Wolfies Top Ten British TV Show Themes From His Youth

Why do I do it to myself! Ok here goes my favourite, impossible to do, top ten British TV show themes from my youth. Made easier for the fact that I’m not including children’s shows. Might do a separate one for that if I’m stupid enough to try and tackle that task.

I do like a good theme soundtrack and I’m fond of a list but rounding them up into order of which one is best, is nuts to me. Made even harder for the fact that these are beloved to me TV shows. So ten to two are randomly placed but number one is my favorite, for sure. So lets start.

  • Number 10 – The Prisoner

The Prisoner had a re-run in the late 80s on Channel Four. I was transfixed with Number 6 (Patrick McGoohan) and his various ways trying to escape his capture and interrogation. I’ve always been obsessed with spy and Cold War TV series and films. Each weeks episode would contain another ridiculous and creative story for our hero to puzzle his way through. Each episode was inventive and rather crazy. If I had to pick an episode I might go for The Chimes of Big Ben but they were all good. One thing that always stood out was the theme tune. Wild and frantic and with McGoohan serious chops driving like a mad man, yeah I was in telly heaven.

The Prisoner theme tune was composed by Ron Grainer an Australian now living and working in Britain. His name will appear again on this list. He’d not only made the classic Steptoe and Son theme but also another remarkable score in the Roald Dahl show Tales Of The Unexpected. He also did film scores. To Sir, With Love (1967) and The Omega Man (1971) to name two.

  • Number Nine – Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)

I adored Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) a buddy private detective series with a twist. A partnership between two friends called Jeff Randall (Mike Pratt) and Marty Hopkirk (Kenneth Cope) who, in the first episode, is murdered but comes back as a ghost to help solve the case. After that he hangs around helping out his mate Randall. Hopkirk’s widowed wife Jeannie (Annette Andre) worked for the duo as their secretary and stays on not realising her dead husband is still hanging about. They got into many scraps and had many silly stories. It was an excellent series. In 2000 it was revamped with comedy duo Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. Vic played the ghost, Hopkirk. I did like it.

The Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) score was by Edwin Astley who incidentally on my list composed the theme for Danger Man (1960) which starred Patrick MaGoogan. Many fans believe his secret agent character John Drake was in fact Number Six in The Prisoner. To me it makes total sense. Edwin Astley would also write the classic and brilliant theme score for Simon Templar (Roger Moore) in the spy thriller The Saint (1962).

  • Number Eight – Blake’s 7

Blake’s 7 was created by Terry Nation who was a prolific writer for many science fiction TV series like Survivors and Doctor Who and even created the Dalek’s. He also wrote for The Avengers, The Champions and The Persuaders. Blake’s 7 was about a rogue group of freedom fighters and rebels lead by Roj Blake (Gareth Thomas) as they fought against a totalitarian government. In the days of just 3 TV channels the whole family would sit around the telly. Of course, most of it’s political deep narrative went straight over my head. I was too young to really understand but I loved it and the theme tune brings much memories. Note to self to buy the box-set.

The score was composed by Dudley Simpson, another Australian who had moved to Britain and etched his name on TV soundtracks. He had a massive contribution to the incidental music within the Doctor Who series.

  • Number Seven – Jason King

Jason King was ridiculous silly fun. Jason King (Peter Wyngarde) was a flamboyant spy who had retired to write pulp fiction for a character called Mark Caine. Basically a James Bond kind of character. He would go off to exotic locations to get inspiration for his new book but then get caught up in espionage, villains and of course beautiful woman. Jason King’s outfits were bonkers especially combined with his big hair and handlebar mustache. So much fun. “A bit too early for coffee; I’ll have a Scotch.

The theme tune was created and performed by Laurie Johnson. He also did many film scores with Tiger Bay (1959) and Dr Strangelove (1963) picking just two. On the TV soundtracks he had created the 1965 new theme for The Avengers when Diana Rigg join the series. And the 1976 The New Avengers reboot that goes off on a right funk bomb. TBH it should be in my top ten! Laurie might be popping back in a bit……..

Number Six – Are You Being Served

In what can only be described as a sit-com filled with a full on barrage of innuendos. It was pretty relentless and very funny. We all tuned in at the time for the mishaps and adventures of the staff of a clothing department called the The Grace Brothers. Saucy talk and gay flirtations. Even being young you knew the jokes. It was like the Carry On films set in one place. It was great entertainment and the theme tune just stood out. Funky, kitsch and different. “I’m free!

The Are You Being Served theme was composed Ronnie Hazlehurst. What made Are You Being Served so different was using the voice of a lift girl announcing different department store floors as the a cash till pinged and clashed as the sound of the percussion. The amazing Matt Berry comedian and musician did a cover version.

  • Number Five – The Professionals

The Professionals was an all action gritty drama centering around two ruff and ready hard men. Two top agents from the CI5 (Criminal Intelligence 5). Bodie (Lewis Collins) an ex-SAS paratrooper and Doyle (Martin Shaw) joined through the police force. This was a real macho show and incredibly entertaining for any pre-teen/teenage boy. Still holds up pretty well today to be honest.

Laurie Johnson returns to this list with this all firing funky theme tune with a superb opening intro scene showing the action packed nature of this series. Completely inspired by our, across the pond, American friends funky soundtracks. On a similar essential high octane watch back then for us young lads was the cop drama The Sweeney. Another show way too old for us but it was normal to watch all manner of violence and adult drama. The Professionals theme is way funkier than composer Harry South’s great but not as good Sweeney theme.

  • Number Four – Rockliffe’s Babies

Rockliffe’s Babies was a police drama series set in London. At that time we were traveling up to city to buy records and search out graffiti around the West London area. It was one of those reasons why I’d always tune into this series as a lot was filmed around Kensal Rise, Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove. Concrete brutalist architecture mixed with graff and places we visited on a regular basis. The hard nose Detective Sergeant Rockliffe (Ian Hogg) was sent in to train up a bunch of young rookie plain clothes cops in the inner-city.

Joe Campbell and Paul Hart are credited with the series music. Rockliffe’s Babies was hard hitting and I used to love hearing the theme played out with the playground noises and song, sirens and a blasting, over-the-top, saxophone. A series I’d like to some day revisit.

  • Number Three – Space 1999

Man I loved Space 1999. Got loads of the books as a kid, even wear a T-shirt now. Space 1999’s premise was really silly when you thought about it but who cares! Ready for it? Well nuclear waste explodes and the Moon, with Moonbase Alpha and a full crew, end up flying off into space. It had a great multinational crew, head up with two American’s Commander John Koenig (Martin Landau) and Dr Helena Russell (Barbara Bain). This was a live action Gerry and Sylvia Anderson production and a change from the beloved puppets. The crew would get into all kind of madness on thier travelling Moon. It was so much fun. The Anderson shows were all brilliant and featured superb theme scores like Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90, Thunderbirds and UFO (another of my personal fav shows).

Space 1999 had two themes. One by Barry Gray for Year One and the other by Derek Wadsworth for Year Two. Both are great but Barry Gray’s one is pure fantastic. Such a funky space disco party. So cool the way it goes all slow whilst it introduces the cast and them BOOM it rips out the funk as action sequences are blasted in your face. .

  • Number Two – Stingray

Pretty much all the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson productions were essential viewing and high on this young cubs viewing radar. Stingray was set under the ocean waves with Captain Troy Tempest from WASP (World Aquanaut Security Patrol) who looked after the worlds ocean’s. He was helped out along the way by Lieutenant Phones and the sexy and mysterious Marina. It might not of been the best out of the Anderson series but the theme tune was fantastic.

Stingray’s theme tune was composed by Barry Gray who hits two in this top ten of mine. It’s wonderfully sixties. Sounds very America influenced and fits in so well with the “Stand by for action” opening credit sequence. Submarines and rockets blasting, rocket fish jumping and exploding. The adventures were about to begin. Stingray also featured a wonderfully dreamy outro tune called Aqua Marina which was sung by Gary Miller. He would stand in for the voice of our hero Captain Troy whenever he would sing to the silent sweetie, Marina.

  • Number One – Doctor Who

Like I say at the beginning, the 10 to 2 are not in order of my favourites. However I know for sure Doctor Who’s theme is. I love it as much today as I did as my first time sitting wide eyed watching it. My first Doctor was Tom Baker. He was wild and I loved him. His long multicoloured scarf, packet of jelly-babies and his trusty robot canine, K9. Plus his savage, skimpy dressed, warrior woman companion Leela (Louise Jameson) did funny things to me. So hence why I’ve used the forth Doctor’s theme above. I was obsessed with Doctor Who. Bought 50 plus books with my pocket money. I did a tribute to Terrence Dicks here. Still, today, after all these years, the theme tune sounds insane. It’s perfect in every way. The beauty is it evolved with each regeneration of the Doctor. There’s 13 variations and opening sequences of it and they all kept that immensely exciting core of the original. Check out the thirteen here.

The theme was written and by the Australian composer Ron Grainer (see number ten above). He’d written the theme as words! It was then given to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to see what they could create from it. Delia Derbyshire and Dick Mills went to work cutting and slicing analogue tape together with various waveform’s and oscillating sounds from some of the first electronic equipment. Cut and paste and loop the loop style. What they created is truly incredible. If you want to know more please watch this short video showcasing how they went about the task. A theme tune that has freaked out, scared, bewildered and entertained kids and adults throughout their lives for nearly 60 years! It’s so special.

These were all big TV shows to me. So many adventures I had as a kid watching all these and still today I’ll drop into an old episode for some warm nostalgia. Of course lots have been missed out. I picked ten! That was hard. Feel free to let me know yours. Thinking I’ll hit my favourite America show theme’s sometime soon. Plus a look back at children programmes from my youth and even a freaky delve into 70s and 80s intro’s which should be fun.

Anyhow let me know what I missed, (Yeah I know Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and the super funky Department S) Also fact check back at me on info I may of got wrong. And if you want to confess? Let me know tales of hiding behind the sofa as Doctor Who played out.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it. All the best. Mikey Wolf.


16 thoughts on “Wolfies Top Ten British TV Show Themes From His Youth

  1. Interesting choices here Wolfie 🙂 The Are You Being Served theme was pretty memorable and I loved The Prisoner. I had a feeling Dr. Who would be number one 🙂 Please tell me, If you ever compiled a list of the best British television shows ever, would Spitting Image rank up there? 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey thanks John. You always surprise me with your knowledge on the Brit stuff. Especially with Spitting Image. I can’t imagine that crossed over the pond to your shores! Would it be in a list of best of mine? Not sure tbh. Only because there was some much classic comedy back then. Though it was an essential watch and the talk at school the next day to laugh at what politician/public figure got a right smashing.
      You have probably heard it’s coming back this month I think! Not sure how far they will take it but hopefully they are as vicious. There’s a new trailer just gone up on YT. I’m not totally bought but I did laugh at the end sauna scene with the three “big” leaders. LOL
      Thanks buddy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did see that trailer for Spitting Image and yes, the sauna scene in there was hilarious. I too hope that it ends up hitting all the right notes because times have changed dramatically since the 1980’s in terms of comedy, that diehard Spitting Image fans have often implied that the world has become too much like it. Though I did kinda laugh at the references to Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos – can’t remember the lines, but I think it goes like this – Zuckerberg stealing a phone from a woman – “I got all your data” – Bezos stealing Zuckerberg’s wallet – “but I got all your money” 🙂


  2. With you totally on THE PROFESSIONALS – SPACE 1999 – ARE YOU BEING SERVED – and of course DR WHO.

    All blue ribbon classics!

    The track below, titled DOCTOR?, was released by English synth group Orbital and included on their 2005 greatest hits album HALYCON.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No idea if it holds up now Maddy but it was pretty gritty at the time. Fitted in well with the early The Bill and London Burning before they got a bit too commercial. Also Juliet Bravo. Rockliffe’s Babies had a good formula with the rookies and hard nosed detective sergeant in the inner-city. It was much loved and then they changed the format getting rid of the “babies” and calling it Rockliffe’s Folly and moving him to west county. Everyone stopped watching and it was cancelled.
      Would love to watch the first episode again. Off to dig through YT 🙂
      All the best.


  3. I love this. Never seen Rockliffe, although I’ve heard of it. Seem to remember there was some kerfuffle about it at the time.

    I love the Barry Gray ones, he did most of those Gerry Andersons. I have a Barry Gray compilation somewhere, I think it’s called Stand By for Action! Tough to choose a favourite from those, although the Stingray intro is unbeatable.

    The Professionals is another one that has a great intro. Jason King is pure Austin Powers. Would never have thought of Are You Being Served, but you have a point, it is memorable. Love The Prisoner and Randall and Hopkirk. Also The Persuaders for those 60s/70s action series.

    Searching out graffiti! Lol, what an interesting life you lead!

    Really enjoyed that, Wolfie. I’d like to see those other lists you mentioned. Not many American ones come straight to mind. Ooh, I can think of one, oh and another. I’ll save them though, don’t want to influence you in any way!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jay it was a whole lotta fun to do.
      Stingray opening is so cool. As a kid I assumed it was American.
      The Thunderbirds theme is superb too but it would of been easy to go that one. I do prefer Space 1999 and UFO themes to it if push came to shove. Great compilation title for those Andersons “Stand By For Action!” Yep that sums it up.

      Jason King is the ultimate Austin Powers LOL. So suave, ridiculously debonair and hilariously silly.

      The Are You Being Serve theme is kitsch class. Perfectly executed fun, funky and “freeee”

      Haha yes I was well into graffiti and early hip hop back in 84 through my early teens.

      I’m so glad you didn’t go mention any as that will be the fun, seeing if I picked the ones you were thinking of. Gonna go for another Brit TV theme this month “oct”. A few odd ones and freaky ones.
      Many thanks for the great comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Mikey, this was fun! I must admit, I’ve only ever watched a few of these shows (The Prisoner, Space: 1999, and Are You Being Served), but I did just now listen to all the themes, and I’d have to agree, the one for Dr. Who was the best. But of the other nine…I’d say The Professionals was my favorite, with kudos to Stingray (the music part only…the lyrics baffled me in their complexity!).

    And wait, what’s this…did I see the delicious Ingrid Pitt in the opening credit sequence for Jason King?

    Liked by 1 person

    • “the lyrics baffled me in their complexity” HAHA
      Yeah they do lead you off on a right tangent! Off down the garden path and back again. Explains the whole set up in 7 STINGRAYS LOL..

      Great call on The Professionals. I can see that. Proper funky theme filled with extra grits and lashings of macho sauce.
      Good to see you channeling Jason Kings special skill of spotting saucy ladies with your flamboyantness. Well spotted with Ingrid Pitt. Proper skills mate.

      Love it that you listened to all the themes. In great British fashion I doffed my bowler hat to you kind sir.
      Cheers Todd


  5. I was thrilled to see that I know a few of those shows! The majority–no, heh–but….I saw several episodes of The Prisoner (hubby saw them ALL and often quotes lines, still, from the show) Space 1999 (but that was more a fav. with my brother) and of course Dr. Who. Who didn’t? No pun intended!

    Best of these, for me, was Blake’s 7. Hubby introduced me and we binge-watched all seasons several years ago. My favorite character: not Blake. Avon! Remember the episode where someone of import gets killed and one of the characters goes, “What about Dr. so and so?” and Avon whirls around angrily and says, “WHO??!!” He was SO unemotional and all business!

    Never watched The Saint, but if you liked R. Moore in that, did you later like him as 007? I think he’s folks’ least favorite 007 over here. Or maybe that’s just in our household, haha. I never was a big Bond fan. When I was working at a dude ranch one summer, all us co-workers went into town to see Octopussy. I was so bored I walked out and fell asleep on a bench in the lobby, lol

    But Are You Being Served sounds like a treat, and I know it would have been a favorite if it had been available. I love dry British humor. Might try finding this one. I can just see hubby’s face, confusion etched with mild concern: “What…are…you…WATCHING?!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always up for a good pun and you delivered well there Stacey. Thanks you 🙂

      I tell you what I’m extremely impressed with your Brit TV knowledge with Blake’s 7 gaining proper big kudos points. I hadn’t expected that one to have crossed over the pond. I haven’t seen it since I was like 8 years old. Really remember lots but not many plots or deaths. Well apart from the end!!! So I can’t recall that scene with Avon. I’m sure I remember him being a little cowardly but forcing himself into sometime brave roles! I really fancied Josette Simon, Dayna. Plus Servalan did funny things to me. She was naughty and sexual, sexy but not. Like a headmistress that would kill you for not doing your homework but you’d have wood and not know why. lol. She was very confusing for a pre-teen kid.
      That’s amazing that you’ve seen it recently. Did it hold up? Did you enjoy it? I’m gonna have to buy the box-set and slowly work my way through. Maybe I’ll put it on the Santa list. I’m sure I will love it and possibly exploded with nostalgia.

      Big respects to your fella and The Prisoner quotes. Good man. Massive fan of that show. Did you know that the actual village is in Portmeirion Wales. I’ve always wanted to go. Bucket list.

      Roger Moore was the fun one. I think us Brits embraced him more for that reason. Live and Let Die was crazy voodoo fun, and Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me had Jaws and all the best gadgets. I’ve liked all the portrayals of Bond for different reasons though if I’m honest, apart from Casino Royale I haven’t been a fan at all of the Daniel Craig years. They are too serious, rubbish bad guys and just bad writing, imho. Skyfall was terrible and everyone loved it! Don’t get it hehe. smiley face.

      “What…are…you…WATCHING?!” LOL that would be very funny indeed.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well, Blake’s 7 didn’t hold up for me, ’cause I’d never seen it before. I think it held up for hubby, though. He seemed to enjoy it just as much as he did years ago.
        “Like a headmistress that would kill you for not doing your homework but you’d have wood and not know why” LOL
        That seems to be the general consensus for D.C.: thug. I can understand the concern of fans that the movies got too serious and lack levity. One thing we enjoyed about Skyfall, though, was when Javier B. removed his fake teeth. That looked pretty good. Eeeeewwww ! ! !


  6. With you totally on the Bond films over the last 14 years. While I’d consider myself a fan of Daniel Craig in his non-007 movie roles over the years, as Bond he comes across, at least to me, as more of a ‘thug’ type.

    Fans of his portrayal use adjectives like ‘rugged’, ‘unrefined’ and ‘raw’ but I can get all that from tuning into a UFC match. You summed it up – his take on things and the direction the franchise has gone in is overall too ‘serious’ for my liking as well.

    Plus the fact the Bond films have become somewhat indistinguishable from other action franchises of the last decade or so such as the BOURNE movies or the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE series.

    Liked by 1 person

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