Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Theme Time : John McCabe - Sam

A bit of a rarity for Theme Time here in that it is the theme to Sam, which strangely isn't a series I can really claim to have watched (and, judging by the prices for the DVD boxset on Amazon right now - £100! - I can't say I'll be rectifying this omission any time soon) But I do remember very well listening to it in my youth when it appeared on a compilation LP of TV themes alongside more familiar examples such as Van Der Valk and The Persuaders! And the show was a favourite of my mum's

Sam was a series for Granada Television created by the man behind Family at War John Finch. It ran for three series from 1973 to 1975 and starred future Taggart star Mark McManus in the title role.

Spanning the decades from the 1930s to the 1960s, Sam followed the life of a young boy growing up in a Yorkshire mining village (though several exterior scenes where actually filmed in Lancashire and Greater Manchester and the interiors at Granada Studios in Manchester) It focused not only on one man's life but also on the qualities and textures of the time, weaving and exploring the fabric of a nation from the Great Depression through the Second World War and into the 1960s. We first meet Sam Wilson in 1934 aged ten years old. His mother has left his father and arrives in Skellerton, the village where she herself grew up. Her father, Jack, had been unemployed for more than eight years and her family had little money to support themselves. Can they manage with another two mouths to feed and how will Sam's childhood change? Some stories can take a lifetime, and some lifetimes can tell a story. What followed across the ever changing industrial landscape of Britain was Sam's story.

The evocative theme was composed by John McCabe, a talented and much respected musical polymath who hailed from Huyton and who had previously scored the Play For Today Leeds United who sadly died in February this year. This blog post is dedicated to him.



  1. I do remember the series but can't say we saw much of it in our house, which was probably a shame because I bet it was good. The theme tune is a corker.

    1. Its a beauty isn't it? I must admit that whilst McCabe's score for Leeds United was strong I did feel it was a teensy bit misplaced/ill fitting in part, but you can't deny what a talent he was. Shame to hear he passed away this year.

      I'd like to watch Sam but as I say 100 quid for the DVD means I won't be any time soon! I recall the odd episode on UK Gold back in the 90s I think, but that's about it. Sounds like a good sprawling epic with heart, pre-dating Our Friends In The North by 20 years