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Anybody reading this that knows me will be fully aware that I have a bit of a “thing” for television theme tunes. A quick check in my folder shows that I am currently the proud owner of 250 of the buggers. Quite how this came about, I’m not entirely certain, though I know that there were more repeats on in the olden days than there are now. Anyhow, TV World Cup music as become one of my specialities. So… I’ve uploaded all of the World Cup Music that I could find. I didn’t bother looking for ITV’s efforts after 1986, “Nessun Dorma” blew ITV so far out of the water, so far as I’m concerned, that they have largely been in irrelevance – to be watched only when necessity dictates it. Anyway – here we go. Right-click and save as, should you wish to keep them on your hard drive for future reference.

1966 (ITV) – “On The Ball”:Fanfares were very much the order of the day in the sixties and seventies. I don’t know much else about this, I’m afraid, apart from, of course that “On The Ball” the show became LWT’s long-running Saturday lunchtime ITV football preview show.

1970 (BBC) – “Mexico Grande”: As heard on the mp3 linked in the thread prior to this one, this is (it says here) The Syd Lawrence Orchestra (easy listening specialists of the sixties and seventies) with a jaunty little number that was apparently released at the time as a single on Fontana records. I wonder how many people purchased it?

1974 (ITV) – “Lap Of Honour”: Performed by The London Stadium Orchestra. Never heard of them. This marvellous piece of music survived as a sports theme tune on the radio until well into the 1990s.

1978 (BBC) – “Argentine Melody”: Ah, the cickety-clack of maracas as the BBC take us into the 1978 World Cup with what presumably passed for “ethnic” music. I always thought maracas were Spanish, but never mind. This, of course, was the soundtrack to the most famous of Scotland’s first round exits.


1978 (ITV) – “Action Argentina”: Strangely, ITV plumped for something that sounded more suitable for a “Bank Holiday Sports Special” in 1978. As they were wont to, this was was an updated version of the 1974 theme, this time crossed with the “World Of Sport” theme, and resplendent with half a second of wacky wah-wah gutar in the middle. Nice.

1982 (BBC) – “Jellicle Ball”: This holds a special place in my heart, as it’s the first World Cup that I really remember. “Jellicle Ball” is from “Cats”, by Andrew Lloyd-Webber. A somewhat peculiar choice for Spain 82, but it seems to work pretty well. Apologies for the sound quality, but even this was an absolute bugger to get hold of.

1982 (ITV) – “Matador”: Written to order for ITV by Jeff “War Of The Worlds” Wayne, who also wrote the music for “The Big Match and the TV-AM theme music. It’s pretty bland, but at least it sounds authentically Spanish. Well, it has Spanish guitar in it.

1986 (BBC) – “Aztec Lightning”: We’re heading towards the digital age, with this effort by, ummm, “Heads”. This was based, somewhat curiously, on the BBC’s theme music for the 1968 Olympics, rather than the 1970 World Cup. TV coverage of this World Cup was obviously severely disrupted by the earthquake that preceded the tournament.

1986 (ITV) – “Aztec Gold”: Yet another piece of synthesized blandity, this time performed by “Silsoe”. Reached number 48 in the charts. I don’t have to ask who bought it this time, because I know fully well that I did – in fact, I still own it. ITV continued to use this until into the 1990s for their football coverage.


1990 (BBC) – “Nessun Dorma”:Now we’re talking. Luciano Pavarotti sums up the optimism that mysteriously coated the country during the summer of 1990. It’s easy to forget how revolutionary this sounded at the time, and the bitterweet sound of it ended up as a perfect backing track to England’s run to the semi-finals.


1994 (BBC) – “America”: Predictable, I guess, but surprisingly effective from the BBC. The BBC’s domination of the World Cup on British screens continued, but neither company covered themselves in glory, as documented here.

1998 (BBC) “Pavane”: Staying on a cultural theme, the BBC chose and adaptation of Gabriel Faure’s mournful “Pavane”, which, considering the sending off of David Beckham and subsequent falure on penalties against Argentina, seemed rather apt. Again, apologies for sound quality.

2002 (BBC) “Tarantula”: Gah! My ears! The BBC had clearly decided to go hip and young, here, bringing in Faithless to do their theme music for the four-week sojourn in Japan and South Korea, and the result was… a bland, yet strangely incomprehensible piece of dance trash. Hopefully, the editor that commissioned this was put out to pasture soon afterwards. They left the worst til last, there.

For Germany 2006, the BBC have commissioned Carl Davis to apapt Handel’s “See The Conquering Hero Comes”. I like it – it’s appropriately grandiose, and has the bombast that the World Cup deserves. ITV, for the record, have got Kasabian doing a version of David Bowie’s “Heroes”. Yet again with ITV, words fail me.

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