East Anglia: The Norfolk man who wrote Champions League anthem: Listen to it in full here

Tony Britten, composer of the Uefa Champions League theme tune. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Tony Britten, composer of the Uefa Champions League theme tune. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

It is a musical earworm that is one of the most familiar tunes of all time.

Tony Britten's original score for the Champions League theme tune. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Tony Britten's original score for the Champions League theme tune. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

And on Saturday, local composer, film producer and director Tony Britten will hear it on prime-time television for the umpteenth time with a sense of satisfaction.

UEFA Champions League logo

UEFA Champions League logo - Credit: Archant

For Mr Britten, from Brinton, near Holt, is the man who composed and arranged the Champions League anthem, which was first played almost 20 years ago at the launch of the competition.

Mr Britten, whose recent projects include the films In Love with Alma Cogan, which was shot largely at Cromer, and Benjamin Britten - Peace and Conflict, which is officially released in cinemas tomorrow, said he had heard it so often that it “washed over” him.

But he said: “I’m very proud of it. The idea came easily and the whole process took one month.”

It began in 1992, when Mr Britten and his commercials agent were contacted by Uefa’s PR group Team Marketing to come up with an anthem for the tournament that was set to replace the European Cup.

He said: “All they thought they wanted was something classical that would reflect the class of the competition.

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“This was just after the Three Tenors were so popular and classical music was big. They didn’t want solos, so we sent them some choral anthems and they came back and said they liked Zadok the Priest by Handel.

“There’s a rising string element that I’ve taken from that, although the remainder is my own work. I said they needed superlatives, so I sat and wrote a list and had it translated into the other two official Uefa languages, French and German.”

He said the absence of interference had been refreshing, saying: “These days you would go through countless focus groups and analysis to get to this point, which is why I don’t do much of this now. It was a very nice job because they let me get on with it.”

Mr Britten, whose previous work includes conducting the music for the film Robocop and the 1980s TV drama Lace, added: “We knew the competition would have some substance, but not that it would become so massive. It’s a very pleasant surprise.

“The branding of the Champions League has changed, but all of the branding exercises have come back to say that the single strongest element is the anthem, which gives me great pleasure.”

And the sense of satisfaction is enhanced by the money that Mr Britten has made from the anthem, which is played before every Champions League clash across Europe.

He said: “I get royalties, although how much depends on where it is played. But I have done very well out of it, and it has enabled me to choose to make some arty films.”

The piece was performed by London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and sung by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chorus.

The Champions League final on Saturday is being contested by the twin German giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, who beat Barcelona and Real Madrid in the semi-finals. Last year’s winners were Chelsea.

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