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Radio 2 goes arty for October

BBC Radio 2 has announced a month of special programming to celebrate the nation's art and literacy successes during October.

There'll be poetry readings and a book club during daytime and a series of specials for the new season on the Friday night Arts Show.

Radio 2 Controller Bob Shennan says: "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."

National Poetry Day on 7 October will be marked with a week-long poetry season on The Jeremy Vine Show. Every day, Jeremy will host discussions, listen to readings and explore, with his listeners, the unique potential for poetry to touch and change lives.

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. 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 too.

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's Drivetime show will be the home for the Radio 2 Book Club, taking an in-depth look at a whole range of fiction and non-fiction titles – with author interviews, incisive analysis and online interaction. The first Radio 2 book of the month will be Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt, which will be featured on Monday 11 October. 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.

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."

New season highlights in October for Claudia Winkleman's Friday night Arts Show 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 added: "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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