Beautiful wee tune, and stupid BBC

What a performance it is, trying to get even the simplest of information out of the BBC!

I don’t watch a great deal of television these days, and when I do I’m frequently more interested in the music than the action (unless it’s a cookery programme, of course, in which case I sit with my snout pressed to the screen and my right crubeen poised on the Repeat button).

Bored the night before last, though, I took a quick scan at Tess of the D’Urbervilles, partly in a sort of half-hearted homage to A Level English Lit, taken all those thousands of years ago, but mainly because I was trying out the cunning thing the BBC now has which enables us to watch television programmes on our computers. I opened a second window and browsed off somewhere else as it played in the background, but a sublimely beautiful piece of music somehow broke through the various mental barriers I’d erected in order to be able to look at a couple of other web pages whilst half-listening to Tess, and here it is.

*happy sigh*

D’you think the BBC might have any idea of who wrote the music for what’s currently their major costume drama, though? Well, no. Of course they haven’t. Or if they have, they can’t be bothered to make the info available to the people on Customer Services so that they can pass it on to plebeian, licence-paying piglets like me. When I dared to persist beyond the initial “Oh, sorry: I’ve absolutely no idea!” they behaved as though I was some sort of dangerous lunatic who, if provided with the name of the composer and/or producer and/or any person in-any-way-howsoever-peripherally connected with the series and/or even (really pushing the boat out here…) an email address for Customer Support at the BBC, could be expected to jump on the first train to London and hide with a semi-automatic rifle in the bushes outside Television House (or whatever it’s called) in order to execute the musicians! When I explained that I just really loved the tune, and would like to know whether it’s possible to buy a copy, if I could only find out who wrote it, they didn’t seem to be equipped to understand. Maybe Paddy has confused them *g*

This lack of interest in who writes the music, and what it is, seems to me to be very odd, and extremely short-sighted. Try watching any of that sort of stuff with the sound turned down and you’ll soon drop off to sleep. The music is what brings it all to life!

By way of illustration, who amongst us can possibly have forgotten the utterly heart-stopping moment in Pride & Prejudice when Darcy and Elizabeth’s hands finally came together in the dance, to the beautifully haunting strains of the rather uneasily entitled Mr Beveridge’s Maggot? (On reflection, I think perhaps that’s the name of the dance.) Anyway, I’m almost sure I read afterwards that that first touch was immediately followed by a nationwide wave of happy, female squeeee-ing so loud and reverberant that it registered a 5 on the Richter Scale, and caused flood damage all the way up the coast from Bognor Regis to Blackpool!

Hmmm… well, just in case there might be somebody out there who doesn’t remember it, here’s a little reminder. (Please ignore the sub-titles half-way through: written in Piglettish. It’s the beginning that’s likely to knock you off your seat again.)

Darcy & Elizabeth — Netherfield Ball

*pants a bit at Colin Firth*

(Actually–and although this is a side issue–I also particularly enjoy the sight of Jane Bennet in the background, during the introduction, tossing her head around in ethereally slow-motion, like some sort of restive horse.)

Please add me to Paddy’s list of people profoundly dissatisfied with the BBC…

Anyway! Google eventually revealed that somebody called Rob Lane wrote the music for this production of Tess, and I’m still pursuing the beautiful tune. Here it is again, in case you didn’t click first time round. Lovely, lovely, lovely!


16 Responses to Beautiful wee tune, and stupid BBC

  1. John Hesp says:

    I’ve often thought a music search engine would be good. Listen to a piece of music, write the score down, type into a search engine and the piece is revealed. Unfortunately I’d be stuck at step two.

    The internet (mainly YouTube) has been amazingly good at stumbling across pieces I’d forgotten all about though. It’s surprising how long lost emotions and thoughts resurface on listening to pieces again, and also how you can remember music note perfect after 20 or 30 years.

    Only yesterday I stumbled across some music I haven’t heard for 25 or 30 years, and whilst I haven’t conciously thought about the music for twenty years I was surprised to find that it contained a few bars I often hum to myself. I then hunted for and bought the CD, no doubt thinking it would bring back my youth.

    Good old internet. And, despite what you and Paddy say, good old BBC. I know you were only joking (weren’t you?), but I love it. I doubt there’s anything else like it in the world. iPlayer made it even better (I would never have seen The Tractor Show and heard two Irishmen reciting ‘On an Apple Ripe September Morning’ in an Irish bog without it. I must see if I can find out more about that. It haunts me). Radio 4 is extroadinary. And they make good costume dramas with nice music.

    I’m going to try and think of my favourite piece of BBC backing music. Meanwhile have you seen this:

    They might be able to give you some info.

  2. peewiglet says:

    That sort of music search sounds great, and I use YouTube in precisely the way you describe. It’s a treasure trove.

    What I wrote about the BBC was partly tongue-in-cheek, but I am a little pissed off with them at the moment. I spent at least 15 minutes searching their website for a way to send an email to them requesting information, but failed to find one. Having then contacted them by phone I’m now sure it’s not there, because the woman I spoke to couldn’t find one either. At various parts of the site they create the impression that it is possible to write to them, though, by using phrases which suggest that you can email questions, thus causing me (and presumably others) to waste a load of time. It would be much more straightforward for them simply to make it clear that they don’t allow the public to email them.

    I also think it’s crazy that neither of the two people I spoke to was able to tell me that Rob Lane wrote the music for Tess. Music’s a big part of any television presentation, and quite a lot of us out here really appreciate and value it. I don’t understand why the name of the composer isn’t on the basic fact sheet that they provide to the people they employ to answer telephone questions 24 hours a day.

    Finally, I followed a few of the links that Paddy (and others) posted about the BBC over on OM, and was horrified by what I discovered about they way in which the BBC are currently harassing and bullying people who don’t actually have televisions. Obviously there are some people out there not paying, but the methods used to collect the fees should be appropriate and proportionate, and it’s now clear to me that they’re not.

    So, yes. Of course they do produce some great stuff, and Radio 4 is my constant companion in the kitchen and the car (unless I’m listening to a book on my MP3 player), but I do think there are a few issues they need to address.

    Ta for the link, btw: I did find it the other evening and I immediately emailed them, but I’ve not received a response. Sigh…

  3. Thea says:

    I, too, am frustrated as heck with trying to get similar info out of the BBC. Oddly enough, I have been on a quest to find a recording of Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot as it is played in the famous Netherfield Ball scene. I teach English Country Dance and also belong to a local group that holds Regency themed balls, and our most requested dance is this one – but the music is simply not available at the tempo and tone used in the production. I have written the BBC numerous times asking for help, but have yet to receive a reply.

    I stumbled across your blog while conducting yet another Google search. I’m wondering if you have any advice on the matter or know of some avenue I may not yet have explored?

  4. peewiglet says:

    Hi there, Thea.

    Frustrating, eh?!

    I’m afraid I got nowhere with the BBC, and since I’d managed to isolate the little tune and save it to disc (as above) I didn’t take it any further. In your shoes I’d be tempted to contact Points of View here. It’s just possible that they might take it further for you.

    Having said that, I did a quick search in Google on Mr Beveridge’s Maggot and came across a couple of CD links. It may well be that you’ve already followed them, but just in case…

    There’s a CD on the US version of Amazon here which has a version of MBM. It may not be at the correct tempo, but could be worth a listen. I couldn’t immediately see it on the UK Amazon site, but (i) it may have a different title over here, and (ii) it’s possible to get things from the US site.

    There’s a CD soundtrack to the BBC version of P&P here, which has a track entitled ‘Dance Montage’. It seems likely that that would include MBM, but it’s probably not complete and probably runs into other tunes. Still, depending upon how keen you are to get hold of it it may be worth a look, because I should think that’s sure to be the same recording as the one we’re talking about.

    Also, I’m not sure whether you know that they used MBM in the film version of Emma: see here for the CD. It’s on YouTube, and listening to it there I can tell that it’s a little faster than the P&P version. Anyway, there’s a track on the CD called ‘The Dance’ which seems likely to be the one. Here’s the YouTube thingy, just for the pleasure of the thing 🙂 It runs much better than the P&P one.

    And finally… it might be worth going over to iTunes to see if you can find a recording there. I’ve found that a good way of tracking things down over the years, particularly because it’s possible to listen to a short piece of each tune in order to know whether it’s the one I’m looking for/whether I like the recording or not. After I’ve posted this I’ll go and see if I can find it, and I’ll post again if I can.

    Very best of luck in your search. I entirely feel your pain! I get very frustrated indeed over this sort of thing 🙂

  5. Charity says:


    I came across your blog also trying to find out where I could get the Tess of the D’Urbervilles soundtrack from. A couple of things:

    I think I found the website for Rob Lane’s agent, and a contact email:
    I emailed them to let them know if they were considering releasing the soundtrack I’d love to buy it. Perhaps if you do the same they will see there could be a demand.

    Secondly, and I hate to seem like I might be stating the obvious here, but you seem to have had a real tough time trying to find out who wrote the music at first, calling the BBC and so-on… had looking at credits of the programme not occoured to you? Rob Lane’s name is right there under ‘Music’. Perhaps they don’t show the credits on the iPlayer, I don’t know as I don’t watch it that much. You can also often find the composer on, e.g.

    Just thought I’d let you know so you can find composers more easily in the future.

  6. sarah says:

    hi, i as well loved the tune from Tess of the D’urbervilles and i am so glad i came upon your blog which contained one of the songs from the series. I can’t stop listening to it. 🙂 I too have been trying to find out where to find such songs, but have come across nothing useful. I was wondering how you were able to isolate that song. If you could let me know, I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you!

    • peewiglet says:

      Hi Sarah,

      I played it on the BBC iTunes (or whatever it is: I’ve rarely used it so may be giving it the wrong name), and recorded the tune through the sound card on my computer as it was playing.

      I’d rather have bought an album, but–as I explained above–that seems to be impossible, unfortunately. If you find anything then please do tell me, as I’d like to get a better copy 🙂

  7. Gabe says:

    Hello, I just finished watching Tess here in the states and have been enamored of the music as well. Particularly the piece they use in the closing credits. Upon Googling Rob Lane and Tess, your page came up first, and third was this page which may or may not be of any help.

    I’ve contacted them for access to the “reels” section, but I wasn’t able to ascertain whether or not they provide access to the general public. If they do, this would be what we’re looking for! =)

  8. JJ says:

    Sounds rather like ‘Rosin the Bow’ but played slowly, perhaps with the added Hardy treatment.

  9. Cat says:

    Hi, I’ve just stumbled across your page after also looking for the Tess music. I have just ended up recording it through my computer also! The music in the closing credits is an instrumental version of ‘the snow it melts the soonest’ which is the song the girls sing whilst working on the farm! I hope they release the music on cd someday!

  10. cyndi jorgensen says:

    I, too am looking for the song that miss bennett and mr darcy danced to at the netherfield ball. Have not been able to find the name of the composer anywhere, nor, I discover, is it on the soundtrack. How extremely annoying. It is also in the movie “emma” but do you think I can find that one out either. I am getting extremely cranky at this. I am going to have to go through every composer I can think of and every one of their songs to find just the one I am looking for. Very vexing!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. peewiglet says:


    Isn’t the Netherfield Ball one Mr Beveridge’s Maggot? If you look a bit up this page you’ll see that I embedded a video of it from YouTube. The clip of it in Emma is on there too. Great tune!

  12. Victoria says:


    It took me forever to try to find out who composed the same song with the violin. To my credit, I did search online checking the BBC website and online film database sites that have the production staff members listed but no music composer listed and I do not own a copy of the dvd yet to see the credits at the end. I was getting very annoyed trying to hunt the music composer down. Thank you for sharing your BBC customer service experience and you have saved me a large amount of wasted time and effort, for I was going to contact them for info on the song. May I ask if you have had any updates on if you or anyone else has been able to get the soundtrack, for I would also like to purchase a copy of it also. I read above that a reader tried contacting Rob Lane and wanted to see if she/he received a response yet. Thank you for all your help.

  13. bridie says:

    AHHH, I want this music so badly!

    Any luck so far guys?

  14. psrgomes08 says:

    Could you please post a link to this music again, please? I’ve been searching for ages!

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