Delia Derbyshire, the forgotten genius of electronic music doesn’t get the credit she deserves on Doctor Who.
Have you ever wondered how that song heralding the arrival of the TARDIS was born? Well get ready, because the Doctor’s theme has an amazing story, just like the Doctor himself. Delia Derbyshire is one of the minds behind this work, and today we’re going to tell her story, which is little-known even among the series’ most die-hard fans.
Music that transcends time and space
Let’s start by taking a look at Doctor Who, which is not only a journey through time and space, but also a musical journey. Although the main theme was composed by Ron Graner in 1963, what we hear at the beginning of each episode is related to the magic performed by Delia Derbyshire. She used pioneering techniques such as white noise filtering and individual note synthesis to bring Greiner’s vision to life. All this without using amplifiers or stereo equipment.
If you think electronic music is easy, I’ll leave it at that. Working at the BBC Radio Phonics Workshop, Derbyshire and his team used home recording techniques, from recording the sound of water into jars to manually synchronizing multiple tapes. All this, to create a vocal piece that would later become a pop culture anthem.
Delia Derbyshire: The Forgotten Star
Strange as it may seem, Derbyshire has never received official recognition for his contributions to this title, which is part of the soundtrack of our geek lives. Even today only Grain is credited for the composition of the song. And no, it’s not because the BBC has forgotten. Company policy at the time was to keep members of the Radiophonic Workshop anonymous.
Derbyshire was no ordinary woman. He studied mathematics and music at Cambridge and started working at the BBC in 1960, shortly before the song was created. Their influence can be traced to modern bands such as Aphex Twin, Portishead and The Chemical Brothers. He has also worked with the likes of Yoko Ono and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Murray Gold: Composer of the Renaissance
If we’ve learned anything with Doctor Who, it’s that everything gets a second chance, and the series’ music is no different. In the year When the series was rebooted in 2005, Murray Gold became the new master behind the soundtrack. From emotional breakdowns to dramatic performances, Gold captures the essence of each moment and transforms the music into another character with the Doctor.
While it’s true that Delia Derbyshire and Murray Gould are from different generations, they both manage to capture the magic and wonder of time travel in their music. And that, my friends, is for a series that spans decades and continents.
Farewell without applause
The saddest part of this story is that Delia Derbyshire was She passed away without seeing the 2005 revival of Doctor Who. In the year After leaving the BBC in 1973 because of what she considered a corporate environment, the genius behind those voices still resonates in our collective. Memory died in 2001.
It’s amazing that a work as iconic as Doctor Who has such a complex and at the same time very interesting story behind it. If you’re still looking for more doctors, remember that they’re on the BBC website.