Doctor Who Iconic Sounds

A selection of iconic sci-fi sounds and soundtracks are the subject of an article on the site – and the technologies used to create the voices of the Daleks and the sound of the TARDIS dematerialising are featured…

Of course hardcore, long-standing Doctor Who fans should know at least the vague details of these immense pieces of sound engineering – but if not, we’ve quoted these below.

The Daleks

It’s the sound that sent generations of children scurrying behind the sofa. We’re speaking, of course, of the metallic intonations of those motorised pepper pots from the planet Skaro. Symbolising the dehumanisation of life under a fascist regime, Davros’ dear Daleks delivered their commands in a voice bereft of all emotion. Much of the credit for the chilling effect must go to the skilled actors who delivered the lines, but it was a ring modulator that gave the Daleks’ voices their inhuman quality.


The BBC Radiophonic Workshop was one of Britain’s rarely recognised national treasures. Responsible for so many musical scores and sound effects, it quite literally defined the sound of adventure for countless schoolkids. And what better vehicle to whisk us off than a battered blue police call box? The wheezing, groaning sound of the Tardis as it materialised was derived by sound designer Brian Hodgson from a key being drawn across a piano string. This was then combined with a reversed echo and a bit of electronic oscillator wobble. features the explanations above alongside example footage – not just of Doctor Who sounds either.  Star Trek and Star Wars fans gird your loins for Light Sabers and Transporter sound FX 101!

Christian Cawley

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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