DOCTOR WHO - Floyd and the Doctor

Are you sitting comfortably (numb)? 'Whistling' Christopher Morley looks at the many connections between British rock band Pink Floyd and Doctor Who.

The eagle-eared among you will have heard the Doctor whistling a jaunty tune as he went about his new duties as caretaker at Coal Hill School- the entirely appropriate Another Brick In The Wall Part 2. But what most Floydians probably didn't know is that even before the newest incarnation pursed his lips & blew, some past selves have expressed a liking for them!

Business Unusual reveals that the Sixth Doctor was a fan of their early work- The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn in particular getting his vote. Sticking with that same album for a second, The Slow Empire features the Eighth Doctor's companion Fitz Kreiner attempting to learn Interstellar Overdrive on the guitar.

He can't be that good though, as his fellow TARDIS traveller Anji Kapoor thinks he's having a bash at the theme to Steptoe & Son ( which was incidentally written by Ron Grainer, who did the same for Doctor Who). Another companion from around the same point in the Doctor's life- Samantha/Sam Jones- most definitely doesn't rate them, though. So says The Scarlet Empress.

A later post- Syd Barrett era Floyd record, Animals, forms the basis of the sum total of everything the Seventh Doctor's companion Chris Cwej knows about Battersea Power Station. He listened to it in his student days- the cover features an inflatable pig floating over the smoke-belching chimneys of the place. It becomes an important location in Anteus, from the Short Trips- 2040 anthology. In the far future it becomes the office of the President of London........

We can also filter One Of These Days from Meddle ( 1971) through the prism of Doctor Who using a little lateral thinking. See what you hear at around three minutes into the song...

During live performances the implied link between it & the Who theme has often been made more apparent...

Early Floyd performances would also include lights dubbed ' Daleks' owing to their resemblance to a certain race of robots from Skaro, & the handy bit of kit Nick Mason uses to speak the only vocal of One Of These Days (“One of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces”) is a ring modulator- exactly the same as Peter Hawkins, David Graham, Nicholas Briggs & their ilk used to give the Daleks voice!

Dark Side Of The Moon ( 1973) has a part to play, too! Well, you can't expect any discussion of the Floyd to pass without mention of it can you? Ace is reminded of a lyric from its big finale, Brain Damage/Eclipse when the Great Old One Azathoth enters her mind in All-Consuming Fire- unsurprisingly the couplet in question is ' there's someone in my head, but its not me'. And no, there is no such thing as Dark Side Of The Moonbase! Though if you wish to try syncing the album with it as some have previously tried with The Wizard Of Oz ( or Dark Side Of The Rainbow as its known).

Its become quite an urban legend, though everyone connected with the making of the album dismisses any implied connection between the two as complete guff. Engineer Alan Parsons has said
"It was an American radio guy who pointed it out to me. It's such a non-starter, a complete load of eyewash. I tried it for the first time about two years ago. One of my fiancée's kids had a copy of the video, and I thought I had to see what it was all about. I was very disappointed. The only thing I noticed was that the line "balanced on the biggest wave" came up when Dorothy was kind of tightrope walking along a fence. One of the things any audio professional will tell you is that the scope for the drift between the video and the record is enormous; it could be anything up to twenty seconds by the time the record's finished. And anyway, if you play any record with the sound turned down on the TV, you will find things that work."
See, no possibility at all of Dark Side Of The Moonbase. Drummer Nick Mason went on to tease that
"It's absolute nonsense. It has nothing to do with The Wizard of Oz. It was all based on ' The Sound Of Music'."
Having said that, remember where the Daleks hid their ship in Victory Of The Daleks? That's right! Operations were directed from the dark side of the moon......

Now then, back to The Caretaker & the Twelfth Doctor's whistling. The centrepiece of 1979's The Wall is an apt choice- ' Hey, teacher! Leave them kids alone!' etc. It was producer Bob Ezrin's idea to use some actual kids ( the Islington Green School choir) on the song- as he told Guitar World,
"The most important thing I did for the song was to insist that it be more than just one verse and one chorus long, which it was when Roger wrote it. When we played it with the disco drumbeat I said: "Man, this is a hit! But it's one minute 20. We need two verses and two choruses." And they said, "Well you're not bloody getting them. We don't do singles, so fuck you." So I said, "Okay, fine", and they left. And because of our two [tape recorder] set up, while they weren't around we were able to copy the first verse and chorus, take one of the drum fills, put them in between and extend the chorus.
Then the question is what do you do with the second verse, which is the same? And having been the guy who made Alice Cooper's School's Out I've got this thing about kids on record, and it is about kids after all. So while we were in America, we sent [recording engineer] Nick Griffiths to a school near the Floyd studios. I said, 'Give me 24 tracks of kids singing this thing. I want Cockney, I want posh, fill 'em up', and I put them on the song. I called Roger into the room, and when the kids came in on the second verse there was a total softening of his face, and you just knew that he knew it was going to be an important record."
No wonder the Doctor couldn't help but give it a go as he went about his janitorial business in his favourite little corner of Shoreditch- we can almost guarantee you just might find yourself following his lead!

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