David Holmes and Branagh and Boris and Belfast. There’s a link between them all.
Kenneth Branagh is set to play Boris Johnson in an upcoming Sky TV Original six part series, due to hit the small screen in September, maybe just in time for the final days of the outgoing Prime Minister’s time in office. Branagh is, of course, from Belfast and directed the Oscar winning movie of the same name.
So too is David Holmes, musician, DJ and producer with an extraordinary track record over several decades. His studio is in his east Belfast home, and that’s where he’s putting together the soundtrack for the Sky TV series, This England, starring Branagh and focused on Boris Johnson’s handling of the country at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s a neat little circle and one that has the creative juices flowing in the prolific soundtrack artist, now 53, who has an impressive back catalogue, from movies like Ocean’s Eleven to hit TV series Killing Eve.
The Boris Johnson drama is next on his hit list, just one of several projects on the go, and he’s been speaking to music journalist Stuart Bailie in his Dig With It magazine.
David’s job is to provide the music that drives the narrative as Kenneth Branagh, looking every bit the image of Boris Johnson with fat suit and facial prosthetics, as he charms and crashes his way through Downing Street. And it’s a task he’s relished getting his teeth into.
“It’s captivating, isn’t it,” he said. “I never get tired of looking at it because we’ve only just lived through it and (at time of speaking) these (people) are still in power.
“I’ve been profoundly affected by the sheer lawlessness and the dishonesty of the Tory government. When are the people who vote them in ever gonna learn?
“Boris Johnson is starting to make Margaret Thatcher look like she wasn’t doing a bad job. And she was the devil.”
On being asked to provide the soundtrack he said: “It was one of those ones where you think this is amazing. But then on the other hand you’re going, ‘I wish I wasn’t doing this’. I wish the world was in a better place, I wish this didn’t have to be made.
“But I am so glad it’s being made. Working on this and living through this at the same time has just really informed my own work. To the point where I’m actually just churning out songs that I’m really proud of, and they actually mean something.
“I think the only way to get out of this mess is to fight against it in some way.
“I’ve been very active and learning a lot, but also trying to do work on myself. That’s one of the things I did during Covid. ‘What do I want from life?’ And one of the things I realised was that I wanna live. I’ve always had a little militant angle to what I’m doing, but I was profoundly affected by Brexit, by the decision making that was going on, the corruption within the Tory government.”
“I really don’t understand how people aren’t out in the streets in England. But they’re so distracted. Everything’s changing every minute,” he added.
Originally titled This Sceptred Isle, now renamed This England, the Sky TV mini series is due to air in the autumn. The full interview with David Holmes is published in the Summer 2022 edition of Dig With It.