Arts news and reviews.
In 1918, as millions of exhausted soldiers returned home from the Great War, a wave of fatal influenza struck the world, killing over 70 million people. BBC Four's timely new drama, Spanish Flu: The Forgotten Fallen tells the story of Dr James Niven, Manchester's Medical Officer of Health, and his heroic efforts to combat the second wave of Spanish flu as it spread across Manchester and the UK. Actor Bill Paterson (Dr James Niven) and director Justin Hardy discuss this forgotten pandemic.
Tim Lott speaks to John Wilson about his memoir, The Scent of Dried Roses, becoming a Penguin Modern Classic. The book is an exploration of his parents' lives, his mother's inexplicable suicide and his own periods of depression.
Jacques Mesrine was a handsome and charming - but utterly ruthless - French gangster. In the 1960s and 70s his series of audacious bank robberies, kidnappings, hold-ups and prison-breaks, committed whilst assuming multiple disguises and identities, won him the title of The Man With 1000 Faces. Thirty years after being killed in a hail of police bullets, his rise and fall has been turned into two films, starring Vincent Cassel and Gerard Depardieu. John Wilson and crime writer Denise Mina discuss the first of these films, which charts the violence of his early career, his flight to Canada and international notoriety.
Leonardo Da Vinci is chiefly renowned as an artist but he was also fascinated by science. His relationship with technology is explored in a new exhibition which consists of 40-50 full scale, half-scale and smaller interactive models of machines he invented for flight, engineering and motion. They have been created over ten years by a team of Italian artisans and historians, using Leonardo's own notebooks and utilising only materials and techniques known in Renaissance Italy. John Wilson and Renaissance expert Jerry Brotton discuss the exhibition, which includes a rare loan of one of Leonardo's original notebooks (known as a codex) and also a series of activities for visitors, such as a paper airplane competition.