The ultimate sports theme tune
It was very sad to hear of the news of the death of Luciano Pavarotti.
He will, for many, be most associated with his wonderful rendition of the aria "Nessun Dorma", which was used famously as the theme tune for the BBC's 1990 World Cup coverage.
Since the announcement of his death, we have had quite a few queries as to how this piece of music came to be chosen for that event.
It was certainly at that time an unusual choice; sports theme tunes had tended to be variations on the Match of the Day/Grandstand template, or occasionally borrowed from pop songs, such as the great use of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" for the BBC's Formula 1 coverage.
But taking up this beautiful excerpt from an Italian opera (Turandot by Puccini) seemed to chime perfectly with the very stylish staging of the World Cup in Italy; and the sense of lament in the music also struck a chord with the most potent image of the tournament, when Gazza cried as England lost to Germany in the semi-final on penalties.
Normally the choice of music for such a big event involves a series of discussions, and this was no exception. I will try to give the best account of the process here I can recall.
In 1989 I was working as a producer in TV Sport. As the build up to Italia 90 gathered pace, I made a 30-minute film looking at Italian preparations, with the excellent Gerald Sinstadt as the reporter.
I had been poring over various music options for this film, and had heard Nessun Dorma being played as someone's choice on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs - I am afraid I can't remember who was the castaway.
In the end, I did not use Nessun Dorma in that film, but a few weeks later did decide it would go very well with some video inserts I was making for the draw for the World Cup - I think this was December 1989.
In particular, I could see a really strong music to pictures tie-up. In the aria, probably the most celebrated moment is the climax, when the word "Vincero" (meaning "I will win") is sung three times, with the third being the most dramatic - and this was where Pavarotti hit his most thrilling, highest note.
This seemed to me to fit perfectly, both in terms of the word and the intensity with an especially memorable image from Italian football: when Marco Tardelli scored the crucial goal in the 1982 World Cup final for Italy against Germany, he ran away, arms spread and mouth wide open in utter exultation.
The idea of this image matching Pavarotti's climax in "Nessun Dorma" seemed compelling.
So that is why I used the music for a montage of great World Cup moments, ending with that Tardelli clip married up to the final "Vincero".
This item seemed to go down well in the course of the usual interminable World Cup draw... The following week I had a chat about it with Brian Barwick, then editor of the BBC's football and now of course the chief executive of the FA, when I said we should definitely use it for the World Cup itself.
I was appointed to be assistant editor in TV Sport in 1990, and took this role for the World Cup. I was also asked to make the opening titles.
I was, however, not at the meeting when the music was actually decided; what I have been told about that meeting is Desmond Lynam was an ardent advocate for using Pavarotti - and such was Des's stature that his position would have been crucial to the decision.
I have to say also that, as well as being an exceptional broadcaster, Des's judgement on these matters was usually excellent.
There was some debate, I believe, on which piece of Pavarotti to use, and Brian was instrumental in settling on Nessun Dorma; in the end, of course, Brian, as editor, would have had the final say anyway, so both he and Des deserve proper credit for going with Nessun Dorma.
So I made the titles using Nessun Dorma, and once again for the climax had the final "Vincero" over that stunning celebratory image of Tardelli - the key to pointing up the music's resonance to the event, I thought.
Interestingly there was a bit of a stir initially from the record company about our use of the music; but it was settled pretty swiftly and amicably, and, once they realised how much the tune had caught on, they became extremely positive about it!