Tag Archives: TV Themes

LP 295: Various – Top BBC TV Themes Volume 4 (BBC, 1981)

18 Dec

Side 1
01 Derek Goom – Juliet Bravo
02 Daryl Runswick – Theme From Maybury (Sky Crying Rain)
03 The Harry South Orchestra – Chinese Detective
04 Paul Shane and The Yellowcoats – Hi De Hi (Holiday Rock)
05 The Nic Rowley Group – Not The Nine O’Clock News
06 Roger Chapman – Speak For Yourself
07 Vangelis – Theme From Cosmos (Heaven And Hell 3rd Movement)

Side 2
08 Ennio Morricone – Chi Mai
09 The Anthony Isaac Orchestra with Eric Hill – Mackenzie
10 The Great Hossack Orchestra – Nanny
11 Daryl Runswick – We The Accused
12 The Pro Musica Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marcus Doda – Poldark
13 The Pro Musica Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marcus Doda – I Claudius
14 The Leon Young Orchestra – Goodbye Darling

Here’s one I made earlier. And seeing as it is Christmas…

Volume 4 of the BBC’s Top TV Themes is easily the weakest volume in the series – unsurprising seeing as we had moved to 1981 and a more rigid approach to television theme composition was now being taken. Nevertheless there are a few surprises that make it worth a purchase.

#1 Derek Goom’s driving and upbeat Juliet Bravo theme. I preferred Stephanie Turner and have just finished watching the second series on DVD.

#2 Harry South Orchestra – Chinese Detective. Atmospheric and groovy with deadly strings.

#3 Vangelis shooting the moon with the stirring Theme From Cosmos.

Side 2 is comprised of relaxed yet serious pieces – no breaks – so very much an acquired taste.

That’s it from me for this year. Who knows what 2012 will bring ?

To all readers – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Comments and feedback are welcome.


LP 277: Norrie Paramor and The Midland Radio Orchestra – The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (BBC, 1974)

11 Aug

Side 1
01 Dance In The Old Fashioned Way
02 For All We Know
03 The Entertainer
04 Solitaire
05 You’re Sixteen
06 As Time Goes By
07 The Ricochet Theme

Side 2
08 The Pallisers Theme
09 Holly Holy
10 When You Smile
11 The Most Beautiful Girl In The World
12 Any Dream Will Do
13 Mah-Na Mah-Na

The Most Beautiful Girl In The World was the follow-up to BBC Top Tunes in late 1974. It’s a consistent LP with a breezy title track, a mournful version of The Pallisers and some great swinging lounge in When You Smile.

Other memorable tracks include the downbeat Solitaire and the funky dollybird brass of The Ricochet Theme. Beat-diggers may dig the groovy version of Mah-Na, Mah-Na that closes the album.

Comments and feedback are welcome.


LP 274: Various – Top BBC TV Themes Volume 3 (BBC, 1980)

7 Aug

Side 1
01 The Frank Barber Orchestra – Dallas
02 Paul Phoenix – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sky (Nunc Dimittis)
03 Richard Denton and Martin Cook – Tomorrow’s World
04 Patrick Halling Chamber Ensemble – Pride And Prejudice
05 George Fenton – Shoestring
06 BBC Radiophonic Workshop – The Body In Question (Greenwich Chorus)
07 Tony Hatch Orchestra – Man Alive

Side 2
08 Gordon Giltrap – Holiday 80/81 (Heartsong)
09 Harry Stoneham Five – Parkinson (Michael’s Theme)
10 Richard Hartley and The Westminster Sinfronia – Penmarric
11 The Frank Barber Orchestra – Knots Landing
12 The Early Music Consort directed by David Munrow – The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (Fanfare, Passomezo Du Roy, Gaillarde D’Escosse)
13 Joe Griffiths – Breakaway
14 Anthony Isaac Orchestra – The Enigma Films

The third volume in the BBC’s television themes round-up is a diverse bag of tricks – a real mix of different styles. Most of them are pretty memorable too and in my opinion it’s a stronger LP than the previous instalment (see LP 253).

Frank Barber brings two US soaps to the table – the unforgettable Dallas and Knots Landing while fans of Shoestring will revel in George Fenton’s rich jazz funk theme. Elsewhere on side one there’s the evocative strains of both Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Pride and Prejudice.

Richard Denton and Martin Denton crop up again – like good twopences – with the storming electronic weirdness of Tomorrow’s World. Speaking of strange sounds, The Body In Question (Greenwich Chorus) is a spooky, almost ghostly composition from Peter Howell and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Groovy lounge cats should be satisfied with the swinging Man Alive and funky Parkinson theme from easy stalwarts Tony Hatch and Harry Stoneham. Gordon Giltrap’s Holiday 80/81 (Heartsong) is a melancholy and meandering epic and easily the finest of the various themes that the show has had during the years.

The lush piano of Penmarric (under the expert conducting of Richard Hartley) makes for a most pleasant palate-cleanser before the baroque old-English sounds of David Munrow giving the six wives of Henry VIII a good seeing-to. That one reminds of Ray Davies’ excursion into the past as The In-Keepers.

The final two tracks maintain the high standard. Joe Griffiths’ Breakaway can be filed under ‘brooding and tense dramatic sounds’ while Anthony Isaac’s take on The Enigma Files is an uplifting piece of lively boogie.

Comments and feedback are welcome.


LP 268: Various – BBC Space Themes (BBC, 1978)

30 Jul

Side 1
01 The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conduced by Carl Böhm – Apollo
02 Dick Mills – Moonbase 3
03 Patrick Michael and His Orchestra – A For Andromeda
04 Frank Chacksfield and His Orchestra – The Sky At Night
05 The London Symphony Orchestra conduced by Aaron Copeland – Apollo Soyuz
06 Frank Weir, His Saxaphone, Chorus and Orchestra – Journey Into Space
07 The Astronauts – Space For Man and The Case of The Ancient Astronauts

Side 2
08 Dudley Simpson Orchestra – Blake’s 7
09 Johnny Keating and His Orchestra – Star Trek
10 The London Symphony Orchestra with The Ambrosian Singers conducted by André Previn – Quatermass
11 Johnny Dankworth Big Band – Tomorrow’s World
12 Delia Derbyshire – Dr. Who

BBC Space Themes is another record that drags me back to my childhood. One of my primary school classmates lent it to me in 1981 so I made a cassette copy on our Philips 3-in-1. It got lots of airplay. I eventually picked up the LP in the mid-1990s – on the same day that I picked up the first In-Flight Entertainment compilation album.

An austere Apollo launches our rocket before Dudley Simpson’s evocative Moonbase 3 (realised by Dick Mills) glides along with a beautiful arrangement. Frank Chackfield’s version of The Sky At Night is immense, an emotional soundscape of wordless wonder. Elsewhere the eerie tones of Journey Into Space usher in the odd and quirky electronics of Peter Howell’s Space For Man And The Case Of The Ancient Astronauts. One of the Radiophonic Workshop’s finest works.

Over on side 2 there are more treats. Blake’s 7 sounds better in this sort of company. I could never warm to the 45 when playing it at home. Star Trek is a revelation, a jazzy creation of sweet grooves from Johnny Keating while the Quatermass theme played by The London Symphony Orchestra is positively epic. This nicely contrasts with the big band arrangement of Tomorrow’s World from another Johnny – this one named Dankworth. We arrive back to earth with the inevitable strains of Dr. Who as realised by Delia Derbyshire.

Enjoy the voyage.

Comments and feedback are welcome.


LP 262: Norrie Paramor and The Midland Radio Orchestra – BBC Top Tunes (BBC, 1974)

21 Jul

Side 1
01 Sweet And Gentle
02 The Sky At Night
03 The Archers
04 Owen M.D. (Sleepy Shores)
05 Midweek
06 Medley: Family Favourites / Top Of The Form / Sing Something Simple / Desert Island Discs

Side 2
07 The Onedin Line
08 Film 74
09 The Forsyte Saga
10 The Lotus Eaters
11 Softly, Softly
12 Medley: Pebble Mill At One / Dad’s Army / Tomorrow’s World / Match Of The Day

Released in 1974, BBC Top Tunes is the first of five collaborations between Norrie Paramor and The Midland Radio Orchestra. Highlights are a groovy version of John Scott’s Midweek theme and a bouyant bash at the Pebble Mill and Tomorrow’s World themes. Check out the fuzzy guitar at the beginning of that sweeping medley.

The remainder of the album is pretty sedate and lush with a strings overload on both Sweet And Gentle and The Forsyte Saga. Sleepy Shores manages to sound pretty haunting, giving Johnny Pearson a decent run for his money.

Comments and feedback are welcome.


LP 253: Various – Top BBC Themes Volume 2 (BBC, 1979)

7 Jul

Side 1
01 Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra conducted by Alexis Zuraitis – Adagio Of Spartacus And Phrygia (Excerpt) From Spartacus Ballet (Theme Of The Onedin Line)
02 Johnny Pearson and His Orchestra – All Creatures Great And Small
03 Matumbi – Empire Road
04 Richard Denton and Martin Cook – The Great Egg Race
05 Dudley Simpson Orchestra – Blake’s 7
06 Anthony Isaac Band – Sexton Blake
07 Ship’s Company and Royal Marine Band of H.M.S. Ark Royal conducted by W.O. Keith Whittall – The Last Farewell (Theme Of Home From The Sea)

Side 2
08 John Dankworth and His Orchestra – Telford’s Change
09 George Kotsonis – Love Theme From The Aphrodite Inheritance
10 Paul Nicholas – Two Up, Two Down
11 Rick Wakeman – Bird Man Of Alcatraz (Theme Of My Son, My Son)
12 Max Harris – A Horseman Riding By (Country Canter)
13 Neil Richardson Orchestra – Approaching Menace (Theme Of Mastermind)
14 Anthony Isaac Band – Don’t Forget To Write

The second in the Top BBC Themes series arrived during the Winter of Discontent in 1979. Things get off to a sedate start with The Onedin Line before the tinkling ivories of Johnny Pearson’s Piano Parchment – the All Creatures Great And Small theme. Sunday afternoon and evening flashbacks. There’s a welcome blast of reggae from Matumbi before the quirky synths of Denton and Cook’s Great Egg Race wade in like Pacman programmers playing a live set.

For space cadets there’s Dudley Simpson’s rather bombastic Blake’s 7 theme. Definitely not a playout tune. Nautical fans will delight with the rousing Home From The Sea while John Dankworth’s lush Telford’s Change makes for a delightful bit of string-jazz. The remaining tracks drift by in a rather colourless haze – although Rick Wakeman’s Bird Man Of Alcatraz is gentle piano in extremis and definitely the pick of the straggling last third.

Comments and feedback are welcome.


LP 251: Norrie Paramor and The Midland Radio Orchestra – My Personal Choice (BBC, 1976)

5 Jul

Side 1
01 Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
02 Midweek
03 The Pallisers Theme
04 The Most Beautiful Girl In The World
05 Ebb Tide
06 Love In Bloom

Side 2
07 When You Smile
08 Sweet and Gentle
09 The Forsyte Saga – Elizabeth of Glamis
10 The Frightened City
11 She
12 Whistle Down The Wind

Another comforting album from my childhood.

My Personal Choice is a compilation of tracks selected from four collaborative albums between Norrie and the Midland Radio Orchestra. It’s an even spread with three tracks from each LP – Norrie picked 11 while the BBC chose one. As a sampler it achieves its aim – showcasing the sound and making us want to delve deeper into the albums themselves. I’ll be featuring each of them later on this year along with 1978’s Volume 4.

From BBC Top Tunes: A groovy version of John Scott’s Midweek theme stands out along with the sedate strings of Sweet And Gentle and The Forsyte Saga.

The Most Beautiful Girl In The World yields a mournful take on The Pallisers, a breezy title track and the swinging lounge of When You Smile.

Radio 2 Top Tunes Volume 2 is represented by the stark and lonely Ebb Tibe, a reflective Love In Bloom and a stirring She.

Radio 2 Top Tunes Volume 3 provides us with the opening track on the LP, a sweet rendition of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. The Frightened City is magnificient – funky and atmospheric with an Eastern flourish. Finally we finish with the powerful Whistle Down The Wind.

Comments and feedback are welcome.