300 episodes

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

Front Row BBC

    • Society & Culture

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

    Pet Shop Boys, Emotional risk taking in the arts, The Eye As Witness

    Pet Shop Boys, Emotional risk taking in the arts, The Eye As Witness

    The Pet Shop Boys talk about their highly anticipated new studio album Hotspot, which is released today. Hotspot is the duo’s final release with producer Stuart Price who ushered in a period of ‘electronic purism’ in their work. Recorded using a large amount of analogue equipment, Hotspot is a departure from the Pet Shop Boy’s recent hyper dance pop sound.

    Front Row's series examining risk in the arts focuses today on emotional risk. What is it like for writers and performers to explore their own personal backgrounds and issues and then to go public with their revelations and confessions, and how much has that changed in recent years? Louise Allen addresses the challenge of putting her experiences of an abusive childhood in foster care onto the page in her memoir Thrown Away Child, and stand-up Ahir Shah discusses drawing on his own personal mental health issues in his stage act.

    Next Monday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. We are all familiar with images of victims of the Holocaust. Most of these, though, were actually taken by the Nazis for propaganda purposes and to create a historical record. The Eye as Witness , a new touring exhibition organised by The National Holocaust Centre and Museum, challenges these views. Professor Maiken Umbach explains how, using virtual reality technology, viewers can enter into a photograph to experience how it was framed and, crucially, what is not shown, including the photographer taking the picture. The exhibition focuses, too, on photographs taken, at enormous risk, by the inmates of the ghettoes and camps. Some of these images were buried and retrieved once the war was over. They reveal, amidst degradation and evil, a zest for life, humanity and love.

    Presenter: Stig Abell
    Producer: Hilary Dunn

    • 28 min
    Guz Khan, Calculating Risk, Northern Writing

    Guz Khan, Calculating Risk, Northern Writing

    As the BBC Three hit comedy Man Like Mobeen returns for a third series, its creator and star, Guz Khan, discusses the development of his on screen persona, Mobeen Deen, and why his show has something for everyone.

    Front Row's Risk Season continues with filmmaker Penny Woolcock and Richard Mantle, General Director of Opera North. Both have faced big creative challenges and join Front Row to discuss how to decide if a risk is worth taking.

    The Portico Prize, the UK’s biennial award for outstanding literature that best evokes the spirit of the North, is awarded on Thursday 23 January. Portico Prize judge, poet, and novelist Zahid Hussain and Claire Malcolm, founding CEO of the regional writing development agency, New Writing North, discuss what constitutes writing that reflects the North and the hurdles such writing faces.

    Presenter: Katie Popperwell
    Producer: Ekene Akalawu

    • 28 min
    Terry Jones remembered by Michael Palin, Hugh Laurie on Avenue 5, Gabrielle Aplin

    Terry Jones remembered by Michael Palin, Hugh Laurie on Avenue 5, Gabrielle Aplin

    Michael Palin remembers his friend and fellow Python, Terry Jones - writer, director, actor and historian - whose death at the age of 77 was announced today.

    Hugh Laurie discusses his new role in Armando Iannucci’s new TV comedy drama Avenue 5, which is set on a galactic cruise liner. When a mishap turns the eight-week pleasure jaunt among the stars into a voyage lasting three-and-a-half years it’s not just the spacecraft that begins to breakdown – it’s civilisation itself. And masks begin to slip. Laurie stars as the urbane, silver-haired Ryan Clark, the confidence inspiring Captain. But Clark is not what he seems.

    Mental health, the pressures of social media and a feeling of freedom all feature in Gabrielle Aplin’s upbeat pop album Dear Happy. The singer-songwriter talks to Samira about making the album on her own record label and performs live in the studio.

    As Front Row continues to explore risk in the arts, author Kerry Hudson speaks about the emotional risk involved in writing her memoir Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns.

    Presenter Samira Ahmed
    Producer Jerome Weatherald

    • 28 min
    Terry Gilliam, Samantha Strauss, Risk in art: Jeremy Deller, Picasso and Paper exhibition

    Terry Gilliam, Samantha Strauss, Risk in art: Jeremy Deller, Picasso and Paper exhibition

    It's taken 25 years and several false starts but Terry Gilliam has at last succeeded in bringing his version of Don Quixote to the big screen. The director discusses his jinxed project, now that he has completed The Man who Killed Don Quixote, which stars Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce.

    Samantha Strauss, creator of the hit Australian teen drama series Dance Academy, talks to John Wilson about her new drama series The End starring Harriet Walter and Francis O’Connor which uses dark humour to tell the story of a family’s struggle with assisted dying and the nature of choice.

    Front Row's Risk season continues. We’re talking to figures across the arts about their greatest career risks. Tonight, artist Jeremy Deller tells us about the risks involved in creating The Battle of Orgreave, his 2001 re-enactment of the violent confrontation between miners and police in 1984.

    Picasso and Paper: Throughout his career, which spanned eight decades, Pablo Picasso worked with paper – not just drawing and painting on it but manipulating it. He used several printmaking techniques, made collages by cutting and pasting and created sculptures by burning and tearing paper. The Royal Academy’s new exhibition brings together 300 works in a variety of forms, from different periods of the artist’s life, but all created with this single medium. Morgan Quaintance reviews.

    Presenter: John Wilson
    Producer: Oliver Jones

    • 28 min
    Dev Patel on David Copperfield, Front Row's Risk Season, bestselling author Kimberley Chambers

    Dev Patel on David Copperfield, Front Row's Risk Season, bestselling author Kimberley Chambers

    Dev Patel talks about playing David Copperfield in Armando Iannucci’s retelling of Charles Dickens' classic ode to grit and perseverance, The Personal History of David Copperfield. This is a film for our cosmopolitan age with a diverse ensemble cast of actors from a range of ethnicities. Patel, star of Slumdog Millionaire, describes telling director Iannucci that the production would have to ‘weather a storm’ because of this colour-blind approach. The film also stars Nikki Amuka-Bird, Peter Capaldi‎, Benedict Wong and ‎Hugh Laurie.

    Today Front Row launches its Risk Season: we’ll be investigating personal, financial, reputational and physical risk in all the arts. How far is risk inherent to creativity, who takes risks and why? The season will culminate in the unveiling of the top ten riskiest artworks of the last 20 years in the Front Row Risk List.

    To launch the season, three of our Risk List judges - author Will Self, critic and columnist Ellen E Jones and performer and writer Scottee – define what they mean by risk in the context of art, discuss if we live in risk taking or safety seeking times, and set out what they’re looking for in contenders for the list.

    Stig Abell is joined in the studio by Number One Bestselling author Kimberley Chambers, ‘The Queen of Gangland Crime’, to discuss her new novel, Queenie, the prequel to her successful series of Butlers Family gangster novels. Set in Whitechapel in the 1930s, the book follows Queenie as she watches her family struggle, learning lessons the hard way. When she was a little girl there was one thing Queenie knew, that she was going to get out of this... then a tall, dark and handsome stranger walked into her life, giving her hope for a different future.

    Main image: Dev Patel in David Copperfield
    Image credit: Lionsgate Films

    Presenter: Stig Abell
    Producer: Julian May

    • 29 min
    Playwright Lucy Kirkwood, Terrence Malick's A Hidden Life, Sam Lee and Bernard Butler

    Playwright Lucy Kirkwood, Terrence Malick's A Hidden Life, Sam Lee and Bernard Butler

    Playwright Lucy Kirkwood discusses her return to the National Theatre following the critically-acclaimed Mosquitoes in 2017 with her new play The Welkin, which stars Maxine Peake and Ria Zmitrowicz. It’s the story of a woman sentenced to hang for murder in 1759 but whose claims of pregnancy could save her life. A Jury of Matrons is assembled - 12 women who will decide the condemned woman’s fate.

    Terrence Malick's latest film A Hidden Life is a historical drama based on a true story which depicts the life of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian peasant farmer and devout Catholic, and the consequences he faced after refusing to pledge allegiance to the Nazis in World War II. Isabel Stevens reviews.

    Folk singer Sam Lee has teamed up with electric guitarist and producer Bernard Butler on his new album Old Wow, which celebrates the joy of the natural world but also expresses fear about how the climate emergency is changing our relationship with the planet. Sam and Bernard discuss the album and Sam performs the most recent single, The Moon Shines Bright.

    Presenter Nikki Bedi
    Producer Jerome Weatherald

    • 28 min

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