TME > Audio > Tributes Discography

The Theme Tune

Rather surprisingly, given the avant-garde nature of the original BBC theme and the other-worldly sounds of the Radiophonic Workshop, nearly all the spin-off and tribute records relating to Doctor Who during the first 10 years of the show were orchestral renderings of the theme tune. As you might expect, a lot of them are jolly cheery, and none of the arrangements are concerned with sounding eerie, suspenseful, dramatic or adventurous; Murray Gold they certainly ain't. They hark back to a time when children's television was full of marionettes, hand puppets and simple cartoons, when families were more likely to tune into Listen with Mother on the radio than they were to switch on the television. Collectively, they give the impression of putting Doctor Who firmly in its place!

1964 - Eric Winstone & His Orchestra

Eric Winstone & His Orchestra: Dr. Who
7" vinyl single, February 1964
Pye Records 7N 15603

A. Dr. Who
B. Pony Express

Arranged by Sid Dale

--> Compilation Releases / DJ Yoda Remix

Being practically as old as Doctor Who itself, this vintage orchestral recording of the theme music certainly isn't hard to come across. It's been packaged so often on 60s and 70s TV theme compilations that finding the original record - once touted as a collectable item worth in excess of £50 - now seems rather unnecessary (unless you're desperate for the B-side, a jolly little Western tune that has never been re-issued). According to the sleeve notes from one CD, Winstone was a band-leader and arranger who worked extensively for BBC Radio and Southern Television, as well as undertaking summer season engagements at Butlin's Holiday Camps. The arrangement is bombastic and noisy, with cow-bell percussion, a theremin melody and an unusual preference for the middle section of the theme.

As one of our early reviewers once remarked, Eric Winstone makes Doctor Who sound like a Gerry Anderson series, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that it actually was. The recording opened and closed British copies of the Century 21 EP "The Daleks" in 1966 - a series of records more usually dedicated to Anderson shows. It blends invisibly amongst the themes from Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet and Fireball XL5 on dozens of recent compilation CDs. And according to several sources, Supermarianation composer Barry Gray actually provided "electronic effects" for the record, although these seem to be limited to the theremin to our ears and we wouldn't be surprised if people weren't getting muddled with the 60s Dalek movies, for which Gray definitely provided electronic effects and music, as he isn't credited on the record!

1972 - Cy Payne & His Orchestra

All Titles arranged and conducted by Cy Payne
A 'Norman Newell' Production
Produced by Gil King
Cy Payne & His Orchestra: Children's TV Themes
12" vinyl LP, 1972
Contour Records 2870 185


1. Dr. Who from "Dr Who"
2. Thunderbirds from "Thunderbirds Are Go"
3. Rupert from "Rupert The Bear"
4. Fireball from "Fireball X.L.5."
5. Stingray from "Stingray"
6. Barnicle Bill from "Blue Peter"


1. Star Trek from "Star Trek"
2. The Magic Roundabout from "The Magic Roundabout"
3. Joe 90 from "Joe 90"
4. Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons from "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons"
5. Champion the Wonder Horse from "Champion the Wonder Horse"
6. U.F.O. from "U.F.O."

Cy Payne and his Orchestra provide generally laid-back arrangements of an assortment of TV themes, many of which had already been issued by alternative artists as unofficial tie-in singles. Payne's arrangements are often closer to these alternative versions - his Fireball XL5 track, for example, imitates the Flee Rekkers' electric guitar-led instrumental rather than the TV theme. Others, however, appear to have been re-arranged by Payne himself - the big band version of The Magic Roundabout and the Hammond organ-drenched Star Trek proving particularly memorable. Thankfully his arrangement of the Doctor Who theme does not aspire to the Winstone alternative but to the 1964 Decca Records single of the Delia Derbyshire/BBC Radiophonic Workshop demo, which Payne orchestrates with a bass guitar, electric organ and a faithful wind and strings section, producing a relaxing and unassuming rendition ideal for home listening.

Who is Dr Who, the compilation CD produced by Mark Ayres and released on Cherry Red's RPM label in November 2000, attempted to mention Cy Payne's arrangement in the sleeve notes: "Cover versions of the theme tune are included only if they were released as singles, but not if they are just part of a wider theme compilation (so, no Cy Town or Geoff Love)." Unfortunately Ayres had Mr Payne and his Orchestra confused with Cy Town, Dalek operator and actor. "Oh well," Ayres responded, "what would a release be without an error or two...?"

1972 - Uncredited Orchestra

The sleeve is dated 1964, while the record sticker is copyrighted 1972. The inclusion of themes from Magic Roundabout (1965), Captain Scarlet (1967), Trumpton (1967), Sesame Street (1969) and Scooby Doo (1969) suggest that the later date is correct.
Golden Hour Of Children's TV Themes
12" vinyl LP, 1972
Pye Records GH547


Sesame Street
The Tra-La-La Song
Play School
Magic Roundabout
Rupert the Bear
The Cuckoo Clock
Hatty Town
Felix the Cat
Lollipop Loves Mr Mole
Sir Prancelot
Old MacDonald
Oh Susanah
Shaun the Leprechaun
Andy Pandy


Dr Who
Scooby Doo (Where Are You)
Aqua Marina (from Stingray)
Captain Scarlet
The Virginian
Pink Panther
Song of the Diddymen

--> Additional releases

First released by Pye Records as part of their Golden Hour series, then by Damont Records on their Happy Time label, these poorly produced orchestral recordings were consistently unaccredited. Although the tracks are musically faithful to their original television themes, the over-orchestration of some pieces leaves the record sounding flat and unimaginative. The Doctor Who theme is performed by a full orchestra and a variety of electronic instruments, but the mixing favours the brass section over the strings and results in a heavy and plodding track. Interestingly, the 1975 EP version fades out 5 seconds earlier than the two LP releases, ending on a unique echo of the main melody instead of the bass-riff.

This version of the theme appears to have been drawn from the Eric Winstone Orchestra recording of 1964, arranged by Sid Dale. Although the sax and guitar bass line is replaced with electronic synthesisers, the structure of the piece (which repeats the middle section of the theme with only two renditions of the more familiar opening melody) is near-identical, perhaps because Pye wanted a stereo version of the Winstone arrangement.

1978 - Geoff Love and his Orchestra

Recorded at EMI Studios, London
Recording Engineer: John Kurlander
Associate Producer: Gil King
Produced by Norman Newell
A Supertunes Production
Geoff Love and his Orchestra: Star Wars and Other Space Themes
12" vinyl LP / cassette, 1978
UK: EMI Music For Pleasure MFP 50355
Australia: Axis AXIS.6340 (LP) / TC-AXIS.6340 (cass)


1. Main Theme from Star Wars
2. U.F.O.
3. Theme from Star Trek
4. Barbarella
5. Space 1999
6. Also Sprach Zarathustra


1. March From Things To Come
2. Thunderbirds
3. Princess Leia's Theme from Star Wars
4. Dr. Who
5. When Worlds Collide
6. Mars Bringer Of War from The Planets

Titled on UK vinyl sticker as Star Wars and Other Space Movie Themes.

--> Additional releases / Geoff Love Biography (Guinness Encyclopedia)

Geoff Love & His Orchestra were regular cover artists for EMI Records in the 1970s-80s, recording numerous TV and film theme LPs and covering popular songs of the day for cheaper release. They are fondly remembered by many sci-fi fans for their two 70s albums, Star Wars and Close Encounters, which include some of the best orchestral and disco recordings of many cult classics.

His arrangement of the Doctor Who theme remained surprisingly faithful to the 1964 sheet music published by Chappell, with a slightly altered bass line and a melody shared out among the orchestra. The only major deviation came during the breakdown and key change, which were unique to Love's version. The recording sounds crisp and clear, unlike many of the flat-sounding orchestral versions previously released, and it is probably the best version on this page, actually retaining a little of the suspense and drama of the original theme. Thanks to the ever-diligent EMI, who rarely let any of their records slip out of print, it is still readily available.

1980 - Neil Norman and his Cosmic Orchestra

Guitars, synthesizers, theremin: Neil Norman
Keyboards: Les Baxter, Hall Daniels, Bob Kent
Drums: John Guerin, Skip Switzer
Bass: Max Bennett
Trumpets: Buddy Childers, Nelson Matt, Bill Peterson
Trombones: Dick Hyde, Ernie Carlson, Bill Reschenbach
Woodwinds: Fred Selden, Shelly Russel
French horns: Calvin Smith, Bill Alsup, Brien O'Connor
Fluegel horn: Buddy Childers
Percussion: Alan Estes
Harp: Catherine Gotthoffer
Neil's hair: Bobby Hickland
Neil Norman and his Cosmic Orchestra: Greatest Science Fiction Hits II
US 12" vinyl LP / cassette, 1980
Precision Records / GNP Crescendo

UK CD/LP 1986: GNP Crescendo Records
US CD, October 1992: GNP Crescendo GNPD 2133

Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back
Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea
Daughter Of The Lesser Moon
Sinbad & The Eye Of The Tiger
The Time Tunnel
Twilight Zone
Star Trek The Motion Picture
Buck Rogers In The 25th Century
War Of The Satellites
Vampire Planet
Dr. Who
The Adventures Of Superman
Dark Star
March Of The Lizard-Men

--> Additional releases

Neil Norman began guitar sessions while still in high school, performing on records from the age of 16 and releasing his own LPs before he was 21. As well as playing on over 100 albums (with groups including The Monkees, The Heywoods and Les Baxter), Norman scored many of his fellow student's film projects while at the UCLA film school, and recorded his first album, Not of this Earth, out of his love for sci-fi and film. Later tours with his Cosmic Orchestra (in outlandish costumes and with live special effects) led to a succession of science fiction albums, Greatest Science Fiction Hits, and Norman has since produced over 20 Star Trek albums and become overall producer for GNP/Crescendo Records, a leading sci-fi label. The Neil Norman Cosmic Orchestra regularly appear at sci-fi conventions in the UK and US, and completed a worldwide tour in 2000.

Their arrangement of the Doctor Who theme is dreadful. Drawing only on the opening bars of the melody (as if they'd only ever heard the Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker opening titles) and repeating them, nauseatingly, without any differentiation, the recording sounds very synthesised and we have trouble believing the sleeve note's list of instruments.

1984 - Roy Budd conducts the London Symphony Orchestra

Recorded at CTS Studios, London
Performed by 90 members of the London Symphony Orchestra led by Michael Davis.
Conducted by Roy Budd
Producer: Roy Budd
Engineer: Dave Hunt
BBC Records Co-ordinator Alison
Roy Budd conducts the London Symphony Orchestra: The Fantasy Album
Double 12" vinyl LP in gatefold sleeve/ cassette 1984
BBC Enterprises Ltd. REF 547 / ZCD 547

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark/Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
2. Superman

1. E.T.
2. Supergirl

1. The Complete Star Trek Suite
(Comprising the TV Theme, Star Trek - The Movie, The Wrath of Khan, and The Search for Spock)
2. Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger
3. Alien

1. Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back - Return of the Jedi
2. Dr Who

--> Sleevenotes / Additional Releases

The BBC Records Fantasy Album was never legitimately released, available only in promotional form (copies sent to magazines for review, for example) before cancellation. Copyright dispute - apparently over the Alien theme tune - led to a complete withdrawal of the LP and cassette, though it appears that the same recordings were issued later that year on the Mobile Fidelity label. Many tracks from the resulting Final Frontier album (see Additional Releases, above) were 'borrowed' for subsequent compilations - Doug Payne's online Roy Budd Discography has all the details.

Roy Budd appears to have based his recording on the Eric Winstone Orchestra single of 1964, repeating the 'middle' section of the theme in preference to the more popular opening melody. Budd's orchestration of the theme tune is dramatically different from previous arrangements, with quietened organs and horns leading to a predominantly string-led rendition. Both the bass-line and melody are carried by the string section, with some horns jumping in to give it some volume towards the end. A few woodwinds also pop in to play the melody with some jarring notes along the way, and after a while an organ also appears in the left ear and tinkers away to itself. Budd replaced the Winstone fade-out with his own cheesy ending, later mirrored by John Debney for the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie.