“Mrs. Peel . . . We’re Needed”: British TV Spy-Fi Music From The Sixties

Being the boomer that I am (yes, I know that as a member of a given market derived demographic I represent all that is wrong with the world. . . . you’re welcome) I have different pop culture references than subsequent generations. A recent example was when someone mentioned the Avengers. I know they were talking about the Marvel characters but my initial thoughts were of the British television series. It was created in 1961 but was not shown in US until it’s fourth season starting in 1965 and running til 1969.

Unlike the music associated with the James Bond movies of the time (see my previous post https://roymusicusa.com/2021/04/15/shaken-not-stirred-james-bond-spy-music/), the theme music of The Avengers did not prominently feature the guitar. It opens with a musical figure similar to the bass lines played in boogie woogie piano but played by a harpsichord. How very British. Strings enter with the main melody and answered by a brass counter melody.

The Avengers Opening and Closing Theme (Series 5) 1965 – 1968

The other British “spy-fi” show whose theme music left an indelible mark on my musical psyche was The Prisoner. The opening sequences of the The Prisoner is a great example of the old screenwriting adage “Show, don’t tell”. It’s remarkable how much the the protagonist’s back story is conveyed in a few short minutes and with no dialogue. Just visuals and great music.
The music over the opening and closing credits, as broadcast, was composed by Ron Grainer, a composer whose other credits include the theme music for Doctor Who.

The Prisoner ~ Opening Sequence

Be seeing you . . .

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Posted in Music Appreciation and Analysis

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