PLAYLIST: The Greatest TV Show Themes In History

Anyone who grew up in the UK in the ‘80s or ‘90s is no stranger to the fact that TV shows produce some of the greatest songs in history.

Whether you’re into horror, suspense, sci-fi, or comedy, the TV world is ripe with awesome theme songs, cutting across genres and generations.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most memorable theme songs in television history.

'Doctor Who Theme'
Delia Derbyshire & Ron Granier

While the themes from the later iterations of Doctor Who were made by Murray Gold, the original theme song from 1963 was created by composer Ron Grainer and pioneering electronic musician Delia Derbyshire. And although Grainer was instrumental in the creation of the theme tune, it was Derbyshire who did all the heavy lifting in terms of the song’s unique and special arrangement.

The strange, harmonic noises, which sound like they came from synthesisers, actually came from tape, scissors, and razors manipulated by Derbyshire to produce the strange arrangement.

At the time, no one else but Derbyshire experimented with such unique ways to create electronic music. Nowadays, apart from creating the original theme song to one of the biggest sci-fi shows ever, Derbyshire is widely regarded as a crucial musician in the evolution of electronic music, and was even awarded a posthumous honorary PhD by Coventry University.

'I'll Be There For You'
The Rembrandts

Anyone who grew up in the ‘90s has clapped along to this particular song at least once. The Rembrandts’ I’ll Be There For You is the theme song to one of the biggest cultural phenomenons in history, a show that continues to be relevant today.

In fact, Vogue Magazine recently shared the bad news of how the long-awaited Friends reunion has been postponed yet again – which no doubt only further added to the anticipation around the much-awaited HBO Max event.

Apart from the fact that we’re still discussing the Friends reunion in 2020, the globally recognisable brand even has a presence in online gaming. Foxy Bingo has a selection of games based on Friends which feature not just the theme song but also the characters on the show.

Not only is this meant to attract old fans, it also turns younger online bingo gamers into new fans. From obscure online games to major broadcasters, Friends is alive and well – to the tune of arguably the catchiest ‘90s pop rock song ever written.

'Take My Hand'
Matt Berry

This rousing, poignant theme to the strange comedy that is Toast of London is perhaps the loveliest, most nostalgic tune on this list.

Sang and performed by Toast of London star Matt Berry himself, the time-warping theme song almost sounds like an original folk tune from the ‘70s. Peppered with bursts of Berry’s passionate singing, acoustic guitar, and gentle piano, Take My Hand is equally at home on Netflix as it is during the last call at your favourite watering hole.

'Handbags and Gladrags'
Big George

Originally written by Mike D’Abo of the rock band Manfred Mann, Handbags and Gladrags was rearranged by Big George into the theme for The Office.

No other song can match the dry, hungover, resigned sensibilities of superstar comedian Ricky Gervais’ masterpiece of a show, a deceptively hilarious tribute to after-office late night sing-alongs and the poignant mundane nature of everyday life.

As The Office gained and retained worldwide appeal, so did Big George’s version of Handbags and Gladrags, which has become the definitive version of the classic Manfred Mann song.

'Woke Up This Morning'
Alabama 3

This electro blues-rock hit by Alabama 3 accompanies mob boss Tony Soprano as he drives home from New York and makes his way into the New Jersey turnpike. With a lit cigar in Tony’s mouth and the song’s darkly groovy atmosphere, The Sopranos take us for a chill ride.

Woke Up This Morning is the soundtrack to arguably the most perfect opening scene in the history of televised drama. Alabama 3’s dark moody blues recall detective dramas from the ‘90s and gangster flicks from the golden age of Hollywood, a neo-noir tribute to the baddest man in Jersey.

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