There have been Doctor Who books, Doctor Who video games, Doctor Who Easter eggs… but what about Doctor Who songs? We take a look at some of the Time Lord’s greatest adventures in rhyme and space!
Doctor in Distress – by Who Cares?
1985’s ‘Doctor in Distress’ might not be the most beloved of all the Doctor Who songs, but it is certainly the most infamous. It was the brainchild of producer John Nathan-Turner and produced by long-time Doctor Who fan and record producer Ian Levine. It was conceived as a charity record to raise money for Cancer Relief, although its primary goal was to ramp up support for Doctor Who, which had been unceremoniously suspended for 18 months by the BBC One controller Michael Grade.
And whilst the music is not to everyone’s taste, there is a lot of talent on display in ‘Doctor in Distress.’ For a start, the music was written by Hans Zimmer, who would later go on to become a big-time film composer. And then there is Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Nicholas Courtney and Anthony Ainley, along with comedian Faith Brown, Bobby G from Bucks Fizz, and Warren Cann from Ultravox, to name a few.
And although Doctor Who did indeed return to our TV screens for another four series after this, the BBC neither confirmed or denied whether any Doctor Who songs had influenced their decision…
I’m Gonna Spend my Christmas with a Dalek – by the GoGos
It’s hard to imagine what Christmas with a Dalek would be like, but the next of our Doctor Who songs does a good job at trying. This surprisingly catchy number from 1964 came at the peak of so-called Dalekmania, and saw the iconic Doctor Who villain going to spend Christmas with a young girl.
It may sound like the stuff of nightmares, but you’ll be glad to hear that this music track is devoid of any festive exterminations. In fact, the Dalek even contributes to the song himself, opening the track by declaring that he brings greetings from all Daleks. The little girl, meanwhile, has plans to keep her alien guest in check by promising only to give him “sugar spice” so long as he’s “very nice,” followed by a hug under the mistletoe.
The Dalek, meanwhile, ends up begging his host for more plum pudding and custard, insisting that he wishes to be her friend. We’re not sure how Davros would have taken this development, but we’re glad to see that the metal mutant is enjoying a well-prepared meal.
Who’s Doctor Who? – by Frazer Hines
The next of our Doctor Who songs doesn’t come from a monster, but a companion. Frazer Hines (who played the Second Doctor’s companion Jamie McCrimmon) wrote and performed this track in the late 60s, and it’s certainly a jolly number. Plus, of all the Doctor Who songs, it is one of the few that is actually informative as well as entertaining. ‘Who’s Doctor Who?’ could easily be used to bring a Doctor Who novice up to speed on the premise of the show. “He has a time machine,” Hines sings, “to travel through the ages, to take a look at history he simply turns the pages…” We couldn’t put it better ourselves.
And then there is the insanely catchy chorus: “They wonder who is Doctor Who. Where is he from, what does he do?” Well, many have attempted to answer that question, but as yet we haven’t received any musical entries from River Song or even ‘The Timeless Children.’ And, to date, Frazer Hines remains the only Doctor Who companion to have contributed any Doctor Who songs to the Whoniverse. But what about past Doctors?
Who is the Doctor? – by Jon Pertwee
In a similarly-named musical entry, the next of our Doctor Who songs comes from the Third Doctor himself, Jon Pertwee. This is the first (and so far the only?) official attempt at singing the Doctor Who theme tune – or, at least, the first attempt to set words to the Doctor Who theme tune, as Jon Pertwee doesn’t actually sing in this track, but rather speaks over the iconic music. Plus, the actor remains in character throughout the piece, so technically ‘Who is the Doctor?’ is performed by the Third Doctor. After all, there is no one more qualified than him to answer the question of ‘Who is the Doctor?’
Alas, the Time Lord’s identity remains elusive at the song’s conclusion, but there are some suitably poetic lyrics. “As fingers move to end mankind, metallic teeth begin their grind. With sword of truth I turn to fight the satanic powers of the night. Is your faith before your mind? Know me. Am I, the Doctor?”
Song for Ten – by Neil Hannon
The final entry on our list of Doctor Who songs is ‘Song for Ten’ by Neil Hannon. The full-length track made its debut on the official Series One and Two soundtrack album, although the piece was first heard in the very first Doctor Who Christmas special ‘The Christmas Invasion.’
In fact, ‘Song for Ten’ was written specially for the episode and accompanied the newly-regenerated Doctor as he searched the TARDIS wardrobe for new clothes. Interestingly, the broadcast version was much shorter than the one that appeared on the album, and was somewhat different in style; the original was actually performed by Tim Phillips, with backing tracks provided by the song’s composer Murray Gold. This track has never received an official release, save for a brief extract on the official Doctor Who website in 2005.
Furthermore, ‘Song for Ten’ began a tradition of annual, festive Doctor Who songs composed by Gold. It was followed up by ‘Love Don’t Roam’ in 2006, and ‘The Stowaway’ in 2007. These were novel, but surprisingly they were not the very first Doctor Who songs to have been written specifically for the programme. That accolade goes to the iconic ‘Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon,’ which made its debut in the classic First Doctor adventure ‘The Gunfighters.’ Performed by Linda Baron, it is a track that has passed into Doctor Who legend – for better or for worse.
So there we are. This is not an exhaustive list of all the Doctor Who songs ever written, but they are probably the most famous.
Which of these Doctor Who songs is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.