Best of the week's arts and culture news, covering books, art, film, architecture and more.
In this Culture Show special marking the 50th anniversary of Motown Records, actor and Motown fan Martin Freeman takes the trip of a lifetime. Visiting both Detroit and LA, he encounters the men and women, from the world famous to the unsung, who played a part in the massive success story that was Motown. In Detroit he meets, amongst others: Duke Fakir of the last surviving member of the Four Tops; Sylvia Moy, who wrote the lyrics for Stevie Wonder's Uptight; Motown producer Clay McMurray, who used to work in Quality Control for the label and pushed for the release of Stevie Wonder's My Cherie Amour; former DJ Scottie Regan whol played early Motown on white radio stations. Martha Reeves, lead singer of Martha and the Vandellas, now a Detroit councillor. Plus three of the original Funk Brothers, the backing musicians who were so key to the development of the Motown sound in the Sixties: guitarist Eddie Willis, bass player Bob Babbitt and drummer Uriel Jones. From Detroit, Martin travels to Los Angeles, following the same path that Motown itself took when the record label moved West in 1972. Here he meets more of the Motown stars: three of The Jackson 5 - Marlon, Tito and Jackie Jackson; Mary Wilson of The Supremes and Otis Williams of The Temptations. Songwriters Lamont Dozier and Brian and Eddie Holland talk to Martin about their string of hits for the label, including Where Did Our Love Go and Reach Out. With musical interludes throughout, this is the Motown story from a real fan's perspective.
Lauren Laverne and Mark Kermode are back with another packed, wide-ranging edition of the show. In the week that Danny Boyle's acclaimed and Oscar-tipped new movie Slumdog Millionaire is released, the Culture Show stages a unique screening of the film in front of a specially invited all-Indian audience. The film is set entirely in the slums of Mumbai and this is the first time the director has watched it with an Indian audience. After the screening, Danny Boyle takes to the stage to face the audience's verdict. We also look at the attempt in London - despite the biggest economic downturn in decades - to build Europe's tallest building. Work on The Shard, at London Bridge, has just begun. Tom Dyckhoff talks to architect Renzo Piano about his plans to reach for the sky Following the official closing ceremony of Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture, The Culture Show profiles one of the most successful community projects to come from the year's events. The Rightful Owners of the Song was a search for Liverpool's best pub singers, with the chance to sing with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra for the chosen performers. Composer Jonathan Raisin spent a year touring the bars and pubs of Liverpool looking for the city's best singing talent. We follow the winners from their initial pub perfomance to the on-stage finale with RLPO.
Lauren Laverne and the Culture Show team are in Liverpool to look back at the city's year as European Capital of Culture. The programme features highlights of the year plus a look at what the long-term legacy will be for the city. There is a special focus on how the buzz and investment has - or has not - really affected people and communities in the city. Highlights include Simon Rattle on his return to his home city with the Berlin Philharmonic, Paul McCartney's homecoming concert at Anfield in June, and actor Pete Postlethwaite and director Rupert Goold on their controversial King Lear at the Everyman Theatre. Film director Terence Davies talks to Mark Kermode about his bittersweet, personal portrait of Liverpool - Of Time and the City. Andrew Graham-Dixon looks at the Gustav Klimt exhibition at Tate Liverpool, and Tom Dyckhoff takes to the air in the Culture Show helicopter to look at the city's world-famous skyline. Tom also reviews the Le Corbusier exhibition in the crypt of Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral. There is also coverage of what for many was the event of the year - the gigantic robot spider. Built by French company Le Machine, the giant spider clings to buildings, attacks shoppers and creates arachnid, artistic mayhem. Projects that aimed to get communities involved in the year's events included searching for the best of Liverpool's pub singers and uniting them with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra for a unique performance at the Philharmonic Hall. Also, young people from 17 cities around the UK got together to explore their hometown's heritage and identity at Liverpool's St George's Hall for 'Portrait of a Nation', a huge event featuring art, performance and debate about what it means to be a young person in the UK.
This edition of The Culture Show focuses on three very different writers who have given a powerful voice to characters and stories. And Barack Obama's presidential inauguration is marked in a special way. In a rare interview, young journalist Roberto Saviano talks about his book Gomorrah, which exposes the inner workings of the Naples mafia. The book has now been made into an acclaimed film, tipped to win Oscars. Roberto Saviano is living in the shadow of a death sentence from the Camorra, which is aggrieved at being depicted as cruel, selfish and banal. There is also a special masterclass in creating cult TV from Ed Burns, the co-writer of The Wire - Barack Obama's favourite TV show. Burns's new series Generation Kill is a raw account of the war in Iraq as seen from the inside of an American tank. The Culture Show goes backstage with Armando Iannucci. The man behind Knowing me Knowing You and The Thick of It has now turned his satirical eye to writing Skin Deep, an opera about plastic surgery which opened in Leeds in January. We have all-areas access to last-minute rehearsals and the crucial first night. All that plus, as 20 January is the day Barack Obama is inaugurated, the Culture Show is at the epicentre of black America, 125th street in Harlem. We hear from the men and women who voted for the first time ever in November and who believe America now stands to be transformed.
The Culture Show comes from the Old Fruitmarket in the heart of Glasgow's Merchant City, one of the main venues in the city's Celtic Connections festival. It's one of the world's largest winter music festivals with 1,500 musicians from all round the globe performing in 300 concerts. Lauren Laverne looks at the growing appeal of a simpler, stripped-back approach to music in these new economic times. To mark the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns' birth, we've brought together some of Scotland's finest actors, led by Robert Carlyle and Siobhan Redmond, to perform Burns' most striking and rarely celebrated works. We profile the work of rising star theatre director Rupert Goold whose controversial and much criticised production of King Lear comes to the Young Vic on January 29th. Glasgow band Franz Ferdinand are due to release their much awaited third album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand this week. The Culture Show has been following the progress of the new work in the run up to its release. Nihal joins the group in their rehearsal room in Glasgow for some exclusive acoustic performances from the new album and we're backstage with the group as they perform some of the new material live at a gig in Manchester.
The Culture Show, presented by Lauren Laverne, broadcasts from the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts in Gateshead. The show looks at the future for the arts in the Northeast, a region which has put culture at the heart of its regeneration, and with the collapse of Northern Rock, was the first into this new economic climate. Art critic Alastair Sooke meets conceptual artist Yoko Ono at her new exhibition Between the Sky and My Head at the Baltic Centre. Lauren Laverne celebrates 30 years of Viz with creators Chris and Simon Donald. Plus, the writer of Gomorrah Roberto Saviano examines the portrayal of the mafia in films and television. One of his stated aims with Gomorrah was to reveal what 'grubby, hunted little lives' mafioso types live. Here, he discusses the impact of how films like Scarface, Goodfellas and The Godfather have shaped the mafia itself.
In December 2008, Alfred Brendel, one of the greatest classical pianists of our time, stopped performing for good. In a rare interview to mark the occasion, he talks to conductor Charles Hazlewood about his final concert and what he is going to do next. He talks about his parallel profession as a published poet, gives an exclusive reading of three of his poems and explains how his love of absurd films, art and cartoons has influenced his poetry and his life. The film contains a very special short extract of Brendel playing Mozart's Sonata in F Major recorded at his last ever recital.
Lauren Laverne and Mark Kermode present another mix of cultural highlights. Lauren meets Seattle band Fleet Foxes, who burst onto the music scene in 2008 with a debut album rich in soaring, baroque hymns and timeless harmonies. They topped album of the year polls and saw off competition from the likes of Radiohead and Elbow to win the first-ever Uncut Music Award. Lauren catches up with the group as they prepare for three sell-out dates at Camden's legendary Roundhouse venue, and they give an exclusive performance. Andrew Graham Dixon goes behind the Iron Curtain at Tate Modern's exhibition of Russian constructivist art, featuring the work of Aleksandr Rodchenko and Liubov Popova. Andrew reveals how constructivism has long outlived Russian communism on album covers and magazines. Also on the show, the original punk poet John Cooper Clarke. His acerbic, witty observations on life in post-war northern England inspire bands like the Arctic Monkeys and Reverend and the Makers, but why was his fame so short-lived? As he turns 60 we speak to him about a life on the literary edge.
Special edition all about the life and work of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century - Pablo Picasso. Andrew Graham-Dixon is in Paris - the art capital of 20th-century Europe and the place where Picasso spent much of his life. Andrew tells Picasso's story from his early days in Montmartre, the artist's obsession with all things Modern and the invention of Cubism, through to Picasso's fascination with the Grand Masters of European painting. Picasso endlessly borrowed from, copied, satirised and re-vamped the paintings of the European masters including Delacroix, El Greco, Velazquez, Goya, Rembrandt, Degas and Manet. The programme includes contributions from Picasso's grandson Olivier and his biographer Pierre Daix. Sixty of Picasso's paintings will be on display at a major exhibition at the National Gallery in London. Picasso: Challenging the Past runs from February 25th until June and will show how Picasso's work was shaped and inspired by the Masters of European painting.
The final Culture Show of the current series comes from the Whitechapel Art Gallery in east London. It is presented by Lauren Laverne, Andrew Graham-Dixon and Mark Kermode. Find out what happens when a prominent figure in British politics meets his fictional nemesis. Alastair Campbell reviews Armando Iannucci's first feature film In the Loop, which features spin doctor Malcolm Tucker and his role in Britain's involvement in a controversial war. After a 13-million-pound restoration, the Whitechapel re-opens in April 2009. Andrew Graham-Dixon tells the story of the gallery that transformed the British art scene. He also reviews the opening exhibitions, including a new installation by Goshka Macuga, which features Picasso's Guernica tapestry on loan from the UN in New York. Mark Kermode has a rare interview with a cinematic one-off - the playwright, screenplay writer and now film director Charlie Kaufman. The writer of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has made his first film as director, Synecdoche New York, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Lauren Laverne has an equally rare interview with American singer-songwriter Will Oldham, who also goes by the name Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. His concerts sell out within minutes, and music critics call him a wayward genius and the finest songwriter to come out of America for years. Exclusively for the Culture Show, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy performs a stripped-down version of You Can't Hurt Me Now from his new album.
Andrew Graham-Dixon, Lauren Laverne and Mark Kermode present a special edition of The Culture Show devoted to the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. The hour-long special will showcase the best of the 2009 exhibition and look back to uncover the secret of its enduring appeal. Held every year since 1769, the Summer Exhibition is unique. Running from June 8 to August 16, it is the biggest open-submission contemporary art exhibition in the world, and the longest-running annual art event. The show displays a wide range of new work by both acclaimed and completely unknown artists in all media - including painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture and architecture. Andrew Graham-Dixon tracks the progress of four unknown artists who have submitted work for consideration this year. He loves their work, but will their pictures make it through the make-or-break judging process and into the final show? The Culture Show talks to some of the leading artists exhibiting this year. New Royal Academician Michael Landy - famous for having destroyed all of his possessions - talks about why he is now making portraits. The programme also follows two legends of the sixties art scene, painter John Hoyland and sculptor Allen Jones, as they prepare work for the exhibition; and video art sceptic Mark Kermode talks to Richard Wilson, who is curating the Summer Exhibition's first ever room dedicated to video art. There is also exclusive access to the judging of the Wollaston Award and the winner of the 25,000 pound prize is revealed. Previous winners include David Hockney, the Chapman brothers and Jeff Koons. Plus a spectacular performance by art lover Beth Ditto and band of the moment Gossip, playing to the crowds at the Summer Exhibition's glamorous preview party
Coverage of the literary awards, presented by Mishal Husain. Before the winner's name is revealed, there are profiles of the six books that made it to the judges' shortlist. They are: Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed Bad Science by Ben Goldacre The Lost City of Z by David Grann Leviathan by Phillip Hoare The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality by Manjit Kumar There is also discussion with the judging panel who had the task of compiling the shortlist and chosing a winner from the six finalists. The judges are Jacob Weisberg, one of America's leading political journalists and commentators; Dr Mark Lythgoe, neuroscientist and director of the Cheltenham Science Festival; Tim Marlow, writer, broadcaster, art historian and director of exhibitions at White Cube; Munira Mirza, director of policy, arts, culture and the creative industries at the Mayor of London's office; and Sarah Sands, deputy editor of the London Evening Standard. Mishal Husain will also interview the winning author who, as well as receiving a cheque for 20,000 pounds, will be joining writers such as Antony Beevor (for Stalingrad), Anna Funder (for Stasiland) and Kate Summerscale (for The Suspicions of Mr Whicher) on the prestigious list of winners of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize.
The Culture Show captures the best of the 2009 Manchester International Festival. This programme goes behind the scenes with artist Jeremy Deller, as he gets the festival off to a bang on Sunday July 5th. Famous for recreating the Battle of Orgreave and for fusing acid house with brass band culture, Deller has been at work for months on a massive procession down Deansgate. Thousands are expected to take part, in this one-off event combining art, music and protest politics. There’s also a rare TV interview with Ralf Hϋtter, founder member of reclusive German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk - and stars of a one-off concert at the Manchester Velodrome. Lauren Laverne talks to Guy Garvey. His band Elbow are working with the original Manchester band, the Halle Orchestra at the Bridgewater Hall. There's also a profile of the Young at Heart Choir. Made up of singers in their 70s and 80s, Young at Heart made its name with their unique take on songs by the Clash and James Brown. The Culture Show caught up with them rehearsing a brand new show for the Manchester Festival – End of the Road, based around iconic Manchester songs. Plus, Carlos Acosta prepares to perform new work at the festival, exploring the idea of the male muse in ballet. His programme includes work by Balanchine's classic Apollo and Robbins' A Suite of Dances. A panel of cultural critics discuss all these highlights from Manchester plus performance art from Marina Abramovic, and a new work by German artist Gustav Metzger
Miranda Sawyer presents from the Manchester International Festival. The show looks at the collaboration between award-winning film-maker Adam Curtis, theatre company Punchdrunk, and Damon Albarn. It Felt Like a Kiss tells the story of dark dreams and desires in 1960s America. The unique theatrical event unfolds over 5 floors of a deserted multi-storey office block and blends documentary footage with fairground ghost train horrors. Art critic Alastair Sooke puts himself through a four-hour live art experience curated by artist Marina Abramovic at the Whitworth Gallery. Zaha Hadid converts the Manchester Art Gallery into a new chamber music hall for the solo works of Bach, and there is a performance by violinist Alina Ibragimova. Rufus Wainwright talks about his first opera, Prima Donna - a collaboration with Opera North - which gets its world premiere on 10 July 2009; and a panel of cultural critics debate the highlights of this week’s Manchester festival offerings, including a special collaboration between Elbow and the Halle Orchestra. All that plus Film Club with Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo. With school term finishing for summer, Kermode and Mayo discuss school movies.
Tim Marlow presents from Albert Square in Manchester in the final week of the Manchester International Festival. Tim looks at the collaboration between Elbow and the Halle, the city's world-renowned symphony orchestra and its original cultural icon. Over two nights at the Bridgewater Hall, Elbow and the Halle are playing songs from across the band's career, curated in collaboration with Mancunian composer Joe Duddell. Tom Dyckhoff takes to a barge to tell the story of Manchester's distinctive look, and reviews Zaha Hadid's new chamber music hall installed in the Manchester Art Gallery. Conductor and music critic Jason Lai finds out how Bach's solo works sound in the new music hall, with a special performance by Alina Ibragimova on violin. In A Paean to Wilson, Vini Reilly of the Durutti Column pays a special tribute to Tony Wilson, whose Factory Records did so much to define Manchester in the 80s and 90s. A team of critics joins Tim Marlow to review the whole festival - 18 days of world premieres. There is also another session from Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Screening Room. The pair argue about the merits of music biopics, with the help of a live audience.
Lawrence Pollard presents from the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall, which features an unusual mix of literature, music and summer entertainment. As author of the Damned United, which tackles Brian Clough's time as manager of Leeds United, as well as the Red Riding Quartet, which was recently adapted for TV, David Peace is the writer of the moment. Because his work is inextricably connected to his roots and upbringing in Yorkshire, the Culture Show sent fellow author Denise Mina, who writes crime fiction set in her own home town of Glasgow, to Leeds for a tour of Peace's home turf and to talk about his dark inspirations. Miranda Sawyer, meanwhile, interviews the Dead Weather - Jack White of the White Stripes's latest collaboration with a select group of indie rock stars, including Alison Mosshart of the Kills and Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age. Jack talks about stepping away from the mic to become the drummer of the new group. There is also an exclusive performance of Treat Me Like Your Mother, a track from the band's new album Horehound. Andrew Graham Dixon is at Tate Modern, which this summer celebrates the centenary of the writing of one of the founding texts of modern art, the Futurist Manifesto by Filippo Marinetti. Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo are in front of an audience once again to debate the merits of specific movie genres in their Screening Room. This time it is the turn of rock docs. Movies such as Gimme Shelter, Rattle And Hum and Anvil are given the Mayo and Kermode once-over. Plus, there is a tour of the Port Eliot Festival site and discussion with some of the country's most successful authors who are taking part in the event.