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12:09 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Panorama's theme tune

The Panorama theme tune is one of the most familiar pieces of music played on British television.

It has been part of the furniture of popular current affairs for almost 35 years - so much so that the Panorama staff frequently receive e-mails enquiring not only about the name of the piece used in the theme tune, but also whether it is available to buy.

The current piece is called Aujourd'hui C'est Toi and was originally composed by Francis Lai, though the Panorama edition of the track has never been commercially released.

However, the music that you hear on today's Panorama is not the music which was used on the original programme 50 years ago. In fact, there have been several other pieces of music which have also been known as "the Panorama theme tune".

The original theme tune, which was featured in the first ever broadcast on November 11, 1953 was an extract from Finnish composer Jean Sibelius' orchestral suite Pelléas et Mélisande.

The second incarnation of the Panorama theme surfaced in the mid 1950s. That piece was composed by the popular Canadian-born "light music" writer Robert Farnon and was called Openings and Endings. This assured and authoritative piece fitted in nicely with the heavyweight image of the BBC of the time, and lasted for almost 15 years before being replaced.

'Warmer, fresher found'

It was superseded by the contemporary piece Aujourd'hui C'est Toi in the late 1960s, which had previously appeared on the soundtrack to 1966 French film Un Homme et Une Femme. While currently in its third iteration, this piece of music has remained more or less unchanged over the past three decades.

The latest version was arranged in 2005 by David Lowe, a composer/arranger whose previous credits include the BBC News music, Wildlife on One and the current Horizon theme.

On being entrusted with the task he said:

"It was an honour, and a bit scary to be asked to arrange the Panorama tune - such a brilliant and famous piece of television music. I used the original theme as the base, literally taking the original recording, and laying new orchestral parts and rhythm arrangements over the top. The idea was to give it a warmer, fresher and more current sound, which felt like a different part of the main theme."

One notable detour for the theme came in 2001, when the producers used an 80s-style remixed version for a special programme about the life and times of Jeffrey Archer.

The Dallas-esque theme tune was actually reworked by two music librarians within the BBC, who worked on the special piece in secret after hearing that the programme was hoping for famed 1980s musician Paul Hardcastle to remix the music.

Paul Jackson and Adam Dineen then played their version to the Panorama team who were so impressed they used it in the programme, which was broadcast in July 2001.

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Stepping into Hardcastle's shoes (Wednesday, 29 October 2003, 16:22 GMT |  50th Birthday )

50 years of Panorama

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