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Front Row: Archive 2011
29 minutes | Jan 3, 2012
Writers including PD James and Anthony Horowitz take on classic characters
Mark Lawson talks to novelists who have taken on another writer's characters, including P D James, who wrote a Pride and Prejudice sequel, Anthony Horowitz, creator of a new Sherlock Holmes story, Jeffery Deaver, author of the latest James Bond book, and Frank Cottrell Boyce, who took on another of Ian Fleming's creations - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And what happens to a novel left unfinished when a writer dies? Incomplete manuscripts left by British novelist Beryl Bainbridge and American writer Michael Crichton were posthumously brought to publication this year, with the help of editor Brendan King and scientific journalist Richard Preston respectively. They discuss how they approached this poignant task, and A N Wilson, writer and friend of Beryl Bainbridge, reflects on the process. Producer Katie Langton.
29 minutes | Dec 29, 2011
Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Bruce Forsyth and Jack Jones
John Wilson talks to singers Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Jack Jones and Bruce Forsyth, whose careers began before rock and roll, and whose combined performing experience totals over 200 years. They reflect on the art of 'intimate singing', their inspirations, and the art of sustaining a career in a business which has changed radically over seven decades. Producer Jerome Weatherald.
29 minutes | Dec 28, 2011
Writers from India and Pakistan
Kirsty Lang examines how writers from India and Pakistan are tackling social and political shifts, with Booker-winner Aravind Adiga, Aatish Taseer, Mohammed Hanif and Moni Mohsin. All have published fiction in the past year with a focus on complex current issues in their respective countries, including terrorism in Pakistan and the huge social changes brought about by India's economic boom. They also reflect on the differences between readers in the Indian subcontinent and those who live outside it, and discuss how - as Aravind Adiga reveals - a warm critical reception in the UK is no guarantee of critical praise at home. Producer Rebecca Nicholson.
28 minutes | Dec 27, 2011
Singers Joseph Calleja, Ian Bostridge, Mark Padmore and Iestyn Davies
Mark Lawson talks to three tenors and a counter-tenor: Joseph Calleja (pictured), Ian Bostridge, Mark Padmore and Iestyn Davies reflect on repertoire, singing teachers and the perils of phlegm. Producer Georgia Mann.
29 minutes | Dec 23, 2011
Dominic West; Tracey Emin; Tom Hooper; Great British Bake Off; Inbetweeners
Mark Lawson unwraps a further selection of new interviews with arts headline makers of 2011. Stage and screen actor Dominic West discusses playing serial murderer Fred West, Shakespeare's Iago, and upper-class anchorman Hector Madden in The Hour. Tracey Emin, newly-appointed Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy, reflects on opening the new Turner Contemporary gallery in her home town of Margate, her solo show at the Hayward Gallery, London, and her art-work for 10 Downing Street. Director Tom Hooper considers the success of his Oscar-winning film The King's Speech, and how almost a year after its release it is still winning awards. Another British film The Inbetweeners, based on the TV comedy, has taken more than £45 million at the UK box office and is the biggest-selling DVD this Christmas. Writers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley reveal how far they are prepared to push the cast. And Mark meets Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, judges on The Great British Bake Off, one of the year's unexpected TV hits. They discuss their approach to cake-tasting, and the art of judging the perfect bake. Producer Lisa Davis.
29 minutes | Dec 22, 2011
Julian Barnes, Andrea Arnold, Sir David Chipperfield
Mark Lawson unwraps a selection of new interviews with arts headline makers of 2011. Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes explains why he no longer refuses to read his reviews, and poet Jo Shapcott, winner of the Costa Prize for her collection Of Mutability, discusses why the book's subject, her cancer, is never referred to explicitly. Director Nicholas Hytner and writer Richard Bean reflect on the success of their hit play One Man, Two Guvnors, which will make its way to Broadway after a sell-out UK tour and London run. Film-maker Andrea Arnold is best known for contemporary dramas such as Red Road and Fish Tank, but her 2011 version of Wuthering Heights won wide acclaim. She reveals why her next film won't be an adaptation. Architect Sir David Chipperfield received the RIBA Royal Gold Medal this year, as well as completing the Turner Contemporary in Margate and the Hepworth in Wakefield. He discusses how the current wranglings in Europe could affect his profession. Producer Ellie Bury.
30 minutes | Dec 21, 2011
Paul Merton; Neon Artwork; Adele's producer Paul Epworth
With John Wilson. Paul Merton reviews the new silent film The Artist, which with six Golden Globe nominations is already the surprise hit of this year's Hollywood awards season. Adele's producer Paul Epworth discusses his part in creating this year's biggest album, 21, for which he has received four Grammy nominations, and how he and Adele came up with the hit song Rolling in the Deep. It's almost a century since a Parisian barber's shop began the urban romance with neon when it put up the first commercial neon sign. Although neon has fallen out of commercial favour, artists are breathing new life into the medium. John went to the Neon Workshops in Wakefield, Yorkshire, to learn how to make his own neon artwork. The neon art is now installed at the BBC's building in Salford. The graphic designer Peter Saville, famed for his record sleeves for the likes of New Order, Joy Division, Roxy Music and Pulp - and a huge neon fan - joins John, along with the Junior Royal Northern College Brass Quintet and the BBC North Staff Choir, to switch on the first Front Row artwork. Producer Ekene Akalawu.
29 minutes | Dec 20, 2011
Michelle Yeoh, 2011 music picks, book cover design
With John Wilson. Michelle Yeoh, star of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Tomorrow Never Dies, on playing Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in The Lady. Luc Besson's film tells the extraordinary story of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who sacrificed her personal life for her people, remaining under house arrest in Burma even when her Oxford-based husband Michael Aris was dying of cancer. Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills; BBC Proms presenter Suzy Klein; and writer and critic David Hepworth nominate their album of the year for 2011. And - Julian Barnes thanked his book jacket designer in his Booker acceptance speech this year and emphasised the importance of books as beautiful objects. At a time when e-readers are changing the publishing landscape, Barnes' designer Suzanne Dean and art director at Harper Collins Alice Moore reflect on how the role of the cover designer might evolve. Producer Lisa Davis.
29 minutes | Dec 19, 2011
Jennifer Saunders; the new Mission: Impossible film
With Mark Lawson. Jennifer Saunders reflects on the return of Absolutely Fabulous, 20 years after Patsy and Eddy first staggered onto our screens. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is the latest instalment of the action-packed franchise. The film sees Tom Cruise return as undercover operative Ethan Hunt, trotting the globe in an attempt to clear his name of terrorism charges and prevent a nuclear attack. Naomi Alderman gives her verdict. Television is as much part of a traditional Christmas as turkey, with programmes including Downton Abbey, Doctor Who and Great Expectations on offer this year. Sarah Crompton makes her selection. And a tribute to Vaclav Havel, the playwright and former Czech President who died this weekend, from his friend and translator Paul Wilson. Producer Katie Langton Presenter Mark Lawson.
28 minutes | Dec 16, 2011
Former Python Terry Jones, young James Herriot and Morse on TV
With Mark Lawson. Former Monty Python star Terry Jones has now written 26 books. His latest, Evil Machines, is a collection of 13 short stories which explore what happens when everyday objects take on a life of their own. He discusses the inspiration for the book, life as a Python and his relationship with the group now. The young lives of James Herriot and Inspector Morse will soon arrive on our TV screens. Glasgow in the 1930s is the setting for the adventures of James Herriot as an idealistic student vet; and Endeavour turns the clock back to 1965, when the young Morse is in Oxford to hunt for a missing schoolgirl. Rebecca Nicholson and Chris Dunkley assess the new portrayals of two much-loved TV characters. And conductor Jeremy Summerly gives an illustrated guide at the keyboard to those underrated Christmas carols which deserve to be better known. Producer Jerome Weatherald.
29 minutes | Dec 15, 2011
David Fincher; Crime Books; Vikram Seth
With Mark Lawson. David Fincher's directing credits include The Social Network, Fight Club, Se7en and Alien3, and his latest film is an adaptation of Stieg Larsson's book The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, starring Daniel Craig. Fincher discusses his approach to filming a book that has already sold 65 million copies worldwide and been made into a successful trilogy of movies in Swedish. Mark Lawson and Jeff Park make their selection of crime books for Christmas including works by P D James, Umberto Eco and Anthony Horowitz. Vikram Seth is best known for his novel A Suitable Boy, but he's also written a series of opera libretti, as part of a collaboration with composer Alec Roth, and now published as The Rivered Earth. Vikram Seth discusses the working process and how a former owner of his house made a mark on the project. Producer Nicki Paxman.
29 minutes | Dec 14, 2011
Simon Schama interviewed
With John Wilson. Historian Simon Schama has selected his pick of works from the Government Art Collection for an exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery. While hanging the exhibition, he reveals how his choices were inspired by the British romance with travelling. Dame Edna Everage, Ann Widdecombe and Vanilla Ice are all making their pantomime debuts this year. Danny Robins has seen all three and considers the qualities needed for panto success. A large crane has been lowering a new art project onto the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London's South Bank today. Created by artist Fiona Banner and architect David Kohn, A Room for London is designed to look like a boat, and is going to be available for people to live and sleep in for a night. The Artangel/Living Architecture project will be there for the whole of 2012. John reports from the site. Producer Philippa Ritchie.
29 minutes | Dec 13, 2011
Sir David Jason and the return of Sherlock Holmes
With Mark Lawson Two decades after the last series of Only Fools and Horses, Sir David Jason returns to BBC One as the star of a new comedy series. He discusses his role as the incompetent bodyguard of the Queen, his close relationship with Ronnie Barker, and whether he can predict which lines will get the best laugh. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law have joined forces again for a second Sherlock Holmes film, directed by Guy Ritchie. In A Game of Shadows, Holmes and Dr. Watson take on their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty. Crime writer Natasha Cooper reviews. Hit or miss? The Front Row Jukebox Jury delivers its verdict on a sackful of this year's festive releases. Music critics David Hepworth and Rosie Swash discuss songs from Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber, the cast of The Only Way Is Essex, Michael Buble, The Killers and many more. Producer Claire Bartleet.
29 minutes | Dec 12, 2011
Meryl Streep on playing Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady
With Kirsty Lang. Meryl Streep is hotly tipped for Oscar success for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in the forthcoming film The Iron Lady. She discusses how she mastered Thatcher's famous voice, why she decided to donate her fee for the film to charity and how she feels about her daughters following her into the acting profession. Director Shane Meadows continues the story of a group of young skinheads who first appeared in his film This is England, set in 1983. This is England 88 is the second in a series of television sequels, and stars Vicky McClure as Lol, now struggling to cope with life as a single mother. Dreda Say Mitchell reviews. Reviewers Georgia Coleridge and Damian Kelleher offer their pick of the year's children's books, ranging from picture books to teenage fiction. Producer Nicki Paxman.
29 minutes | Dec 9, 2011
Comedy DVDs; Haunted Child; Graham Sutherland
With Kirsty Lang. Lee Evans, Peter Kay, Ross Noble, Sarah Millican, Alan Carr and Milton Jones are among the host of comedians releasing new DVDs aimed at Christmas shoppers. Comedy critic Stephen Armstrong discusses the stand-up boom, and whether any of the DVDs is worth a second viewing. Sophie Okonedo and Ben Daniels star in Haunted Child, a new play by Joe Penhall. A small boy and his mother struggle to understand why the father abandoned them to join a religious cult, and his motives for returning to the family home. Julie Myerson reviews. The artist Graham Sutherland is the focus of a new exhibition curated by Turner Prize nominee George Shaw. Sutherland, who died in 1980, produced a wide range of work, including landscapes, images of the Blitz and portraits, including one of Winston Churchill, which was loathed by Churchill's wife. Writer Alexandra Harris and art critic Richard Cork reflect on Sutherland's current reputation. Composer Joshua Cody was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer when in his early thirties. He charts his experience of treatment and his reaction to the diagnosis, whilst aiming to avoid what he describes as the classic cancer memoir. Instead, he describes his morphine delusions, and the comfort he found in writers, poets and artists. Crime writer Mark Billingham loves a good narrative. And particularly in pop songs. He raises a glass to Two Little Boys, Copacabana and Bohemian Rhapsody, as there's nothing better than a good yarn with a beginning, a middle and an end set to music. Producer Katie Langton.
29 minutes | Dec 8, 2011
Annie Lennox; Nick Park; The Ladykillers
With Kirsty Lang. Singer Annie Lennox reflects on a career which has seen her push boundaries in both music and fashion, as she releases an album of Christmas songs and sees her V&A exhibition, The House Of Annie Lennox, go on tour early next year. The Ladykillers, the classic Ealing comedy film, now arrives on stage in a new adaptation by Graham Linehan, with a cast including Peter Capaldi, Ben Miller and James Fleet. Writer Iain Sinclair reviews. Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park makes a foray into live action directing with a music video for the band Native and the Name. He explains why the song in question had such resonance and how he persuaded 50 members of the Aardman staff to donate their time to help. In the film Another Earth, a young woman's life is changed forever by the discovery of an identical Earth, moving ever closer to ours. Roger Luckhurst reviews this debut feature from screen-writer and actress Brit Marling. The musical 42nd Street features a young unknown chorus-line dancer who's forced to step into the starring role when the leading lady can't go on. This actually happened in the opening night of a new production in Leicester. Understudy Lucinda Lawrence reveals what it was like to "come back a star". Producer Rebecca Nicholson.
29 minutes | Dec 7, 2011
Vikram Seth; Carole King; Richard II
With Mark Lawson. Singer and songwriter Carole King enjoyed her first hit fifty years ago, and released her landmark album Tapestry four decades ago. She discusses her career so far and her first-ever seasonal album, A Christmas Carole, including a Chanukah Prayer recorded with her daughter and grandson. Eddie Redmayne takes the title role in a new staging of Shakespeare's Richard II, directed by Michael Grandage. Adam Mars-Jones gives his verdict. Don DeLillo, whose novels include the epic Underworld, talks about his new collection of short stories, The Angel Esmeralda, and reflects on his approach to writing and the depictions of time and history shown in his work. Two films out this week make visual references to other films from the same production team. Mark Eccleston discusses the art of inter-film referencing, undertaken by directors including Tim Burton and Stanley Kubrick. Producer Georgia Mann.
29 minutes | Dec 6, 2011
Amy Winehouse Review; Brian Sewell; New Year's Eve
With Mark Lawson. Amy Winehouse's posthumous album Lioness: Hidden Treasures was released yesterday and is already topping the midweek charts. Editor of NME magazine Krissi Murison gives her critical verdict on the disc, and considers the issues surrounding the release of recordings after an artist's death. The acerbic art reviewer Brian Sewell reflects on his experience as a student at the Courtauld Institute with Anthony Blunt, his life as a critic and 21st century attitudes to art. New Year's Eve is a seasonal romantic comedy, with an ensemble cast including Hilary Swank, Sarah Jessica Parker, Halle Berry and Robert De Niro. Jason Solomons reviews. Producer Ellie Bury.
29 minutes | Dec 6, 2011
John Cleese interview
With Mark Lawson. Writer and comedy performer John Cleese reflects on his career, including the rivalries between the Monty Python team, the creation of Fawlty Towers and the film A Fish Called Wanda. He also discusses breaking taboos, morality in comedy and the multi-million dollar divorce settlement which led to his recent show The Alimony Tour. Producer Claire Bartleet.
29 minutes | Dec 2, 2011
Robin Hood at the RSC, Tracy Chevalier and Joanna Trollope
The Heart of Robin Hood is the new family show at the RSC. But it's the Robin Hood story with a twist. The production is directed by Gisli Örn Gardarsson, who has a reputation for challenging staging. Andrew Dickson reviews. Novelists Joanna Trollope and Tracy Chevalier discuss how a selection of Tudor portraits of unknown people at the National Portrait Gallery in London inspired them to invent fictional biographies for the mystery portrait sitters. Professional double-bass player Andy Wood and percussion instrument maker Paul Jefferies discuss making music out of scrap, and perform with instruments including a boiler double bass and tea urn snare drum. The challenge, to be shown in a BBC4 documentary, was to build a Scrapheap Orchestra in 11 weeks and perform Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture at the 2011 Proms. And John Wilson concludes his reports on the Turner-Prize-shortlisted artists when he meets painter George Shaw, whose landscapes feature the area of Coventry where he grew up. Producer Jerome Weatherald.
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