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Doctor Who goes orchestral and is heading for the North East

The Tardis is to touch down in Newcastle with fifth Doctor Peter Davison and full orchestra and choir

The Tardis touches down
The Tardis touches down

Forget Daleks and the Tardis. The thing about Doctor Who that grabbed the nation when the series first aired in 1963 – at 5.15pm on Saturday, November 23, to be precise – was the theme music.

A product of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, it sent me and probably thousands of other small children scurrying for that proven safe haven behind the sofa.

Ron Grainer, an Australian composer, wrote the score but it was given its other worldly, ‘whoo-whooo’ weirdness by Delia Derbyshire, a whizz kid in the ground-breaking BBC workshop where experiments in electronic sound were carried out.

It is one of those most instantly recognisable TV soundtracks – which is why a show called the Doctor Who Symphonic Soundtrack should create more than a ripple of interest when it reaches the North East next year.

Far from featuring a box with wires sticking out of it, this arena extravaganza is to feature more than 100 performers including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC National Chorus of Wales under the baton of conductor (and Torchwood composer) Ben Foster.

Word reaches us that Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor, is to be the guest presenter during the UK arena tour which kicks off at Wembley Arena on May 23 next year and arrives at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on May 28.

It is recommended for people aged six and over, “based on the nature and duration of the show”. I was six when that first blast of Grainer/Derbyshire genius chilled my infant blood.

The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular
The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular

Sadly, neither Ron Grainer nor Delia Derbyshire survived into ripe old age. The Daleks didn’t get them but illness did, Grainer succumbing to cancer in 1981, aged 58, and Derbyshire to kidney failure in 2001, aged 64.

But the show lives on with Peter Capaldi currently embodying the famous Time Lord and with Murray Gold in the Grainer/Derbyshire shoes.

The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular features the music written for the series by Gold, the four times Bafta-nominated composer who became musical director on the series in 2005, creating a new arrangement of the famous theme and new incidental music.

While his original contributions featured sampled sounds, later arrangements have been more orchestral, the scores performed and recorded by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Doctor Who ‘house band’.

Gold composed the music for the Bafta-winning 50th anniversary episode, Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, and has created, arranged and orchestrated three special live concerts featuring music from the series.

He also wrote music for Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, a BBC TV adaptation of Casanova (which starred David Tennant, the 10th Doctor) and Channel 4’s Shameless.

You might have heard his music performed live in the North East because he composed a lustrous score for a stage version of Rapunzel which BalletLORENT toured in 2012.

The current Doctor Who arena show premiered in Melbourne in 2012 and there were nine performances at the Sydney Opera House. It toured to other cities in Australia and New Zealand at the beginning of this year and comes to this country for the first time next year.

As well as the live music, the audience will see highlights from 50 years of Doctor Who on a big screen.

Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor Who
Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor Who

Peter Davison, who was on the show from 1981-4, says: “Doctor Who fans are an extraordinary, wonderful bunch who are very passionate about the series.

“The Symphonic Spectacular has already proved to be a monster hit ‘down under’, with thousands of fans packing into arenas across the southern hemisphere, and the UK’s first ever tour promises to be even bigger.”

Tickets for the Newcastle performance are on sale now.


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