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My First Television Drama Commission

Michelle Collins - Sunburn - BBC

In 2000 I was asked to pitch for a Saturday night BBC1 prime time drama called Sunburn staring Michelle Collins that followed the lives of a group of British holiday reps living and working in Portugal. The pitch involved taking the vocals (sung by Michelle Collins and written by Steve Levine, Paul Meehan and Chris Offen) from the opening titles of Sunburn series 1 and doing an updated remix for series 2.

Opportunities like this do not come around that often so I spent a week working on the 30” track – trying various arrangements, recording musicians, tweaking the drums and running off different mixes. In this business there is no 2nd place – I really wanted my version to be chosen for the new opening titles.

A few weeks after my pitch had been submitted I found myself in a meeting in the old drama block of BBC Television Centre London with Sunburn producer Julie Gardner and executive producer John Yorke. I remember seeing a pile of composer CDs on the table all beautifully labeled as Sunburn pitches – 10 other composers had also pitched for the new titles theme.

Julie informed me that my remix was the favourite choice but the even bigger news for me was that on the strength of my remix, the production wanted me to score the music for the entire series: 8 sixty minute episodes. I can still remember the shock and surprise as I left that meeting.

Scoring the series was hard work but a wonderful experience and it gave me a foot in the door to the world of composing for television dramas.

Getting your first job as a composer for a television drama is the hardest thing and I am eternally grateful to Julie and John for believing in me. I still have a framed photo from the series on the shelf in my studio. And ‘no’ you can’t hear the remix….

Michelle Collins - Sunburn