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Soundtrack Review

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Doctor Who
Series 8
Original Television Soundtrack


Composer: Murray Gold
Performed by: BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
SILCD1460 (CD), SILED1460 (download)
Release Date: 18 May 2015

Ten years, ten albums, 444 tracks – a phenomenal musical output from composer Murray Gold, whose much-loved scores for Doctor Who reach a new high with this three-CD set covering Series 8, the first soundtrack release of music for the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi. A new take on the classic signature tune, coupled with a new theme for the new incarnation of the Time Lord, launch this lavish collection featuring music from all 12 episodes of Series 8 over two CDs, with the third disc comprising 14 tracks from the 2014 Christmas special. The score is performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Murray Gold (computer instruments, guitars and synths) and conducted by Ben Foster and James Shearman. The album also includes an extensive 24-page booklet with notes from Gold…

Hello, hello! We’d been getting used to double-disc Doctor Who releases from Silva Screen – perhaps even a bit blasé – so to keep us suitably amazed the label is treating us to three discs this time. The first CD contains music from the opening four episodes of Series 8, Deep Breath to Listen, including the new arrangement of the main theme; the second covers the episodes Time Heist to Death in Heaven; while the third is devoted entirely to music from the most recent Christmas special, Last Christmas. Perhaps the company had been contemplating the latter as a solo release, but then decided that it wasn’t quite substantial enough on its own.

Despite the amount of material here, I struggled a bit to single out particular tracks for analysis. You can have too much of a good thing. Murray Gold is by now a more than familiar presence in the world of Doctor Who, and to an extent this collection is more of the same… only darker.

Gone (well, almost) is the uplifting “I am the Doctor”, which accompanied Matt Smith’s incarnation of the Time Lord, to be replaced by the more severe but no less mighty “A Good Man? (Twelve’s Theme)”. This gets a track of its own on the first disc and is also reprised in several subsequent tracks, including “Hello Hello” (from Deep Breath), “We Weren’t Asleep That Long” (In the Forest of the Night) and “A Good Man, An Incredible Liar” (Death in Heaven). Actually, it’s more of a development of “I am the Doctor” than a replacement, emerging from its predecessor during “Pudding Brains” (Deep Breath) and enjoying a cheeky sort of mash-up with it in the climactic “Freefall” and “(The Majestic Tale of) An Idiot with a Box” (Death in Heaven).

The other recurring refrain to be introduced in Series 8 is “Missy’s Theme”, sung by Halia Meguid, whose otherworldly vocals hint at the nature of this villainess by recalling Melanie Pappenheim’s haunting contribution to the “The Doctor’s Theme” in 2005–9.

For me, some of the most enjoyable tracks on this album are those in which familiar signatures collide or pop up unexpectedly. A case in point is “They Walk Among Us”, which brought matters to a head at the cliffhanger ending of Dark Water by combining the themes of the Twelfth Doctor, the Cybermen and Missy.

Sometimes the familiar signatures aren’t even from Doctor Who. You might be forgiven for thinking you were listening to music from a David Arnold-scored James Bond film during gritty action moments from Time Heist and Death in Heaven. The jaunty The Caretaker sounds suspiciously like Sherlock to me, and is that a teeny bit of The Terminator in They Walk Among Us?

With the recent 50th anniversary of Doctor Who and the introduction of a new but older and grumpier Doctor, the show has increasingly been harking back to its original 1963–89 run, and this is reflected in the music. There’s an electronic Radiophonic Workshop vibe to some of the tunes from Into the Dalek and Flatline, while the percussion and bass in “The Artefact” (from Mummy on the Orient Express) seem to be recalling Dudley Simpson’s work from the mid to late 1970s in general and Pyramids of Mars in particular.

Other tracks embrace a range of moods, from light-hearted and swashbuckling (Robot of Sherwood) to screeching terror (“When I Say Run” from Kill the Moon and “Ghosts” from Last Christmas), but my stand-out favourites have to be “A Good Man? (Twelve’s Theme)”, “Hello Hello”, “They Walk Among Us”, “Freefall” and “(The Majestic Tale of) An Idiot with a Box”.

The first 5,000 copies of the CD to be sold include an additional 16-page booklet depicting 13 retro posters designed by Stuart Manning for Radio Times, one for each episode. So what are you waiting for? You’d be a pudding brain to miss out!


Richard McGinlay

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