Front Row row? Non-theatre regulars presenting flagship arts programme

In Features, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays by Emma ClarendonLeave a Comment

In an interview with the Radio Times, it was revealed that Giles Coren, Nikki Bedi and Amol Rajan will be the new presenting team for BBC Radio Four’s flagship arts programme Front Row. None of them are particularly knowledgeable about the world of theatre – should they have been picked? 

With comments such as talking about finding sitting in the theatre “too stressful” and wanting “easier access to the loo”  – it seems as though these three presenters are slightly apprehensive about covering theatre for the arts-related programme. It really begs the question – will they be able to review theatre objectively without finding issues with the theatre itself?

Giles Coren and Amol Rajan have both said it can be difficult to get to the theatre when they have to put their children to bed – completely acceptable when it comes to going to the theatre for pleasure, but this is certainly going to be an issue when it is for work instead.

Rajan, in fairness, did say that he loves visiting Shakespeare’s Globe and recently paid a visit to see Dreamgirls – so there is some definite interest in the theatre there, but could a lack of knowledge and understanding perhaps be a potential obstacle?

Meanwhile, from both Coren and Nikki Bedi there seems to be not just a lack of knowledge but a lack of enthusiasm for the art form. That’s fine if you aren’t going to be commenting on it for a living – but it’s disheartening for those of us who would love to cover it on a professional level.

I understand that, from my own trips to the theatre,  the seats can be limited in space and it would be nice to dream of easier access to the toilets – but these are effectively old and yes historic buildings that were built for different times, and unless someone is willing to knock them down and start all over again, there is very little that can be done about that. Personally, I love the beautiful interiors of theatres as well as seeing what is being performed in front of me and find these sorts of minor issues don’t affect my enjoyment of visiting the theatre at all – as regularly as I go.

The comment that I found most bizarre was from Bedi who can seemingly cope with sitting in the cinema for two and a half hours with no interval – but would like theatres to have more intervals. She also went on to say  “I like tight, fast-paced, creative theatre that moves away from tradition” – which is absolutely fine, but what happens if she is made to see a traditional production of a Shakespeare play?

In fairness, perhaps the three presenters just need to open their minds slightly to the joy in which theatre can bring – but they also need to make sure they make their judgement based on what they see and not their personal preference. It seems that their lack of visits to the theatre is slightly hindering their opinion of it as an art form. Perhaps they have simply had too many bad experiences at the theatre that has put them off – particularly theatre etiquette being the way it is – but now is the time for them to put their personal judgement aside for their profession.

Should they have been picked to present Front Row? Only time can properly tell and clearly the BBC feel as though they will be able to do a good job of it – I would love it if in particular Bedi and Coren’s opinions were to change but if they don’t, then the BBC might have a bit of a problem ahead…

 

Emma Clarendon on FacebookEmma Clarendon on InstagramEmma Clarendon on RssEmma Clarendon on Twitter
Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.
Read more...

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Emma Clarendon on FacebookEmma Clarendon on InstagramEmma Clarendon on RssEmma Clarendon on Twitter
Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.

Leave a Comment