The Great Doctor Who Title Sequence Comparison

Because once in a while you need to, right?

You’ll remember a couple of weeks ago I showed you the Magnum side-by-side comparison (which made BBC America, which pleased me). I thought I’d follow that up with a mashup of the four principal Doctor Who title sequences since the show was relaunched in 2005. It was at this point that the music budget went up substantially, going from eighties synths to an impressive synthetic orchestra in what we must begrudgingly refer to as Series One, before switching to a full orchestra for Series Two onwards.

Murray Gold’s frequently guilty of overwriting, of course, but he has his moments – and while he’s been Messing About With The Theme, it probably could have been worse. The counter-melody that undercuts the main theme is somewhat tiresome and undermines Ron Grainer’s original melody, but at least the sound’s become somewhat less orchestral as the revival’s set in, leading to the new setting used in the 2012 Christmas special and beyond – one that seems closer in scope, somehow, to the 1980s than anything that’s preceded it. (I rather like it, but I know a lot of people don’t. Gareth doesn’t, recently commenting “When did the Doctor Who theme get so rubbish?”. If nothing else, it’s arguably better than the arrangement used for the otherwise-quite-good Big Finish production ‘The Light At The End’ – a hideous amalgamation that sounds like it’s trying to encompass every period at once, and which fails to emulate any of them with any real degree of success. Gotta love those eighties trumpets.)

Of course, a true mashup would contain every title sequence at once, but that’s been done. As you can hear, it’s a bit of a mess, because there are different key signatures and the whole thing sounds rather like Arvo Pärt’s experimental phase, or perhaps ‘Music of the Spheres’. Mine takes four in the same key, and they almost-but-not-quite gel, falling apart towards the end as the at-first miniscule time differences become steadily more obvious. Still. It’s a joyous noise. I shudder to think what Delia Derbyshire would think, of course. It’s a shame she’s no longer here to ask. Where’s a time machine when you actually need one?

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