Icons of England
  • Introduction
  • The Icons
  • Nominations
  • News
  • Learn & Play
  • Your Comments

Radio 4 Signature Tune

861 of 1170 nominations


Radio 4 Signature Tune

Is this an icon?


Radio 4 Signature Tune

Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer has provoked the ire of Middle England by announcing that, from April, the station’s UK early-morning theme will be scrapped and replaced by a 13-minute news briefing. The music, he said, had "clearly served its purpose". One complainant to the BBC said that Damazer has "snatched away an icon of Britishness."
For 33 years, the three per cent of Radio 4’s audience tuning in at 5.30am have listened to a medley of tunes from around the British Isles, including Danny Boy, Men Of Harlech, What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor, Scotland The Brave and Rule Britannia.
The UK Theme — as the medley was known — was arranged by the Austrian-born composer Fritz Spiegl, as a tribute to his adopted country. Spiegl, who died in 2003, was principal flautist with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra for 15 years. He was also co-composer of the theme for the police series Z Cars.

Photo: Maria Gibbs


Your comments

The very essence of our nation's folksong tradition is encapsulated in this five-minute medley. Skilfully harmonised and interwoven we find Greensleeves, Early One Morning, What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor, Rule Britannia and many other songs known and loved by all. Here we have an upbeat start to the day's broadcasting, a potpourri of tunes to begin any day with a smile. AND NOW THEY'RE TALKING OF SCRAPPING IT AND REPLACING IT WITH YET ANOTHER NEWS BULLETIN!!!

Joan Butler

They remove the iconic BBC 4 theme tune and now Britannia from our coins, no doubt these symbols of Britishness do not fit in with our muticultural, diverse society and like the flying of the Union Jack cause offence. What sort of lily livered nation are we being made into.
Ian, Bradford

I think it was sad and paltry for the UK theme to be axed, for it was to radio listeners the equivalent of the raising of the Union Flag at sunrise. They should bring it back, but instead of 05:30, put it on before the 07:00 news, as an inspiration to a wider audience.
John Rivers-Vaughan

View All Comments (12)



My favourite Icon of England has to be the Cornish Pasty.

Ian Baldry