George Fenton Biography
George Fenton is a British composer best known for his work writing film scores and music for television, although he also writes music for the theatre. His real name is George Howe but he is better known by his pseudonym of George Fenton. Fenton attended St Edward's School in Oxford. He joined in Summer of 1963 and is now a Governor of the School.
Fenton was born George Richard Ian Howe in London, and attended St Edward's School in Oxford. He has credited the school's Deputy Director of Music at the time, the late Peter Whitehouse, as an early influence. Initially Fenton worked as an actor, getting an early break with a part in Alan Bennett's play Forty Years On. He had some minor success appearing in the film Private Road, the soap opera Emmerdale Farm and in Alan Bennett's first television play A Day Out directed by Stephen Frears and broadcast in 1972.
Often asked to play a musical instrument in productions, Fenton decided on an early career switch to composition. In 1974 he got his first major commission, as composer and musical director for Peter Gill's theatre production of Twelfth Night by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. This led to further work in British theatre, composing for productions at: The National Theatre, The Royal Exchange Theatre, The Royal Court, The Riverside Studios, and further compositions for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
In 1976 Fenton wrote his first television score, continuing his collaboration with Peter Gill, composing for Gill's production of Hitting Town written by Stephen Poliakoff.
By the late 1970s Fenton was working regularly in television, becoming a popular choice for dozens of television productions, including Shoestring, a BBC police drama which ran for 21 episodes in 1979-1980.
He wrote the compositions for all six of the Six Plays by Alan Bennett which were broadcast during 1978 and 1979. Their collaboration continued with the TV series Objects of Affection in 1982. A year later he composed the score of Bennett's TV film An Englishman Abroad (1983) which was directed by John Schlesinger. Fenton also composed for all of the episodes of Bennett's highly acclaimed Talking Heads series in 1987 and, a decade later, Talking Heads 2 in 1998.
Fenton also collaborated regularly with the director Stephen Frears, composing for his television productions of Bloody Kids (1979), Going Gently (1981), Saigon: Year of the Cat (1983), and Walter and June (1983).
By the mid 1980s Fenton was composing for big budget TV series including the multi BAFTA winning The Jewel in the Crown (1984) and the The Monocled Mutineer (1986).
Perhaps the TV series with which Fenton reached the widest audience was Bergerac which ran for ten years between 1981 and 1991, and for which Fenton composed the much-loved theme tune. He received his first major award for this, a BAFTA in 1982.