Mr Blue Box

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Chris Morley knows, you can't beat a bit of ELO!

Love & Monsters just might be the worst atrocity committed to BBC tape in the name of Doctor Who, but it does, though, at least offer a considerable boost to the career of the Electric Light Orchestra, somewhat out of the blue you may say!

As Elton Pope says,
"I should say, this isn't, you know, my whole life. It's not all spaceships and stuff, because I'm into all sorts of things. I like football. I like a drink. I like Spain. And if there's one thing I really, really love, Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra. 'Cause you can't beat a bit of ELO."

Quite right, sir. Who can blame them for wanting a jam on Don't Bring Me Down?
ELTON: Then it turned out that Bridget could play the piano, and I confessed my love of ELO. Next thing you know.. Musical LINDA. You got me running, going' out of my mind. You got me thinking that I'm wasting my time. Don't bring me down. Don't bring me down!
URSULA: Grooss.
ELTON: Your go.
SKINNER: Oh, no. Er, grooss.
Simply the German for "cheers", there.

As their name implies, The Electric Light Orchestra, as founded by former Move men Roy Wood & Jeff Lynne, sought to marry the sort of music they'd already been playing with a few classical flourishes. Wood had already done so on the very first single by his previous group, Night Of Fear taking more than a few cues from Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture going by the main riff & bassline! And that fusion would in a sense be recycled after the Move moved on, 10538 Overture the first stirrings of the Electric Light Orchestra.......

Alan McGee would later write for the Guardian that they'd definitely succeeded in their aim of taking up where the Beatles left off, the attempts of the Fab Four at least on Eleanor Rigby partially inspired by Bernard Herrman's use of strings in his score for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.
"It took Jeff Lynne and his band Electric Light Orchestra to reach and meet the ambitions of the Beatles template – making their 70s back catalogue good enough to match the Fabs.

The Beatles knew this. And you know it. You just do.
ELO's Showdown was a favourite song of John Lennon."

Lennon had even remarked that ELO were the "Sons of the Beatles". Fitting then that they formed in 1970, the year the lads from Liverpool split and a year after Patrick Troughton vacated the TARDIS. Troughton, of course, had also been indirectly inspired by the Fab Four (& in particular one of them's hair).

ELO helped to usher in what we now know as symphonic rock. There was more than one side to the meshing of styles, though, as Jeff would tell an interviewer.
"We're not so much using classical music, as the instruments it's played on. We're not into experimental classical stuff. The main object of the band is to be an entertainment.

The string players have started to rock at last; they are much more free now, leaping about stabbing people with cello spikes. In America they really love it when Mike Edwards, our cello player does the 'Dying Swan.' It's all silly, but we love it."

One of the great composers named in Rockaria, ELO's attempt to bring a little of opera's grandeur into their all-encompassing music, would later find a fan in the form of the Twelfth Doctor, into the bargain !

The Doctor has of course lately declared,
"...a passion for the works of Ludwig van Beethoven. And one day he thinks, "What's the point of having a time machine if you don't get to meet your heroes?" So off he goes to 18th-century Germany.

But he can't find Beethoven anywhere. No-one's heard of him, not even his family have any idea who the time traveller is talking about. Beethoven literally doesn't exist. This didn't happen, by the way. I've met Beethoven. Nice chap. Very intense. Loved an arm-wrestle."

Though Beethoven would soon roll over, his influence & that of many of his contemporaries remains if you listen hard enough. The ELO cover also contains a snatch of Ludwig's Fifth Symphony....

Beethoven may have loved an arm-wrestle but the man he'd inspire many years down the line just wanted a little sun, as Jeff Lynee wrote on the sleevenotes for 1977's Out Of The Blue.
"I rented this little chalet in Switzerland, in the mountains just beyond Lake Geneva. I rented this gear from a little shop in a village, a little music shop, with a Revox tape recorder, an electric piano - I had my guitar there - and just sat there to try and write.

For two weeks, I came up with nothing - and I only had four weeks to write this double album! I was sort of thinking, 'bloody 'ell, maybe I can't come up with anything'.

The weather had been really bad and then one day I got up and it was fantastic, the sun was brilliant and shining, all the mountains were lit up and this mist had gone away. It was gorgeous and I came up with 'Mr. Blue Sky'".

Nearly 30 years later it was Mr Blue Box's turn when the Doctor saves Ursula, with whom Elton falls in love. Mr Blue Sky being their song in a sense. Aww, eh?

Oh, & she's now a paving slab.

ELTON: Here she is.
URSULA: Could be worse. At least I'll never age. And it really is quite peaceful, you'd be surprised.
ELTON: It's a relationship, of sorts, but we manage. We've even got a bit of a love life.
URSULA: Oh, let's not go into that.
Well, it did say love & monsters!

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