Last night’s edition of Howard’s Way on BBC4, after climaxing with someone running in slow motion down a gangplank, slipping onto the wood and somehow contriving, in the next shot, to be sinking underwater, brought forth the reviving strains of the Simon May Orchestra wigging out to a disco beat.
It is, and forever will be, a superlative example of a TV theme whose opening is totally surpassed by its closing, wherein an epilogue of barnstorming proportions unfolds out of nothing before sinking back into the strains of the original melody.
Superlative, that is, along with these:
– ‘Allo ‘Allo. The beginning is just a boring accordion. The ending has all kinds of funny business going on with high octave strings and sashaying cymbals. Then again, as We Had Been Watching what felt like 257 people, some kind of extended instrumental variation was mandatory.
– The Bill and EastEnders. Two you don’t hear anymore these days thanks to the need to speedupendcreditstothepointthatyoucantreallyreadanyofthematleastnotwithoutavideorecorderthatallowsyoutoviewprogrammesoneframeatatime. That twiddly bit, or middle eight, in The Bill closing theme – the section where the keyboards sped up faster and faster for no reason other than to sound brilliant – is sorely missed.
– Miss Marple. The BBC/Joan Hickson vintage, that is. Given the final credits went on for hours, a set of instrumental extemporisations was once more obligatory, and once again it was lovely, in particular that call-and-response section between the low brass and the high woodwind, and then that tiny interlude of calm with the theme being played on a solitary harp, before the entire orchestra came bristling back in, parping to a halt.
– Ever Decreasing Circles. The opening piano melody is sublime enough, but the closing section, recapping the theme before coming to rest in a quiet, plaintive, melancholy coda, is just wondrous.
– A Bit Of Fry And Laurie. To be specific, the second series, the one which opened superbly enough – with Stephen and Hugh larking around central London – but closed even more spectacularly with a shot of a piano keyboard playing itself, with not two but four unseen hands dazzling their way through the finale from Carnival Of The Animals.
– You Rang M’Lord. Anything that involves *still more* of Bob Monkhouse singing has to be a good thing.