To Olivia: our guide to Debbie Wiseman's score to the new Roald Dahl biopic
To Olivia, Sky Cinema's new biopic about Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal, stars Hugh Bonneville and Keeley Hawes and features an intensely emotional orchestral soundtrack by British composer Debbie Wiseman
Who wrote the score for To Olivia?
Wiseman has worked with director John Hay several times. Hay has described the narrative arc that Wiseman was able to bring to life in the music: 'Our aim was to find a way of making the audience experience the five stages of grief that Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal went through after they had lost their daughter to measles.'
Wiseman introduces Olivia's theme early on in the film, which is then unravelled and broken down after the character's death. Towards the end of the film, the fragmented theme is brought together again as Dahl and Neal learn to live with their grief and find solace in creativity.
'The main Olivia theme initially proved annoyingly reluctant to appear in my head', says Wiseman. It was late one night that the theme came to her and she immediately called John Hay to play him the new idea on the piano. 'His enthusiastic reaction confirmed we finally had the key to the score.' The pair have worked together on several other projects, including Lost Christmas and The Truth About Love.
Unfortunately, the theme developed at almost exactly the same time as the UK went into lockdown as a result of the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the recording had to be delayed.
How did Debbie Wiseman record the score to To Olivia during lockdown?
To record the soundtrack for To Olivia, a socially distanced orchestra was based at AIR Studios in London. 'We were one of the first orchestras back in the studio as the lockdown was eased, and it was an emotional and hugely rewarding recording,' says Debbie Wiseman.
BBC Music Magazine recently spoke to composer Debbie Wiseman on the Music to my Ears podcast, where Wiseman described the process of writing the score for To Olivia.
Which orchestra performs the score for To Olivia?
What's the story of To Olivia?
To Olivia stars Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville as British children's author Roald Dahl and Keeley Hawes (It's a Sin, Bodyguard) as his wife, the American actor Patricia Neal. The film tells the story of the tragic death of their daughter Olivia from measles, and the family's attempts to recover from grief. It shows Dahl writing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the wake of the tragedy.
The film features an all-British cast, including Geoffrey Palmer's final film performance before he died at the end of 2020, aged 93.
Full track listing for Debbie Wiseman's To Olivia soundtrack
- To Olivia (3.11)
- Gus, The Giant and the Peach (3.13)
- An Everlasting Gobstopper and a Shivery Smile (3.44)
- The Film Star and the Fairy Tribute (1.15)
- Only Trying to be Nice (1.42)
- You're an Idiot (1.10)
- A Message for the Kids (1.21)
- An Emergency Like Now (2.29)
- Not Allowed to Say Her Name (2.50)
- Everybody Hold Hands (1.49)
- Gone for a Walk (2.52)
- You Fix Things, Roald (4.03)
- Sorry a Second Time (5.19)
- Twisted in a Good Way (2.16)
- People Always Say that at the End (3.20)
- We All Become Stories (1.36)
- Rough on Everybody (3.52)
- And the Oscar goes to... (3.28)
Can you buy the soundtrack to To Olivia?
The official soundtrack for To Olivia will go on sale on the same date as the film release: 19 February 2021.
Where can you stream the soundtrack to To Olivia?
Where can you watch To Olivia online?
Sky Cinema is also available on NowTV. Sign up for a seven-day free trial to Now TV here.