The best dubbed theme tunes: meet the French A-Team and the Japanese Thunderbirds

Did you know the A-Team had lyrics in France? Nor did we...

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Theme tunes are a powerful weapon in nostalgia: how often have you hummed the A-Team theme while changing a fuse, or whistled the Thunderbirds march while backing out of your driveway. Well, you’re not alone, with many classic TV shows receiving their own brilliant translations overseas. Here are a few of our favourites.

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Tom and Jerry (Germany) 

The German version of Tom und Jerry, sung by the popular Austrian entertainer Udo Jürgens, makes the perennial war between cat and mouse sound downright civilised. In the chorus, Jerry thanks Tom for bringing him flowers. Aww. Bitte schön.


Starsky and Hutch (France)

The original American wah-wah-soul is cooler than the Gallic remake, but Starsky et Hutch wins points for its whimsical side. What is Starsky and Hutch about? “Two policemen who like to dream and laugh.” Don’t we all.


The A-Team (France)

First of all, Agence Tous Risques (The All-Risks Agency) is a much better name. Secondly, why didn’t the original theme have lyrics? Thirdly, I’m going to sing this every time I watch the A-Team from now on.


 Thunderbirds (Japan)

With the swirling of the winds, it’s the Thunderbirds! Gerry Anderson’s puppet shows were popular in Japan, where they even inspired anime remakes and military recruitment drives. The translated version of Stingray (“Fight the great undersea war!“) deserves its own retrospective on the South Bank show.


Thomas the Tank Engine (Japan)

Ringo Starr may have narrated in the UK, but it took some true musicians to make this brilliant theme. Wow oh wow.


Inspector Gadget (Italy)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvQ-7XUbW7o

There is something about dubbed cartoons that makes them sound like James Bond themes, but this jazz/disco/soul fusion mixes genres with abandon. Go go gadget Keytar. 


 Two and a Half Men (Japan. Sort of) 

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And finally, this Japanese version of Two and a Half Men might be a joke, but it’s vision of a gentle, non-misogynistic comedy about a gay couple raising their son is too beautiful to ignore.