The Name's Who, Doctor Who

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Christopher Morley finds a musical connection between Doctor Who and James Bond...

As the world offers its opinions on the new Bond theme, time to revisit the work of a composer who's probably not as well known as Sam Smith in the grand scheme of things! Nonetheless, Don Harper was the man who provided the music for The Invasion, arguably the closest Doctor Who ever got to aping 007 - with Tobias Vaughn being similar to the supervillains featured in the James Bond films.

Ah, Doctor Who, I've been expecting you.

The Australian composer emigrated to these shores in 1955, & would stay in the country for seven years. In that time, as well as the score for The Invasion, he would contribute themes to the likes of The Big Match & World Of Sport, as well as Sexton Blake & Champion House.

His chance to indulge his inner Monty Norman came after the director of The Invasion, Douglas Camfield, had a bit of a barney with Dudley Simpson! The story of which was recounted by Neil Perryman. Wife Sue rated the job Harper did in the absence of his fellow Aussie,
"I really like the music in this story."
But as Neil would note,
"Sadly, this is Don Harper’s one and only score for the programme. Dudley Simpson was the de facto composer at this point, but the director fell out with him over a misunderstanding involving a bottle of champagne and refused to work with him."

And of course that's not the only musical connection between Bond & Who. David Arnold wrote music for both, his Big Finish theme for the Eighth Doctor...

...coming just a few years after his first big Bond score, 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies. He would return for The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale & Quantum Of Solace. A debt to John Barry is clear - as he said upon his musical forebear's death,
"It's impossible to separate James Bond from John Barry's music. They went hand in hand. He was able to show you the menace, the sexiness, the aggression and the emotion.

Everything that is cool and fabulous about James Bond is in the music. You could be stuck in a traffic jam on the M25 in a Ford Fiesta, but if you're playing a John Barry score you're in an Aston Martin. It was just an extraordinary, transfigurative thing he did."

Arnold has, though, ruled himself out of composing duties for New-Who. As he told Digital Spy,
"No. Murray (Gold) is so much in the driving seat of that - I wouldn't do Doctor Who any more than he would do a Sherlock."
His inspiration for his take on one of television's best known themes was simple, though.
"The one that I grew up with was the Patrick Troughton one. That's when I was really, really young. In the '60s. I used to watch those and they were absolutely terrifying. There was something cold and robotic and somehow quite human - a human manipulation of electronic sounds. I thought it was really interesting."

It also makes for a handy link back to The Invasion, for Arnold intended his Eighth Doctor tune to be...
"...a little love letter to my memory of the way it used to be in the '60s."
He certainly didn't have Bond's budget, either!
"I think I did it in an afternoon really in a home studio, there wasn't any money to do anything. I thought it would just be a little thing that ended up being a little thing on a little thing somewhere else!"
Still not bad for something he'd been told by Mark Gatiss was...
"...a CD adventure and would I do a theme tune for it. I think they said it was £60 or something to do it."

That was of course Storm Warning, & the arrangement stayed in place until Dead London, when Nicholas Briggs' version took the reins. In perhaps the ultimate case of live & let die, though, David's original was back for the Dark Eyes set.

The name's Who, Doctor Who!

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