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Doctor Who: The Devil’s Chord Didn’t Feature Any Beatles Music For a Very Good Reason

Despite featuring the Fab Four, The Devil’s Chord, the second episode of Doctor Who Series 14, didn’t feature any songs by The Beatles — and that’s for a good reason.

And as many suspected, it’s because the copyright is so expensive, it would’ve taken most of the budget straight away!

Showrunner and writer, Russell T Davies, explains:

“I knew instantly you can never play Beatles songs on screen because the copyright is too expensive. So I’m thinking, ‘How would you do a Beatles episode without Beatles music?’ And that becomes the entire plot. That’s where the idea came from – copyright law!”

So why did he include The Beatles at all? Because, of course, their relevance still spans the generations. He goes on:

“There’s a young director called Sam Arbor who I’ve kind of been mentoring for a while, and when I told him I was going back to Doctor Who, he was just 21 and said, ‘Oh my God, if I had a TARDIS, I’d go back and watch the Beatles recording their first album’. And I thought for a 21-year-old to say that must mean there’s something to that idea.”

Indeed, it’s Ruby Sunday’s (Millie Gibson) idea to visit the 1960s to meet John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The Fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) is more than receptive to the idea… though we doubt no companions have ever wanted to see them before, especially Dan Lewis.

It’s pretty curious that The Beatles wouldn’t let their songs be in Doctor Who for a reduced rate or something (admittedly, this might be due to agents, or something I don’t understand), given that they all liked the show back in the day — and we presume Paul still does — and were going to appear in it.

It’s a massive shame that an episode celebrating their music didn’t actually include any of it. The premise, nonetheless, is a solid one (even if, in the eyes of this writer, it was handled incredibly poorly). Still, some fans seemed to enjoy it.

Doctor Who Series 14 continues this Saturday with 73 Yards.

Philip Bates

Editor and co-founder of the Doctor Who Companion. When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. Writer of The Black Archive: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Silver Archive: The Stone Tape, and 100 Objects of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who: The Devil’s Chord Didn’t Feature Any Beatles Music For a Very Good Reason

by Philip Bates time to read: 1 min
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