The Composers Of Doctor Who: Paddy Kingsland

Christopher Morley returns to the world of sound, and turns his attention to another Doctor Who Composer. This time it's Paddy Kingsland.

As we return to matters musical, we find ourselves writing a tune in B- that is to say Baker! And for the latter phase of Tom's time as the Fourth Doctor, the man in charge of things on that side of the Radiophonic fence was Paddy Kingsland- beginning with Meglos, the second story of Season Eighteen.

Born on January 30, 1947 in Alton, Paddy Kingsland joined the BBC as a tape editor after completing his education at Eggars Grammar School. After spending some time as a studio manager for the fledgling Radio One, the early Seventies saw him making the move to the Radiophonic Workshop.

Among his earliest work in this regard was music for the 1975 children's series The Changes, as well as working with former Doctor Who script editor Douglas Adams on both the radio & TV adaptations of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Here's an excerpt of the man himself talking to Uncut magazine on the eve of the vinyl reissues of several Workshop sets including Fourth Dimension:
What was your background prior to joining the Workshop?
I started off playing in bands at school and just before that I was interested in fiddling around with old radio sets and making up amplifiers and all that sort of stuff, and that led to an interest in guitar amplifiers. And then I started playing in bands around the year of The Shadows and that sort of thing.

Early British rock and roll….
Yeah. In fact, American, because I soon progressed onto Chuck Berry and all that business. My brother was about five years older than me and he bought new records every week and had all the Elvis ones and Fats Domino and that era of stuff. That was my starting point. I didn't go to university and I joined the BBC as a technician around about 1966.

What was your first experience of the Workshop?
I had to go on one of these training courses to broaden your experience of the technical side of things in the BBC and production. One of the things we did was a visit to the Radiophonic Workshop. There was a talk by Desmond Briscoe [co-founder of the Workshop] in what was called the piano room. We all sat down and he gave this talk and somebody played us the tape of example sounds that Desmond had prepared. He liked to show off the Workshop. Then we had a little tour round the place, had tea, and then Desmond said, “Well if anyone is really interested in all of this, perhaps they’d like to come along for a week and explore things in a bit more depth.” So I did, and never looked back from there.

Your arrival at the Workshop coincided with the advent of the synthesiser. My understanding is that previously, work had been quite labour intensive – cutting tape and such. Whereas the synthesizer allowed you to create something quite quickly. Is that true?
That’s absolutely what happened. Particularly when you had keyboards on synthesisers - because some of the early ones didn’t have a keyboard and were simply another way of generating electronic tones with the latest controls added to it. But when they added keyboards on, you could just play a tune – whereas John Baker would spend a day cutting tape together to make that type of sound. It’s a bit like the days when you had film on a reels that went through a machine and when you would go through editing a programme it took 10 minutes to wind the film back when you reached the end. In this way, they talked about the edit and what they were doing. There was time to think about the process. Synthesisers made it easier, but they made it less painstaking.

How did the arrival of the synthesiser change the remit of the Workshop?
A lot of the special sound was done on synthesizers. But the early stuff that Brian [Hodgson] did, was all done with the usual array of oscillators, plucked strings and that sort of thing. It had a more organic feel to it. I only did one of those special sound things for Doctor Who, for a story called The Sun Makers. I can remember consciously thinking about that at the time and wanting to make the sounds more organic, if that’s the right word, made out of real things, rather than just drones and hums, which could be made on a synthesiser fairly quickly. Another thing, if you’ve a synthesiser droning and humming while you’re trying to play a tune it doesn't bloody work together sometimes. The synthesisers were a great labour saving device but when they first came in, they were kind of research tools, in a way. You had to plug everything up and make the sounds yourself. But, later, presets made sounds for you and all you had to do was push the button and you got the sound. That was unfortunate because everybody started sounding the same. I don't mean at the Workshop necessarily, I mean generally speaking. People were buying synthesisers at home and using them at schools.

What were your early commissions for the Workshop?
I think for the first one electronic bagpipes were required. It was for Radio Scotland. They wanted a little tune played and I did it on a VCS3. Afterwards I did a few things using the tape techniques. That was one of the first things. I did some stuff for Scene And Heard because I worked on the programme as a studio manager. And then all sorts of things followed. Take Another Look was a nice thing to do. When they first invented more advanced lighting for film and infrared, they were able to film things close up and in great detail. Take Another Look was a programme that looked at everyday things in a different way. I did some music for that.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – on radio and TV – was another major work for you. Where did you involvement in that start?
The very first episode was produced by Simon Brett. At that time, he a producer in the Light Entertainment and Comedy Department of BBC Radio. Simon was more used to going to a studio, he’d have a guy playing in taped effects, someone else doing spot effects like telephones, doors, cups and saucers, then a bunch of actors – he wouldn’t really do that much to it. But he saw the possibilities of what we were doing. Then he got this script for the first episode of Hitchhikers by Douglas Adams and he thought what we were doing would lend itself to that. In fact, Episode 1 has very little to do with science fiction compared to the rest of it. It takes place on Earth and the first effect is a bulldozer! There are a few little things in there. We did the code for the book, The Guide. Its all little real sounds cut together with a little bit of synthesiser sound cut in. The end of the world - just a little effect there! And then the Vogon space ship - not much Radiophonics in it. But we put it together and he came over with Douglas, having put it down with the actors on 8-track I think. I had made the effects up in advance and we mixed it and then put that episode together. That was the beginning of that. But I didn’t do the rest of that first series because I was away doing a programme for Radio 3.
His other Fourth Doctor-era incidental scores were Full Circle, State Of Decay & Logopolis, & he would contribute to Castrovalva, The Visitation, Mawdryn Undead & Frontios for the Fifth Doctor's era. It was to be his end- he left the Workshop soon afterwards- but the moment had been prepared for.

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