EastEnders theme tune

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"EastEnders"
Song from the album Simon's Way
Genre Theme tune
Composer Simon May and Leslie Osborne
The beginning of the EastEnders theme tune.

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The EastEnders theme tune was composed by Simon May in 1984. He was assisted by Leslie Osborne.

The theme is largely based upon percussion, strings and the piano, it is widely known for its dramatic use of sound, particularly the drums that begin at the end of an episode – which adds a sense of importance, suspense and drama to the cliff-hanger. This in itself, has been parodied and used by television shows since, such as in a Friends spoof that featured on SMTV Live.

The theme has become widely recognised. A 2008 poll by PRS for Music cited it as the most recognisable piece of music in the UK, beating the national anthem "God Save the Queen".[1]

The theme tune was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award in 1985 for Best TV Theme[2] and in 1987 it won the Television and Radio Industries Club Award for Best TV Theme Music.[3]

Inception[edit]

The co-creator of EastEnders, Tony Holland, was impressed with composer Simon May and graphic-designer Alan Jeapes for their work on the titles and music for the spy thriller Cold Warrior. May was told that EastEnders was going to be an edgy drama, and came up with a piece of music that was rejected. Producers wanted something melodic, "to bring people in from the kitchen or garden",[4] and he offered an attempt that conveyed everything about the East End that the producers wanted; "bells, whistles, hand-claps, sitars, steel drums and an underlying feel of being on a merry-go-round."[5]

All of the chords used in the piece of music are diatonic, with no chromatic alterations; it has been said that this "adds to the directness of the music".[6] The main melody is scored for a piano, which has been described as having a "pub sing-a-long feel" to it. The tune is also doubled by a whistle, and there are two rhythmic permeations, a dotted crotchet-quaver moving the music forward, and a two-quaver hand-clap on the fourth beat of every other bar.[6]

Remixes and remakes[edit]

Due to its popularity, the tune was turned into a song, titled "Anyone Can Fall in Love". The lyrics were created by Don Black, and it was recorded in 1986 by EastEnders cast member Anita Dobson who portrayed Angie Watts in the show, and produced by her husband, Queen guitarist Brian May. It reached number four on the UK Singles Chart, and Dobson appeared on Top of the Pops. In 1988, the tune was transformed again, this time becoming a hymn called "Glory Be To God On High", which was performed on the BBC's Songs of Praise. A jazzy swing version was used for the 1988 spinoff Civvy Street.

In 1993, Simon May was asked to produce a jazzed up version of the EastEnders theme, which spawned yet another vocal version (Sharon Benson's "I'll Always Believe in You").[7] The new theme tune proved somewhat unpopular with the viewers and was replaced with a reorchestration of the original theme. Many of the synthesised sounds which always proved popular in music and on TV in the 1980s were taken out to fit in with the acoustic sound that became popular again in the 1990s. This was only 11 months later, from 11 April 1994. Starting from that date, the synth drums that preceded the closing theme was added to the beginning of the opening theme. From 7 September 2009, the theme tune was rescored by May to include stronger drum beats and more background percussion.[8]

The theme has also been remixed into a much slower and less dramatic version for use with EastEnders Revealed and a rock version for use with EastEnders Xtra. Subsequent spin-offs, Ricky & Bianca and EastEnders: Slaters in Detention, have used the softer guitar version. The 2010 Internet spin-off, EastEnders: E20, features a new remix of the theme tune, which was chosen by the show's producer, Deborah Sathe, executive producer, Diederick Santer, Simon May, director Michael Keillor and BBC Radio 1Xtra's DJ Ace from entries in a competition launched on Annie Mac's BBC Radio 1 show.[9] The winner was announced on 4 December 2009 as Carl Darling.[10]

DJ Osymyso—known for remixing popular culture—produced a mashed-up version of the theme, which turned the infamous fight between Peggy Mitchell and Pat Butcher into a breakbeat dance track. The theme was part of a routine by stand-up comic Bill Bailey during his Bewilderness shows. Bailey describes how depressing he finds the theme and imagines lyrics he feels are fitting: "Everyone is going to die/We're all gonna die/In a variety of different ways". He then proceeds to supply an alternative version of the theme which he feels is more appropriate, embodying the multicultural nature of the East End of London by using Eastern modes, sitar and tabla. In 2009, American alternative metal band Faith No More performed the theme tune at the Reading Festival.[11]

According to PRS for Music it has 99 different recordings of the EastEnders theme tune registered on its system.[12]

In 2010 in the lead up to the shows 25th silver anniversary, Patsy Palmer (Bianca) Sid Owen (Ricky) appeared on the Alan Carr show for an interview and decided to have an old "Knees up" round the piano to do their own version of "Anyone Can Fall In Love" which proved to be popular with the audience. Including a glass statue "Wellard" singing along.

Julia's theme[edit]

"Julia's theme", an occasionally used introduction to the main theme.

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"Julia's theme" refers to an alternative version of the usual theme, which was named after one of the show's creators, Julia Smith. It has been used in place of the regular theme 58 times as of 30 May 2014. This theme sees a change from the drums that are usually featured instantly at the end. Julia's theme ends an episode with a slow buildup played on piano, usually after the departure of a character or a particularly emotional event. Simon May's 1984 memo to the producers giving a breakdown of the various versions of the theme he had prepared refers to this as the "romantic pre-empt".[5] The full version of the theme was included on the compilation album Simon's Way.

Episodes where Julia's theme has been used[edit]

No Date Circumstances
1 11 April 1985 Ian Beale cries into the arms of his grandmother Lou after a heart-to-heart, because his father Pete disapproves of him becoming a chef.
2 20 June 1985 Sue Osman tells her husband Ali that she has a lump in her throat and cannot cry for her recently deceased baby, Hassan.
3 1 August 1985 In order to make a despondent Sue Osman acknowledge her grief, Dr. Harold Legg forces her to hold baby Annie Smith . As she comforts the crying baby, she breaks down in tears.
4 3 October 1985 Michelle Fowler meets Den Watts at the canal to tell him that she is pregnant with his baby.
5 2 January 1986 Pauline Fowler has a heart-to-heart with her son Mark on Southend beach.
6 6 February 1986 Lofty Holloway asks a pregnant Michelle Fowler to marry him.
7 8 April 1986 Michelle Fowler agrees to marry Lofty Holloway.
8 17 April 1986 Whilst alone in the bar at The Queen Victoria, Lofty and Michelle share a kiss before she leaves.
9 22 July 1986 Sue Osman tells Michelle Fowler that she has had a phantom pregnancy.
10 23 September 1986 On the night before Michelle Fowler's wedding to Lofty Holloway, the father of her child, Den Watts wishes her good luck.
11 4 June 1987 Arthur Fowler returns home from prison and thanks his family for their support.
12 2 July 1987 Dot Cotton and Ethel Skinner reminisce about life in the war in a two-hander episode.
13 20 August 1987 Magda Czajkowski asks Simon Wicks to move in with her.
14 20 August 1992 Arthur Fowler reluctantly turns down Christine Hewitt's advances, but he kisses her passionately before he leaves.
15 25 December 1992 Mark Fowler rescues Mandy Salter from her mother's abusive boyfriend and takes her back to Walford, where they celebrate Christmas at the Fowlers' house.
16 18 February 1993 Pauline Fowler and Pat Butcher have a heart-to-heart after Pat runs over and kills a girl.
17 2 September 1993 Sharon, Grant and Phil Mitchell, Kathy Beale, Frank and Pat Butcher start their journey home from France after visiting Frank's pregnant daughter Diane. Sharon watches on as Phil and Kathy embrace.
18 21 October 1993 Ian begs his wife Cindy to return home after lies have spread and he thinks she has cheated.
19 5 October 1993 Debbie Tyler convinces Nigel Bates that she is not going to leave him, and asks him if they can go to bed together.
20 22 June 1995 Nigel Bates tells his stepdaughter Clare that her mother Debbie has died in a hit-and-run accident.
21 20 June 1996 Arthur Fowler's funeral.
22 17 October 1996 Cindy Beale leaves with her sons Steven and Peter to live in Italy.
23 10 April 1998 Kathy Beale leaves Walford with her son Ben to live in South Africa.
24 30 April 1998 Nigel Bates, Clare Tyler, Julie Haye and Josh Saunders leave Walford to live in Scotland.
25 4 February 1999 Grant, Peggy and Courtney Mitchell scatter Tiffany's ashes at Peacehaven.
26 10 September 1999 Bianca Butcher leaves Walford with her son Liam to live in Manchester.
27 20 February 2000 Frank and Peggy Butcher vow to stay in Walford and fight Dan Sullivan for ownership of The Queen Victoria.
28 28 November 2000 Sonia Jackson breaks down after giving Chloe up for adoption.
29 22 February 2001 Roy and Pat Evans get back together.
30 10 May 2001 Ian Beale and Laura Dunn get married
31 21 December 2001 Jim Branning proposes to Dot Cotton on the London Eye.
32 1 February 2002 Peggy Mitchell says farewell to Frank Butcher in Spain.
33 6 May 2002 Sonia Jackson and Jamie Mitchell decide to end their relationship.
34 21 June 2002 Anthony Trueman proposes to Zoe Slater.
35 16 August 2002 Little Mo Mitchell returns from prison.
36 14 February 2003 Pauline Fowler and her son Martin walk home just after Mark Fowler leaves Walford to travel the world before he dies.
37 14 November 2003 Alfie Moon interrupts the wedding of Andy Hunter and Kat Slater to declare his love for Kat. Alfie and Kat decide to get together, and Kat jilts Andy.
38 24 June 2005 Zoe Slater leaves Walford to live in Ibiza.
39 9 December 2005 Stacey Slater returns to Walford after her mother Jean's attempted suicide. She looks at a picture of her brother Sean Slater and breaks down.
40 16 December 2005 Nana Moon dies in her grandson Alfie's arms.
41 9 June 2006 Grant and Courtney Mitchell leave Walford to live in Portugal.
42 2 February 2007 Martin and Sonia Fowler leave Walford with their daughter Rebecca to live in Manchester.
43 1 April 2008 Frank Butcher's funeral.
44 27 August 2009 Garry Hobbs and Dawn Swann leave together on a boat.
45 5 March 2010 Rachel and Dot Branning lay flowers on Bradley Branning's grave after his funeral.
46 26 April 2010[13] A secretly pregnant Amira Masood leaves Walford by taxi after it is revealed her husband Syed is gay.
47 23 June 2010[14] Stacey Branning holds her baby daughter Lily after giving birth in hospital.
48 16 July 2010 Syed Masood admits his true feelings to Christian Clarke and they walk away together as a couple.
49 25 December 2010 Stacey Branning flees the country with her daughter Lily.
50 13 January 2011 After saying an emotional goodbye to his family, Charlie Slater leaves Walford by train.
51 11 March 2011 Phil Mitchell and Shirley Carter leave for their honeymoon after deciding not to marry each other, but to stay together.
52 18 April 2011 Kat and Alfie Moon are reunited with their son, Tommy, concluding the baby-swap storyline.
53 19 May 2011[15] Jane Beale leaves Walford after an emotional farewell to her adopted son Bobby Beale
54 26 May 2011 Jim Branning leaves in an ambulance to go to a care home as his wife, Dot Branning, and his family look on.
55 17 January 2012 Ricky Butcher bids an emotional goodbye to his family before leaving Walford by train. His wife Bianca and the rest of the Jackson family walk home devastated.
56 8 February 2013 Zainab Masood leaves in a taxi with her son Kamil, to live with her mother in Pakistan, after her relationship with husband Masood Ahmed falls apart.
57 17 September 2013 Jean Slater leaves Albert Square with new romance Ollie Walters to live in Brighton.
58 30 May 2014 David Wicks finally leaves Walford after his relationship with Carol Jackson comes to an end, ending their love story.

Alternative endings[edit]

Occasionally, singular episodes of EastEnders have used a different theme tune for the closing credits, or the initial drum beats are missing or have been replaced by something else.

Date Circumstances
12 September 1985 Michelle Fowler cries into the arms of her grandmother Lou after Lou realises that Michelle is pregnant and they have a talk. As Michelle cries the scene fades into the closing credits. There were no drum beats.
23 February 1989 When Den Watts was shot and supposedly killed, the screen went black and cut into the closing credits. There were no drum beats.
22 June 1989 At the end of Pat Wicks and Frank Butcher's wedding episode the drum beats were replaced by a conga tune.
5 July 1990 When Pete Beale's stall was demolished by a JCB, the drum beats were replaced by the sound of the JCB demolishing the stall.
2 September 1993 Sharon, Grant and Phil Mitchell, Kathy Beale, Frank and Pat Butcher start their journey home from France after visiting Frank's pregnant daughter Diane. Sharon watches on as Phil and Kathy embrace. A segment from the full 1993 theme was used to act as Julia's Theme.
5 October 1993 Debbie Bates accepts Nigel's offer and decides to spend the night with him. A segment from the full 1993 theme was used to act as Julia's Theme.
21 October 1993 Ian begs his wife Cindy to return home after lies have spread and he thinks she has cheated. A segment from the full 1993 theme was used to act as Julia's Theme.
8 May 1995 The square celebrated VE Day. The theme tune was replaced by "It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow" by Jack Payne.
31 December 1999 When Mel Beale left her husband Ian on the strike of midnight on millennium eve, the regular closing drum beats were replaced by the tune of Auld Lang Syne.
7 September 2000 The song "Guilty" was used over the end credits instead of the programme's usual title music to signify the final appearance of character Ethel Skinner (Gretchen Franklin) who had persuaded her friend Dot Cotton (June Brown) to help her die.[16]
23 November 2000 When Ian Beale was declared bankrupt, a sinister piano theme preceded the drums as Ian was driven round the Square, looking at his former business empire.
17 May 2001 At the end of a trip to Brighton, the song "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" is played on the car stereo. The music continues into the credits superimposed over a wide shot of King's Road, Brighton as Gary drives the car into the distance.
25 December 2003 After the wedding of Alfie Moon and Kat Slater on Christmas Day, the residents of Albert Square celebrate by dancing to Wizzards "I Wish it could be Christmas everyday". The drum beats were replaced by this song.
11 November 2005 As Alfie and Nana Moon walk away from the graveyard, "The Very Thought of You" plays over the end credits.
31 January 2008 This single hander episode featuring Dot Branning used the song "Pretty Baby" over the closing credits.
18 February 2010 In the lead-up to the show's 25th anniversary, the BBC asked viewers to upload videos of themselves singing the theme tune to the EastEnders website. This episode ended with a montage of these performances.
10 September 2010 For Peggy Mitchell's final episode during her moving away from Albert Square following the Queen Vic Fire, "Peggy's Theme" was used.
7 July 2011 A shortened version of Peggy's Theme was used as Ronnie Branning found peace after being sentenced to three years imprisonment for the kidnap of Tommy Moon.[citation needed]
1 January 2012 "Pat's Theme" was used after Pat Evans passed away. The picture faded to black for the credits and the theme was played. There were no drum beats.
13 January 2012 After the main credits, an extra scene aired featuring Simon Wicks laying flowers on his mother Pat's grave, followed by another set of drum beats.
26 April 2013 Part of "Wings" by Little Mix plays up to and over the drum beats as Liam Butcher departs Albert Square.
20 September 2013 When Peggy Mitchell returns, an additional scene follows the end credits with Peggy paying homage to Pat Evans. The scene finished with a modified Peggy's Theme.
24 March 2014 Part of "Royals" by Lorde plays up to and over the drum beats as Stacey Slater confesses to the murder of Archie Mitchell.

Peggy's Theme[edit]

"Peggy's Theme" is a new variation of Julia's Theme, written by Simon May. It was featured in Barbara Windsor's farewell episode, transmitted on 10 September 2010, where it replaced the entire theme tune.

"Peggy's Theme" features on the album The Simon May Collection and was also released as an EP along with other EastEnders songs including "Anyone Can Fall in Love".[17][18]

Pat's Theme[edit]

On 31 December 2011, it was announced May had reworked the show's theme tune for Pat Evans's (Pam St. Clement) final EastEnders episode.[19] The new version, called "Pat's Theme", played out at the end of the character's last episode broadcast on 1 January 2012.[19] An EastEnders spokesperson told Daniel Kilkelly of Digital Spy, "It's only right that as we say goodbye to the iconic Pat Evans we pay tribute to such a character with a wonderfully touching special theme tune.[19] The theme features a piano and no other instruments. It was also used as the opening theme to a documentary show, EastEnders: Farewell Pat, that aired on BBC1.

Legacy[edit]

It is recognised as an iconic piece of music, largely establishing itself based upon shocking and surprising cliff-hangers that have featured dominantly throughout the years. A 2000 UK poll named it as the sixth most popular TV theme of all time.[20] In a 2008 poll by PRS for Music the EastEnders theme was the most recognisable piece of music in the UK, beating the national anthem "God Save the Queen" as well as the theme tunes for Match of the Day and Coronation Street. Composer Simon May commented: "When EastEnders first appeared in 1985 it was such a great buzz walking down the street or being in a supermarket hearing people whistling or humming the theme. I've been amazingly lucky that thanks to the huge success of the show the theme is still popular and in the national psyche."[1][21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Irvine, Chris (25 September 2008). "EastEnders theme more recognisable than God Save the Queen; The dramatic drumbeats of EastEnders are more recognisable than the national anthem, according to a new poll.". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "Simon May". CitySpeakers International. Retrieved 12 August 2009. 
  3. ^ Smith, Julia; Holland, Tony (1987). EastEnders – The Inside Story. Book Club Associates. ISBN 0-563-20601-2. 
  4. ^ Cowen, Lewis (23 February 2010). "Devizes EastEnders composer tells how first theme was rejected". thisiswiltshire.co.uk. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Smith, Julia; Holland, Tony (1987). EastEnders – The Inside Story. Book Club Associates. pp. 97–8. ISBN 0-563-20601-2. 
  6. ^ a b Pam Hurry, Mark Phillips, Mark Richards (2001). Heinemann Advanced Music. Heinemann Educational Publishers. ISBN 978-0-435-81260-7. 
  7. ^ "I'll Always Believe in You" (Media notes). Polydor. 1993. POL940. 
  8. ^ Green, Kris (1 September 2009). "'EastEnders' revamps title sequence". Digital Spy. Retrieved 13 November 2009. 
  9. ^ "EastEnders: E20 and Radio 1 join forces for theme tune re-mix competition". BBC Press Office (BBC Online). 13 November 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2009. 
  10. ^ "Remix Competition Winner". BBC Online. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  11. ^ "Faith No More pay tribute to 'EastEnders' at Reading Festival". NME. 28 August 2009. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  12. ^ Top 20 Musical EastEnders Facts – Coventry Telegraph – Pass the Remote
  13. ^ Love, Ryan. "'EastEnders' poll: Amira returns to Albert Square". Digital Spy (Hachette Filipacchi UK). Retrieved 11 July 2011. 
  14. ^ Green, Kris (15 June 2010). "Exclusive: First Look: Harry Gold joins 'EastEnders'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  15. ^ Tarley, Rachel (19 May 2011). "EastEnders live blog: 19th May 2011". Metro. (Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  16. ^ Banks-Smith, Nancy (8 September 2000). "Dying of the light". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 20 August 2009. 
  17. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (23 August 2010). "'Enders theme reworked for Peggy's exit". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  18. ^ Love, Ryan (2 September 2010). "'EastEnders' Peggy Theme EP confirmed". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  19. ^ a b c Kilkelly, Daniel (31 December 2011). "'EastEnders' Pat gets special exit theme". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  20. ^ "Five-O is top TV tune". BBC News. 28 April 2000. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  21. ^ EastEnders theme tune more recognised than National Anthem

External links[edit]