Doctor Who has become a massive global success in recent years after the BBC took its long-running low-budget sci-fi series, reinvented it for a modern audience and sold it like mad around the world. But decades ago, long before Doctor Who became all special effects and glitz, it was greatly admired for its interesting, inventive stories, its quirky touches of offbeat humour and its often genuinely scary atmosphere, which it frequently managed to achieve in spite of its often comically low-budget sets, costumes and special effects. This was the classic era of Doctor Who, and it was during this period, with Jon Pertwee and then Tom Baker starring as the Doctor, that Carey Blyton was commissioned to write the music for three serials:
- Doctor Who and the Silurians (1969/1970)
- Death to the Daleks (1974)
- Revenge of the Cybermen (1975)
Classic Doctor Who music remembered
The DVD of Doctor Who and the Silurians contains a fascinating documentary in its Special Features, entitled Musical Scales: An Era of Experimentation and recalling the time in the 1960s and early 1970s when Doctor Who conducted sometimes quite radical experiments in terms of its incidental music. This was the period during which Carey Blyton (and many others) had the opportunity to put their mark on the series, and the documentary recalls it well.
In 2013, the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, The Telegraph published an article on 4th July by Matthew Sweet entitled The real sonic screwdrivers, which was an interesting follow-up to the DVD documentary in its own right. Ostensibly about the commemorative BBC Prom devoted to Doctor Who, it actually took its own interesting look at the music and sound effects of Doctor Who’s era of experimentation. It recalled other composers who had provided music for the series, beyond the ones mentioned in the BBC’s documentary, and it was interesting to note that the contributor mentioned immediately prior to Carey in the article was Richard Rodney Bennett, who was also the previous tenant of Carey’s London flat!
About Carey, the article had the following to say:
The fiercely intellectual Carey Blyton composed lurching modern jazz themes on ancient instruments: humanoid reptiles emerged from the earth to a krumhorn accompaniment; the ophicleide heralded the appearance of the Cybermen.
The article can be found online under the alternative title Why Doctor Who is at the cutting edge of British music, and is well worth reading.