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Ten British TV Comedy Theme Songs We Sang Along To

The first post of 2015! yay! I hope everyone’s new year has got off to an amazing start.

One of the best things about growing up in Britain is the multitude of comedy shows that this country has produced over the years, many of which have gone on to become classics and are well known all over the world. As much as I enjoy sitcoms, comedy shows, and stand-up from any country – just as long as it’s funny – nothing beats the British sense of humour, which explains why I love so many of our sitcoms. Only Fools And Horses, Fawlty Towers, One Foot In The Grave, Keeping Up Appearances – all fantastic!

However with many shows, it’s not just the show, the characters and the actors that are memorable, but most come complete with intros, opening and closing credits and theme tunes that stick in your mind. They’ll having you singing along with the beginning and end of each show, and it’ll probably have you singing the theme song for days. I still can’t get some of these theme songs out of my head years later!

So I’ve compiled a list of ten of the most memorable theme songs from British comedy series. There are a few comedies here that have been locked away in the ‘long lost’ vault but they’ve thankfully been found and I’m sure they’ll have you going, “Oh yeah! I remember that!” And for those of you who noticed that some of your favourite theme tunes were not mentioned in Ten TV Show Theme Tunes We Loved Singing Along To, just remember there’ll be plenty more lists cropping up in the future!

1. Dear John

TITLE: Dear John

COMPOSED BY: John Sullivan (show’s writer) and Ronnie Hazelhurst

SUNG BY: Joan Baxter

YEAR: 1986

No, not the film with the delicious Channing Tatum, but the seriously underrated BBC sitcom of the 1980’s starring the late Ralph Bates as a divorcé who joins a club for the divorced and separated in the hope of making friends and finding love. Much of the humour comes from the bunch of oddballs he befriends. The Americans did a remake of this series which lasted four series but I much prefer the British version. Sorry!

Dear John is a comedy which is very dear to my heart and brings back lots of memories, not just of the show but of my childhood and the eighties in general. I recently came across some comments which stated that the theme song for Dear John was probably the most depressing and dreary of all the theme songs out there. Well now that they mention it, I suppose it is. But then when you think that the show is about a divorced man who has lost everything to his ex-wife after she ran off with his best friend and now has to live in a tiny bedsit, well we couldn’t have a theme tune that got us up and dancing now, could we? The song fits in with the ethos of the show. Because it has a 1920s feel to it, I assumed that it was a really old song but it was actually written by the show’s creator John ‘Only Fools’ Sullivan.

Fantastic song!

2. The Vicar Of Dibley

TITLE: The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23)

COMPOSED BY: Howard Goodall

SUNG BY: Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

YEAR: 1994

How I love this comedy! Beginning in 1994, Dawn French is amazing as the female vicar who takes over a parish church in the heart of a rural community – and finds that many of her new parishioners have more than a few eccentricities between them. I watched the trailer for the show and thought it looked quite funny – I wasn’t wrong and I wasn’t disappointed!

When you think about The Vicar of Dibley, you think about three things: the stunning countryside; the barmy characters, and that distinctive theme tune, The Lord is my Shepherd by Howard Goodall, who has also worked on the themes for Blackadder, The Borrowers, Red Dwarf, and Mr Bean among many others. The theme song was based around Psalm 23 and was performed by the choir of Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral. Originally Goodall had composed this song as a serious piece of church choral music – it hadn’t initially been intended for use as the theme of a hit comedy show. But more than twenty years later, viewers can see that the enchanting theme song fits in beautifully with the series.

Oh, just remembered a fourth thing: the joke between Alice and Geraldine at the end of every episode!

3. Butterflies

TITLE: Love Is Like A Butterfly

SUNG BY: Clare Torry

LYRICS: Dolly Parton

YEAR: 1974

This show was a bit before my time so I don’t remember it the first time round but I do remember watching Butterflies when it was repeated. It starred Wendy Craig and Geoffrey Palmer who were familiar faces to me, but then I saw a very young Nicholas Lyndhurst who was more than just a little familiar – he was ‘Rodders’ from Only Fools And Horses! Carla Lane’s classic sitcom focuses on a frustrated housewife and her male companion, whose friendship borders on romance, and their will-they-won’t- they antics had viewers gripped.

I had already heard the song Love Is Like A Butterfly before I realised that it was also used as the theme song for Butterflies as it happens to be one of my mother’s favourite songs and she used to sing it all the time. It was a hit in 1974 for American country music legend Dolly Parton, although the version that was used for the opening credits was recorded by British singer Clare Torry, especially for Butterflies. This version was recorded with a band conducted by well-known BBC TV composer Ronnie Hazelhurst.

4. Birds Of A Feather

TITLE: What’ll I Do?

COMPOSED BY: Irving Berlin

SUNG BY:  Linda Robson and Pauline Quirke (from third series onwards)

LYRICS: Irving Berlin

YEAR: 1923

Twenty first century kids will know Birds Of A Feather as an ITV sitcom that’s in its second series. But of course old-timers like myself will remember when the show was first shown on the BBC back in the 1980s and continued until the late nineties. Sisters Sharon and Tracy live in Tracy’s rather luxurious home in Essex while both their husbands are in prison for armed robbery. Tracy’s devastated to be separated from her Darrell, while Sharon couldn’t care less that she’s away from her errant husband Chris. It might sound like all doom and gloom but it is actually hilarious – with the girls’ man-mad neighbour providing much of the entertainment. I never missed an episode of this sitcom when I was growing up.

The show used Irving Berlin’s wonderfully moving What’ll I Do as the theme tune for the first two series. From the third series onwards, a version sung by Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson, who play Sharon and Tracy, was used.

5. Bread

TITLE: Bread Theme Song

COMPOSED BY: David Mackay

SUNG BY: The Bread Cast

LYRICS: David Mackay

Carla Lane had another hit on her hands with this classic sitcom from the 1980s. This used to be on Sunday evenings but I’m pretty certain that some series may also have been broadcast during weekday nights.

The sit-com focuses on the trials and tribulations of the Boswell family and their efforts to muddle through life with very little money – which often resulted in underhand tactics. I thought Grandad was hilarious, and the contempt of the lady from the DSS for the Boswell family was amusing

The theme song was composed by David Mackay and featured the vocals of the cast of Bread.

6. Desmond’s

TITLE: Don’t Scratch My Soca

COMPOSED BY: John Collins

SUNG BY: Norman Beaton

LYRICS: Trix Worrell

This seriously funny comedy was set in a barber shop in Peckham, owned by a Caribbean family, the Ambroses. The shop was a place for many of the local. lively and interesting characters in the show to congregate and share stories. It reminds me of the area of North-West London where I grew up. The local barber shops seemed to be the meeting point for many of the menfolk in our town, and it was very evident that there were more friends and relatives in the  shop than paying customers and it was a place where many of the male members of the community gathered together, and it had something of a social club vibe.

The theme tune was very familiar to us when we were growing up – some of my classmates knew all the words to the song. It had a soca vibe which reflected the Ambrose family’s Trinidadian roots. It was very upbeat and uplifting which reflected the liveliness of the characters and the business of the shop. There was never a dull moment at Desmond’s!

7. Streets Apart

TITLE: Streets Apart

COMPOSED BY: David Mackay

SUNG BY: Neil Lockwood

LYRICS: David Mackay

YEAR: 1988

Sylvie and Bernie were childhood sweethearts who dated and drifted apart, taking different directions in life. They meet almost twenty years later and try to pick up where they left off… but it’s not easy when you’re now different people each with a different set of circumstances.

I love this comedy written by Adrienne Conway. Almost thirty years on, it’s still very watchable – but it makes me yearn for the 1980s! It had been a long time since I first watched the show, but as soon as I heard those opening bars of the theme, it was instantly recognizable and transported me back to my childhood. The lyrics for this tender theme tune are full of longing, wistfulness and second chances. And Neil Lockwood’s amazing vocals do this song justice.

8. Just Good Friends

TITLE: Just Good Friends

COMPOSED BY: Ronnie Hazelhurst

SUNG BY: Paul Nicholas

LYRICS: John Sullivan

YEAR: 1983

Would you seriously consider being friends with your ex? Especially after he jilted you at the alter? Well that’s exactly what Penny Warrender does after her former fiancé Vince Pinner comes back into her life again. The two decide to put the past behind them and become ‘just good friends’ – but the question is, can they ever be just that?

Another one of John Sullivan’s masterpieces, it starred Jan Francis and Paul Nicholas who were huge stars in England back in the 1980s. This sitcom was a firm favourite with my parents so they would regularly tune in, and I do have memories of watching the final ever episode. Nicholas was already an established theatre actor and agreed to do the vocals for the track, written by Sullivan.

9. Watching

TITLE: What Does He see In Me?

COMPOSED BY: Charles Hart

SUNG BY: Emma Wray

LYRICS: Charles Hart

YEAR: 1987

Merseyside couple Brenda and Malcolm are very much chalk and cheese. They come from different backgrounds, have different interests, and completely different personalities. The only thing they have in common is watching: Brenda watches people; Malcolm watches people. It’s no wonder their relationship is more off than on.

I loved watching (scuse the pun!) this sitcom back in the nineties and loved the theme tune which my sister and I used to sing (quite badly!) I think the lyrics are quite fitting for the show. It sums up the fact that Brenda and Malcolm are very different, aren’t exactly consumed with lust and passion, but love each other and belong together.

 

10. Chef

TITLE: Serious Profession

COMPOSED BY: Omar

SUNG BY: Omar

LYRICS: Omar

Now here’s a sitcom I used to watch but totally forgot about! If you think Gordon Ramsay’s got a mouth on him, wait til you meet acclaimed chef, Gareth Blackstock, who struggling to balance his home life with his wife Janice and the demands of running a top restaurant, often gives in to temper tantrums in the kitchen.

The theme tune to Chef! has got to be the coolest theme tune I’ve ever heard to accompany a television show. Funky and upbeat, it’s guaranteed to get you up and dancing, not just singing along. Although of course when it features the smooth vocals of soul superstar Omar, how could it be anything other than cool?

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Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Comedy Shows, Name That Tune!, TV Shows

 

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Video

10 TV Show Theme Tunes We Loved Singing Along To

I grew up watching a lot of TV and I do mean a lot! It’s strange because now, in comparison to my childhood years, I hardly watch TV at all. I put that down the fact that most shows today just aren’t as top quality as the programs I grew up. Yeah, I know – I’ve been accused of being biased many times!

However it’s not just the shows themselves that are memorable – the theme tunes and opening credits of many of this shows have made an impact and are equally unforgettable. So here’s my list of the TV theme tunes that we didn’t just like listening to but we sang along with as well.

1. NEIGHBOURS

Title:Neighbours

Composed By: Tony Hatch

Lyrics: Jackie Trent

Performed by: Barry Crocker

Year: 1985

I don’t care what anyone says – the Neighbours theme tune may have been revamped and jazzed up a million times, but for me, the original theme tune is undoubtedly the best.

Even now I get all nostalgic when I hear it. It reminds me of my childhood years; the early days of the Aussie soap, and a time when Neighbours was extremely addictive. Whether it sounds dated or not is debateable, but I think it has a certain charm and quality that the current one just doesn’t have. Sorry! Barry Crocker’s vocals suit the song perfectly. It makes you want to be good neighbours with your, er, neighbours!

The song was created by the legendary Hatch and Trent. Jackie Trent explained that the soap was originally going to be called Ramsay Street, but it was a little too close to Coronation street, which at the time 9and still is) Britain’s longest running soap. The song Jackie penned with her husband Tony was called Neighbours – which was the name that they eventually settled on for the soap. So the theme really did have a huge impact on the actual soap.

2.HOME AND AWAY

Title: Home And Away

Composed By: Mike Perjanic

Lyrics: Mike Perjanic

Performed by: Mark Williams and Karen Boddington

Year: 1987

Neighbours’ rival Aussie soap also had a fantastic theme song. It was a show about foster families and second chances, and the lyrics of the song fit in perfectly with the show’s concept. I stopped watching Home and Away a long time ago, mainly because it just wasn’t the same without Bobby, Pippa, Fisher and co. What I loved about the original were the vocals of Mark and Karen which were extremely powerful and full of emotion.

3. DIFFERENT STROKES

Title: It takes Diff’rent Strokes

Composed By: Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring and Al Burton

Performed by: Alan Thicke

Year: 1978

This American sit-com was a huge family favourite, and was very popular when I was growing up. It was on television a lot when I was a child but I wasn’;t old enough to fully appreciate it. But I began watching Different Strokes again about a decade a go, and Arnold’s capers had me howling. And I fell in  love with that theme song all over again. Incidentally Alan Thicke, who composed the theme song, is the father of singer Robin Thicke.

What? You don’t like the song?

What you talking about, Willis?

4. ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES

Title: Only Fools And Horses and Hooky Street

Composed By: John Sullivan

Lyrics: John Sullivan

Performed by: John Sullivan

Year: 1982

It’s not just the show that’s iconic – the theme song is too. Well theme songs I should say as the opening and closing credits featured different songs. Only Fools And Horses was used for the opening credits, while Hooky Street was used for the closing.  The Beeb insisted on using a saxophone instrumental by Ronnie Hazelhurst for the credits of the first series. But when it came to the second series, the show’s creator, John Sullivan, put his foot down and told the BBC to use the theme songs he had created. And he was right to do so as both songs totally capture what the show’s about: Cockney wide-boys, wheeling and dealing, the market trade and selling hookey gear. For years I was convinced that it was Nicholas Lyndhurst -aka Rodders – who was singing the show’s theme songs but it wasn’t. Both songs feature the show’s creator, John Sullivan’s vocals. But the two sounded so similar, I was sure that there was a mistake in the credits and it really was Nicholas Lyndhurst.

5. FRIENDS

Title: I’ll Be There For You

Composed By: David Crane, Marta Kauffman, Michael Skloff, Allee Willis, Phil Solem, and David Wild

Performed by: The Rembrandts

Year:

Probably the most famous theme song in the world. It took six people to write this song, and it’s the only hit that The Rembrandts are famous for which seems a little sad, but then that’s their fault for co-creating a song so amazing that it was all the fans wanted to hear. The theme song was just under a minute long but a year later it was released as a three minute pop song. The video for the song features hilarious antics from the Friends cast.

6. GLADIATORS

Composed By: Muff Murfin

Year: 1992

Everyone at school was Gladiators crazy – and this was long before Russell Crowe came along! This contest which tested competitors sporting abilities was massive back in the early ’90s. We didn’t have X-Factor then – this was our Saturday night viewing. And the theme song did just the right job in getting you hyped up.

7. SURPRISE, SURPRISE

Title: Surprise, Surprise (original) and Life Is Full Of Surprises

Composed By:

Lyrics:

Performed by:

Year:

A show hosted by Cilla Black which was all about… surprises! It was a show in which ordinary, unsuspecting people were reunited with long-lost friends or relative, or were rewarded for some kind deed. I remember in one episode, I spotted an acquaintance in the audience as a member of her family was there to be ‘surprised.’ Cilla used to open and close the show by singing the theme songs. There were two theme tunes as I recall. The original one was slower and was written by Kate Robbins.There was a more fast paced one and a much slower one. After series eight, there was a new more up-tempo theme tune. I remember how kids at school used to change the lyrics of the slower theme song:

“Surprise, Surprise… you’ve got tomato ketchup between your eyes…” Oh those were the days!


8. THE GENERATION GAME

Composed By: Ronnie Hazlehurst

Performed by: Bruce Forsythe

Year: 1971-77, 1990-94

Oh how I loved this show! And how I miss it. Back in the early ’90s, Friday nights were Generation Game nights. I never got to watch The Generation Game when it was hosted by Bruce Forsythe and Anthea Redfern, or by Larry Grayson and Isla St. Clair. Bruce Forsythe was at the helm again with Rosemarie Ford when I started watching it. The theme tune as I knew it was a revamped version of the original tune. I know that I liked it, but I’m sure that viewers who watched the show first time around probably preferred the original.  I’ve  heard that it’s making a comeback with Miranda Hart as the host. I just hope that they keep that fantastic theme song.

9. BAYWATCH

Title: I’m Always Here

Composed By: Jimi Jamison, Cory Lerios, John D’Andrea and Joe Henry

Performed by: Jimi Jamison

Year: 1989

I’m sure that this theme is as familiar as the red swim wear that featured on the show. It’s probably up there with the Friends theme as the most easily recognised and well-known – even after all this time. The vocals were by Jimi Jamison of legendary rock outfit, Survivor.  At my friend’s hen party last year, the DJ actually played the Baywatch theme – cue much hilarious beach running antics!

10. THE LITTLEST HOBO

Title: maybe Tomorrow

Composed By: Terry Bush

Lyrics by: John Crossen

Performed by: Terry Bush

Year: 1979

I loved this Canadian show when I was growing up. It was about a dog who travelled from place to place, having adventures, and helping those in need. Great family entertainment. My mate Dave aka Pancake Lady, posted the lyrics from the theme on Facebook recently so I have her to thank for jogging my memory.

 

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