Laurie Johnson - film and TV composer

The Music of Laurie Johnson Vol 1 - The Avengers CD pack cover Laurie Johnson is often associated with music for British television, given that he has written quite a few Theme Tunes for series now widely regarded as cults, including many series from the 70s like "The Avengers", "Jason King" and "The Professionals". It is not so widely known that among his TV credits are the themes for "Animal Magic" (almost a cult itself, the signature tune is called "Las Vegas") and "This is Your Life". While he may always be remembered for these TV themes, he has a huge breadth of experience in composing, with early work arranging in big band style for the Ted Heath Orchestra, and including many works for the stage and concert hall. One such stage production was "Lock up Your Daughters" with lyrics by Lionel Bart (of "Oliver!" fame). And one of a number of "Big Band" pieces of a different sort is his "Edinburgh Castle" which is a march for military parades. You will also see Johnson credited as conductor for a number of recordings of film and TV music.

Laurie Johnson - Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter - OST album Johnson himself has composed several soundtracks for films, often displaying a certain element of comedy, whether overt (like "It shouldn't Happen to a Vet"), very black ("Doctor Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" to give it its full title) or just a certain hint of satirical tongue-in-cheek, like "Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter" who is a fantasy hero with a theme to match - this score has now been released on CD and digital, see album cover to the right. In a more serious romantic setting, Johnson created the scores for a series of films made by Gainsborough Pictures based on romantic novels by Barbara Cartland. The films were four in number: "The Lady and the Highwayman", "A Hazard of Hearts", "A Duel of Hearts" and "A Ghost in Monte Carlo".

Laurie Johnson - The Avengers and Others CD cover It is probably those TV series for which his association is strongest. His work with "The Avengers" included the original theme, the revamped tune for The New Avengers, and also a lot of the incidental music for the series, which includes some played for laughs and some played seriously. The stiking thing about his music as a whole is that it seems to keep pace with the times. From his earlier big band work to the matter-of-fact TV themes for "This is your Life" and "Animal Magic", through the very hip music of "The Avengers" and "The New Avengers" up to the more hard-hitting dramatic series of "Jason King" and "The Professionals", his instrumentation and melodies seem to take on the musical shape of the era in which they were written.

Films by Laurie Johnson:

    The Music of Laurie Johnson Vol 2 - The Professionals CD pack cover
  • Tiger Bay - the Hayley Mills film
  • Doctor Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - including his memorably ironic arrangement of When Johnny Comes Marching Home as the bomb is flown in and dropped
  • The First Men in the Moon - based on the H. G. Wells story, with Lionel Jeffries
  • Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter- a new take on an old horror idea, and Johnson's main theme suggests the strong single-minded concepts often found in the scores of his friend Bernard Herrmann
  • The Belstone Fox
  • It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet
  • Hedda
  • Diagnosis Murder
  • The Lady and the Highwayman
  • A Hazard of Hearts
  • A Duel of Hearts
  • A Ghost in Monte Carlo
  • The Avengers - Johnson's theme was used by Joel McNeely in the movie of the same name

TV themes by Laurie Johnson:

    The Music of Laurie Johnson Vol 3 - The New Avengers CD pack cover
  • Animal Magic - instantly recognisable and fun, sounding like lively holiday programme
  • This is Your Life - not so fun, but still instantly recognisable
  • The Avengers - Johnson doing incidental music for most of the episodes with Howard Blake standing in for some
  • The New Avengers
  • Thriller - the ATV series
  • Riviera Police - the theme is known as "Latin Quarter"
  • No Hiding Place
  • Jason King
  • The Professionals - still familiar due to its recent use in a car advert for TV
  • The New Professionals

Laurie Johnson - Recommendations:

Although there are many CDs with TV film themes, until fairly recently it was difficult to find albums dedicated to Laurie Johnson's music. However that has all changed now, with the release of a set of triple albums of his music. Collectively called "The Music of Laurie Johnson", here is a quick summary of the three triple-packs and one double-pack so far released with more detail at The Demon Music Group:

    Animal Magic: The Very Best of Laurie Johnson double-album cover
  • Volume 1 - The Avengers - CD1 incidental music from The Avengers, CD2 TV and Film themes, CD3 works for millitary bands - available from and
  • Volume 2 - The Professionals - CD1 incidental music from The Professionals, CD2 more TV and Film themes and some concert works, CD3 more Band and Concert works - available from and
  • Volume 3 - The New Avengers - CD1 incidental music from The New Avengers, CD2 music from the stage shows "Lock Up Your Daughters" and "The Four Musketeers", CD3 more TV and Film themes plus Band music - available from and
  • Animal Magic - The Very Best of Laurie Johnson, double CD of music for TV, film, concert hall, stage, band and state occasions - available from and

Other CDs to look out for are "The Professional: The Best of Laurie Johnson", the CD called "The Avengers" with the London Studio Orchestra which has a number of tracks from "The Avengers" together with tracks from several other Films and TV Series by Laurie Johnson - at these links and