Is the BP theme broken?

Friday, October 10, 2008 by

A musical shipwreck?

A musical shipwreck?

As the BBC’s – ahem – flagship children’s programme readies for its 50th birthday celebrations, Michael Hoskin, from cult TV website TV Cream, is asking a pertinent question. Has the theme tune been ‘broken’?

The show returned to our screens last month after its traditional summer break, and sporting an updated version of the famous signature tune – ‘Barnacle Bill’. Nothing odd in that… except is that tune actually still ‘Barnacle Bill’? Or is it now the equally nautical ‘The Sailor’s Hornpipe’?

On September 24, Hoskin dropped a line to the show’s editor, Tim Levell, to ask. Levell replied: “We intended to use Barnacle Bill (which is a sailor’s hornpipe of course). What do you think the difference is?”

Hoskin replied (and this is where it gets good)…

Hi Tim,

Many thanks for your reply. It’s difficult to describe the difference in words, but basically Barnacle Bill goes:

“Tiddle Im Pom Pom, dada dada dada daaa [rest]

Tiddle Im Pom Pom dada dada dada daaa…

Dada dada dada dada dada dada dada daaa [rest],

Tiddle Im Pom Pommy Tiddle Im Pom,

Tiddle Iddle Iddle Iddle Tiddle Iddle Iddle Lum,

Tiddle Im Pom Pommy Tiddle Im Pom

Tiddle Iddle Iddle Iddle Iddle Um,

Tiddle Im Pom Pommy Tiddle Im Pom

Tiddle Iddle Iddle Iddle Iddle Iddle Iddle Um

Pom Iddle Iddle Um, Pom Pom!”

but the sailor’s hornpipe that is now used goes:

“Tiddle Im Pom Pom, diddle diddle diddle diddle Tiddle Im Pom Pom, diddle diddle diddle diddle

Tiddle Iddle Iddle Iddle Iddle Iddle Iddle Iddle Iddle, Iddle Iddle Iddle, Tiddle Im Pom Pom!”

and is altogether more hectic. It is the tune that is usually played in the Last Night of the Proms.

I’m not the only one who has noticed it, as the dropping of Barnacle Bill has also been mentioned on the Blue Peter entry for Wikipedia (admittedly not always accurate!):

I don’t expect my email makes sense, but listen to the new theme compared to any of the others and you should be able to tell the difference.

Then, on October 5, Levell came back with this…

Hi Michael – belated reply but thanks for this – we are looking in to this and if necessary/appropriate will get it changed back to ‘Barnacle Bill’ – best, Tim

So what do you think? Here’s a montage of previous BP themes…

And here’s the latest version…


13 Responses to “Is the BP theme broken?”

  1. Rob Williams on October 10th, 2008 12:27 pm

    Were McFly anywhere near the recording studio when the new version was made? A lot of noise and no tune! What’s next Fatboy Slim vs Blue Peter? Saying that though…

  2. Ian Jones on October 10th, 2008 5:15 pm

    That’s definitely the Sailor’s Hornpipe. Someone in post-production has reached for the CD marked ‘SEA SHANTIES’ and gone for track 1 (the thing you always hear during the Last Night Of The Proms) instead of track 2 (Barnacle Bill). I agree with Rob: the arrangement is appalling. And what’s with all the shouting from the presenters? Isn’t that what microphones were invented for?

  3. Richie JH on October 11th, 2008 6:03 pm

    I was shocked when I discovered it had been changed! It is clearly an oversight, lets hope they rectify it as soon as possible!

  4. Matthew Kilburn on October 12th, 2008 12:02 am

    I’m astonished that Levell can’t tell the difference…

  5. Steve Williams on October 12th, 2008 12:46 pm

    I remember in the Radio Times in 1993, their feature on the 35th anniversary of BP was headlined “DIDDLE OM POM POM DIDDLE IDDLE IDDLE IDDLE”, and someone wrote in to point out this was wrong, and it should have been “DIDDLE OM POM *DIDDLE* IDDLE OM POM POM”. The former tune is, of course, best known under its other name, Do Your Balls Hang Low.

  6. Graham Kibble-White on October 15th, 2008 9:15 am

    And it looks – well, sounds – like the BP tune has now been tweaked, and Barnacle Bill is back. Have a look at the latest episode:

  7. Ian Jones on October 15th, 2008 2:24 pm

    That’s three quarters of the Sailor’s Hornpipe with a dash of Barnacle Bill badly edited onto the end.

  8. Michael Hoskin on October 15th, 2008 2:43 pm

    Yes, I agree with Ian. It starts off as the Sailor’s Hornpipe, but then they have added a bit of Barnacle Bill at the end. What a mess. But it is a sort of admission that it *was* wrong to begin with!

  9. Rob Williams on October 15th, 2008 3:01 pm

    Talk about the worst of a bad job! Why not get Simon Groom to do a DJ version!

  10. Ian Jones on October 15th, 2008 3:25 pm

    Oh, and a slight return on Steve’s comment. The tune to Do You Balls Hang Low is actually Turkey In The Straw, a traditional American country number.

  11. Ken Shinn on October 15th, 2008 9:07 pm

    Oops, sorry Ian, but no it isn’t. Turkey In The Straw sort of goes:



    A rather nice crude electronic version was to be heard on early 80s arcade game Bagman.

  12. sH on October 18th, 2008 7:03 pm

    That’s very possibly the worst sounding mess I’ve ever heard. I can only assume the guitar part was scored using some sort of random chord generating system. Horrific.

  13. Mike on June 13th, 2009 11:16 am

    The current Blue Peter theme tun eis amazing! After it was made more Barnacle Bill-like in October last year, it is really great, modern and teenage! Well done Blue Peter!