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Who is George Fenton and which films has he composed music for?

British composer George Fenton is one of the most versatile screen composers working today, penning everything from TV news themes to scores for major blockbuster films

British composer and conductor George Fenton of the show Frozen Planet in Concert poses in front of the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, on January 18, 2013. Fenton will conduct the Gelders Orchestra April 13, 2013. AFP PHOTO/ANP/ KIPPA FERDY DAMMAN netherlands out        (Photo credit should read Ferdy Damman/AFP via Getty Images)

George Fenton is one of the most versatile and prolific composers for screen working today. The British composer has written music for everything from TV theme tunes to major motion pictures, with longstanding collaborations with directors including Richard Attenborough, Nora Ephron, Stephen Frears and Nora Ephron.


Fenton has previously received five Oscar nominations for Best Original Song and Best Original Score, as well as several BAFTAs and Golden Globes.

His Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score for Gandhi (with Ravi Shankar, 1983); Cry Freedom (with Jonas Gwangwa, 1988, for which he was also nominated for Best Original Song); Dangerous Liaisons and The Fisher King (1992).

He has also received BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for his scores to Mrs Henderson PresentsAnna and the King and several of his scores for wildlife documentaries, among others.

Fenton has worked on the scores to various wildlife programmes and films over the years, including BBC’s The Blue PlanetThis venture began many years ago, when he worked on the BBC’s series Wildlife on One and Natural World. Since then, he’s worked on numerous David Attenborough programmes, including Planet Earth, Frozen Planet and Deep Blue, the latter of which was later performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra – the first film score the orchestra had ever recorded. The orchestra then recorded his subsequent score to Earth. We named George Fenton’s scores to the BBC’s original Planet trilogy as some of the best scores to natural history programmes in history.

Our friends over at BBC Wildlife Magazine have rounded up some of the best nature documentaries available to stream online now.

He has longstanding collaborations with several major directors, including Nicholas Hytner, for whom he has scored all six films: The Madness of King George, The Crucible, The Object of My Affection, Center Stage, The History Boys and The Lady in the Van

His most prolific collaboration is with British filmmaker Ken Loach, for whom he has scored 17 films to date. Loach’s films are known for their gritty social commentary about British life. Most recently, Fenton has scored Loach’s films Sorry We Missed You and I, Daniel Blake.

He has also scored films for Nora Ephron including You’ve Got Mail and Bewitched.

Fenton’s music will also be familiar to anyone who has watched British news, because he composed the theme music to dozens of BBC news programmes in the 1980s and 90s including the Nine O’Clock News, Newsnight, BBC World News and BBC Radio 4’s PM programme. We talked a little more about the music and theme tunes behind the UK’s news programmes here.

George Fenton spoke here about how he writes a TV theme tune. 

Most recently, Fenton has written scores to Roger Michell’s The Duke, which tells the story of taxi driver Kempton Bunton, who stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery. He has also written for several Andy Teenant films including Wild Oats, Hitch, Fool’s Gold, The Bounty Hunter and Sweet Home Alabama.


Top image credit: Getty Images