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24 September 2014

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Key factors in the show’s early success were the startlingly original title sequence and theme tune.

Composed by Ron Grainer, responsible for the slightly less hi-tech Steptoe and Son and later The Prisoner, the theme was electronically realised by Delia Derbyshire and Dick Mills of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

According to Derbyshire, Grainer popped into the studios and scribbled a few notes and suggestions for the theme before disappearing on holiday. Upon his return, the composer was delighted with how the pair had interpreted his ideas.

Synthesizers were still in the very early stages of development at this point, the few that existed being the size of a small house.

Most of the elements of the theme tune were recorded one note at a time from primitive banks of oscillators, noise generators and modulators before being spliced together onto a final tape. Derbyshire and Mills were way ahead of the studio trickery used on Sergeant Pepper.

Since the original version, Peter Howell, Dominic Glynn, Keff McCulloch and John Debney and Nick Romero have all reworked the theme with varying degrees of success. Current James Bond composer David Arnold created a new version for the current series of CD audio adventures and dance pioneers Orbital included the theme on their latest album.

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