Doctor Who Composer Delia Derbyshire To Receive Hometown Honour

Delia Derbyshire is to be honoured in her hometown of Coventry by having a road dedicated to her.

The creation of Derbyshire Way will pay tribute to the ground-breaking musician who will be best remembered for helping to realise the original Doctor Who theme written in 1963 along with Ron Grainer while she worked for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Inspiring acts as diverse as The Beatles and The Chemical Brothers, Derbyshire created the iconic theme by creating each note separately by cutting, splicing, speeding up, and slowing down recordings of a single plucked string, white noise, and the output of test-tone oscillators. The notes were then edited together on quarter-inch tape. Mixing was done by starting several tape machines simultaneously and mixing the outputs together.

Derbyshire, who passed away in 2001, will now give her name to the road which forms part of a new housing estate in the city of her birth. The recognition follows a campaign led by the Coventry Music Museum, which features a permanent display dedicated to her work.



Museum Director Pete Chambers spoke about her legacy:

“It’s fitting as we bid for the City Of Culture 2021, that the bid does not ignore our music heritage, and that people from around the world know Delia was a Coventry legend, a woman who influenced The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Orbital, The Chemical Brothers and even Pink Floyd, indeed, she is considered by many to be the Mother of Progressive Rock.

I firmly believe that if she were alive today, Delia would have triple ‘D’ status – she would be Dame Delia Derbyshire. Sadly that will never happen, so it’s wonderfully fitting that there is something in her native Coventry dedicated to this very special lady. Originally it was to be named Derbyshire Road, but I suggested ‘Way’ instead to give it a double meaning, as Delia was a genius and strong personality and really did do things in her own way.”

Next May, the Coventry Music Museum will host a celebration of what would have been Derbyshire’s 80th Birthday.

  • Dr. Moo

    I should be pleased by this news. So why does it only annoy me? Probably because it hasn’t happened already. The work she did was instrumental in the initial success of Doctor Who by making something quite unlike what had been heard before.

    • bar humbug

      The work she did was precisely NOT ‘instrumental’, which is why it was so revolutionary 😉 Cheer up Moo; it’s nearly Christmas…

      • FrancoPabloDiablo

        ‘Cheer up’ says the person who is calling themselves Bar Humbug for the festive season haha 🙂

        • bar humbug

          Yeah, I’ve been fighting it for ages, but now it is at least Advent, if not December, I’ve given in – and put ‘Chimes of Mdnight’ on. grabs you from the first sound – ticking clock PLUS heartbeat. ‘Let us revel in the giddy thrill of our ignorance.’ I may have to rename…

          • FrancoPabloDiablo

            I’m not going to rename myself for the season but if I was going to I think I’d go for FrancoPabloHoHoHo!

  • Peter Rabytt

    I think what she did was genius. Having dabbled in music myself and loving Who, what she did is inspirational to me in many ways. The way she put the theme tune together was incredible and in my view a key part to making the programme weird and exciting. The original music still sounds fantastic and original. It is brilliant. As far as I am concerned she should be honoured as much as possible.

    • FrancoPabloDiablo

      Bring back Delia’s Ooh-ee-ooh sound and get rid of that dreadful noise we’ve been stuck with for the last couple of series! And while they are at it, get rid of the awful cogs/clock title sequence! So inappropriate and self indulgent – reminds me of the JN-T era where question marks were thrust upon anything that would have them! Lapels, Umbrellas, Sweaters, Calling Cards!

      • Peter Rabytt

        I have to agree about the current theme… has none of the depth or sense of mystery that some of the versions have…..especially the first. It’s weak. Can take or leave the cogs. I suppose you need to try things out or risk things becoming stale, but i prefer a classic vortex tunnel effect of some sort. Still, nothing is quite as bad the silver Sylvester wink……

        • FrancoPabloDiablo

          Moffat is also a fan so should at least have learnt from past mistakes. There is nothing big or clever about using cogs and clocks to emphasise the fact The Doctor travels in time – just the same as there was nothing big or clever about JN-T putting question marks anywhere he could just because the show is called Doctor WHO. Give me Sylvester’s wink over Capaldi’s eyes any day. Capaldi deserves a truly great title sequence and equally great theme to match the brilliance of his portrayal. Murray Gold has really let the side down with the current theme. The first (and especially the consequent revisions) remain probably among the best the show has ever seen. The theme from 2005 (and it’s subsequent revisions) also rate highly.

  • Peter Rabytt

    There is something about the way Capaldi’s eyes sit within the background that looks really amateurish, like someone has just merged two photos……I agree it’s not good. Buts it’s not as cheesy as the wink. I thought the first couple of reboot Who theme tunes were really good. Not as weird as the original obviously, but solid and full of drama. In my view it started to go off the rails again with the Matt Smith tardis hit by lightning one. Too shrill and cheap sounding.