The Australian Composer Of The Dr Who Theme Wrote It Without Seeing An Episode

The National Film and Sound Archive has unearthed a radio interview with Ron Grainer, the Queenslander who wrote the Dr Who television series theme music .

The interview is conducted by Australian radio and TV personality Binny Lum in 1966.

Grainer studied music and left for London in 1952 aged 30 where had a long career composing for television and film. He died in 1981.

His first well known work was in 1960 with the theme music for the television detective series Maigret.

He also did the theme for Steptoe and Sons and for the cult TV series The Prisoner.

But it was the 1963 theme for Dr Who which he is most remembered.

Sadly, Dr Who doesn’t get a mention in the interview but Grainer talks about how he created TV theme music.

In 1966 Maigret and Steptoe were bigger in the minds of the viewing public and Dr Who was considered something just for children.

In the archive interview, Grainer says that for television he wrote the themes without actually seeing a finished episode.

“For television you normally read the first script, the rough script subject to change, and go to rehearsals,” he said.

“You have to write the music before you ever see the finished product. You write it purely from feeling.

“It’s rather more complicated in that sense than film work where you see the film. I would get the feeling of the character and style. Often you would get it from the director. Some of them are very good at explaining what they’re setting out to do.”

Another Australian connection to the first episode of Dr Who is Anthony Coburn, who was a staff writer at the BBC and is said to have suggested the TARDIS, the Doctor’s space and time vehicle, be a blue police box.

The 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who was broadcast in 75 countries at the weekend.

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