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).
Fenton has worked on the scores to various wildlife programmes and films over the years, including BBC’s The Blue Planet. This 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.
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.
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