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Soap theme tune writer Tony Hatch reveals he is still composing at the age of 82

·3 min read

Songwriter Tony Hatch has revealed he is still composing at the age of 82 as he was awarded an OBE at Windsor Castle.

The pianist and creator of the Emmerdale theme tune was given the royal accolade for services to music and charity, at a ceremony hosted by the Princess Royal.

After attending the ceremony with his wife Maggie, he told the PA news agency he felt “very very proud” to have been recognised for his music and work with children’s charity Variety.

Hatch counted his hit single Downtown, and I Love The Little Things, which came second in the 1964 Eurovision Song Contest as sung by Matt Monro, among his career highlights, as well as writing theme tunes for soaps including Emmerdale, Crossroads and Neighbours.

He told PA: “There’s lots of things I’m really happy and proud to be the author of.

“I was very lucky because in the 50s there were only three television channels – BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. The whole country would watch just three channels.

“That meant there was a concentration, so if I write a theme for Crossroads then each night that’s the only soap they’re going to get. I enjoyed that very much, writing the soap themes.

“I think inspiration for me is inside me, but I was born at the beginning of the Second World War, 1939, and my mother was left alone to look after this son of hers – me – and she played music all the time on her gramophone.

“She was a lovely person, and she had a radio and a piano and a gramophone in the back room of the house. My father was away a lot doing war duties with the Navy.

“So she and I just got listening to music, but she was remarkable because she inspired me and made me realise that you could not only have fun but make some money out of it.”

Tony Hatch with the OBE
Tony Hatch with the OBE (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Hatch also revealed that he aspires to write a theme song for a “big film” and that his experience trying to find a suitable hat for his wife for the investiture had inspired him to write another song.

He said: “I just told Princess Anne that this investiture inspired me to write another song called Finding A Hat, dedicated to my wife.”

Mrs Hatch said the couple had tried to find a hat at “every store in London” and only managed it two days before the ceremony, at Peter Jones in Sloane Square.

Songs by Hatch have been in more than 100 films and countless television productions, while being performed by stars including Sir Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton and Shirley Bassey.

He is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Petula Clark under Pye Records, including Downtown, which sold more than three million copies worldwide and rose to number two in the charts in 1964.

That was the year Hatch began composing memorable TV tunes, starting with the opening credits for British soap opera Crossroads.

He co-composed the theme song to Australian soap Neighbours while living in the country with his former wife, Jackie Trent, in the 1980s.

He has been involved with Variety since 1982, including as international president from 1997 to 1999.

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