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Composer behind EastEnders’ famous theme tune buys back original music score at auction

The talented composer behind the famous ‘Doof doof doof’ Eastenders theme tune battled fans of the soap in order to buy back his own work at auction after he gave it away by accident.

Simon May, who first started to compose the tune when he was just seven-years-old, thought he had lost the handwritten musical sheet he penned for the popular TV soap opera in 1985.

The 75-year-old had completely forgotten he donated the manuscript to a charity auction in 1999 until the item went under the hammer for a second time this week at an auction in Derbyshire.

Simon who lives in Guilford, Surrey battled with Eastenders fans to buy back his own work for quadruple its estimate at Hansons Auctioneers, in Etwall on Tuesday.

Simon May (pictured above) first started to compose the tune when he was just seven-years-old

Simon May (pictured above) first started to compose the tune when he was just seven-years-old

He managed to win back the original score at auction but paid well over the initial estimate

He managed to win back the original score at auction but paid well over the initial estimate 

He said he was delighted to be reunited with page of music for E8, later known as Eastenders.

Simon said he had composed the piece when he was just seven-years-old. In a previous interview he said he came up with the tune during a piano lesson.

The musical sheet, together with Simon’s original letter of authenticity and a CD of his music, sold for £460 – smashing its estimate of £70-£100.

Simon said it had been ‘extremely exciting’ to bid at auction, adding that even though he had never done it before, he booked a phone line to ensure he didn’t miss out.

Fans of the popular soap flocked to the auction to purchase the sheet music of Eastenders (above)

Fans of the popular soap flocked to the auction to purchase the sheet music of Eastenders (above)

‘I’m surprised the price went so high but I suppose there are a lot of EastEnders fans out there. I’m really pleased to get it back. It was an important extract from the E8 musical manuscript.

Simon May: The man behind the famous Eastenders tune

Simon May is a composer from Guilford, Surrey.

He has received numerous awards for his work.

Simon was a Choral Scholar at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge where he earned a MA in French and German.

He went on to teach modern languages at Kingston Grammar School before later being signed to ATV as a professional songwriter. 

Some of his work has appeared in films starring actors such as Hugh Grant in The Dawning. He has also compiled music for the Disney Channel. 

His awards include the Ivor Novello for ‘Every Loser Wins’ and three TRIC Awards for Best TV Theme for EastEnders, Howard’s Way and Trainer. 

‘Now it can be returned to my family archives. I’d realised it was missing but I thought I’d lost it. It’s part of my family history.

‘Unfortunately, I can’t recall which charity I donated it to all those years ago but it might have been London’s Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre.

‘It was definitely for a charitable cause. I have supported many charities over the course of my career.’

In the letter of authenticity, dated May, 1999, Simon wrote: ‘Enclosed is one of my original sketched pages written in 1985 for E8 as it was then called before being renamed EastEnders.

‘Also enclosed, a recent signed CD of mine which includes music from EastEnders, Howards Way, Trainer.

‘The last track ‘Wolfgang’ is my personal favourite. It’s about a few days I spent in Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace. Thank you for supporting a good cause!’

Simon has previously revealed the dramatic drum ending sound, which has become known as the ‘doof doof’, was only inserted by accident.

The famous musical ending was initially only inserted into the song as a break between a Cockney-style version and the main part of the tune.

His EastEnders tune has been heard by the British public more than 5,700 times since the show hit our screens in 1985.

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: ‘I’m delighted we’ve helped to reunite Simon with his music – an extract from a song that’s so familiar to us all we can recognise it in seconds.

‘EastEnders has been on our TV screens since 1985 which means the nation has been listening to Simon’s music every week for 35 years.

‘The musical extract arrived in our saleroom after we were asked to clear a Surrey home of objects and ephemera gathered over many years.

‘The seller was absolutely delighted to hear the music had gone back to Simon.’

Born in Devizes and a pupil of Dauntsey’s School, Simon May won a choral scholarship to Cambridge University, graduating with a degree in modern languages.

While teaching languages and music at Kingston Grammar School, he co-wrote a musical named Smike which was later televised by the BBC.

He has numerous claims to fame. As well as the EastEnders’ theme tune, he reached number seven in the UK charts performing The Summer of My Life in 1976.

The song featured in TV soap Crossroads. In 1986 he released album Simon’s Way, which included his themes to EastEnders and Howards’ Way.

It reached number 59 in the UK album chart. He also co-produced Amii Stewart’s Knock on Wood, which reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1979.

 

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