TME > Audio > Tributes Discography

The Theme Tune

Without warning, acoustic instruments suddenly disappeared from Doctor Who tributes, leaving us with the boundless possibilities of electronic, synthesised, computer-generated theme tunes.

1989 - Variations on a Theme

Mark Ayres / Dominic Glynn / Keff McCulloch: Variations on a Theme
12" vinyl EP, November 1989: Metro Music 12 MMI-4
12" vinyl EP w/gold sleeve, November 1989: Metro Music 12X MMI-4
CD, February 1990: Metro Music CDMMI-4
Square-cut CD, April 1990: Metro Music CDX MMI-4
Reissued CD w/new sleeve, August 1991: Silva Screen FILMCD 706

1. Doctor Who - Mood Version Mark Ayres
2. Doctor Who - Terror Version Dominic Glynn
3. Doctor Who - Latin Version Keff McCulloch
4. Panopticon Eight - Regeneration Mix Mark Ayres

Both 1991's Music Collector and 1997's Record Collector discographies listed an 'Alternate Mix' version, featuring the same 4 tracks in a different order; however, the former article gave the record code as 12X MMI-4 (which is actually the Gold-sleeved 12"), the latter gave FILM CD 706 (actually the 1991 CD re-issue) and Mark Ayres has since denied the existence of the curious 'alternate mix' altogether. Perhaps this was a promotional-only item?

--> Compilation releases (Terror Version Only)

A unique EP featuring radical arrangements of the theme tune (with squelchy synths, hammer horror strings, a latin dance rhythm and a trance beat) performed by three of the series' 1986-89 incidental music composers. The sleeve note was written by John Nathan-Turner, describing how he originally commissioned each of the composers and expressing his thoughts on the remixes, whilst the Silva Screen CD re-issue also included new notes from Mark Ayres, detailing the origins of the original EP. Sony were mildly annoyed by Metro Music's innovative CD design, and reportedly placed a ban on any further circle-deviances not of their own making. The square CD was at any rate difficult to remove from certain CD players, especially those with sliding doors, since it was really only a regular CD with the edges cut off (indeed a limited number of full-sized CDs were later released with square-CD print on, available - according to Howe's Transcendental Toybox - in a cardboard slip-case, though these may have been promotional-only items). A 12" picture disc was rumoured for April 1990.

The second half of Keff McCulloch's Latin Version was used as the theme for BBC Video's "Years" tapes, which ran from 1991 - 1994 (credited only to Ron Grainer and Keff McCulloch, with no mention of its EP origins). Over a funky credits sequence - where images of the past Doctors and their foes flew through space, forming a cube that then emitted further slides - the latin version provided a hilariously tacky introduction to the otherwise rather straight-faced videos.

Ayres' Mood Version was used on Galaxy BSB (an early satelite TV station) in a trailer for their Doctor Who Weekend in September 1990, and was later remixed - in two versions - as bookends to Ayres' score for The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (Silva Screen FILMCD 114, released April 1992). As "Introduction: Doctor Who" and "Epilogue: Doctor Who", these shorter versions each ran to around 3 minutes, and fitted in perfectly with the tone of the disc. Unlike Ayres' new recording of the theme on The Curse of Fenric soundtrack CD, which would be re-issued on numerous TV Theme compilations throughout the 1990s, the 'Electro Mixes' would prove unique to this CD.

1991 - Mark Ayres (Traditional Mix)

Mark Ayres: The Curse of Fenric
CD, July 1991
Silva Screen FILMCD 087

1. Introduction: Doctor Who
39. Epilogue: Doctor Who

Click here for complete track listing

Composed by Ron Grainer
Arranged, performed and produced by Mark Ayres

--> Additional releases (as "Doctor Who")

This quaint arrangement is referred to by Mark Ayres as the Traditional Mix, and is indeed only slightly more up-tempo than the Derbyshire original. Originally recorded in two parts (as faux opening and closing titles) for the Curse of Fenric CD when Keff McCulloch's version proved unavailable, the arrangement appeared on TV Theme compilations throughout the 1990s, particularly those released by Silva Screen and its subsidiaries. The longer version includes some different chords and a generally fuller sound, although Ayres insists they are fundamentally the same.

ITV used several seconds of the opening Fenric-CD version on a "Movies, Games and Videos" feature about Doctor Who on BBC Video in 1993, although it is unclear why - they also used snippets of the McCulloch and Howell arrangements, so presumably it wasn't just to overcome BBC copyright!

1993 - Chris Cozens

Various Artists: TV Themes 2 - Best of UK Gold
CD, 1993
EMI/Soundtrack Music Records CDSTM 6

1.
Casualty
2.
Overkill (The Bill Theme)
3.
Dallas
4.
Dynasty
5.
Eastenders
6.
Home (Theme from Bread)
7.
Juliet Bravo
8.
Miss Marple (Main Title)
9.
Bergerac
10.
Dr Who
11.
The Duchess Of Duke Street
12.
Pallisers
13.
To Serve Them All Our Days
14.
Poldark
15.
Shoestring
16.
The Brothers
17.
The Onedin Line

--> Additional releases

Most of the tracks on this CD are taken from the original TV soundtracks, but for some reason the Doctor Who theme is represented by a cover version credited to Chris Cozens. It uses a modulated sample of the "sting" effect from the Pertwee/Baker closing theme and the resounding "windbubble" that ends the same arrangement, and makes a good job of recreating the original theme in synthesised form. In fact anyone who hadn't heard the Delia Derbyshire theme in a while would probably be completely fooled by it.

1994 - Ian Hu and Mark Lambert

Various Artists: The Worlds of Doctor Who
CD, May 1994
Silva Screen FILMCD 715

1. Doctor Who Ian Hu and Mark Lambert
19. Doctor Who - Spoons Version Ian Hu and Mark Lambert featuring Sylvester McCoy

Click here for full track listing

Tracks 1 & 19: Keyboards and Guitars: Mark Lambert
Percussion: Ian Hu
Spoons: Sylvester McCoy
Produced by Ian Hu

--> Additional releases

This mid-price compilation CD, containing a wide variety of tracks from the Silva Screen Doctor Who range, also featured several tracks new to CD. The opening and closing themes were performed by Ian Hu and Mark Lambert, whose version of the 'Red Dwarf' theme usually appears in lieu of the original soundtrack on TV theme compilations. Their Doctor Who arrangement has much in common with their other work, boasting atmospheric introductions, a pop rhythm, orchestra hits and an exaggerated ending. According to the sleeve notes, both versions were regularly performed live during their laser and light shows, where the duo were able to meet and convince Sylvester McCoy to play spoons (yes, spoons - go and watch Time and the Rani) on their longer arrangement.

The pair had first been approached by the production company Coast To Coast with a view to recording a theme for their proposed Doctor Who movie in the late 80s; the film was dropped, but their theme arrangements lived to fight another day - particularly at sci-fi conventions, where they performed all sorts of theme tunes in synthesised pop style.

1996 - London Theatre Orchestra

The London Theatre Orchestra: Sci-Fi Themes
Budget CD, July 1996
Emporio EMPRCD 655

1.
Star Wars
2.
The X-Files
3.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
4.
2001: A Space Odyessy
5.
Star Trek
6.
Battlestar Galactica
7.
Space 1999
8.
Blake's 7
9.
Dune
10.
Stargate
11.
Blade Runner
12.
Total Recall
13.
War of the Worlds
14.
Tomorrow People
15.
Doctor Who
16.
E.T. (The Extra-Terrestrial)


--> Additional releases

This up-beat rendition of the theme stems originally from a CD of traditional style recordings, where despite the orchestral arrangements elsewhere on the album, the Doctor Who track is overtly synthesised. The arrangement owes its biggest debt to Dominic Glynn's 1986 version, using a very similar squelchy bass line and piercing synth sound for the melody, but the recording here sounds considerably fuller than Glynn's, and benefits from proper stereo sound and effects. With the opening starbursts and eerie closing chords, this arrangement is possibly the most suited to use on television of any on these pages. Many of the tracks from this album were later reissued, credited to 'The Outer Limits'.

1996 - Paul Brooks

Apollo 2000: Out of This World
CD, 1996
Telstar TCD 2816

1.
2001 - A Space Odyssey
2.
Star Trek
3.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
4.
Apollo 13
5.
Star Wars
6.
The Empire Strikes Back
7.
War Of The Worlds
8.
E.T.
9.
The X-Files
10.
Judge Dread
11.
Superman
12.
Telstar
13.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
14.
Blade Runner
15.
The Twilight Zone
16.
Thunderbirds!
17.
Dr. Who
18.
Captain Scarlet
19.
The Return Of The Jedi
20.
Batman Returns
21.
Predator
22.
Buck Rogers In The 25th Century
23.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
24.
The Terminator
25.
Star Trek: Voyager

--> Additional Releases: Hooked on Movies suite / Sci-Fi suite / Original Version

Credited variously as Apollo 2000, The Montague Orchestra, The Lightning Rocket Orchestra and The London Pops Orchestra, Paul Brooks, a regular contributor to the Hooked on Classics releases of the early 1980s, had a rare talent for transforming TV themes into lift music. Brooks uses light pop beats, synth brass sections, orchestra hits and "aaaahh / ooooohh" choir sounds in all his arrangements, and his original recording of the Doctor Who theme also introduces swirling chords that would be atmospheric and eerie were it not for the childish percussion. A twinkly xylophone synth pad carries the main melody, pausing for instrumental sections after every few notes, while the synth choir takes the middle section down an octave before bouncing up again with ferocious orchestra hits, both repeating nauseatingly for 4'35".

The arrangements have been licensed to a variety of budget record labels since their original Telstar release in 1996, and many of the tracks re-issued by K-Tel, Prism Lesuire, A-Play and Castle Communications fade-out early compared to the versions released on Out of This World. There are therefore two versions of the Doctor Who theme in circulation, with the edited version also lacking the Dalek voice mumbling "exterminate" during the opening bars.

K-Tel, the company behind the Hooked On range - voted as the worst idea of the 20th Century by 279 www.time.com readers - offer a website where "custom CDs" can be purchased, comprising a selection of available tracks. The edited version of Paul Brooks' original Doctor Who theme is currently one of those available, and can be sampled online should you wish to save yourself from spending £2.99 - £4.99 on any of Brooks' appalling commercial albums.

1997 - Uncredited (Hallmark)

Cult TV Themes
Budget CD, 1997
Hallmark (subsidiary of Carlton Home Entertainment) 306742

1.
Mission: Impossible
2.
The Prisoner
3.
Twin Peaks Theme
4.
I Love Lucy
5.
Danger Man
6.
Batman
7.
The Saint
8.
Joe 90
9.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
10.
The Avengers
11.
Charlie's Angels
12.
Star Trek
13.
The Fugitive
14.
Dr Kildare
15.
The Adams Family
16.
The Untouchables
17.
Dr Who
18.
Thunderbirds

--> Additional Releases

Copyright for this one is owned by Marathon Music International. Hallmark claims to be "dedicated to quality music at a price that gives value for money", but we'll need convincing. No artist credits are given, only composers/publishers. All the arrangements - which are traditional but synthesised - appear to have been recorded by the same individual, and they are - without exception - rubbish. The Doctor Who track is performed very simply, using the same keyboard sound for both the bass and the melody and sounding so simplistic and uninspired that you'd believe it was recorded in one take, live, by one man on a cheap keyboard.

1997 - The Unknown/Phantasm



Performed by "The Unknown"
Licensed from Music Masters International
The Unknown: Channel X
CD, 1997
Summit SUMCD 4098

1.
The X-Files
2.
Close Encouters Of The Third Kind
3.
Star Wars
4.
E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial
5.
Twilight Zone
6.
Doctor Who
7.
Blake's 7
8.
Eve Of The War
9.
Dune
10.
Alien
11.
Bladerunner
12.
Star Trek Theme
13.
Quantum Leap
14.
Red Dwarf
15.
Space 1999
16.
Lost In Space
17.
Time Tunnel
18.
U.F.O.
19.
The Tomorrow People
20.
2001: A Space Odyessey

--> Sleevenote / Additional releases

Although this is one of a number of budget sci-fi theme albums to share the majority of tracks with other CDs (the same cover versions of Quantum Leap, Red Dwarf and many others crop up almost everywhere, variously credited), the Doctor Who theme on this disc is one of a selection of new covers, credited unconvincingly to "The Unknown". It is a pacey, swooshy arrangement, owing nothing to any of the TV themes and being, unusually for such a release, a new arrangement in its own right. We always think of this as being representative of what the theme tune would have sounded like had someone like the Sci-Fi Channel resurrected Doctor Who in the late 90s - a steady rhythm, some weird keyboard noises carrying the melody and, somehow, the impression that it was created by a fan.

2001 - Uncredited (Big Blue Dog)



Big Blue Dog Records presents these magical children's classics for your family to enjoy. This collection will inspire everyone to laugh, sing and dance.
Various Artists: There's a Hole in My Bucket
American CD, 7 October 2001
Allegro Corporation / Big Blue Dog Records BBD 100001

1.
Postman Pat (Instrumental)
2.
The Little Red Wagon
3.
The Flintstones (Instrumental)
4.
Never Smile at a Crocodile
5.
Rupert (Instrumental)
6.
One, Two, Three, Four, Five
7.
I'm a Little Teapot
8.
Skippy
9.
There's a Hole in My Bucket
10.
Dr. Who (Instrumental)
11.
A Mouse Lived in a Windmill
12.
The Wheels on the Bus
13.
Five Little Ducks
14.
Put Your Finger on Your Nose
15.
Monster Mash
16.
She'll be Coming 'Round the Mountain

Part of the Children's Classics range on Big Blue Dog Records, distributed by the North American company Allegro, this collection of seven CDs - released between May and October 2001 - covers a wide range of nursery rhymes, lullabies and television themes, all performed on synthesisers by an uncredited artist. The recording of the Doctor Who theme bares resemblance to the Neil Norman Cosmic Orchestra arrangement of 1980, in that it repeats the opening notes of the melody for what feels like a jolly long time (but is actually about 2 minutes) and is a keyboard-driven pop arrangement.

2006 - Mannheim Steamroller

Mannheim Steamroller: Halloween 2
US 2CD+1DVD set, 2006
American Gramaphone LLC

DISC 1 - MUSIC


1.
Creatures of the Night
2.
“The Addams Family” Theme Song
3.
“Psycho” Theme Song
4.
“Dark Shadows” Theme Song
5.
Superstition
6.
“The Outer Limits” Theme Song
7.
Monster Mash
8.
Trick or Treat
9.
“Dr. Who” Theme Song
10.
“The X-Files” Theme Song
11.
Black Magic Woman
12.
“The Munsters” Theme Song
13.
Mummy Walk (psilvu sahara)

DISC 2 - EFX


1. Devil’s Oath
2. Midnight Carnival
3. Go to the Light
4. Purgatory’s Pond
5. Cosmic Flatliner
6. Demon’s Dance
7. Alien Space Battle

Creature of the Night Dance Remixes:

8.
Space-Men Creatures Lift Off Mix
9.
Bear-One Baltimore Mix
10.
Trafik Techno Mix - UK
11.
Mannheim Steamroller Creatures Original Mix

DISC 3 - DVD Video


1. Creatures of the Night
2. Psycho
3. Monster Mash
4. Creatures of the Night Dance Instructional Video

Beginning with a synthesiser plonking out a very basic Doctor Who melody, this version soon explodes into a pseudo-pop version not dissimilar to Paul Brooks' recording: there are odd zizzy sounds in the background throughout, the theme melody is pitch-bent up and down a la Keff McCulloch, and there are interludes where the main instruments stop playing, leaving strange drumming sounds and isolated echoes of the theme. Happily the production is rather better than earlier recordings - they have at least added some reverb to stop it sounding like it was all made by computer - but it clearly is one man on a synthesiser again, no matter how well made, and a pop verison of the theme (with a silly beat) will always sound a bit cheap.

The release itself is rather dubious: a follow-up (surely not due to demand) of a 2003 CD set, this 3-disc extraveganza even includes a DVD of some ropey videos showing the dance moves to Mannheim Steamroller's cover-versions of the Monster Mash. Mannheim Steamroller actually began as an alias for record producer/composer Chip Davis back in the mid-70s; Davis and his musical collaborator Jackson Berkey first used electric bass and synthesizers to record classical music pieces, and Davis created his own label, American Gramophone, to release the results. The group found popular acclaim in 1984 with their Christmas covers compilation Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, and their further Christmas albums have formed the backbone of their success, alongside dodgy cover albums of Disney tunes and horror soundtrack music.