‘In The Blink Of An Eye’ was written by Paul McCartney for the soundtrack of the animated film Ethel & Ernest.

The film was an adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ memoir. ‘In The Blink Of An Eye; was the only new McCartney composition on the soundtrack, which also included a re-recording of Jim McCartney’s composition ‘Walking In The Park With Eloise’.

McCartney’s working title for ‘In The Blink Of An Eye’ was ‘Mum And Dad’. It appeared over the end credits of the film.

The strings were arranged by Carl Davis and performed by the Chamber Orchestra of London.

Raymond Briggs, Camilla Deakin, and myself met up with Paul McCartney in his Soho office on May 14th 2014. I had suggested to Raymond that he might write a letter to Paul to see if he was interested in composing a song for our Ethel & Ernest film. Raymond’s book Fungus The Bogeyman had influenced Paul’s track ‘Bogey Music’ on his 1980 album McCartney II. So that connection, and Paul’s well known love of animation, encouraged us to believe that he might be interested. We were thrilled when he said he was.

At the meeting he produced a CD of some music that he had been working on. One track was entitled ‘Mum And Dad’. This track eventually became ‘In The Blink Of An Eye’ which we have used over the end credits.

Raymond and Paul found many connections as they chatted. They had both been grammar school boys, and their fathers were both auxiliary firemen in World War 2. We talked about Paul’s father being a band leader, and how he composed a piece of music that Paul later recorded. The track is called ‘Walking In The Park With Eloise’, and we suggested to him that it would be really nice to have it in the film.

We had a chat about the style of Ethel & Ernest. I said it would be hand drawn animation but there would be 3D elements in it for vehicles, planes, and the mangle that Ethel uses for washing. We showed him some of the artwork for the film. He stopped at a picture of the mangle in the scullery and recalled how he and his brother used to try and feed old 78rpm records through the rollers to see if they could get them through without breaking. He laughed and added, ‘we couldn’t!’

Fast forward two years and as we neared completion of the film we made contact with Paul’s office again. By this time Carl Davis was on board and by coincidence rather than design this proved to be an excellent opportunity to revive a collaboration that had begun twenty five years previously. In 1991 the first performance of Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio was conducted by Carl Davis in Liverpool Cathedral. Carl and Paul had collaborated on the oratorio to celebrate the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s 150th anniversary. Now in 2016, Paul and Carl met up again to work on the string arrangement of the Mum and Dad theme. Paul was touring in 2016, playing to sold out stadiums in the US and Europe, but in July he had a small window in his busy schedule. He wrote and performed some lyrics, recording them at his Hog Hill Mill studio in Sussex. The string arrangement was conducted by Carl and performed by the Chamber Orchestra Of London. It was recorded at Angel studios under the music direction of Chris Egan. […]

The recordings took place in May 2016 at Angel Studios in north London. Carl conducted the Chamber Orchestra Of London in two sessions with Chris Egan as musical director. The first used a classical ensemble for the main theme, the mood setting passages, and the cinematic war time sequences. The second was a jazz ensemble who recreated the authentic sound of a 1920s jazz band.

Roger Mainwood
Director, Ethel & Ernest

‘In The Blink Of An Eye’, with ‘Walking In The Park With Eloise’ on the b-side, was a previously-unreleased single included in the 2022 box set The 7″ Singles Box.



Decca Records is set to release a special CD and digital version of the soundtrack for the eagerly anticipated feature film Ethel & Ernest, an animated adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ classic graphic novel and tribute to his parents. Available to buy and download from 28th October, the CD features the original score, composed by internationally renowned composer and conductor Carl Davis, alongside tracks from the 1920s to the 1960s including music from Gracie Fields, Charles Penrose, Juliette Greco, The Shadows and Dave Berry and an original song written and performed by Paul McCartney.

Based on the 1998 book by the acclaimed British author and illustrator, the beautifully hand-drawn film spans 40 years and tells the true story of Raymond’s parents – Ethel and Ernest – two ordinary Londoners living through a period of extraordinary events and immense social change; from their first chance meeting in 1928, through the birth of their son Raymond in 1934, to their deaths, within months of each other, in 1971. A team of top British acting talent make up the voice cast including Jim Broadbent, Brenda Blethyn, Luke Treadaway, Virginia McKenna, Pam Ferris, June Brown, Roger Allam and Simon Day.

Ethel & Ernest is Carl Davis’s first score for an animated feature and is performed by the Chamber Orchestra of London with a piano solo by Huw Watkins. Original recordings of songs and tunes from the 1920s through to the 1970s accompany the score, including ‘Apple Blossom Time’ by Victor Silvester, ‘The Deepest Shelter in Town’ by Florence Desmond, ‘We’ll Meet Again’ by Jack Hylton, ‘Singing in the Bathtub’ by Gracie Fields, ‘Sous Le Ciel de Paris’ by Juliette Greco, ‘Foot Tapper’ by the Shadows and ‘Little Things’ by Dave Berry.

In addition, two tracks in the film come from a very famous musical family. Back in the 1920s Paul’s father, James McCartney, wrote a tune called ‘Walking in the Park with Eloise’ when he was leader of the Jim Mac’s Jazz band, a version of which was recorded by Paul as The Country Hams in 1974. This has been re-arranged specially for the film by Carl Davis and performed by the Chamber Orchestra of London. In addition Paul himself has written and performed a brand new song for the film -‘In The Blink Of An Eye’.

‘I am proud to be a member of the team that translated Raymond Briggs’ profound book into an elegant and matchless film,’ says Carl Davis. ‘It is a superb achievement.’

Ethel & Ernest spans 40 years of the 20th century, from 1928 to 1971. So when it came to weaving contemporary songs and tunes into the story we were able to choose some of the finest popular music ever recorded,’ says director Roger Mainwood. ‘You will hear the big band sounds of the 1930s, popular romantic ballads from the war years, comic songs in the music hall tradition, right through to the pop culture of the 1960s. There are familiar classics in the mix but we also wanted audiences to be surprised by some less well known tracks.’

Produced by Lupus Films in association with Ethel & Ernest Productions, Melusine Productions and Cloth Cat Animation and supported by the BFI, BBC, Film Fund Luxembourg, Ffilm Cymru Wales and the Welsh Government, Ethel & Ernest is set for theatrical release on 28th October 2016. The BBC will broadcast the film on TV in the UK later in the year.

2016 press release

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