Debbie Wiseman MBE is behind the score of BBC’s drama series Dickensian. The composer’s CV includes The Promise, Warriors and Wolf Hall.
We caught up with Debbie to ask her about the soundtrack, "I wanted to compose a score that wasn't too pretty or too. I liked the idea of a kind of satire on the Dickens street piano, and I wanted to feature an instrument had a distinctive, quirky sound – and the cimbalom immediately came to mind, played by Greg Knowles. The other musicians are the Locrian Ensemble of London."
Wiseman worked with Locrian Ensemble during Wolf Hall. They were formed in 1995 and bring the most prominent string soloists in London together. They have all played on the soundtracks of huge films such as Gladiator, Hannibal and Harry Potter.
So how did the score get started? "I was contacted by the producer and went in to meet them all. We immediately got on really well and discovered that we had the same idea. It was to create almost another character with the score, music that would support these larger-than-life characters, with plenty of attitude!"
As the soundtrack was being developed, Debbie got to see the episodes being edited. "I would write the music to a final cut, the music is then recorded, mixed and delivered to the dubbing mixer who mixes music with the dialogue, effects and delivers the final sound mix."
What did Wiseman think of the final piece? "The first time I saw a completed episode was at a special preview screening at the British Film Institute just prior to the BBC broadcasts. It was great to be able to sit back and watch the episodes on a big screen."
Debbie was also recently nominated for two awards. "Unfortunately I couldn't attend the Sound and Music Awards as I had to be in the studio. Happily I was able to make the Royal Television Society West Awards where I was thrilled to win the Best Composer - Drama award for Wolf Hall."
Her career has seen plenty of awards but it's her MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) which stands out, "Such an honour and a very special day." she remembers.
Last year, Classic FM appointed Debbie as their Composer in Residence. "I'm currently composing an album called The Musical Zodiac. It will be released in September; there are twelve movements all inspired by the individual signs of the zodiac. It's been a real treat to write and we're recording it with the National Symphony Orchestra in a few weeks. I'm already getting excited at the thought of hearing them perform it for the first time."
The future promises much more too, "I'll be starting a new series of The Coroner and Father Brown. I love both and can't wait to get started."
Debbie Wiseman was talking to Telly Binge in March 2016. To find out more about the composer, visit her website.