AL Kennedy, Sam Sweeney performs live, lockdown listening habits
AL Kennedy won the Costa Prize 2007 for her novel Day. She talks about her new book of short stories, the aptly named We Are Attempting to Survive Our Time – a powerful collection about characters living on the edge, from a woman finally snapping at a white man's racist tirade at a zoo, to the host of a podcast revealing why she is haunted by the state of New Mexico.
Sam Sweeney, fiddle player in the trio Leveret and formerly of Bellowhead, has just released his second album, Unearth Repeat. It is, he says, is an un-concept album, where he simply plays the music he loves. He tells Samira what he means and plays a tune.
As our routines are changed beyond recognition, what happens to regular activities like listening to podcasts and radio? Initial statistics suggest that most podcast listening is down, while radio listening is up. Podcasters Caroline Crampton and Joseph Fink consider what this means for listeners and for the people who make audio.
Presenter: Samira Ahmed
Producer: Dymphna Flynn
Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant
Image: AL Kennedy
Credit: Geraint Lewis 2013
On the eve of the 250th anniversary of the birth of the great English poet William Wordsworth, Juliet Stevenson reads some of his most famous poems and Michael McGregor, Director of the Wordsworth Trust, explains why Wordsworth is particularly relevant today, at a time of crisis.
As Front Row begins a week of celebrating the joys of listening - to radio, podcasts, audiobooks, music and drama - radio critic Gillian Reynolds talks about the joys of entertainment for the ears.
Actor Kerry Shale discusses his radio drama, The Kubrick Test, which tells the true story of his encounter with one of cinema’s most influential figures. For many years, the great director’s methods were shrouded in mystery. So when, in 1987, a young actor gets an invitation to enter Kubrick’s hidden world, he leaps at it. And, of course, gets more than he bargained for. The Kubrick Test will be broadcast on Radio 4 on Wednesday at 2.15 pm.
Composer Nainita Desai is a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit, and is the International Film Music Critics Association Breakthrough Composer of 2020. She has scored many TV and film dramas as well as video games, and she discusses her score for For Sama, Waad al-Kateab’s Oscar-nominated film that won the BAFTA for Best Documentary this year.
Presenter: John Wilson
Producer: Simon Richardson
Miles Davis's Bitches Brew, Gaming, Cressida Cowell in the Culture Clinic
Miles Davis released his seminal album Bitches Brew 50 years ago this week. Saxophonist Soweto Kinch and Michael Carlson consider the impact of the double album, and discuss the recent documentary Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool.
What video games should we play while we’re self-isolating? Video games expert, journalist and broadcaster Jordan Erica Webber gives us her top picks and tips for first-time gamers. And as even the World Health Organisation recommends 'playing active video games' during lockdown, we look at the mental and physical health benefits of gaming.
This week The Front Row Culture Clinic is looking at how to keep children entertained and educated whilst under lockdown, with portrait painter Lorna May Wadsworth who is launching a painting competition for the under 12s - the winner will have their painting hung in a prestigious London gallery. Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell, who is reading a chapter of How To Train Your Dragon every day from her garden shed with Book Trust Home Time, considers how to keep house-bound kids happy and motivated.
As the Scottish Ensemble string orchestra celebrate their 50th anniversary this year, concert violinists Jonathan Morton and Clio Gould from the Ensemble perform two short inventions by Bach, live from their home.
Presenter Samira Ahmed
Producer Jerome Weatherald
Dua Lipa, Sara Collins, Edinburgh festivals cancelled, Molly O’Cathain
Dua Lipa shares the inspiration behind her new album Future Nostalgia, what it's been like releasing an album under quarantine.
As the Edinburgh Festivals are cancelled this year, Joyce McMillan of The Scotsman discusses what this means for theatre, comedy and the arts, and for the city itself.
Set and costume designer Molly O’Cathain, on lockdown at home with her parents in Dublin, has combined her love of art and skill as a production designer to recreate famous painting of couples using her parents as models. She tells John how she's been doing it.
Sara Collins won the 2019 Costa First Novel Award for The Confessions of Frannie Langton. In the latest in our J’Accuse series, she takes on what she sees as the segregation of publishing and the expectations on writers of colour to “tackle” the subject of race.
Presenter: John Wilson
Producer: Hannah Robins
The Dramatist James Graham
This edition of Front Row is devoted to one of the most exciting playwrights to emerge this century. James Graham is only 37 but has already become a foremost chronicler of modern Britain on stage and screen. He is known for taking on the big issues of the day – Brexit, privacy online, parliamentary democracy, fake news - whilst enabling his audience to see things from the points of view of those involved. In This House the whip's office, more than the chamber of the House of Commons, is where power plays. His controversial television play Brexit: The Uncivil War, set in the offices of the Vote Leave campaign, brought our attention to the critical role played by Dominic Cummings, now the Prime Minister’s chief adviser. At Easter ITV will broadcast his adaptation of his play – Quiz – about the coughing controversy and the major accused of cheating on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. It is about truth, fact and power - the power of television.
Graham's work in the theatre is often interactive: in Privacy audience members were asked to keep their phones on and information gathered from them became part of the drama. The final performance of The Vote, set in a polling station, was live-streamed from one as it closed on the night of the general election of 2015. In Quiz the audience became the trial jury. Graham talks about the importance of the live, communal aspect of theatre, and, too, how television can be an arena where millions can consider the complex challenges of our times.
In a wide ranging, richly illustrated interview James Graham tells Kirsty Lang about the crucial role of drama in explaining power and politics, in learning about how our society works, and the importance of being even-handed.
Presenter: Kirsty Lang
Producer: Julian May