In Appreciation of the BBC News Theme
*Note: I have tried my best to research this topic to the best of my ability, but there may be some dates and numbers that could potentially be inaccurate.*
If you are anything at all like me, an evening's procrastination (or to be fair, an exciting evening in its own right) can consist of delving through YouTube for historic TV continuity and news reports. Thanks to those amazing people that keep hold of their VHS tapes and even if they do get rid, see enough value in their contents that they archive the footage online before chucking them into the giant recycling bin at the nearest Tesco, we have plenty of modern TV history documented for educational benefits and general interest.
Though I enjoy watching the occasional set of old advert breaks from the main commercial channels, my main fascination lies with the BBC.
To those who may question why on earth there are people like me who enjoy re-watching the past, the answer is pretty simple. To learn, to remember, to reflect and perhaps most awesome of all, to hear the old theme tunes.
Ah, the BBC. Home to such classic theme tunes as the Panorama theme (perhaps my favourite of all time), Eastenders, the divisive but instantly recognisable theme to The One Show. And also as the topic suggests, the ever-changing and ever slightly-harrowing BBC news theme. The perfect accompaniment to our distinctive coverage of world events.
The soundtrack to the most significant moments in our lifetime, the BBC news theme is an ever-present fixture in our daily routine which has evolved with our changing world. Discounting subtle changes, there have been around nine different theme tunes since 1954. In this post, I wanted to share my personal ranking of the themes from best to worst. Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree!
May I just also start of by making it clear whatever my views of each piece, I have a huge amount of respect for all of those who have worked hard to compose TV theme tunes, especially those of such significance as the daily news!
9. 1986 - 1988
Errr... i'm just not sure about this one.
8. 1981 - 1984
Starts off strong then sort of turns into a new theme song for antiques roadshow.
7. 1993 - 1999
When the news got a bit obsessed with all things "hi-tech", including elaborate graphics for what seemed like no apparent reason. The 1988 - 1993 theme also got updated, but I feel it took a little bit of its charm away.
6. 1985 - 1986
A theme tune which evokes the feeling that the BBC was moving well into the modern era with both the quality of reporting and the production values of the show.
5. 1988 - 1993
Strong theme tune, reminds me of CNBC Worldwide.
4. 1954 - 1964
The one that started it all.
3. 1984 - 1985
The second most "newsy" theme of them all. Does not make you feel fearful, just a sensible, appropriate news theme for the time period.
The most harrowing news theme of all time. From the black and white days of the 60s news intros (which I sadly can't find a great example of), to the theme feeling slightly less harrowing when colour was introduced, i'd be willing to bet that this theme caused literally 99.9% of the population anxiety. If it had lyrics, they'd probably be "incoming announcement, the world is ending, be fearful, news incoming, prepare yourself for the news."
Having said that, it is an EPIC piece of music, and that's why it gets my second place.
1. 1999 - Present
The theme for 18 years now (can you ACTUALLY believe that?!), this is the perfect theme tune for 21st century world news with just the right amount of importance and poignancy. Not too harrowing and not too "err... WTF?", this has been the soundtrack to many a moment future generations will study in their history lessons.
Aaand I hope you enjoyed this trip through the BBC news themes of history.