How to honour its fresh and forward-looking ethos?
Well, naturally we’ve given up trying to think of something new and instead have done a partial resurrection of what used to be the most popular section of the old site: the TV Themes page.
For a limited period (possibly), here for you to listen to are some of the most unlikely yet somehow winning musical offcuts that graced the pages of TV Cream a decade or so ago.
Note: Some of the following contain over-long and over-wrought extrapolations of ratings-friendly notions to the sound of a disco beat.
Take it away, Bruce!
THE GENERATION GAME
Superb full-length version of the titular theme, where in Brucie develops the “life is the name of the game” concept to somewhat sociological yet reassuringly toe-tapping proportions. With gutsy big band backing, our man cautions wisely that we “remember life’s a gamble; when choosing partners you should take a little care”.
“Well, mustn’t keep the taxi waiting. I know I’ll never forget everyone. And though I’m gonna be on the other side of the world, there’ll always be a part of me that is Ramsay Street… and you will always be… my Neighbours.”
A smashing extended ode to being the best, the worst and longest-immersed from a smooth-voiced Roy, backed by a groovy jazz-funk session band and boasting – at 1:04 – the highest note you’ve ever HEARD. “The whole sporting world would applaud it/The McWhirters, hmmm, they would record it!”
Marti Webb sailed up to number 14 in the charts with this textbook Simon May bolt-some-love-related-words-onto-the-tune slowed-down shanty, and that’s as high as it got (thanks Dale). Still, three points to Simes for having the nerve to slip in such a shameless key change at 1:04.
ARE YOU BEING SERVED, SIR?
Not the theme tune but instead a spin-off single constructed entirely on the tissue-thin premise of Mr Humphries being asked to recite (not sing) an inventory of his shopfloor habits wherein he sounds like he’s about to say words like arse and willy only for for lyrics to swerve, Pam Ayres-like, on to “comically” neutral ground. An array of dolly birds coo in the background while Captain Peacock makes a five-second cameo at the start. And we still don’t get the bit about it being “a funny day for drying – manners!”
I PLAY THE SPOONS
“I tap them here, I tap them there, with gay abandon everywhere.” Unquestionably one of the highlights of the old TV Cream themes section, here’s Clive Dunn, in character as An Old Man, offering a hymn of praise to kitchen drawer-based composition. “And then it came to me: I’ll play the cutlery!” Co-stars the same dolly birds as above.
EASTENDERS (EARLY 90s CLOSING THEME)
Doomed attempt to “freshen up” a much-loved signature tune, which was used on screen for all of six months. Pretty much everything goes wrong, from forgetting to include the tune and employing a wine bar saxophone to including a farting bass and even cocking up the iconic drum fill at the start.
DID YOU SEE?
Another stunning full-length version of an otherwise unexceptional 30-second theme, fleshed out with lots of catchy synth business and at least three brazen key changes. Who said TV criticism should be a staid and joyless pastime (other than Mark Lawson)?
THE INNES BOOK OF RECORDS
Pleasant plinky-plonky concoction from the bloke who was never in Monty Python, which raised the curtains on his 1979 BBC2 song-and-prance showcase. George Harrison seems to have popped in with a guitar lick at 1:39.
FREE GEORGE JACKSON
To end with, another chance to hear the mighty Phil Redmond-conceived, Steve Wright-penned (no, not that one) “charity single” released to promote Brookside’s 1984 miscarriage-of-justice storyline, with a chorus that’s the same as Take On Me. Reached number 126 in Record Mirror’s north-west England hit parade. Contains the line: “That diagram on the napkin has brought so much heartache.” Well, it worked for Nelson Mandela.