Doctor Who - The Theme Music

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"Doctor Who" is the longest-running and arguably the most successful science-fiction TV series that has ever been produced by the BBC, with the original series running from 1963 to 1989 and a brand new series being broadcast between March 26 and June 18, 2005. There was also a made-for-television movie in 1996 and an animated adventure called "Scream of the Shalka" broadcast over the Internet in 2003, as well as hundreds of novelisations of the individual stories and many more never-broadcast "New Adventures." The exploits of the Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who has the ability to regenerate whenever he is physically old or injured, his many companions and his time and space machine, the TARDIS, enthralled millions of viewers for three decades and spawned legions of dedicated fans both young and old.

However, part of the phenomenon that is "Doctor Who" is it's opening and closing theme music, which is arguably one of the very best science-fiction musical themes that has ever been created. The howling, spooky music really epitomises what the series is all about, and it is hard to imagine "Doctor Who" with any other form of theme music. The original music was created by Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in 1963, the same year that "Doctor Who" arrived on our screens, and remained virtually untouched until 1980, when it was replaced by an electronic version that is arguably almost as good as the theme that existed from 1963 to 1980. This electronic revamp of the theme music remained until 1986, when during the series' twenty-third season, a collection of chronological stories called collectively "The Trial of a Time Lord," the theme music was replaced by a more upbeat and whimsical version of the one that had existed from 1980 to 1986. Alas, this theme music only lasted for the one season, and by 1987 it had been replaced yet again by what is my personal favourite of all the "Doctor Who" theme tunes. This theme tune was much faster than the two previous ones and was even more whimsical and upbeat than it's immediate predecessor, with the familiar howling sounds from the theme tune of 1963 to 1980 brought back in an electronic style and new "bird chattering" sounds added in for effectiveness. Unfortunately for the fans of this theme tune, it only lasted for two years before the BBC brought "Doctor Who" to an end in 1989, thanks to falling viewing figures and the rise of it's flagship soap opera "EastEnders."

By 1996 however, America was beginning to show much more interest in bringing back "Doctor Who" than the BBC were, and a made-for-television movie was released in that same year, entitled simply "Doctor Who: The Enemy Within." The theme tune was changed once again, and what a disappointment it was, a far more orchestra-based version than had ever been heard before. One would have imagined that with far bigger and possibly better recording facilities than there are at the BBC, a theme tune could have been created that was (heaven forbid!) better than the theme tune of 1987 to 1989. But that was not to be the case, as the American film company that produced the movie developed a silly, what appears to be half-hearted version of the theme tune that tinkers along quite slowly with piano, bells, deep-sounding drums, violins and other orchestral instruments and is really the weakest of the lot in my opinion. Maybe it's because I love the 1987 to 1989 theme tune too much, or maybe it's because I don't find anything remotely attractive about orchestral music, but for a movie that brings back on the big screen the greatest science-fiction TV series of all time, couldn't they have done something better than that? Thank goodness it's only about 1 minute and 40 seconds long (that is if you miss out the closing credits).

Fortunately, the theme music for the Internet adventure "Scream of the Shalka" in 2003 was a vast improvement on the theme for the 1996 movie. This theme music is modern, fast-paced, edgy, and incorporates other elements such as the TARDIS materialising and electronic howling sounds like in the 1987 to 1989 theme tune. Also, in a welcomed change from the movie, it sounds like the music for a science-fiction series, not like the kind of music you'd hear at the circus, hurrah! Alas, as with many a great "Doctor Who" theme tune, it only lasted for the "Scream of the Shalka," but there was hope in store for the fans yet, as...

In March 2005 "Doctor Who" came bursting back onto our screens as a proper TV series, once again managed by the wonderful people at the BBC! Finally, after 16 years of absence, the Doctor was back in our living rooms, and the awful screeching and bickering from "EastEnders" was increasing the viewing figures for "Doctor Who" this time. The theme tune, logically updated once again, is extremely effective and stands up to the 1980 to 1986 one as being an outstanding theme tune. This one however, is faster, more exciting, with a great beat in the background and new howling sounds added in to make it even better. Truly this was the return of "Doctor Who" as we know and love it...

What is your personal favourite of all the "Doctor Who" theme tunes and why? I'd like to hear your opinions please...

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