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20 amazing forgotten TV theme tunes

Unheralded slices of musical genius

20 amazing forgotten TV theme tunes
21 September 2016

The theme song is a crucial part of any TV show worth its salt. It sets the scene, and hooks people in, establishing the mood for the half hour of viewing (or simply gives us a minute of synthfunk, just for the hell of it). And we've been blessed with so many classics over the years that some absolute crackers have been unfairly forgotten.

But today, we right that wrong, and put these 20 fantastic tunes back in the limelight right now.

20. Bucky O'Hare

Once sang throughout playgrounds across the land, few songs could get you as pumped up for a intergalactic smackdown between a green rabbit and some frogs as much as this one. 

19. Poddington Peas

Unlike two peas in a pod, you won't find another theme tune as hummable as this one anywhere. If the Human League had done this, it would have been heralded as an all-time classic.

17. Telly Addicts

Back before Noel Edmonds went all cosmic he was the purveyor of quality prime time entertainment - with high-quality theme tunes. This one's packed with synthy licks worthy of Kraftwerk (well, almost), but it's all about the thumping bass.

16. Byker Grove

If Grandmaster Flash had been born in Newcastle, this is what he'd have written. It's just a shame the artists formerly known as PJ & Duncan don't do a bit of rapping over it (although - yes - there's Dec at 0:23).

15. Krypton Factor

The real puzzle is how this physical and mental challenge show isn't still on the box. Especially with these intense keyboard sounds and classic mid-90s Pump Up The Volume-meets-Owner of a Lonely Heart vibe. Not even humanity's most boring collection of contestants can spoil this sweet track.

14. The Raccoons

The narration turns this into something of a concept track, with a backing that sounds like something from Chicago's classic era overlaid with the story of a forest full of raccoons including, of course, the evil Cyril Sneer, who gets a nice little minor key bit (to signify that he is a baddie). Textbook.

13. The Really Wild Show

Basically, this should be easily top 5 on our list, but we don't have the patience to wait until later on in the list. An absolute, total funky banger, which provided at least 95% of the inspiration for Uptown Funk. As if it couldn't get any better, you knew that the agony of the theme ending would be followed by the ecstasy of watching Nutkins and Packham in full flow.

12. Turnabout

A post-Neighbours student classic, the sound of this was an alert that you really should think about doing some work. Although you can't miss Turnabout, so perhaps give it another half hour yet. Seriously funky stuff this, with some very strange vocal samples going on. Someone should sample this for a hip hop track pronto.

11. Blockbusters

Reminding us of John Parr's classic St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion), if anything was going to get you in the mood for some serious strategic quizzing with Bob Holness, this was it. Give us a 'T' for tune please Bob.

10. Playdays

True story, my mate Ben plays this on the piano for me and my friends every Christmas. And every Christmas it goes down a storm because it's an ABSOLUTE TUNE.

9. Arthur

Yes, it's dangerously close to Equality Street, but what is better than a bit of feelgood, come-on-everyone-let's-all-get-together-and-have-a-good-time-and-be-nice-to-each-other reggae? Nothing (apart from the next eight entries on this list).

8. Crystal Maze

If ever a a piece of music perfectly summed up the concept of Richard O'Brien whisking a bunch of people around a dystopian game show while wearing bad tracksuits, this is it. Would have fitted perfectly onto Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here or The Wall and we're 100 per cent certain that the famously cheery Roger Waters would agree with us.

7. London's Burning

A sleek, funky belter of a tune, this is like a long-lost Pet Shop Boys song. Someone get Neil Tennant on the phone right now to do the West End Girls rap again (only set in Blackwall.

6. Van der Valk

Everyone's favourite Dutch detective, Commissaris "Piet" van der Valk had a seriously bombastic theme tune. During one European Championship game, I sung this every single time Rafael Van der Vaart touched the ball, and no one minded, because it's brilliant.

5. You Bet

One of the greatest bangers in the history of light entertainment? You bet.

Also, while we're at it, what a show, summarised perfectly by YouTuber Pete Dunsford: "'Arthur Jackson is a fork lift driver from Huddersfield, and he claims to be able to lop the tops off 100 boiled eggs using only a knife mounted to the end of his fork lift. And he thinks he can do this in 4 minutes and 12 seconds.' Lo and behold, he does it with 2 seconds to spare."

4. Gladiators

Forget Eye of the Tiger, if Rocky had been able to soundtrack a training montage with this he'd have won every bloody fight. Plus it's got Jet in. And that's justification enough for top five status.

3. Big Break

This song is basically perfect other than in one aspect: Chas and Dave should have been singing it, although perhaps they felt they'd already reached the peak of snooker-based music with 1988's majestic Snooker Loopy. Pot as many balls as you can!

2. Minder

He was later to be mocked on Little Britain, but who's having the last laugh now? Dennis Waterman, that's who, after writing and singing the truly amazing theme tune that we (I) have voted (decided to be) the second-best forgotten theme tune ever recorded. And there's no higher praise than that.

1. Lovejoy

Mozart would have given his right arm to have written a tune this good. The funky drum fills, the portamento synths at the end of the B section - it's got everything. In the words of YouTuber 'Dan B': "Damn this tune fucking bangs."