Doctor Who - Documentary s06e18 Episode Script

The Doctor's Composer

That was the challenge of my whole career with Doctor Who.
Every episode, practically, was different.
And every serial was something special.
NARRATOR: Welcome to Sydney, home to Dudley Simpson, the most prolific of all the Doctor Who composers.
However, before he joined the team in 1964, Dudley's life was very different.
Well, I was originally conducting at the Royal Opera House for the Royal Ballet because I had come with experience from Australia.
And I went to a party one afternoon, after a matinee performance, met this fellow who said to me, ''You don't look much like a ballet dancer.
'' (CHUCKLING) And I said, ''No, I'm a musician.
'' So he said Well, he had some music written for him, for a production, and he said they weren't too happy about it.
And he said, ''Why don't you write me something?'' He said, ''Do you compose?'' I said, ''Well, yes.
'' And so I You know, I hadn't had a lot of experience, but I said, ''Well, I'll have to think about that.
'' So I went I had This was a Friday, and he wanted it by Monday.
You know, it's always the same, isn't it? And so I said, ''Well, I'll try and think up something.
''What's it all about?'' And he told me.
And I actually wrote something and had to go into the BBC and play it on the piano before all these directors.
And it was a bit daunting.
But they said go ahead and record it.
I mean, I'm cutting the story short because it was a bit longer than that.
But that's how it all started.
And then there was a director there named Mervyn Pinfield, who came to me after a few productions of the show there, he said, ''Why don't you come and write something for me?'' It was really exciting after my classical background and, you know, at the Opera House and so on.
It was unusual for me to go into writing music such as this and for small ensembles as well.
We must get hold of the others quickly and return to the TARDIS.
In those days, you can't take a video home to study it.
They just tell you what it's all about, really.
I didn't see anything.
It was just guesswork.
They'd say, ''We'd like about 15 seconds ''of something here and a link there.
'' And that's how I wrote it.
There was a matchbox sequence.
Look at this matchbox.
SIMPSON: And I thought, ''What can I do with that?'' So I used the percussion like xylophone music.
'Cause it was sort of making noises like matchsticks and things like that.
Must be an exhibition, Susan.
Something like the World's Fair.
-Things this size.
-No, Ian.
Well, what else? Look at the scale of things.
You're wrong, Ian.
Completely wrong.
I thought just now that something was wrong when I saw that, but now I'm sure.
All right.
What's your theory then? Well, these things haven't been made bigger, we've been made smaller.
And then, of course, there was the giant sound and I had a tuba.
And I had to do something like that with the massive sounds, deep sounds against the little high sounds, you know.
That was what I was trying to do.
(GRUNTING) Ah, success! I've done it, Barbara.
Barbara? SIMPSON: If the director explained to me exactly what he wanted, then I could write it just with a picture in my mind.
That was quite primitive, really, but those were very interesting days and they were a challenge to make good music and to fit the picture.
No, not yet.
One of them may be the King.
Follow them and listen to them.
SIMPSON: There was a little bit of contention with Douglas Camfield.
He was very critical of what I was doing.
And they always used to say to me, ''No, we don't need music.
We can do it without music.
'' But I always felt that music was very important to productions that I could see on the television.
And I could see that that was the future where And, of course, films were then building up into big orchestral music, you know, and they were being very successful.
And I felt that more music would enhance the programme.
A king at liberty may give commands.
A captured one obeys them.
Take him! Find the others and kill them.
Oh, I could have written much more and more effective music if I've had the opportunity or the resources.
But with limited resources and, I think, budget accounted for the amount of music that I could put into it.
That was a big factor.
When it came to the Daleks, I was trying to develop something emotive in the music that would Whenever they appeared I'd have to 'Cause they made a sort of rattling noise as they came in.
And I felt if I had good music underneath it, it'd help it and I don't know, it didn't work out for me.
(LAUGHS) I was trying to get a sort of bolero in it.
(VOCALISING RAVEL'S BOLERO) You know.
Something like that.
When they were doing it on the floor, the grams operator would play the tape.
And if they said to me it's too long, I would have to go and snip it.
Or tell them where to snip it to fit.
It was so primitive that I thought, ''Where's this going to go to?'' you know.
And that's how primitive it was in those days.
If it was too long, I'd have to find an actual spot in the music where they could actually cut the tape and then play it in live.
It will be fun having you here.
And your friends will make charming dolls.
It may interest you to know that their chairs are ready and waiting for them in the dollhouse.
Innes took my first daughter, Karen, in to meet the Daleks one day, and she was horrified to think she's going to see these Daleks.
And here they were trundling around on the floor, and one came up to her, and popped his head open and said, ''Hello, Karen.
'' I met Patrick Troughton, 'cause I'd written something else for him at that stage.
And he's a very fine actor, I thought.
I was a bit worried myself, personally, when I saw him playing Doctor Who.
I thought he was trying to be funny.
And I thought humour wasn't part of Doctor Who's attitude towards the programme.
'Cause Bill Hartnell was a very serious Doctor, you know? And then comes a complete change to Patrick.
Although very good.
I went to Brian Hodgson and asked him to help me create a special sound, so that I could have that sound, that underwater sound, like globule sounds, and it was really fun to do.
And I used to hear snide remarks from the musicians.
''Wait till Dudley's finished with this,'' you know, sort of thing.
Because I did actually create the music and then added to it.
And it gave it a body and a sound that musicians couldn't create.
There was no real problem with, like, Musicians' Union or anything like that.
It was actually a sound that the musicians couldn't make.
So I made it at the Radiophonic Workshop.
We had a turnaround problem.
And as it got near towards the end of the series, we'd have Transmission was almost next week.
And so, it was as close as that.
And I don't know what went wrong with the organisation but it got tighter and tighter towards the end.
And then sometimes I would have to sit up all night and have my copyist waiting to write it all out, and I'd take it into the studio all wet, and then play it, you know.
It was as tight as that.
That was very difficult at times.
My copyist lived in Surbiton, which, uh And I was in Esher, so I was about four or five miles away.
And George would be sitting up all night writing his All my parts out for the musicians.
And I'd have to I'd write a part of it, then I'd jump into my car and drive it down and slip it under his door, and go back and finish and bring the next lot later, you know.
And I was driving down, down past Giggs Green, I don't know if you know that area, and the police stopped me and said, you know, ''Hello, what's going on here?'' sort of thing.
And I said, ''Well, officer, see that music on my passenger seat? ''That's for tomorrow's episode of Doctor Who.
'' And he said, ''On your way.
'' I was interested in Deborah's appearance, and I remember having to write the music to establish her appearance and it was completely different to any other music I'd written at that stage.
It had a little romance to it.
And I brought the oboe in.
And it seemed to work beautifully.
And then, of course, the contrast to the When she swings around and spots the Dalek, that's a big contrast.
But that I wrote only through being told that there was going to be a picture of her and I didn't get a viewing at all.
And if you do a battle scene, you need variety of sounds, and I had just perhaps one player playing percussion.
And a couple of wind instruments to make it sound a bit nasty.
It was very difficult at the time.
Peter had a lot of imagination, I thought.
He was very much into science fiction.
Probably the best so far, I would have thought.
I liked him very much.
He was very sympathetic towards what I was doing as well.
Come on, Jamie, let's get out of here.
Push the lift button! Get us out of here! Take the lift up! (INDISTINCT SHOUTING) (INDISTINCT CHATTERING) One of the top executives from the BBC came in once.
I can't think of his name, but he said, ''That's fantastic.
How did you do that with just a few musicians?'' You know, that was a compliment indeed.
COMPUTER: Bombay-Tokyo shipment activated.
Bombay sending now.
In the studio, it sounded terrific.
Yeah.
It was an interesting piece to write because I had to establish the feeling of the space and all the movement in the space.
I was saying to my wife earlier that that was probably one of my best scores.
And it was under difficulties because I didn't have a lot of resources, but I made use of what musicians I had plus adding the electronics.
It was quite exciting to do.
It was a combination of musicians and radiophonic electronics, and that's something that musicians couldn't do.
That sound.
That open sound, especially up the top there.
And I had to play it myself to the original track.
Brian Hodgson would play me the basic and I'd play in on the synthesiser or whatever we had there.
They're leaving beacon Alpha Four, sir.
NARRATOR: Dudley Simpson was to create the music forThe Space Pirates Exactly what happened before.
-What is our arrival time? -Still 90 minutes to go, sir.
AndThe War Games.
-What's this stuff? -Aye, wi' spikes.
(EXCLAIMS) Barbed wire, Jamie.
It's filthy stuff.
NARRATOR: These were the final two stories starring Patrick Troughton as the Doctor.
So far he had worked for three producers, 11 directors, and composed the music for 12 adventures.
However, Dudley was to carry on with the production team for the next 10 years.
Coming up in Part Two The only one that I got any sort of recognition with was The Master, 'cause he was making appearances out of the blue, we didn't expect him, and I had to do something different.
I was trying to do a Doctor Who one, but it didn't work.
There was never enough time.