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Diverse casting in historical dramas, Roots returns, Beyonce's pregnancy portrait, John Burnside

Arts news, interviews and reviews. Front Row addresses the issue of diverse casting in TV, film and theatre. Ekow Eshun discusses the remake of Roots, 40 years on.

Chichester Festival Theatre's production of Half a Sixpence has been criticised for casting all-white actors. Julian Fellowes wrote the book and addresses this on tonight's Front Row. Then to discuss the issue of diverse casting in historical drama, Samira is joined by Talawa Theatre Company producer, Gail Babb, and writer and critic Ekow Eshun.

It's nearly 40 years since the TV mini-series Roots shook America with its portrayal of slavery and the brutal civil war. Now a new series has been made. Writer and critic Ekow Eshun explores whether this version can have the same impact on audiences today.

The picture that Beyoncé released announcing that she's pregnant with twins has become an internet sensation. As the numbers of views and likes continues to rise, art critic Laura Freeman discusses the long history of images that Beyoncé's photograph draws upon.

John Burnside is a prolific award-winning poet and novelist. As his new novel, Ashland & Vine, and new collection of poems, Still Life with Feeding Snake, are published, he talks to Samira Ahmed about these stories, and his different approaches to telling them.

Available now

30 minutes


  • Diversity in Casting

    Duration: 11:01

  • Roots

    Duration: 05:07

  • Beyonce Picture

    Duration: 04:31

  • John Burnside

    Duration: 07:19


Roots begins on BBC Four on Weds 8 Feb at 9 pm 

Main image: Julian Fellowes 
Photo credit: Getty Images

John Burnside

John Burnside
John Burnside
Photo credit: Fricke

John Burnside's novel, Ashland And Vine, and poetry collection, Still Life With Feeding Snake, are out now.


Role Contributor
Presenter Samira Ahmed
Interviewed Guest Julian Fellowes
Interviewed Guest Gail Babb
Interviewed Guest Ekow Eshun
Interviewed Guest Laura Freeman
Interviewed Guest John Burnside
Producer Rebecca Armstrong



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