When in 1974 the American Academy of Arts & Sciences awarded Alan Hawkshaw the Best Arrangement Award for ‘I Honestly Love You’ performed by Olivia Newton John, it was clear that here was a young arranger and composer with a bright future. His skills as a keyboard player are now well known and he has worked with, written and played for many international stars, musicals and television scores. Song-writing also gave Alan the opportunity to collaborate with some of world’s best lyricists.

Some of his other awards include the Ivor Novello Award, the prestigious Gold Badge Award for services to the industry, from BASCA (British Academy for Songwriters, Composers and Artists). He was also nominated for a BAFTA (British Academy for Film and Television Awards) for the TV series Love Hurts.

Congratulations Hawk ‘I Honestly Love You’...I must say you played so beautifully on that track. Love and Light...
— Olivia (Newton-John)


  • 2016 Awarded a Doctorate for services to the music industry by Hull University
  • 2013 Fellow of the Leeds College of Music
  • 2008 Gold Badge Award for services to the industry
  • 2007 Two BMI Multi-Million Performance Awards for over 3 million sales of "Let Me Be There" and "If You Love Me Let Me Know" sung by Olivia Newton-John
  • 1991 BAFTA Nomination Best Television Score for Love Hurts
  • 1979 Ivor Novello Award best film score The Silent Witness 
  • 1973 American Academy of Arts & Sciences - Best Arrangement "I Honestly Love You" for Olivia Newton-John
Happy memories Alan. Many congratulations on this well-deserved award. Love..
— Cliff (Richard)


"As indicated by my birth certificate, my dad was primarily involved in the music industry. it was during 'Jokers Wild' that he met Clive Dunn and recorded 'Grandad'. He and his partner Alan Hawkshaw (who signs his emails 'Hawk') were writing and recordings songs. I met Alan when I was about thirteen. He's a hilarious character. My dad, my sister and I went to his enormous house in Hertfordshire. Music had been good to the Hawk, one piece of music in particular. He wrote a thirty-second tune that made him a fortune. Can you guess it?

Here's a clue...Its exactly thirty seconds long Here's another...Du-du...Du-Du...De-de-de-de...Boom!

Yes, that's right, Countdown (I actually met Carol Vorderman once in a lift. i got in and she was standing at the numbers and asked me, "What floor?" If I couldn't make a joke in these circumstances, I'm in the wrong business. "One from the top and four from anywhere please Carol.') Those thirty seconds netted the Hawk a fortune. His house had its own recording studio, swimming pool, snooker room. He gets paid every time it's played, that's every weekday at about 4.56pm.

He actually gets paid by the second, so the longer it takes for people to guess the conundrum, the more money he makes.


You can imagine him in the eighties, turning on the telly at 4.55pm., hoping the contestants can't decipher the conundrum so that he can afford a better holiday.

Countdown aficionados (judging by the number of adverts they have for Tena Lady in the break, Countown is mainly watched by women who pee in their pants) will know that if the contestant buzzes in to guess the conundrum, the clock stops. If they correctly identify the jumbled-up nine-letter word, the game is over. However, if they get it wrong, the clock restarts, which means more money for Alan. You can only imagine the excitement in the Hawk household, whooping and cheering when they guess incorrectly, wild applause, back-slapping and champagne corks popping when the tune reaches its 'De-de-de-de...Boom' climax.

My sister and I loved Alan as soon as we met him. He was a charming and personable man. Within moments of our arriving, he sat at his grand piano and dramatically played various TV themes he had written that we might recognise, including the Grange Hill theme. It's wonderful to see someone so proud of their work, and I have to say his rendition of Countdown was one of the most moving thirty seconds of my life. 


We drove for a pub lunch in his new Japanese sports car, in which he played all his own music, announcing, 'I only ever listen to my own music in the car'.

As the pub was about ten minutes away, I remember thinking, 'I'm glad he has an extensive canon of work-otherwise we'd have to listen to Countdown twenty times back to back'. So Alan and my dad were writing music and producing records in the sixties and seventies"



"Right from the start, everyone had a view about the Countdown theme tune, written especially for the programme by the seasoned television composer Alan Hawkshaw. But Alan had almost said no to one of the most lucrative commissions in TV history. The station's head of music, Keith Morgan, had asked him to write it. He was busy with Arthur C. Clarke's new series, but said he could just about manage to squeeze it in. With only a few weeks left until we were in the studio, after hearing nothing, Keith rang Alan to remind him about the theme tune.

Alan told him it was coming along nicely - without admitting that he hadn't actually started working on it properly. Now, with next to no time to write it, he had to come up with something fast. He went to the toilet and started writing the theme tune and then years later, he told us that this was how he'd found the inspiration for the cheerful piddly-piddly-ping at the end as he sat on his enamel throne!

This was a Hawkshaw technique employed many times. He wrote the tunes to Grange Hill and the Dave Allen comedy series on the same toilet seat and the music for Channel 4 News in his bath. Putting them all down on paper later on, as it were.

It was this theme tune - complete with Alan's toilet tinkling at the end - which played out at 4.45 p.m. on 2 November 1982"


Copyright © 2019 Alan Hawkshaw