Delia Derbyshire
An audiological chronology

Version 2.34, ?? October 2013
(what's new?)
The wikidelia is new!

Contents Delia Derbyshire at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in 1965
Delia in 1965
Delia Derbyshire in pink
Delia in Pink


Delia Derbyshire is one of the earliest and most influential electronic sound synthesists. She was musically active from 1962 until the mid seventies, then briefly again for a few years before she died in 2001 at the age of 64.

Although her revolutionary sounds are familiar to over a hundred million people through the theme to the television series "Doctor Who" and the seminal album of 1969 "An Electric Storm" she was hardly ever credited and her name is almost unknown. The bulk of her musical production and atmospheric sound for television and radio programmes is on tape in the BBC Sound Archives. After her death, 267 tapes from her attic as well as a box of her papers were consigned to the archive, then in 2007 donated to Manchester University Center for Screen Studies who have digitized them but only three new tracks have been released since then, on compilation albums with music from other composers. Most will probably never be heard again. Mark Ayres made a catalogue of the BBC archives and of the attic tapes but neither has been published.

I originally compiled this chronology from what I could find of Delia Derbyshire's music from material found on the web, adding info from people contacted by email. For biographical material and lists of commercial albums containing her music consult the canonical site

Where I have been able to find a date the order here is chronological, though for many pieces I have only seen a passing mention of their existence and have had to guess roughly where to insert them into the list. Others are inserted at random. I am always pleased to receive suggestions for better ordering, or news of other material of which I am ignorant, as well as reports of errors in the site contents, however minor.

Martin Guy, <>

There is some new stuff here:

Delia was born on the 5th of May 1937.

"I was always into the theory of sound even in the 6th form. The physics teacher refused to teach us acoustics but I studied it myself and did very well. It was always a mixture of the mathematical side and music. Also, radio had been my love since childhood because I came from just a humble background with relatively few books and radio was my education. It was always my little ambition to get into the BBC.
  The only way into the workshop was to be a trainee studio manager. This is because the workshop was purely a service department for drama. The BBC made it quite clear that they didn't employ composers and we weren't supposed to be doing music.
   -- Delia, in the Hutton interview, 24 Feb 2000

Delia joined the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in 1962.
Delia's workshop
Delia's BBC Studio
Delia Derbyshire cutting tape
Delia cutting tape

The Chronology

The Delian Mode
Music to Undress to
Time To Go
Travelling in Winter
Time On Our Hands
Science Serves The Arts
Arabic Science And Industry
Know Your Car
The Cracksman
Francis Younghusband in Tibet
Radio Newsreel
Oliver Twist
Doctor Who
Talk Out
Science and Health
The Cyprian Queen
The Anger of Achilles
The Tower
Four Inventions for Radio:
1. The Dreams
2. Amor Dei
3. The Afterlife
4. The Evenings Of Certain Lives
The Business of Good Government
Ape and Essence
A New View of Politics
Ziwzih Ziwzih OO-OO-OO
Moogies Bloogies
Pot Pourri
Random Together 1
On The Level
Way Out in Piccadilly
Million Volt Light-Sound Rave

The Brighton Festival
Chromophone Band
ICI Fashion Show
Happy Birthday
Towards Tomorrow
Blue Veils and Golden Sands
RSC Macbeth
Tiger Talks
Wrapping Event
Door To Door
Pot Au Feu
Who Is
Bring Back
The Living World
The Naked Sun
Le Pont Mirabeau
The Coloured Wall
An Electric Storm album:
1. Love Without Sound
2. My Game of Loving
3. Here Come the Fleas
4. Firebird
5. Your Hidden Dreams
6. The Visitation
7. The Black Mass
Work Is A Four Letter Word
Environmental Studies
John Peel's Voice
Great Zoos Of The World
ESL104 album:
1. Lure of the Space Goddess
2. Gothic Submarine
3. London Lemons (9 themes)
4. Restless Relays
5. Planetarium
6. Way Out
7. Fresh Aire
8. Delia's Theme
9. Tentative Delia
10. Delia's Idea
11. Delia's Psychadelian Waltz
12. Delia's Resolve
13. Delia's Dream
14. Delia's Reverie
15. Delia's Fulfilment
The Bagman
Robert Lowell
Poets in Prison
Music Of Spheres
Early Morning
Greenwich Macbeth
Dance From Noah
Tutankhamun's Egypt
O Fat White Woman
Electrosonic album:
1. Quest
2. Quest - fast
3. Computermatic
4. Frontier of Knowledge
5. The Pattern Emerges
6. Freeze Frame
7. Plodding Power
8. Busy Microbes
9. Liquid Energy (a)
10. Liquid Energy (b) (rhythm only)
11. No Man's Land
12. Depression
13. Nightwalker
14. Electrostings
15. Electrobuild
16. Celestial Cantabile
17. Effervescence
18. The Wizard's Laboratory
19. Shock Chords
Oh Dear What Can The Matter Be
Circle Of Light
Music of the Spheres
The Legend Of Hell House
Een Van Die Dagen
About Bridges
Synchrondipity Machine

I have no date for the following pieces. Please get in touch if you know more about any of them.

Air (1:44)

A version of Bach's "Air on a G String, "which she dismissed as "rubbish", though it has a fair number of admirers."
Released on 10" vinyl "Music from The BBC Radiophonic Workshop" by Rephlex as CAT147LP (2003)
Released on vinyl "BBC Radiophonic Music" by BBC Records as REC25M (1971 and 19 May 2003) and on CD as REC25MCD (26 November 2002)


Her papers contain detailed notes and tape labels for the creation of sound for what appears to be a two-act play produced in collaboration with F. Chagrin and S. Brown. This may be Sandy Brown, composer of the score for "Searching".

The Delian Mode (5:34)

"pretty much defies description and is all the better for it; you don't want to have to resort to mere words to describe such a perfect sound, utterly deserving the self-definitive title Delia so knowingly gave it."
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000

It can be heard as the backing music to a 1969 'Sky At Night' special at about 19'30".
Released on 10" vinyl "Music from The BBC Radiophonic Workshop" by Rephlex as CAT147LP (2003)
Released on vinyl "BBC Radiophonic Music" by BBC Records as REC25M (1971 and 19 May 2003) and on CD as REC25MCD (26 November 2002)
Released on "Doctor Who Volume 2: New Beginnings"

Music to Undress to

Her papers contain two half-sheets of handwritten manuscript score for Music to Undress to, one with the theme and chords, the other with the bass accompaniment.

Here, we provide these fragments recreated using LilyPond:

Time To Go (0:24)

Released on 10" vinyl "Music from The BBC Radiophonic Workshop" by Rephlex as CAT147LP (2003)
Included in CD "BBC Radiophonic Music" by BBC Records as REC25MCD (26 November 2002)

Travelling in Winter

A note in her papers (DD073025) says that 1 minute 18 seconds of her music for "Travelling in Winter" (TRW 7417) was renamed "Dreaming" for issue as track 17 of the BBC record of sound effects "Out Of This World".


Time On Our Hands (1962) (1:12)

"One of her earliest contributions - "Time On Our Hands" - is a superb subversion of a phrase which would normally evoke (especially in the context of 1962) new-found affluence, spare time and leisure, now rendered alienated, distant and isolated."
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000
In her papers, she writes "TRW 4060 - The Future - 1987" and "Don Haworth, Manchester, 20th August". (Don Haworth is a british playwright and documentary maker).
Released on "BBC Radiophonic Workshop 21" by BBC Records & Tapes, REC354 (1979).

Science Serves The Arts (July 1962)

Her papers include her score dated July 1962 for Science Serves the Arts, a science series for 6th formers broadcast 10.1.63 - 14.2.63.
   -- The British Film Institute entry for the series

Arabic Science and Industry (August 1962) (0:23)

Her papers contain her score for A.S.& I., dated August 1962.
From her notes, it appears to be an "arabic" version of hers of a theme for a TV programme "Science and Industry" for which a theme had already been created by ? and ?. We don't know if her version is based on their melody or not.
It also gets called "Arabic Science and History".
Released on "BBC Radiophonic Workshop 21" by BBC Records & Tapes, REC354 (1979).


Know Your Car (1963) (0:58)

"a devastatingly effective appropriation of the 1930s hit "Get Out And Get Under"."
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000
The original song was by Maurice Abrahms.
Released on "BBC Radiophonic Workshop 21" by BBC Records & Tapes, REC354 (1979).

Movie poster: Charlie Drake cracking a safe

Music for "The Cracksman" (1963)

Her papers contain a copy of a note to the Associated British Picture Corporation dated 25 April 1963:
For creating the "In a Monastery Garden" sequence of "The Cracksman". The instrument is an Eb safe-unlocking mechanism!
Hope you like it
   Delia Derbyshire
Although the 1963 Charlie Drake comedy film by ABPC contains a short sequence in which Drake and some prisoners escape briefly into the prison grounds, its music is orchestral and has nothing matching Delia's description or style.

A short synthetic sound effect is used near the end of the film while Drake is using an electronic device to open a museum's safe; it consists of a sine wave of varying frequency followed by some feedback noise (at which Drake makes a pained expression).

Francis Younghusband in Tibet (April-May 1963)

In her papers are her notes for a piece she calls "F. Y. in T." (TRW 5053), carried out 26th April to 6th May 1963 in collaboration with David Lyttle.

Oliver Twist (May 1963)

Her papers include notes for "Oliver Twist" in collaboration with playwright Richard Wortley.

Radio Newsreel

In her papers are her notes for the creation of a "Radio Newsreel Signature Tune", with work to start 26th July 1963. Original Doctor Who title image

Doctor Who (August 1963)

"[The Doctor Who theme is] the single most important piece of electronic music".
   -- Adrian Utley of Portishead

"Her recording of Ron Grainer's Doctor Who theme, one of the most famous and instantly recognisable TV themes ever" and ranked as the 76th greatest song of the '60s on the music site Pitchfork.

"In those days people were so cynical about electronic music and so Doctor Who was my private delight. It proved them all wrong."
   -- Delia in 1993, according to The Millenium Effect

"The first producer of Doctor Who, Verity Lambert, she had in her mind Les Structures Sonores, this group from Paris. Their music sounded really electronic but in fact they were all acoustic instruments and because the Radiophonic Workshop was a below-the-line cost she came to the Radiophonic Workshop and the boss recommended Ron Grainer because he had done something called "Giants of Steam". Ron saw the visual titles, as usual something like a black and white negative, and he took the timings and went away and wrote the score."
"On the score he'd written "sweeps", "swoops"... beautiful words... "wind cloud", "wind bubble"... so I got to work and put it together and when Ron heard the results, oh, he was tickled pink!"
   -- Delia, in the Boazine interview
"It was a magic experience because I couldn't see from the music how it was going to sound."

"She used concrete sources and sine- and square-wave oscillators, tuning the results, filtering and treating, cutting so that the joins were seamless, combining sound on individual tape recorders, re-recording the results, and repeating the process, over and over again. When Grainer heard the result, his response was "Did I really write that?" "Most of it," Delia replied.
   -- Brian Hodgson
In an official history of the first 25 years of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Delia tells how she created the Dr Who theme tune with a series of 'carefully timed handswoops' over oscillators.

Dick Mills, who helped Delia create the piece, says:

"We started with the bass line. You know those 19-inch jack-bay panels? You could get blank panels too, to fill in between them. They were slightly flexible, so Delia found one that made a good musical twang and played it with her thumb. We recorded it then vari-speeded up and down to different pitches, copied them across to another tape recorder, then made hundreds of measured tape edits to give it the rhythm."
   And what was the main tune played on? "It was just a load of oscillators -- signal generators -- that someone had connected to a little keyboard, one for each note."
   But what about that distinctive portamento? "Well, you just twiddled the frequency knob, of course -- how else?"
   Eventually, after some pre-mixing, the elements of the entire composition existed on three separate reels of tape, which had to be run somehow together in sync. "Crash-sync'ing the tape recorders was Delia's speciality," says Dick. "We had three big Phillips machines and she could get them all to run exactly together. She'd do: one, two, three, go! -- start all three machines, then tweak until they were exactly in sync, just like multitrack. But with Doctor Who we had a bum note somewhere and couldn't find it! It wasn't that a note was out of tune -- there was just one little piece of tape too many, and it made the whole thing go out of sync. Eventually, after trying for ages, we completely unwound the three rolls of tape and ran them all side by side for miles -- all the way down the big, long corridor in Maida Vale. We compared all three, matching the edits, and eventually found the point where one tape got a bit longer. When we took that splice out it was back in sync, so we could mix it all down."
   -- Dick Mills, "BBC Radiophonic Workshop" in Sound On Sound magazine, April 2008.
"I did the Dr Who theme music mostly on the Jason valve oscillators. Ron Grainer brought me the score. He expected to hire a band to play it, but when he heard what I had done electronically, he'd never imagined it would be so good. He offered me half of the royalties, but the BBC wouldn't allow it. I was just on an assistant studio manager's salary and that was it... and we got a free Radio Times. The boss wouldn't let anybody have any sort of credit."
   -- Delia, in the Hutton interview

By comparison, when Kara Blake wanted to include a sample of the Doctor Who theme in her Film Board of Canada-sponsored film The Delian Mode, the BBC quoted her $1000 per second, which would have consumed her entire budget for the film.

The version that has Delia's stamp of approval is the 1:30 version broadcast during the BBC Radio Scotland interview.

"I think every time a new producer came or a new director came they wanted to tart it up, the title music, and they wanted to put an extra two bars here, put some extra feedback on the high frequencies. They kept on tarting it up out of existence. I was really very shocked at what I had to do in the course of so-called duty."
   -- Delia, in the BBC Scotland interview.

For a detailed history of its reworking see

The Theme Music Gallery lists the following versions of the Doctor Who theme: and there is also what appears to be a copy of a half-finished tape:


Talk Out (1964) (0:26)

"incredible, based almost entirely on studio-recorded voices around 26 seconds of electronic delicacy."
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000
Released on "BBC Radiophonic Workshop 21" by BBC Records & Tapes, REC354 (1979)

Science and Health (1964) (0:57)

"a succession of tumbling chords, descending with an elegance beyond almost anyone else."
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000

In making Ziwzih Ziwzih OO-OO-OO she "used just this one bar repeated which had [previously] been rejected from a science and health program for being too lascivious for the schoolchildren. It was like a science program... it was supposed to be about sex, but under another name. And then the producer had the nerve to turn down my music, saying it was too lascivious. It was just twangy things with electronic pick-ups, and I just used a single note and then did little glissandos on it and pitched it and treated it.

In a draft version of the script for the Reeling and Writhing play, scriptwriter Nicola McCartney has the following dialogue about the event:

The Producer of that education programme -- that Science and Health series -- he called me. He says they can't use the tapes you sent up.

He can't use them?

No... He says that the sound arrangement/

/ Music.


Is too lascivious for eleven year-olds.

Too "lascivious"?

... Yes. Can you believe it? I said, "For goodness sake, man, it's a programme about sex education!"

He laughs. She stops working and is very silent.

Released on "BBC Radiophonic Workshop 21" by BBC Records & Tapes, REC354 (1979).

The Cyprian Queen

Delia created the music for a 1964 programme (unsure if TV or radio) catalogued as 'The Cyprian Queen (The Singing Bird)', TRW reference 6062, produced by M. Bakewell.

"Delia always managed to soften her purist mathematical approach with a sensitive interpretative touch - 'very sexy' said Michael Bakewell on first hearing her electronic music for Cyprian Queen."

Effects for "The Anger of Achilles" (1964)

Derbyshire also contributed some effects to Roberto Gerhard's Anger of Achilles radio play, which won the Prix Italia "RAI prize for literary or dramatic programmes with or without music".
An article at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid says:

Gerhard put together many works for tape at his house in Cambridge but processed them and did the final mix at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in London. His first work was the 1954 incidental music for Bridget Boland's The Prisoner for chamber orchestra and tape [. . .] and he would be honoured with the Prix Italia in 1965 for The Anger of Achilles for orchestra and tape, created and presented by the BBC.

The BBC Programme Catalogue describes the work as an "epic for radio in three parts by Robert Graves, from his translation of Homer's Iliad. [. . .] Music specially composed for the programme by Roberto Gerhard, with special effects by the B.B.C. Radiophonic Workshop", first broadcast 17 May 1964.

The Tower (1964)

Her papers contain a letter from Martin Esslin, Head of Drama (Sound), to Desmond Briscoe dated 30th June 1964:

I have just been listening to the playback of the completed version of "THE TOWER" and should like to express my deep appreciation for the excellent work done on this production by Delia Derbyshire and John Harrison. This play set them an extremely difficult task and they rose to the challenge with a degree of imaginative intuition and technical mastery which deserves the highest admiration and which will inevitably earn a lion's share of any success the production may eventually achieve. I only wish that it were possible for the names of contributors of this calibre to be mentioned in the credits in the Radio Times and on the air. But failing this I should like to register the fact that I regard their contribution to this production as being at least of equal importance to that of the producer himself.

Four Inventions for Radio

Working title: "Mid-Century Attitudes" by Barry Bermange, produced by David Thomson.
"Her collaborations with the poet and dramatist Barry Bermange for the Third Programme showed her at her elegant best."
   -- Brian Hodgson
They are listed in the article on Barry Bermange.

Radio Times entries for three of them, probably from Spring 1975, say:
10.15 The Dreams (/Amor Dei /The Afterlife)
The first (/second /third) of three Inventions for radio by Barry Bermange, in collaboration with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. More than ten years have elapsed since these ‘re-creations in sounds and voices’ were first broadcast. They introduced a fresh genre to the medium and remain classics of radio technique.

Invention for Radio No. 1: The Dreams (1964)

A version labelled "TX (Third) 5.1.1964" doesn't have the third movement and has shorter, less elaborate versions of the other four.
One source says "Amor Dei was one of the 4 Inventions for Radio along with The Dreams. I know the BBC did a transcription set of 2 discs for worldwide spreading to India, Canada, etc--all our colonies as of then. The versions are 25-30 min edits of the long versions."

"This programme of sounds and voices is an attempt to re-create in five movements some sensations of dreaming - running away, falling, landscape, underwater and colour. All the voices were recorded from life (by Barry Bermange) and arranged in a setting of pure electronic sounds." (RT) -Produced by David Thomson.

"Part of the four programme "Inventions for Radio" series, created in collaboration with Barry Bermange, Dreams is a collection of spliced/reassembled interviews with people describing their dreams. Delia's editing and repetition, together with her dissonant, often terrifying musique concrete soundbeds, make this distinctly uneasy bedtime listening. The entire piece is 45 minutes in length."

It also gets called "Within Dreams".
Broadcast 5 Jan 1964 on the Third Programme and 21:45-22:45 19 Oct 1993 on BBC Radio 3.

Invention for Radio No. 2: Amor Dei: A Vision of God (1964)

"A second invention for radio by Barry Bermange, in collaboration with the B.B.C.'s Radiophonic Workshop, with talk recorded in co-operation with the Old People's Welfare Council, Hornsey. Producer: David Thomson. An attempt to describe God in human terms, and to create, in the manner of a religious painting, an overall impression of man's love for Him. The voices were recorded from life and arranged by the author in a setting of radiophonic sound. Plainsong Antiphon John Hahessy (boy soprano) - unacc. 16-Nov-1964."
   -- Nigel Deacon

Barry Bermange's drawing of a gothic altar piece "When I was doing the Inventions with Barry Bermange he wanted sounds which would sound like a Gothic altarpiece. 'Oh,' I said, 'yes. What a good idea. But what do you really mean? What sort of sounds?' He said 'Well, give me a pencil and paper'. I did, and with great care and elaboration he drew me a beautiful Gothic altarpiece and said 'That's the sort of sound I want'."

"Barry Bermange said that he himself thought of Amor Dei as ‘rather in the manner of a Renaissance painting with the believers in God in the foreground or centre and half-hidden disbelievers looking out from shadowy places round the edge of the painting.’
He has made this programme in four sections. In the first you will hear several thoughtful voices groping towards God, feeling their way into something undefined. In the second, some more assured voices cite concrete images; a defined notion of God begins to emerge. The third is a contest between those who love God and those who cannot believe in Him. The assured and confident voices in the last section are inspired by absolute faith."
   -- David Thomson in the Radio Times, 1965.

A shortened version was played in the Unit Delta Plus Concert of Electronic Music at the Watermill Theatre, Bagnor on the 10th September 1966.

The British Library Sound Archive has a recording of this, with catalogue number T1604R BD 1, which can be heard for free by going to the British Library in London.
Broadcast by the BBC Third Programme on 16 November 1964, repeated on December 5th.


Invention for Radio No. 3: The Afterlife (1965)

"The third in a cycle of inventions for radio by Barry Bermange, in collaboration with the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop. Produced by David Thomson. "This programme is an attempt to reconstruct in sound the spiritualistic vision of Death and Eternity. It is conceived as a dream of Death. Using the montage process of his earlier programmes, 'The Dreams' and 'Amor Dei', the author has arranged in settings of electronic sound a collection of voices recorded from life. There are four movements." Radio Times. "Actuality" voices recorded in co-operation with the Old People's Welfare Council, Hornsey. 1-Apr-1965."
   -- Nigel Deacon
Broadcast 1 April 1965.

Invention for Radio No. 4: The Evenings of Certain Lives (1965)

"A fourth invention for radio by Barry Bermange in collaboration with the B.B.C.'s Radiophonic Workshop. An attempt to reconstruct with sounds and voices some of the hazards of growing old."
"The programme is about life at a certain age, not at the extreme point when people ‘just give up and wait’ but, perhaps more poignantly, at the point where old age begins and the body just won't work like it used to and the eyes just won't see, the ears just won't hear, and the memory of what you were is dim.
The Evenings of Certain Lives is about the sense of isolation. And the private agony."
   -- The Radio Times, 1965.
There is a ten-minute extract of "The Evenings" on one of the tapes from Delia's attic, of which two clips were broadcast in the "Sculptress of Sound" radio programme.
Broadcast 9 and/or 15 September 1965 on the Third programme.

Two old people looking at you ruefully

The Business of Good Government (1965)

Her papers contain a leaflet for a Theatre 62's production of John Arden's play "The Business of Good Government" with sound by Unit Delta Plus, in which she is credited with composing the soundscore.
It was performed at the Parish Church of Assisi, West Wickham, Kent on Thurday 16th, Friday 17th and Saturday 18th December, which correspond in 1965.

The BBC made a radio adaption of the play which was broadcast on 16th December 1964, though there is no evidence that Delia had any involvement with that.


Ape and Essence

There are two sides of manuscript in her papers for a piece called "Ape", which is probably "Ape and Essence", a TV version of Aldous Huxley's novel of the same name in the TV series "The Wednesday Play", series 1, programme 61, broadcast 18th May 1966. Delia seems to have reused the music for the Brighton Festival in 1967.

A New View of Politics (1966) (0:40)

"devastatingly effective (and perfect for the optimism of early BBC2, for whom the piece was written)".
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000
The programme, an interview with Jo Grimond on the reasons for his resignation from the leadership of the Liberal Party, was broadcast on 5 Feb 1967.
Released on "BBC Radiophonic Workshop 21" by BBC Records & Tapes, REC354 (1979)

Praying robots screenshot from The Prophet

Ziwzih Ziwzih OO-OO-OO (1966) (1:44)

"written as theme for an episode of "Out of the Unknown" based around an Isaac Asimov story in which automata rebel against humans and worship God in an energy converter"
   -- Ian Burdon
"based around a resplicing of "Science and Health", is her most terrifying moment, tumbling into a nightmare, the sound of childhood at its most chilling."
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000
"Most of the programs that I did were either in the far distant future, the far distant past or in the mind. I think this was the climax of a science fiction play called "The Prophet". It ended up with all these robots and they sang a song of praise to this bloke, presumably the prophet, and this was the song they sang. It is difficult to pronounce because it's made from backwards chanting and I think if you play it forwards it would say something like "Praise to the master, his wisdom and his reason" and I just chose the best bits and "Ziwzih Ziwzih", "his wiz, his wiz": it's that backwards. And I must say that the Oo-oo-oo is electronic! I think it was at the same time as one of the Beatles' songs, "Please please me", and so that was like, I think, er, Drew said he thought it sounded medieval. Well that was because it was like a new religion and they'd go back to square one and the perfect fifth as the greeks did. And so my oo-oo-oo's were done on the Wobbulator. "
   -- Delia in the Radio Scotland interview
"I did the music for the whole programme. It was probably in the mid '60s. [...] I never watched the stuff. I had a script, that's all. The actors, I got them to chant. The words they were singing were, "Praise to the master, his wisdom and his [reason]" [...] I turned it backwards first, then chose the best bits that sounded good backwards and would fit into a rhythm, and then speed-changed the voices. Then I used just this one bar repeated which had [previously] been rejected from a science and health program for being too lascivious for the schoolchildren. It was like a science program... it was supposed to be about sex, but under another name. And then the producer had the nerve to turn down my music, saying it was too lascivious. It was just twangy things with electronic pick-ups, and I just used a single note and then did little glissandos on it and pitched it and treated it. But the 'Ooh-ooh-ooh' isn't me... that's wobbulator, pure wobbulator. That's a piece of test equipment that does wave sweeps."
   -- Delia, in the Surface interview, December 1999
"the voices are reversed but actually say "Praise to the Master/His Wisdom and His Reason/Praise to the Master/Forever and OO-OO-OO-OO/His Wis.../His Wis.../OO-OO-OO-OO/"."
   -- Peter Marsh, BBC
An image of the Radio Times lists the TV programme as "Out of the Unknown: The Prophet, from Reason by Isaac Asimov" for BBC-2 on Sunday 1st January at 10.05 but the year is missing. An analysis of the BBC Programme Catalogue for the series suggests that was a 1 Jan 1967 retransmission of the 29 Dec 1966 episode.
Released on 10" vinyl "Music from The BBC Radiophonic Workshop" by Rephlex as CAT147LP (2003)
Released on vinyl "BBC Radiophonic Music" by BBC Records as REC25M (1971 and 19 May 2003) and on CD as REC25MCD (26 November 2002)

Spin (April 1966)

From 22 to 30 April 1966 she worked on sound for a Proctor & Gamble TV advertisement for washing powder. The script, dated 20th April 1966, calls the piece "Outer space".

Moogies Bloogies (1966?) (3:26)

"An unreleased perv-pop classic in the 1966 novelty vein, recorded with Anthony Newley. The future Mr Joan Collins was after an electronic backing track and called in Delia.
It was played at the Unit Delta Plus Concert of Electronic Music, 10th September 1966, then went unheard until 2001.
"This electronic pop song is sung by Anthony Newley who also wrote the words. The piece is composed in a traditional musical way with melody, rhythm and harmony, and the musical parameters are all totally predetermined. The sources of sound are simple sine tones."
   -- from the concert programme
"The late Anthony Newley told his label that he wanted to do something electronic. So they got on to me. So I produced this bloopy track and he loved it so much he double-tracked his voice and he used my little tune.
  The winking knees in the rain, and their mini-skirts. I'd done it as a lovely little innocent love song, because he said to me that the only songs are, "I love you, I love you" or songs saying "you've gone, you've gone."
  I'd written this beautiful little innocent tune, all sensitive love and innocence, and he made it into a dirty old raincoat song. But he was really chuffed! Joan and Jackie Collins dropped him off in a limousine at my lovely little flat above a flower shop, and he said "If you can write songs like this, I'll get you out of this place"! It was only a single-track demo tape. So he rang up his record company saying "We want to move to a multi-track studio". Unfortunately the boss of the record company was on holiday, and by the time he returned Anthony Newley had gone to America with Joan Collins, so it was never released.
   -- Delia, in the Surface interview
"Delia was initially disappointed with the recording, but as the years passed she became exceptionally fond of it."

Unit Delta Plus Concert of Electronic Music (10 September 1966)

"Delia became involved in an early electronic music concert at the New Mill Theatre in Newbury that also featured a pioneering light projection show by Hornsey College of Art and magnetic sculptures by Paul Takis."
   -- Brian Hodgson
"We had an evening of electronic music and light effects. The music was indoors, in a theatre setting, with a screen on which were projected light shows done by lecturers from the Hornsey College of Art. It was billed as the first concert of British electronic music; that was a bit presumptuous! John Betjeman was there... he sat in the front row and went to sleep... it was quite a social occasion."
   -- Delia, quoted in Fibreoptic flowers

They put on the Unit Delta Plus Concert of Electronic Music at the Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, near Newbury on the 10th September 1966, featuring:

  • Amor Dei, 15 mins (see above)
  • Moogies Bloogies, 15 mins (see above)
    This was Moogies Bloogies' first and perhaps only public airing until 2001.
  • Pot-pourri, 5 mins
    "Each of the short sections was composed as a piece of introductory music for the BBC, with similar rhythms, melodic intervals and sound qualities."
       -- from the concert programme
  • Random Together 1, 20 mins
    With Peter Zinovieff. "The piece is in three parts. The first and last will have light projection by Hornsey College of Art. The middle section will be heard in darkness and musically is derived from the other two sections. A limited number of sounds was chosen in each section and their order and coincidence were selected randomly. It was determined beforehand what the results of any such combinations might be. The levels of reverberation, the rise and fall times, and the mixing of a large number of these sounds, as well as their being recorded on one or more tracks, werre also determined by probabilistic methods. The different quality of the first and last sections is due to the difference in pitch of the tones initially chosen and the probabilistic selection of time intervals, loudnesses and switching from track to track. In this way the spatial structure is also varied. This will be especially apparent in the transition between the central section and the last section where the sound will appear from several different directions. The central section is the only one which is musically self-sufficient. The other two were composed with light projection in mind.
       -- from the concert programme
Scanned images of the concert program are available at
Unit Delta Plus logo

Unit Delta Plus letterhead

Banks of synthesizers at Unit Delta Plus studio 1966 Unit Delta Plus studio, 1966

On The Level (1966)

With Unit Delta Plus she created sounds for Ron Grainer's second play "On The Level", a musical performed at The Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool.
   -- Brian Hodgson's obituary
In her papers there is a list of 19 sequences lasting a total of 15:18 and a list of 67½ man-hours spent on it by Unit Delta Plus between 6th August 1965 and 18th February 1966.

Way Out in Piccadilly (1:52) (October 1966), also known as Way Out

"Now let us go back to the last fifties, early sixties. Dave Brubeck had done "Take Five" and in '61 he'd done "It's a Raggy Waltz" so - that was in seven time - so I thought "Fine! I'm into the numbers game. I'll do eleven time and thirteen time", continuing the series of prime numbers. But unfortunately that style, I was told, was "too sophisticated for the BBC2 audience" and so, as I was doing it, the choreographer Vin Davis [sp?] happened to be walking down the corridor and his feet started tapping and he said "I want that!" and I said "No, you can't! I've done it for the BBC." And so he implored me to do something in the same style, in eleven time and thirteen time, for his dance group, which I did. In fact it was the Frankie Howerd and Cilla Black show it was originally done for, but it had to be scrapped from that because they did the stupid thing of putting this rather delicate music as an opener to the second act. [...] A friend told me that by one means or another it ended up as a backing for a deodorant commercial on television which is something of course we were absolutely forbidden to do but it was nothing of my doing. It was rejected by BBC2 and there it was on the commercial."
   -- Delia in the BBC Radio Scotland interview. Released on vinyl as Standard Music Library ESL104 (1969).
Released without "London Lemons" on CD and vinyl as "The Tomorrow People: Original television music" (JBH017CD and JBH017LP, Trunk Records, April 2006), available with audio samples at Movie Grooves ().
'A Million Volt Light-Sound Rave' concert poster

Million Volt Light-Sound Rave (1966)

A tape of Unit Delta Plus music was also performed at the Beatles-powered Million Volt Sound Rave, 28 Jan and 4th Feb 1967 at London's Roundhouse in Chalk Farm Road.

"In 1966 she worked with Paul McCartney and George Harrison at an event called "The Carnival of Light" at the Chalk Farm Roundhouse."
   -- The Times obituary, cited by Clive Blackburn

Her papers contain a newspaper clipping which reads:

Trendy Beatle
BEATLE Paul McCartney has prepared a tape of electronic noises--known as music in some circles--for use at a “carnival of light” at Centre 42's Round House next month.
   Carnival of light? This is a new art form combining sound with light coming mostly from 15 automatic projectors playing onto 60ft-high screens, which changes colour according to the sound.
   There will be another five projectors developed from a Russian invention, whch create patterns, blending and blurring vividly coloured shapes. They will be hand-operated by artists and designers David Vaughan, Douglas Binder and Dudley Edwards, the three men behind this form of entertainment.
   The occasion threatens to be one of those eye-dazzling ear-splitting affairs that the trendy have already dubbed “psychedelic son et lumiere.”


Brighton Festival (1967)

She has mentioned doing work for the Brighton Festival, and in her papers are a letter dated Dec 13th 1966 and a draft programme from Clive Latimor of Hornsey College of Art, dated November 10th, 1966:

K.4 (Kinetic four dimensional
Brighton Festival: West Pier: April 14th - 30th

The advanced Studies Group of Hornsey College of Art initiates experiments
in kinetic/audio/visual environments collectively titled K.4.

Assisted by staff and students of Fine Art, Visual Research, Three
Dimensional Design, Post Diploma and Film and Television Departments, the
following features are presented:

Kinetic Arena
A white elliptical cyclorama 60' x 80' together with the white painters lattice
girder roof creates a large audio/visual environment.  This will be programmed
with continuously developing moving images by 10 high powered (2kw and 5kw)
automatic projectors.  An arrangement of 30 loudspeakers will provide three
dimensional sound.  From Monday to Friday, from 8 until midnight, for the two
weeks of the Festival the arena will function as a discotheque.  On the opening
night and the three following weekends special audio/visual kinetic performances
will be presented.  In addition to LIGHT/SOUND WORKSHOP performances which
include special slide projection techniques we hope to have performances by
Bruce Lacey with his robots and by Pink Floyd Sound.
Kinetic Labyrinth
Whilst the Arena aim to create a spacious environment for the social
activity of a large group the Labyrinth aims to provide a more enclosed and
personal experience.
    The Labyrinth is a means of presenting the work of a number of British and
foreign kinetic artists together with environments created by LIGHT/SOUND
[...] The environments will have a number of walls which are
transparent projection screens of Perspex and other materials. Colours and
imaged will be programmed on to these together with appropriate sounds tracks.
There is a also a set of her notes on the back of a flyer dated Tuesday, 28th March (1967) in which she lists ten of her pieces for the event:

Chromophone Band (1:56)

"written by Dudley Simpson and realised by Delia. It isn't a classic Delia moment by any means [. . .] it sounds rather end-of-pier [. . .] although a distinctive DD rhythm track redeems it somewhat."
Released on "Doctor Who Volume 1: The Early Years 1963-1969" (BBC Music WMSF 6023-2)

Philips (February 1967)

In her papers is a group of papers collectively called "Philips" done with Unit Delta Plus, 3.2.67, with notes, score fragments and tape labels. ICI fibres - RCA designs

Music for ICI Fashion Show (April 1967)

"She even recorded a score for an ICI-sponsored student fashion show, which was the first in the world to use electronic music."
   -- Brian Hodgson
The concert programme described it as "A presentation of menswear styles in bri-nylon, terylene and crimplene designed and made up by students of the Fashion School of the Royal College of Art" on 6th April 1967.
The music is included in the Attic Tapes and is a collage of her other pieces, artfully blended and reworked to transition from one to the next.

Happy Birthday (0:24)

Delia's joyful 24-second reworking of the classic "Happy Birthday To You" theme.

Released on 10" vinyl "Music from The BBC Radiophonic Workshop" by Rephlex as CAT147LP (2003)
Included in CD "BBC Radiophonic Music" by BBC Records as REC25MCD (26 November 2002)

Towards Tomorrow (1967) (1:11)

"perfect subversion of a classic brave-new-world dynamism phrase. The "tomorrow" I imagine here is the antithesis of that which the BBC in the 60s made much play of promoting to its audience; instead, it could easily be some kind of dystopia, a state of decay or de-evolution."
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000
The TV series for which it was written was first broadcast 7 December 1967.
Released on 10" vinyl "Music from The BBC Radiophonic Workshop" by Rephlex as CAT147LP (2003)
Released on vinyl "BBC Radiophonic Music" by BBC Records as REC25M (1971 and 19 May 2003) and on CD as REC25MCD (26 November 2002)

Blue Veils and Golden Sands (1967) (3:25)

"This was a documentary program about the Tuareg tribe. The Tuareg tribe are nomads in the Sahara desert and I think they live by bartering, taking salt, I think it was, across the desert. In the piece, the extract you're going to hear, I tried to convey the distance of the horizon and the heat haze and then there's this very high, slow reedy sound. That indicates the strand of camels seen at a distance, wandering across the desert. That in fact was made from square waves on the valve oscillators we've just talked about, but square waves put though every filter I could possibly find to take out all the bass frequencies and so one just hears the very high frequencies. It had to be something out of this world."
   -- Delia in the Radio Scotland interview
"mostly created using electronic oscillators - severely high-pass filtered - to give the "shimmering heat haze" backdrop to the Tuareg tribesmen weaving slowly across the screen of a period documentary. Delia has since referred to the piece as including her "castrated oboe", but the only non-electronic source really recorded is her voice, cut up and re-pieced."
"phenomenally atmospheric; such is its surround-sound quality that it totally transcends the narrow constraints of simply coming from my speakers, instead filling the room, my consciousness, the air itself. And yet virtually nothing happens..."
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000
"Among her outstanding television work, one of her favourites was composed for a documentary for The World About Us on the Tuareg people of the Sahara desert. It still haunts me. She used her own voice for the sound of the hooves, cut up into an obbligato rhythm, and she added a thin, high electronic sound using virtually all the filters and oscillators in the workshop.
Coolicon Utility Lighting Shade (light green) "My most beautiful sound at the time was a tatty green BBC lampshade," she recalled. "It was the wrong colour, but it had a beautiful ringing sound to it. I hit the lampshade, recorded that, faded it up into the ringing part without the percussive start.
"I analysed the sound into all of its partials and frequencies, and took the 12 strongest, and reconstructed the sound on the workshop's famous 12 oscillators to give a whooshing sound. So the camels rode off into the sunset with my voice in their hooves and a green lampshade on their backs.
   -- Brian Hodgson's Guardian obituary
Few could disagree with Delia's own remark on recently hearing Blue Veils: "Doesn't it just melt you!"
The lampshade in question is the Coolicon Utility Lighting Shade, British Patent No 419602, Registered Design No 777912; they sometimes appear for sale on ebay.
Released on 10" vinyl "Music from The BBC Radiophonic Workshop" by Rephlex as CAT147LP (2003)
Released on vinyl "BBC Radiophonic Music" by BBC Records as REC25M (1971 and 19 May 2003) and on CD as REC25MCD (26 November 2002)
Released on "Doctor Who Volume 2: New Beginnings"

Music for RSC "Macbeth" (1967)

With Unit Delta Plus she worked on Guy Woolfenden's electronic score for Peter Hall's 1967 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon with Paul Scofield as Macbeth.
   -- Brian Hodgson

The play opened on the 15th August 1967 and the theatre programme says "Music by: Guy Woolfenden and Unit Delta Plus Electronic Music" and "Act One is about 1 hour; Act Two is about 80 minutes."

The Royal Shakespears Company's 1967 Macbeth theatre programme cover

Esso advert "Tiger talks" (September 1967)

Her papers contain notes, script and a telegram dated 15 Sep 67 for an Esso TV advert in wihch a tiger talks with a man operating the lift at Esso headquarters. It is not know whether this was ever realised.

Music for "Wrapping Event" (1967/68)

At Kaleidophon, she did the sound track for the film "Wrapping Piece" for Yoko Ono Productions.

"I did a film soundtrack for Yoko Ono, while she slept on my floor. [. . .] It would be '67 or '68. It was about the same time that she met John Lennon [. . .] So yes, she did her Bottoms film. And we did the soundtrack for the shorter film, which was the wrapping of the lions in Trafalgar Square, which was a happening."
   -- Delia, in the Surface interview

The film was shown at the ICA in London in 2004 but the film had no soundtrack and "A friend at the ICA asked the curator of the exhibition and film festival, someone with an exhaustive knowledge of Yoko Ono's work, who said that he had no knowledge of a film of the Wrapping Event with an existing soundtrack."


Door to Door (0:30)

"Shows that she could also do the upbeat promotional thing well; the rings and knocks are worked perfectly into the perfect 60s advertising campaign soundtrack."
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000
"reduced her to fits of giggles when played during a BBC Radio Scotland interview"
"Well, I think that's really at the more trivial end of what I did. Yes, isn't it jolly?"
   -- Delia in the Radio Scotland interview
Released on 10" vinyl "Music from The BBC Radiophonic Workshop" by Rephlex as CAT147LP (2003)
Released on vinyl "BBC Radiophonic Music" by BBC Records as REC25M (1971 and 19 May 2003) and on CD as REC25MCD (26 November 2002)

Mattachin (1968?) (1:06)

"a fine reworking / extension of the structure of her "Talk Out"."
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000

Delia says in the 1977 BBC Radio Scotland interview that she hadn't heard it since 1968.
Released on 10" vinyl "Music from The BBC Radiophonic Workshop" by Rephlex as CAT147LP (2003)
Released on vinyl "BBC Radiophonic Music" by BBC Records as REC25M (1971 and 19 May 2003) and on CD as REC25MC (26 November 2002)

Pot au Feu (1968?) (3:13)

"angular robot jazz crammed with incident"
   -- Peter Marsh
"the real masterpiece is "Pot Au Feu". This is three minutes and nineteen seconds of paranoia, virtually a rave track circa 1991 in its structure; a stattering, pounding teleprinter-paced bassline worthy of Timbaland as the tension builds, then a moment of chaos and crisis, an alarm-bell of a hook recalling the "panic / excitement" lines so prevalent in early 90s hardcore."
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000
"A pounding, fantastically rhythmical track - it's unsettling enough to have a speedfreak running to get the breadknives in the kitchen"
Released on 10" vinyl "Music from The BBC Radiophonic Workshop" by Rephlex as CAT147LP (2003)
Released on vinyl "BBC Radiophonic Music" by BBC Records as REC25M (1971 and 19 May 2003) and on CD as REC25MCD (26 November 2002)

A colourful logo for 'Who Is' from her papers

Who Is (1968)

At Kaleidophon she produced electronic title music for Who Is, "a four-country, thirteen-programme, colour-TV series".
In her papers there are production notes and abstract scores for a series signature for Allan King Associates (Toronto) produced by Roger Graaf and directed by Paul Davies, Denis Postle and Dick Fontaine.
One of her Who Is papers is headed "N.U.".

Bring Back (1968)

Her papers contain notes for a piece "Bring Back", dated the 9th April 1968.

The Living World (1968) (TRW 6886)

In July-Sep 1968, she created two potential signature tunes for "The Living World", a television series produced by Robina Gyle-Thompson, both of which were rejected by the programme's maker John Sparks in August in favour of a "jazz theme".

The Naked Sun (1968) (TRW 6891)

The BBC series "Out Of The Unknown" produced Isaac Asimov's "The Naked Sun" directed by Rudolph Carter, for which Delia produced music sequences throughout. It was filmed 23rd-26th July 1968 with studio recording on the 8th and 9th August and shown on BBC2 on 18th February 1969.

According to the Internet Movie Database, "This episode was wiped by the BBC and no copy of it is known to exist."

Her papers contain the full script for the episode with her notes for the creation of musical sequences and sound effects.

In 1976, three tracks from this work were renamed by BBC Records as "Heat Haze (0:58)", "Frozen Waste (1:18)" and "Icy Peak (0:44)" and issued by the BBC on an album of sound effects.
Released as tracks 48, 50 and 51 of "Out Of This World: Atmospheric Sound Effects from the Radiophonic Workshop" by BBC Records & Tapes REC255 (1976).
Re-released as track 56, 58 and 59 of "Essential Science Fiction Sound Effects, vol. 2" on audio cassette as BBC 855 (1993) and on CD as BBC CD855.

Le Pont Mirabeau (August 1968)

Delia's papers contain the complete typeset score for her musical setting of Apollinaire's poem of the same name. It consists of two verses with a chorus after each verse.

recreated using LilyPond.

According to James Percival: 'it appears [to have been] written for a 1968 Schools Radio programme about Cubism in the series "Art and Design" [...] There is an off-air recording of most of this programme in the Manchester collection (DD263), and in Delia's realisation of Le Pont Mirabeau it's sung by White Noise vocalist John Whitman. The programme was written and narrated by Edward Lucie-Smith.'

The Coloured Wall (1968)

At Kaleidophon she made electronic music for 'the coloured wall' for the Association of Electrical Engineers.

An Electric Storm (as "The White Noise") (1968)

"I think my forte is, well, apart from having an analytical mind to do electronic sound, at the opposite end I'm very good at writing extended melody for which there was not really an opening at the BBC. And so I met this guy, I was giving a lecture at Morley College in London and he came up to me afterwards. He played the double bass, the same as I did, and he was already doing tracks for the Ballet Rambert and we got together and started this album."
   -- Delia in the BBC Radio Scotland interview.
"Many sounds have never been heard - by humans. Some soundwaves you don't hear - but they reach you. 'Storm-Stereo' techniques combine singers, instrumentalists and complex electronic sound. Welcome to the world of the Frequency Shifter, Signal Generator and Azimuth Co-ordinator. A world that existed before the dawn of the synthesizer, when a 'sample' was a length of recording-tape delicately and skillfully spliced in place."
   -- So begins the sleeve-note introduction

  • David Vorhaus: Production coordinator, tape effects, electronics, special stereo effects
  • Delia Derbyshire, Brian Hodgson: Electronic sound realisation
  • Paul Lytton: Percussion
  • John Whitnam, Annie Bird, Val Shaw: Vocals

Track list (the track times in square brackets are those stated on the sleeves):

  1. Love Without Sound (2:57 on vinyl, 2:55 on CD)
    "Co-written with Delia Derbyshire"
       -- CapitolHill
  2. My Game of Loving (3:38 on vinyl, 4:07 on CD)
  3. Here Come the Fleas (2:31 on vinyl sleeve, 2:11 on CD) Lyrics
  4. Firebird (2:43 on vinyl, 3:00 on CD)
    "Co-written with Delia Derbyshire"
       -- CapitolHill
  5. Your Hidden Dreams (4:25 on vinyl, 4:53 on CD)
  6. The Visitation (11:45 on vinyl, 11:12 on CD)
  7. The Black Mass: An Electric Storm in Hell (7:04 on vinyl, 7:20 on CD)
    "Someone said [this] was the most frightening thing they had ever heard. ... From the moment it started it made my scalp tickle, and the long, slow descent into screams and cries can even make someone listening to it stone-cold sober think they really had seen a glimpse of Hell!".
       -- sarah16907 reviewing on
    "Ein apokalypischer Jam."
       -- kk
    "We got through about three quarters of the album in a year and then we got an abrupt letter from them [Island records] saying that unless we receive this album within ten days they were going to take action to recover the money advanced. Right! We'll give it to you in a day! We'll finish it tonight! So the last track using half of the second side we mutually didn't want to make. I just put together a drum loop and got a friend of mine Paul Lytton [to] come and play drums to the loop to pull the whole thing out and this became the Hell track and we just got every freaky, nasty sound we could find and started screaming our heads off over the top and tearing people to bits. We delivered it the next day and there you have it."
       -- David Vorhaus in the Macdonald interview
Parts of The Black Mass are played during the invocation scene in the film "Dracula AD 1972".

More details on the web page
Released on vinyl 1968, Island Records, Cat: 510 948-2.
Released on vinyl 1969, Island Records, Cat: ILPS9099.
Released on CD, 28 July 1992 by Island Records.
Released on CD, 28 Dec 1999 by Polygram Int'l.
"has, I believe, been reissued in Sweden of late"
   -- the BBC Radio Scotland interview

Copy of master tape labels for An Electric Storm cover by The Whilte Noise
Copy of master tape labels

An Electric Storm cover, 1968
Cover, 1968 edition

An Electric Storm cover, 1969
Cover, 1969 edition

An Electric Storm back cover
Back of 1969 edition

An Electric Storm label
Label, 1969 edition

An Electric Storm CD inlay, 2007
CD reissue, 2007

Work is a four letter word poster

Music for "Work Is A Four-Letter Work" (1967, pub. 1968)

"I also did the music for Peter Hall's first feature film, Work is a Four Letter Word. I did the electronic part of the music... the bloopy bits when they'd taken the magic mushrooms." (see Delia's Theme above)
   -- Delia, in the Surface interview, Dec 1999
"[Delia's Theme from ESL104] was used for the Cilla Black driven British '60s classic Work is a Four Letter Word. Cilla (surprise, surprise) takes a lorra Magic Mushrooms, accompanied by Delia's music, and generally plays the working class (contraceptive) pill popping girl of her Swingin' times. Groovy, Fab and Gear."
Delia's papers include a note dated 1st January 1968 in which she writes that it was delightful to work on but did not cover the costs of the studio, resulting in a paper loss of £250.
Available on DVD or VHS from The Video Beat.

Clothes (December 1968)

Her papers contain a manuscript for a piece called "Clothes [S8]", dated 22.12.68.


Peter Logan's Mechanical Ballet programme

Mechanical Ballet (March 1969)

With Kaleidophon, she did the music and effects for Peter Logan's "experiments towards Mechanical Ballet", performed at the New Art Centre, 41 Sloane Street, London from the 3rd to the 9th of March 1969.
   -- Kirsten Cubitt's article "Dial a Tune" in The Guardian, 3 September 1970.

Environmental Studies (1969) (0:30)

There are two versions of this in circulation; one with attack on the bell hits and one with the attack removed.
Released on "BBC Radiophonic Workshop 21" by BBC Records & Tapes, REC354 (1979)

Chronicle (1969) (0:22)

Released on "BBC Radiophonic Workshop 21" by BBC Records & Tapes, REC354 (1979)

John Peel presents Top Gear record cover

John Peel's Voice (1969) (2:20)

Treated by Delia and Brian Hodgson. This snippet is a treat for a compilation album of songs by different artists.
Released on John Peel Presents Top Gear, BBC: REC52S (1969)

Great Zoos of the World (1969) (0:36)

"When asked to "make some TV title music using only animal sounds" - much thought and ingenuity resulted in Great Zoos of the World."
"including the most accurate set of animal noises ever created electronically."
   -- Robin Carmody, 11th July / 16th October 2000
Released on "BBC Radiophonic Workshop 21" by BBC Records & Tapes, REC354 (1979)

Standard Music Library ESL104 album cover
Cover, 1969 edition
The Tomorrow People album cover
Cover, 2006 edition

Standard Music Library ESL104 (1969)

"Recorded while Delia was still employed at the Radiophonic Workshop and working on the White Noise LP. [...] originally released under the pseudonym Russe (a.k.a. Li De la Russe - or "Of the Red" - a reference to her auburn red hair) also features work from David Vorhaus and Brian Hodgson (aka St. George - he was also still under contract to the Beeb!)"
This rare mono record was used extensively to provide the music for the '70s television series "The Tomorrow People".

Released on vinyl as Standard Music Library ESL104 (1969).
Released without "London Lemons" on CD and vinyl as "The Tomorrow People: Original television music" (JBH017CD and JBH017LP, Trunk Records, April 2006), available with audio samples at Movie Grooves ().

Hamlet (1969)

Brian Hodgson mentioned that they had done music for Tony Richardson's Hamlet, performed at London's Roundhouse and featuring Nicol Williamson as Hamlet.
   -- Brian Hodgson's obituary
A short sample is included in the BBC News article "Lost Tapes of the Dr Who composer"


The Bagman or The Impromptu of Muswell Hill by John Arden - BBC Radio

The Bagman (1970)

Delia produced electronic music and effects for the BBC's 1970 production of "The Bagman or The Impromptu of Muswell Hill", a radio play by John Arden, directed by Martin Esslin. The play is one hour and 28 minutes in length and is decribed as a "Witty Fable" and a "modern version of Molière's Versailles Impromptu" at

A note in her papers says that "The Bagman" was entered by the BBC for the Italia Prize 1970 and that she was scheduled to receive 20% of the prize money if the play should win.
First broadcast on Radio 3 in 1970.
Broadcast as "The Monday Play" on BBC Radio 4 on 31st January 1977.

It can be downloaded from

Phantoms of Darkness

In 1976, a 1:05 clip from The Bagman was renamed "Phantoms of Darkness" and issued by the BBC on an album of sound effects.
Released as track 31 of "Out Of This World: Atmospheric Sound Effects from the Radiophonic Workshop" by BBC Records & Tapes REC255 (1976).
Re-released as track 39 of "Essential Science Fiction Sound Effects, vol. 2" on audio cassette as BBC 855 (1993) and on CD as BBC CD855.


At Kaleidophon, she produced music for David Thomson's production of Euripides' play "Medea" which opened at the Greenwich Theatre on April 14 (of which year?)
   -- Kirsten Cubitt's article "Dial a Tune" in The Guardian, 3 September 1970.

Music for Robert Lowell documentary film (1970)

The Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music's list of her works includes "Robert Lowell, documentary film score (1970)" and the index of her tapes has "DD045/52/51: Lowell 1/2/3 and DD178: Last installment of electronic sound for Robert Lowell Film".

Robert Lowell was a Pulitzer prize-winning American poet who lived and lectured in England from 1970 to 1975.

Poets in Prison (Jan-July 1970)

In summer of 1970, with Kaleidophon, "Edward Lucie Smith, who had worked with Delia on a schools radio programme, asked her to set some verse for an evening called "Poets in Prison" at the City of London Festival."
   -- Kirsten Cubitt's article "Dial a Tune" in The Guardian, 3 September 1970.
Her papers include many of the poems in question as well as some manuscripts for the music. She was sent the first batch of poems on 30th January 1970 and was paid on the 21st/24th July.

EMS LP1 cover
EMS LP 1 sleeve

Music of Spheres (1970) (1:32)

"Music for 'I measured the skies', a BBC2 biography of Johann Kepler."
"I could not have been more pleased with the results. I thought I might be asking for the impossible, to restrict Delia's musical talents within the constraints of what had already been established. [...] His primitive ideas on 'The Harmony of the Spheres' were realized with incredible sensitivity and emotive power by Delia's music. Please pass on my sincere thanks and admiration."
   -- Note from John Glenister to D. Briscoe, 10 March 1970, in her papers
"While the air-raid sirens and bombing sounds of Delia's youth in wartime Coventry certainly shaped her music, this piece makes that influence explicit. This rare recording has only ever been released on an EMS promotional record."
"I was there [in Coventry] in the blitz and it's come to me, relatively recently, that my love for abstract sounds [came from] the air-raid sirens: that's a sound you hear and you don't know the source of as a young child... then the sound of the "all clear" - that was electronic music."
   -- Delia, in the Boazine interview
First broadcast on 4th November 1970 according to
Released on promotional LP "EMS LP 1" by Zinovieff, circa 1971.

Early Morning (1970/71)

Her papers contain three sheets of her score for a piece called Early Morning; one of the sheets is on the back of the programme for a performance of classical music by the BBC Symphony Orchestra on the 17th of November 1970.


Duffer DVD cover

Duffer (1971)

The sleeve notes for the BFI's DVD release of the 1971 film "Duffer" say that Delia provided sound effects for this film.
Available on DVD from the BFI filmstore, Amazon, MovieMail and

Orpheus (1971)

Her papers contain her annotation to Ted Hughes' script for his play "Orpheus" as well as three VCS3 dope sheets for it.
The Greenwich Macbeth theatre programme

Music for "Macbeth", Greenwich Theatre (1971)

A second score for Macbeth, directed by Ewan Hooper and with Alan Dobie in the lead role, opened at the Greenwich Theatre on the 18th February 1971. The programme merely says “Taped sound by Kaleidophon”.

I.E.E.100 (1971)

For the "Radiophonic Workshop in Concert" event held on the 3rd May 1971 at the Royal Festival Hall in the presence of the Queen to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Institute of Electrical Engineers,

"I began by interpreting the actual letters, I.E.E. one hundred, in two different ways. The first one in a morse code version using the morse for I.E.E.100. This I found extremely dull, rhythmically, and so I decided to use the full stops in between the I and the two E's because full stop has a nice sound to it: it goes di-dah di-dah di-dah."
"I wanted to have, as well as a rhythmic motive, to have musical motive running throughout the whole piece and so I interpreted the letters again into musical terms. 'I' becomes B, the 'E' remains and 100 I've used in the roman form of C."
   -- from recordings used in "Sculptress of Sound"

A copy exists in the tapes from her attic and two short excerpts were broadcast in the the "Sculptress of Sound" documentary on BBC Radio.

Dance from Noah (1971) (0:54)

A short sample of the backing track is included in the BBC News article "Lost Tapes of the Dr Who composer", which is discussed on the Create Digital Music forum.
Released on promotional LP "EMS LP 1" by Zinovieff, circa 1971.
Released on Flexidisc "EMS FLEXI 1" given away with EMS Synthi brochures.
Stereo remix on "BBC Radiophonic Workshop - a Retrospective".

Tutankhamun's Egypt (1971) (2:16)

Music for the series "Tutankhamun's Egypt" written by Cyril Aldred, first broadcast 2 April 1972.
"It's a full-on Delian trip... starting with trumpet calls from a 1939 recording of the silver trumpet found in Tutankhamun's burial chamber, it then enters the mesmerising desert territory Delia mapped out so memorably in Blue Veils & Golden Sands."
"isolationist ambience some 25 years ahead of its time."
   -- Peter Marsh
Released on "The Music of Africa", BBC Record REC130M (1971)

The Music of Africa record sleeve
O Fat White Woman opening title

Music for "O Fat White Woman" (1971)

She did the music for the film "O Fat White Woman" written by William Trevor and directed by Philip Saville, with the following tracks (the names are invented by me):

An alternative analysis of this music identifies and names six themes:
Running time: 80 minutes.
Broadcast by the BBC as Play For Today: 4 November 1971.
Electrosonic KPM1104 record sleeve front

Electrosonic KPM1104 record sleeve reverse

Electrosonic GLOSPOT1104 record sleeve


Electrosonic album (1972)

"Library samples of electronic music for radio, TV and film industry"
All tracks are credited to Harper/Russe/St George.
Harper = Don Harper, Li De La Russe = Delia Derbyshire, Nikki St George = Brian Hodgson.
Read the sleeve notes by John Cavanagh for a loving and entertaining portrait of Delia and the circumstances surrounding the album's creation.
It used to be available from Boa Melody Bar but they only have the T-shirt now.
You can order the vinyl and hear some samples at Boomkat.

Released on vinyl by KPM Music Library as KPM1104 (1972)
Reissued in limited editions of 500 copies on 180gm audiophile green vinyl by Glo-spot as GLOSPOT1104.
Available as a 40MB RAR archive at RapidShare.

Oh Dear What Can The Matter Be (1:18) (1972)

A track from an unreleased Southern Library of Recorded Music record, created under the pseudonym "Doris Haze" (or "Doris Hayes"?), according to Justin Spear on the radio programme Stuart Maconie's "Freak Zone" on Sunday 12 June 2005.

A Southern Library of Music record

Music for "Circle of Light" (30:52) (1972)

This is the electronic soundtrack realised with Elsa Stansfield for the 32-minute film "Circle of Light: The Photography of Pamela Bone" directed by Anthony Roland, which won the Short Film Art Section of the 17th Cork Film Festival in 1972.
The music is a gentle half hour of real and electronic seascapes and birdsong on a evolving background of shaped noise, introduced and signed off by variants of the "lampshade" sound used in Golden Veils.
(The accompanying film is a sequence of wobbly zooms and pans on bleak seaside and woodland photographs, some of them beautiful.)
This is by far the longest surviving single piece of her music.


A computer graphic of a chalice from The Ascent Of Man

Music for "The Ascent of Man: Music of the Spheres" (1973) (2:08)

Delia created a piece as backing music to simple computer graphics for Bronowski's 1973 BBC TV series The Ascent of Man episode 5: "Music of the Spheres".

Cover from Legend of Hell House DVD

Music for "The Legend of Hell House" (1973)

"Brian Hodgson and Delia Derbyshire recorded the music for this 1973 horror movie at Electrophon in London."
One recognisably Delian element in the soundtrack is a rhythmic tamtam backing.
Details at
The musical parts of the film score are available at mediafire.

Music for "Een Van Die Dagen" (1973) (00:30)

According to her entry in the Internet Movie Database, she did the music for the short film "Een van die Dagen" ("One of These Days") written and directed by Else Madelon Hooykaas and Elsa Stansfield.
IMDB dates this film 1974, but Madelon says 1973.
Running time: 30 minutes.


Music for "About Bridges" (1975) (00:22)

Madelon Hooykaas tells me that Delia made the music for a second film by Hooykaas and Stansfield,
The only surviving copy of the music for both of these films is Madelon Hooykaas' copy on half inch tape which will shortly be given for conservation and distribution to the Filmmuseum in Amsterdam.
The films were shown at the CCA in Glasgow on 27th January 2011.


Synchrondipity Machine (an unfinished dream)

In 2001 she returned to sound with Sonic Boom's Experimental Audio Research.

The credits for this track read:

  • Sonic Boom - Editing, mixing & effects inc. SMS tools 0.8 analysis/resynthesis software.
  • Delia Derbyshire - liquid paper sounds generated using fourier synthesis of sound based on photo/pixel info (B2wav - bitmap to sound programme).
Released as track 37 of "Grain" by Dot Dot Dot Music.
Released on "The Electronic Bible - Chapter 1" (White Label Music, WLM 004).
Available here as an MP3 audio download courtesy of Sonic Boom.
Grain album cover

"She was badly treated by the BBC, repeatedly turned down for promotions that should have been hers. Her name was never recognised on recordings of her works because that was BBC policy and, as an employee, she never received a penny in royalties for Dr Who. The money was never the issue with Delia so long as she had enough to live on, but the lack of recognition was."
   -- Clive Blackburn, in the Mail on Sunday article

"Something serious happened around '72, '73, '74: the world went out of tune with itself and the BBC went out of tune with itself... I think, probably, when they had an accountant as director general. I didn't like the music business."
   -- Delia, in the Boazine interview

"I still haven't worked out why I left - self preservation I think."
   -- Delia, in the Hutton interview, 24 Feb 2000

She has also mentioned

and, according to, she is given special thanks on Sonic Boom's albums:

"A number of recordings by Delia Derbyshire and Maddalena Fagandini are available on the Cadenza catalogue at the National Sound Archive Listening Department, at the British Library."
   -- the Hutton interview.

Apart from the Doctor Who Theme and the tracks from the Electric Storm album, the Archive catalogue lists:

Delia died on the 3rd of July 2001 in hospital of liver/kidney failure.

Musical Tributes

Several musical tributes have been made to her:

Biographical Plays

Luisa Prosser as Delia holding a tape

Standing Wave: Delia Derbyshire in the '60s

A theatrical production by Nicola McCartney, based on Delia's life, was put on 7-23 October 2004 at the Tron theatre in Glasgow.

The review site for the production contains a few biographical snippets: "a brief and disastrous marriage to a striking Yorkshire miner" in 1974 when "at only 37, she was beginning the long battle with alcohol and depression that would shadow the remaining three decades of her life."

The prodction was also reviewed in an article on on 25 Sep 2004.

Blue Veils and Golden Sands

A radio play based on her life, written by Martyn Wade, directed by Cherry Cookson and featuring Sonic Boom as himself, was broadcast on BBC Radio 7 on 8 November 2005 and is included on the CD "Doctor Who at the BBC: The Plays", ISBN 18460 70440, from the BBC Radio Collection series.

The cover of the DVD of Kara Blake's film The Delian Mode

The Delian Mode

Kara Blake's half-hour documentary about Delia'a life and work is described in an article in the Montreal Mirror and has its own website.

Video clips

Delia Derbyshire twiddling a knob at the BBC
Delia in a 3.4-second video clip from the BBC's "Alchemists of Sound" (DivX5, 600KB)
If you only have Windows Media Player, use this version (MPEG1, 900KB)

Delia Derbyshire synchronising tape loops
Delia putting Pot au Feu together from tape loops in a
77-second video clip from the BBC's "Alchemists of Sound" (XviD, 9.4MB)
If you only have Windows Media Player, use this version (MPEG1, 8.8MB)

Delia Derbyshire close up with long hair
"[Hardly] anything of it was done in real time. It was done either at half-speed or chopped together from little bits of tape..."
28-second slow-motion video clip from the BBC's "Alchemists of Sound" (XviD, 3.0MB)
If you only have Windows Media Player, use this version (MPEG1, 2.9MB)

Delia Derbyshire explaining waveforms
A 98MB AVI file containing 289.0 seconds of:
Desmond Briscoe talking;
Delia explaining waveforms;
Delia making Pot Au Feu (long version);
Delia talking, with glimpses of John Baker and others.

Delia Derbyshire's tapping feet
A 35 MB AVI file containing only the first 61.4 seconds of Delia's 1st bit in the above clip, with a larger image.

Andy Votel says: "Bradford Museum of Film and Television has a vintage episode of Tomorrow's World featuring Delia Derbyshire explaining the musique-concrete methods adopted at the Radiophonic Workshop when creating those inimitable TV soundtracks. DD almost started dancing at one point. It was incredible..."

The Museum's "TV Heaven" archive used to list this item as "Tomorrow's World (Radiophonic Workshop), 1965, 30 mins" but it doesn't any more. However, there is a local copy of the index card here. To book a viewing, call the TV Heaven desk directly on (01274) 203433, although booking is not always necessary.

Articles and Interviews

References (links to the original sites)

Community resources


This site was created with the logistical support of and the personal kindness of Franz Xaver.
The research was made possible by the hard work involved in the making of the sites listed above, as well as the various sources listed throughout the chronology. The research was aided by information, leads and personal effort from Sonic Boom, Mark the Bus, Ian Burdon, Mike Brown, Peter Marsh, Ray White, Dick Mills and Andrew Harrison as well as numerous subscribers to the Delia Derbyshire mailing list.

Thanks also to you if you make a donation.

Compiled by Martin Guy <>