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Soundtrack Review

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An Adventure in Space and Time
Original Television Soundtrack


Composer: Edmund Butt
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £8.99
SILCD1442 (CD), SILED1442 (download)
Release Date: 03 March 2014

Mark Gatiss’s highly acclaimed docudrama about the genesis of the Doctor Who TV series delighted die-hard fans and casual viewers alike on its BBC Two debut and swiftly received a second showing at Christmas. Film and TV composer Edmund Butt has had an extensive career as a writer, performer and producer, winning Royal Television Awards for his scores to Yellowstone and Garrow’s Law. Film credits include The Dark and 24 Hours in London, alongside TV work such as Sea of Souls, Murphy’s Law, Mistresses, Ashes to Ashes and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. The booklet for this release is reversible to allow the display of a separate cover featuring alternative promotional material...

I have to admit, I didn’t think I needed this soundtrack... until I actually listened to it.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed the docudrama itself, the music of An Adventure in Space and Time made relatively little conscious impression on me, except during occasional moments when it struck me as sounding too modern for its inclusion in a period piece. Such a moment occurs during the track “The New Doctor”, which seems to deliberately reference the work of current Doctor Who composer Murray Gold, in particular his regeneration music. That’s fair enough, though, because the scene in question concerns William Hartnell’s handover to Patrick Troughton (played by David Bradley and Reece Shearsmith), with a throw-forward cameo appearance by Matt Smith.

Listening to this soundtrack release (which runs to 39 minutes) brings home the fact that most of the other music in the docudrama works on a less obtrusive level, which is no bad thing. Murray Gold’s work is often criticised for being too assertive and attention-grabbing. Several of Butt’s compositions (including the poignant “The Right Man”, “This is my Show” and “Dressing Room”, the eccentric “What Dimension?” and “Sydney Newman”, and the uplifting “Autograph Hunting”) are reminiscent of Gold, so if and when the latter retires from Doctor Who, here is a potential worthy successor.

Fans of movie scores might also detect traces of Danny Elfman and John Williams in the quirky and mystical main theme, a dash of Mark Snow in the sinister and otherworldly “The Daleks”, and more than a hint of Jerry Goldsmith in the ethereal “The TARDIS”.

Unlike many soundtrack releases nowadays, the music is not presented in story order, possibly for reasons of varying the mood. This way we don’t get all the light-heated cues (such as “Sydney Newman”, which is the tenth of the 25 tracks) near the start of the album and all the sad ones (such as “This is my Show”, which comes eighth) towards the end. It does begin at the beginning and end at the end, however, with Butt’s memorable main theme. This is a favourite of mine, as are the invigorating “The First Woman Producer”, the aforementioned “Sydney Newman”, the tense “JFK Assassinated” and the uplifting “10 Million Viewers”.

Like I said, I didn’t think I needed the soundtrack to An Adventure in Space and Time… but since receiving it I have played it a great deal and with great enjoyment in a relatively short space of time.


Richard McGinlay

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