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Resources #4 - Who Is Dr Who Sleevenotes

Released in 2000 after considerable research and the plundering of many producers', artists' and Doctor Who fans' collections, this compilation CD gathered together ten years worth of tribute records from 1964 to 1973. The fold-out sleevenotes were illustrated with press clippings, posters and cover art, and a splendid introduction to Doctor Who memorabilia and details of the singles collected on the disc.

Who is Dr Who

If you have a hit on your hands, one of the measures of the size of that hit must be how many people try to jump on the band wagon. By this measure, the BBC Television series Doctor Who was a very big hit indeed. The programme’s first episode, in which William Hartnell as the cantankerous time-traveller whisked his granddaughter and two teachers back to the Stone Age in his erratic time machine, the TARDIS, aired on 23rd November 1963, and from the very beginning (or at least from four weeks later, when the Daleks made their first tentative plunger-only appearance), everyone wanted a slice of the action. From toy makers to film companies, book and magazine publishers through confectioners to home-furnishing suppliers, the range of available merchandise grew and grew. Even now, years after the programme’s demise as a part of the nation’s regular weekly TV diet (the last 25-minute episode was made n 1989), the phenomenon continues. Fans have formed production companies to make spin-off documentaries and films and on top of the BBC’s ongoing marketing of classic episodes through video, DVD and CD releases there is, each and every month, a magazine, a new novel, and a new CD-only audio drama. There are even producers making compilation albums…

Many television programmes inspire the record industry to put needle to wax, but few do so to the extent that Doctor Who has done and there is an enormous catalogue of discs celebrating (or affectionately mocking) the programme. The theme music itself is one of the most-covered in TV history (I’ve done it four or five times myself!) and in compiling this compact disc we decided to limit ourselves to the period from 1964 to 1973, realising that, while we present nearly an hour of material, we have only scratched the surface. A second volume must surely follow!

I ought to say a quick word about the criteria used for inclusion on this collection. All tracks here are single releases either about, inspired by, or obvious cash-ins on the programme. Totally unrelated flip sides have not been included unless a star of the programme (or a film based on it) has themselves made a spin-off record and also performs the flip. Cover versions of the theme tune are included only if they were released as singles, but not if they were just part of a wide theme compilation (so, no Cy Town or Geoff Love).

The titles music for Doctor Who was composed by Ron Grainer, an Australian who had already made an impact on British television audiences with themes for programmes such as Steptoe And Son, Maigret and Giants of Steam. The latter was a collaboration with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and it was Lionel Salter, head of the BBC’s Television Music department, who suggested to producer Verity Lambert that the Grainer/RWS combination might work for Doctor Who. A meeting was arranged, the Workshop’s Delia Derbyshire was assigned and the rest is history.

The first version of the “Doctor Who Theme” theme that Delia recorded (later modified slightly for use on the programme itself) was the one released as a single by Decca Records (F.11837, February 1964), just three months after the programme’s start (and amazingly never reissued since). Realised using musique concrete tape cutting techniques on electronically generated sounds, the music is as evocative as it is timeless. The single’s unrelated flipside, not included here, was a popular dance tune of the 1950’s, “This Must be Love”, in a bizarre rendition by Brenda and Johnny.

Almost beating the “official” theme to the record stores was “Dr. Who” by Eric Winstone And His Orchestra, arranged by Sid Dale (Pye 7N 15603, February 1964). Winstone was certainly quick off the mark with this recording, which has become a staple of TV theme music compilations ever since. A popular bandleader and composer from the 30’s through to the 70’s, Winstone was born on 1st January 1915 in London. He and his Dance Orchestra toured extensively during World War II entertaining the troops and played summer seasons at Butlins holiday camps for some twenty years.

The first novelty record based on the series was also quick off the mark, appearing in December 1964: The Go-Go’s “I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek” (Oriole CB-1982), issued in an ultra-scarce black & white picture sleeve. The band were a semi-professional 6-piece from Newcastle, comprising 17-year-old vocalist Sue Smith (who performs the song in a little-girly voice – Daleks are “vewy nice”) with Mike Johnson, Alan Cairns, Abe Harrison, Bill Davison and Les McLeian). The record was written by Les Van Dyke and produced by Johnny Worth – in reality one-and-the-same. Sue remembers doing publicity for the disc in the centre of London, surrounded by Daleks.

February 1965 saw “Landing of the Daleks” (Parlophone R 542) released by a Birmingham-based outfit, The Earthlings. This track features a morse message over the bridge section: “SOS Daleks Have Landed” but with the BBC unable to transmit the SOS signal unless for real, a special scrambled version was later pressed for broadcast (leading to plenty of newspaper stores about the disc being banned). Copies of this ‘censored’ version appear to be very rare and we’ve included it as a bonus track on this collection (note that only 2 bars are different, though!). The B-side, “March Of The Robots”, provoked no such controversy. Both tracks are very inventive with extensive use of guitar, organ and brass against reverse-tape rhythms and sound effects and are also reminiscent of the work of producer Joe Meek (who had done similar sounding records with The Tornados).

After landing, the metal monsters obviously enjoyed life, as Jack Dorsey and Orchestra released “Dance Of The Daleks” in July 1965 (Polydor 56020). This was an unashamed cash-in and the inclusion of a few sound effects on an otherwise orchestral piece cannot disguise the fact: Jack simply remembers receiving a telephone call from a producer asking him to come up with a track with the word “Dalek” in the title. All the same, the result is a superbly arranged, infectious and enjoyable piece from Mr Dorsey.

June 1965 saw the cinema release of “Dr. Who And The Daleks”, starring Peter Cushing as the Doctor in the first of two big screen adventures adapted from Terry Nation’s television scripts. The music for the film was composed by Malcolm Lockyer, who masterminded two single releases to tie-in. The Doctor’s grand-daughter Susan (played as a 15-year-old by Carole Ann Ford on TV) was portrayed by 11-year-old Roberta Tovey in the films and it is she who sang on the first of the singles: “Who’s Who” (Polydor 56021, July 1965). The B-side, “Not So Old”, is not Who-related, but we include it here anyway. Note the label, catalogue number, and release date of this and compare with “Dance Of The Daleks” – Polydor were obviously in cash-in mood that month.

The second of Lockyer’s singles was “The Eccentric Dr. Who”, backed by “Daleks And Thals” (Columbia DB 7663, August 1965). The A-side was an arrangement of the title music for the film (note no Ron Grainer here), while the B-side was a similarly up-tempo reading of the two main incidental themes. Lockyer’s other film scores include Ten Little Indians (1966) and The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1968).

The second movie, ‘Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150AD”, premiered a year after the first, in June 1966. This time around, the instrumental score was composed by Bill McGuffie, enhanced (as Lockyer’s score for the first movie had been) with electronic music from regular Gerry Anderson maestro Barry Gray. McGuffie was a pianist who had won the 1953 and 1954 NME Pop Polls in the Piano/Keyboards category. He wrote a few other film scores (including Corruption, 1967 and The Aspyhx, 1973) and during his career collaborated with artists as diverse as Benny Goodman and the Monty Python team. For the Dalek film’s opening sequence (in which Bernard Cribbins’ hapless policeman fails to foil a smash-and-grab and finds himself unconscious in the TARDIS) he composed an amusing variation on Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Reworked still further, the piece appeared as “Fugue For Thought” (Philips BF 1550) in February 1967.

At the end of 1966, William Hartnell gave way to Patrick Troughton. For his second adventure, the new Doctor was joined in his travels by actor Frazer Hines as the young Scottish Highlander Jamie. Hines (or his agent) weren’t slow to realise that they might get a single release out and his first attempt at pop stardom was “Time Traveller”, written by his brother Ian. The track was never released but Frazer has kindly allowed us to include it here as the second of our two “bonus” items. A second unreleased single, “Jamie’s Awae In His Time Machine”, was composed by the late Alex Harvey (then fronting the Alex Harvey Soul Band but later to find fame with the legendary rock outfit The Sensational Alex Harvey Band). Sadly, though Frazer believes this track did make it to acetate stage, all our attempts to locate a copy have failed.

Hines wasn’t about to give up though. As a regular player for the Showbiz 11 football team, one of his team mates just happened to be Barry Mason, a formidable songwriter who, partnered by the equally-formidable Les Reed, wrote a slew of hits including Tom Jones’ “Delilah”. For Frazer they composed (the admittedly slightly less well known) “Who’s Dr Who?” which was released with the Tommy Scott-penned B-side “Punch And Judy Man” in October 1968 (Major Minor MM 579). Backing vocals were performed by Frazer’s nephews and Scott’s sons; Scott also produced the record and his work (Mason and Reed’s “only flop”, according to Hines!) resulting in a recording that owes much to the psycadelia of the times (echoes of Traffic’s “Hole In My Shoe”, released the previous year, abound).

Troughton was succeeded by Jon Pertwee, who became the first Doctor Who to himself release a record. In 1971 the young Rupert Hine and his songwriting partner David McIver, through a contract with Deep Purple’s Roger Glover, signed to that band’s label, Purple Records. They released an album, “Pick up a Bone”, but Glover also encouraged Hine to exercise his obvious production talents and one of the first projects to come his way was Pertwee’s “Who is the Doctor?” (Purple Records PUR 111, December 1972). Purple Records (and Deep Purple) manager Tony Edwards had held thespian ambitions (and briefly trod the boards) himself before he found himself in the music business and knew Pertwee socially, so there was no problem in persuading the actor (who was no stranger to the recording studio: check out his 1962 “Songs For Vulgar Boatmen” album for example!) to take part in the project. Hines’ inventive reworking of Grainer’s theme underpinned McIver’s new words. The single is now sought after by both Dr. Who collectors and Deep Purple fans, keen to complete their collection of singles on the Purple label.

The poignant B-side, “Pure Mystery”, again written by McIver and Hine, is performed from the point of view of an ageing magician, no longer able to find an audience, looking sadly back on a once-illustrious career – it does not, of course, have anything to do with Doctor Who. Hine would go on to become one of the most distinctive of artist/producers, helming recordings for artists such as Yvonne Elliman, Tina Turner, Camel, and his own band, Quantum Jump.

Interestingly the single was later issued in America in a deal between BBC Records and Purple Records, in a rare picture cover featuring (what else) the TARDIS.

The final recording on this CD comes from Don Harper’s Homo Electronicus. An accomplished jazz violinist, Harper composed the music for one Doctor Who adventure in 1968, The Invasion. He recorded a couple of albums under the “Homo Electronicus” name in the early 1970s, and released his own version of the “Doctor Who Theme”, backed by his own theme for ITV’s World of Sport (not included here) in November 1973 (Columbia DB 9023). In the mid-1980s he moved back home to Australia and made a number of well-received jazz recordings such as Sydney Sunday and Australian Wildlife Suite.

I corresponded with Don a few years ago when I started researching and cataloguing the music of Doctor Who and sad to learn, as I compiled research for this CD, that he died last year. It is indicative of his standing in his homeland that he was posthumously awarded the “Order of Australia” for services to music and teaching.

A final note: most of these recordings were intended as quick throwaway novelties and the master tapes of many are long lost. As a result, some of these gems have been sourced from vinyl copies and we spent many months tracking down the best recordings we could find and restoring them for release. I would like to thank those artists and fans who have helped in this endeavour and opened their collections to us.

Mark Ayres, September 2000.

More reading: Record Collector magazine ran a feature on Dr. Who related records in Issue 209 / January 1997. Dave Howe’s book Dr. Who In The Sixties (1993) and Seventies (1994) published by Virgin are not only blue-prints for how any books on TV history should look, but are also well recommended for their round-ups of records and other merchandise. A new book dealing with the whole area of Dr. Who collectables, authored by Dave, will be available by the time this CD comes out.

(c) Copyright Mark Ayres/RPM 2000, reproduced without permission.