As announced last month, Silva Screen are releasing an incredible limited edition Doctor Who
soundtrack boxset featuring eleven discs of music spanning every era of
The Doctor. This magnificent collection, due for release in early 2014,
comes presented in its very own TARDIS boxset and is a must for any fan
of Doctor Who music through the years. Also included in the set are notes from classic Who composer Mark Ayres and notes from various composers through the years.

In this EXCLUSIVE series for Blogtor Who, Silva Screen
are releasing these fascinating notes ahead of the boxset’s release
next year. Today sees Part Five which includes notes from composer Paddy Kingsland and Mark Ayres (which are abridged and will continue through
this series). Also included are the front and back covers for The Fifth
Doctor disc included in the boxset (click on them for bigger versions.
Many thanks to Silva Screen, visit their site HERE.

My first memories of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop are of Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson – this was in 1970 when Brian was regularly making sounds for new episodes of Doctor Who. When a new season began there was often a request for extra whooshes to be added to the the theme tune to go with altered graphics, and of course Delia would do these – usually with Brian’s help.

Dudley Simpson was writing most of the incidental music at that time but Geoffrey Burgon and Carey Blyton also came to the Workshop to add electronic sound to their scores, assisted by Brian and later Dick Mills. I did a few of these sessions when people were away, including making the special sound for The Sun Makers.

In 1980 the Workshop was asked to provide all of the incidental music for the show and I wrote the scores for 29 episodes, some of them as a freelance composer after I had left the Workshop. I enjoyed every minute of it, particularly working with the great director Peter Moffatt.

Abridged album notes from Mark Ayres [Part 5]
In 1980, John Nathan-Turner (“JN-T”) took the programme over and was to go on to become its longest-serving producer. The first thing he did, musically, was to ask Peter Howell to remake the theme music. The second thing he did was to book the Radiophonic Workshop to provide all of the show’s scores, meaning that Dudley Simpson had written his last for the programme.

Initially, Peter Howell and Paddy Kingsland were to alternate stories, but Roger Limb, Malcolm Clarke and eventually Jonathan Gibbs would join the regular rotation. Elizabeth Parker (whose first contribution to the show had been sound effects for The Stones of Blood in 1978 when Dick Mills was on holiday) sadly only contributed one score, Timelash (1985). Peter and Paddy had also cut their “Who” teeth with holiday-cover sound effects, the former with Planet of Evil (1975), the latter on The Sun Makers (1977). Peter Howell’s trademarks were inventive use of the Workshop’s Fairlight Computer Music Instrument (an early sampler/sequencer that cost as much as a small house) and Yamaha CS80 analogue monster-synth. Paddy favoured ARP Odyssey and – bringing a rock ‘n’ roll sensibility to some episodes – electric guitar. Towards the end of the Workshop’s 6-year tenure, the Yamaha TX816 synth (essentially the brains of 8 DX7 keyboards in a single unit) meant that many scores were essentially being produced from a single box.


The DX7’s FM synthesis could be somewhat “cold”-sounding, though, so kudos to Jonathan Gibbs for the lovely Vaughan Williams-like textures he conjured for The Mark of the Rani in 1985. Malcolm Clarke’s first music for Doctor Who had been The Sea Devils (1972), a job he had taken over from Workshop colleague John Baker when the latter fell ill. Clarke’s music for that story reflected his personality – anarchic and irreverent – and although many (including myself) think it’s brilliant, others considered it to be way too uncompromising for Saturday tea-time. Malcolm’s scores for 1980s Who prove that he was as free-thinking as ever, though it is a shame he moved away from the sampling of lengths of railway track (Earthshock) to creating such metallica using the DX: some of the organic sound was lost. And it was this very democratisation of electronic music and the rise of freelance composers with well-equipped private studios that eventually led to the closure of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop some years later. Yet 1984-6 sees perhaps some of the most out-there, avante-garde music in the programme’s history, unsurprising given the outré nature of the Sixth Doctor’s coat-of-many-colours and larger-than-life personality.


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Cameron K. McEwan
Cameron K McEwan was the first owner and site editor of Blogtor Who since its creation in May 2008 until Dec 2015. A lifelong Doctor Who fan, Cameron has also written two books, The Who’s Who of Doctor Who and Doctor Who: The Big Book of Lists, and directed a film all about Doctor Who fans throughout the years, Who’s Changing - An Adventure In Time With Fans. Cameron also contributes TV and film news and reviews to BBC Radio London, Metro, Digital Spy, New York Observer and Den of Geek. He lives in London with his one trousers.


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