Da da da dah, da da da da dah, da da da dah, da da da da dah; da da da dah, da da da dah, da da da dah, daaah; wooo-hoooo etc.

The BBC have announced they are going to realease a CD of Murray Gold’s music for Doctor Who. I shall be putting this on my Christmas list; although I’ve criticised the music this season for being too intrusive the actual score has always been impressive; I loved his Bad Wolf theme, his Song for Ten in the Christmas Invasion, and most especially the new Doctor Who Theme.

Yes, I really like it. A friend grudgingly admitted it was okay, but said he wished they’d used the theme from the original series. Well, which one?

The original version of the original theme is probably not the one most people remember. It is the “classic” version of the theme, but later embelishments are missing: click on the link below to see the original title sequence on the BBC website and see what I mean.

Doctor Who 1963

It was painstakingly recorded by Delia Derbyshire from a composition by Ron Grainer. The theme was gradually embelished… But it wasn’t until the Pertwee era that the classic “scream” as added on to the beginning of the closing titles (the link in green below only gives you the Pertwee opening sequence).

Doctor Who 1966

Doctor Who 1973

Doctor Who 1974

After 17 years theme was completely redone by Peter Howell for Peter Davison and the 1980s.

Doctor Who 1980

There was again a completely new theme for Colin Baker’s last season

Doctor Who 1986

Doctor Who themes are like buses. You wait 17 years for a new one and then three come along at once. This was for Sylvester McCoy:

Doctor Who 1987

A new version was again orchestrated for the TV Movie (it almost wasn’t going to be used at all, and though it’s not a great version, it’s still Doctor Who). However, I can’t give you a link: it’s not on the BBC website. And the logo for the film, incidentally, to save me reproducing it, was the same as the Pertwee logo (above). So, with the Murray Gold theme, that brings us up to date.

So there was no one version of the theme from the original series, with the first version having been abandoned in the 1980s, and the rate of new versions an exponential function of time. For me, the version is the Howell version with the “neow” at the start, for, although it’s all a bit Star Wars, it was my version from when I watched it aged 7. And it’s not just me, the DVDs all use the Peter Howell version as their version.

In conclusion, I think it’s a jolly good thing that the theme, just like the show, can keep being reinvented (in fact, you can have a go yourself!). Not all the versions are equally good, but I’m pleased there are several I like and Murray Gold has done a cracking job mixing original samples with a full orchestral version. So sit back, turn up the volume, and hear the National Orchestra of Wales play a TV Theme that is still very recognisable as having been composed 43 years ago.

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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