I was working on a new TV series for BBC Manchester. I was in charge of a small live band playing songs and incidental music for a weekly children’s show. When I say small, it was a three piece; piano, bass, drums, and anything else anyone of the three people could shake, rattle or roll.
The BBC at the time was a fun place to work but ‘union-ified’ to the hilt, especially with the floor technicians in sound and vision. You were never allowed to move or touch anything; We had Piano-Pushers, Stand-Shifters and Microphone-Movers and woe betide anyone who would attempt any illegal repositioning of anything on the studio floor.
There was one particular sound technician who was there whenever we were recording the show. He was really nice, helpful, accommodating and would always be ‘on call’ for those necessary moves. His name was Martin Hughes.
Ripple dissolve several years and we had all moved on to different but not necessarily better things. I was sitting in my garden writing a jingle or something when I got a call. It was Martin who had risen steadily through the lowly ranks of sound technicians to become a BBC Director and Producer.
After the usual pleasantries, he asked if I’d be interested in writing the music for a new TV show called Chucklehounds. Adventures and slapstick capers with two oversized dogs. Of course, I said yes and spent several months working on the musical score which had no dialogue, simply music and effects; The perfect combination with no wretched words getting in the way.
Little did I realise that this spring-shoot of a series would morph into Chucklevision, featuring the two brilliant comedy actors who had been anonymously disguised as the two dogs in the previous series; Paul and Barry Chuckle.
From tentative and small beginnings, I wrote the opening and closing titles, adding incidental music to their silly and brilliant routines, often being allowed to go that extra mile with dramatic and filmic underscores and vast, over-the-top, orchestral themes.
Little did I realise at the time that this would last for over twenty years and become the mainstay of children’s TV for several generations of kids.
I was also given several ‘walk-on’ parts which was additional fun especially when it came to scoring my own fleeting appearances.
It was always a reassuring and comforting thought to know well in advance that a new series had been commissioned and that a very decent chunk of the year was being taken up writing for the boys and having some laugh out loud moments along the way.
I had been involved in writing music for credible productions and some would say, ‘worthy of some mention’ clients. But it would always come back to the fact that Chucklevision was a mainstay and a very important part of what I did.
Never be ashamed of anything you’re asked to do and never be worries about what people think. I know we’re living in very different times but to get a project from a brief encounter and one phone call that lasted for many years is worthy of note and something of which anyone should be extremely proud. I certainly am. And now there are six rather fine albums out there ‘Music from the TV series.’
Here’s hoping that BBC have some sense to broadcast again these wonderful shows which made us all chuckle. We certainly all need the royalties!