In 1963, producer Verity Lamb approached BBC Australian composer Ron Grainer to score a theme tune for the series.
The arranging of this new musical composition, fell on progressive musical maverick – Delia Derbyshire.
What was most remarkable about this arrangement, was Derbyshire and her team re-recorded the score onto tape and then cut the recording reel up into segments, pasting it back together differently.
What this did was give the theme a very distinct tonal and electronic arrangement (to create different sounds and clipped tones).
This version of the theme tune, was used for all of the 1960’s run of the show (through the Hartnell and Troughton era).
It was adjusted slightly in the Pertwee era, when a slight re-arrangement was required, due to Pertwee’s Doctor’s titles being of a different length to Hartnell’s and Troughton’s titles.
The dramatic swooshing outro sound effect was also added (for the first time) in the Pertwee era, which became a standard – for every future Doctor titles.
Grainer was amazed at the remixed theme tune, when he first heard it. Famously he remarked that he did not recognise it. Despite being assured by Derbyshire, that it was indeed the same piece of music, he had composed.
[Upon bearing the composition for the first time] “Did I write that?” Ron Grainer
“Most of it” Delia Derbyshire
However, the BBC wanted to keep members of the Workshop anonymous (as was BBC policy then) and prevented Grainer from getting Derbyshire a co-composer credit – and a share of the royalties.
A new 1971 synthesised rearrangement of the theme tune by Derbyshire – on a Delaware synthesiser was rejected by BBC top brass as too modern. Therefore, the original Derbyshire theme (bar some slight rearrangement) remained largely unchanged, until synthesised rescores – in 1980 by Peter Howell and 1986 – by Keff McCulloch, at the insistence of then producer JNT.
The BBC Workshop also provided a vast range of unusual sound-scapes, including the now famous TARDIS de-materialisation SFX; which was created by running a doorkey ran up and down a taut piano string.
The theme tune has endured to this day and has since become one of television’s most recognisable theme tunes.