The EastEnders theme tune was written by British composer Simon May. The theme has been used since the first episode of EastEnders in 1985, the same recording of which was used until 1993, when a new version was recorded that had a jazzier feel. In 1994, the synth drums were added to the opening, in a version that remained in use until 2009, when May rescored the theme tune to include a stronger drum beat and additional percussion.
The bells, used in earlier iterations of the theme, have been replaced with a piano.
The EastEnders theme tune uses a minimal scoring of strings, piano and percussion.
There are a series of alternate themes, which are used throughout the episodes, and are named after characters within the soap opera.
In 2008, PRS for Music polled audiences who found that the EastEnders theme tune was the most recognisable piece of music in the UK, even beating the national anthem.
Simon May also wrote the theme tune for Howards’ Way, another British TV show that ran between 1985 and 1990.