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Sunday, 5 May 2013

Happy Birthday, Delia Derbyshire!

Ron Grainer: Did I really write this?
Delia Derbyshire: Most of it.
Delia Derbyshire would be celebrating her 76th birthday today.

She might not have worked on the series for long, but she sure did leave a dent in it: her two interpretations of Ron Grainer's theme song were used on the show for a cumulative seventeen years, from the series' inception in 1963 until her second arrangement was replaced with Peter Howell's in 1980. However, because of her employment at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, she was denied credit for her work under an anonymity clause, despite Ron Grainer himself considering her the co-composer of the song.

Though there's nothing wrong with the more bombastic, theatrical versions of the theme that have been used since, I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Derbyshire's quiet, ethereal mix, which lends itself to a mysterious feel and sends shivers up my spine whenever I hear it.

Delia went on to have a long career in electronic music, releasing albums, writing scores for films and theater productions, and inadvertently helping to score the 1970 Doctor Who serial Inferno via her contributions to the Standard Music Library. She was one of the earliest proponents of what is today a very mainstream genre, and it's a shame she died in 2001, before it got as big as she would've wanted it to be.

You can learn more about her contributions to the series here, and hear the full length of her original theme here.