Keke Rosberg's 1983 Williams

British Sports Theme Tunes

Formula One has announced a new theme tune.  Given that the sport is a global brand, having a global theme tune makes sense in keeping with corporate branding.  However, for me and many of my age, there will only ever been one theme tune for Formula One, The Chain by Fleetwood Mac.  And it’s not just Formula One.  There are a whole series of British sports theme tunes, coming from the days when most live sport was brought to us by the BBC.  There are a whole series of songs that immediately evoke a particular sport.





For football, there is of course the Match of the Day theme tune. Long before Nessun Dorma became synonymous with football, we had the Match of the Day theme every Saturday. Many years later, it’s still there every Saturday. Here it is back in 1970.



Saturday was also the time for Grandstand, the BBC sports programme that gave an overview of the various games going on that day.



Mid week, we had Sportsnight.



There’s even a Skiing theme tune. There are not many times that I have watched skiing live outside the Winter Olympics, I know very little about skiing and I have neved skied, but I know what music I expect to introduce any programme about skiing. It’s this:



For snooker, there was not one but two theme tunes for us. There is the standard snooker theme, and also one for Pot Black, which ran from 1969 through until 1986, and has had a few revivals since.



For cricket, there’s Soul Limbo. The first few bars of it make me think it’s summer…



The Wimbledon tennis tournament is heralded with this tune each year:



For golf fans, this will seem familiar.



For feats of athletics, we had this.



Of course, for the annual London Marathon, there is Ron Goodwin’s The Trap.



Although all of these were BBC themes, there were some others on other channels that are equally memorable. When Paul Gascoigne moved to Lazio in 1992, interest in Italian football increased and Channel 4 introduced Gazzetta Football Italia, and the theme tune will take people of my age straight back to the 1990s.

So, much as the theme tunes for all of these sports may change, the classic British sports theme tunes will continue to be what I expect to introduce the programme.