There is a perception that media-types who live in the South of England tend to be rather London-centric, and while I’m loathed to conform to a stereotype, it’s sort of true. Most of the films made in the UK are shot in or around the capital, and most press screenings, junkets and events take place in the city. Consequently, for those of us who live nearby, there’s rarely any reason to venture outside of the M25, and it takes something very special to get us to even consider doing so.

Which is why I was somewhat surprised to find myself agreeing to accompany my friend, and partner in red carpet-shenanigans, Kelly Alyse on a day trip to Manchester to watch the live recording of a radio show I very rarely listen to. And yet, it really was something rather special.

The show in question was Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode’s ‘Wittertainment’ on 5 Live. Normally broadcast from a convenient London location, the decision had been taken to move this particular episode up to Salford in Manchester, the new home of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Indeed the whole thing centred around the orchestra, and their performance of a selection of ‘Great Film Scores’, as chosen by Kermode, Mayo, conductor Robert Zeigler,  General Manager of the BBC Philharmonic, Richard Wigley, broadcaster Andrew Collins and singer/songwriter Paloma Faith*.

I grew up watching a huge number of films, and like many other movie geeks, my relationship with the soundtracks to many of them extended way beyond the stories they underscored. Even now, as my love of the Star Wars franchise wanes, I get a little tingle up my spine when I hear John Williams’ score, and the same thing is true for so many pieces of music, from Clint Mansell’s excellent work on Moon, to the use of Carl Orff’s Gassenhauer in the film Badlands.

Consequently, watching some of the best pieces of music ever composed for cinema, in a setting so intimate that the performers outnumbered the audience was quite extraordinary.

Beginning with Gerry Goldsmith’s theme from Star Trek, the performance included music from The Godfather, Blue Velvet, and The Magnificent Seven, as well as a rendition of the theme from Midnight Cowboy, with Kermode on harmonica, and while I tend to disagree with just about everything the man says about film (3D film in particular), his not-quite-perfect performance was utterly breathtaking.

Rather than read more of me wittering on about the whole thing I’d encourage you to head over to the Wittertainment website, where you can listen to the show, download it as a podcast, and watch highlights from the performance, as well as one from later on that day. If you do you’ll also be able to hear me evangelising about the score from Ravenous. In fact, listen to that first, that way you’ll understand why I refused to hum it live on national radio.


*You can listen to the discussion that led to the songs they selected here