Countdown composer dies

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Alan Hawkshaw, the composer who created the ‘Countdown’ theme music, has died at the age of 84.

Alan was responsible for writing the music for a host of popular TV shows, including ‘Grange Hill’, ‘Channel 4 News’ and Channel 4 spelling and maths challenge show ‘Countdown’.

A statement from talent agency DNA Music Ltd confirmed that he passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning (16.10.21) after being admitted to hospital with pneumonia earlier in the week. He had been recovering from a fourth stroke which he had in July.

The statement read: "Alan was behind such incredible theme tunes as 'Grange Hill', 'Channel 4 News', 'Countdown', 'Dave Allen at Large' and 'Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious World' to name but a few.

“He played on a staggering 7,000 prominent recording artist music sessions … including Olivia Newton-John, Serge Gainsbourg, Tom Jones, Barbra Streisand (and) David Bowie. We can guarantee if you don’t know Alan’s name – you will know his incomparable music ... Alan would often joke, ‘I’m one of the oldest rap artists in the world.'"

Alan was “one of the most sampled musicians in the world,” with various international hip-hop producers using his work, such as Jay-Z on his hit ‘Pray’.

Alan began his career in the 1960s as a member of the band Emile Ford & The Checkmates, who toured with The Rolling Stones.

The Leeds-born musician won an Oscar in 1973 for Best Arrangement for ‘I Honestly Love You’, which was performed by ‘Grease’ actress Olivia Newton-John. In 2021, he was awarded with the British Empire Medal for services to music and composing.

His wife of 53 years Christiane Hawkshaw described his death as “heartbreaking”.

She said: “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 was unable to speak for the past two months, he managed a few ‘forevers’ and I knew he was at peace,”

The couple have one daughter together, professional singer Kirsty Hawkshaw, 51.

Rachel Riley,  Anne Robinson and Susie Dent on Countdown set credit:Bang Showbiz
Rachel Riley, Anne Robinson and Susie Dent on Countdown set credit:Bang Showbiz
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