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Front Row

13/10/2009

Award-winning actor Mark Rylance on Endgame and The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus reviewed.

Arts news and reviews with Mark Lawson, who reviews Terry Gilliam's film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which features the late Heath Ledger.

Arts news and reviews with Mark Lawson.

The existence of Terry Gilliam's latest film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, was threatened when one of its stars, Heath Ledger, died before filming was completed. Jude Law, Colin Farrell and Johnny Depp stepped in to help finish the project. Critic Sarah Crompton assesses the result.

Mark Lawson speaks to Olivier and Tony Award-winning actor Mark Rylance on his taking over the role of Hamm in Complicite's forthcoming London revival of Samuel Beckett's Endgame, after Richard Briers and Adrian Scarborough both pulled out of the theatre production's original cast. Rylance discusses the characters he plays in Endgame and the Jez Butterworth play Jerusalem, which will be transferring to the West End in the New Year.

Publishers called October 1 Super Thursday because so many books came out on that day. The national art collections are all opening their autumn shows and theatre critics have been kept busy with a raft of first nights. Front Row investigates why so many arts events seem to happen at the same time, talking to Lorraine Heggessey, CEO at Talkback Thames TV, Joanna Mackle from the British Museum, associate editor of the Bookseller magazine Benedicte Page, theatre critic Matt Wolf and theatre producer Nica Burns.

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19/03/2010

Vadim Jean on his film about two men's 37 years in solitary confinement.

Arts news and reviews with Kirsty Lang. Vadim Jean on his film about two men's 37 years in solitary confinement, and Julian Joseph tries his hand at a 'fluid piano'.

In the Land of the Free is a new documentary film which examines the story of three inmates of Angola Prison, Louisiana. One has now been released, and the remaining two are in their 38th year of solitary confinement for a crime the film claims they didn't commit. Director Vadim Jean and the released prisoner Robert King discuss the case of the 'Angola 3'.

The director Rupert Goold made his name directing Patrick Stewart in Macbeth and is the director of Enron and Oliver!, both currently running in London's West End. Now he is making his RSC debut with a production of Romeo and Juliet. Sarah Churchwell reviews.

The Fluid Piano is an acoustic piano that can be tuned, even while it is being played, to use all sorts of musical intervals that have not been possible on the normal piano for the last 250 years. Jazz pianist and composer Julian Joseph tries out this new instrument and meets its inventor Geoff Smith.

The rise of the celebrity writer - and authors becoming celebrities in their own right - mean book signings can attract thousands of people. Booksellers now have to handle paparazzi, crowd control and diva demands. Front Row goes behind the scenes at book signings with Sharon Osbourne and Jacqueline Wilson.

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05/08/2010

Kirsty Lang reviews Earthquakes in London at the National Theatre.

Kirsty Lang reports on Earthquakes in London at the National Theatre, directed by Rupert Goold and performed by Headlong Theatre, creators of the smash hit play Enron.

Kirsty Lang reports on the opening night of Earthquakes in London, directed by Rupert Goold and performed by Headlong Theatre, the team who created the hit play Enron. Bill Paterson stars as brilliant scientist predicting global catastrophe.

Singer Marc Almond and soap star Jean Alexander on their relationship with Southport, in the third of this week's reports on the cultural regeneration of British seaside towns.

The 18 year-old Iraqi pianist Zuhal Sultan talks about the youth orchestra she has founded and this year's concert taking place in Northern Iraq this Sunday.

Jennifer Coolidge is best known for her roles in films such as Legally Blonde, Best In Show and as Stifler's Mom, the original cougar, in American Pie. Tonight the actress is swapping the safety of the screen for the stage to make her Edinburgh debut with her stand up show: Yours for the Night.

As Hip hop star Wyclef Jean announces his intention to stand for president of his home country Haiti, news reporter Robin Denselow reflects on the pop musicians who have become political leaders in countries all over the world.

Producer Philippa Ritchie.

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Suede and Let Me In

Brett Anderson and Mat Osman from the re-formed band Suede; Let Me In reviewed.

With John Wilson, including an interview with Brett Anderson and Mat Osman from the re-formed band Suede.

With John Wilson, including an interview with Brett Anderson and Mat Osman from the re-formed band Suede as they release an album of their remastered hits.

Antonia Quirke reviews the Hammer Films remake of the acclaimed Swedish vampire movie Let the Right One In.

Historian Tom Holland reviews a new British Museum exhibition which explores ancient Egyptian beliefs about life after death through displays of rare and fragile papyri.

Architectural historian Gavin Stamp has written a book lamenting the destruction of many Victorian buildings; architectural writer Owen Hatherley's new book questions the reality behind claims made about recent urban regeneration schemes. They discuss the state of urban architecture today - and asks how the recession will affect cities' development plans.

Producer Jack Soper.

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Dawn French, Cleo Laine, Any Human Heart reviewed

Mark Lawson talks to Dawn French about her first novel, and to jazz singer Cleo Laine.

Mark Lawson talks to Dawn French about marriage and writing and to jazz singer Cleo Laine and watches Jim Broadbent in a TV version of William Boyd's novel Any Human Heart.

Dawn French discusses her new novel, A Tiny Bit Marvellous, which she finished writing during her separation from Lenny Henry.

Cleo Laine talks about performing following the death of her husband John Dankworth. She appears with her son and daughter at the London Jazz Festival on November 16th.

William Boyd's novel Any Human Heart has been dramatised for television starring Jim Broadbent and Matthew McFadyen as a man whose life spans most of the twentieth century and includes encounters with the Duchess of Windsor, Ernest Hemingway and Ian Fleming.

Peter Kemp reviews.

Producer Robyn Read.

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Jake or Dinos Chapman - A Show of Work Done Separately

Mark Lawson reports on new works by the often controversial artists Jake and Dinos Chapman

With Mark Lawson, who reports on new works by Jake and Dinos Chapman, and reviews two TV programmes and a new novel which all focus on the current pressures on teachers and pupils.

Jake and Dinos Chapman enjoy unsettling viewers of their work. Their latest exhibition, Jake or Dinos Chapman, features art they have created individually, with no revelation of who made which work. Nazi and religious imagery are prominent, along with familiar themes from their earlier work. Critic Matthew Collings reviews.

Mr Benn creator David McKee celebrates the 40th anniversary of his bowler-hatted children's character, whose identity changed - into cowboy, red knight or astronaut - as he exited the dressing room of a costume shop into a different world of adventure in every episode.

Actress Miranda Raison reflects on her career so far, which includes the title role in Howard Brenton's play Anne Boleyn, and the part of an MI5 operative in the long-running TV thriller Spooks.

Two new TV programmes and a novel all focus on the pressures facing teachers and children, and the bad behaviour that can result - and not only from the pupils. Classroom Secrets is a documentary filmed in a Leicestershire primary school, Double Lesson is a monologue delivered by a history teacher (played by Phil Davis) who attacked a pupil, and Francis Gilbert's novel The Last Day of Term is set in an inner-city school. Free school pioneer Toby Young and Judy Friedberg of The Guardian deliver their verdicts.

Producer Nicki Paxman.

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Romola Garai, David Schwimmer's film Trust

Mark Lawson meets Romola Garai and reviews David Schwimmer's film Trust about web stalking

Mark Lawson talks to Romola Garai about acting on stage at the Royal Court and on TV in '50s newsroom drama The Hour and reviews David Schwimmer's film Trust about a web stalker.

With Mark Lawson.

AN Wilson reviews a pair of exhibitions focused on religious works of art: Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces Before 1500 is at the National Gallery and Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe is at the British Museum.

Mark talks to Romola Garai, whose film and TV work has included adaptations of The Crimson Petal and the White, Emma, Atonement, Vanity Fair and I Capture the Castle. She discusses acting on stage at the Royal Court in a play about sex and on TV in '50s newsroom drama The Hour.

David Schwimmer's film Trust follows the repercussions of an online stalker targeting a teenage girl. Clive Owen and Catherine Keener play the parents. Matt Thorne reviews.

More than 30 years after its heyday, the Rubik's cube is still popping up in current culture - in films, plays, music videos and art. Mark talks to Canadian artist, Josh Chalom, who's re-creating the entire Sistine Chapel ceiling using Rubik's cubes, and considers some of the cube's other contemporary cameo appearances.

Producer Rebecca Nicholson.

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Anna Maxwell Martin; Sondheim's Road Show

The UK premiere of Stephen Sondheim's Road Show and actress Anna Maxwell Martin.

Mark Lawson reviews the European premiere of Stephen Sondheim's musical Road Show and meets actress Anna Maxwell Martin.

With Mark Lawson.

Stephen Sondheim's musical Road Show received its European premiere last night. Sarah Crompton reviews the the production, a tale of two early 20th century fortune seekers, and their schemes to get rich.

Actress Anna Maxwell Martin has been in several dramatisations of novels - from the stage adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, to the BBC's Bleak House, South Riding and Channel 4's Poppy Shakespeare. She's now starring in a TV version of Sarah Waters' tale of gay love in wartime London, The Night Watch. She explains why she generally prefers to ignore the original book when preparing for a role, and why nude scenes don't bother her.

Robert Hughes made his name with a polemic about modern art in the 1980 TV series and book The Shock of the New. Since then he has written about Barcelona, the transport of convicts to Australia and now, in his 70s, he's published a history of the city of Rome and its cultural life going back to its foundation. Mark interviews him in his home in New York.

Beached, a new community opera created by Lee Hall and Harvey Brough, will go ahead next week, after changes to its libretto. Earlier this week, as reported on Front Row, the show was cancelled, after a primary school pulled out of the project. Harvey Brough tells Mark how the creative team and the community achieved a resolution.

Producer Jack Soper.

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30/01/2009

John Wilson reports from Iran on a British bid to borrow artefacts for an exhibition.

Arts news and reviews. John Wilson reports from Iran as British Museum director Neil MacGregor visits the country to negotiate loans for a major exhibition.

Presented by John Wilson.

John reports from Esfahan, the former capital of Iran, as British Museum director Neil MacGregor negotiates the loan of treasures for the exhibition Shah 'Abbas: The Remaking Of Iran.

Following on from his exhibition of works from China, Charles Saatchi latest collection is of contemporary art works from the Middle East. Rebecca Wilson of the Saatchi Gallery and Iranian artist Tala Madani reflect on the themes and issues featured in the work of over 20 artists from across the region.

Documentary maker Norma Percy talks about Iran and the West in three hour-long films for television, marking the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini. Programme One looks at the first decade after the revolution. Programme Two examines terrorism, including the Hezbollah kidnappings of westerners in the 1980s. Programme Three looks at the modern day relationship between the US and Iran and the nuclear negotiation struggles.

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18/02/2009

With John Wilson. Singer-songwriter Morrissey discusses his new album, Years of Refusal

Arts news and reviews with John Wilson. British singer-songwriter Morrissey, as his 50th birthday approaches, discusses his new album, Years of Refusal.

Presented by John Wilson.

British singer-songwriter Morrissey, as his 50th birthday approaches, discusses his new album, Years of Refusal, reflects on his life and his early years growing up in Manchester's Moss Side. He also discusses his writing partnership with Johnny Marr, whether The Smiths are ever likely to re-form and how it feels to be still performing as he approaches his half century.

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15/06/2009

With John Wilson. Plus: 80s food, a review of the film Telstar. The Parthenon Marbles.

Arts news and reviews. With Sue Perkins and Giles Coren on culinary surprises from the past, the latest research on the Parthenon Marbles and David Hepworth's verdict on Telstar.

Arts news and reviews.

Comedian Sue Perkins and food critic Giles Coren are returning for a new series of Supersizers, the programme which sees the twosome trying out the culinary offerings of the past. John Wilson talks to them about everything from 1980s pop tarts to the Roman delicacy of pig's uterus.

New scientific research has proven, for the first time, that the statues and friezes of the Parthenon were painted in a variety of colours, rather than left as pristine white marble. John Wilson is shown how infrared light has helped reveal tiny traces of pigment on the British Museum's Parthenon Marbles, which were controversially removed by the Earl of Elgin two centuries ago.

Telstar is Nick Moran's feature film directorial debut and tells the story of maverick 1960s record producer Joe Meek, who enjoyed huge success with Telstar (the biggest selling record of its time) and whose life later descended into tragedy through drug addiction and mental illness. Music journalist David Hepworth reviews the film.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow has been nominated for the 'Museum of the Year' award by the Art Fund Prize for the second time. John Wilson reports from The Centre Of New Enlightenment (TCONE), an interactive programme in which children are sent on a series of missions around the museum, collecting data and responding to artefacts.

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05/06/2009

Rory Bremner discusses satire. Author Melvin Burgess on his latest novel for young adults.

Rory Bremner discusses satire and politics today; Melvin Burgess talks about his latest controversial novel and looking at a Venezuelan music scheme transplanted to the UK.

Arts news and reviews.

A new documentary on TS Eliot promises fresh insights into the poet's life and work, after his second wife Valerie granted the filmmakers access for the first time to her personal archives. Poet Peter Porter discusses whether this new access really offers a more revealing take on the man and his work.

The impressionist and satirist Rory Bremner is returning with a new series of Bremner, Bird and Fortune. After the recent events in politics, he is unlikely to be short of material. Rory Bremner discusses the ebb and flow of subjects ripe for satire.

John Wilson reports from two schemes in the UK - Big Noise in Scotland and In Harmony in England - which give children in deprived areas the chance to learn a musical instrument and be part of an orchestra. The schemes are modeled on the hugely successful El Sistema project from Venezuela, which in the past 34 years has rescued thousands of children from extreme poverty and, under conductor Gustavo Dudamel, produced the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra.

Author Melvin Burgess is well known for his controversial novels for young adults, including Junk and Doing It, which feature drug taking and underage sex. His latest novel, Nicholas Dane, is no exception: a modern-day take on Dickens' Oliver Twist which exposes the brutal sexual abuse that took place in some children's care homes in the UK in the 1980s. He discusses what he learned from Dickens and why he felt the story had to be told.

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01/06/2009

Arts news and reviews with Mark Lawson. With Fugitive Pieces author Anne Michaels.

Arts news and reviews with Mark Lawson. With the verdict on the fourth Terminator film, starring Christian Bale, and talking to Anne Michaels, author of Fugitive Pieces.

Critic Matt Thorne reviews Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation, the fourth film in the sci-fi humans versus cyborgs franchise.

Poet and editor Alan Jenkins has collected the published and unpublished poems of Ian Hamilton, the founder of The Review magazine and presenter of BBC book series Bookmark from 1984 to 1987. Former Arts minister Grey Gowrie has edited a selected edition of poems by Stephen Spender, the poet friend of WH Auden and Christopher Isherwood who took part in the Spanish Civil War. They discuss their approach to editing these poetry books.

On the day Danny La Rue's death is announced, comedian Barry Cryer remembers the cross-dressing cabaret star.

Anne Michaels' 1997 debut novel Fugitive Pieces won the Orange Prize and has been translated into more than 20 languages. The film version, starring Stephen Dillane as a man orphaned in the Nazi occupation of Poland, is on release in cinemas around the country just as her second novel, The Winter Vault, is published. Anne Michaels talks to Mark Lawson about the 12-year gap between her two novels, and why she prefers not to talk about herself.

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08/06/2009

TV and the Royal Family; singer Kiki Dee; David Edgar on How Plays Work. With Mark Lawson.

Arts news and reviews with Mark Lawson. Discussing TV's role in the portrayal of the Royal Family; David Edgar examines theatre's role in multiculturalism; plus singer Kiki Dee.

In 1969 the BBC and ITV co-produced a documentary on the Royal Family which changed the way the Royals were viewed forever. Eddie Mirzoeff, director of the 1992 documentary Elizabeth R, writer AN Wilson and Ingrid Seward, author of eight books on the Royal Family, have watched the film again and discuss the role it played in changing our attitudes to the Royals.

The singer-songwriter Kiki Dee's biggest hit in her 40-year career was her 1976 duet with Elton John, Don't Go Breaking My Heart. She was also the first white British artist to be signed by Tamla Motown. Kiki Dee looks back to the early days of her career and discusses her new greatest hits CD.

Twenty years ago David Edgar founded Britain's first graduate playwriting course at Birmingham University. The course employed a form of creative writing teaching which has since become tremendously popular. David joins Mark Lawson to discuss the good, and bad, effects for playwriting - and what responsibility he feels as a result.

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06/04/2010

The verdict on Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, and former Cream bassist Jack Bruce.

Cream bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce looks back on a diverse career, and the verdict on Drew Barrymore's directorial debut Whip It.

Drew Barrymore's directorial debut Whip It tells the story of a young girl bored of small-town Texas life who finds new hope through a roller skating derby. Antonia Quirke reviews the film.

Cream bassist Jack Bruce is famed for his musical virtuosity and legendary fall outs with drummer Ginger Baker. Jack talks to John Wilson in the light of a new biography, which touches on the highs and lows of a very diverse musical career.

Director Trevor Nunn pays tribute to the actor Corin Redgrave, whose death was announced today. There's also another chance to hear part of a Front Row interview recorded when Corin Redgrave played King Lear at Stratford in 2004, in which he reflects on his theatrical upbringing.

Filmmaker Michael Whyte discusses his observational documentary No Greater Love which looks into the closed world of the Most Holy Trinity convent in Notting Hill.

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05/04/2010

John Wilson visits historic houses, including Chatsworth in Derbyshire.

Arts news and reviews. John Wilson visits historic houses, including Chatsworth in Derbyshire and Dumfries House, Ayrshire, to see how they meet the challenges of the 21st century.

John Wilson reports from historic houses, including Chatsworth in Derbyshire, Strawberry Hill in Twickenham and Dumfries House in Ayrshire, to see how they face up to the challenges of the 21st century.

After a 14 million pound refurbishment Chatsworth House has just reopened to the public and John is given a guided tour by the Duke of Devonshire.

Two years after Dumfries House was saved for the nation with the help of Prince Charles, John discovers whether the visitors have embraced its somewhat remote location.

And John dons his hard hat to visit Horace Walpole's Gothic fantasy castle Strawberry Hill, undergoing a multi-million pound restoration.

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Suzanne Vega and Orange Prize 2010

Suzanne Vega, RA Summer Exhibition, Rattigan's After the Dance, and Orange Prize announced

Mark Lawson talks to American singer Suzanne Vega, visits the 242nd Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, reviews Rattigan's After the Dance and reveals the 2010 Orange Prize winner.

American singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega emerged as a leading figure of the folk music revival of the early 1980s, and has sold seven million albums and received seven Grammy Award nominations since. As she tours the UK and releases the first of four new thematic albums, she discusses her career and inspirations and explains why she is the "mother of the MP3".

Benedict Cumberbatch stars in a major new National Theatre staging of Terence Rattigan's 1939 play After the Dance, set amidst the wealthy socialites of the 1920s. Peter Kemp reviews.

The winner of this year's Orange Prize, for fiction written by a woman, is announced by chairman of the judges Daisy Goodwin

The Royal Academy Annual Summer Exhibition, now in its 242nd year in London, is the world's largest open submission contemporary art exhibition and features work by both emerging and established artists, this year including Yinka Shonibare, Gillian Ayres and Tracey Emin. Mark Lawson meets coordinator Stephen Chambers.

Producer Nicki Paxman.

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13/08/2010

Philippa Gregory on her new historical novel about Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII.

John Wilson is joined by Philippa Gregory to discuss her new historical novel about Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII.

John Wilson is joined by writer Philippa Gregory to discuss her latest work of historical fiction, The Red Queen: politically driven, ambitious and conspiratorial, Margaret Beaufort was powered by a belief in her religious destiny to bring her son, Henry VII to the throne of England.

American composer and conductor Eric Whitacre talks about his virtual choir combining 185 voices in 12 countries which has become an internet phenomenon.

With every new horror film claiming to be the 'sickest film of all time' and with the upcoming release of The Human Centipede, Meat Grinder and Saw 3D, film critics Kim Newman and Tim Robey assess whether the horror genre has gone too far with the gore.

Also, Stephen Armstrong on the best stand-up routines so far at the Edinburgh Fringe and how comedians are coming to terms with a coalition government.

Producer Gavin Heard.

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Aaron Sorkin, Nobel Prize for Literature, Rory Kinnear.

With Mark Lawson, who meets Aaron Sorkin, creator of White House drama The West Wing.

With Mark Lawson, including an interview with Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing. Plus Rory Kinnear on playing Hamlet and news of the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature.

With Mark Lawson, including an interview with Aaron Sorkin, creator of White House drama The West Wing, who has scripted The Social Network, a film about the founders of Facebook.

After Tennant, Law and Simm, actor Rory Kinnear is the latest actor to take on the part of Hamlet. He discusses his leading role in the National Theatre's new production.

And we reflect on the announcement that this year's Nobel Prize for literature has been awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa.

Producer Jack Soper.

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Sir Michael Caine

Sir Michael Caine reflects on his Hollywood career, in the light of a new memoir.

In conversation with Mark Lawson, Sir Michael Caine reflects on his journey from south London to Hollywood, and a career which includes over 100 film roles and two Oscars.

In conversation with Mark Lawson, Sir Michael Caine discusses his journey from a working class childhood in south London to stardom in Hollywood, with over 100 film roles. He also reflects on how he has enjoyed an unexpected resurgence in his career, including an Oscar-winning performance in his late 60s, for the film The Cider House Rules.

He also looks back at some of his less successful career choices - and reveals that he plans to write a novel.

Producer Claire Bartleet.

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