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Keeping tuned in and singing along to early TV shows

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: July 06, 2006

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Programme theme tunes have always been by necessity a rather catchier addition to the songs we normally enjoy when listening to our favourite musical artistes. Ron Southall-Owen of Lawley Road, Bilston, reckons we'll be humming along once again to one or two of his memorable list from the past.

"Further to my letter you printed the other week about old television shows of the 50s and 60s, I remember well that some of the shows and series had theme tunes that also made the music charts of their day. For instance, the spy series Top Secret had a theme tune called Sucu Sucu which was recorded by Laurie Johnson's Band and reached No. 9 in the charts in 1961. The western series Rawhide, famously recorded by Frankie Lane, reached the dizzy heights of No. 6 in 1959, and the theme song from Robin Hood was recorded by Dick James and reached No. 14 in 1956.

Duane Eddy had a hit with the western Have Gun will Travel and took its theme tune Ballad of Paladin to No. 10 in the charts of 1962. Who can ever forget the puppet show Fireball XL5, sung by Don Spencer which went to No. 32 in 1963, or the theme to Juke Box Jury called Hit and Miss, recorded by the John Barry Seven which reached No. 10 in the charts in 1960. I reckon it's a good bet that many a Black Country man and woman went to work singing or humming their favourite TV show themes from the night before. Now for the children of 1950s, 60s vintage, can anyone in Bugleland remember the following children's TV shows from that era; Twizzle, Four Feather Falls, Torchy the Battery Boy and Billy Bean and his Funny Machine?

Alan Keeling of Oldbury has continued to provide us with some excellent long forgotten memories of vintage TV, and directly related to Ron's reference of the Western series, Have Gun Will Travel, he recalls the star of the show Richard Boone:

"Boone played Paladin, a professional gunman who hired himself out to people who were unable to protect themselves. He operated from a San Francisco hotel in the 1870s, carried a Colt-45, and his calling card was, "Have Gun - Will Travel. Wire Paladin, San Francisco." The CBS series occupied just half an hour every story, but ran for 156 episodes from 1957 to 1963. It didn't hit Midland - ATV screens until 1961 when only the first season of episodes was shown. In 1991 Bravo satellite channel viewers were treated to a brief re-run. Ron has mentioned the hit that Duane Eddy had with The Ballad of Paladin, but I could have sworn the singer was Johnny Western.

"Do any readers remember the popular series, Fury? The opening sequence of every programme announced to the viewer, 'This is the range country, where the pounding hooves of untamed horses still thunder over mountains, meadows and canyons. Every herd has its own leader, but there is only one Fury. Fury, king of the wild stallions, and here in the wild west of today, hard-riding men still battle the open range'.

"What a build up to this popular ATV children's adventure of the 1950s, which mainly concerned Joey and Fury rescuing people from forest fires, mine-shafts and all manner of villains. It starred Peter Graves as Jim Newton, owner of the Broken Wheel Ranch; William Fawcett as his top-hand Pete; Bobby Diamond as Jim's adopted son Joey; and of course Fury, the wild stallion saved from certain death by Joey at the beginning of the long running series. The series hit Midlands' screens in 1956 and was still being shown 14 years later in 1970. In total 114 half-hour episodes were made, all produced in Hollywood by ITC and TV programmes of America.

"First shown by ATV in 1956/57, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin ran for 164 episodes and was about a young boy called Rusty and his faithful pooch Rin Tin Tin, who as,sisted the 101st Cavalry at Fort Apache in the Wild West of the 1880s. A young Lee Aaker played corporal Rusty, with James Brown and Joe Sawyer playing other leading roles. The series proved so popular in the US that it was re-syndicated with a sepia tint in 1975, and in 1987 the first three episodes were edited together to create the TV film, Rin Tin Tin, hero of the West in computerised techni-colour."

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