Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Delia Derbyshire honoured with posthumous PhD

9:45, 21st November 2017

Delia Derbyshire, best known as creator of the Doctor Who theme tune, will be awarded an honorary PhD from Coventry University for her contribution to electronic music.

The composer, who worked in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, received little acclaim during her lifetime, but her work has received a great deal of attention since her death in 2001.

Born in Coventry in 1937, Derbyshire began learning piano at the age of eight. She studied mathematics and music at the University of Cambridge, and after graduating held a variety of positions before joining the BBC as a trainee assistant studio manager in November 1960

In April 1962 she was assigned to the Radiophonic Workshop, where she remained for ten years, creating music and sound for almost 200 radio and television programme. One of her first works was her 1963 realisation of Ron Grainer’s theme tune for Doctor Who, which was one of the first television themes to be created and produced by entirely electronic means. However, BBC policy meant that Grainer was credited as the sole writer.

Derbyshire stopped producing music in 1975, exploring a range of other occupations, but returned to music in the late 1990s. She died aged 64 in 2001.

Coventry University is to run a series of workshops in Derbyshire’s name in a bid to inspire a new generation of children to pursue maths and music.

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