BBC changes their iconic theme for the World News Service. I don’t like this kind of change.

Because I spend so much traveling to different parts of the world–in fact, I’m writing this in the EVA business lounge at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei–I like to maintain a relationship with certain universal touchstones.

For example, I find it comforting to be able to turn on a TV almost anywhere on the planet and get my news from the BBC World Service. I know that I’ve connected to something familiar when I hear the World Service theme, which I still believe to be the best news theme anywhere on the globe,

When looking for and commissioning pieces for my own radio projects, I’ve often looked to this BBC composition for inspiration. (If you listen to my stuff on the radio, you can probably guess which bespoke pieces are BBC World News theme derivatives. I make no apologies for that, either.)

Well, the BBC has just mucked it up. The English language World Service has a new theme. While there are compositional and stylistic nods to the old theme (gotta get the time pips in there!), the new one sounds a little too…chipper to my ears. No gravitas, you know? VERY major key.

From The Guardian:

“Musical identity is important to a station, not just for hunting for it on the airwaves, but to give a sense of what the station is about,” said [BBC controller Mary] Hockaday. “The experience of listening live is still strong and our audience is growing, so I wanted it to say that serious and authoritative news is still at the heart of the World Service.”

Maybe it’ll grow on me. But why fix something that wasn’t broke?


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “BBC changes their iconic theme for the World News Service. I don’t like this kind of change.

  • September 10, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    BBC World News = telly
    BBC World Service = radio

    They’re different, and I bet you won’t hear that nice strings thing on the telly. (The TV news theme is used across BBC News on telly, including domestic and international).

    As to why radio and TV are different? No idea. Perhaps taking a leaf out of the CBC’s book might be a plan.


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