Witter ye not: New Mark Kermode & Ellen E Jones movie show heads revamped BBC Radio 4 arts coverage

BBC Radio 4 Screenshot hosts Mark Kermode and Ellen E Jones pose for the camera

BBC Radio 4 is revamping its arts coverage this autumn, announcing a trio of new shows that will cover music, movies, art and theatre.

Leading the way is Screenshot, a new film show co-hosted by Ellen E Jones and Mark Kermode.

The BBC is at pains to stress that Screenshot is not a rival to Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode’s weekly Witterings. We’re promised ‘an eclectic journey through the universe of the moving image, exploring the best of cinema and screen culture.’

With a remit that covers cinema and streaming, Screenshot ‘will guide listeners to some of the best films and shows available, and dig out hidden treasures, old and new.’

Kermode says the new project complements 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 …’”

The BBC is at pains to stress that Screenshot is not a rival to Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode’s weekly Witterings. It’s complementary, says Kermode…

Cerys Matthews and Jeffrey Boakye will co-host a new music programme, Add To Playlist, which will apparently explore music through ‘surprising connections’ between songs and artists. 

Finally, This Cultural Life, hosted by John Wilson, will comprise interviews from leading lights from around the arts world. In each 45-minute edition, 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. 

Existing magazine Front Row will also air from Monday to Thursday with an extended running time of 45 minutes, with two regular presenters, Samira Ahmed and Tom Sutcliffe. We’re told it will take a more regional view, although each Thursday, the programme will focus on reviews the key new arts openings, publications and events.

Mohit Bakaya, Controller Radio 4, said: “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.”

As part of these changes and as previously confirmed, Radio 4 is scrapping Saturday Review and The Film Programme. 

Add To Playlist will broadcast October to November, and Screenshot will follow December to January, both on Friday evenings at 7.15pm; they will continue to alternate during 2022. This Cultural Life will broadcast on Saturday evenings at 7.15pm, from October.

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