‘Countdown’ and ‘Grange Hill’ composer Alan Hawkshaw dies aged 84

Alan Hawkshaw, the British composer behind the iconic theme tunes for Countdown, Grange Hill and more, has died aged 84.

The Leeds-born musician was admitted to hospital with pneumonia last week, and died early yesterday morning (October 16).

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The news was revealed in a tweet from talent agency DNA Music Limited, in which Hawkshawk’s wife Christiane said: “It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to Alan, my husband of 53 and the love of my life.”

She added: “We spent the last few hours gazing at each other with love, holding hands, no need for words.

“I told him he and I were forever, and even though he has been unable to speak for the past two months, he managed a few ‘forevers’ and I knew he was at peace.”

We are devastated to share this news 💔 pic.twitter.com/8PBQ9chxIN

— DNA Music Limited (@DNAMUSICLTD) October 16, 2021

Elsewhere in the statement, DNA paid tribute to Hawkshaw’s influence on the world of hip-hop, with his music often sampled by rappers.

“Hip hop producers in particular have plundered Alan’s catalogue of works including the biggest of them all, Jay-Z with Pray which featured on the American Gangster album,” the statement said.

“Alan would often joke, ‘I’m one of the oldest rap artists in the world.’”


See a range of tributes to Hawkshaw, from Edgar Wright, Countdown‘s Susie Dent and more, below:

RIP Alan Hawkshaw, creator of the Countdown music and much, much more. All of us can instantly sing the end notes of the clock sequence: the soundtrack to my career. Thank you, Alan.

— Susie Dent 💙 (@susie_dent) October 16, 2021

Daddy 💔 Thankyou for the life you gave me. For always turning my frown into a smile. I love you Dad and always will. #AlanHawkshaw pic.twitter.com/e6jT5aLePh

— Kirsty_Hawkshaw (@kirsty_hawkshaw) October 16, 2021

RIP to Alan Hawkshaw, the undisputed king of TV theme tunes. Among his many many indelible ear worms is this, the only 70’s theme tunes I’ve ever danced to in a club (Thank you, Blow Up). Enjoy the Hammond organ majesty of Dave Allen At Large. Thank you Alan for all the tunes. pic.twitter.com/j7V6Np0pCI

— edgarwright (@edgarwright) October 16, 2021

Across his career, Hawkshaw played with ’60s rock’n’roll group Emile Ford & The Checkmates, worked as a musical director for Olivia Newton-John, and wrote with the likes of David Bowie and Barbra Streisand.

His most famous creations, though, came with his theme tune to Grange Hill and iconic jingle to announce the end of the 30 second time limit on Countdown. He also wrote the theme tune for Channel 4 News.