On the UK theme tune, the rhythm of life and BBC Radio 4


I have been quite ecstatic to discover via Youtube the UK theme tune, the haunting, melodic and uplifting music that once marked the end of transmission by the BBC World Service and the resumption of service by BBC Radio 4 and the beginnings of a brand new day. This music was, for my years, the bedrock of my existence and I was deeply saddened by its demise. Always inclined to rise early, this music cheered, rejuvenated the spirit, inspired and moved me in turns, according to my waking mood.

According to Wikipedia, the theme tune was played every morning between 23 November 1978 and 23 April 2006. It is my age, I am sure, but it does not seem six years since last I heard this from my bedside radio.

I was ecstatic to discover the music and to listen, enraptured, as it played out its various themes for many reasons – a certain Autumnal nostalgia creeping in as the year draws towards its close, a lingering discontent at the lack of division between BBC World Service and Radio 4, my own longing for a return to some of the simple pleasures of the past.

For those curious to know the origins of the musical themes, my thanks again go to Wikipedia –

The Theme is a collection of traditional British tunes representing the four home countries of the United Kingdom as well as the national maritime tradition.

  • The finale of the piece, after alluding again to “Early One Morning”, ends with a full orchestral version of “Rule Britannia” over which a solo trumpet plays the “Trumpet Voluntary“.

We live our lives by various rhythms, that we fall into consciously and attentively, or subconsciously, without our great knowledge or awareness.

Our internal body clock governs our daily or circadian rhythm – telling us when to wake up and when to feel sleepy. Circadian comes from the Latin circa, meaning about and dies, meaning day

The BBC site on Science & Nature http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sleep/crt/ gives a very short and simple test to indicate our natural circadian rhythms – and having just competed that test, I can apprecaite a little more my inclination to feeling soporific early afternoon. Speaking or workshop engagements that schedule me for an after-lunch slot fill me with some dread..

Why not take the test and discover your own circadian rhythm>  Circadian Rhythm Test

In keeping with the rhythm of life theme, I am a long admirer of the very uplifting and dashing piece of music that is The Rhythm of Life. It is a musical masterpiece and one that always sends shivers down my spine when I hear it played on the radio.

I began my post with a great motivation to share my love of the UK theme tune. Discovering the music again has delighted me and also,  brought to mind thoughts of the different stages of life, and of a time from around the mid 1980s when I first discovered the UK theme tune to its final broadcast in 2006, when every day began with a familiar, much-loved routine – the radio turning on shortly before the UK theme tune and waking to its endearing melodies.

Perhaps it is the Autumn, this slow and steady descent into Winter that has my thoughts somewhat maudlin, but there is a time for all things, to reflect, consider again our great gains and blessings, and a time to prepare for the next stage of our life. Not usually one to quote from the Bible, nevertheless, these words express so perfectly a sentiment that strikes a chord.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for everything…
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance

Wishing you great blessings, at this time of your life and always.


About HMStack

Independent Education Consultant (SEND) delivering local, regional and national services to providers within the public, private and third sector. Passionate about creating the context for positive change working with and on behalf of children, young people and their families, the conference and public policy sector and training organisations. An eclectic mix of clients includes schools and other educational settings, museums and heritage, service children and British Armed Forces support organisations and providers across the public, private and third sector. Educational writer, blogger and philosopher and aspiring screenwriter, inspired by drama and literary adaptations.

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