Doctor Who News Mark Ayres of the Radiophonic Workshop

Published on December 3rd, 2013 | by Meredith Burdett

BBC Radiophonic Workshop: Legends Of Electronica Go Live!

As bands go, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is probably not one that you might list when searching through your Spotify account.

But whilst the name may not be too familiar to the general public, this group of musicians have created a legacy through their unique musical creations at the BBC for various television and radio shows from the 1950’s up to the 1990’s.

In fact, many of you may not realise this but before Murray Gold and all the wonderful people that help to create Doctor Who’s rich and beautiful music that is used for the show today, Doctor Who wasn’t big on orchestral scores and choirs singing about Dalek invasions.

Doctor Who’s theme tune, the TARDIS dematerialisation effect, the sound of the Sonic Screwdriver as well as pages and pages of incidental music where, for the initial run of the series from 1963 until the late 1980’s, created by the Radiophonic wonders, working hard on basic equipment and tiny budgets.

And what a glorious thing they achieved, their hard work and dedication paid off to give a legacy of sound effects and music that are still used on Doctor Who to this very day.

So it’s especially heart-warming to read the recent article from The Observer that pays homage to the group and looks at the new mix’s of their work that they are creating with today’s well-known artists.

As well as working on an album of new music, with contributions from members of well known bands such as Hot Chip, The Prodigy and Roxy Music, the surviving members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop have remixed the Doctor Who theme tune in honour of the show’s fiftieth anniversary this year. Taking the original music written by Ron Grainer, Delia Derbyshire’s 1960s arrangement and Peter Howell’s 1980s arrangement (which, with the addition of a full drum beat, has never sounded more dramatic), the piece is a must-listen for all fans of Doctor Who and the Radiophonic Workshop alike.

It’s not just the legacy that the RWS have created but also the inspiration it has given today’s musicians as well, as Hot Chip’s Al Doyle confirmed regarding a letter he sent to the BBC as a teenager regarding the closure of the Workshop:

Hazily remember asking them to reinstate it and put me in charge…I wanted to be in the workshop, just like I wanted to be in the Velvet Underground or the Manic Street Preachers.

It seems that Peter Capaldi wasn’t the only one writing fan letters before he hit the big time! Even The Prodigy’s Kieron Pepper was excited to be working on new material with the RWS. Despite working with some of the biggest names in modern music, the drummer stated:

Being involved with these gentlemen has redefined the meaning of cool for me!

As well it should, because the RWS has helped to shape many of the modern-day sounds that we listen to today.

You can read the full article, which covers the band’s history as well as the good times and the bad time on The Observer pages on The Guardian website (The Observer being the weekend version of The Guardian, for those uninitiated in the ways of newspaper titling in the UK).

The re-mastered BBC Radiophonic Music and BBC Radiophonic Workshop vinyl albums are out now and the group are playing a live in-store launch at Rough Trade East, London E1 at 7pm.

The album of new RWS material is due for release in the summer of 2014.

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About the Author

What happens when an eight year old kid watches the 1993 repeat run of Planet of the Daleks? He pretty much ends up here writing about the show that grabbed hold of him and never let go!




4 Responses to BBC Radiophonic Workshop: Legends Of Electronica Go Live!


  1. Whilst I may not have the Radiophonic Workshop on my Spotify yet, there is a lovely station devoted to them and similar artists on Pandora.

    http://www.pandora.com/bbc-radiophonic-workshop

  2. iLikeTheUDK says:

    Most of the scores of the classic series weren’t composed by people from the workshop. In fact, most of the incidential music in the show until the ’80s was composed by several different freelance composers, especially Dudley Simpson (who is often dubbed “the Murray Gold of the ’70s” because of his extreme prolificness in this period, when he composed the incidental scores to nearly every story).

  3. iLikeTheUDK says:

    “…with the addition of a full drum beat…”
    The Master won’t want this release to see the light of day, I suppose.

  4. iLikeTheUDK says:

    This might cheer some of you up: thenewradiophonicworkshop.com

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