THE man who wrote the famous EastEnders theme tune has hit out at show bosses for cutting it short.
Simon May’s music has accompanied every episode of the BBC1 soap since it first aired on 19 February 1985. But from an initial closing episode burst of 1m 20 seconds, he says, the theme tune now lasts just 28 seconds.
The composer argued audiences needed to be able to "digest" the show during the end credits.
He slammed announcers for speaking over his song, adding: "It reduces the motivation of writers and producers to write something very special."
Mr May, speaking on the Distinct Nostalgia podcast, described the lack of respect for TV theme tunes as his “bête noir”.
He went on: “The TV companies because of the proliferation of channels are paranoid about somebody flicking the button and going to a different station when their programme is over.
“So it's all about keeping the momentum of a particular station going. When you've seen a show on television that you've really enjoyed, you should be able to digest it.
“You want to enjoy the programme and the way to enjoy it is to enjoy the music that follows it. You want to enjoy the programme and the way to enjoy it is to enjoy the music that follows it.”
Mr May – whose autobiography is called Doof Doof after the soap’s famous drum beat – added: “When EastEnders first came out the end titles lasted 1 minute and 20 seconds, now it lasts 28 seconds. It has been truncated.
“Fortunately, I wrote it in such a structural way that you can hack four bars away here and there. But actually, I think we've got down to the final rung. I don't think you can take much more away from it.
“That's the first reason, the schedulers and presenters are paranoid about people moving. That has been mitigated, the screen does get squeezed.
“The way they're doing it now is more acceptable, that the credits still stay taking two thirds of the size of my screen. Now with bigger screens you can read the credits.
“But it doesn't take care of the audio and sound aspect of it cause you're right people still talk over it. That therefore reduces the motivation of writers and producers to write something very special.”
Earlier this year Cambridge grad Mr May brought back his own handwritten EastEnders manuscript after parting ways with it 21 years ago.
He donated the theme's musical score – originally titled E8 – to charity in 1999 but forgot he had done so, believing it had been misplaced.
The 75-year-old was contacted by a Derbyshire auction firm when it resurfaced during a house clearance.
And he then went head-to-head with soap fans to buy the music for £460.
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