EastEnders theme tune
|from the album Simon's Way|
|Composer(s)||Simon May and Leslie Osborne|
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The theme, which is written in the key of E-flat major, 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 drum fill was written and played by Graham Broad.
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 reflected that, but it was rejected. Producers wanted something melodic, "to bring people in from the kitchen or garden", and wanted it be "more feel-good" to contrast with the actual programme. May looked at his Cockney friends and felt they were "warm and loyal" people, so said his inspiration came from "my subliminal understanding of what the Cockney character is about." 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." May actually began writing the music that was used for the theme tune when he was seven years old, around 34 years before EastEnders first aired, and based it on the scales that his music teacher had taught him.
The drum beats at the start of the theme tune were played by May's drummer, Graham Broad. May had originally composed a longer theme that featured a section in "a true cockney piano-type style" and he asked Broad for a drum "fill" to allow the theme to switch back to the main version. Smith and Holland heard it and assumed it was for the end titles. The drum beats are commonly known as the "doof doofs" or "duff duffs" and it is used to signify a cliffhanger at the end of an episode, commonly known as a "duff duff moment", for which the camera focusses on the face of the actor receiving the "duff duff moment" for around four seconds.
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". 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.
Title music and hits
The original title music was used until 1991. A stereo version was used for 4 months in 1991 before a new version came into use, sounding much more similar to the original, this version having a slightly different ending.
On 11 May 1993, a completely new recording was instated which was jazzier than the previous version. The famous "doof doofs" were significantly tweaked. This version of the music proved unpopular but was used on screen for 11 months.
From 11 April 1994, the synth drums that preceded the closing theme was added to the beginning of the opening theme. The new theme at the time was a version based on the original, with more up to date elements. This was the longest-lasting version to date, being used for 15 years before another revamp took place.
From 7 September 2009, the theme tune was rescored by May to include stronger drum beats and more background percussion.
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. 2010 internet spin-off EastEnders: E20 features a new remix of the theme tune, which was chosen by 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. The winner was announced on 4 December 2009 as Carl Darling.
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.
In 1986, the lyricist Don Black added lyrics to the tune to create the song "Anyone Can Fall in Love". It was recorded in 1986 by EastEnders cast member Anita Dobson who portrayed Angie Watts in the show. It reached number four on the UK Singles Chart, and Dobson appeared on Top of the Pops. Marti Webb, who recorded "Always There", May's theme to Howard's Way, covered "Anyone Can Fall in Love" on her album Always There.
The 1993 "jazzy" arrangement spawned another vocal version (Sharon Benson's "I'll Always Believe in You").
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", 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 67 times as of 16 February 2018. This theme sees a change to the way an episode ends. Normally an episode ends with drums which are known to many as Doof Doofs. Julia's theme ends an episode with a slow buildup played on piano, usually for a particularly emotional event. There have been a few variations of the music used during its run, the original used between 1985-1987 and 1992-1996, the second used from 1995-2008 before being revamped in 2009 and last heard in March 2015, a third version from 2000-2006 before a revamp in 2010 which was last heard in October 2016.
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". The full version of the theme was featured on the B side of the original 1985 BBC theme tune 45 and also included on the compilation album Simon's Way the following year.
Episodes where Julia's theme has been used
|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 Holloway and Michelle Fowler 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, while a drunken Lofty sleeps on the couch in the Queen Victoria.|
|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||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.|
|19||21 October 1993||Ian Beale begs his wife Cindy to return home after lies have spread and he thinks she has cheated.|
|20||22 June 1995||Nigel Bates tells his stepdaughter Clare Bates 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||30 April 1998||Nigel Bates, his stepdaughter Clare, Julie Haye and Josh Saunders leave Walford to live in Scotland.|
|24||4 February 1999||Grant, Peggy and Courtney Mitchell scatter Tiffany's ashes at Peacehaven.|
|25||10 September 1999||Bianca Butcher leaves Walford with her son Liam to live in Manchester.|
|26||20 February 2000||Frank and Peggy Butcher vow to stay in Walford and fight Dan Sullivan for ownership of The Queen Victoria.|
|27||28 November 2000||Sonia Jackson breaks down after giving Chloe up for adoption.|
|28||22 February 2001||Roy and Pat Evans get back together.|
|29||10 May 2001||Ian Beale and Laura Dunn get married.|
|30||21 December 2001||Jim Branning proposes to Dot Cotton on the London Eye.|
|31||1 February 2002||Peggy Mitchell says farewell to Frank Butcher in Spain.|
|32||6 May 2002||Sonia Jackson and Jamie Mitchell decide to end their relationship.|
|33||21 June 2002||Anthony Trueman proposes to Zoe Slater.|
|34||16 August 2002||Little Mo Mitchell returns from prison.|
|35||14 February 2003||Pauline Fowler and her son Martin walk home just after Mark Fowler leaves Walford to travel the world before he dies.|
|36||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.|
|37||24 June 2005||Zoe Slater leaves Walford to live in Ibiza.|
|38||9 December 2005||Pat Butcher, Jake Moon and Stacey Slater return to Walford after an emotionally-charged week involving Frank Butcher's return for Janine's murder trial, Chrissie Watts's imprisonment following her confession to Den's murder, and Jean Slater's attempted suicide, Stacey looks at a picture of her brother Sean and breaks down.|
|39||16 December 2005||Nana Moon dies in her grandson Alfie's arms.|
|40||9 June 2006||Grant and Courtney Mitchell leave Walford to live in Portugal.|
|41||2 February 2007||Martin and Sonia Fowler leave Walford with their daughter Rebecca to live in Manchester.|
|42||1 April 2008||Frank Butcher's funeral.|
|43||27 August 2009||Garry Hobbs and Dawn Swann leave together on a boat.|
|44||5 March 2010||Rachel and Dot Branning lay flowers on Bradley Branning's grave after his funeral.|
|45||26 April 2010||A secretly pregnant Amira Masood leaves Walford by taxi after it is revealed her husband Syed is gay.|
|46||23 June 2010||Stacey Branning holds her baby daughter Lily after giving birth in hospital.|
|47||16 July 2010||Syed Masood admits his true feelings to Christian Clarke and they walk away together as a couple.|
|48||25 December 2010||Stacey Branning flees the country with her baby daughter Lily Branning. The credits roll over the ending shot of Stacey's view from the plane.|
|49||13 January 2011||After saying an emotional goodbye to his family, Charlie Slater leaves Walford by train.|
|50||11 March 2011||Phil Mitchell and Shirley Carter leave for their honeymoon after deciding not to marry each other, but to stay together.|
|51||18 April 2011||Kat and Alfie Moon are reunited with their son, Tommy Moon, concluding the baby-swap storyline.|
|52||19 May 2011||Jane Beale leaves Walford after an emotional farewell to her adopted son Bobby.|
|53||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.|
|54||7 July 2011||A shortened version of Peggy's Theme is used as Julia's Theme as Ronnie Branning found peace after being sentenced to three years imprisonment for the kidnap of Tommy Moon.|
|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 Khan leaves in a taxi with her son Kamil, to live with her mother in Pakistan, after her relationship with ex-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.|
|59||24 February 2015||Peter Beale and a pregnant Lauren Branning walk away from Walford together as a couple to move to New Zealand.|
|60||22 May 2015||Kat and Alfie Moon leave Walford with their three children, starting a new life in Spain.|
|61||2 October 2015||Carol Jackson leaves Walford on a motorbike for a fresh start.|
|62||7 January 2016||Kat Moon says goodnight to her father Charlie Slater, following his death from a heart attack.|
|63||5 February 2016||Shabnam Kazemi leaves with her daughter, Jade Green, after ending her marriage to Kush Kazemi.|
|64||22 April 2016||Mick Carter and Masood Ahmed walk away from the tube station as Nancy Carter and Tamwar Masood leave Walford.|
|65||7 October 2016||Pam and Les Coker walk home after finally getting justice for their grandson, Paul.|
|66||17 November 2016||Masood Ahmed and his son Kamil leave Walford to return to Pakistan.|
|67||16 February 2018||After Abi Branning's funeral, Donna Yates, Robbie Jackson, Jay Brown and others release white balloons in her honour, Abi's baby girl is officially named Abi Branning after her mother, and Lauren Branning walks off with her son Louie Beale to start a new life without Josh Hemmings. The credits roll over the ending shot of Lauren and Louie walking away, and the background noise of birdsong continues to be heard over the theme.|
Additionally a slightly distorted version of the theme plays in "The Ghosts of Ian Beale", a Children in Need special (14 November 2014), when Lucy Beale leaves and walks into the white light during her father Ian Beale's concussion-induced dream. It does not lead onto the end of the episode.
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, or even lacked music entirely.
|12 September 1985||Michelle Fowler cries into the arms of her grandmother Lou Beale after Lou realises that Michelle is pregnant and they have a talk. There are no drum beats.|
|16 September 1986||Arthur Fowler misses a family visit to his late father-in-law Albert Beale's grave to attend a job interview and is unsuccessful and arrives at the Queen Vic hours later to explain to the family where he went. After being berated by Albert's widow, Lou for being unable to afford Michelle's wedding, Arthur leaves the pub, dejected. There are no drum beats.|
|25 November 1986||Lofty Holloway announces he and Michelle Fowler are married. There are no drum beats.|
|23 December 1986||On Christmas Eve, Den Watts discusses his plan with Jan Hammond to serve his wife Angie Watts with divorce papers on Christmas Day, stating it will be a Christmas Angie will not forget. There are no drum beats.|
|21 January 1988||When Lofty Holloway finds out that Michelle has aborted his baby, he confronts her in her living room. There are no drum beats.|
|19 July 1988||After being sexually assaulted, Kathy Beale does not want to be touched and hides her bruises from Pete Beale. There are 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 are no drum beats.|
|9 May 1989||Matthew Jackson attacks his wife Carmel Jackson. There are 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 is demolished by a JCB, the drum beats are replaced by the sound of the JCB demolishing the stall.|
|2 September 1993||Sharon Mitchell, Grant Mitchell, Phil Mitchell, Kathy Beale, Frank Butcher and Pat Butcher start their journey home from France after visiting Frank's pregnant daughter Diane Butcher. 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 Bates'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 Beale begs his wife Cindy Beale 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 locals celebrate VE Day. The theme tune was replaced by "It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow" by Jack Payne.|
|31 December 1999||When Melanie Beale leaves her husband Ian at the stroke of midnight on Millennium Eve, the regular closing drum beats are 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.|
|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 Moon and Nana Moon walk away from the graveyard in Normandy where William Moon is buried , "The Very Thought of You" plays over the end credits.|
|31 January 2008||This single-hander episode, "Pretty Baby....", 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 regular episode, "Peggy's Theme" was played up to and over the ending credits as Peggy walks out of the Square, stopping to take one last look at the fire-torn Queen Vic. The credits roll over the continuing final shot of Peggy walking up the street and out of sight.|
|1 January 2012||"Pat's Theme" was used after Pat Evans died. The picture faded to black for the credits and the theme was played. There are 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.|
|26 December 2014||Part of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Darlene Love plays up to and over the drum beats as Mick Carter kneels on the floor after Linda Carter walks out on him.|
|20 February 2015||Part of Peggy's Theme is played toward the end of the live episode as the Beales huddle together after learning the truth behind Lucy's death, and proceeds to play over a montage of the photos on the Beale's sideboard and various locations around the square. The theme simply faded out once the guests of Ian and Jane's wedding reception began to gather outside the Queen Vic. Following on from this, part of "What I Did for Love" by David Guetta featuring Emeli Sandé plays as the residents celebrate with a fireworks display following the wedding of Ian and Jane Beale. Once the music stops, the usual drum beats are replaced by the sound of fireworks manipulated into the familiar rhythm.|
|10 April 2015||Part of "Fly Me To The Moon" plays up to and over the credits following the death of Stan Carter and the news of Jim Branning's death. No theme tune was played.|
|1 January 2016||"Being Alive" (performed by Alice Fearn, who played a wedding singer in the episode) was played up to and over the credits following the wedding of Mick Carter and Linda Carter. The credits began rolling over the ending shot of Mick and Linda at the altar as it faded to black.|
|17 May 2016||As Peggy takes an overdose, the camera pans to a bird's-eye view of Albert Square and the credits roll. There are no drum beats or music. It then cuts to a view of a clock ticking indicating Peggy's death as the clock stops. The screen then fades to black.|
|19 May 2016||Peggy's Theme plays as Phil Mitchell reads his mother Peggy Mitchell's suicide note. The theme plays up to and over the credits.|
|4 July 2016||Peggy's Theme plays up to and over the credits as Phil Mitchell says his final goodbye and walks away from his mother Peggy Mitchell's grave following her funeral.|
|19 December 2016||A cover of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Lady Antebellum plays up to and over the credits as Mick and Linda Carter celebrate their son Ollie's first steps. The credits roll over a shot of Albert Square's gardens.|
|27 December 2016||"You Got the Love" by The Source featuring Candi Staton plays up to and over the credits as Ronnie Mitchell asks Roxy Mitchell to move away with her. The credits roll over a shot Roxy and Ronnie.|
|1 January 2017||After Ronnie Mitchell and Roxy Mitchell drown in a swimming pool, the camera slowly pans out on their bodies floating in the water. The screen fades to black and the credits roll in silence over a black screen.|
|19 January 2018||After Abi Branning's life support is withdrawn and she passes away, the screen fades to black and the credits roll in silence over a black screen.|
|18 May 2018||Part of "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" by Phil Collins plays up to the drum beats as Martin Fowler and Stacey Slater kiss and reunite their marriage.|
|5 July 2018||As Carmel Kazemi sits next to Shakil Kazemi's coffin, there are no drum beats leading to the main theme tune.|
|6 July 2018||At the end of this special episode, which saw the funeral of Shakil Kazemi interspersed with clips of real-life families of knife crime victims telling their stories, the screen fades to black and the credits roll over a black screen as voice clips of the featured families and news clips play over them. Instead of the usual cast and crew list, the credits list the names of the family members featured throughout the episode.|
|18 October 2018||As Hayley Slater contemplates suicide, part of "Pursuit of Happiness" by Kid Cudi plays up to the drum beats.|
Used on Friday 10 April 1998 as Kathy leaves Albert Square behind for a new life in South Africa. As she departed London City Airport with Phil looking on, the theme started and Kathy took one final look at the place she called home, the East End of London; this theme is often mistakenly believed to be the "Jazzy" version of Julia's Theme which never got the chance to be used in 1993 however Julia's Theme was used twice in 1993 and neither time was this version.
"Peggy's Theme" is a 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, unlike Julia's Theme which only replaces the drum beats. The introduction of the theme has since been used on a number of occasions in place of the usual Julia's Theme, only replacing the drum beats. The full "Peggy's Theme" was used again at the end of the episode dated 19 May 2016 as Phil Mitchell reads the letter from Peggy following her death, and again on 4 July 2016 as Phil says his final goodbye to Peggy following her funeral.
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. The new version, called "Pat's Theme", played out at the end of the character's last episode broadcast on 1 January 2012. 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." 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.
The theme is an iconic piece of music in the UK. A 2000 UK poll named it as the sixth most popular TV theme of all time. In a 2008 poll by PRS for Music the EastEnders theme was found to be 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." The theme tune was used in the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
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- EastEnders theme tune more recognised than National Anthem