Melton man’s key role in new Attenborough BBC wildlife show

Benji Merrison at work composing music in his studio - he worked on the new Sir David Attenborough TV wildlife programme, Dynasties EMN-180711-144721001
Benji Merrison at work composing music in his studio - he worked on the new Sir David Attenborough TV wildlife programme, Dynasties EMN-180711-144721001
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When Benji Merrison was studying music at Melton’s Long Field Academy he could never have dreamed he would one day be composing the score for one of David Attenborough’s prime time wildlife television shows.

But on Sunday he will be watching excitedly with the rest of the nation as his music provides the dramatic backdrop to the new Dynasties series, which follows the life stories of five of the world’s most celebrated, yet endangered animals - penguins, chimpanzees, lions, painted wolves and tigers.

A still image from the new David Attenborough wildlife TV programme, Dynasties, which features music composed by Melton man Benji Merrison EMN-180711-120253001

A still image from the new David Attenborough wildlife TV programme, Dynasties, which features music composed by Melton man Benji Merrison EMN-180711-120253001

Attenborough provides the commentary for the stunning programme, which BBC1 hopes will be as successful in attracting huge worldwide viewing figures as his previous shows, Planet Earth 2 and Blue Planet 2.

Benji (42) is building a big reputation for himself after previously composing the music for Professor Brian Cox’s Forces of Nature series, which explored the cosmos and how Earth’s beauty is created by just a handful of forces, as well as for other top-rated programmes such as ITV drama Victoria, which he worked on with another top composer, Martin Phipps.

He has been working on Dynasties for almost three years, weaving the music in with the words of Attenborough and the spectacular footage of wild animals in their natural habitats.

Benji told the Melton Times: “This was a great gig to get because Attenborough wildlife shows are possibly one of the last remaining television programmes everyone sits down to watch live, along with maybe the World Cup and the Olympics.

A still image from the new David Attenborough wildlife TV programme, Dynasties, which features music composed by Melton man Benji Merrison EMN-180711-120315001

A still image from the new David Attenborough wildlife TV programme, Dynasties, which features music composed by Melton man Benji Merrison EMN-180711-120315001

“It was a real pleasure to work on this because the footage is absolutely stunning.

“A lot of the teams were working in the field for two years and they have used some of the most amazing cinematographers in the world.”

The first of the five episodes of Dynasties is at 8.30pm on Sunday and each will concentrate on the heroic struggles of one of the five animals against their rivals and the forces of nature as they battle for survival.

Thanks to technology, Benji was able to work from his own studio a lot of the time, exchanging digital content with the production team and working to compose music for individual sequences.

A still image from the new David Attenborough wildlife TV programme, Dynasties, which features music composed by Melton man Benji Merrison EMN-180711-120305001

A still image from the new David Attenborough wildlife TV programme, Dynasties, which features music composed by Melton man Benji Merrison EMN-180711-120305001

He will be joining other members of the team on Sunday evening for a celebratory party to watch the first episode as it airs.

“The aim was to get the music to sit perfectly with this amazing footage which was a real challenge,” said Benji, who is married with two young children.

“It is like working on a drama with animals as the main characters.”

Benji was born at Melton hospital and attended the town’s Sherard Primary School, Long Field Academy and the former King Edward VII School.

His parents Paul and Eileen, who both taught at Sherard School, still live in the town, as does one of his two brothers, Dan.

Music has always been a passion for Benji and he went on to study it at York University before taking a Masters in music technology.

He worked in the industry in London before starting up as a freelance 15 years ago.

Benji added: “I believe that Dynasties has already been sold to about 16 countries and it is amazing to think how many people will see it and humbling to have been a part of it.

“I am having discussions about other projects on the back of this and one of them involves composing music for a movie score which is very exciting.”