Ahead of the Proms there’s another great summer highlight covered right across the BBC… Wimbledon! For those of us not lucky enough to get to SW19 to experience the roar of the crowd, the smell of freshly cut lawns, or the taste of strawberries and cream, the BBC’s television coverage is vital.
If you’ve watched Wimbledon on the BBC over the years, you’ll be familiar with the music that opens and closes its television coverage. But what are you hearing every year?
Who composed the theme tune for the BBC coverage of Wimbledon?
Since the very hot summer of 1976, the BBC has opened its Wimbledon coverage with Keith Mansfield’s Light and Tuneful. There’s no mistaking it today as one of the classic signature themes, although Mansfield originally penned it for a music library.
Quite honestly it could have ended up anywhere, but thankfully the producers felt it was just right for their Wimbledon shows. It joins a legacy of familiar tunes for BBC sports programming, including Mansfield’s other great theme for Grandstand.
Though just a few bars are used today at the end of the BBC’s Wimbledon broadcasts, Arnold Steck’s Sporting Occasion has been part of Wimbledon on the BBC for decades. Despite a hiatus, it thankfully returned in 2013.
There’s something wonderfully twee and old fashioned about the piece, itself a fantastic example of British light music. Steck, otherwise known as Leslie Statham, was a major in the Welsh Guards and penned a number of marches – including Drum Majorette, the original tune used for Match of the Day, which was replaced by Barry Stoller’s Offside in 1971, still used to this day.