Johnny Flynn and the film has already attracted attention as they were unable to secure the rights to Bowie’s songs. Writer and Bowie fan Mark Billingham rev…
 
As RuPaul’s Drag Race UK returns for a second season and the US series welcomes its first trans man as a competitor, are the ironically gendered boundaries of drag breaking down and what about the other side of drag - the kings? Drag kings Don One and Jodie Mitchell, better known as John Travulva, join Samira to talk about the world of Kings.Courtt…
 
Oscar winning actress Regina King tells Kirsty about her debut film as a director, One Night in Miami, inspired by the real-life meeting between Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown on the night that Ali (then still called Cassius Clay) defeated Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight World Champion title.Europe's first classical music stat…
 
Ben Okri published his poem 'Grenfell Tower, June 2017' in the Financial Times a few days after the inferno. On Channel 4's Facebook page it was played more than 6 million times. This is but one of his poems written in response to current events, politics and people, gathered in his new book, A Fire in my Head: Poems for the Dawn. Okri considers th…
 
Five years ago, on 10th Jan 2016, David Bowie died, just two days after his 69th birthday. To mark the anniversary, we revisit John Wilson's 2002 interview with him, recorded in New York. Two composers – Hannah Peel and Neil Brand – will also be discussing Bowie’s music and considering its legacy and influence.Ingrid Persaud has won the First Novel…
 
Pa Salieu, the Gambian-British artist from Coventry, has been named as the winner of the BBC Sound of 2021. His single Frontline was the most played track on BBC Radio 1Xtra in 2020. In 2019 he was shot in the head, but recovered to release his debut mixtape Send Them To Coventry at the end of 2020 and now picks up one of the biggest accolades in n…
 
On 28th September 1985 Lee Lawrence’s mother Cherry Groce was shot by police during an armed raid on her Brixton home. Lee Lawrence talks to Samira Ahmed about his Costa Biography award winning memoir The Louder I will Sing in which he recounts the devastating impact the shooting had on the family’s life and his courageous fight for justice.As Brit…
 
The Great, a new ahistorical comedy from The Favourite writer Tony McNamara arrives on Channel 4 this month. Describing itself as “an occasionally true story”, it is a satirical drama about the rise of Catherine the Great, staring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult. McNamara talks period dramas, historical inaccuracies and contemporary characters.The …
 
Suzannah Lipscomb, Chair of Judges for the Costa Book Awards 2020, joins us to reveal exclusively the winners in each of category: Novel, Children’s, Poetry, Biography and Debut Novel. This is followed by an interview with the winner of the Best Novel category.Dante Alighieri wrote The Divine Comedy 7 centuries ago but - like all great literature –…
 
Front Row celebrates some of the art that brightened a dark year.British violinist Tasmin Little has hung up her violin and retired from the concert stage in 2020. It’s the last night of the last year of her performing career - she looks back, and says goodbye to the year in style.Satirist Craig Brown won the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction t…
 
The family you choose, rather than the family you’re born into, is fertile territory for writers. From Henry V, to The Lord of the Rings, to Josie and the Pussycats, family dynamics between those who start as strangers keep storytelling going. Playwright Temi Wilkey and screenwriter Sarah Dollard join Samira to talk about the enduring and endearing…
 
The pianist Lang Lang this year released his first recording of Bach's 1741 keyboard masterpiece, Goldberg Variations, feeling he was finally ready to do so 20 years into his own musical career.At the piano from a studio near his home in Beijing, Lang Lang discusses the work originally written for harpsichord, what a challenge it presents for a per…
 
The pandemic is having a profound impact on the arts. But you don't need to go anywhere, involve other people or need many materials, to write or read poetry, and during the lockdown people have turned to verse. In an extended edition of Front Row devoted to poetry Samira Ahmed hears from the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, about his recent writing …
 
Tim Minchin, the Australian stage performer with unkempt long hair and black mascara eyes, looks back over his career since his early days trying to scrape a living in Perth and Melbourne. As he releases his first ever solo album Apart Together at the age of 45, he reflects on his early struggle to make a living through music, the success of his st…
 
Black Mirror creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones discuss their new Netflix mocumentary Death to 2020, a documentary-style film that tells the story of the year we’ll be glad to put behind us, featuring fictitious figures played by the likes of Hugh Grant, Samuel L Jackson and Tracey Ullman.Opera diva, drag artist and cabaret turn Le Gateau C…
 
Mackenzie Crook talks about Saucy Nancy, the latest episode in his festive revivals of the children’s TV series Worzel Gummidge, which originally aired in the late 1970s. Saucy Nancy sees the children visit a scrapyard, where they meet Worzel's old friend Saucy Nancy. She's a carved ship’s figurehead, and wants their help to get back to the sea. As…
 
Creator Chris van Dusen on Bridgerton, Netflix’s new drama series set in Regency England, about the daughter of a powerful family as she makes her debut onto London’s competitive marriage market.Award-winning novelist Rachel Joyce has created “Christmas by the Lake”, a new drama for BBC Radio 4. It’s a story with a twist on the Christmas theme and …
 
Director George C. Wolfe on his new film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, in which Viola Davis stars as the legendary “Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey, alongside the late Chadwick Boseman, in his final role. It’s adapted from August Wilson’s play which is part of his ten play cycle chronicling African American experience in the 20th Century. Pianist Winifr…
 
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