80’s Flashback

It’s odd what stuff you can find on You Tube when you’re not really looking for it!

Tonight after hearing the news of the death of Ronnie Hazlehurst, the former BBC musical director who was responsible for composing a number of well known TV themes, I was browsing around You Tube to see what clips they had of him and his music at the BBC.

One of my searches turned up this fascinating clip with another BBC composer, Peter Howell explaining how he put together the version of the Doctor Who theme used in the early eighties – for those people used to sequencers and the like, it shows how much things have changed – this version was painstakingly assembled over five and a half weeks with a multi-track tape recorder. By way of comparison this is another composer Keff McCulloch doing a similar children’s TV spot explaining how he put together another version of the theme seven years later.

Now although there are complaints about the music that Murray Gold provides for the new series of Doctor Who it’s not a patch on the low esteem in which the music of Keff McCulloch is held in fan circles – although I tend to think that it’s always worth remembering that Murray Gold has the benefit of an orchestra for his music, with the eighties budget for the series it was one man and his drum machine. As if to prove the point, linked off the Keff clip I came across this set of videos, which pair a number of scenes from the new series with the eighties music, allowing you to compare the difference. Check out this, the opening of the Unquiet Dead, but with genuine eighties Doctor Who incidental music replacing the Murray Gold score…

One thought on “80’s Flashback”

  1. To be honest I think the original is still the best – it’s the one I know best despite never really watching Doctor Who until the Sylvester McCoy era (although I gave up with the Bertie Bassett storyline). It’s just slightly annoying to my musician’s ear that it’s a little out of time, both tempo changes and synchronization errors, although perfectly understandable given the method of production!

    The Murray Gold theme is a little too OTT in the horn blasts and overuse of orchestral instruments – part of the character of the theme is its very otherworldliness – but it’s also a very human performance. I’m not a fan of entirely electronic music as it’s *too* precise. The Gold theme also has a lot of presence which the previous remakes seemed to lack.

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