Saturday, 29 January 2011

Neil Richardson

This is very late to write about his, I know, but it was only in this past week that I read of that Neil Richardson passed away in November. You might not know the name, but Neil Richardson wrote ‘Approaching Menace’, the theme of Mastermind. I’m sure that he wrote much else besides, but I wonder if any other piece of music he ever composed put the wind up quite so many people as “Approaching Menace” has in its time ?

When you record a show, you are doing it in a studio complete with audience, and the theme is not something that is dubbed on afterwards in production. You sit there, you get counted down to when recording of the show is going to begin, and then they play the music at full blast. The first time that you take part in a show, that’s the part where it all starts to get a bit weird. There’s no doubt at all that the start of the show is an intimidating experience, and that owes a lot to the music, which was absolutely perfect for the show.

In “I’ve Started So I’ll Finish” if I recall correctly Magnus describes how Bill Wright found the piece, newly composed, within the BBC library. Fortunate occurrence for all concerned.


Jennifer Turner said...

One thing I've always wondered about "Approaching Menace" is whether it was ever actually used for its intended purpose in drama. I have it on a TV themes compilation where its copyright date is given as 1968, so it was around for a couple of years before "Mastermind" arrived on the scene. Is there perhaps a thriller from 1968/9 where the villain creeps around to the sound of "Bom Bom Bom-BOM!"? It would be rather jarring now of course, like the way the Channel 4 News theme turns up in Clint Eastwood's "Pale Rider".

Tim F said...

Completely agree. I was on MM in 1994, and everyone had a lovely time doing the dummy questions and the tea and sarnies and Magnus was a sweetie and nobody seemed nervous at all. Even the daunting chair was really rather comfy.

Then we took our seats for the real thing, still rather relaxed, and the lights went down and the music started and I think all four of us gulped in unison...

Londinius said...

Hi Jenny

Really good question. No idea, I'm afraid, although I have never heard of anyone saying that they heard it somewhere else, so I'd guess not. Or maybe it was on some late 60s thing which was wiped during the 70s when the BBC had one of their occasional bouts of shortsightedness.

Hi Tim and welcome to LAM

I notice you mention about doing the dummy questions, and I remember Magnus writing about them in the book. They don't do that now ! The first glimpse you get of the chair is when you are walking onto the set, and the audience is already in and everything. Its the ultimate case of put up or shut up !

Thanks for dropping by and taking the time and trouble to leave a comment.


Unknown said...

Approaching Menace, initially written for the KPM music library, was first used in a BBC radio production of the "Wooden Horse" (WW2 PoW drama), about two years before Mastermind came along. In terms of other music you may know, there's 'Riviera Affair' and many, many others.
Neil Richardson Jnr