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Let’s Do The Mindwarp Again

Doctor Who plays a relatively small part in the long and distinguished career of composer Richard Hartley, but he was happy to revisit his 1986 score for The Trial of a Time Lord.
Peri (Nicola Bryant) su ers a fate worse than death in Part Eight of The Trial of a Time Lord (1986).

‘Mindwarp’ – comprising Parts Five to Eight of The Trial of a Time Lord (1986) – revolves around the hunt for a suitable host body for the brain of Kiv, the ailing leader of the Mentors.

As it turns out, this was an easier task than finding the master tapes of the story’s music, which have been missing since transmission and notably absent from compilations and retrospectives. Composer Richard Hartley is philosophical about the attention this ‘lost’ soundtrack now commands and the reasons for that attention in the first place. “It’s flattering, but why the BBC never kept a copy is baffling”, he says. “Perhaps they didn’t like it?”

We can only guess at the BBC’s reasons for not retaining the ‘Mindwarp’ tapes, but plenty of people did like Richard’s music. Across a busy and varied career, he has worked extensively on a number of cult franchises and acclaimed movies, with some of the most widely heard music of the 20th century to his credit. However, his association with one engagement in particular went back further than any of the above.

“As a teenager, Doctor Who was the highlight of my Saturday night viewing”, says Richard enthusiastically. “I loved the distinctive musical sound. Despite the variety of composers that worked on the show, it always had a unified feel, and that has to be credited to Delia Derbyshire’s otherworldly realisation of Ron Grainer’s title music. When it first appeared back in 1963, it was unique and very scary – music for the modern age we were about to enter. For a long time, it was my ambition to work at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.”

It would be another cult favourite, though, that first brought Richard to public attention. “In 1973, I was composing music for The Unseen Hand, a play by Sam Shepard being staged at the Royal Court Theatre in London, when I met one of the cast – an actor called Richard O’Brien. During rehearsals, he told me that he was working on an idea for a rock musical, and myself and the director Jim Sharman went round to his flat to discuss it. He sang two songs called Science Fiction and Sweet Transvestite to us, and Jim arranged a three-week slot at the Royal Court’s smaller venue, the Theatre Upstairs, which gave us two-and-a-bit weeks to find a cast, rehearse and complete the score!”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

THE JOHN NATHAN-TURNER LEGACY A new perspective on Doctor Who’s longest-serving producer, featuring previously unseen images from his own scrapbooks! Highlights of this issue include: • Former Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel describes working with John Nathan-Turner. • Sophie Aldred explains how JNT changed her life. • Stephen Cranford on what it was like to know JNT as a friend. • Writer Philip Martin and actor Nabil Shaban reveal Sil and the Devil Seeds of Arodor. • Composer Richard Hartley on recreating his score for 1986’s ‘Mindwarp’. • An investigation into the deepest mysteries of regeneration. • Your at-a-glance guide to Doctor Who’s post-regeneration stories. • An interview with the creators of the new VR game The Edge of Time. • The Fact of Fiction explores the 2017 story Knock Knock. • DWM’s verdict on Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 23. • Part One of Mistress of Chaos, a new comic-strip adventure featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends. • The Blogs of Doom, audio reviews, previews, news, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!