Wednesday 20th January

Marian Keyes

Novelist Marian Keyes kicked off the New Year by offering an online novel-writing class, via a series of videos posted to her YouTube channel. The best selling author breaks down the fundamentals of writing and answers writers questions in the interactive vlog. Available on youtube, or you catch up on rteculture.ie

Dostoevsky In Love

Dostoevsky, 19th century literary star, author of Crime and Punishment was sentenced to death as a young revolutionary, went through a mock execution, chronic ill-health, gambling addiction and doomed love affairs. Alex Christofi discusses the new memoir entitled 'Dostoevsky In Love'.

Call My Agent!

Sophie Gorman and Mirian Diallo of the French embassy in Dublin review the new series of Call My Agent! The series is set in a fictional Parisian talent agency, which represents some of the most prestigious film stars in France. In every episode, a prestigious film star plays an exaggerated - and usually hilarious version of themselves.

Tuesday 19th January

Where to begin - Elmer Bernstein

Elmer Bernstein was one of the true greats of cinematic composition. With over 150 original movie scores to his name, along with 14 Oscar nominations, his music remains as fresh and vibrant today. The Magnificent Seven to Ghostbusters and Cape Fear. Joe Csibi, general manager of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra recommends where to begin with Bernstein.

Brian Bilston

Brian Bilston is a poet and author. In his new poetry collection, 'Alexa, what is there to know about love?', he explores affairs of the heart in all kinds of scenarios, from the internet era all the way back to the ancient Greeks, and indeed to cavemen! Known as the Banksy of poetry, humour is the hallmark of his work.

Sex and the City

The original series of Sex and the City first aired in Ireland in 1999. The new chapter is called “And Just Like That…” without Kim Cattrall. Jenn Gannon discusses the show. Since the announcement of the reboot there has been much discussion on whether the shows problematic past - especially its lack of diversity - will make it irrelevant today.

Monday 18th January

Mark O’Rowe

Playwright Mark O'Rowe discusses 'The Approach'. It will be live streamed on 21st, 23rd and 24th January while starring the original cast of Derbhle Crotty, Aisling O’Sullivan and Cathy Betlon. Further details on theapproach.ie


The Italian writer Dante who created the Divine Comedy some 700 years ago giving us a vision of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory that has seared into the collective imagination. Dr. Enrica Maria Ferrara brings us through the work and explains why it is such a seminal piece of writing.

Patricia Highsmith

Dr. Clare Clarke discusses Patricia Highsmith. The author wrote 22 novels over her five-decade career, many of which have been adapted into hugely successful movies. From Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of Strangers on a Train to The Talented Mr Ripley and Carol.

Friday 15th January

Stephen James Smith

Poet Stephen James Smith curates the Therapy Sessions as part of the First Fortnight. The annual festival challenges mental health stigmas and prejudices,

Album Reviews

Zara Hedderman and Pat Carty review new albums from Electronic punk duo, Sleaford Mods, LA duo Midnight Sister and alternative rockers Shame.

Thursday 14th January

Film Reviews

Tara Brady and Darryl Jones review new films. One Night in Miami is the imagined story of an encounter in the lives of four iconic of Black Americans, Stardust depicts a young David Bowie trying to break America and in the documentary MLK/FBI, we witness the story of how J Edgar Hoover tried to destroy Martin Luther King through surveillance.

Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse follows the best-selling 'The Burning Chambers' with 'The City of Tears'. The historical fiction returns to the Joubert family and 16th century France. Mosse is co-founder of 'The Women's Prize for Fiction'.


Chris Wasser reviews WandaVision for Arena. It takes two of the most popular supporting players from the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Wanda Maximoff, aka ‘Scarlet Witch’ and Vision – and places them in a sitcom setting with a twist. It stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany. Available on Disney Plus from tomorrow.

Wednesday 13th January

Illuminations - Touch

Playwright Enda Walsh has brought together a wonderful group of collaborators for his short film Touch. It explores what it is to be alone and to be isolated during the pandemic. The film is part of RTÉ Illuminations and performed by Rosaleen Linehan, with visuals from Jack Phelan and score from Irene Buckley.

Art Appreciation

Art historians Jessica Fahy and Sarah Wilson guide listeners through how to read a painting. From Fra Angelico to Daniel Maclise and Jack B. Yeats. A new course from The National Gallery is called Art Appreciation: Breaking the Mould. Jessica Fahy is one of the teachers on that course.

The Pembrokeshire Murders

The Pembrokeshire Murders is a three-part drama series. It’s based on the true story of Welsh serial killer, John Cooper. The hunt was aided by an appearance that the serial killer made on the popular Bullseye programme on ITV, in 1989. Mary McGill previews part one beginning on Virgin Media TV this Thursday.

Tuesday 12th January

The Dark Room

Sam Blake is best known for the hugely successful Cat Connolly series of crime novels. 'The Dark Room' is another thriller focusing on a female film producer and her documentary maker husband, who flee to rural Cork from London, when the subject of his latest documentary is found burned to death.

François Truffaut

Director Steven Benedict discusses François Truffaut. The French director who is the father of the Nouvelle Vague school of film making also boasted such ground breaking directors as Jean Luc Goddard, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, Louis Malle Agnes Varda and others.

Where to Begin - Norah Hoult

This year's recipient of the Seamus Heaney fellowship at Queens University, Belfast is Louise Kennedy. She delves into the fascinating work of Irish writer Norah Hoult. From 'Poor Women!' (1928) to ‘Nine Years is a Long Time’ (1938) and 'There Were No Windows' (1944).

Monday 11th January

Scéalta Grá na hÉireann

Professor Diarmuid Ferriter and Doctor Ciara Chambers discuss Scéalta Grá na hÉireann. Ireland's Greatest Loves reveals the romances of the most iconic people to shape our nation's history. The series starts on TG4 on 13th January at 8:30pm with the love triangle between Michael Collins, Kitty Kiernan and Collins’ best friend Harry Boland.

Prophet Makers and Risk Takers

Jan Carson author of the 'Fire Starters' and Michelle Gallen whose debut novel 'Big Girl Small Town' was short listed for the Irish Book Award and the Costa First Novel Award. Prophet Makers and Risk Takers is a showcase of writing from Northern Ireland, Available online on Thursday 14th January from eastsidearts.net

My Story My Song

My Story, My Song is a musical event where positive mental health is promoted through engagement with the arts. The artists taking part are Karen Cowley of Wyvern Lingo and Jack O’Rourke. Ten musical acts are featured including Nealo on Sunday, January 17, firstfortnight.ie

Friday 8th January

Trust crime novel

Trust is the new novel from Australian crime writer, Chris Hammer. Declan Burke reviews the writer's third novel which is published by Wildfire.

Album reviews

The last surviving brother from the three Bee Gees, Barry Gibb, enlists some equally legendary stars, including Dolly Parton to reinvent Bee Gees classics with the album, Greenfields, the debut solo album from Aaron Frazer from Durand Jones and Mike Rosenberg, otherwise known as Passenger, brings us his 13th studio album.

Beckett at the Everyman

How It Is – the last full-length novel by Samuel Beckett that Gare St Lazare has been turning into three extraordinary productions since 2015. Artistic director Judy Hegarty Lovett and actor / writer Conor Lovett discuss How it is - it will be streamed live at 8pm on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th January.

Thursday 7th January

The Charlatans - Tim Burgess

As part of the upcoming Dublin Bowie Fest, Tim Burgess of The Charlatans will be running one of his infamous Twitter listening parties in conjunction with the festival. He will be joined by special guests to celebrate Bowie’s 1971 album 'Hunky Dory'.


John Maguire and Arlene Hunt review season four of Fargo which is airing on TG4, Tuesday nights at 10.30pm.

Film Reviews

Ruth Barton and Donald Clarke review new films. Robin’s Wish is a thoughtful documentary about a fascinating man, Robin Williams and on Netflix, Pieces of a Woman, which stars Vanessa Kirby and Shia LeBoeuf struggling to come to terms with tragedy.

Wednesday 6th January

Women in Short Stories

To celebrate Little Christmas, we have asked Sinead Gleeson, the editor of the Art of the Glimpse her collection of 100 Irish Short stories, to look at some stories by women writers.

First Fortnight Art

The Therapy Sessions is a central part of First Fortnight. Each of the four evenings is given over to a city and to their musicians and poets. Singer songwriter Laura Quirk, from Lemoncello, and spoken word artist and actor Roxanna Nic Liam.

Sinéad O’Brien

Sinead O’Brien has been juggling careers in recent years, working in fashion design with Vivienne Westwood , while pursuing a life on stage as a performance poet. Her debut is Drowning in Blessings.

Tuesday 5th January

Radie Peat and Katie Kim

To mark Nollaig na mBan Radie Peat of Lankum and fellow musician Katie Kim are set to collaborate on an audio/visual streaming event. See eventbtite.ie for further details.

First Fortnight

The worlds of science and art are sometimes perceived as functioning at the opposite ends of the human spectrum. But according to Dr Richard Roche, Prof of psychology at Maynooth University, and author of the book 'Why Science Needs Art', the two fields are not as mutually exclusive as we might think. Further details at: health.firstfortnight.ie

Ollie Cole

Oliver Cole started life in the acclaimed county Meath three-piece, Swampshack and now his third solo album, is called Father, Brother, Son.

Where do I begin - Sheridan Le Fanu

The allure of the Vampire is as current today as in Victorian times – Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu was one of the first writers to introduce the vampire into literature.

Monday 4th January

Tolü Makay

Tolü Makay and Leo Moran with a remake of N17. An Irish classic originally recorded by the Saw Doctors telling the tale of separation from the people and the places we love the most.

Antony Gormley

The British sculptor, best known for his striking installations of human figures outdoors. His most iconic work is the Angel of the North. Shaping the World: Sculpture from Pre-History to Now, is his new book with art critic Martin Gayford.


Michael Sheen and David Tennant are back with a series of Staged. This time the pair attempt to navigate their ‘new normal’. Writer and director Simon Evan discusses the series which airs tonight on BBC.

The Stand

The Stand is streaming via the Apple store. Stephen King's 1978 novel described a band of survivors in a world that had been turned upside down and inside out by a pandemic. Chris Wasser reviews the new series featuring Whoopi Goldberg.

Wednesday 30th December

Arena Film interview of 2020

From Neil Jordan to Werner Herzog Arena revisits the best movie interviews of the year.

Tuesday 29th December

Where to I Begin with

The best of our loved weekly series with recommendations of where to start with artists from Kate Bush to Joni Mitchell, David Fincher and Richard Strauss.

Monday 28th December

Arena special - Best of live music

From Trad Fest to Lisa O'Neill the very best of Arena's live music in 2020.

Thursday 24th December

Arena Christmas Eve Special

The best author interviews of 2020 including booker prize winning debut author Douglas Stuart. Also, ColmTóibín, Christine Dwyer Hickey, John Connolly, Sinéad Gleeson and the short story.

Wednesday 23rd December

Crime novels

Crime authors, Declan Burke and Sam Blake recommend classic crime novels and contemporary picks for Arena listeners to read over the Christmas period.

Winter Lights Project

Kay Sheehy reports from Dublin. Winter Lights Project from Dublin City Council consists of five public art pieces made by various communities around the capital city. dublincitycouncilculturecompany.ie/

Graham Greene

Sophie Gorman reviews a new biography on prolific author Graham Greene synonymous with Brighton Rock and The Third Man . Russian Roulette: The Life and Times of Graham Greene is a new biography from Richard Greene.

Tuesday 22nd December

Marian Finucane

Mary McGill discusses a new documentary called simply called Marian. It marks the one year anniversary of RTÉ broadcaster Marian Finucane's passing. The intimate feature documentary is built around an interview with Marian’s husband John Clarke.

Together in Electric Streams

Úna Molloy discusses a new initiative aimed at helping artists. Various artists and music venues across the country have come together to create a streaming service allowing bands to play live worldwide. togetherinelectricstreams.com

Christmas TV recommendations

Chris Wasser recommends a variety of programmes for viewing over the Christmas period from Moonbase 8 to Bridgerton and The Real Field, a documentary on the real-life story behind the murder.

Winter Art

Art historian Jessica Fahy discusses classic Winter scenes in art from Bruegel to Kandinsky and Harry Clarke.

Monday 21st December

Film Reviews

John Maguire and Roe McDermott The Midnight Sky, a post-apocalyptic thriller, directed by and starring George Clooney as a dying scientist and last man on Earth in the year 2049, Soul, the new musical from Disney+ and Pixar creator, Pete Docter and Songs For While I’m Away, a new documentary about Phil Lynott, legendary front man of Thin Lizzy.

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Contact the Show

Email: arena@rte.ie

 Twitter: @RTEArena

Text: 51551

Presenter: Seán Rocks

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