Geek Icon: Delia Derbyshire, Electronic Music Extraordinaire

Image from the BBC.

In celebration of all things geek this week, we’re profiling the effortless style and technical talent of Delia Derbyshire, best known as one of the masterminds behind the theme song for the BBC cult favorite Doctor Who. As a member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the 1960s, she created music and sound effects for television and radio using recordings of sounds generated by ordinary objects such as egg whisks or a metal lamp shades, all without the use of the modern equipment that we now associate with electronic music, like synthesizers or MacBooks. Her work has garnered her iconic status as a pioneer in the field of electronic music, producing work that continues to influence music today. She took the industry by storm, working in a traditionally male-dominated field, all the while rocking an enviably simple and smart style.


The original Doctor Who theme song, as composed by Richard Grainer and realized by Derbyshire. It was reported that Grainer was so impressed with her recording that he asked, “Did I really write this?” to which Derbyshire replied, “Most of it.”

Image via


A quick clip of Delia demonstrating her musical technique.

Image via

Got a girl crush? For more Delia, check out her official site to read two rare interviews with the maestro, or this fascinating BBC article about the recent discovery of 267 tapes that were found in her attic!

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  1. Julie C. (ModCloth) 07/17/2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Awesome! This was a great pick – a lot of people don’t know about her. Great post, Erin!

  2. Sarah 07/17/2012 at 2:01 pm #

    This is such an awesome post 🙂 I’m the biggest Dr. Who fan and it’s so great to see such an inventive lady get recognition!

    Xoxo Sarah

  3. Someone Else 07/17/2012 at 3:15 pm #


  4. Kimberly 07/17/2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Eeep! I love Doctor Who! Thanks for sharing.

    xo-Kimberly {allons-y kimberly}

  5. Al 07/17/2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Fabulous and awesome, guys! Verity Lambert is another lady who was instrumental in Dr Who history.

  6. Martin guy 10/07/2012 at 2:43 pm #

    For all things Delian, check out with a complete list of all her known music, video clips, more interviews, photos and more. Write for further info 😉

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