A new BBC docudrama about the life of Delia Derbyshire, the woman responsible for the Doctor Who theme’s unique sound, is on BBC Four tonight
More than most television shows, Doctor Who’s genesis was a combined effort. Ideas came from many sources in a collaborative process. And the key formula that create an almost sixty year legacy is almost impossible to pin down. But one contributor whose role continues to make an indelible mark on Doctor Who is Delia Derbyshire. Her production of Ron Granier’s Doctor Who theme transformed it into the otherworldly, eerie anthem that’s haunted the dreams of fans ever since. But beyond that she was responsible for inventing and developing groundbreaking techniques. Techniques which became a cornerstone for much of the electronic music that followed. Now, with Delia Derbyshire: The Myths and the Legendary Tapes, BBC Four shines a light onto a secret history. The story of a woman who was at the forefront of electronica as well as giving a first opportunity to hear some of her private archive.
The new 89 minute docudrama follows Derbyshire (Caroline Catz) from her childhood during the Blitz, to her work with the Radiophonic Workshop and her groundbreaking work there, to her later struggles with alcoholism and her all but erase from the story of 20th century music. As experimental as its subject, the film explores Derbyshire’s life though her music, its soundtrack constructed from her own recordings. It shifts between fragments of her life and a modern examination of her musical archive. It’s a playful, psychedelic mix utilises archival materials, interviews with her collaborators and dramatisations while honouring the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s arranger-composer’s own questing spirit. Originally premiering at the London Film Festival in 2018, it can now be seen on television for the first time.
You can find the trailer (promoting its 2020 showing at the BFI Festival) on YouTube here:
Delia Derbyshire: The Myths and the Legendary Tapes
Delia Derbyshire: The Myths and the Legendary Tapes is on BBC Four tonight, the 16th of May, at 9pm. Following broadcast it will be available on iPlayer here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000w6tr