Simon Armitage, Jamelia and Ian Hislop lead Radio 4 summer programming

·3 min read

Radio 4 has announced the Summer of Arts – with Simon Armitage, Jamelia and Ian Hislop heading up arts programmes on the network over the summer.

The Summer of Arts kicks off in July with Radio 4 presenting a broad range of arts programmes over the coming months.

Birmingham-born and raised singer Jamelia will begin the programming with Music Made in the Middle – an exploration of the history of the music made in her native West Midlands.

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Singer Jamelia will explore her Birmingham heritage through the musicians that have hailed from the West Midlands (Jacob King/PA)

Despite Birmingham and its surrounding areas being home to a range of musicians who have had a wide-ranging impact on the industry, including Duran Duran original Stephen Duffy and Electric Light Orchestra drummer Bev Bevan, the history of the area is far less familiar to most than that of UK cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and London.

In a two-part series, Jamelia, 41, will work to uncover the musical history of the West Midlands – looking back as far as the 18th century and also speaking to musicians working now, she asks whether there is a special Birmingham approach to making music.

Elsewhere in the line-up, English poet, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage marks the centenary of poet Philip Larkin, as he hosts Larkin Revisited, which will examine the power of Larkin’s poems.

From August 8 – across 10 15-minute programmes, and 10 Larkin poems – Armitage, 59, unpicks both the poetry and the riddle of the man behind them.

Also in August on Radio 4, In Suburbia, presented by Ian Hislop, takes a fresh look over three parts at the place where many have spent more time over the past three years of lockdowns and home working.

Journalist and broadcaster Hislop, 61, attempts to uncover the suburbs as a force for change and inspiration in the artists who have attempted to encapsulate it.

The programme will see Hislop speak to JC Carroll of The Members, whose song The Sound Of The Suburbs provides a backing track to suburbs across the UK, and to performer and writer Lee Mack who attempted to counter the trend away from suburban sitcom with his popular show Not Going Out.

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Journalist and presenter Ian Hislop explores the suburbs of the UK in a programme as part of Radio 4’s Summer of Arts (Ian West/PA)

Speaking about Summer of Arts on Radio 4, the network’s commissioning editor for factual, Dan Clarke, said: “This summer Radio 4 features an eclectic range of series exploring the work of innovators across the arts who have made a real impact on culture in Britain and beyond – some of whom are familiar, others less so.

“As these programmes attest, the arts on Radio 4 exist to span a truly broad variety of subjects and approaches, but always with the same intention in mind: to explore in-depth, and in the most compelling and intelligent ways the art and culture that helps us understand who we are, and where we are going.

“I’m incredibly excited about what we have coming up.”

The programming will also include Techno: A Social History, which traces the origins of techno music from its birth in a suburb of post-industrial Detroit in the early 1980s, as well as Torn: A Narrative History of Fashion, which will see director of V&A East, Gus Casely-Hayford, explore the statements people make just by getting dressed in the morning.

BBC Radio 4’s Summer of Arts begins on July 13 and continues into August.