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Eric Spear

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Sheet music

Eric Bertram Spear (Born Croydon 18th April 1908, died Southampton 3rd November 1966) was the composer of the Coronation Street theme music.

His work was already known to Granada Television as he was the composer of the Biggles series on which Tony Warren was a reluctant and frustrated scriptwriter. He was given the commission to write the theme tune in September 1960 and the name of the tune was Lancashire Blues. He received the princely sum of £6 for his composition which was written when he was living in Guernsey. The scripts for the first five episodes were sent to him to enable him to gauge the tone of the piece he was expected to write and shortly afterwards a tape of the theme with Eric playing it himself on a piano was received in Manchester with a note explaining that the composition was written for brass with the dominant instrument being a cornet.

The theme was accepted and Eric himself went to London to supervise the recording session to produce a final version. Although there has been some confusion and dispute over this session, it would seem that the lead role of a trumpet was due to be played by Stan Roderick but he asked Ronnie Hunt to take his place. An alternative claim has been made by David Browning that he played the trumpet but this has been disputed by the Musician’s Union. Claims have also been made that the theme tune was re-recorded in 1964 and 1972 but a close hearing of episodes in the 1960s and early 1970s seems to indicate that the theme stayed the same until 1969 when a version slightly slower in tempo was introduced along with the colour title sequence but this replaced in early 1970 with the version that lasted until 2010 when the most radical re-arrangement of the tune in the programme’s history made its debut with Episode 7351 (31st May 2010) . There were also short-term variations in the arrangement in October 1961 and September 1969.

Prior to being a composer, Spear was an actor, working at the Old Vic but turned to composing and conducting in the 1930s. His other television work included incidental music for Strictly Personal, Fabian of the Yard and the theme music composer for Sword of Freedom, The Errol Flynn Theatre and one of the first ever British television soaps - The Grove Family.

His name has continued to appear on almost every single episode of Coronation Street broadcast since Episode 1 (9th December 1960) which makes him one of the most credited names in British television history.

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