Front Row: Archive 2014



Magazine programme on the worlds of arts, literature, film, media and music.


  • Juliet Stevenson; The Armstrong Lie

    28/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong is the subject of Oscar-winning documentary-maker Alex Gibney's latest film, The Armstrong Lie. In 2009 the film-maker, whose previous documentaries include Taxi to the Dark Side and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, set out to make a film about Armstrong's comeback year after a four-year retirement from the sport, but found himself with a bigger story in the wake of his doping confession on Oprah. Michael Carlson reviews. Juliet Stevenson stars as Winnie in Samuel Beckett's play of resilience and self-reliance, Happy Days, at the Young Vic. Juliet tells Kirsty about her reservations in playing this major role, seen by some as the female Hamlet, and about the challenges of acting when submerged from the neck up. In American writer Willy Vlautin's new novel The Free, a young member of the National Guard is returned home after suffering serious brain injury as a result of a roadside bomb in Iraq. The Free charts his slow recovery and the struggles he faces in a country wh

  • Annie Proulx; Martin Creed; Miranda Carter; Lone Survivor reviewed

    27/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    Arts news, interviews and reviews with Kirsty Lang.

  • Sunflowers; Chris Riddell

    24/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With Kirsty Lang. Two versions of Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers have been reunited for the first time in more than sixty years. Sunflowers is one of The National Gallery's best-loved paintings and it will be shown alongside another version from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. Art critic Martin Bailey discusses what seeing the paintings side-by-side tells us about Van Gogh's methods, and why the paintings are so captivating. In the film, Grudge Match, Hollywood heavyweights Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone star as old boxing rivals who come out of retirement for one final match. Hal Cruttenden, comedian and recent winner of Celebrity Mastermind - with, as his specialist subject, The Rocky Films - reviews. Author and political cartoonist, Chris Riddell, discusses his gothic novel for eight year olds, Goth Girl: And The Ghost Of A Mouse, which has won the children's category for the Costa Book Awards. Chris Riddell talks about the overlap between the world of Westminster and children's books, and his l

  • Sir Kenneth Branagh; Michael Symmons Roberts; Sensing Spaces

    23/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With Mark Lawson Sir Kenneth Branagh talks about his latest film: the return of Tom Clancy's iconic creation, Jack Ryan. In Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the CIA analyst is up against a ruthless Russian oligarch, played by Branagh - who also directed the thriller. He discusses the parallels between directing multi-million dollar action films and stage-productions of Shakespeare, and the influence of Laurence Olivier. Costa poetry prize winner Michael Symmons Roberts discusses his latest collection, Drysalter. The book is his sixth collection of poetry, consisting of 150 poems, each one fifteen lines long. He explains why it was helpful to have formal constraints to hold the poems together, and the social uses of poetry. The main galleries of the Royal Academy have been transformed by its latest exhibition, Sensing Spaces, in which seven architectural practices from around the world have been commissioned to allow visitors to engage with structures, perspectives, sounds, textures - even scents. Mark visits the

  • Simon Russell Beale; Lucy Hughes-Hallett

    22/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With Mark Lawson. Simon Russell Beale is playing King Lear at the National Theatre, in a new production directed by Sam Mendes. Last night one of the actors lost his voice, prompting Mendes to apologise and bring on the understudy. Simon Russell Beale discusses his approach to the challenging role and what happened behind the scenes last night. Costa biography prize-winner Lucy Hughes-Hallett talks about The Pike, her biography of the Italian poet and daredevil Gabriele D'Annunzio, which also won the 2013 Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction. Quentin Tarantino has announced that he is dropping his new film Hateful Eight, a follow-up to Django Unchained, after the script was leaked. Film critic Mark Eccleston discusses some of the more extreme examples of script security and why film-makers are so keen to keep their scripts secret. Producer: Timothy Prosser.

  • Josie Rourke, Nathan Filer, Julie Hesmondhalgh

    21/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    As Conor McPherson's multi-award-winning play The Weir opens in the West End, director Josie Rourke talks about reviving this modern Irish ghost story whilst preparing to screen her production of Coriolanus, starring Tom Hiddleston, in cinemas worldwide. Julie Hesmondhalgh has been making headlines as her Coronation Street character Hayley Cropper, suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer, leaves the soap by taking her own life. She discusses being involved in a storyline that has generated a national debate, and about her latest role in Blindsided, a new play by Simon Stephens. Nathan Filer, the winner of the Costa Book Award for the first novel category, discusses his debut The Shock of the Fall. Following a protagonist who suffers from mental health problems, the novel explores themes of guilt, grief and mental illness. Nathan Filer discusses his other career as a mental health nurse and his plans for a second novel. Classical violinist Vanessa Mae has qualified to compete with the Thai ski team in thi

  • Kate Atkinson; Outnumbered; August Osage County

    20/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With Mark Lawson. Conductor Simon Rattle remembers Claudio Abbado, the acclaimed Italian conductor and former musical director of La Scala, Milan, who has died aged 80. The Pulitzer prize-winning play, August: Osage County, a dark comedy looking at the lives of a group of women brought back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, has been adapted for the screen. The all-star cast includes Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, both nominated for Academy Awards, alongside Ewan McGregor and Benedict Cumberbatch. Diane Roberts comments on whether the translation from stage to screen is successful. In the first of five interviews with the authors who have won their categories for this year's Costa Book Awards, Mark talks to Kate Atkinson. She discusses winning the best novel category for her book Life After Life, the unusual structure of the book - in which the protagonist dies and is re-born - and imagining alternative futures. BBC One's family comedy, Outnumbered, is returning for a fifth series. Hugh Dennis and Ty

  • Joyce Carol Oates; Special effects on screen; The Musketeers

    17/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With John Wilson. Joyce Carol Oates talks about her latest novel, Carthage, in which a teenage girl disappears having last been seen with her sister's ex-fiancé, an injured soldier recently back from Iraq. In a story told from various perspectives we watch what happens to a family destroyed by tragedy, and to a soldier who can't come to terms with what he's seen during combat. Writer William Burroughs, artist Andy Warhol and film-maker David Lynch are the subjects of a trio of exhibitions at The Photographers' Gallery in London. The shows set out to illustrate how their personal photographs influenced and informed the work for which they are better known. Art critic Charlotte Mullins gives her response. As a new interpretation of Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers begins on BBC One, Stephen Armstrong considers the enduring appeal of the swashbuckling trio and how each generation has been reflected in new Musketeer adaptations. Visual effects expert Tim Webber has been Oscar-nominated for sending George

  • Oscars special

    16/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    Mark Lawson talks to some of the nominees of this year's Oscars including Steve Coogan who has two nominations for best adapted screenplay and best picture for Philomena. David O. Russell's con-artist movie American Hustle received the most nominations, along with Gravity, 10 in all, including best actor, actress, and both supporting roles. Sally Hawkins, who got a best supporting actress nod for Blue Jasmine, is one of the Brits who also got a thumbs up from the Academy Awards.

  • Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber; The Globe's Dominic Dromgoole; photographic culture

    15/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With Mark Lawson. Julian Lloyd Webber and his wife Jiaxin Lloyd Webber are touring the UK with a concert featuring world premiere performances of duets for two cellos with piano. They tell Mark about their choice of music from composers such as Vivaldi to Arvo Pärt, Dvorák, Bach, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns - and Julian's plans to collaborate with his brother Andrew on the works of the Everley Brothers. Today sees the opening of a newly built Jacobean theatre next to Shakespeare's Globe. The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is an candlelit venue, seating 340 people with galleried seating as well as historically accurate pit seating area. The first performance is The Duchess of Malfi with Gemma Arterton, and Mark talks to the Globe's artistic director from inside the auditorium. Dan O'Brien's play The Body of an American, which opens in London next week, explores the moment photographer Paul Watson captured a Pulitzer Prize-winning image of murdered American soldier Staff Sgt. William Cleveland in Mogadishu in 1993. A

  • Christos Tsiolkas, Tim's Vermeer, Maxim Vengerov, new US TV cop dramas

    14/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With Mark Lawson. Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas, who came to worldwide recognition with his controversial novel The Slap, discusses his follow up, Barracuda, the story of a young man with the potential to become an Olympic swimming champion and his struggle with self-acceptance. Violinist Maxim Vengerov, who is performing a series of concerts at London's Barbican this year, discusses the challenges of the more demanding elements of the repertoire, how he responds to different audiences, and how he alters his playing technique to suit the acoustics of a venue. Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring, reviews a new documentary film Tim's Vermeer, in which inventor Tim Jenison attempts to understand and recreate the painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. Two American cop shows begin on TV this week. Mob City, created by Oscar-nominated writer Frank Darabont, is a neo-noir drama looking at the LAPD in the 1940s. Brooklyn Nine-Nine won two Golden Globes at this weekend's

  • The Coen Brothers; The Wolf of Wall Street; TS Eliot Prize winner; John Donnelly

    13/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With John Wilson. The Coen brothers discuss their latest film, Inside Llewyn Davis, which follows a young folk musician, played by Oscar Isaac, as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961 trying to make it as a solo artist. Ethan and Joel Coen, whose directorial repertoire includes No Country for Old Men and The Big Lebowski, explain how far the characters in their latest work are inspired by the real musical figures of this folk period, and the casting challenges for a film which features full live performances by its actors, who include Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and Justin Timberlake. Leonardo DiCaprio won a Golden Globe this week for his performance as real-life rogue trader Jordan Belfort in The Wolf Of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese. Critic Catherine Bray delivers her verdict. The Pass is a topical new play about homosexuality and homophobia in football, centring on the complicated relationship between two Premier League players. John talks to its writer John Donnelly. The T

  • Colin Firth; Hostages

    10/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With Kirsty Lang. Colin Firth talks about his new film, The Railway Man, a true story in which he plays Eric Lomax, a British Army officer who is tormented as a prisoner in a Japanese labour camp during World War II. Decades later, Eric learns that the Japanese interpreter he holds responsible for much of his treatment is still alive, and sets out to confront him. Colin also considers the fine art of pretending to be patrician - and Paddington Bear as Mr Darcy. Hostages is a new US TV drama, hot on the heels of Homeland and - like it - based upon an Israeli TV series. Hostages stars Toni Collette as a top surgeon in Washington DC, who - together with her family - gets caught up in the middle of a grand political conspiracy. Sarah Crompton, arts editor of the Telegraph, reviews. Es Devlin is a stage designer whose work has ranged from west end theatre productions, to designing the London Olympics closing ceremony, and creating tour-sets for artists including Kanye West, Pet Shop Boys and Take That. Es takes

  • Istanbul Special: Orhan Pamuk; Magnificent Century; Baba Zula

    10/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With John Wilson. As part of Radio 4's MINT Season, John reports on the arts and culture of modern Istanbul. Turkey's most famous cultural figure, the Nobel Prize winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, has created a museum full of objects from his latest novel, the Museum of Innocence. He takes John round this museum and discusses the huge changes taking place in Istanbul. Magnificent Century, a television drama about Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, has become Turkey's most successful cultural export, with 200 million viewers in 45 countries. John meets Selin Arat from production company Tims at Topkapi Palace, the epicentre of the Ottoman Empire for over 300 years and the setting for the show. John talks to Azize Tan, Director of the Istanbul International Film Festival, about the films that top the Turkish box office, including a stand-up show by the comedian Cem Yilmaz, and reports on the controversy surrounding Turkey's oldest cinema which was knocked down last year after 3 years of protest. Baba Zula is Ist

  • Bletchley Circle creator Guy Burt; author Donal Ryan; the rise of Nollywood

    08/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With Mark Lawson. The Bletchley Circle, a drama about a group of women who worked at Bletchley Park during WWII, returns to our screens this week. It stars Anna Maxwell Martin, Rachael Stirling, Sophie Rundle and Julie Graham as former code-breakers turned detectives who have uncovered a conspiracy. The writer and creator of the series, Guy Burt, on imagining post-war life for the Bletchley code-breakers. Author Donal Ryan discusses his second novel, The Thing About December. Donal discusses his love of exposing his characters' interior monologues and explains how his day job as an Employment Inspector helps impose a discipline on his writing. Molly Dineen reviews two documentaries released this week. Kiss the Water is a poetic biography of Megan Boyd, who spent her life in the remote Scottish Highlands making anglers' flies so unique that they were desired all over the world, whilst The Square documents the ongoing struggles of the Egyptian Revolution through the eyes of the activists involved in the conf

  • Delivery Man; Graeme Simsion; comedy in Indonesia

    07/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With Mark Lawson The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion was one of the surprise hits of last year and has been published in more than thirty countries. The protagonist Don Tillman - a socially-awkward professor who may be on the autistic spectrum - has devised a questionnaire to ask women, in his quest to find love. Graeme Simsion explains how the book started life as a screenplay, and talks about writing a romantic novel from an unexpected perspective. Delivery Man stars Vince Vaughn playing another slacker character. This time he's an under-achiever who finds out that his donations to a fertility clinic have resulted in his fathering over five hundred children, with 142 of them legally trying to find out their father's identity. Journalist and broadcaster Katie Puckrik reviews. The artist Jeff Koons broke the record for the highest price paid for a work of art by a living artist, when his Balloon Dog (Orange) sold at auction for $58,405,000 last year. A major retrospective of Koons's work is opening at the

  • Costa Book Awards; 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen; Mexico's cultural leaders

    06/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With Mark Lawson Front Row announces the category winners for this year's Costa Book Awards. The director of the Costa Book Awards, Bud McLintock, announces the winners of the novel, first novel, poetry, biography and children's book categories and literary critic Sam Leith discusses the judges' choices. Steve McQueen discusses 12 Years A Slave, a film which tells the true story of Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film has already seen McQueen named Director of the Year at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and is hotly tipped for Oscar success. With previous films including Hunger and Shame, McQueen explains what attracts him to projects, and why the subject of slavery needed to be tackled. As part of Radio 4's MINT season, Front Row begins a short series of discussions and interviews looking at the cultural life of the MINT countries. Today the focus is on Mexico: film critic Fernanda Solórzano tells Mark about the current state of Mexica

  • Naomie Harris; Nigella Lawson in The Taste; Mahan Esfahani; 2014 in books and art

    03/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With John Wilson. Naomie Harris talks about playing Winnie Mandela in the biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Harris discusses taking on the part without realising the crucial role that Winnie Mandela played in forming the modern South Africa, researching her life and relationships and meeting Winnie Mandela herself. Nigella Lawson is one of three judges in new cookery show The Taste. Part Masterchef, part The Voice, the programme, which has already been a hit in America, involves judges eating just one anonymous spoonful of each dish, and judging on taste alone. Boyd Hilton discusses the increasing number of fusion TV formats. John talks to the Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, who in 2011 gave the first solo harpsichord recital at the BBC Proms, and who is now releasing his debut CD featuring sonatas by CPE Bach, son of JS Bach. Front Row looks ahead to what 2014 may have in store in literature and art. Alex Clark discusses the books that are likely to make an impact this year and Rachel

  • Last Vegas; Jarvis Cocker and Martin Wallace; Tom Price

    02/01/2014 Duración: 28min

    With John Wilson. Last Vegas stars Hollywood heavyweights Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kilne as a group of sixty and seventy somethings throwing a stag do for their old friend Billy, played by Michael Douglas. The film, which has been described as The Hangover for the older generation, explores issues of retirement and bereavement against the backdrop of the excesses of Las Vegas. Antonia Quirke reviews. The novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, known for her best-selling series about the lives of the Cazalet family, has died at the age of 90. In interviews previously recorded for Radio 4, we hear from Elizabeth Jane Howard and her step-son, Martin Amis. Sculptor Tom Price talks about a new exhibition of his work at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. His bronze sculptures of contemporary figures were initially inspired by the expressions on people's faces as they watched a performance piece by Price in which he spent a week licking a gallery wall. Tom Price discusses the legacy of the YBAs and using denti

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