Delia Derbyshire

The musician and composer Delia Derbyshire is well-known for her pioneering work as an electronic music composer. Delia is perhaps best known for her work at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop where she worked during the 1960s. One of her most well-known pieces of work is the theme tune to the British science fiction series Doctor Who. The theme tune was revolutionary during a time in which most other theme tunes were recorded either by a live band or orchestra, the theme tune is still in use today, albeit in a remixed version.

Delia was born in Coventry to a working-class family, her father worked as a sheet-metal worker. Her intelligence was apparent from an early age, and she did so well in school that she was offered grants to both Oxford and Cambridge universities, ultimately choosing to begin studying at the latter. She did well in only one of her subjects during her first year at the College, ultimately deciding to switch to music, graduating in 1959 with a BA in mathematics and music.

After graduating, she spoke to the careers office, telling them about her interest in music and acoustics, recommending to her that she pursue a career in deaf aids. Thankfully, Delia chose another career, applying to work at Decca Records from which she was denied employment as the studio did not employ women at that time.

Delia’s career truly begun when she started working at the BBC in November 1960, where she managed to secure a job as a trainee assistant studio manager. It was at the BBC that she heard about the Radiophonic Workshop, it was there where Delia was ultimately able to demonstrate her abilities.

Delia Derbyshire

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