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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Ron Grainer

1965 (printed 2002)
Lewis Morley

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 40.4 cm x 30.2 cm, image: 36.1 cm x 25.5 cm)

Ron Grainer (1922–1981) was a composer of music for television and film. Born in Atherton, Queensland, Grainer is said to have been as young as four when he started learning the violin and six when he gave his first public performance. Having briefly studied piano at the University of Queensland, he enlisted in the RAAF in 1940, serving as a wireless operator in Townsville and performing in concerts as a member of the service’s entertainment unit. Discharged from the Air Force on medical grounds in 1945, Grainer studied under Eugene Goossens at Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music before moving to London in the early sixties and becoming a rehearsal pianist for the BBC. He gained attention for his theme for the Maigret series, and in 1962 wrote the music from which the theme to Steptoe and Son was taken. The following year he was asked to provide the opening music for a new children’s science fiction series entitled Doctor Who. Grainer’s theme, considered a pioneering piece of electronic music and later reinterpreted by bands including Pink Floyd, Thin Lizzy and The Pogues, is still in use 50 years later as the BBC embarks on production of the 2014 incarnation of the series. Amongst connoisseurs of television themes Grainer is equally renowned for the atmospheric music for the opening and closing credits of The Prisoner series, starring Patrick McGoohan. His film credits include the scores for To Sir With Love (1967) and the Charlton Heston cult classic The Omega Man (1971).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Lewis Morley Archive LLC

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Lewis Morley (age 40 in 1965)

Ron Grainer (age 43 in 1965)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Lewis Morley (49 portraits)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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