By the time this first master (the earliest Doctor Who recording of any kind) was completed, Bernard Lodge had completed the opening titles graphics. He had created an inventive swirl of howlaround (or “howlround”) images formed by feeding the output of a video camera optically back into itself via its own monitor – the visual equivalent of the high-pitched whine that results if you point a PA microphone at its own loudspeaker. The theme needed adjustments to match the graphics more closely, and the production team wanted a piece which gave a lot of flexibility as to use from one master tape. Lambert also wanted, it is said, some of the precision removed from the recording, to make it sound more “human”.
So in September, a second master was prepared. A number of different versions of the theme are on this master tape, of which two are broadly similar. They feature an edited version of the theme running to about 1’15″, followed by a repeated bassline loop running up to about 2’00″, then the “wind bubble” to end. The rhythmic hissing that drives the track has also been altered (the main change being that it speeds up and fades out just after the entry of the melody before a brand-new loop reenters) and some deliberate imprecision has been introduced. Of these two mixes, one is a good mix with good edits, and the other is a poor mix with some terrible edits. The pilot episode of Doctor Who was recorded in Lime Grove Studio D on Friday 27 September 1963. And guess which edit of the theme they used…?!
So they used the bad edit version on the pilot…you can hear one very poor edit just before the end of the melody before the bass loop takes over – the bass line sounds as if it is going into the bridge section, when in fact it goes back to a restatement of the opening melodic figure. The bass loop then carries on over the Policeman searching the junk yard and fades out as we see the TARDIS, before the wind bubble would have closed the track.
It is this “bad-edit” version that also found its way onto the Radiophonic Workshop’s 21st birthday celebration album, appropriately entitled “21″ (BBC Records REC 354, 1979). For this recording, however, they shortened the number of repeats of the bass loop at the end, cutting to the wind bubble early, making the track about 1’30″.
For the remake of “An Unearthly Child” in the version finally broadcast (recorded Friday 18 October 1963, again in Lime Grove D), they used the good edit, in the same way as on the pilot, with the bass loop fading as we see the TARDIS in the yard. This version features as track 5 on Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume One.
One other curious thing about these first broadcast versions of the theme is that after they made the masters, they added the initial “hiss” at the very start of the theme to accompany the first flowering of the howlaround graphics. And, indeed, the effect was different on the pilot (a low hiss starting just after the entry of the bass line leading to a “thunderclap”) to its final form on the transmitted version (a longer, higher whoosh slightly anticipating the bass line). These effects are not on the original mixes and so do not appear on “21″. There is a band of candidate hisses appended to the end of the master reel – I chose what I believe to be the correct one and added it to the recording featured on the above CD.
This version now becomes the theme master for use from then on. It was used from the start of the tape – with added initial hiss – for the opening titles (married to the titles film print and played in to each studio recording from telecine), and from the entry of the melody (about 14 seconds in) for the closing titles. There were occasional variations in use of the closing titles, with the theme being run from the start (without the added “whoosh”) rather than from the start of the melody – “The Powerful Enemy” (part one of “The Rescue”, 1965) is an example of this. And on at least one occasion (“The Macra Terror Part One”, 1967) the original “pilot” version of the theme was used for the closing titles in error.
Doctor Who was first broadcast on BBC television on 23rd November 1963, at 17-16hrs. At the time, most of the world was still reeling from the assassination of President J. F. Kennedy, which had taken place the previous day.