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Tew is known as a composer of library music, including the theme tunes for British television programmes, Doctor in the House called "Bond Street Parade", and ...And Mother Makes Three. He also composed all the music for the 1975 series, The Hanged Man, some of which was used as incidental music for The Two Ronnies, The Sweeney, the 2009 Blaxploitation spoof Black Dynamite, and would eventually become the introductory music for the American television series, The People's Court. That same track, entitled "The Big One", was used in an episode of the British detective show Van der Valk.
Tew also led his own orchestra, The Alan Tew Orchestra, and collaborated with Cat Stevens.
During his career, Tew made a number of orchestral albums with highly imaginative arrangements for the CBS label, though none of them has been reissued on CD. In particular, Tew's album The Magnificent Westerns (1969) is very highly regarded.
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