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Published on July 22nd, 2008 | by Christian Cawley

Radiophonic Disco

The lost tapes of Doctor Who theme tune arranger Delia Derbyshire were found in her attic following her death 2001, it has emerged.

An unknown collection of 267 tapes – produced at the BBC’s legendary (but now sadly defunct) Radiophonic Workshop between 1962 and 1973 feature the earliest electronic "dance music" compositions twenty years before the genre exsited.

The dance track is introduced by Ms Derbyshire: "Forget about this… it’s for interest only."

Paul Hartnoll, formerly of the dance group Orbital and a great admirer of Ms Derbyshire’s work, said the track was, "quite amazing".

"That could be coming out next week on [left-field dance label] Warp Records," he noted.

"It’s incredible when you think when it comes from. Timeless, really. It could be now as much as then."

"I find it spell-binding. I’ve got a shedload of synthesizers and equipment, whereas Delia Derbyshire got out of the Radiophonic Workshop when synthesizers came along.

"I think she got a bit disheartened and a bit bored with it all when the synthesizer came along and it all became a little too easy."

The BBC News page for this subject features Derbyshire’s dance track as well as some other examples of her groundbreaking work – not to mention a rare full version of the 1970s arrangement of the Doctor Who theme tune.

Manchester University’s Dr David Butler – of Manchester University’s School of Arts, Histories and Cultures – believes that with the 50th anniversary of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, this is a perfect time for Derbyshire’s work to be reappraised

"Delia Derbyshire never really received the recognition she deserved as one of our most influential composers of the past 30 or so years.

"And though brilliant, the Doctor Who theme is just one small example of her genius which was held in high esteem by figures across music, television, theatre and film, including Paul McCartney and the DJ John Peel."

The plans for the collection involve archiving the material, and commissioning new works to be made from the effects.

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About the Author

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A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.



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