Memorable TV theme tunes are a curious beast – and sadly a dying breed with many modern series abandoning the traditional opening titles sequence altogether.
It’d be a shame if this trend continues – after all, who really sticks around at the end of an episode to listen to the music?
A great theme tune can be an invaluable part of creating the right atmosphere for a series, especially if it’s one that wants to creep you out.
With The X-Files back on our screens, we’ve picked out 10 of the creepiest ever TV theme tunes…
Doctor Who by Ron Grainer
Over the years, the Doctor Who theme has seen a few revisions that have pushed it towards being an action-packed call to arms, none more so than in the recent Murray Gold revisions.
But in 1963 – and due to the astonishing electronic treatment Grainer’s simple score received at the hands of Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop – it was literally like no other music the general public had heard and, by that simple fact, it’s Doctor Who‘s first ever scare.
Chocky by John Hyde
Back in the day, TV makers thought nothing of putting the scariest music they could find on the start of children’s TV shows, even if the story itself was about a benevolent alien who just wants to help the Earth.
John Hyde’s piece is eerie enough but the piercing scream and alien whisper at the end really kick it into terrifying mode.
Mastermind by Neil Richardson
Mastermind is the original unsettling quiz show, essentially a trivia interrogation and the theme, appropriately named ‘Approaching Menace’, really sets the stage with its lumbering, but relentless, pounding and grand but oddly discordant fanfares.
For true terror, though, be sure to listen beyond the familiar section.
Children of the Stones by Sidney Sager
It’s back to the often-terrifying world of retro kids’ TV for this beast. It was performed by the Ambrosian Singers and was written to evoke similar, mysterious feelings as produced by the megalithic standing stones of the story’s title.
It’s an otherworldly cacophony of bellowing until it finally resolves into a small melody, written in the Lydian mode, often used to denote fantasy.
Tales of the Unexpected by Ron Grainer
Grainer’s second appearance on this list is a million miles away from his first.
It’s hard to explain quite what’s so troubling about Tales of the Unexpected. It may simply be years of experiencing it only as part of that curious occult James Bond title sequence, but we think that this queasy carnival waltz would make anyone ill-at-ease with its seemingly-inescapable looping, at least in its broadcast form – there’s a longer version, but it releases its grip a bit when it steps away from the main theme.
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