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RESL mania

This year’s Record Store Day includes soundtrack releases of several classic stories, but long before this annual institution Doctor Who vinyl had a home at the fondly remembered BBC Records & Tapes…

Between 1967 and 1991, BBC Records & Tapes released the strangest assortment of music you’ve ever heard. In the days before home video, the label issued hundreds of albums and singles of theme tunes, radio shows, sound effects and much more besides, featuring everything from the cast of sitcom Hi-De-Hi! to the sound of someone hitting a telephone. Hardly any of them had any correlation to what came before or after, but that’s what makes the label so fascinating; it’s a snapshot of what was actually popular with – or at least inescapable for – viewers and listeners. Doctor Who played a huge part in its story, and a generation of fans still get nostalgic at the mention of its name.

Initially known as BBC Radio Enterprises – it became BBC Records & Tapes in 1972 – the label didn’t have much of an eye on commercial success at first. Frequently baffling, the earliest releases came in generic sleeves and included such toe-tappers as Railways in Aspic and Gandhi: Man on Trial. Although the very first album captured a Third Programme talk by Sir Bernard Lovell, pioneering astrophysicist and the inspiration for a certain Professor Quatermass, there was little in the early output that would appeal to Doctor Who fans – apart from 1968’s BBC Radiophonic Music (REC 25M – in those days the mysterious catalogue numbers simply related to the price tag of each record). This was a compilation of material by Delia Derbyshire, David Cain and John Baker of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Delia’s tracks Blue Veils and Golden Sands and The Delian Mode would be reused in the 1970 Doctor Who story Inferno. Also featured was ZiwzihZiwzih OO-OO-OO, a ‘robot hymn’ by Delia from The Prophet, a 1967 episode of BBC2’s sci-fi anthology Out of the Unknown; the robot costumes would reappear in The Mind Robber (1968).

Roy Tempest took over running BBC Records & Tapes in 1973. He was recruited from Phillips, where he’d overseen the release of some BBC themes as singles. Roy was briefed to make the eccentric output more marketable, and within months of his arrival the theme from Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? gave the label its first hit. The next single, RESL 11, was released later in 1973, and this was the Doctor Who theme. Although Delia Derbyshire’s original recording had been issued as a single by Decca in 1964, this new stereo mix incorporated the cliffhanger ‘sting’ and Brian Hodgson’s TARDIS effect, sounding closer to what was heard on screen at the time. Issued in a picture sleeve, it didn’t follow The Likely Lads into the hit parade, but it sold well; the single was repressed at least five times, ultimately appearing with a new sleeve – based on the latest opening titles – in 1976.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: • Former Doctor Who showrunners Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat, and writers Jenny T Colgan and Paul Cornell, talk exclusively about their new Target Books • Production Notes from Russell T Davies • A tribute to the late Peter Miles, who played Davros’ assistant Nyder in 1975’s Genesis of the Daleks • The never-before-told story behind the creation of Doctor Who's 2010-17 logo • The history of Doctor Who releases from BBC Records and Tapes • Behind the making-of Infinity, a new Doctor Who video game starring Michelle Gomez as Missy and Ingrid Oliver as Osgood • DWM goes to the Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles • Out of the TARDIS with impressionist Jon Culshaw • Christel Dee’s guide to cosplaying the Doctor’s distinctive orange spacesuit • Part One of The Clockwise War, a new comic strip adventure featuring the Doctor and Bill • The Fact of Fiction reveals the hidden depths to the 2015 Twelfth Doctor story Sleep No More • An interview with DJ and drummer Klaus Joynson, who has paid homage to Doctor Who in his album New Adventures in Time & Space • Previews, book and audio reviews, news, The Blogs of Doom, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!