Open main menu

Front Row is a radio programme on BBC Radio 4 that has been broadcast regularly since 1998. The BBC describes the programme as a "live magazine programme on the world of arts, literature, film, media and music".[1] It is broadcast each weekday between 7.15 pm and 7.45 pm, and has a podcast available for download. Shows usually include a mix of interviews, reviews, previews, discussions, reports and columns. Some episodes however, particularly on bank holidays, include a single interview with prominent figures in the arts or a half-hour-long feature on a single subject.

Front Row
Country of originUK
Home stationBBC Radio 4
Hosted bySamira Ahmed, John Wilson and Kirsty Lang
Original release1998 – present


Front Row has been broadcast since 1998. It developed out of BBC Radio 4's previous daily arts programme Kaleidoscope, which ran from 1973 to 1998. It is broadcast each weekday between 7.15 pm and 7.45 pm, and has a podcast available for download. Podcasts consisted of weekly highlights until September 2011, but have been full daily episodes since.

The programme's presenters include Samira Ahmed, John Wilson, Stig Abell and Kirsty Lang. Former presenters include Francine Stock[2] (1998–?) and Mark Lawson (1998–2014).[3][4][5]

In 2013, Tracey Emin presented, for a brief while, a series on the programme where people discussed their favourite piece of art work.[6][7] A total of 75 creative minds appeared on the programme and talked about their favourite piece of art work, which they all felt had particularly inspired them. This feature was called "Cultural Exchange" and for the first night of the feature (22 April 2013) Emin herself appeared on the programme and said that her favourite piece of art work would be a painting by Vermeer.[8] Other people on the Cultural Exchange have included Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, who selected The War Requiem by Benjamin Britten; Nicholas Hytner, Director General of the National Theatre, who chose Mozart's opera The Magic Flute; historian Antonia Fraser, who selected the painting The Fighting Temeraire by J. M. W. Turner; novelist Sarah Hall, who selected the film Blade Runner; the author Mark Haddon, who chose The Uffington White Horse; and pianist Stephen Hough, who selected a piece of music by Franz Schubert called "The Hurdy Gurdy Man".

The first writer to be interviewed on the programme was Beryl Bainbridge.

Front Row has also covered popular media topics, among them Buffy the Vampire Slayer covered by Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon in December 2013. From September 2017, the programme has begun to be broadcast on television, on Saturday nights on BBC Two.


  1. ^ "BBC Radio 4: Front Row". BBC. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Francine Stock: Break in transmission" The Guardian. Accessed 20 October 2016
  3. ^ "Mark Lawson to leave BBC Radio 4's Front Row amid claims of bullying" The Guardian. Accessed 20 October 2016
  4. ^ "Mark Lawson quits Radio 4 'Front Row' amid bullying furore" The Daily Telegraph. Accessed 20 October 2016
  5. ^ "Mark Lawson leaves Radio 4's Front Row following 'bullying allegations'" The Independent. Accessed 20 October 2016
  6. ^ "Tracey Emin launches Radio 4's major arts series Cultural Exchange" The Guardian. Accessed 20 October 2016
  7. ^ "Radio 4’s Front Row is brilliant, witty and eclectic. So why let Tracey Emin spoil it?" The Spectator. Accessed 20 October 2016
  8. ^ "Tracey Emin: Chooses Vermeer's Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid for Front Row's Cultural Exchange" BBC Radio 4. Accessed 20 October 2016

External linksEdit