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Doctor Who (New Theme, 1980)

Ron Grainer & Peter Howell

Doctor Who (New Theme, 1980) - Ron Grainer & Peter Howell

Tomorrow brings a new episode of Doctor Who, and thus another evening in which I shake my fist at the television and scream, “Damn you, Murray Gold!” I didn’t care for Gold’s earlier arrangement of the Who theme, and his new arrangement this season is simply a sin against music. It sounds like a version of a concept of an idea loosely based on a few notes that may have once been related to a loose approximation of the Who theme. I am not an unreasonable man. I don’t expect a return to a retro all-electronic theme. But the Doctor Who theme is iconic and to muck it up to such a large degree is to ignore its function as a gateway from our world into the Who-verse.

Because Delia Derbyshire’s original arrangement of Ron Grainer’s theme seems to get all the attention, I present to you here Peter Howell’s 1980 version. No doubt some people believe synthesizers marked the beginning of the end for the Radiophonic Workshop, but I like this arrangement. It may not have the hand-crafted, tape-spliced feel of the original, but neither does it employ layers of orchestral bombast and a choir.