Master of the TV Theme Tune
October 3, 2007 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Ronnie Hazlehurst RIP. Who? Well if you've seen any of the BBC's sitcoms and light entertainment programmes from the 70s onwards, you would have probably heard his work...

He wrote the theme tunes to, among others, Are You Being Served?, Last Of The Summer Wine, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (where the title is spelled out in Morse Code), To The Manor Born, Yes Minister, Sorry!, The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin (brief blurry nudity), Three Up, Two Down, The Two Ronnies, Blankety Blank and Wogan. And he arranged the themes for Butterflies, Only Fools And Horses and Just Good Friends.

He was also heavily involved with the Eurovision Song Contest, being the musical director of the event three times when it was held in the UK and conducting the UK entry for seven years (one year conducting the German entry as well)... most notably on this occasion.

Oh and, ahem, he co-wrote 'Reach' for S Club 7 as well.

BBC Tribute.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (16 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There would appear to be some controversy over that 'Reach' for S Club 7 number. Some commenters are raking The Times over the coals about it, too! I'll reprint their comments here, just in case The Times pulls 'em:

Good to know that The Times isn't reduced to using Wikipedia as a source for obituaries isn't it?

Oh no, my mistake. Why else would you have parrotted the "fact" that he wrote the S Club 7 song despite all evidence to the contrary (sleeve notes, sheet music, PRS database etc.).

This is a myth and a hoax and it is extremely depressing to see it reproduced without question across what seems like the whole of the "quality" media.
Rob Wilson, London,
You've been hoaxed - Hazelhurst did not co-write "Reach", as a quick check of the sheet music will prove.

This "fact" came from a rogue Wikipedia edit that was made only a few days ago.

Do your writers only check Wikipedia for sources these days?
David Bodycombe, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey

posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:05 PM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

>There would appear to be some controversy over that 'Reach' for S Club 7 number.

Ah, I now see there's some kerfuffle on the Wiki talk page, and The Register is on the case. If true, it's a bit of a shame that the BBC could not get it right... Still, I'm sure Ronnie would have see the funny side of it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:22 PM on October 3, 2007

As an avid credits reader (from back in the day when the credits were readable), I am quite familiar with the name, and always thought "with a name like Ronnie Hazelhurst, he should be starring on a BritCom or writing the show, not just the theme song". It seemed as if there were a general atmosphere of whimsy in the BBC comedy factory (despite documented stories otherwise).
posted by wendell at 6:09 PM on October 3, 2007

Oh, yet another Ronnie. I guess it's goodnight from him.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:16 PM on October 3, 2007

posted by Dave Faris at 6:28 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

What Wikipedia (and consequently, The Times) missed was the sheer volume of arrangements and compositions which went into a whole generation of TV programmes which no longer exist. Those 70s and 80s chat shows had musical numbers; it was Hazelhurst and only a few others (Alan Braden was another - I remember him being at our house on Xmas evening for a party when I was about 7) who scored them all, and then threw the whole lot away and did next week's show next.

Them, the orchestras they wrote for and the singers all basically lost their jobs forever when UK TV moved on from variety entirely in the late 1980s. Fortunately most of them were in their 50s by then.

I've mentioned in passing round these parts that I spent a significant chunk of my childhood sitting quietly in recording studios underneath television studios in London.

A few times, that was on account of Ronnie Hazelhurst conducting the band, with my mother and her colleagues on backing vocals for whatever was happening that day. She died at the end of July. She was also one of the three voices who sang the theme tune for Blankety Blank.

The "who?" in the OP above is an accurate assessment of how many people remember any of this stuff. Shame, really. But I don't recall any of them really minding their relative obscurity, since they were known to their peers and that seemed to suffice.
posted by genghis at 6:28 PM on October 3, 2007 [3 favorites]

... --- -- . -- --- - .... . .-. ... -.. --- .- ...- . . --
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:05 PM on October 3, 2007

The music for Last of the Summer Wine" is one of the reasons I watch it. I can't a imagine the incidental music for a current US sitcom having so many new cues written for each episode.
posted by Ranucci at 10:30 PM on October 3, 2007

There was a great sketch on Spitting Image many years ago which premiered Hazlehurst's new requiem mass... sounding very much like Blankety Blank. Really funny.
posted by BobsterLobster at 11:32 PM on October 3, 2007

posted by ZachsMind at 1:56 AM on October 4, 2007

posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 2:01 AM on October 4, 2007

The long battle is finally over - I guess Bowie will miss the competition.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:43 AM on October 4, 2007

Dear ghengis,

please give your mum a good resounding slap from me and everyone else that has unwillingly had their head infected by the Blankety Blank theme tune for many, many years.

Also, please allocate yourself a smaller, milder slap for similarly implanting the tune in my head for the rest of today.

Everyone else: please never mention this TV show ever again.

posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:34 AM on October 4, 2007

please give your mum a good resounding slap from me and everyone else

However, you can inform her that she can be redeemed from that special place in hell that is reserved for the perpetrators of such crimes against the collective unconscious by re-recording the song, and substituting the words 'Give me a wank' for 'Blankety Blank'.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:40 AM on October 4, 2007

ghengis: She died at the end of July.

PeterMcDermott: please give your mum a good resounding slap from me and everyone else

I think PeterMcDermott is slapping himself now...
posted by Pendragon at 7:07 AM on October 4, 2007

The third Ronnie involved in the Two Ronnies?
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:47 AM on October 4, 2007

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