James studied the organ, flute & composition at the Royal College of Music, then later Musical Theatre with Stephen Sondheim at St Catherine’s College, Oxford.
He won the 1988 Vivian Ellis Prize (with Kit Hesketh-Harvey) for their first musical Orlando.
Subsequent shows include Yusupov (with Kit H-H & Stephen Clark) (Bridewell Theatre, Symonton & Mountview in 2015), The Canterville Ghost (with Anthony Drewe), RCM Workshop (but then our book writer died – aged 90 – so it all rather fell to pieces) Edna, The Spectacle (2000 with Kit H-H) (Theatre Royal, Haymarket & National tour) starring Dame Edna/Barry Humphries, Yarico (2015 with Carl Miller) London Theatre Workshop. He contributed to The Mercury Workshop Review (Jermyn St) and The Challenge (Shaw Theatre)
Incidental theatre music includes Blue Remembered Hills & The Merchant of Venice (Crucible, Sheffield), All In The Timing (Nottingham Playhouse), A Doll’s House (Salisbury Playhouse)
Sidetracked by (frankly) hard cash – between 2001 and 2014 – James wrote the scores for over 150 TV documentaries & dramas and films, amongst them the Emmy Award-winning Ten Days To D Day, Adolf & Eva (New York Festival Gold Badge), Another Life, starring Ioan Gruffud, Nick Moran & Tom Wilkinson and Detention starring David Carradine in his final role.
He wrote and presented the Channel 4 documentaries What Made Mozart Tic? (2003), and more recently Addict’s Symphony (2014)
His book Life Interrupted (Publ. Headline 2003) went to the top of the Amazon bestseller lists in its first week, and is probably still available somewhere if you look hard enough.
James now writes and performs original (mostly comedy) cabaret songs with Kit Hesketh-Harvey. Currently resident at London’s The Pheasantry, Kit & McConnel are regulars at cabaret venues, theatres and festivals (Edinburgh & Aldeburgh) up and down the country , as well as private gigs (David Cameron’s 50th birthday party) and can be found here: http://www.kitandmcconnel.com