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18 Childhood TV Shows With Cracking Theme Tunes

by Periwinkle Jones
1 October 2013 43 Comments

We all know kids’ TV is pretty shit nowadays. But it’s not the saccharine-sweet plots and ‘morals’ that they’re trying to instil: it’s the theme tunes too. Here’s a list of the 18 TV shows from the 80’s/90’s with impossibly good theme tunes.

1.The Raccoons

The Racoons disproved the theory that a theme tune doesn’t have to have anything to do with the show it’s intro-ing: there’s nothing about this sexy new wave missive that screams talking vermin.

Oh, by the way, Cyril Sneer was an aardvark.

2.Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors: the outro

You can just imagine Jayce and the rest of the Lightning League rolling down the windows of their pimped-out trucks as they go to battle a giant cabbage with their floating fish.

The intro was pretty cool too.

3. Round the Twist


‘Booiinnngggg’. Impossibly awesome intro AND the show taught a generation of children the meaning of the word ‘dunny’.

4. James The Cat


I couldn’t think of a more accurate intro for a cartoon about a louche homosexual cat who likes gardening

5. Inspector Gadget

A cyborg detective, a young girl sacking off school to spend time with a dog and her ‘uncle’, an evil villain with a cat – what wasn’t there to love about this series?

Go-go Gadget fact: voice artist Frank Welker came up with the voice for Dr. Claw while trying to do a Barry White impression. He used the same voice for the Cave of Wonders in Aladdin. His other voice-over credits include Scooby Doo, Megatron, Uni from Dungeons and Dragons and Eeyore.

6. Poddington peas

You can imagine the day the writers of this ditty had in the studio trying to come up with various pea puns. Though they missed a trick with Crap-pea.

7. Cities of Gold

Children of the Sun/See your time has just begun/Searching for your ways/Through adventures everyday/Every day and night/With the condor in flight/With all your friends in tow/We search for the Cities of Gold

Oh man, just read those lyrics. Cities of Gold is single-handedly responsible for every sex fantasy I’ve ever had involving a man called Esteban.

And who DIDN’T almost hospitalise themselves as kids by trying to hold their breath in sympathy during the scene where they swim through an underwater cavern?

8. Pugwall’s Summer

This series was memorable for two things: the kick-ass theme tune and the way you spat your tea at the screen the first time you heard Jenny called a ‘spunk’.

9. Duck Tales

When you look back, there was an incredible amount of mothers who didn’t mind their kids hanging out with dubious ‘rich uncles’ back in the 90’s.

Extra credit: Only the world’s six richest men could afford to do Scrooge McDuck’s money swim. To try this at home you’d need $2.10billion.

10. Trap Door

Don’t you open that trapdoor/You’re a fool if you dare…. /Stay away from that trapdoor/ ‘Cos there’s something down there….

What? What’s down there? I want to see… Let me see! Maybe we’ll find out why blue monster Berk inexplicably spoke with a Cornish accent…

Fun fact: The bloke who wrote the theme tune also wrote the Shakin’ Stevens hit Merry Christmas Everyone.

11. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Even though we say tomar-toes and they say tomay-toes there’s something undeniably catchy about Dr. Putrid T. Gangreen’s failed fruit-based attempts to take over the world.

Fun fact: Dr. Putrid T. Gangreen was angry because his mum christened him Putrid T. Gangreen. Had he been called David, like his dad wanted, he would have owned a pet shop.

12. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Tea Nage. Muu Tant. Nin Jar. Tur Tearls.

Tea Nage. Muu Tant. Nin Jar. Tur Tearls.

Tea Nage. Muu Tant. Nin Jar. Tur Tearls.

Heroes in a halfshell – TURTLE POWER.

The world is divided into two types of people: those who call them Hero vs those who call them Ninja turtles.

Incidentally, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had the poorest disguises in carton history. If anything, they identified them.

“Which turtle attacked you?”

“I don’t know… he didn’t have his mask on… “

13. Captain Planet

It was the sheer pretentiousness of the opening lines Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, can no longer stand the terrible destruction plaguing our planetthat did it for me.

Also, can someone tell Mat-Ti that ‘Heart’ isn’t an element, and that’s why they placated him with a monkey.


“It is the 31st Century.”

31st century? Check. Already awesome.

“Ulysses killed the giant Cyclops when he rescued the children.…”

When he wha…? WOAH this dude is badass. And he needs a theme tune to convey that. Can we get something with pounding bass, robot voices and his name shouted repeatedly?


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15. Thunder Cats

The Thunder Cats soundtrack was the only thing better than that funny feeling Cheetara gave you in your shorts.

16. Rugrats

A theme tune so awesome it was sampled and remixed by rappers in Take Me There. And if rappers are renowned for anything, it’s their great taste and delicious sense of irony.

Pub trivia: If the Rugrats had aged naturally Tommy would be 22, Phil & Lil 23, Chucky 23 and that little minx Angelica would be 24.

17. Rude dog and the dweebs


Your enjoyment of this TV show depended entirely on your ability to suspend your belief in reality: even if we accept a green-toothed dog could drive a 1959 pink Cadillac, why would the city employ such an inept dog catcher? The dogs ran an autoshop with a massive sign saying ‘Rude Dog’ and with a PICTURE OF HIS FACE ON IT.

And surely dogs who could fix cars would be of greater use to society than a man who clearly couldn’t find his dick with two hands and a map.


18. Dogtanian


A healthy shot of nepotism put this as my number one… Stuck for what to buy my ex boyfriend for his birthday, I paid a man to do this… Watch the video, you won’t be disappointed.



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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Robert 3:55 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Wot, no Knightmare?

waynio 3:58 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Its unfair to say there are no good kids tv shows anymore there are some ace ones out there. Anyone should check out Regular Show (reminds me of Beevis and Butthead) or Adventuretime on Cartoon Network which are brilliantly creative and funny and would get a big adult audience if they were shown on say C4. However theres plenty of brain dead stuff too like Ben10 which is full of the usual US "attitudinal kid" is cool idea that is a really bad influence on your typical 8year old and shows how sad a lot of US attitudes are. Don't even mention the appalling Disney channel. Its lazy to say the best shows were back then, expect more from Sabotage Times contributors than playing the nostalgia card. Mind you the music is pretty pants these days Johhny Test aside!

james Brown 4:11 pm, 18-Jun-2012

I once asked ian Broudie of The Lightning Seeds if he'd written The Fimbles them music - - as it sounded just like his band. He hadn't but he said he had been asked to do one by the people who'd made Tellytubbies. I'm guessing after he turned them down they just went off and asked a musician to create a Lightning Seeds style soundtrack. I should point out I was watching this with my little boy not on my own. This passive watching with your babies/kids makes you an expert in kids TV at a time when everyone else is still into new music. I can't tell you the name of the second White Stripes album but I can tell you I also quite liked the 64 Zoo Lane theme. I suppose it's seeing your kids so happy when the theme music that starts the bond.

Harry 4:48 pm, 18-Jun-2012

City of gold and inspector gadget respeck. And I'll add Jamie and the magic torch to that

Lorelei 4:59 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Muppet Babies was the best theme song ever, followed close behind by The Fun House.

Gary 5:47 pm, 18-Jun-2012

I quite liked defenders of the earth tune too ;)

Nicster 7:01 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Starfleet - How can this not be the best theme ever, with the input of Brian May??

Funkycow 8:13 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Wot no Starfleet (x bomber) with Brian May?

FoxyDread 8:53 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Showing my ages, but Robinson Crusoe closely followed by Roobarb.

Nigel 9:33 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Chorlton and the Wheelies. If I'm allowed back even earlier, I'll give a nod to The Flashing Blade.

Philo 9:42 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Pole Position, Braveheart and Sharky and George

Periwinkle Jones 9:46 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Waynio - lazy? You're kidding me, right? Dude, I gave you 18 top shows with a slice of pub trivia for each. Aside from possibly SpongBob SquarePants name me ONE kids' TV show from nowadays with a better theme tune than any of these bad boys.

casualspotter 10:17 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Sorry but this pisses on all of them - A classic cartoon with the coolest intro ever

casualspotter 10:17 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Ross Hallard 10:59 pm, 18-Jun-2012

casualspotter, you're so on the money. Some great choices up there but Mr. Rossi is a stunning omission. Also, Battle of the Planets, anyone?

Gareth 11:06 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Huckleberry Finn & Friends... The show was badly dubbed dreck but the song was amazing.

DrRic 11:29 pm, 18-Jun-2012

I approve of this list. Opinions vary, so this is a damn good effort to my taste by anyone who isn't, well... me. Do think Danger Mouse should be there though. And Jimbo.

Mr Neb 7:16 am, 19-Jun-2012

Good shout with Pole Position there Philo. Belter. I had the Inspector Gadget theme played at my wedding shindig.....not sure what the missus or any of her family made of it though. Always been a big fan of the Ulysses theme tune too and done a cover version of it a few years ago -

MartynB 9:26 am, 19-Jun-2012

Remember being in a curry house in Greenwich, post-pub/club with some friends. One of whom had a birthday and as a present got a robotic dinosaur (stick with me here). For some reason one of the other tables made a comment about the Flintstones, and in no time the whole restaurant (except for the bemused staff) was singing a greatest hits of kids TV. The place was a total mix of different Saturday night flotsam, all singing Cities of Gold & Dogtanian at full blast and almost word perfect, until we all got kicked out that is. Wonder if kids today will be able to do the same. Great list Periwinkle. I loved some of the additions in the comments too. Forgot how much Pole Position rocked (great hangover TV). My 3 faves (already mentioned) Chorlton & the Wheelies (I can still do an ace Chorlton impression), Jamie and the Magic Torch (best opening titles) and Trap Door (need an extended mix of that one). So glad I grew up in the 80's

RoK 10:08 am, 19-Jun-2012

Captain Bucky O'Hare?!

waynio 10:24 am, 19-Jun-2012

Peri...dont want to start a war here am come in peace but you start your article with "We all know kids TV is shit nowadays" which is just not true i dont think and is just playing the nostalgia everything was good in the past card which i think IS lazy. Your article obviously has some good (non lazy) work in it re the theme tunes its just that initial comment that stuck out. Keep up the good work anyways! 64 Zoo Lane someone mentioned is a good call and jogged some pleasant memories from when my kids were properly young and not wannabe teenagers at 8 and 11. Game of Pinball anyone :)

waynio 10:29 am, 19-Jun-2012

you certainly do have a point re the theme tunes though, only decent current one i could think of was johnny test....any other good calls??

Periwinkle Jones 2:18 pm, 19-Jun-2012

Waynio - let's settle this with a thumb war… ;) Does Dexter's Lab count as a modern one, or is that an old classic?

Periwinkle Jones 2:27 pm, 19-Jun-2012

Dr Ric: JIMBO! Damn - glaring omission. Also - how am I the only person who has never heard of Jamie and the Magic Torch? Seriously? Did my mum feed me gin or was I dropped one too many a time?

FriendlyFiend 4:57 pm, 26-Jun-2012

Stumbled on this excellent list and felt moved to add 18 more theme tunes for those of us who lived through the 1970s. So, can I nominate: 1. The Tomorrow People 2. Dr Who (the scary 1970s version of the theme tune) 3. The Banana Splits (seriously, you can't forget this one) 4. Joe 90 (sooo good) 5. Captain Scarlet (wonderfully terrible lyrics) 6. The White Horses 7. Robinson Crusoe (the french version) 8. The Flashing Blade 9. The Pink Panther 10. Mr Benn 11. Roobarb 12. Black Beauty (still brings a tear to the eye) 13. Chorlton and The Wheelies 14. The Adventures of Mumfie 15. Swap Shop 16. Battle of the Planets 17. Barnaby the Bear 18. And, yes dammit, Jamie and the Magic Torch!

Markxist 12:04 pm, 22-Aug-2012

The Mysterious Cities of Gold...which was sung in our playground thus; "Children of the sun, stick your finger up your bum, twist it round and round 'til it makes a squeaky sound" Kids eh?

Kiran 1:01 pm, 23-Aug-2012

where was arthur?? "every day when ya walkin' down the street....."

Stan Dalglish 7:28 pm, 16-Feb-2013

The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.

Bramleymark1 12:52 pm, 27-Feb-2013

As a father of 3 year old twin boys i can say that there is more dross than gloss about in kids tv at the moment.Programmes like Peppa Pig and Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom really annoy. However, there are some gems. From the house of Mouse, my two love Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Imagination Movers. Both programmes have music inspired by rock music. I am also slowly introducing cartoons from my youth, including Dogtanian, Jamie and his Magic Torch and Chorlton and the Wheelies. I do feel quite proud when they go into nursery singing the Dogtanian theme tune.

V 11:08 am, 14-Mar-2013

The Famous Five.

Johann C 2:07 pm, 14-Mar-2013

Bang on! You hit almost every great theme tune I could think of. Good work!

bleecker 4:29 pm, 14-Mar-2013

Pole Position? M.A.S.K. And my personla favourite: Denver the Last Dinosaur!!! (he's my friend and a whole lot more - eww really?!?!)

Cowboys 11:28 pm, 14-Mar-2013

What? No Saber Rider?

V 4:03 pm, 15-Mar-2013

It has just occurred to me that you overlooked Grange Hill!

Caesar 8:38 pm, 27-May-2013


Barry Noble 8:50 pm, 27-May-2013

Agree with FriendlyFiend's list - Tomorrow People, Rhubarb etc. Would add Children's Ward from the early '90s, and I can't believe you haven't got Rainbow!

Barry Noble 8:54 pm, 27-May-2013

To FriendlyFiend's list of classics I'd add Children's Ward (early '90s ITV) and Rainbow.

Mrrossi 8:56 pm, 27-May-2013

The red hand gang.

Tom Ward 5:42 pm, 1-Jun-2013

Outstanding, but no Biker Mice From Mars? That was the best theme tune ever!

Z 8:56 am, 19-Jun-2013


GraGra 12:51 pm, 2-Oct-2013

Roobarb and Custard - so good it got a remix, not to mention the biccies of the same name. The Littlest Hobo. "There's a voice, keeps on calling me, down the road, that's where I'll always be ...

Nikolaus Stryker 3:26 am, 17-Oct-2013


Rich 12:46 pm, 24-Oct-2013

Wot no Supergran? Can't beat some Billy Connolly glamstomp

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