Spies, Swingers
and Shadows
The Films and Scores of
John Barry

Join our special guests, including season curator Bob Stanley, composer Nainita Desai and writer and musician Neil Brand for a richly illustrated discussion about the distinctive sounds of John Barry. The discussion is hosted by Eddi Fiegel, journalist, author and John Barry biographer.

With a focus on Barry’s British years, our panel will explore the significance of his scores for the James Bond franchise and other key titles, consider the changes in British music that influenced his compositions, and reflect on Barry’s legacy.

Bob Stanley is a writer, musician and film producer. Since 1987, he has written about music for the Face, Smash Hits, NME, The Guardian, The Times, the LA Times and the Paris Review. Bob is a member of the Mercury-nominated pop group Saint Etienne, and has written two acclaimed pop music histories that span the 20th century – Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop (Faber, 2013) and Let’s Do It: The Birth of Pop (Faber, 2022), which won the 2023 Penderyn Prize. His latest book, The Bee Gees: Children of the World, is published by Nine Eight.

An acclaimed Emmy-winning composer with two additional Emmy nominations, Nainita Desai is an RTS and World Soundtrack Award 2021 winner of Discovery of the Year. A double BIFA and Cinema Eye Honors nominee; BAFTA Breakthrough Brit and IFMCA Breakthrough Composer of the Year 2019, Nainita was described by Empire Magazine as one of the Top 5 Composers to Watch for 2022, and also won the Women in Film & TV Award for Creative Technology award in 2022.

Amongst various BAFTA, Oscar, and Emmy acclaimed productions, Nainita’s recent projects include the hit Netflix documentary 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible (Executive Produced by Oscar winner Jimmy Chinn) for which her score earned nominations for a Primetime Emmy, Hollywood Music in Media Award, and ASCAP Composer Choice Award.

Her recent project is Oscar winning John Battsek’s feature documentary The Deepest Breath (A24, Netflix) that World Premiered at Sundance 2023 and earned Desai nominations for Best Original Score with the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, the Hollywood Music in Media Awards and Best Original Title Theme at the SCL Awards 2024.

Her other notable credits include Oscar nominated and BAFTA & Cannes winning feature doc For Sama, Sundance winning film The Reason I Jump and the Emmy nominated score for Body Parts. Recent dramas include BBC1 action thriller series Crossfire, Sky comedy drama Funny Woman (Gemma Arterton), landmark natural history series Predators for Sky/Netflix and the iconic Call of Duty video game franchise.

2024 projects include upcoming fantasy action-adventure series Nautilus for AMC and ITV Drama The Tower S3. Nainita has also scored Nocturnes that World Premiered in competition at Sundance 2024, upcoming landmark natural history series Earthsounds for Apple TV+ and James Cameron’s BBC / Nat Geo series Ocean Xplorers, as well as premium feature docs for Netflix, and Universal, series for SKY and video games for Sony Interactive and EA Originals.

Following a degree in Maths and studying sound for film at the NFTS in the UK, Nainita began her career as a sound designer on feature films for directors including Werner Herzog and Bertolucci, as well as assistant music engineering for Peter Gabriel. Nainita moves seamlessly between working with orchestras, to scores utilising her collection of custom-made instruments, incorporating electronics, found sound, and experimental sound design which has informed her experimental, deeply immersive approach.

Neil Brand is a distinguished composer/writer/performer/broadcaster. He has a very fruitful relationship with the BBC Symphony Orchestra with his acclaimed orchestral scores for Hitchcock’s silent Blackmail, Asquith’s Underground, Chaplin’s Easy Street and Fairbanks’s Robin Hood, published by Faber Music. Most recently he has composed Echoes of the North with the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, The Hound of the Baskervilles with Mark Gatiss as Sherlock (BBC4) as well as the BFI release of South – Shackleton’s Epic of the Antarctic. He is well-known as a TV presenter with five hugely successful ‘Sound of …’ series on BBC4, is a regular presenter on the Proms, Radio 4’s Add to Playlist and Soul Music, is a Fellow of Aberystwyth University and a Member and Visiting Professor of the Royal Academy of Music, was awarded the BASCA Gold Badge in 2016 and is considered one of the finest improvising piano accompanists in the world.

Host: Eddi Fiegel is an award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster and the author of John Barry – A Sixties Theme (Faber) – the biography of John Barry, written with the composer’s input and co-operation.

Her other books include highly acclaimed biographies of ‘Mama’ Cass Elliot, Madonna and Cher, and she writes on music, film, arts and travel for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The FT and The i, as well as The Art Newspaper and National Geographic Traveller.

Her interviewees for print and radio have included film composer Lalo Schifrin, Philip Glass, Sir Michael Caine, Sir Sean Connery, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Susan Sarandon and John Schlesinger, as well as Sir Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Hal David, Angélique Kidjo, David Crosby, kd Lang, Johnny Marr and Jarvis Cocker.

She was previously a BBC radio reporter and a regular contributor to BBC 6 Music and BBC Radio 4. She presented the BBC Radio 4 documentary ‘John Barry – The Lost Tapes’.

Never Let Go
Fri 2 Feb 20:10; Sun 11 Feb 15:30
Sat 3 Feb 16:00; Thu 15 Feb 20:40
The Ipcress File
Sat 3 Feb 18:30; Sat 10 Feb 20:50
Sat 3 Feb 20:30; Sun 25 Feb 18:15
Sun 4 Feb 16:10 (+ intro by Eddi Fiegel, journalist, author and John Barry biographer); Wed 21 Feb 20:45
You Only Live Twice
Sun 4 Feb 18:40; Tue 6 Feb 20:30 (+ intro)
Four in the Morning
Mon 5 Feb 20:30; Tue 13 Feb 17:45
Spies, Swingers and Shadows: The Films and Scores of John Barry
Tue 6 Feb 18:10
The Whisperers
Fri 9 Feb 18:00; Sat 24 Feb 20:40
John Barry on TV
Sat 10 Feb 18:00
Sat 24 Feb 15:10; Wed 28 Feb 18:00
Midnight Cowboy
Sat 24 Feb 17:50; Wed 28 Feb 20:45

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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
Questions/comments? Contact the Programme Notes team by email