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Survey: Most recognised TV theme tunes

April 4, 2022

A study by electronics retailer Currys has uncovered which TV theme tune is the most recognised, which one is most nostalgic and whether the UK has become a nation of intro skippers.

The study surveyed 2,006 people in the UK to find out what TV theme tune springs to mind when first questioned. It turns out the hit 90s show Friends and its iconic song by The Rembrandts takes the top spot.

Here are the TV shows that made the top 10:

 Rank  Show    % of votes
1 Friends 23%
2 EastEnders 20%
3 Coronation Street 13%
4 Match of the Day 12%
5 Only Fools & Horses 6%
6 Doctor Who 4%
7 Neighbours 3%
8 Game of Thrones 2%
9 Star Trek 2%
10 Grandstand 2 per cent

Which genres have the most recognisable theme tune?

When it comes to the genre that has the most recognisable theme tune, soaps take the top spot. It could be why the list of top 10 most memorable theme tunes above has soap shows featured three times. Here are the stats on the most recognisable theme tune by genre and who is most likely to recall them:

  •   40 per cent of Brits believe that soaps have the most iconic theme tunes. This is followed by comedies (26 per cent) and dramas (25 per cent).
  •   50 per cent of women stated that soaps have the most recognisable theme tune.
  •   Twice the number of men (31 per cent) than women (15 per cent) think sport-related TV shows have the most memorable theme tunes.
  •   45-54-year-olds believe that the soap genre has the most recognised theme tune.
  •   Comedy is the most popular genre with Gen Zs, with 31 per cent stating that these theme tunes are the most memorable.

Do theme tunes conjure up feelings of nostalgia?

The survey found that certain TV title sequences can elicit feelings of nostalgia in viewers, transporting them to their childhood or another time in their past. Here’s what the survey unearthed about nostalgia and theme tunes:

  •   75 per cent of 16-24-year-olds believe that theme tunes used to be more recognisable.
  •   Boomers completely disagree, with 65 per cent stating that do not think theme tunes used to be any more recognisable.
  •  The show that reminds people of their childhood the most is Doctor Who.

Are older theme tunes more memorable?

It’s easier than ever to skip or fast-forward the title sequence of shows. But has this impacted the recognisability of TV theme tunes? Well, nearly half of the shows on the list of top 10 most memorable theme tunes were first broadcast in the 60s. Here’s what else the survey discovered:

  •  The average number of years the top 10 most memorable TV shows and their theme tunes have been running for is 39 years, with 6 of the shows still running to this day.
  • A quarter of Brits state that the least memorable genre of theme tunes is reality TV shows.
  • In second and third place of least recognisable are the News and Politics (22 per cent) and Sci-Fi/Horror genres (19 per cent).
  • 55+-year-old respondents state they are least likely to recognise the theme tune from a reality TV show.

How important are theme tunes to the enjoyment of the show?

Often the title sequence and the theme tune that accompany them are designed to be a part of the episode itself. They tell the audience what to expect from the show and some even change as the story progresses or even add an extra gag for the audience to enjoy before each episode starts. Here are the people who enjoy and don’t enjoy TV theme tunes:

  • 44 per cent of people find that a good theme tune plays an important role in a TV show.
  • 16 per cent of respondents stated that a theme tune is not important in the enjoyment of a good TV show.
  • Over half (56 per cent) of Gen Zs (16-24-year-olds) believe that a good theme tune adds to the enjoyment of a show, even though they’re also the group that’s most likely to skip it.
  •  Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of 55+-year-olds do not believe the theme tune adds to the enjoyment of their show.

Are we a nation of intro skippers?

Thanks to handy “skip intro” features on streaming services, audiences no longer have to sit through TV theme tunes, if they don’t want to. So, who’s opting to not watch the intros?

  • 92 per cent of millennials (25-34-year-olds) say they skip the intro.
  • People over 55 years old are most likely to watch intros of TV shows, with nearly 30 per cent of respondents in this age bracket stating they never skip them.
  • 88 per cent of Newcastle residents are intro skippers.
  • Edinburgh residents are least likely to skip the intro to a TV show (23 per cent).


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