BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Here's an often-forgotten fact: that famous Birds of a Feather title sequence showing snapshots from the sisters' lives was only introduced later on in the show's run. The sitcom originally opened in an oddly ominous way, with Sharon and Tracey dressed in white and black, walking slowly under a series of spotlights, looking a bit like characters from a gothic Victorian saga.
And while Irving Berlin's classic "What'll I Do" was the theme song, it wasn't sung by the girls. Instead, we had a male vocalist version which originally featured in the 1974 Robert Redford film version of The Great Gatsby. Luckily, someone behind the scenes eventually had the idea of getting Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson to sing the tune instead, giving us the deliciously downbeat Chigwell version we know and love.
A FINE ROMANCE
One of the all-time great British sitcoms, and one that's well overdue for rediscovery, A Fine Romance couldn't have had a more appropriate theme song. "They think we're like a couple of hot tomatoes," go the lyrics, "but we're as cold as yesterday's mashed potatoes." Which just about sums about Mike and Laura, the would-be lovers who specialize in awkward silences, clumsy cuddles and mutual moping around.
The other great thing about the theme song is it's sung by Judi Dench! (Yes, that definitely warrants an exclamation mark.) In fact, she does a wonderful job of it, which is saying something when you consider the song was previously covered by legends including Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald and Ginger Rogers. Bonus fact: it was written by Jerome Kern, the songsmith who also gave us The Way You Look Tonight and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.
"Making bread out of nothing but air." So goes the opening ditty, and that pretty much sums up the show about a close-knit Liverpudlian clan who spend all their time wheeling, dealing and generally blagging their way through life. Belted out by the cast, this upbeat, bouncy, Barbershop Quartet-style song became one of the signature sounds of 80s Britain: an anthem of cheeky optimism in the face of defeat.
It's easy to forget just how massive the show actually was. A bit like that other comedy about scam artistry, Only Fools and Horses, it took a little while to catch on with the public, but when it did it became a phenomenon. In its heyday, Bread challenged EastEnders and Corrie for telly supremacy. A lot of that was down to its cleverly soap-like structure, but credit also has to go to the relentlessly catchy theme song with a chorus you want to yell from the sofa.
It's rare that a TV theme tune becomes a bona fide chart hit, but that's exactly what happened when Jimmy Nail crooned out this homage to country music in Crocodile Shoes. The programme itself is about an ordinary Geordie factory worker who decides to jack everything in, swap Newcastle for Nashville, and follow his seemingly impossible dream of becoming a singer. So the song certainly fits, even if it's definitely more pop than country.
Saying that, you may not remember the tongue-in-cheek video for the song, which took the mickey out of every possible country-western concept - from a pantomime horse dancing in the background to child cowboys firing water pistols at Jimmy Nail. And when he sings "My crocodile shoes are crying too", the shoes actually sprout cartoon eyes. Which start crying.
No list of cast-sung theme tunes would be complete without at least one entry from the man who made it an art form: Dennis Waterman. The man's so fond of singing theme tunes that it inspired a Little Britain sketch on that very subject (though by all accounts the real Dennis Waterman is considerably taller than the one depicted by David Walliams).
Written by Mike Moran, a veteran songwriter who represented the UK in the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest, the New Tricks song is arguably Dennis Waterman's finest moment behind a microphone. Yes, some may plump for Minder ("I Could Be So Good for You"). But really, when it comes down to it, Dennis belting out "It's alright, it's OK, doesn't really matter if you're old and grey" is his Sgt Pepper's. We're only slightly exaggerating.