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Soundtrack Review

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Doctor Who
Series 13 – The Power of the Doctor
Original Television Soundtrack


Composer: Segun Akinola
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £6.99
SILED1713 (download)
Release Date: 16 December 2022

Her final battle. Her deadliest enemies. The Thirteenth Doctor faces multiple threats from Daleks, Cybermen and the Master in a fight for her very existence. The last of three Doctor Who specials to be broadcast in 2022, The Power of the Doctor aired on 23 October 2022, and is the final episode to feature Jodie Whittaker as the Time Lord. It also stars Mandip Gill and John Bishop as her travelling companions, Yasmin Khan and Dan Lewis, with returning guest stars including Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovanka, Sophie Aldred as Ace, Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart and Sacha Dhawan as the Master. Chris Chibnall, the showrunner and writer, reflects on the composer’s work: “Segun made the show’s musical landscape wide-ranging, specific and authentic. The Power of the Doctor [is] a fitting climax to Segun’s work on the show – bringing together so many of the fabulous themes he’s created, from Daleks and Cybermen to the Master, Yaz, and the Thirteenth Doctor’s wondrous heroic and emotive theme…”

For the finale of the Thirteenth Doctor’s era, composer Segun Akinola needed to top all that he had done before for the series, while building on themes he had previously established for various characters and situations.

The score for The Power of the Doctor, like the episode itself, begins with a bang, with “You Shall Not Disrupt Our Mission”, which accompanied the pre-titles attack on an interplanetary bullet train by the CyberMasters. Here Akinola introduces a souped-up and sassy version of his CyberMasters signature from Series 12, which is suitably industrial for a biomechanical species. This theme is, for me, the highlight of the soundtrack and it is heard again in several subsequent tracks, most prominently in “A Calculated Risk”, “Reunite” and “All Hands on Deck”.

The Master himself has a discordant theme, symbolic of his unpredictability and unhinged mental state. This is heard in “Why Would I Ever Trust You?”, “Magnificent Attention to Detail” and “I Am the Doctor”, and would not seem out of place in some dark psychodrama or twisted horror film. The composer blends this with his three-note Dalek motif in “Say Hello to My Friends”, when the Master reveals his new alliance with the Daleks – his “Master’s Dalek Plan” (my favourite in-joke from the episode, by the way).

As usual, much use is made of the violin – rapid strokes for heightened drama or tension, slow ones for emotion – and the piano. The latter provides its customary poignant accompaniment to the relationship between the Doctor and her companions, and features most strongly in the soulful “What’s the Plan?” and “She’s the Doctor”. “We Are Not Finished” is more uplifting in tone, communicating signs of hope in the face of seemingly certain doom, while the penultimate track, “Activate Everything”, does indeed offer a bit of everything: drama, poignancy and a sense of triumph.

“We Are Not Finished” also introduces the first hint of a lilting female vocal sound, which comes to the fore during the final track, “She’s the Doctor”, in which the Thirteenth Doctor nears the end of her life and prepares to regenerate. The technique is highly reminiscent of the era of the programme’s previous composer, Murray Gold, in particular his “The Doctor’s Theme”. This is entirely fitting, of course, since the episode ends with Jodie Whittaker handing over to David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor, while the diamond-anniversary 2023 series will also mark the return of Russell T Davies as showrunner.

In fact, I’m surprised that Akinola doesn’t hark back any further than Doctor Who’s 2005 revival. Thanks to the involvement of multiple returning companions and four classic-era Doctors, this episode feels more ‘anniversary-ish’ to me than The Day of the Doctor, despite going out exactly a year and a month ahead of the show’s 60th. However, I detect no recognisable themes for Tegan, Ace or the earlier Doctors in this 78-minute digital album, nor even any musical references to the Doctor Who signature tune itself.

That curious omission aside, The Power of the Doctor ably demonstrates the power of the composer.

Silva Screen Records will give the soundtracks to this and the other two specials from 2022 – Eve of the Daleks and Legend of the Sea Devils – a physical release on 13 January 2023, in a triple CD set, Doctor Who: Series 13 – The Specials.


Richard McGinlay