Click here to return to the main site.

Soundtrack Review

Cover Image

Doctor Who
The Sun Makers
Original Television Soundtrack


Composer: Dudley Simpson
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
SILCD1569 (CD), SILED1569 (download), SILLP1569 (vinyl)
Release Date: 01 May 2020

Composer Dudley Simpson’s first contribution to Doctor Who was his music for Planet of Giants (starring William Hartnell) in 1964. By the end of the 1960s, he was the programme’s go-to composer, scoring 62 stories over a total of 294 episodes up until his last, The Horns of Nimon, in 1979. An amazing body of work – and that’s just Doctor Who. He also provided music for Blake’s 7, Moonbase 3, Target, Paul Temple, The Tomorrow People, The Brothers and many more. He began his time on Doctor Who using a very small orchestra, moved into working entirely at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop on EMS synthesisers for a year (assisted by Brian Hodgson), then added percussion, before going back to a small band with Radiophonic synth overdubs, until his final few episodes where the synth became part of the band. It is a shame, therefore, that only four complete examples of his scores survive, the only one from the Tom Baker era being The Sun Makers from 1977…

It is indeed a pity that this is the only isolated Dudley Simpson soundtrack to exist from the entire epoch of the Fourth Doctor. The composer’s contributions to adventures such as Robot, Pyramids of Mars, The Robots of Death and City of Death are far more distinctive and memorable.

The Sun Makers is a fairly generic example of Simpson’s work from this period, being dominated by his trademark bass burbles – though there are some points of interest. There’s a sense of melancholy in early tracks such as “Death and Taxes”, conveying the hopeless situation faced by the oppressed worker Cordo. Lighter moments include “Jelly Babies” and “Nobody Works Today”, both of which reference the musician’s sprightly Fourth Doctor theme. This soundtrack is largely an acoustic work, making use of woodwind, percussion and strings, though the addition of pitch distortion to “One Thousand Metres” and “The Steaming” communicates a sense of disorientation caused by the perilous height of the buildings in Megropolis One and the effects of the tranquillising gas PCM.

The whole affair is, of course, topped and tailed by the opening and closing Doctor Who theme (composed by Ron Grainer) as used in the late 1970s. The closing theme is the 53-second version, which eschews the uplifting middle eight.

This release runs to just 29 minutes, which makes me wonder why Silva Screen didn’t add some bonus tracks from other Tom Baker serials. Though no other complete Simpson scores from this era remain, the music from Parts 3 and 4 of The Android Invasion and Parts 3 and 4 of The Invasion of Time does exist.

Think carefully before spending your hard-earned talmars on this.


Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.

Digital album