Doctor Who theme co-composer honoured with posthumous PhD

The overlooked composer, Delia Derbyshire, was a pioneer in the electronic music industry

Jodie Whittaker Doctor

Delia Derbyshire, the woman who turned a written score for the Doctor Who theme tune in to one of the most radical and iconic pieces of music ever produced, is set to be recognised posthumously with an honorary doctorate from Coventry University.


Derbyshire, who was relatively unknown and uncredited during her career and barred from studios because of her gender, became a pioneer in electronic music, creating a new wave of sounds and arrangements in the 1960s and 70s and paving the way for women to work in music production.

After growing up in war-torn Coventry during the Second World  War, she broke into the industry as a trainee studio manager at the BBC.

Here, in 1962, she gained access to the experimental Radiophonic Workshop, where she transformed Ron Grainer’s score into the Doctor Who theme. Grainer is still officially credited as the tune’s sole writer as a result of the broadcaster’s policies at the time.

She died aged 64 in 2001, having left a considerable mark on the industry – during the 1960s, she was approached by Paul McCartney to work on a backing track for The Beatles’ Yesterday.


The degree will be awarded in Derbyshire’s hometown on Monday.