Eighty years ago tomorrow at precisely 3pm, the BBC officially opened its television service and with a sharp blast of a whistle “the new wonder” was up and running.
Leading comedy actress Adele Dixon sang the first song ever to have been written or recorded about the small screen – she sang “conjured up in sound and sight, by the magic rays of light, that brings television to you” – and with that momentous recording the first ever theme tune was launched.
Since that memorable day we have heard many, weird, wonderful and whacky tunes, all designed to stay in your head like an ear worm. Leading composer Tony Hatch feels that they are a call sign, an appointment to view, as soon as you hear the opening bars, you’re rushing for the best seat in the house – and he should know as he wrote three of the most memorable – Crossroads, Emmerdale and, of course, Neighbours, amongst many others. Over the next hour, he will treat listeners to a smattering of those familiar and unfamiliar notes. They will learn why hearing the opening theme to Newsnight always brings a smile to the face of composer George Fenton; why Paul McCartney was furious with Cilla Black when she performed the signature tune to Cilla live; and how Morse Code has been used in more themes than just Morse. Tony will also be quizzing listeners on their sporting theme knowledge.
Listen at 10pm on 1st November 2016