Friday, 14 January 2011

Jeux Sans Frontières on S4C (1991-1994) - Wonderful Memories!

I've been blessed with a happy childhood. I had my ups and downs like any child but on the whole, I look back with great fondness at my formative years.

There are certain things that take you back to those times in the past. Sights, smells, sounds - they can all conjure up a past memory, a sensation, a feeling. We all have them and I've just literally been transported back to a wonderful visual image and audio moment myself from the early 1990s.

From the Crucible Theatr to David Vine to Jeux Sans Frontières
I'd been doing some research earlier on snooker history having been watching the Masters on BBC2. I was reading up on the likes of Kirk Stevens and 'Big' Bill Werbeniuk and then got side-lined and started reading about snooker commentators 'Whispering' Ted Lowe and David Vine. From there, I found myself moving towards the world of It's a Knockout which David Vine used to present before Stuart Hall famously took control of the microphone.

Jeux Sans Frontières on S4C
Now, I'm too young to remember It's a Knockout. It came to an end in its initial form in the year of my birth, 1982. There were a few specials during the 1980's such as the infamous It's a Royal Knockout but I recall the show from it's international revamped 1990s format when Wales competed on behalf of the UK between 1991-1994.

The programmes were shown on Welsh TV channel S4C and were broadcast in Welsh. Not a problem for me, but what it meant was that during this period, British TV regions outside of Wales did not show Jeux Sans Frontières.

I can recall the excitment that grew within me as a 9-12 year old boy each time the opening credits rolled (was it on a Sunday night I seem to recall?!). It was the mixture of Marc-Antoine Charpentier's anthemic opening European Broadcasting Union score (the prelude to Te Deum), followed by the theme tune to Jeux Sans Frontières itself which I absolutely adored. It was the sound that was to usher in a period of enjoyment and escapism in a wonderfully ludicrous context (and it gave me the the opportunity to shout enthusiastically for my country too!).

On my voyage from 'Big' Bill Werbeniuk to Jeux Sans Frontières earlier, I suddenly realised that I had to find 'that' piece of music with 'those' opening credits'.

Well dear reader, I found it! I haven't seen it for probably a full 17 years but when I did just now, the tears of joy were welling up in my eyes! It may be sentimental but then I'm a sentimental kinda guy and being reunited with this happy piece of my childhood was wonderful! The shivers have truly just gone down my spine!

So, here are those opening credits that I gleefully watched on S4C between 1991-1994 and to follow, for visitors to this blog who are older than me and remember It's a Knockout, its famous 'Bean Bag' theme tune by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass.

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