Highway To Heaven was broadcast on Sunday evenings (as such it is often confused with Harry Secombe's Highway). Therefore, on the rare occasion that I hear the tune, it brings back that horrible Sunday evening feeling when you knew you had to have a bath and go to bed within the next few hours before starting the school week again in the morning. The theme to Last Of The Summer Wine used to have the same effect, but it has since been repeated so many times over the years that I just associate it with "God! Not that bloody show again!"
Maybe it's because Highway To Heaven has rarely been screened in over fifteen years, but I honestly think that if I heard that theme tune now, I would start packing the Good News Bible into my bag before digging out my old school uniform. And I don't think it still fits, which could be embarrassing.
Highway To Heaven was actually a really good, uplifing show, even if it could sometimes be capable of being the most depressing programme in the history of Sunday evenings. Michael Landon (a man whose face makes even the most hard-hearted person want to cry) played Jonathon Smith, an angel sent from heaven to help those in need. He had some help from a human on earth. His name was Mark Gordon, an ex-cop (played by Victor French) who looked uncannily like my next door neighbour JB.
Every episode was the same. Somebody would be at their lowest point, perhaps considering suicide or crime in order to get themselves out of a fix. Jonathon would be alerted by "The Boss" (that's God, by the way) and he and Mark would set out to show the poor sap the error of their ways. The aim of every episode seemed to be to get every viewer crying by the time the end titles began to roll. Our house must have kept Andrex in business for years. My mother would usually be in tears before the opening theme tune finished, my auntie would be choking back tears by the first commercial break, followed by me and my cousins. There's nothing like a Sunday blub-fest to prepare yourself for the week ahead.
One Christmas, I received a Casio keyboard that came with a book called Easy TV Theme Tunes. The only tune that I knew was Highway To Heaven. It was a simple piece, just a combination of C and F chords. I had mastered it by teatime and was playing it along to the built in Polka rhythm. It was quite the interpretation. So good in fact, that my family spent an hour of Christmas evening in tears. Needless to say, the book was put aside on Boxing Day and the incident was never spoken about again.
That's the power of a great television show.