Edwin Astley composed a lot of music for British television in the 50s and 60s. As well as The Saint, he wrote the original theme for Danger Man (replaced by Secret Agent Man by Steve Barri/P. F. Sloan) and the title music for The Adventures Of Robin Hood among others.
As a side note, his eldest daughter Karen Astley married Pete Townshend of The Who and their son Jon Astley produced and remastered The Who‘s reissues. Edwin Astley‘s other daughter Virginia Astley, is a singer-songwriter.
At a time when black & white was the norm, one’s imagination had to work just a little bit harder to realize the glamor in television programming, both as a producer AND viewer. Music had less production options so the scoring, arranging and playing pulled different weight than today. Edwin Astley‘s theme from The Saint supplied the “extra” color needed for this black & white very British series.
Astley actually arranged two versions of the The Saint, a slow version used in the black and white episodes and a more up-tempo arrangement of the same theme, for the color episodes. This second theme was based around Lestlie Charteris‘, (the series’ author) own theme music.
Although I fell in love with the black and white British series, I prefer the scoring of the theme for US color adaptation. The bigger sound of this second version seem to reflect the series’ move to color format. The tempo, the way the sections are laid out AND the overall style of seems to heat up in proportion to the over all production. That bulbous, audacious brass line is so infectious to me; I can’t tell you how many times I have imitated that line with my voice and looked up over the years!
Go, click, and memory trip on the theme that immortalized the man who would be Bond…
*The TV themes that stay with me reflect every character, every episode, the times the series took place in AND the genre of theater applicable; fresh forever in my music mind.