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Doctor Who Docu-drama Special to Acknowledge Delia Derbyshire, Uncredited Composer of the Doctor Who Theme

Our Adorable Past

If you think all this parallel news about the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special about the folks who brought the first season of Doctor Who to television and the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special that is actually an episode of Doctor Who is annoying, just try being a person whose job it is to tell the difference between the two.

In any case, the BBC is producing a sort of docu-drama about the real-life genesis of Doctor Who, and according to the Independent, it’ll give some long awaited credit where credit is due.

For a very long time the credit for creating the theme song of Doctor Who fell solely to Ron Grainer, who composed the tune. However, this was only after Grainer fought a losing battle with BBC to share the credit with Delia Derbyshire of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, a pioneer of electronic music. If I’m reading the Independent right, while Grainer composed the theme, it was Derbyshire who “realised” it, giving it the distinct and unmistakable tones that it has retained to this day. In fact, while he clearly didn’t object to what she’d done with the song, he barely recognized the final product: “On hearing the piece, Grainer is said to have remarked, ‘Did I write that?’ Derbyshire replied, ‘Most of it.’”

The BBC refused to credit Grainer because she was an engineer, rather than a musician or composer. The Radiophonic Workshop was a brand new division of the BBC, created to provide electronic sound effects and music across their network. Perhaps it was not anticipated that someone from the devision might be in a position to share credit on an original composition, or perhaps electronic music was not seen as an actual creative artform with many of the same requirements of composing and performing non-electronic music. Either way, Grainer got his name in the credits of Doctor Who, and Derbyshire didn’t.

According to the Independent, she’ll definitely be appearing in An Adventure in Space and Time, played by Sarah Winter. It’ll be good to see this groundbreaking lady artist get her due, even if it’s just one scene.

(via tipster Curtis.)

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