John Wilson is an acclaimed journalist and broadcaster who has specialised in arts and cultural affairs for over 25 years. He presents This Cultural Life the Radio 4 interview series and international podcast on which guests have included Paul McCartney, Margaret Atwood, Florence Pugh, Nick Cave, Tracey Emin, Nicole Kidman, Whoopi Goldberg and many more. The series is also televised on BBC Four, and is shown globally on BBC World.
One of the UK’s most respected interviewers, John is a hugely experienced live broadcaster who presented BBC Radio 4’s flagship arts magazine show Front Row from its launch in 1998 until he left the show in 2021. He is also the host of the music series Mastertapes with guests including Sinead O’Connor, Robbie Williams, Paul Weller, Emeli Sande, Randy Newman and many more. Each episode is recorded in front of an audience at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios. A special edition with Paul McCartney was filmed by BBC television.
As a journalist, John is also heard on Radio’s flagship current affairs programme Today, and has presented and produced dozens of series and documentaries including The Price of Song, Epiphanies, In The Studio and the Sony Award-nominated series Meeting Myself Coming Back. Extensive personal contacts have helped secure rare and exclusive interviews, including Kate Bush and David Bowie.
In 2020 John produced and presented the documentary film The Billion Dollar Art Hunt for BBC4, in which he investigated the world’s biggest ever art heist in which works by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Degas were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, in 1990, a crime that remains unsolved.
Other television credits include live presenting the 2020 Booker Prize and 2021 Museum Of the Year Award on BBC News. He also presented many editions of Newsnight Review on BBC2. John was part of the on-screen line up of the BBC2 version of Front Row. In the 2018 Christmas University Challenge series, he captained a team of fellow alumni of the University of Southampton.
John is a skilled live event host, with vast experience at BBC Edinburgh Festival, Hay Festival, Cheltenham Festival of Literature, Sony World Photography Awards. Poet In The City, and more. In 2022, he was MC and on-stage interviewer for the Sir Peter Blake 90th birthday tribute show at the Royal Festival Hall, featuring The Who, Paul Weller, Chrissie Hynde, Madness and Noel Gallagher.
John’s experience and breadth of expertise in the field of arts broadcasting is almost unrivalled. He has reported on art and cultural affairs from around the world, including Iran on several occasions, and made a radio documentary in China about the Terracotta Warriors and the First Emperor. He has written about cultural affairs for a range of publications including The Observer, The Guardian, the Times, The Independent, Art Newspaper, Time Out.