Delia Derbyshire

Anyone who talks to me knows that I am obsessed with Delia Derbyshire. She was the recording engineer who recorded the original “Doctor Who” theme. The “Doctor Who” theme is a landmark piece of electronic music. The amount of work that went into designing the sound in that theme was tremendous. Derbyshire was a genius and was able to push that medium in a way that most people would not have had the tenacity and genius to accomplish.

Delia Derbyshire

Delia Derbyshire in 1965.

During her life she never got credit for the work she did on that piece of music.

The composer, Ron Grainer, wanted to give her credit for the work she did on the piece. He wanted her to be credited as a co-composer for bringing the piece to life. The leader of the Radiophonic Workshop (whose name I can’t presently locate) refused to allow Delia to be credited for her work. He said that the group was a collective and that no one person should be singled out for their contributions.

Over the years Delia has been given credit for the work she did. The first time I heard her name was in the documentary “The Alchemists of Sound.” If you look on the Wikipedia page for the theme Delia is given credit for her creation. Her name is very closely associated with the theme online. Her works have been rediscovered and some day we may be able to hear what she worked on later in her life. Sadly she passed away in 2001 so she never got to see the renewed interest in the work that she did.

However, she was never named in the “Doctor Who” credits for her work. The credits were always “Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.”

Until today.

Today was the 50th anniversary of the first airing of “Doctor Who”. The show opened with the original theme from 1963. In the end credits Delia Derbyshire is named and given credit for the work she did.

I can’t express how happy it made me to see her name in the credits. There are women in history who get posthumous credit from history for the work they did, like Rosalind Franklin getting credit for the contributions she gave towards the discovery of the double helix. That is great that she and others have gotten recognition from the online community for the work they did, but it really makes me happy that the BBC was able to just once put Delia Derbyshire’s name in the credits where it should have been fifty years ago. This is a time to remember the people who made “Doctor Who” what it is and the fact that they did that was incredibly awesome.