Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme, as realized by Delia Derbyshire was an early classic in electronica, but each successive arrangement tended to elaborate on the original, culminating in the orchestral version – with all its counterpoint melodies – that is used today.
New Earthlings have sought to get back to the original, but in a hard rock style. Here’s the backstory: a couple of years ago, Guitarist Geoff Platt suffered a heart attack while on a trip out to London, where he was admitted to University College Hospital and transferred to the Heart Hospital where surgeons fixed him up with a couple of cardiac stents through the leg via the main artery.
He was monitored by a moving x-ray machine on a jib, controlled by a man behind a glass screen, relayed to a wall of video screens showing his own heart beating. Apparently it felt like a scene from a Doctor Who episode, which prompted the band to re-record the famous tune, giving it a rockier feel.
From a musical point of view, the Doctor Who series has showcased some of the most innovative approaches to soundtracks, from the BBC Radiophonic works to the sublime Murray Gold scores. It is rare to find a collection of music as diverse and challenging as the series in question; challenging to the contemporary sense of what makes up a soundtrack as well as what is considered “music.”
The New Earthlings version of the Doctor Who theme song, though sticking closely to the source material is not a rehash of the subsequent TV soundtrack versions. Their effort in crafting an engaging new musical experience from an arrangement first conceived during the 80’s, really shows.
The New Earthlings version is an angsty tune with a beating rock heart and inspired instrumentation; a concise but powerful rendition, done with a ton of emotion. It’s a fabulous, riff-driven piece that will send a chill down your spine, especially if you are a true fan of the series.
Moreover, if you’re a Doctor Who aficionado then I figure that the New Earthlings version would make a rare piece of Doctor Who memorabilia. Where else would you find a crunchy guitar driven version of Ron Grainer’s immortal theme?
The Doctor Who theme by New Earthlings is out now digitally on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. All profits from the single will be donated to UK heart charity, the British Heart Foundation.