Ten Tracks Today – A TV Themes Special #2 – 25th November 2011

I’m indulging in another trip down TV memory lane!

01 – “Main Titles Theme” – The AvengersLaurie Johnson

A retro start with Johnson’s theme from this 1960s series. I was never a fan of the original version – I think that I was just a shade too young for this. But I did watch the latter incarnation, The New Avengers. But Johnson’s theme here is an iconic and very enjoyable one.

02 – “Theme” – Midnight CallerBrad Fiedel

I loved this show and the great jazzy title theme was a highlight to the evening’s viewing (I think it aired on a Saturday night when it was especially popular). It’s the trendy and funky jazz feel to it that I enjoy most. And there’s just enough ’80s synth pop for it not to be too dated now.

03 – “Title Theme (Long Version)” – The A-TeamMike Post & Pete Carpenter

Another iconic TV theme that fits the tone of the show it fronts like a glove. What I particularly liked with themes such as this was the combination of things like electric guitars and a prominent drum kit rhythm with an orchestra. Daniel Caine’s re-recording nails the original sound (as far as I can remember!)

04 – “Title Theme” – World of SportDon Harper

To any UK readers in their mid-to-late 40s this theme will be defining piece of music as they grew up. Fronting a Saturday afternoon sports programme that filled the entire afternoon with a variety of sports – I remember horse racing and wrestling (it was a direct challenge to the BBC’s version, Grandstand – which also had a great theme). As well as the main theme itself, I liked the secondary, woodwind/xylophone theme and I always hoped that the credits would run long enough for it to be played (or for mum and dad not to change channels too soon after the show had finished).

05 – “Theme (Heavy Action)” – SuperstarsJohnny Pearson

Fancy watching a whole bunch of 1970s celebrities participating in a TV show, each one competing against one another in a variety of sports? Superstars was your show. And, like World of Sport, Johnny Pearson’s theme became a solid point in my increasing interest in themes for television. Masculine percussion, in-your-face strings, this was a gutsy piece of music (and still is) that lit up the screen. It’s such a catchy tune, it must feature in my Top 20 TV themes ever – if not the Top 10. You just don’t get themes like this being done today. (The track may have actually have been a piece of library music that was used on the show.)

06 – “Main Theme” – Hawaii Five-0Mort Stevens

What can I say? Awesome, catchy, timeless. This is definitely in my Top 10 list – and I’d wager most peoples’ top list. There’s not a single wasted note or second in this entire theme. Love the brass, love the rhythms and love the keyboards. The counterpoint woodwinds midway through the theme is what I always sing along with.

07 – “Title Theme” – Crown CourtLeos Janacek

This was a courtroom-based drama (an early 1970s soap I suppose) that was always on (it was a daily weekday programme) when I would come home from primary school for lunch. Many British actors cut their baby teeth on this show. And the beginning of Janacek’s Allegretto from his Sinfonietta was used as the opening theme. Another highlight theme from my childhood (though at the time I did not realise that it was a “classical piece”).

08 – “Main Title” – North and SouthBill Conti

One of the greatest themes for a TV serialisation in my opinion. Like Stevens’ theme for Hawaii Five-0 I don’t think that there is a single wasted second in this theme. The bold fanfare of the primary theme is wonderful but the bridging passage is also great – and quite emotional for me for some reason. This secondary “theme” may actually be more of a favourite of mine compared with the true main theme.

09 – “The Doctor’s Theme” – Doctor Who (Series 1 & 2) – Murray Gold

Not a “proper title theme”, the Doctor’s theme is a hypnotic piece of music that is such a memorable piece because of the haunting vocals of Melanie Pappenheim. It’s a theme that focuses on the Doctor’s mysterious parts of his character rather than setting him up as some sort of a hero figure.

10 – “Chigley Waltz” – ChigleyFreddie Phillips

Bang goes any remaining credibility I may have had. Picture this, a group of tired workmen have finished a hard day’s work in the factory. It’s 6 o’clock and the factory whistle blows and, as tradition dictates, it’s time for the usual waltz with the women-folk. And this is the piece that they dance to. Unfortunately for me, this is the late 1960’s and all the characters are very crude stop-motion animations. This is a kiddies programme. But I just love these TV shows made by Gordon Murray and set in Trumptonshire.

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