Ever sat there on a Sunday evening after a Saturday night, stomach tensed with dread, jaw resting somewhere near your floating ribs, your lips glued together with a thick white residue you'd really rather not think about, eagerly awaiting the delivery of a tandoori lamb shashlik that you're not actually going to eat, with the telly humming away in the background? Of course you have! You'll have done that because that's part and parcel of the sesh and you love the sesh more than anything else. The sesh is your life now: it has bled you dry and left you a hollow-eyed cadaver who haunts clubs, cashpoints, and corner shops.
And now it's spat you out—as it always has, as it always will—on the sofa in a miserable living room with nothing but self-loathing and Songs of Praise for company. It is dark outside now, and you feel lonely, possibly lonelier than you've ever felt before, so lonely that you'll voluntarily sit through three hours of Michael Portillo prattling about on regional steam trains, eyes shut tight, pretending you were sat next to him, huffing on his oaky, smoky fumes, clinking flagons of cheap red plonk together.
Last night things were different. You were glowing, you were lithe, you were a dancing machine. You were young and free and irresistible. You were sweating and shining and you thought that everything would stay this perfect forever. It didn't. It couldn't. So here you are, fingernail-free, the last flakes of crumbly tobacco dredged from their polyethene coffin and stuffed into the most prison-thin rollie you've ever tried to suck through dry teeth, crying at an episode of Can't Pay? We'll Take it Away!
Stop it. RIght now. Stop whimpering. Stop moaning. Stop blowing on your curry and fucking eat it. Then, once you've stuffed your innards with lamb and rice, pull yourself together man and face facts: television isn't just a hand to hold during a comedown….it's also a seemingly endless source of great Balearic music! If you've spent the last few years digging deeper and deeper into the overdraft to get the perfect batch of records for the set at Pikes you'll never get to play, prepare to feel a fool: all you needed to be the next Jose Padilla was a basic Freeview package!
1. TFI Friday
I overheard you in the pub at the weekend, mate. I wasn't intentionally eavesdropping but after a few half pints of Bombardier you've got a tendency to talk at foghorn volume and the whole of Herne Hill's finest watering hole were privy to your thoughts on who the most Balearic man in Britain is. You probably regret it now in the cold light of Tuesday morning, but it definitely isn't Richard Madley as you so confidently claimed between bites of a Keralan dressed crab. Sure, Richard's got a raffish charm about him, and I don't doubt that he's as keen on a few cocktails down La Torre as the rest of us, but get real. Everyone knows the real Balearic VIP is Chris Evans. The car-crazy broadcaster is rumoured to have a tattoo of Alfredo etched on his back, and it's been said that at the Radio 2 Christmas party, Billie Piper's ex-husband is often found going B2B with Ken "Popmaster" Bruce, with the pair of them ending the night with the entirety of E2-E4 much to the annoyance of Jeremy Vine.
Doctors is perhaps the strangest corner of daytime television. It reeks of illness, of days away from work spent in clammy pajamas, funneling Heinz cream of tomato soup down your gunky throat. Every episode is basically the same, full of that primo British soap style of acting—all bad news, heavy-sighs and long pauses before scene changes. It's basically Casualty but without any of the urgency or drama, just an endless drip of stomach cramps and infidelity on the outskirts of Birmingham. It would be depressing if it wasn't for that theme tune! A clattering fanfare of soft-rock instrumentalism, and the perfect crescendo to any del Mar-ready set.
Balearic, as any pale-green-trousered bore will tell you, has many faces, many facets. You've got naff Balearic, downbeat Balearic, upbeat Balearic, folksy Balearic, obvious Balearic, shit Balearic, suburban Balearic, beardy Balearic, mystical Balearic, sunrise Balearic, sunset Balearic, poolside Balearic, roadside Balearic, but the best Balearic of all? Soap Balearic. Every good soap opera should have a Balearic theme tune. Imagine how much better Corrie would be if they'd swapped out that plangent damp squib of an intro for something that Ruf Dug'd play? You'd start watching Hollyoaks again if they swapped that wiki-waa-waa number for a Johnny Nash number, and don't even try and deny it. Brookside knew that in addition to sex, murder, and all manner of entwined intrigue, soap fans just want a theme tune that'd sound perfect wafting through the night air in the old town. Plus I once saw Tinhead at a DJ Harvey gig at Pikes. He was sandwiched between Gerd Janson and Calum Best. Does it get more Balearic than that?
4. Where The Heart Is
Remember when ITV ran a mawkish weekly family-drama set in Skelthwaite, Yorkshire, and Prefab Sprout made the theme tune? Maybe you don't. I think the only reason I do is because my mother watched every single episode between 1997 and 2001. Even listening to the song now, I'm immediately reminded of that turgid, sinking feeling as Sunday dribbles to a close and you realise school is only a light sleep away. As for the show itself, all that remains in the dog-eared Filofax of my childhood memories is the image of a ginger businessman crying constantly, some muddy rugby matches, and Pam Ferris dying in a car crash when she nearly ran over a horse. Nevertheless, some twenty years on, I can appreciate the theme tune for what it is. A sentimental masterpiece; Paddy McAloon's hopelessly inviting voice spread out over the Yorkshire dales like a melting knob of butter oozing into the pores of a toasted crumpet. Perfect for that Sunday afternoon set you've got booked at Cafe Mambo this summer, in other words.
Before he was a shit-smeared UKIP MEP, Robert Kilroy-Silk was best known for being the combative host of his eponymous daytime talk show, a kind of proto-Jeremy Kyle for aspirational audiences. The BBC canceled the show after 18 years when the orange-hued host claimed Arabs had made zero contribution to civilization outside of accumulating oil sources. Kilroy-Silk went on to slam Scots, the Irish, the Iraqis, black people, Pakistanis, the French and Germans, in a multi-pronged attack of simply epic proportions. He was rightly disgraced and last seen burrowing through the bins outside the Bootle branch of B&M Home Bargains, where bystanders report seeing him (allegedly) very pleased with his haul of gone-off Vimto and plant fertilizer. Still, the Kilroy theme tune is a chunky slab of Love International-friendly cheese-rock; just pretend it came bundled with an extended Lexx edit on the B-Side and you've got a prime Major Force 12" rarity.
6. The Weakest Link
I'd love to have been a fly on the wall in the pitch meeting for the Weakest Link's theme tune. I'd love to have known what the head of daytime programming at the BBC said to the gaggle of composers and session musicians. "Yeah, so the vibe is Annie, you know Annie Robinson? Yeah well Annie is this sort of stone-cold, leather-clad quiz-dom in the middle of this ring of bemused accountants and teaching assistants, and she's rude to 'em. Right? Fucking brutal to 'em, she doesn't care. And anyway, they answer questions, and try to bank cash, and the studio is all B-movie submarines and stainless steel, and the graphics are all like, big metal rings flying about like scythes, and Annie's just there, in the middle, winking, like she hasn't even noticed the massive metal rings, flying overhead, like, she's not scared. So anyway for the music we want something along those lines. Something that sounds like a computer trying to be sexy. Alright, that?"
People often have Balearic fans pegged as lazy blokes who spend the majority of their lives buying nice bags online, sipping on daiquiris at exorbitantly pricey bars around the world, getting fat on steak, malbec and anecdotes about the time they met Nancy Noise at an Idjut Boys show in Norway. Fuck 'em, they've got the Balearic hardcore all wrong! The theme tune to the programme probably best remembered for that bit where a shaken Kevin Keegan falls off a bike in genuinely dramatic fashion before assuring the audience he's "fine" despite having ripped off at least twelve layers of skin from his arm, if proof that, actually, having a massive collection of obscure fusion records doesn't mean you can't also have a rippilng six-pack. This is silky-smooth disco that wouldn't sound amiss in a Prins Thomas set.
8. Tomorrow's World
There is, obviously, something endlessly charming about what people thought the future would look and sound like thirty-years ago. Tomorrow's World is a beyond-parody treasure trove of this form, with episodes in the 1980s quaintly introducing concepts like indoor skydiving and mobile phones with a gloriously chill, "dad's got a new printer" nonchalance. The theme tune is a gorgeous bit of techno-poppery that sounds new-age enough to be sliding around in Apiento's record bag. That said, it's got to be this specific version. Drop the 1990s version in Spiritland and you'll turn it into the Olympics opening ceremony.
After Victoria Wood sadly passed away last year, I wrote a piece for Noisey where I claimed the vocal version of her theme for Dinnerladies was "a sublime and heart-wrenching number about facing up to the reality that life, your life, the literal life you've led, and will lead, up until you stumble into the grave, is nothing but a series of failures and disappointments." I stand by that now, but with one caveat: it's also a total Balearic tear-jerker.
10. Doc Martin
There's a cold drift that can hit Port Isaac, even on hot days. Perhaps it's down to the shape of the harbour—a sort of smudged fingerprint dug into the headland—or the way the encasing cliff-edges can pull the sea in and out of shadow at a moment's notice. Either way, you can never be sure which way the temperature will go, so it's probably best to wear a nice, loose, linen shirt. Keep yourself covered for all eventualities. Park your deck-chair equidistant between the shop fronts and water's edge, halfway between rock and salt, clotted-cream and crabmeat. Lean back slowly with a frosty bottle of St Austell-brewed lager and close your eyes. Let the sun's halo and seagull caw swim around you. Now, now that you are ready, put on the Doc Martin theme tune. Because the Doc Martin theme tune is Balearic as fuck, mate. The most Balearic of them all, to be honest.