The Music Of ITC (Television Soundtrack Compilation) review

Relive some classic television music of yesteryear, with this terrific two-CD set...

As collectors of vintage TV soundtracks will be aware, there was a period when TV themes were marketed as “played by (a specially commissioned) orchestra”, thus reducing the cost of paying the original composer and musicians. As a consequence, many TV themes are close approximations of the originals.

These days there is a genuine interest in the original themes “as heard on TV”. 60s television is a rare beast at the best of times (many programmes were wiped for the sake of recycling expensive videotape). I was, therefore, rather taken aback to hear the’proper TV version’ of the Danger Man theme (High Wire) and not the (arguably better known) version by the Bob Leaper Orchestra.

Of course, not being around in 1964 (let alone old enough to watch Danger Man!) I only had The Bob Leaper version to determine how the actual theme sounded. This is true of so many other Sixties themes. We have, as a nation, grown up with ‘over versions’of themes which have paradoxically become legendary in themselves.

This collection features the opening and closing themes and a selection of exceptionally groovy incidental arrangements from several top ITC shows. Lew Grade established ITC in 1955 to produce popular escapist dramas for the fledgling ITV. The first shows, The Adventures Off Robin Hood, Sir Lancelot and William Tell amongst them, aired in the late fifties, but the ITC heyday was undoubtedly the mid-Sixties to mid-Seventies.

Ad – content continues below

Edwin Astley was virtually the ITC house composer as the selection of his work, which dominates disc one, testifies. ITC used many other popular composers, notably Ron Grainer, famous for his themes for Doctor Who, Steptoe And Son and Maigret. Grainer’s themes for The Prisoner and Man In A Suitcase are represented here, together with appropriate incidental music. A younger generation will be familiar with the latter theme as it was used by Chris Evan’s TFI Friday in the late Nineties (ironically, for a much longer run than Man In A Suitcase!).

During the 60s, John Barry scored several Bond themes and composed the distinctive electric guitar-based Juke Box Jury theme. In 1972, he provided the title theme for the Barry Morse vehicle, The Adventurer. Laurie Johnson of The Avengers fame, created a suitably suave soundtrack for Peter Wyngarde’s flamboyant Jason King series. Tony Hatch, composer of the themes for Crossroads and This Is Your Life, contributed the title music for 1968’s The Champions and 1969’s the legendary Roger Moore/Tony Curtis playboy adventure series The Persuaders! 

Robert Vaughan and Nyree Dawn Porter were the stars of The Protectors. The show was scored by Mitch Murray and Peter Callender, however, Tony Christie, who notched up a hit single with Avenues and Alleyways, is perhaps most associated musically with the programme.

In 1974, Paul McCartney and Wings, no less, provided a memorable opening theme for The Zoo Gang. The show starred John Mills and was about wartime spies enjoying the good life in the Channel Islands of the Seventies. The company continued in the Video market in the Eighties and Nineties, eventually ceasing trading when Lew Grade died in 1998.

A photograph of the famous ITC white Jag is used, rather neatly, on the inside inlay card. The legendary car was something of an in-joke for being used again and again in virtually every car chase sequence the company committed to film.

Ad – content continues below

There is a 28-page booklet which details the history of ITC and its music. Sadly, the booklet wasn’t available to review so I can’t say much more about it.

That aside, this is a very impressive collection of first rate themes by the original composers. Very much a snapshot of the times, this album is an absolute must for any true Sixties/Seventies vintage TV collector and highly recommended to everyone else. Kitsch, certainly, but above all – pure, escapist fun!

Track Listing:

Disc One Danger Man – Edwin Astley Gideon’s Way – Edwin Astley The Baron – Edwin Astley The Saint – Edwin Astley Man In A Suitcase – Ron Grainer / Albert Elms The Prisoner – Ron Grainer / Albert Elms / Robert Farnon The Champions – Tony Hatch / Edwin Astley / Albert Elms

Department S. – Edwin Astley

Disc Two

Randall & Hopkirk Deceased – Edwin Astley Strange Report – Roger Webb The Persuaders! John Barry/ Jackie trent & Tony Hatch / Ken Thorne Jason King – Laurie Johnson The Protectors – Mitch Murray & Peter Callender / John Cameron (including Avenues and Alleyways-Tony Christie’s no.37 hit in 1973) The Adventurer – John Barry The Zoo Gang – Paul McCartney and Wings / Ken Thorne Return Of The Saint – Brian Dee and Irving Martin / John Scott / Guido & Maurizio de Angelis

Total Running Time: approximately 150 minutes

4 stars

The Music of ITC (OST) is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.

Rating:

4 out of 5