Tributes pour in for beloved composer Alan Hawkshaw of ‘Countdown’ TV theme

18 October 2021, 12:22 | Updated: 18 October 2021, 12:51

Alan Hawkshaw was a talented composer, musical director and pianist
Alan Hawkshaw was a talented composer, musical director and pianist. Picture: DNA Music

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

The music world is remembering a legend of TV music, who donated all his royalties from ‘Countdown’ to pay underprivileged music students’ fees.

Tributes have been posted across social media for the British composer Alan Hawkshaw who has sadly passed away at the age of 84.

Born William Alan Hawkshaw, the composer was best known for writing the theme tunes for children’s TV drama series Grange Hill, the quiz show Countdown, and the Channel 4 News.

Hawkshaw was also a talented keyboard player, and worked as a musical director, arranger and pianist with artists including Olivia Newton-John, Donna Summer, and Cliff Richards.

His varied and unique career also included a number 1 single on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the USA with “Here Comes That Sound Again”, which was later sampled by the Sugarhill Gang at the beginning of, what is generally considered to be the first commercially released hip hop song, Rapper’s Delight.

Multiple composers, journalists, and presenters have taken to social media to share their memories and tributes to Alan Hawkshaw.

Countdown’s lexicographer, Susie Dent, posted this tribute to the quiz show’s composer.

Journalist, Tom Hourigan, shared the following video celebrating Hawkshaw’s music in a touching 80-second tribute.

Fellow British composer, Nick Harvey, reposted a video of him playing the Grange Hill theme tune alongside his dog, Ember, calling Hawkshaw, ‘a legend’.

Read more: Dad with dementia’s piano playing is a powerful reminder that music heals

Film composer David Arnold, who was scored five James Bond films as well as TV series Sherlock, thanked Hawkshaw for “raising the bar”.

Journalist, Dr Matthew Sweet, reminded social media that Hawkshaw donated all his royalties from Countdown to pay underprivileged music students’ fees...

... and one of the scholarship recipients shared his experience of attending Leeds Conservatoire on the Hawkshaw scholarship.

Farewell to a legend of TV music, and a generous supporter of the arts.