Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Lisa chose Blockbusters - How about you?

If you read my interview with Egghead Lisa Thiel – and if not why not – you might have noticed that Lisa made a statement that she wished she could have appeared on Blockbusters back in its Bob Holness heyday, and because it “still wins the best quiz theme tune stakes” – Lisa’s words. Well, I don’t deny that the Blockbusters theme, “Quiz Wizard” by Ed Welch is a very fine example of the genre. But the greatest?

Well, ‘greatest’ is often a subjective concept. Many of the themes I like for example belong to the shows I grew up with. It isn’t just that either. There are themes which, as a piece of music, would never find their way onto my ipod (if I was possessed of such a new-fangled article) yet fitted their show perfectly.

For what it’s worth, then, here are – in no particular order – ones which I’ve liked, or which have particularly stuck in my memory -

Mastermind – Approaching Menace – Neil Richardson
anything Mastermind is a fave of mine anyway, but was there ever a theme that gave you a more accurate idea of what the contestants were in for? Pure class.
University Challenge – College Boy by Derek New.
I like the Balanescu Quartet used now, but if anything I preferred the older ITV version more. I miss the kettle drum.
Brain of Britain – Eine Kleine Nachtmusick (K. 525 Serenade No. 13 in G major, IV Rondo) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Marvellous work from the young whippersnapper – he should really do more theme tunes in my opinion.
Ask the Family (Original version) - "Acka Raga" by Joe Harriott and John Mayer.
This was quite unlike any other theme on telly, and all the better for it too. Mind you, I liked Sun Ride which came in the later Robert Robinson series too, but for me Acka Raga was the definitive ATF theme.
Who Wants to Be A Millionaire - Keith and Matthew Strachan
One of the few shows which came long after my childhood to make that much of an impression on me. IMHO this is a real classic of the genre. All the more impressive considering that according to the UK Gameshows website, the decision was made to scrap the original Pete Waterman theme, and they were given ten days to come up with this.
Bullseye – John Patrick
As I said, you wouldn’t exactly want this one on constant play on your ipad, but it fit the show as snugly as Approaching Menace fit Mastermind. They used to do that clever thing with the end theme as well, in playing the sad version when the contestants lost.
Going for Gold - Composed by Hans Zimmer and Sandy McClelland.
Yes, that Hans Zimmer. The show was, well, cheap and cheerful tat, and the theme music – well I don’t know how cheap it was, but it certainly qualified as totally naff. In fact I wouldn’t even remember it apart from being intruged by the way that the theme had lyrics – which managed to completely and utterly avoid anything even resembling a rhyme. This from the UK Gameshows website : -
Going for gold!
The heat is on, the time is right,
It's time for you, for you to play your game.
'Cause people are coming, everyone's trying,
Trying to be the best that they can,
When they're going for... going for... Gold.”
You don’t have to be good to be memorable.
Top of the Form - "Marching Strings" by Marshall Ross, performed by Ray Martin and His Concert Orchestra -
Now there’s a theme which was value for money. Not only was it the radio theme for the majority of its very long run, but also for the Television Top of the Form spin off as well. Utterly stirring – makes you proud to be British, what?!
Screen Test – Marching There And Back by Syd Dale –
You might not remember the show. It was a 1970s BBC childrens movie quiz, originally fronted by Michael “Tomorrow’s World” Rodd. Another stirring piece plenty of plinky plonk from the piano and xylophone, and a fair old bit of banging on the big bass drum – I think Jonathan Ross used it again for one of his series in the 90s.
Sale of the Century – Joyful Pete – by Peter Fenn
I cite this one not because of any particular excellence on its part, but because it is typical and so representative of its early 70s period. Just a couple of bars of it is enough to make you jump out of your G-Plan chair, close your orange Brentford Nylons curtains, turn the 8 track on and reach for the fondue set.
Going for a Song - First movement from Respighi's suite Gli Uccelli (The Birds)
You have to be as long in the tooth as I am to remember this one. Before the Antiques Roadshow we had this, more a sort of panel game than a quiz if I recall correctly. The most memorable thing was this lovely little piece, which faded into the trilling song of an automaton songbird in a cage. Sweet.

There are others I rather liked too – for example: -
Every Second Counts – John Mealing
The Chase – Paul Farrer
Only Connect – Dawson Sabatini – played by The Brodsky Quartet -
Krypton Factor – Mike Moran
A Question of Sport

But that’s just me. How about you? Do you agree with Lisa, and would you award the title of The Greatest Quiz Theme to Blockbusters? What are your favourites? Why not let us know?

As regards the greatest TV theme of all time (any genre) – don’t know. But as for the most evocative – well one of them at least, try this one – especially if you’re over 40 : -

Simply one of the most evocative TV Themes of All Time


George Millman said...

Currently I really like Only Connect and University Challenge. As for previous years, I agree with you about Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? I also liked the theme music for The People Versus back in 2001, but I liked everything about that programme really. The titles were awesome, with quick flashes of seemingly random things, which I think were meant to emphasise the nature of general knowledge.

As for the best TV show titles of all time - I have decided this in the past. There are quite a lot on my list, but my favourite will always be the 90s drama Queer As Folk. I used to watch episodes on 4OD and then go to bed afterwards, and I'd be lying awake with the theme music running through my head!

By the way, have you noticed that since this new series has started, the Only Connect interactive game is no longer on the website? You can still play the old Walls, but they aren't uploading the play-along ones and you can't submit your own anymore. I wonder if that is to do with moving to BBC Two? I hope they can bring it back at some point, it was so much fun.

Ray Hamel said...

Among the current shows, I like "University Challenge" best, followed by "Pointless."

Gavin Tillman said...

I think there may have been two different Screen Test theme tunes. A perhaps a different one at the start and end.

Much prefer the old school UC theme to the current one, which I find twee.

Skiffle.cat said...

I think my favourite quiz show theme is for Mastermind - it really means business and is quite scary the first time you hear it played in the studio as recording starts.

I prefer the old version of the University Challenge theme. The new one seems to be played at a pitch more suited to dogs.

Overall favourite themes include Blakes 7, Van Der Valk, Black Beauty, and the originals of Blue Peter and Dr Who.

Londinius said...

Hi Gillian,

Great choices.
Blakes 7 - yes (I was always far more of Doctor Who fan than a Blakes 7 fan, but yes, great theme)
Van der Valk - yes - even though it was slightly spoiled for me by being used in a lager advert ( Oranjeboum, oranjeboum, it's a lager not a tune etc.)
Black Beauty - great and stirring stuff, perfect accompaniment to longshots of beautiful black horse galloping across field
Blue Peter (Barnacle Bill? Something like that.)Another - not on my ipod but it fitted the show perfectly - track
Dr. Who - most definitely

I seem to recall that Belle and Sebastian and The White Horses had good themes too. Come to think of it I liked Roobarb as well.

Skiffle.cat said...

Oh yes, the Roobarb music is brilliant !