6Music and the Lombard RAC Rally: Propaganda and Duel

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Back in the days when we could watch rallying on TV, and the Lombard RAC Rally was actually called the Lombard RAC Rally, millions of us would await William Woollard and Steve Ryder every night of the multi-day epic.

The BBC Lombard RAC Rally nightly report show was brilliant: proper rally cars in a proper rally, reported on my men with big microphones, big coats and big hair, within big rally HQ centres full of people in the background busily shuffling reams of paper.

And how was it announced within the nation’s living room each? With The BBC Lombard RAC Rally music, which every petrolhead in the land knows by heart. You know the one…

Fast-forward to today, and cue wistful reminiscences from me each time I hear this song on BBC 6 Music. No, they’re not taken to playing the RAC Rally theme tune with gloriously oft regularity – rather, it’s an actual song, written by an actual band.

Check it out, and tell me you’re not back in 1991 within the first few bars.

Propaganda were, a well known internet resource tells me, a 1980s German synthpop group. Duel was their second single, released in April 1985, and was also their highest-charting UK single (it reached 21).

It was performed on their one and only Top of the Pops appearance too. But, far more significantly, it also became the theme tune to those wonderful rally reports of the 80s and 90s.

Well, almost. Thanks to some music geek brilliance inspired by BBC 6 Music presenter Chris Hawkins, it seems the theme tune was actually a hybrid, of both Duel and its B-side, Jewel. As explained more fully here – with links for you to indulge yet further.

Apparently, Duel was also used as the theme tune for the 2005 WRC TV reports, too. But, as by then, most people had stopped watching rallying, mainly because they were (and still are) unable to, this passed me by. Such a shame: check out all the links and tell me you don’t miss rallying.

How about this for a scenario, then: The BBC grabs back the rights for WRC in 2012, and once again starts showing nightly rally reports, plus a Sunday evening highlights show to, say, follow Top Gear.

Timed to fit in with the start of the full nation-pleasing MINI WRC campaign, it would be absolutely perfect. Particularly if it follows the F1 model, and revives the iconic theme tune.

An epic thought, no? Grown men would cry. Me amongst them.

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+ Walter Hayes feedback from Richard Hayes

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