Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Aquaman, Mike Bartlett
Two new films with comic book superheroes at the centre - Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and Aquaman - have just been released. Aquaman is DC’s follow-up to their hugely successful 2017 film Wonder Woman, while Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an animated superhero film which imagines Spidermen (and women) from alternative universes who team up. Critic Gavia Baker-Whitelaw has seen both and gives her verdict on which will come out on top in the battle for the box-office.
Mike Bartlett, Olivier Award-winning playwright whose work includes Love, Love, Love and King Charles III, and on television, crime drama The Town and Doctor Foster, returns to The Old Fire Station in Oxford where his very first play (co-authored) was produced when he was 18. His latest work, Snowflake, written especially for this theatre at Christmas, is a story of a father and his daughter estranged partly because of their differing views on leaving the EU.
Whilst snowflakes might be 'triggered' by the term snowflake - a pejorative term describing the real or imagined sensitivity of the younger generation - how is 'generation snowflake' being represented in the arts? Author and academic Tiffany Jenkins, pop culture journalist Holly Rose Swinyard and writer Ella Whelan discuss the so-called snowflake generation and what the cultural response to it reveals about both the term itself and the current state of the intergenerational relations.
Presenter Kirsty Lang
Producer Hilary Dunn
Mortal Engines, Tenancy, Ren Hang, Martin Jenkinson
Mortal Engines is a new sci-fi fantasy film co-written and produced by Peter Jackson, based on the first in a series of young adult steampunk novels by Philip Reeve. In a post-apocalyptic future, mobile cities on huge caterpillar tracks roam the landscape, consuming smaller towns for their resources. Starring Hera Hilmar as Hester Shaw, the film is the directorial debut of long-time Jackson collaborator Christian Rivers. Katie Popperwell reviews.
In a year when housing has risen up the political agenda, Richard Gregory, artistic director of Quarantine theatre company, and performance artist Grace Surman discuss Tenancy, part of a Manchester-led international project which explores the changing nature of cities by artists taking over a residential home for a year.
The work of the Chinese photographer Ren Hang found admirers worldwide and was championed by Ai Weiwei, though the Chinese authorities were less enamoured. Almost two years after his death at the age of 29 and with the first show of his work in the UK premiering at Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool, Laura Robertson, critical writer-in-residence at the gallery discusses Ren Hang’s significance.
When Martin Jenkinson was made redundant from the Sheffield steel industry in 1979, it was the start of a four decade-long career as a professional photographer whose first subject was his adopted city. His pictures of the 1984 – 85 miners’ strike were widely published in the national press. Years later they would catch the eye of Turner-prizewinning artist Jeremy Deller who worked with Jenkinson on his recreation of The Battle of Orgreave. Art critic Orla Foster reviews the new retrospective of Jenkinson’s photographs at Weston Park Museum in Sheffield.
Presenter: Samira Ahmed
Producer: Ekene Akalawu
Tamara Lawrance, The 1975's Matty Healy, Meet Vermeer
Tamara Lawrance stars in new BBC One drama The Long Song, an adaption of the Andrea Levy novel set on a sugar plantation during the final days of slavery in 19th century Jamaica. The actress talks about the drama as well as her career so far, which in the three years since leaving drama school has seen her play Viola in Twelfth Night at the National Theatre, Cordelia opposite Ian McKellen's Lear in Chichester and Prince Harry’s republican girlfriend in BBC One’s Charles III.
Meet Vermeer is a new initiative between The Hague's Mauritshuis gallery and Google Arts and Culture which brings together all 36 authenticated works of 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer in an augmented reality experience viewable via the Google Arts and Culture app on a smartphone. Art critic Estelle Lovatt reviews the virtual museum and chooses some of her favourite art apps.
Matty Healy, frontman for The 1975 discusses the band’s third album A Brief Enquiry into Online Relationships which looks at addiction, depression and social media. Matty, who is almost 30, explains why the band connects so strongly with their huge teenage fan base and why the album represents the millennial generation.
Presenter: John Wilson
Producer: Edwina Pitman
Springsteen on Broadway, Disfigured Villains, Beautiful Books for Christmas
As Bruce Springsteen nears the end of his 236-show run in New York, Kate Mossman reviews Springsteen on Broadway, the new Netflix film of his stage show based on his autobiography Born to Run, in which he looks back on his life and performs songs on acoustic guitar and piano.
From James Bond nemesis Blofeld to Scar from the Lion King – facial disfigurements have long been commonplace for cinematic villains. A new campaign by the charity Changing Faces and the BFI, I Am Not Your Villain, wants to end the use of “scars, burns or marks as shorthand for villainy”. Kirsty talks to Changing Faces CEO Becky Hewitt and film podcaster Mike Muncer.
Sarah Shaffi selects the most beautiful books to buy as presents this Christmas. In the age of streaming music and films, do books make better gifts?
And theatre critic Lyn Gardner discusses the difficult financial situation facing the Liverpool Everyman Theatre, which has announced the closure of its repertory theatre company.
Presenter: Kirsty Lang
Producer: Timothy Prosser
Jimmy McGovern, Tania Bruguera, Arts and insomnia
Screenwriter Jimmy McGovern talks about his new BBC One drama Care, starring Sheridan Smith, Alison Steadman and Sinead Keenan, which looks at the personal challenges of caring for a parent with dementia and the struggle to find good and affordable care.
Cuban performance artist Tania Bruguera talks to us from her home in Havana and explains why she is continuing to protest over Decree 349, a new law that will require artists to obtain a government licence, despite Bruguera being arrested twice this week by the authorities. BBC Correspondent in Havana, Will Grant, explains the context and implications of the new law.
How can the arts help people with insomnia? We speak to two artists making work to fall asleep to – Richard Talbot of band Marconi Union, who worked with a sound therapist to write the soporific track Weightless, and Phoebe Smith, Sleep Storyteller-in-Residence for the sleep app Calm.
Presenter John Wilson
Producer Edwina Pitman