Where have all the good themes gone?

In the pub on Friday night a question was posed – what was the last really good TV theme? It sparked plenty of discussion. We took a rockist position on the subject, dismissing the two most prevalent trends in themery viz.

i) a real actual song being used as the theme
ii) a collection of atmospheric or dramatic noises (eg 24)

These two things actually sit at opposite ends of a continuum, in the middle of which are the ‘classic’ themes of mass nostalgia. At one end we have the theme as a discrete song which could exist happily separate from its show. At the other we have the theme as the briefest of sonic place-markers. The themes which cropped up in our conversation tended to sit in the middle – as memorable and catchy as a pop single but indissoluble from their show.

Given that some of us (well, me) were happy to even praise The Tripods theme tune it’s more than likely that we were letting nostalgia get the better of us. But is there a kernel of truth to the idea that the theme tune is in some kind of decline?