Carmen Sandiego

Five Incredibly Catchy PBS Theme Songs

My brain’s wonderful at sopping up theme songs, commercial jingles and mediocre 1990s pop songs like a sponge. Is it a talent? A curse? The judges are out.

When it comes to theme songs, PBS has delivered some true gems over the years. Here are five of those songs that you might have forgotten about … or might still be able to recite word-for-catchy-word.

Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
By: Rockapella
“Well she sneaks around the world from Kiev to Carolina,
She’s a sticky-fingered filcher from Berlin down to Belize …”

Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego, a spin-off from the computer games of the same name, aired on PBS from 1991-1995. The half-hour children’s game show aimed at increasing geography skills starred the late Lynne Thigpen as The Chief, a no-nonsense character who loved alliteration and puns.

All of the music for the show, including the theme song, was arranged and performed by the a cappella group Rockapella, and it’s safe to say that the show really put the group on the map (pun intended).

Sherlock Theme Song (BBC)
Performed By: David Arnold and Michael Price
If you’re sleuthing about, there’s no soundtrack better suited for a good old-fashioned detective party than the Sherlock theme song. The tune’s so popular that YouTubers have uploaded numerous carefully crafted covers, from classical guitar solos and trombone arrangements to a somewhat-creepy DIY music box version (below). Check out a compilation of covers here.

Arthur Theme Song (Believe in Yourself)
By: Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers

“And I say – Hey! (Hey!)
What a wonderful kind of day
If we could learn to work and play
And get along with each other …”

The Arthur theme song makes you want to strap on your best walking shoes, hit the sidewalk and high five every neighbor you pass. The song, which made its debut with Arthur in 1996, is performed by Ziggy Marley, eldest son of the late Bob Marley.

Downton Abbey Theme Music (Did I Make the Most of Loving You?) (BBC)
By: Composer Jon Lunn
Scandal. Romance. Intrigue. Wit. Scones. For six delectable seasons, we could count on the Downton Abbey theme song to prepare our hearts for a new episode full of drama. NPR sat down with composer Jon Lunn to learn how the theme came to be and chat about some insider secrets (“Everything in Downton Abbey is recorded with a 35-piece orchestra, with Lunn playing the piano himself.”). Read the interview here.

Sesame Street Theme Song (Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?)
By: Composer Joe Raposo
“Sunny Day
Sweepin’ the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet …”

On November 10, 1969, one of the catchiest tunes of all time burst onto the scene, and children everywhere took note. In my opinion, no theme song list would be complete without a nod to Sesame Street, in part due to the fact that this was one of my all-time favorite songs as a child.  The song’s gone through many iterations, each one as catchy as the last.

When it comes to catchy PBS theme songs, a top-five list can’t begin to scratch the surface. Reading Rainbow, Doctor Who, The Berenstein Bears … What’s your favorite PBS earworm? Comment below to add yours to the list!

One thought on “Five Incredibly Catchy PBS Theme Songs”

  1. I remember back in the ’80s watching a program in elementary school about American history, and how life was lived. The program had reenactors and used a narrator. I also remember the accordion music. What was the name of that show?

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