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Radio 4 increases airtime for the arts with new shows and an extended Front Row

Radio 4 is upping its arts coverage, to bring the best in cultural interview, discussion and criticism to our listeners, in a revamped offering.

A new film show, Screenshot, co-hosted by Ellen E Jones and Mark Kermode, will take listeners on a fresh journey through film and screen culture . A new music programme, Add To Playlist, co-hosted by Cerys Matthews and Jeffrey Boakye, will explore music through surprising connections between songs and artists. And This Cultural Life, hosted by John Wilson, will feature in-depth interviews with the most important arts practitioners working today – from new talent to global icons.

Also from this Autumn, Front Row will air from Monday to Thursday at an extended running time of 45 minutes (from 30 minutes) with two regular presenters, Samira Ahmed and Tom Sutcliffe. The reinvigorated magazine programme will feature more regional coverage showcasing what’s happening in arts and culture across the UK. Throughout the week there will be big name interviews and an exciting mix of guests from across the arts industry having lively discussions about the big arts stories and events of the week. Each Thursday, the programme will focus on review and criticism of the key new arts openings, publications and events.

Mohit Bakaya, Controller Radio 4, said “The Arts matter. At all times, but especially during periods of uncertainty and change, culture provides an important lens that helps deepen our understanding of the world around us. However, the way we are consuming and experiencing the arts and culture is evolving. I’d like our arts programming to be even more ambitious, and intellectually curious. The new film and music shows will explore our evolving relationship with these two important genres as a result of the changing digital landscape, and the wonderful opportunities for discovery, as well as making fascinating new connections between past and present. The expanded Front Row will keep listeners across the most important cultural activity in the UK.  There will be more space for coverage and review of contemporary film releases, especially, but also a more thorough exploration of the worlds of performance art, the visual arts and literature.  Finally, This Cultural Life will do for the Arts what the Life Scientific has done for science - giving us deep insights into what makes our leading creative minds tick.”


A new film programme co-hosted by Ellen E Jones and Mark Kermode.

Radio 4’s new film programme Screenshot looks at the kaleidoscopic world of the moving image; from cinema to streaming, across decades and genres alike. 

Co-hosted by Ellen E Jones and Mark Kermode, Screenshot will take Radio 4 listeners on an eclectic journey through the universe of the moving image, exploring the best of cinema and screen culture, wherever they encounter it.

Along with a wide range of guests, Ellen and Mark will share their knowledge and passions, making links across the ages, reflecting both the changing nature of contemporary viewing habits and the timeless art of screen storytelling. At a time when people can watch what they want, when they want, and how they want, Screenshot will help guide Radio 4 listeners to some of the best films and shows available, and to dig out hidden treasures, old and new.

Ellen E Jones, co-host of Screenshot, said "Screens are as everyday as the phone in your pocket, and yet screen stories retain this power to transport, transcend and unify. It’s a magical paradox which I love almost as much as I love talking about films and telly, so this Radio 4 project is a true joy. It’s as if I’ve walked out of a rainy night and into a fire-lit pub, where all my most erudite pals are gathered in animated conversation. Oh, and one of them just happens to be the legendary film critic, Mark Kermode!”

Mark Kermode, co-host of Screenshot, said "I’m thrilled to be working with the brilliant Ellen E Jones on this bold Radio 4 venture, which will perfectly complement Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review on 5Live. Rather than reviewing current releases, Ellen and I will be delving into the vaults to make unexpected links and discoveries from the history of film and TV. In the immortal words of Doc Brown from Back to the Future: ‘Where we’re going, we don’t need roads …’"


A new music programme co-hosted by Cerys Matthews and Jeffrey Boakye.

Music fans get a new show with Add To Playlist presented by broadcaster and singer songwriter Cerys Matthews and writer, teacher and broadcaster Jeffrey Boakye. Each week the presenters and guests will build a playlist track by track, connecting each track to the next with their own knowledge of musicology, music history and a touch of serendipity.

The series will tease out the connections between pieces of music as Cerys, Jeffrey and their guests surprise each other with their music choices and compete with each other to line up the next track, deepening our understanding of music we already know and discovering new pieces to enjoy. Songwriters, musicians, music writers and commentators will be on hand to unpack the rhythms, key signatures, and chord progressions that help the music tell its stories.

Cerys Matthews, co-host of Add To Playlist, said “I’m looking forward to launching Radio 4’s brand new music series with Jeffrey. It’s going to be an open armed celebration of music across genres and eras, we’ll journey amidst the backstories of these compositions , hearing how they came to be, and how they may interconnect . It’ll be  a voyage of discovery and I hope listeners will enjoy the ride, and maybe expand their own personal playlists too.” 

Jeffrey Boakye, co-host of Add To Playlist, said 'I’m absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this series, which I know is going to be incredibly special. Cerys and I both share such a deep love of music, and this is the perfect platform for us to bring this passion to BBC Radio 4 listeners. ‘Excited’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. I can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on.”


A series of in-depth conversations with artists hosted by John Wilson

This Cultural Life, hosted by John Wilson, will feature in-depth conversations with some of the world’s leading artists and creatives. The series will provide listeners with a deeper understanding of the lives and careers of our most celebrated artists from across theatre, visual arts, music, dance, film and more.

In each 45 minute edition, John Wilson talks to one leading cultural figure about their life, work, creative process, inspirations, and the emotional highs and lows of ‘this cultural life’. Selected episodes of This Cultural Life will be filmed and broadcast on BBC Four and BBC iPlayer.

John Wilson, host of This Cultural Life, said “Radio 4 has always been the proud home of arts programming on BBC radio, so I am delighted to be hosting This Cultural Life. For me, the extended interview has always been the most revealing and rewarding aspect of my radio work, and to be hosting a series dedicated to in-depth conversations with artists is a huge privilege. The new series will offer listeners a fantastic opportunity to gain unique and personal insights into the lives of some of the world’s leading creative people. I can’t wait to get started.”

As part of these changes and as previously confirmed, Radio 4 will no longer broadcast Saturday Review and The Film Programme. Across the new slate of arts programming there will be more review and criticism, including Front Row on Thursday evenings, and expanded film discussion and review of the latest releases on Front Row, as well as interviews with film makers and stars in new show This Cultural Life.

Add To Playlist will broadcast October to November, and Screenshot will broadcast December to January, both on Friday evenings at 7.15pm, and they will continue to alternate next year. This Cultural Life will broadcast on Saturday evenings at 7.15pm, beginning October.

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