Portsmouth MP urges BBC to bring back and update long-axed UK Theme on Radio 4

MP Penny Mordaunt has called on the BBC to restore and update a long-axed ‘love song’ to Britain back on the airwaves.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 4:43 pm

The Portsmouth North MP has written to director general Tim Davie asking for the UK Theme, played daily at 5.30am on Radio 4 for 28 years before it was axed, to be restored and even modernised.

Its five-minute run time is an orchestral mix of songs - linked to the four nations - brought together by Jewish musician Fritz Spiegl who found refuge in the United Kingdom away from the Nazis in 1939.

In her book Greater: Britain after the Storm, Ms Mordaunt blasted the BBC as a ‘self-centred organisation’ that caused a ‘self-inflicted scar’ by axing the song on St George's Day in 2006.

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Penny Mordaunt. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Now the Cabinet Office minister has written to Mr Davie about ‘rebuilding’ trust with its audience.

She said: ‘One example of where that trust was lost was in the axing of the UK Theme. I am sure you are aware of the matter but what is not often appreciated was its provenance.

‘The UK Theme was not a jingoistic mash-up as is often painted. Written by a Jewish refugee, it was a love song to those that took him in.

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‘There would be no better way for the BBC to show it has listened and learned than to bring it back.’

Songs in the piece include Danny Boy, What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?, Scotland the Brave, and Rule Britannia.

Ms Mordaunt told The News: ‘Obviously I’d be very happy if we played “What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor” each morning, but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

‘It would be lovely though if the BBC perhaps updated the theme and think what a modern UK theme might be.’

The axing in 2006 caused controversy, with the matter discussed in parliament.

Ms Mordaunt has written to Mr Davie in her capacity as Portsmouth North MP and said on her website she did so with ‘encouragement from many in Portsmouth’.

The News has contacted the BBC press office asking for a response.

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