Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

Radio 2 announces new arts initiatives in October

BBC Radio 2 is shining a light on the literary and arts worlds in October with a number of distinctive offerings for autumn.

Bob Shennan, Controller, Radio 2, comments: "Radio 2 listeners love the richness and range of our programming, and in October we've decided to celebrate all things cultural in both the daytime and evening schedules by making our biggest commitment ever to covering the arts."

This year's National Poetry Day on 7 October is marked by a week-long poetry season on The Jeremy Vine Show (weekdays, 12noon-2pm, 4-8 October).

Every day, Jeremy will host discussions, listen to readings and explore, with his listeners, the unique potential for poetry to touch and change lives.

Each day's programme focuses on a different theme and poetry's ability to move, excite or comfort us, whether we are experiencing intense joy, grief, heart-stopping or gut-wrenching turmoil or pleasure. Subjects to be covered include love, war, death, places and children.

Every lunchtime that week, a poem will be recited on air which means something special to one of the Radio 2 listeners, who will explain its particular appeal and relevance to them. Listeners will be invited to join the discussion on what makes poetry so special and powerful in today's busy, multi-media world. The programme will have two in-house poets, Mr Gee and Lucy Berry, who will write a poem to match the subject of the day during the show.

DJ, poet and presenter for BBC Radio 4's Sony award-nominated series Bespoken Word, Mr Gee uses his African and Caribbean roots and Hip Hop DJ background to craft his unique lyrical style.

Poet-in-residence for The Jeremy Vine Show, Lucy Berry writes vividly, passionately and sometimes angrily about the pressures and pleasures of modern life.

Both of their poems will also be uploaded at the end of the show onto the programme website, and listeners will also be invited to submit their poetry for publication online. Online activity will also include a specially-filmed masterclass in poetry writing by Mr Gee.

Jeremy says: "I had a poetry moment when I was at college. I suddenly realised I loved what I was reading – mainly Philip Larkin at that time. Nowadays TV and movies and the web have demolished attention spans and distracted us, but I think poetry is great for the internet age: it's short and pithy. So bring it on, Radio 2!"

Simon Mayo (Drivetime, weekdays 5.05–7pm) turns a new page to launch the Radio 2 Book Club. Simon will be taking an in-depth look at a whole range of fiction and non-fiction titles – with author interviews, incisive analysis and online interaction.

Simon announced to his weekly audience of 5.25m listeners that the first Radio 2 book of the month will be Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt. This will be featured on Monday 11 October where listeners can participate in an interactive forum and post their thoughts on the book in question. This will be archived so book-lovers can refer back to it at a later date.

Simon will put the views of his listeners to some of the world’s most celebrated authors, as he interviews them about their life and work, and their featured book. The range of titles will cater for all tastes, from blockbusting thrillers to fantasy or romance novels. At the end of the first on-air review Simon will announce the next new literary release, and repeat the process with a new book announced every fortnight.

Listeners can sign up to the club on theprogramme website.

Simon says: "The Radio 2 Book Club already sounds like the sort of idea that's been around for years. Of course it's brand-new but it's a perfect match.

"Books were an extremely important part of the 5 Live show I did for nine years and for all those who miss it still, the Radio 2 Book Club is what you've been waiting for."

The New Radio 2 Arts Show With Claudia Winkleman (Fridays, 10pm-12midnight) continues to go from strength to strength. New season highlights in October include the Illuminating York Festival, featuring a spectacular new son et lumiere; Denis Blais, director of the extraordinary Spaghetti Western Orchestra; ballet supremo Matthew Bourne; Paige O'Hara, the original voice of Belle in Disney classic Beauty and the Beast; and a preview of the UK's premier horror film festival, Grimm Up North.

Claudia says: "The joy of presenting The New Radio 2 Arts Show is that I can delve into a new play, discuss a new arts event, find out more about a photography exhibition or interview a movie star."


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