What is it about horse-based dramas and televised events that drives composers to produce their best work? Is it the imagined rhythmic hoof clopping? The feeling of power and adventure? The strange, funny, unnatural feeling that horses give to some people? Whatever the reason, equestrian themes are the bestrian themes. Here’s the proof…
THE ADVENTURES OF BLACK BEAUTY
It seems that not all children in 19th Century England were up, down mines or coughing up blood into soiled handkerchiefs that were also their only meal. The Gordon family appeareded to have it pretty sweet, rollicking in the Yorkshire countryside and coming across all manner of tinkers, gypsies and unsuccessful smugglers. They were aided by their adopted thoroughbred Black Beauty who used to dash off and get help or something. I dunno, I think Bod was on at the same time and I preferred Bod. Anyway, the Gordons are all long dead, but the theme tune lives on.
THE WHITE HORSES
People don’t really remember the plot to this 60s Yugoslav/German co-production. But it does sound suspiciously sound like a porno. A young girl spends the summer on her uncle’s stud farm and has adventures with the head groom. Think I saw that online once during a long night of tears and desperation. Gross. However, the theme song by ‘Jacky’ is one of the best ever and much covered by twee types.
Another German co-production and another show which no one can remember the premise to (life on a retired horse home apparently – just like Hollyoaks!). But the awesome theme song lives on. Just hearing it conjures up memories of hoping that something better would be on after Follyfoot. Like Tom and Jerry.
CHAMPION THE WONDER HORSE
Now that’s more like it! Action! I would have loved to be in the room when the exec pitched this idea. ‘Those crazy kids love westerns, but we need a new angle’. ‘How about a show where the horse is the star?’ ‘Brilliant!’. For some reason, people the world over emerge from the womb with the ability to sing this theme tune accurately. Even though it hasn’t been on the telly in 30 years.
Remarkable for all the words it finds to rhyme with ‘horse’. Let’s count them shall we? There’s horse, course, source, endorse, course (the other kind of course) and erm… that’s it. No room for force, gauze or Inspector Morse. The catchy theme song took our minds off the horrible peanut butter related animal abuse we were witnessing every week, as the handlers attempted to get Ed top speak and not kick all those around him in the groin.
Horse of the Year Show
Mozart would have been delighted to have his jolly composition being synonymous with posh types trotting over fences in funny hats, while the commentator said ‘oh my word’ a lot. The real title is ‘A Musical Joke’ and I assume people were pissing themselves back in Amadeus’s day when they copped a load of it. Probably the classical tune equivalent of You’ve Been Framed. Still the poshest sounding thing ever used on the telly, including the time Jenny Bond ate those plums at Windsor Castle.
Channel 4 Racing
Now this is a title sequence. The old school channel 4 logo morphs into a slightly sinister, multi-coloured horse harnessing device. Was there anything more diverse and weird than the early days of Channel 4? There’d be a documentary on peat, then a discussion on the documentary, then the racing, then Brookside and then four Fassbender films in a row. Hearing the racing theme did give me a Proustian feeling of woe, in a way that told me, ‘good television is over, now you have to go outside’
My Lovely Horse
I acknowledge it isn’t a theme tune. But how can you talk about telly and music and horses and not mention the greatest horse based televisual composition ever? The best Eurovision – sorry – Eurosong entry never to win. Let’s just use it for the UK entry next year. What have we got to lose? I mean, if Engelbert can belt one out and still come second to last, what hope is there?
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