The Theme Tune To ‘Bryant & May: The Series’


B&M on Waterloo Bridge

No, there’s not a series yet – although the option has been picked up by a TV production company – but in the meantime a very nice chap called Des Burkinshaw has written the theme tune for a Bryant & May TV series. I was just in the middle of writing a piece about theme tunes, so I’ll add that to this. As a fan of Laurie Johnson, Ron Grainer and John Barry I thought the mood was exactly right. See what you think.

My collection of movie scores is insane – I especially like writing to good horror film scores, but there are very few that avoid doing the obvious. Too many Hollywood scarers rely on jumps, stings and bass notes to over-egg any eerie scene and destroy atmosphere. There are exceptions; Phillip Glass’s bombastic score for ‘Candyman’, work by Christopher Young and Shirley Walker’s spirited, doom-laden score for the ‘Final Destination’ films avoid the thuddingly obvious. Some of the best scores and title themes work simply by sounding not quite right. Henry Mancini came up with an oddball, haunting two-note signature (regularly ripped off ever since) for ‘Wait Until Dark’. And of course Bernard Herrmann wrote the catchy whistling score for ‘Twisted Nerve’ years before Tarantino used it.

But the best horror soundtracks – especially for supernatural films – are simply sad, awkward and odd, or deliberately, perversely non-frightening. The score for ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ remains a benchmark for this, with its pretty lullaby that manages to be really creepy for no good reason. Elizabeth Lutyens wrote a strange, almost atonal score which was far too high quality for ‘Dr Terror’s House of Horrors’, and Georges Auric’s unsettling hymn for ‘The Innocents’ shares the Englishness of Paul Giovanni’s wonderful folk-driven score for ‘The Wicker Man’, a film which has been described more than once as a pagan musical. Likewise, Paul Ferris’s stunning Greensleeves-like score for ‘Witchfinder General’ perfectly captures the era of the film, and has now been released in full.

The horror film scores of Roque Banos are in a league of their own, and I love the work of other Spanish composers such as Federico Jusid and Joan Valent. Sometimes composers have had to invent musical instruments to find new appropriate sounds. Ron Grainer immersed glass tubes into water to create disturbing tones for ‘The Omega Man’, and Uakti’s score for ‘Blindness’ uses a variety of strange instruments he invented exclusively for the film.

A lot of marvellous scores have never been released as albums, but you can sometimes find them as isolated tracks on YouTube. Meanwhile I’ve got Des’s louche score stuck in my brain for Bryant & May…

16 comments on “The Theme Tune To ‘Bryant & May: The Series’”

  1. Ford says:

    Noerl Cowards London Pride should be in there, somewhere!

  2. Porl Cooper says:

    Check out the soundtrack to “It Follows” -am loving it!!!

  3. Dave S says:

    I like! I suppose kicking it off with the sound of a match being struck would be a bit too corny (and a bit too close to the Mission Impossible TV theme).

  4. chazza says:

    I’m always reduced to tears in the final scene of “Walkabout” during the recital of the Housman poem juxtaposed with the beautiful John Barry score as the Jenny Agutter dreams by her tower block kitchen window…otherwise I’m a hard bastard!

  5. chazza says:

    Not quite relevant to the post in question but never mind!

  6. Paul Graham says:

    Hmmm…like it, Grainer with a hint of Astley?

  7. keith page says:

    Great theme tune.Love it!

  8. Stephen Brown says:

    Begins a bit like the title music to the Lord Peter Wimsey series. I like it.

  9. m says:

    How wonderful!

  10. Helen Martin says:

    Did love that theme music. It has references to different decades, has two very different voices, and even includes Crippen.
    Don’t know whether it fits in your genre but the music for The Third Man was about as perfectly suited to site and plot as anything could be.

  11. Thanks for posting this Chris – and thanks for all the lovely comments everyone else.

  12. Ken Mann says:

    Despite the expense I would like different opening titles each time, done in the style of the TV or film of a different decade. The up to date one would just have a flash of a Bryant & May matchbox and a chord, and then superimpose credits over the drama in an irritating manner.

  13. michael pitcher says:

    Just finished burning man loved it . Bill nighy as Raymond land Derek Jacobi as Bryant

  14. Lee Ann says:

    I agree with Michael, I’ve always thought of Bill Nighy in that role, and Derek Jacoby – great choice.

  15. Marian Lee says:

    I am so glad I found your Bryant and May mystery series. I love the combination of mystery, esoteric strangeness, wit, history and eccentricity. How wonderful is that wrapped up in one good read of each of the books. Maybe the next Masterpiece Theater hit in America.

  16. admin says:

    That would be nice, Marian – fingers crossed they make it before I’ve dropped dead.
    And Derek Jacobi had originally agreed to do the series!

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