The Newsroom

Television News Theme Music - Creative Uses!

(May 2009)

This site closed in March 2021 and is now a read-only archive
JW
JamesWorldNews
There are/were some truly classic and incredibly good tv news themes out there on screens around the world. From the BBC's thoroughly modernist venetian blinds intro music of the 80's, up to the current stable of David Lowe classics, not to forget the classic News at Ten, bongs and all.

But probably the quirkiest of the lot can be found on the attached link. You gotta listen to this all the way through - of sheer classic proportions. How many of you remember it? And what are your other favourites?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swMDE4K3Iwc

(With thanks to Mark H.)
RD
rdd Founding member
Well the original Sky News music is my all time favourite news theme - even though it is library music (The "Great News" Package by Frank Gari) and used by many US TV stations, over this side of the world it will always be associated with Sky News, even though they dumped it in 1995. In fact when it comes to Sky News themes, only the current theme music would be as closely associated with the station.

Other news themes - the tune more closely associated with ITN these days, "The Awakening" by Johnny Pearson, is an all time great one. The orchestral BBC News themes of the 1990s before David Lowe's music became ubiquitous, especially the BBC Breakfast News music. The Channel 4 News theme.

Sadly, there's no great news theme I can point out from this side of the water. I'm trying to think of an especially memorable RTÉ News one, but I can't. For the BBC, maybe the original Newsline 6.30 music?
CI
cityprod
Non-Stop was used until 1983 for ITN's weekend and bank holiday News bulletins, when they switched to something a little more synthesized.

In many ways it is very much like the music that used to accompany cinema newsreels of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. The original theme to the BBC's Grandstand, called News Scoop, was just such a piece of music.

I never gave it a second thought back then when I used to watch the ITN News when this came on. It was the news theme, and that was that. I don't subscribe to the theories that have flown about in recent years about why ITN stopped using it, most of them come from people who weren't there at the time.

My favourite news themes amonst the many we've had...

ITN World News 1987-1994
ITN World News 1994-1998
ITN Weekend/Overnight/Morning News Late 1980s (Worked best with the Chromakey virtual backdrop, rather than the newsroom backdrop.)
BBC News 1999-2003 (all BBC News including regionals and News 24)
BBC World Service Television News 1991-1994
BBC Breakfast News 1989-1993
BBC Nine O'Clock News 1986-1988
Sky News 1989-1995
ITN News Channel 2000-2002 (Worked best with the blue backdrops, not the blue, pink and orange one!)
CNN International World News 1992-1996
Channel 4 Daily / World News 1990-1993
Channel 4 News 1986-2001 (The two best looks, metallic and orange, before they tinkered with it for 2001)
5 News 1997-2000 (The newsroom look, not the white one)
TSW: Today 1986-1990 (The 5x3 Rhomboids look)
BBC South West: Spotlight 1992-1999 (Also used on BBC Radio Cornwall from about 1994-2000)
CNBC European Money Wheel /US Money Wheel 1995-1997 (full version better than sting)
CNBC US Squawk Box 1995-1997 (full version better than sting)
IT
itsrobert Founding member
My all-time favourite news theme packages are almost exclusively the old orchestral ones from the 1990s. Whilst I like David Lowe's BBC News music and Dave Hewson's current work for ITV News, my favourites will always be those used 10 years or more ago, when I was growing up.

Amongst my favourites are: all of the BBC News themes between 1993 and 1999, particularly the Six O'Clock News theme; News at Ten 1992-1999; ITV News 1995-1999; ITV News 1999-2004; and Channel 4 News 1995-1999. I'm also fond of some of the 1980s themes, including the Venetian blinds/Chinese lantern BBC theme and the Nine O'Clock News 1985-1988 theme. The original version of the current Channel 4 News theme, used until 1995, was also rather good.

I'd also include some semi-news themes, such as Breakfast with Frost and On The Record. Newsround's music between 1990-1994 and 1994-1997 were also pretty good.
WW
WW Update
rdd posted:
Well the original Sky News music is my all time favourite news theme - even though it is library music (The "Great News" Package by Frank Gari) and used by many US TV stations, over this side of the world it will always be associated with Sky News, even though they dumped it in 1995.


Here's nine minutes' worth of various cuts from that theme:

http://www.southernmedia-nmsa.com/audioplayer.php?media=theme,49

BTW, for those of you interested in American TV news theme music, you can listed to dozens upon dozens of news themes here: http://www.southernmedia-nmsa.com/index.php?page=3,1
DA
DAS Founding member
Here are two themes not many would consider "classics" but I've always thought were great news themes. Firstly, CNN World News (here) and secondly, Meridian (here and here).
SE
seamus
My favorite theme is the BBC 9 O'Clock News theme, during the Transmitter mast era...the 1993-1999 rendition wasn't as good. I also love the Five News 2003 theme.
RD
rdd Founding member

Here's nine minutes' worth of various cuts from that theme:

http://www.southernmedia-nmsa.com/audioplayer.php?media=theme,49


Shows the versatillity of that package. Most of the arrangements there - particularly the faster versions - never aired on Sky News, which only used the slower tempo arrangements.
IT
itsrobert Founding member
DAS posted:
Here are two themes not many would consider "classics" but I've always thought were great news themes. Firstly, CNN World News (here) and secondly, Meridian (here and here).


I agree, that CNN World News theme was fantastic. They toned it down a bit during the pink years and it became a bit more sombre. I don't think that version was as good as the one you linked to, but it wasn't bad.
SO
Steven O
There are/were some truly classic and incredibly good tv news themes out there on screens around the world. From the BBC's thoroughly modernist venetian blinds intro music of the 80's, up to the current stable of David Lowe classics, not to forget the classic News at Ten, bongs and all.

But probably the quirkiest of the lot can be found on the attached link. You gotta listen to this all the way through - of sheer classic proportions. How many of you remember it? And what are your other favourites?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swMDE4K3Iwc

(With thanks to Mark H.)


Brings back memories, that does. Yellow "ITN NEWS" caption over picture of leading news story at the start, blue screen with yellow credits (one at a time) at the end, more often than not with "Newscaster - TREVOR McDONALD". AFAIK, these were the only times I can remember newsreaders being referred to as newscasters. I can recall Non-Stop still being used by ITN for the weekend and holiday bulletins in late-1982, so it must have been towards the end of that year or the first weekend of 1983 when ITN finally stopped using it.

It's a piece of music that you instantly recognise, if only because it was used as the ITN news theme for so long.
WW
WW Update
Some great themes here!

This iconic American theme from 1978 was ahead of its time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsVFZ0F8Gmc

And here's the even more iconic NBC Nightly News theme by Hollywood composer John Williams:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7kIgcYgIQk
JW
JamesWorldNews
I've never really been a fan of the BBC Transmitter package of the 90's, Seamus. At the time, it was kinda out of place amongst the other BBC packages, which had a much more "powerpoint" feel to it (sorry for the use of the word powerpoint, but I don't know how else to describe it), whereas the transmitter was bold yet random and the music was, IMO, dreary (??>?!!)

On the other hand, I loved the fish finger music on the Nine O'Clock News. It was truly camp and fantastic. As was the Six music at the time (Lawley/Witchell era).

Each to his own, I suppose.

But I tend to agree with Rob in that the Lambie Nairn era (of what I would call the 2nd BBC World Flags era) was the all time greatest. It was a short-lived era on BBC World, compared to the now-decade old David Lowe themes. (Hard to imagine that David Lowe's music - albeit in tweaked reincarnations - has now adorned BBC News bulletins for ten years already!!)

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