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Popular Music in Doctor Who

Black Orchid (tx: 01-02/03/82)

In Fiction: in one of the most relaxing, laid-back Doctor Who stories ever made, the TARDIS team land in 1925, play a spot of cricket, dance the Charleston - and are belatedly threatened by a mad young botanist in an eleventh-hour attempt to bring some drama to these frivolous 50 minutes!

In Fact: the authentic 1920s dance music, played in the background throughout the dance party scenes at the end of Part One and beginning of Part Two, all hailed from just two compilation LPs released on the World Record Club label in the 1970s. The instrumental tracks were all original recordings made during the late 20s and early 30s, but thankfully for collectors like us it's not the near-impossible to find 78rpms you need, it's the far cheaper 33rpm vinyl compilations outlined below. Phew!

The first record used was 'The Great British Dance Bands Play the Music of Irving Berlin' (1921-31), a 33rpm LP (World Record Club SH 353). [There was also a second volume, covering the years 1931-39 (SH 354), on double-LP: collectors beware, this one has nothing to do with Black Orchid!] The LPs were part of the World Record Club label's large collection of "Great British Dance Bands play the Music of..." series, most of which are difficult to obtain today - they have never been re-released.

Featured tracks: Lazy (Romaine Orchestra) 1'09" is heard, 15 minutes into Part One, as the dance gets underway. This is the first record played in the story, and a vintage gramophone - armed with a stack of HMV records - is shown as an establishing shot to explain the whereabouts of the music! Irving Berlin (born Israel Isidore Beilin, 1888 – 1989) was undoubtedly one of the most prodigious and famous American songwriters of the Twentieth century. Berlin got his start as a lyricist for other composers, and although he never learned how to play a piano or read music beyond a rudimentary level, he wrote over 3,000 songs, 17 film scores and 21 Broadway shows. ‘Lazy’ was allegedly Berlin’s son’s favourite of his songs: a novelty piano piece, written in 1924.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Jack Hyktin and his Orchestra) 0'42" is used at the end of Part One, with a further 0'06" heard in the reprise of the same scene at the beginning of Part Two, as the masked Harlequin leads Anne into the house. [The music in Part One is interrupted by several cutaways to silent interior scenes, with the record beginning in the first scene (0'19"), continuing in the second (0'14") and concluding in the cliffhanger scene (0'08")] ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ was penned by Berlin in 1926, inspired by Anita Loos’ novel of the same name (which had first been serialised in Harper’s Bazaar magazine in 1925, and was turned into a silent film in 1928) about two young women searching for love. The story later reached a huge audience with Howard Hawks’ 1953 musical movie starring Marilyn Munroe and Jane Russell, although Berlin's song did not feature.

Availability: currently unavailable.

The other record was Savoy Havana/Savoy Orpheans: 'The Savoy Bands' (World Record Club SH 165/6), a 1970s double-LP which contained one LP by each of these big band orchestras (the records were individually titled and coded: 'Savoy Orpheans at Savoy Hotel, London' (165) and 'Savoy Havana at Savoy Hotel, London' (166), although they do not appear to have been available outside of this double-packed release).

London's Savoy Hotel had a major influence on British Popular music. In 1919 Bert Ralton, an American Saxophonist, left New York and went to Havana, Cuba, to form his own band. By March of 1922 his 'New York Havana Band' were flown over to appear at London's Coliseum, and a few weeks later they opened at the Savoy Hotel as 'the Savoy Havana Band'. By late April they had made the first of many broadcasts from a BBC studio, and Savoy Havana soon became the first dance band to have weekly music broadcasts live from the Savoy - a spot they shared with Debroy Somer's Savoy Orpheans Orchestra, who were also resident at the hotel until 1927.

Featured tracks: Show Me the Way to Go Home (Irving King, performed by Savoy Havana) 0'10" is heard in Part One, at the top of the second party scene, as Nyssa and Anne run into the house and emerge side by side; the record then stops abruptly, as though someone has removed the needle. 'Irving King' was a pseudonym for the team of Reginald Connelly and Jimmy Campbell; their drunken novelty song was adapted from a Canadian folk song in 1925.

Back Home in Pasadena (Warren, performed by Savoy Havana) begins to play in the same scene, as Nyssa and Anne run into the crowd and begin to dance: 0'46" is heard initially, with a further 0'36" heard in the next scene, as Lady Cranleigh talks in private with her Persian servant; 1'28" of this track was cleared in total. Harry Warren (born Salvatore Guaragna, 1893 – 1981) was the first major American song composer to write primarily for film; his immediate predecessors, such as Jerome Kern, worked extensively on Broadway before turning to motion pictures. Warren began his professional song writing career during his time in the Navy, rising to success after Shapiro, Bernstein and Company published 'Back Home in Pasadena' (co-written with lyricist Edgar Leslie) in 1924, taking him on as staff composer. Pasadena is, of course, a small town in California.

Charleston (James P. Johnson, performed by Savoy Orpheans) 1'15" is heard in the following scene in Part One, to which Tegan enthusiastically leads a group dance. James P. Johnson (1891 – 1955) was an important transitional figure between ragtime and jazz piano styles. The Charleston was composed in 1913, and was played at dances for black longshoremen recently moved from South Carolina. In 1923, Johnson was invited – along with Cecil Mack (aka Richard C. McPherson 1833 – 1944), who wrote the lyrics to many popular songs from the turn of the century – to provide the music for a new musical revue called 'Runnin' Wild', and the Charleston was one of the songs performed, with new lyrics by Mack. It became an international sensation, owing to the rapid dance routine it accompanied in the show, which incorporated unusual hand and foot patting, and is still immensely popular today. The track was edited to fit this scene, with the middle portion removed to allow the song to start and end on cue.

Dinah (Harry Akst, performed by Savoy Orpheans) 0'15" is heard in Part Two, in the first exterior scene of the episode, as Tegan wonders where the Doctor has gotten to. The song was written in 1925 by American composer Harry Akst (1894 –1963), one of the most prolific composers of the era, and the lyricists Sam Lewis and Joe Young (who had been collaborating together since 1916 on individual songs and stage musicals). The production paperwork for Black Orchid erroneously and mysteriously credits this track to "Feldman".

Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue (Ray Henderson, performed by Savoy Orpheans) 0'10" is heard in Part Two, playing until the end of the song, as Adric helps himself to seconds. Written in 1925 by Ray Henderson (born Raymond Brost, 1896 – 1970), with lyrics by New Yorkers Sam Lewis and Joe Young (see above). Henderson was best known for his collaborations with Howard DeSylva and Lew Brown, who were without equal as Broadway songwriters of the Roaring Twenties; a film based on their relationship, 'Best Things in Life Are Free', was made in 1956.

When Erastus Plays His Old Kazoo (Coslow-Fain-Spier, performed by Savoy Orpheans) 1'00" is heard, in the same scene as 'Dinah', as Lord Cranleigh learns of the events unfolding inside the house. Composed by the little-remembered writing team of Larry Spier, Sam Coslow and Sammy Fain, and made famous in Britain by gorgeously ebullient 78rpm recordings by the likes of Johnny Dodds and the Black Bottom Stompers (USA, Brunswick 80075-B), or The Piccadilly Revels band (Columbia 4475) in 1927.

Availability: The original double-LP release is relatively easy to find second-hand, but there has been no re-issue or re-release of the complete album. Only two tracks are currently available: Pasadena (Savoy Havana) is on the compilation CDs Music of the Twentieth Century: 1900-1939 (EMI, 2000) and The Roaring Twenties (Pearl, 2000); whilst Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue (Savoy Orpheans) is on Rhythm Crazy: Popular Music Of The 20s: 3CD (Hot HRS001, 2004).

Revelation of the Daleks (tx: 23-30/02/85)

In Fiction: On the planet Necros the deceased, cryogenically frozen inhabitants of Tranquil Repose are entertained with 20th Century rock ‘n’ roll by DJ Alexi Sayle. Almost worth dying for!

In Fact: The DJ proved an amusing solution to a problem for writer Eric Saward: "I've always wondered about the cryogenic idea," he told Howe, Stammers and Walker for their Sixth Doctor Handbook in 1993, "because if people could come back after 200 years, imagine what state they would be in! The world would have moved on so far and they would have become so out of touch that they would instantly die of nervous breakdowns!" Through his lunatic broadcasts - one of the more original aspects of Revelation of the Daleks - the DJ keeps the ancient dead of the universe up to date, yet in a delightfully ironic twist bases his whole show on the woefully out of date American rock 'n' roll era. "The DJ is completely at odds with the place," Saward continues. "He sits there and plays music and passes on notes from the folks and so on, but he is so cynical about it all. I made him really rather grotesque, and he had to be grotesque."

The DJ’s record collection is a bizarre collection of cover versions, original singles and compilation albums… as director Graeme Harper admitted, whatever was cheapest to license! "Some of that music playing in the background is genuine. You can't get permission to use most American music as it would cost a fortune, but there are good cover versions and sound-alikes that you can use." (The Sixth Doctor Handbook, Virgin Publishing 1993)

Good Vibrations – The Surfers

Cuts: 0’19” is heard (although 0’33” was cleared for use) 7 minutes into Part One, as the DJ, in full 60s hippy costume, first watches Peri on the video screen.

Releases (select releases): The Beach Boys were an American sensation: the creators of deliciously sun-kissed harmonies that surfed around the world, producing an uplifting soundtrack to an endless summer in the 60s. Their original version of Good Vibrations was released as a 7” single (Capitol 5676) in October 1966, and on the album ‘Smiley Smile’ (Brother T-9001 & ST-9001) in September 1967.

The version used in Doctor Who was a cover version from the LP The Surfers: ‘Sounds Like the Beach Boys’ (Contour 2870 407), Side 2 Band 1, released 1971. “The Surfers” were no more than a group of session musicians formed for one day to re-create some classic Beach Boys Songs for a budget release.

Availability (select releases): the Surfers’ album has never been reissued, but it can currently be purchased as downloadable mp3s from; the original Beach Boys version is readily available on compilations such as ‘The Very Best of The Beach Boys’ (EMI 5326152), released July 2001.

A Whiter Shade of Pale – Procol Harum

Cuts: 0’36” (although only 0’33” was cleared!) is played 11 minutes into Part One, as the DJ reads a dedication to the residents of the mortuary.

Releases (select releases): A Whiter Shade of Pale is the poll-toppingly popular song that nobody understands - even writer Keith Reid couldn't explain the bizarre lyrics. Procol Harum, incidentally, is a mis-spelling of the Latin expression "beyond these things" (procul harun), so perhaps we are destined never to know!

The BBC sourced the track from the original 7” single (Deram DM 126), released in May 1967; the song also appeared on Procol Harum’s eponymous LP (DES 18008) in September 1967. By far the band’s most popular song, it was reissued and re-released numerous times before 1985 – for a good discography visit

Availability (select releases): the track is readily available on many compilation albums and the CD reissue of ‘Procol Harum’ (Repertoire REP4666), released April 2001.

Hound Dog & Blue Suede Shoes - [uncredited cover versions]

Cuts: Hound Dog 0’58” (although only 0’50” was cleared) 13 minutes into Part One, as the DJ does the hand-jive, baby, and reads a further dedication.
Blue Suede Shoes 0’25” (0’29” was cleared) in the same scene, following-on directly from Hound Dog.

Releases (select releases): Hound Dog Elvis Presley’s immortal version of this Leiber & Stoller song (initially recorded by Big Mamma Thornton in 1953 and Freddie Bell & The Bell Boys in 1956) was originally a 7” single in July 1956 (RCA Victor 47-6604, USA).
Blue Suede Shoes Carl Perkins’ original recording was released as a 7” single in January 1956 (Sun 234), with the famous Elvis Presley version following it to vinyl in September 1956 (RCA Victor 47-6636).

The versions used in Doctor Who were Presley-style cover-versions taken from the LP ‘Smash Hits – Presley Style’ (Music for Pleasure MFP 1419), released in 1970. This compilation of Presley cover-versions carried no performance credits – it is likely to have been recorded by session musicians and singers, possibly contracted to the record label.

Availability (select releases): the Smash Hits versions of these tracks are currently unavailable; the original Elvis versions are on the CD ‘30 #1 Hits’ (RCA 07863680792), released September 2002.

In the Mood & Moonlight Serenade – The Ted Heath Orchestra

Cuts: In the Mood 0’10” is heard in Part One, 41 minutes into the episode, as the DJ (now dressed as a gangster) concerns himself with the Doctor’s movements.
Moonlight Serenade 1’34” plays, 11 minutes into Part Two, as Jobel romances Peri straight into the arms of the DJ, who explains that he has copied his fake American accent from some recordings brought back from Earth by his great-grandfather. Both songs would appear in Doctor Who again: in the 1940s story The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.

Releases (select releases): In the Mood Glenn Miller’s big band orchestra originally released their distinctive arrangement of Joe Garland’s ‘In the Mood’ as an American 7” single in 1939. The 'Miller sound' - realised by a clarinet and tenor sax playing identical melodies with harmonies from three other saxophones - became the distinctive attraction that first set Miller's band apart.
Moonlight Serenade Glenn Miller’s own composition – his first international hit record, and the tune that propelled his orchestra to fame – was first released in America in 1939. It quickly became his orchestra's signature tune; the romantic and yearning melody gained a bittersweet poignancy when the group was reformed after Miller's disappearance in the Second World War.

The versions used on-screen were from the Ted Heath Orchestra’s 'A Salute to Glenn Miller' LP (Decca PFS 4259) conducted by Billy May, released in 1972; also available on Quadraphonic 4 reel-to-reel tape (London Records LON J 17186)!

A Salute to Glenn Miller (CD reissue)Glenn Miller/The Duke compilation CDThe Definitive Glenn Miller

Availability (select releases): Ted Heath’s entire ‘Salute to…’ album was reissued on CD in April 1995 (PGD Special Markets 20436), and the dual-compilation CD ‘A Salute to Glenn Miller/Ted Heath Salutes the Duke’ (Vocalion CDLK 4290) released April 2005. Glenn Miller’s original recording is readily available on albums such as ‘In The Mood – The Definitive Glenn Miller’ 2CD (BMG 82876560302), released October 2003.

Fire – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Cuts: 0’57” was heard in Part Two, 22 minutes into the episode, as the DJ frantically played air-guitar, air-drums and air-flute (really) in his studio.

Releases (select releases): In a few frantic years, Jimi Hendrix revolutionised guitar playing and popular music as we know it. He moved to England in 1966, where he taught trendy Londoners how to 'kiss the sky', and became the idol of a generation.

Fire was originally released on the LP ‘Are You Experienced?’ (Track Records 612-001 in the UK, with the artwork shown left; Reprise Records 6261 in the USA, with a different cover and running order) in mid-1967. According to their detailed production paperwork, the BBC actually sourced the song from the compilation LP Jimi Hendrix: 'Smash Hits' (Polydor POLS 2310268), released 30th July 1969 (shown right).

Availability (select releases): the track is readily available on many Hendrix compilations – such as ‘Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix’ (MCD11671), released March 2000 – and the remastered CD issue of ‘Are You Experienced?’ (MCD11608), released April 1997.

Replacements: The song had to be removed for the VHS and DVD versions of the story, as the original license did not allow for its commercial release.
On VHS (BBCV 6875, in The Daleks tin with Planet of the Daleks, November 1999) the scene was audio-filtered and additional music was added over top to obscure the Hendrix material; on DVD (BBCDVD#1357, July 2005) the scene was re-dubbed using the original source material and new music – Witches Dance from the stock album ‘Screaming Guitars – Metal Flash’ – placed in the background.

Remembrance of the Daleks: Parts One & Three (tx: 05 & 19/10/88)

In Fiction: the Doctor has taken Ace back to the 60s, where they proceed to drink a lot of tea in Harry’s Café and listen to an authentic jukebox playing (for once!) authentic tunes.

In Fact: written as a loose sequel to 'An Unearthly Child', with the Doctor returning to Totter's Lane junkyard in 1963, the production is keen to impress with its period detail. In many respects it fails spectacularly - there are cars, road markings, buildings and fashions throughout that would have been anacronistic in 1963 - but the musical choices are spot-on, and the jukebox in the café (where, for some reason, the army and the Doctor are content to spend much of their valuable time in Part Three whilst the Daleks assemble their forces!) is stocked with Beatles and Mudlarks classics that were top of the charts at the time.

There are other tracks; 3 minutes into Part One, Ace examines the jukebox and is amused to find 'Return to Sender' playing, as popularised by Elvis Presley; and 7 minutes into Part Three, The Shadows' 'Apache' is heard as Rachel expresses her misgivings about the Doctor. These, however, are cover-versions performed by incidental-music composer Keff McCulloch, and have never been released.

Do You Want To Know A Secret & A Taste of Honey – The Beatles

Cuts: Do You Want to Know a Secret 0’36” plays in the café, 4 minutes into Part One, as Mike bellows for attention.
A Taste of Honey 0'51” is heard (although only 0’33” was cleared for use), 9 minutes into Part Three, as the Doctor instructs Gilmore and the party leave the café.

Releases (select releases): both tracks were taken from The Beatles' first UK album, ’Please Please Me’ (Parlophone PMC 1210 MONO/ PCS 3042 STEREO) released 22 March (MONO) and 26 April (STEREO) 1963. This fantastic LP - which contained the A and B sides to their first 2 singles, plus 10 new tracks - remained at the top of the charts for 30 consequetive weeks from 11th May 1963 - which is still a record - until ‘With The Beatles’, the follow-up album, replaced it in November. (In America 'Please Please Me' was released as "Introducing The Beatles" in July 1963.) For Remembrance of the Daleks, both tracks were taken from the original stereo LP.

Do You Want to Know a Secret is, unusually, sung by George Harrison and was allegedly inspired by a song in Walt Disney’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1937), where the heroine sings “Wanna know a secret?” A Taste of Honey was originally written by "Bobby" Scott and Ric Marlow for Tony Richardson’s film ‘A Taste of Honey’ (1961), based on the 1958 play by Shelagh Delaney, and was covered by The Beatles for their first LP - though it was a song they quickly dispensed with live.

Availability (select releases): both songs are readily available on the CD reissue of ‘Please Please Me’ (Parlophone CDP7464352), as released in January 1987.
Replacements: although this episode was released as-broadcast on VHS in 1993 (BBCV5007, in The Daleks boxed set (BBCV5005) with The Chase), the ever-changing copyright situation regarding The Beatles’ music prevented the songs' release on DVD in 2001. Do You Want to Know a Secret was replaced in the UK (BBCV1040) with clean dialogue from an early edit of the story and a cover-version of the same track by Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, and in the US (WHV - E1138) and Australia with a copyright-free cover-version; A Taste of Honey was replaced on all versions with a piece of generic guitar music.

Billy J Kramer (born William Ashton) was gifted with several Lennon-McCartney songs in 1963-4, thanks to being managed by Brian Epstein and produced by George Harrison. Do You Want to Know a Secret was offered to Kramer before The Beatles recorded it themselves, and was released as a 7" single (Parlophone R5023) with another Lennon-McCartney song on the B-side - 'I'll Be On My Way' - that was never to be recorded by The Beatles. Kramer enjoyed many years of success, and his version of the song can be found on ‘The Very Best of Billy J Kramer’ (EMI Gold 3119742), released June 2005.

Lollipop - The Mudlarks

Cuts: 0’19” plays, 6 minutes into Part Three, as Ace sulks with the Doctor and flirts with the army. This song had also featured in Doctor Who the previous year, performed by 'The Lorrells' (aka incidental-music composer Keff McCulloch) in Delta and the Bannermen.

Releases (select releases): written by songwriters Beverly Ross and Julius Dixon for the American mixed-race duo Ronald and Ruby (Beverly Ross with Lee Morris), the original version reached no. 20 in the US music charts - arguably only hampered by the limited publicity granted to a black musician.
When Lollipop was re-recorded by The Chordettes in 1958, the catchy tune climbed to no. 2 in the US, and England had its own version performed by The Mudlarks (aka Fred, Jeff and Mary Mudd) - with the two versions making the top ten simultaneously on either side of the Atlantic. The UK 7" single was released on 3rd May 1958 (EMI Columbia DB 4099), and reached no. 2 on 31st May.

This family trio - whose band name is slang for 'professional beggars' - also scored hits with covers of ‘Book of Love’ and ‘My Grandfather’s Clock’ before Mary Mudd attempted, and failed, to go solo. Little to nothing has been heard of them since.

Availability (select releases): currently available on dozens on 50s compilations, such as the double-CD ‘Golden Oldies’ (Virgin VTDCD749) released September 2005.