Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Sound of ITV: The Nation's Favourite

Benny Hill in 1958 (Courtesy: Telegraph)

The Sound of ITV: The Nation’s Favourite Theme Tunes was shown this evening to mark the 60th anniversary of ITV. This programme consists of a countdown of the top 20 ITV theme tunes from a viewers’ poll. But, where were the themes for Weekend World, World in Action, Stingray, The Persuaders, Hazell and Taggart?

20. Surprise, Surprise, a light entertainment programme concerned with reuniting family members, and introduced by Cilla Black. The title song was written by Kate Robbins and sung by the host, Cilla Black. Robbins, an impressionist, demoed the song in Cilla’s voice.
19. This is Your Life, a biographical TV documentary, had a piece of music called Gala Performance, written by Laurie Johnson of The Avengers fame.
18. World of Sport, a Saturday afternoon sports programme, with a march by Australian jazz violinist and composer, Don Harper.
17. Emmerdale Farm, a soap set in the Yorkshire dales, with a theme by Tony Hatch. A Swedish version of this with words exists.
16. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, a game show with a theme by Keith Strachan, taken from Mars of The Planets Suite by Holst and the song, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
15. The Adventures of Robin Hood, first shown on 25th September 1955, 3 days after ITV was launched. The song was performed by Dick James and produced by George Martin at Abbey Road. James went on to become a famous music publisher.
14. Blockbusters, hosted by Bob Holness, began in 1983 and was the first quiz show to be broadcast 5 days a week. The music was by Ed Welch.
13. The Sweeney, a cop show with John Thaw and Dennis Waterman. The music is by jazz pianist and band leader, Harry South.
12. The Professionals, an action series with Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins, and a theme by the classically trained Laurie Johnson.
11. ITN News From 1967, with The Awakening by Johnny Pearson.
10. Minder, a comedy-drama starring Dennis Waterman, had a theme performed by the star and co-written with Gerard Kenny, who wrote New York, New York.
9. Coronation Street, the longest running soap opera, had a piece called Lancashire Blues. It was recorded on 1st December 1960, with Ronnie Hunt on trumpet. He was paid £6.00. It was updated in 2010 by Christopher Deacon.
7. Poirot, a detective series based on Agatha Christie stories, had a theme tune composed by Christopher Gunning. It is one of two tunes in joint seventh place.
7. Inspector Morse, a detective series based in Oxford, had a theme tune composed by Barrington Phelong and is based on the Morse code for Morse.
6. Downton Abbey, a period drama, written by Julian Fellowes, with music by John Lunn (based on Elgar).
5. Vandervalk, about a Dutch detective set in Amsterdam, starring Barry Foster. Eye Level by The Simon Park Orchestra on EMI was the first ITV theme tune to make no 1 in the singles chart. It sold over one million copies.
4. The Avengers, a spy series, with Laurie Johnson’s third theme in this chart. The piece was introduced with the appearance of Diana Rigg.
3. Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, a series of sinister stories with a tune by Australian born composer Ron Grainer. Choreography in the titles was by Arlene Phillips. The dancer was Karen Standley.
2. Thunderbirds, a children’s puppet show co-created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, employed a march by Barry Gray, using a 30 piece orchestra. The series ended in 1966, but was brought back in 2015. They retained the original theme.
1. The Benny Hill Show (1969-89), consisting of comedy sketches, featured a piece called Yakety Sax written by Boots Randolph (1963). ITV’s favourite theme tune featured the tenor sax of Peter Hughes.


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