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Front Row: Archive 2013
29 minutes | Jan 1, 2014
Binge TV Special
With Kirsty Lang. As more and more of us are bingeing on box-sets and stream programmes via our laptops, Kirsty asks whether we're witnessing the death of the cliff-hanger and water-cooler TV, as predicted by Kevin Spacey in this year's MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. Spacey was the star of The House Of Cards, the first series made by the subscription service Netflix and the first drama ever to be nominated for an Emmy that wasn't show on television. This year also saw the end of Breaking Bad, a word-of-mouth hit that was only available on-line or as a box-set in this country, and further evidence that we may be turning away from traditional television and watching programmes at our own leisure. Producer: Stephen Hughes.
29 minutes | Dec 31, 2013
Adil Ray, Helen Lederer, Jackie Clune and Mark Billingham compete in the Front Row Quiz
Mark Lawson turns Quizmaster to test the cultural knowledge of two teams in the Front Row Quiz of the Year. Singer and performer Jackie Clune and playwright Mark Ravenhill are led by writer and Booker judge Natalie Haynes. They are competing against actress and writer Helen Lederer and Citizen Khan creator and star Adil Ray, under the captaincy of crime writer Mark Billingham. Questions cover a wide range of the year's events, including Doctor Who's 50th birthday; best-selling autobiographies, with extracts disguised by actor in residence Ewan Bailey; and a mathematical puzzle based around the compositions of Wagner, Britten and Verdi. Producer Claire Bartleet.
29 minutes | Dec 30, 2013
New American Classics
With Mark Lawson. This year the shelf of great American authors unexpectedly lengthened when a novel called Stoner by John Williams, forgotten since its first appearance five decades ago, was republished to widespread acclaim. At the same time two neglected novels by Renata Adler received enthusiastic reviews when brought back into print after thirty years and two little known writers, 89 year old James Salter and 76 year old Edith Pearlman, were hailed as newly discovered geniuses. Salter, Pearlman and Adler reflect on literary resurrection and Julian Barnes and Ruth Rendell discuss the comeback of Stoner. Producer: Ellie Bury.
30 minutes | Dec 26, 2013
Front Row Special on Buffy the Vampire Slayer
With Naomi Alderman. The last episode of cult TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer was broadcast in Britain ten years ago. At the time, Naomi believed that the show would lead to the creation of a host of other strong and complex female leads - who would inspire young women in the same way Buffy had inspired her. So where are all the "daughters of Buffy"? Naomi explores Buffy's legacy with the help of Buffy's creator Joss Whedon, and with actor Anthony Head, writers Neil Gaiman and Rhianna Pratchett, TV executives Jane Root and Susanne Daniels, and mega-fans Blake Harrison and Bim Adewunmi. Producer: Rebecca Nicholson.
30 minutes | Dec 24, 2013
People of the Year 2013, part 2
In new interviews, Mark Lawson talks to the people who have had exceptional years in the world of arts, culture and entertainment in 2013, in the second of two special programmes. David Tennant talks about his roles in the two most highly anticipated television events of 2013 - the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special and the final episode of Broadchurch. He discusses which accent he decided on for his roles in The Escape Artist, the Politician's Husband and to play Shakespeare's Richard II on stage. Dame Helen Mirren, who won the Evening Standard Best Actress award for her role in The Audience, talks about playing Queen Elizabeth II for the second time. Olivia Colman remembers the night she won two Bafta Awards, for Accused and Twenty Twelve, and reveals her strategies for avoiding unwanted attention from the paparazzi. Stephen Frears talks about working with Judi Dench and Steve Coogan on his hit film Philomena and why he is drawn to make films about real people and events. Director Clio Barnard won critical acclaim for her second film The Selfish Giant, an adaptation of an Oscar Wilde fairy tale. She discusses taking The Selfish Giant to the Cannes Film Festival and explains why she will always work with children and animals. Producer: Olivia Skinner.
29 minutes | Dec 23, 2013
People of the Year 2013, part 1
With Mark Lawson, who in the first of two special programmes, talks to Front Row's People of the Year : our choice of the artists who have made headlines in the world of arts, culture and entertainment in 2013. Tonight's selection is : David Suchet - for his portrayal of the detective Poirot who appeared for the last time this year Zawe Ashton - star of Fresh Meat on Channel 4 Lucy Kirkwood - award winning playwright for "Chimerica" Hilary Mantel - winner of the Costa book of the year for "Bringing Up The Bodies" Marin Alsop - the first woman to conduct Last Night of the Proms Eleanor Catton - youngest winner of the Man Booker Prize The second programme is on Christmas Eve. Producers: Dymphna Flynn and Rebecca Armstrong.
29 minutes | Dec 20, 2013
Julie Andrews; All Is Lost; Michael Palin; protecting art during war
With Kirsty Lang. As Mary Poppins looks forward to its 50th birthday, and a film about the making of the movie, Saving Mr Banks, is tipped for Oscar success, Julie Andrews reflects on a career that has made her an icon for generations of children. She also discusses the emotional impact of no longer being able to sing, and reveals how she plans to entertain audiences on a 2014 tour. Presenter and Python Michael Palin talks to Kirsty about the life and work of painter Andrew Wyeth - the focus of his new television documentary - and explains why costume changes will be the hardest part of the Monty Python reunion tour. Robert Redford stars in All is Lost, a survival film about a man lost at sea, with almost no dialogue or supporting cast. Mark Eccleston delivers his verdict. George Clooney's forthcoming film, The Monuments Men, depicts a group of soldiers tasked with protecting art stolen by the Nazis during the Second World War. In light of this, Major Hugo Clarke of the International Blue Shield - an organisation promoting the protection of art and culture in war zones - John Curtis of the British Museum, and archaeologist Dr Lamia al-Gailani, discuss the importance of training the military to protect cultural heritage during conflict. Producer: Ellie Bury.
29 minutes | Dec 19, 2013
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, David Morrissey, Cities of Culture that weren't, Text on screen
With John Wilson. Ben Stiller directs and stars in the second screen adaptation of the 1939 short story by James Thurber, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Stiller plays a timid magazine photo manager who lives life vicariously through his daydreams, but when a negative goes missing, his real life takes an adventurous turn. Film critic Gaylene Gould reviews. Actor David Morrissey talks to John about filming on a train with Sheridan Smith for new two-part drama The 7.39, why The Walking Dead decides how long his beard should be, and narrating the audiobook of his namesake's autobiography. As Derry-Londonderry's year as City of Culture comes to an end, Front Row revisits the other cities that were shortlisted for the award. Chris Gribble who runs the Writers' Centre Norwich, Stuart Griffiths, Chief Executive of the Birmingham Hippodrome and Paul Billington, director of Culture and Environment for Sheffield, discuss the experience of being shortlisted, how their city's culture has fared this year, and how their cultural institutions are surviving the arts cuts that have made the headlines in 2013. Adam Smith reflects on the proliferation of text on the small and big screen - from text messages to 3D subtitles. Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
29 minutes | Dec 18, 2013
Coriolanus, Olivia Colman, Alex Ferguson's ghost writer, comedy DVDs
Mark Lawson reviews the new production of Coriolanus. Josie Rourke directs Shakespeare's tragedy of political manipulation and revenge, with Tom Hiddleston making his return to the Donmar Warehouse in London in the title role. Producer: Rebecca Armstrong.
29 minutes | Dec 17, 2013
Mark Gatiss, American Hustle reviewed, Albums of 2013
With Mark Lawson. Oscar contender American Hustle stars Christian Bale and Amy Adams as a pair of con artists who are forced to help the FBI in a huge sting operation, but things go awry when Bale's erstwhile wife, Jennifer Lawrence, gets involved. Critic Antonia Quirke delivers her verdict. It would be hard to miss Mark Gatiss' work over the course of the holiday period. On Christmas day, he makes his directorial debut with The Tractate Middoth and follows it with Ghost Writer, a documentary about M.R. James, who wrote the original story upon which his drama is based. Earlier in the day, there's a chance to catch up on his bio-pic about the beginnings of Dr Who, An Adventure In Space And Time. New Year's Day sees the start of a new series of Sherlock, which Gatiss co-created and takes a supporting role as Holmes' brother, Mycroft. Meanwhile, the actor-writer-director is appearing on stage in London in a new version of Coriolanus. 2013 has been an eventful year in music, bookended by surprise albums from David Bowie and Beyonce and featuring the rise of 17 year old New Zealander Lorde and a chart topping album from Rod Stewart, his first UK number 1 since 1976. For those who are dazzled by the choice, Gemma Cairney, Sara Mohr-Pietsch and Kate Mossman join Mark to give their recommendations for the pop, classical and alternative albums of the year. Producer: Dymphna Flynn.
30 minutes | Dec 16, 2013
Andrew Lloyd Webber; Christmas TV; Anchorman 2
With Mark Lawson. Ron Burgundy returns in Anchorman 2. Will Ferrell's hirsute newsreader and his crack team of reporters make it to the big-time as they bring their unique brand of newsgathering to New York city. Mishal Husain discusses whether this sequel to the cult comedy has stayed classy. Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest musical examines the life and death of society osteopath Stephen Ward, a key figure in the 1963 Profumo scandal, who later committed suicide. Lloyd Webber explains the crucial role Front Row played in the musical coming to fruition and discusses his frustration at the secrecy surrounding the events of Ward's trial. It's the battle of the costume dramas this Christmas. From the BBC it's Death Comes to Pemberley, adapted from PD James's follow-up to Pride and Prejudice. Six years after the marriage of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy, the couple are preparing for the annual ball at their magnificent Pemberley home, when the family's peace is shattered by a murder in the estate's woodlands. And from ITV, it's Downton Abbey where it's the summer season and as part of Rose's 'coming out' she is to be presented at Buckingham Palace. Rachel Cooke reviews both. Producer: Ellie Bury.
29 minutes | Dec 13, 2013
Martin Freeman; American Psycho; Crime books round-up
With Mark Lawson. Martin Freeman returns this week as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second film in Peter Jackson's trilogy. He talks to Mark about the physical difficulties of shooting scenes with Ian McKellen's towering Gandalf and how his commitment to the BBC's Sherlock almost cost him the role altogether. Bret Easton Ellis' cult novel American Psycho has been adapted as a new musical starring Matt Smith as Patrick Bateman, the successful Manhattan banker turned serial killer. Dreda Say Mitchell reviews. Mark investigates whether dividing large publishing houses into small imprints improves authors' chances of winning literary prizes. With Editor in Chief of Atlantic Books Ravi Mirchandani. Jeff Park, Front Row's Crime Fiction aficionado, joins Mark to reveal his Christmas round-up of crime books. Jeff's Top Six:- Samurai Summer, by Ake Edwardson The Ghost Riders Of Ordebec, by Fred Vargas Dead Lions, by Mick Herron The Siege, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte The Enigma Of China, by Qiu Xiaolong The Square Of Revenge, by Pieter Aspe Also recommended:- The Late Monsieur Gallet, by Georges Simenon The Good Suicides, by Antonio Hill The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) Rogue Male, by Geoffrey Household A Conspiracy Of Faith, by Jussi Adler-Olsen The Scent Of Death, by Andrew Taylor Death Of A Nightingale, by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis Producer: Timothy Prosser.
31 minutes | Dec 12, 2013
Victoria Wood, Neon Artwork, Sam Smith, Moonfleet
John Wilson is in Salford for the unveiling of this year's Front Row neon artwork. The artwork was established in 2011 to celebrate the presence of the BBC in the north and involves a cultural luminary supplying a word in their handwriting to be rendered in neon. The writer and comedian Victoria Wood is the guest artist for the 2013 artwork and joins John to switch it on. Singer-Songwriter Sam Smith is the winner of this year's Brits Critics' Choice award. He follows Adele, Florence & the Machine, Ellie Goulding, Jessie J, Emeli Sandé, and Tom Odell, who have also won the award in previous years. Earlier this year, Smith's collaboration with the much in demand record producer Naughty Boy led to the number one hit single La La La. Smith talks to John Wilson about what the award means to him and why he's looking forward to 2014. Moonfleet is a new television family drama starring Ray Winstone and Phil Daniels as members of a gang of smugglers. Adapted by Ashley Pharoah (Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes), from the John Meade Falkner novel, the story is set in a small Dorset village called Moonfleet and follows the gang in their attempt to find a lost diamond. The writer Flic Everett reviews. The Imperial War Museum North has just unveiled a World War I painting that hasn't been seen in public for almost a century. Ypres, 1915 was an Imperial War Museum commission for the museum's first home in Crystal Palace. Damaged by water, the huge painting by Gilbert Rogers - it's more than three metres high and 4 metres wide - remained in storage for decades. It's now been restored and put on view to mark the start of the museum's First World War centenary programme. John takes a look at the painting in the company of curator Jenny Wood. Producer: Ekene Akalawu.
29 minutes | Dec 11, 2013
Alan Bennett, Terry Pratchett, The Duck House, The Great Train Robbery
With Mark Lawson Alan Bennett gives his reaction as his drama The History Boys is named the nation's favourite play by the English Touring Theatre's 21st Anniversary poll. A forthcoming two-part television drama, starring Jim Broadbent and Luke Evans, is going to show both sides of the 1963 Great Train Robbery. Firstly from the point of view of the criminals and then of the police who tracked them down afterwards. Written by Chris Chibnall, creator of the hit TV series Broadchurch, the two dramas are timed for the 50th anniversary of the crime - a raid on a Royal Mail train that netted the then-record haul of £2.6m. Crime writer NJ Cooper reviews. Terry Pratchett's 40th Discworld novel brings the wonders of steam-power to Ankh-Morpork when enterprising young Dick Simnel builds a steam engine. It's 30 years since Terry Pratchett began writing about Discworld, and he talks to Mark about how the ideas for stories appear, what he does with these ideas if they aren't quite ready to be put into a book, and how he and his assistant Rob Wilkins have been teaching Terry's voice-activated software to recognise some of Discworld's more unlikely names. The Duck House is a new political satire focusing on the 2009 Expenses Scandal. Labour MP Robert Houston, played by Ben Miller, is planning to escape defeat in the next election by defecting to the Tory party when the scandal breaks. Houston must try to persuade the Tories he is squeaky-clean while trying to hide the duck house he put on expenses. Political journalist Andrew Rawnsley reviews. Produced by Ella-mai Robey.
31 minutes | Dec 10, 2013
Christmas singles; new Stieg Larsson story; Drawing the Line
With Mark Lawson. Front Row's annual Christmas Jukebox returns with music writers Rosie Swash and David Hepworth joining Mark to assess the various candidates in this year's festive single line-up, and advise on which are 2013's Christmas crackers. As a short story by Stieg Larsson is published for the first time, Mark talks to Larsson's friend John-Henri Holmberg, who has edited a collection of Swedish crime stories, A Darker Shade, which also features the first work of fiction by Larsson's partner Eva Gabrielsson to be published in English. Howard Brenton's latest work Drawing the Line at the Hampstead theatre is set on the Indian sub-continent during Partition in 1947. Kamila Shamsie reviews the play in which Cyril Radcliffe, with no knowledge of India or expertise in cartography, is set the daunting task of drawing the new border. Producer: Olivia Skinner.
29 minutes | Dec 9, 2013
Derren Brown; Eimear McBride; MJ Delaney
With Kirsty Lang Derren Brown's latest television show sees the illusionist attempt to teach a group of senior citizens how to steal a valuable painting from a gallery in broad daylight. Derren tells Kirsty why he chose to focus on an art theft, and also explains his reason for choosing senior citizens to pull it off. Metro Manila, a low-budget thriller set in the Philippines and shot entirely in the Austronesian language of Tagalog, was last night named British independent film of the year. Its director, Sean Ellis - who had to re-mortgage his home to fund the film - picked up the Best Director prize. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh reviews the film, and considers the extraordinary story behind it. Kirsty talks to MJ Delaney about her first feature film, Powder Room. Adapted from a play, When Girls Wee, it follows a group of young women during a night out clubbing. Set mostly in the ladies' room, Sam (Sheridan Smith) is down on her luck and thinks everyone's happier than she is, so she pretends to be something she isn't. MJ made her name as the director of Newport State Of Mind, a music video parody of a Jay-Z and Alicia Keys song, Empire State Of Mind, which went viral in 2010. Author Eimear McBride talks about her debut novel, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, which recently won the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize. The book is an experimental work - the story of an Irish girlhood told by an un-named narrator - and it was completed nine years ago, but Eimear struggled to find a publisher for it. She discusses trying to create a new sort of fiction - between the language of James Joyce and the silence of Samuel Beckett - and explains why she believes publishers should take more chances with challenging fiction. Producer: Rebecca Nicholson.
29 minutes | Dec 6, 2013
Lenny Henry on Nelson Mandela; Lesley Manville; Beauty and the Beast
With Kirsty Lang. Lenny Henry pays tribute to Nelson Mandela and discusses the role that musicians and comedians played in the movement to free him. Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz talk about their retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Fraser is one of the UK's best-known disabled performers and Muz is one of New York's most famous burlesque artists. They met whilst performing at a Freak show on Coney Island and their love story entwines with that of Beauty and the Beast. Lesley Manville discusses her acting career and her two new productions, Ghosts on stage and The Christmas Candle on film. Jason Solomons reviews Fill The Void, a new Israeli film about an arranged marriage. Producer: Stephen Hughes.
29 minutes | Dec 5, 2013
Kill Your Darlings, John Newman, Emil and the Detectives, Autobiographies
With John Wilson. Daniel Radcliffe's latest project is playing the young Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings. Based on a true story, the film follows a 17-year-old Ginsberg as he starts at Columbia University in 1944. A murder draws him together with Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs and leads to the birth of the Beat Generation. Writer and critic Michael Carlson gives his verdict. Writers Alex Clark and Danny Kelly discuss which of this year's best-selling autobiographies have the X-factor, judging the works of Morrissey, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jennifer Saunders by artistic impression, revelations, scores settled and sexual content. Singer John Newman first attracted attention for his vocal on Rudimental's hit single Feel the Love last year. He followed that success this year when both his debut single Love me Again and debut album Tribute topped the UK charts. He reveals where the raw emotion on his album comes from and discusses the challenge of writing a follow-up. This year's National Theatre Christmas show is an adaptation of Erich KÃstner's classic children's novel Emil and the Detectives. Detective novelist and critic Stephanie Merritt was at the first night and gives her response. Producer: Jerome Weatherald.
28 minutes | Dec 4, 2013
Jude Law in Henry V; Atiq Rahimi; Politicians and music; 28 Up South Africa
With Mark Lawson. Last night Jude Law took to the London stage as Henry V in Michael Grandage's final play in his current West End season. Law, who previously played Hamlet under Grandage's direction, performs a paired-down text in a simple stage setting. Rachel Cooke was at the first night last night and gives her response. As the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls prepares to play a 'short but difficult' Schumann piano piece at a charity event this weekend, music critic Norman Lebrecht considers other politicians who have stepped up to the mic for a musical performance. David Steel, Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Silvio Berlusconi are just a few who've performed in public, but is it always a good idea? Atiq Rahimi talks about his film, The Patience Stone, adapted from his award-winning novel of the same name. A powerful tale of one woman's resolve to break free from silence and oppression, he reveals the influence behind the story, and discusses the difficulties of turning his novels into films. The "...Up" series of documentaries, revisiting the same diverse group of children every 7 years began in Britain in 1964, with the original children reaching 56 in the most recent series. The format has also been adopted all over the world and tonight ITV broadcasts the most recent South African version, with the participants now aged 28. Gabriel Tate reviews the programme. Producer: Ellie Bury.
29 minutes | Dec 3, 2013
Nebraska; One-woman shows; John Pilger
Nebraska is the latest road movie from Alexander Payne, the director of oenophile comedy Sideways. In Nebraska, Bruce Dern plays an ageing father who takes a trip with his son across the mid-west to pick up a million-dollar prize. Critic Leslie Felperin delivers her verdict. Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday and Julie Andrews have all appeared on the London stage this year, in one-woman shows performed by Cush Jumbo, Nina Kristofferson and Sarah-Louise Young respectively. The three actresses reflect on the pitfalls of dedicating a show to a beloved performer, and how it feels to have a close friend of that performer make themselves known in the audience. Philomena director Stephen Frears reveals the part he played in one of this year's surprise hits in publishing, Love, Nina, a nanny's account of family life by Nina Stibbe. Investigative journalist John Pilger turns his gaze on his home country of Australia and the treatment of indigenous people, in his latest documentary Utopia. He tells Mark about the reception he is expecting down under. Producer: Stephen Hughes.
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