Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? the composer dies at 50
Matthew Strachan, the composer who co-wrote the musical theme for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ?, has died at the age of 50.
He wrote the quiz theme and dramatic stage music with his father Keith.
It became known around the world thanks to the many international versions of the program.
Strachan has also composed for The National Lottery and EastEnders, and created a series of fake 1970s porn soundtracks.
“Matthew was loved by his family and he will be sadly missed,” Keith Strachan told the BBC.
“He was a warm, funny and talented human being.”
The father-son team wrote a total of 95 pieces of music for the show over eight days in 1998.
They went on to win the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers award for the most broadcast piece of music on American television for 10 consecutive years, earning them a place in the Hall of Fame of the organization.
Speaking to BBC Radio London in 2014, Strachan recalled the “unusual circumstances” he was called upon to write the iconic score.
He said: “… An unreleased pilot was made from the show and it failed, it just didn’t work.
“The executive producer of the show stopped by one morning and called the whole creative team and said ‘we’re going to have to throw it all away and start over because if we don’t, ITV is just gonna shoot it. back to that ‘”.
Strachan said he and his father were called to a meeting, and after watching the show and talking to the director, it was “finally decided that there should be 95 pieces of music … to cover all eventualities of this. happening in the show “.
He added: “There is a piece of music for each event, there is a piece of music for when the lights go out, then there is an underline for the questions…[it’s] the idea that it should be pretty subliminal.
“And then we had the brilliant idea – which made us a rod for our own back – to put the music in a semitone every time there was a new question, to sort of increase a bit the stakes – but it increased our workload … we were working around the clock to do this thing. “
Reflecting on why the program was a “particularly good piece of television,” he said: “The format is great, it’s very simple, it’s very intimate and there’s a tension inherent in it, that’s why I think all this lighting and music works for it. “
Cleverly, father and son recorded each piece of music in multiple tones – so that every time a new question was asked, the music went up a semitone, subconsciously raising the stakes.
Strachan’s other works included music for Home Front on BBC Radio 4 and some comedy shows by Jasper Carrott on the BBC, most notably the police parody The Detectives.
He also created the alter-ego Klaus Harmony, “The Mozart of Porn”, who released several albums of “erotic masterpieces” that would have been the soundtrack to cheap exploitation films of the 1970s.
With song titles like Cream The Oink, Kosmik Ladywave, Rempenmeister and Jesus, You Really Do Mean Diamonds, Don’t You, the albums have become cult.
“He could have done anything [after Millionaire] but he did that “, wrote his friend and fellow composer Daniel Pemberton on Twitter. Matthew made records called things like Wundercrotchen and Funky Sexy Shop. That’s what he wanted out of life.
“I loved it. It says a lot about being a songwriter that money is rarely the goal – basically all most of us really want to do is just do music. music.”
Writer Dirk Maggs also paid tribute, remember Strachan on Twitter as a “dear friend and massive talent” who had been “sweet, kind, talented and wickedly funny”.
Composer Kevin Sargent added that Strachan had been “a talented, intelligent and funny man whose most famous work redefined the game show genre”.
According to his company biography, Strachan also wrote scores for musicals and wrote two detective novels with his wife Bernadette under the pseudonym MB Vincent.
Earlier this year, he was charged with arson after setting his house on fire.