The creator of the Dr. Who theme music, and member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Delia Derbyshire, has been awarded an honorary, posthumous PhD by her hometown university of Coventry.
Long viewed as a pioneer of electronic music, Derbyshire first came to prominence after she joined the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, where she worked on the theme tunes to over 2000 television and radio programmes. it is, however, her realisation for the Ron Grainer-penned theme music for Dr. Who, which she created in 1963, using musique concrete techniques, to form one of the first electronic signatures for television. Her version was used up until 1980.
Derbyshire was also instrumental in setting up both the Kaleidophon and Electrophon music studios and she was also a founder member of the early, experimental ambient group White Noise, although she only appeared on their 1968 debut An Electric Storm. Although viewed as an inspiration to many musicians working in the electronic genre, Derbyshire never received the acclaim she was clearly due and turned her back on the industry, later working as a radio operator and working in an art gallery and bookshop.
Current member of the Radiophonic Workshop, Mark Ayres, paid tribute to Derbyshire, saying: “Any composer of my generation with an interest in electronic sound and music cannot fail to have been influenced by Delia’s talent. It is very fitting that Delia is receiving this posthumous honorary doctorate from Coventry University. Delia was proud of her roots in the city and deeply affected by the damage wreaked upon it during the second world war, though much inspired by the sounds she heard around her during that time.”