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Number one TV theme song revealed by Classic FM

Actor John Thaw as Morse (PA)
Actor John Thaw as Morse (PA)

Inspector Morse has been voted the number one TV theme song of all time in a poll by music fans.

More than 20,000 Classic FM listeners and Radio Times’ readers voted in a poll for their favourite TV themes.

The dark, hypnotic theme tune to the ITV crime drama series, composed by Australian-born Barrington Pheloung, first debuted on screen 34 years ago.

Pheloung, who also composed theme tunes for Inspector Morse’s follow-up series Lewis and its prequel Endeavour, died in 2019 aged 65.

His widow, Heather Pheloung, said: “Thank you to everyone who voted for the Inspector Morse theme and Lewis theme.

“I am sure Barry would have been overjoyed and honoured that the Inspector Morse theme has been chosen as the UK’s No.1 favourite TV theme of all time.

“It is such incredible news. I know he would have been quite humbled to be receiving this accolade given the many great, iconic TV themes that have been written for UK television.

“For Barry, writing music was a way he could bring joy and love to people, his music came from the heart, and composing music and bringing it to life with his colleagues and friends was his passion.”

Inspector Morse, which starred John Thaw as the detective chief, aired for seven seasons from 1987 to 2000.

The theme tune for spin-off series Lewis was also voted number 20 in the Classic FM’s countdown.

Actor Kevin Whately, who starred as Robert Lewis in both Inspector Morse and Lewis, said: “It was a privilege to be involved in the making of these programmes, and it’s an honour to the memory of Barry to know that it has such a place in people’s hearts.

“The theme was carefully produced to reflect Inspector Morse’s character, which was threaded throughout the music with an incredible attention to detail.”

Radio Times co-editor, Shem Law, added: “It comes as no surprise that Barrington Pheloung’s haunting theme for the landmark ITV series Inspector Morse has won Classic FM’s TV Music Countdown with Radio Times.

“It is a show our readers still love, and watch, the theme music set the bar for Sunday night murder mysteries and is still a classic of the genre.”

The drama series The Onedin Line came in second with its opening theme song titled Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia by Aram Khachaturian.

The period drama Downton Abbey’s theme by John Lunn claims the third spot, Ramin Djawadi’s theme for Game Of Thrones made fourth place and Wolf Hall by composer Debbie Wiseman came in fifth.

– The top 20 TV theme songs

1 – Inspector Morse – Barrington Pheloung
2 – The Onedin Line (Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia) – Aram Khachaturian
3 – Downton Abbey – John Lunn
4 – Game Of Thrones – Ramin Djawadi
5 – Wolf Hall – Debbie Wiseman
6 – Band Of Brothers – Michael Kamen
7 – Van der Valk (Eye Level) – Jan Stoeckart
8 – Brideshead Revisited – Geoffrey Burgon
9 – Pride And Prejudice – Carl Davis
10 – Poldark – Anne Dudley
11 – Blue Planet II – Hans Zimmer
12 – Harry’s Game – Clannad Clannad
13 – Doctor Who – Ron Grainer
14 – The Lone Ranger (William Tell Overture) – Gioachino Rossini
15 – Poirot – Christopher Gunning
16 – Peaky Blinders – Nick Cave
17 – The Vicar Of Dibley – Howard Goodall
18 – Miss Marple – Ken Howard
19 – Thunderbirds – Barry Gray
20 – Lewis – Barrington Pheloung

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