Theme Tunes as Madelines
“Ha ha thisaway, haha thataway, ha ha thisaway, my oh my.” This line, which reads like a mid seventies Eurovision runner up, is actually the chorus of the theme tune for a 1980s children’s programme called Wizbit.
I know this because it is stored in my brain. Somewhere inside my head is a place where Paul Daniels is forever singing that song. Nearby, “In the heart of Transylvania, in the vampire hall of fame,yeah” the plot of Count Duckula is constantly being set out in rhyming couplets. Henry’s Cat’s self evident fame is being asserted (“You must have seen the movie, you must have read the book./He’s a mellow, yellow feline, so take a second look”) while Top Cat’s social position is vieing for attention with no apologies to Cole Porter (“The Indisputable Leader of the Gang./He’s the boss, he’s the pip, he’s the championship…”)
I forget my own birthday. I cannot recognise you if you change your hairstyle. I am actually uncertain what age I am. But, through whatever quirk of my synapses, I can provide you with poorly sung renditions of the theme tune of almost any television programme I have ever seen.
In case there be any doubt, this is a lot of television programmes.
For children’s television, a theme tune has to do the usual job of setting the tone for what’s about to come. But, frequently, it also has to give us the set up- the controlling plot of the programme is outlined in lyric form before the opening credits have finished, freeing the writers from reintroducing the situation over and over again.
Duckula is a vegetarian vampire duck. Top Cat is, well Top Cat is actually Sgt Bilko, but his defining characteristic is that he is the Leader of the Gang. Henry’s Cat has, for reasons unexplained, an absurdly high opinion of himself.
Wizbit goes thisaway and thataway at the behest of Paul Daniels. (The paradigm doesn’t always hold true.)
The theme tune can sometimes give the programme more of a boost than it deserves.
Jamie and the Magic Torch was a pleasurable enough Yellow Submarine derived cartoon. But by the time we were into the cartoon itself we had already been whipped up into a frenzy of excitement by this;
Dear God, can there be anything more exciting than that guitar kicking in?