JOHN Lunn has won two Emmys and been nominated for three BAFTAs so it’s fair to say he views work on a big commission for Sky, Netflix or ITV, say, as just another day at the office – though in his case “office” means the East London studio in which, surrounded by analogue synths, harps, guitars and even a gong, he composes his award-winning soundtracks.

But there are some days when the 63-year-old Scot really does feel a little giddy at it all. One came earlier this month when he was flown to New York and, suited and booted, invited to walk the red carpet at the star-studded US premiere of the film version of Downton Abbey, everyone’s favourite Edwardian upstairs/downstairs romp.

“It was spectacular,” he says, still sounding a little awestruck. “They had a fantastic party afterwards in the Plaza Hotel, opposite Central Park. I still do pinch myself a little bit, I have to say.”

Lunn’s compositions have been a staple of Downton Abbey since it first aired in 2010. He has scored each of its six series as well as the film version, which is set in 1927 and finds the Crawley family entertaining King George V and his wife Queen Mary. It was for his work on the blockbuster series that he won the two Emmys, the first in in 2012, the second the following year. It also brought him a Royal Television Award for Best Score though in its way the accolade bestowed on him by Classic FM is perhaps most telling of the lot: in a 2016 listeners’ poll of the best TV theme ever written, Lunn’s Downton Abbey Theme came top.

Looking back, Lunn admits to being “quite surprised” at how well liked Downton Abbey was when the first series aired (it took STV unawares too: the station didn’t even bother to show it at the time).

“I thought it would do well because the production values really were pretty high, it looked good, there was some great acting and it was well written,” he says. “But like everybody else I was a bit surprised that the subject material would prove to be so popular. I’d done things like Little Dorrit [2008] and Bleak House [2005], Dickens adaptations which were enormously successful here and in America, and I thought if it does as well as either of them, that’ll be great. I’ll be perfectly happy with that. Little did I know it would eclipse both of them by some distance.”

But while nobody now doubts the power of the series on the small screen, it still wasn’t a given that it would translate well to the multiplex.

“What everybody was concerned about was whether we could motivate an audience who was used to seeing it on a Sunday evening to go to the cinema,” says Lunn. “But amazingly, that seems to have happened.”

And how. When the film was released in the US it beat both Brad Pitt’s Ad Astra and Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo: Last Blood to top the box office, taking $41 million (£33 million) in its opening weekend and setting a new record for what industry bible Variety terms a “specialty studio” (in this case, London-based Carnival Films). The reviews weren’t bad either.

Lunn has lived most of his adult life in London but he was born in Glasgow in 1956, grew up in Bridge of Allan from the age of five and attended Stirling High School. Although born to musical parents – his father had played in a jazz band in the 1950s – he came late to playing music himself.

“Because my father had been a sax player there was a lot of music in the house. At the age of 12 or 13 I was kind of absorbing it all and I got into a lot of the rock music that was around then, like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. My dad suggested I take up an instrument and I heard Paul Tortelier playing the cello on the television and thought ‘That sounds quite interesting’.”

He asked at school and was told there was no chance of cello lessons, but if he wanted he could try the double bass instead. He decided to give it a shot. He was 13 at the time, quite old to be taking up an instrument.

“As soon as I started I just knew. I got really good at it really quickly. I took up piano lessons about six months later and after that nobody could stop me. Nobody had to tell me to practice.

“To be honest, I think I was a bit unhappy before that. Those early years at secondary school are quite difficult and I didn’t quite know where I fitted in. I was scrabbling around looking for something to hold on to and music provided that in abundance. I just went with it.”

His next move, then, was a no-brainer: Glasgow University where, aged 18, he studied music and threw himself and his double bass into the city’s music scene. At one point he played in a band with Craig Armstrong, now also a noted composer of film scores.

In 1983 Lunn was offered a publishing contract with Chrysalis Records and moved to London. He has lived in the city ever since. For a few years he became, as he puts it, “a bit involved in pop music” but his preferred outlet was a series of bands he describes as “experimental”. The most notable was Man Jumping, an electro-jazz fusion group signed to EG Records, also home to Brian Eno, Robert Fripp and Penguin Café Orchestra.

Then, in the late 1980s, Lunn shifted focus and began to work as both composer and musician in the field of contemporary dance, where he brushed shoulders with people like dancer Michael Clark and choreographer Christopher. He worked mostly with the Rambert Dance Company but also with the London Contemporary Dance Theatre. “I found I quite enjoyed writing a kind of story element in music,” he says, “and from there really it was just one move into writing for film and TV.”

He wrote his first score for television in 1989, for a BBC play called The Gift, and throughout the early 1990s he continued to write for long-forgotten series such as Backup and The Ghostbusters Of East Finchley. Then, in 1995, came his big break: Hamish Macbeth, an amiable BBC drama following the life of a policeman in rural Scotland.

Filmed in Plockton, it ran to three series and proved an unlikely hit. Lunn wasn’t the only one involved who moved on to bigger and better things. Robert Carlyle had the title role and if you scan through the credits you’ll also find Shirley Henderson and Alastair Mackenzie as well as Skins creator Bryan Elsley and Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, in a rare writing role.

Today, Lunn isn’t the only working composer with the Midas touch. But since that first major commission his CV has been peppered with landmark productions, many of them period pieces. There was The White Queen, nominated for a Golden Globe in 2014. There was Bleak House, nominated for 10 Emmy Awards and winner of the Best Drama Serial award at the 2006 BAFTAs. There was Burton And Taylor, which starred Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter as the starring battling couple and which picked up a clutch of award nominations on both sides of the Atlantic. There have been many others.

With his own Emmy wins and the higher profile they brought, Lunn would have been well placed to make the move to the US. Was he ever tempted? He had plenty offers, he says, but he turned them down.

“It was a difficult period for me to have gone over to America because both my kids were in secondary school and they were quite happy where they were. I was getting plenty of work here and anyway six months of the year was taken up doing Downton.”

It hasn’t proved to be a mistake. Among Lunn’s recent compositions are the soundtracks for BBC Scotland’s police series Shetland; Sky One’s historical drama Jamestown, set in 1619 in the American colony of the same name; and, for Netflix, The Last Kingdom, an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories, set in England in the Dark Ages.

He’s particularly proud of the last one, a collaboration with genre-spanning Faroese singer Eivør Pálsdóttir, also known for her work with composer Gavin Bryars.

“I think what we’ve done for The Last Kingdom is possibly about the most original thing I’ve done,” he says. A long way from the Downton Abbey soundtrack, which he describes as being “like a combination of Coldplay and Philip Glass”, it relies almost entirely on his studio’s battery of analogue synthesisers, though there is one other element: for the first time, he has found a use for that gong.

Downton Abbey: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is out now (Decca Records/Decca Gold)

Best trait? I’m fairly calm, even in a crisis.

Worst trait? You’d have to ask my wife, but possibly some level of hypocrisy!

Last book read? The Road To Wigan Pier by George Orwell

Last film watched? I’ve just finished Chernobyl and I thought it was brilliant.

Who’s in your fantasy rock group and what do you play? It’s not exactly rock but I’d have loved to have been Miles Davis’s bass player between 1969 and 1975 playing alongside the likes of Keith Jarrett, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin etc.

Best advice received? Study at Glasgow University, given to me by my head of music at Stirling High School, Mr. Melville.

Ideal dinner party guests? Nicola Sturgeon, Billy Connolly and Brian Eno