Friday, 04 November 2016

Radio Review: 4 November

It’s not the devil who has the best tunes – it’s television

Written by Louis Barfe
Back in the glory days of pop wireless, Tommy Vance used to bill himself as 'TV on the Radio', and there's a long history of television shows transferring to the senior medium, not least Steptoe and Son, One Foot in the Grave and What the Papers Say. Louis-Barfe-colour-176

Only the first of these featured in last week’s Friday Night Is Music Night (R2, Fridays, 8pm) signature tune spectacular, to mark the 80th anniversary of the first BBC TV transmissions from Alexandra Palace. However, the selection of themes chosen by conductor Gavin Sutherland and producer Bridget Apps had range and depth. 

Not only did we get the theme tune of The Avengers by Laurie Johnson, but also Fritz Spiegl’s Z Cars title music. Then there was Sutherland’s masterly medley of Ronnie Hazlehurst’s finest moments, opening with The Two Ronnies theme and visiting numerous others including Yes, Minister, Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em and Blankety Blank.

Full disclosure: I was at the Mermaid Theatre both as a theme tune aficionado and as a chum of Sutherland. Gavin has been a close friend for decades, and we’ve spent many port and brandy-infused nights talking about Hazlehurst, Ron Grainer and the genius of the best TV themes – Apps could not have chosen anybody better to put this together.

And, while I may moan about the old crosspatch on Today, John Humphrys was an amiable host, aided by a splendid script from seasoned comedy writer Colin Edmonds.

The evening closed with an eight-minute medley where the audience was encouraged to name the shows. Hazlehurst always made sure that the title of the show could be sung over his themes. (Pick a Hazlehurst theme. Try it. see?) I found myself singing all the way home.

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email: 

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