Variations on a Theme
 

No. 27 of 66 in the Miscellaneous music & sound effects series
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Starring: Mark Ayres, Dominic Glynn & Keff McCulloch
By:Ron Grainer
Rating:   6.8  (5 votes)  Vote here
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Editions:  UK (standard 12" single) | UK (limited 12" single) | UK (1st standard CD) | UK (limited CD) | UK (2nd standard CD)
Description:  Four-track EP containing four wildly different variations or interpretations of the Doctor Who theme tune — none of them were actually used on the programme itself, although the “Latin version” by Keff McCulloch was used frequently in the 1990s on BBC Video releases such as The Hartnell Years.

Cover image for Variations on a Theme
Edition: UK (standard 12" single)
Released:  November 1989
Publisher:  Metro Music International
Format: 12" single
Owned:
Buy:eBay

Note:  Catalogue number: 12 MMI-4

Cover blurb:
On 23rd November 1963, a legend was born. The world was still reeling from the assassination of President Kennedy, as Ron Grainer’s evocative and haunting theme was heard for the first time on British Television to herald a new series entitled ‘Doctor Who’.
  Now, some 26 years later, the theme survives, generating excitement, anticipation and suspense for many millions of viewers around the world.
  I have recently been looking back at some of the early episodes of ‘Doctor Who’ and apart from the title of the programme, only two things have remained constant throughout the mammoth run of the world’s longest running science fiction series — the police box shaped TARDIS and Mr Grainer’s theme tune.
  Although the theme tune has been updated over the years, each version has retained much of the mystery that surrounds ‘Doctor Who’. (Although I know only too well that many aficionados view the original version as unsurpassable.)
  What we have here are four versions of the theme arranged and executed by three of ‘Doctor Who’s’ more recent incidental music composers. I am thrilled and delighted that in all three instances I have been instrumental in starting off their careers.
  Mark Ayres, who wrote the score for “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy”, “The Curse of Fenric” and “Ghostlight”, has arranged an intriguing version which was first heard at the 1988 Doctor Who Appreciation Society Convention.
  This is followed by an action packed version by Dominic Glynn. Before engaging Dominic to compose and execute incidental music for ‘Doctor Who’, we exchanged a lengthy correspondence. From Dominic’s side this consisted of lengthy letters criticising the incidental music at the time and saying that he was convinced he could do better. Eventually I called his bluff and I admit that I was delighted with the results. Dominic’s ‘Doctor Who’ credits include an earlier signature tune arrangement and incidental music for “Dragonfire”, “The Happiness Patrol” and “Survival”.
  This is followed by an intriguingly witty Latin American version, again composed specially for the 1988 DWAS Convention, by Keff McCulloch, — a version, which for me, conjures up visions of a ‘Come Dancing’ team invading the TARDIS! Keff’s first journey into the world of ‘Doctor Who’ was in order to update the signature tune for Television — a version we still use today. He also wrote the score of “Time and the Rani”, “Delta and the Bannermen”, “Remembrance of the Daleks”, “Silver Nemesis” and “Battlefield”.
  Finally, Mark Ayres supplies yet another version, doubtless influenced by the haunting atmosphere of “The Flight of the Condor”, especially written for the 1987 DWAS Convention.
  Just as all three composers are very different as individuals, so their versions differ greatly. However, one thing is sure, each version is fascinating just as I hope our viewers consider the programme today.
  To the three composers, my congratulations — you have achieved the impossible — an entertaining mix of arrangements whilst retaining the essence of the original.

John Nathan-Turner
Producer ‘DOCTOR WHO’
1979 - 1989


Track listing:

Side A:

  1. Doctor Who - Mood Version — Mark Ayres
  2. Doctor Who - Terror Version — Dominic Glynn

Side B:

  1. Doctor Who - Latin Version — Keff McCulloch
  2. Panopticon Eight: Regeneration Mix — Mark Ayres

Cover image for Variations on a Theme
Edition: UK (limited 12" single)
Released:  November 1989
Publisher:  Metro Music International
Format: 12" single
Owned:
Buy:
Order from Amazon.co.uk(Not currently available)
Order from Amazon.com(Unable to fetch price)
Order from Amazon.ca(Not currently available)
eBay

Note:  Catalogue number: 12X MMI-4

Cover blurb:
Same cover blurb and track listing as the original LP edition.

Cover image for Variations on a Theme
Edition: UK (1st standard CD)
Released:  February 1990
Publisher:  Metro Music International
Format: 1 x CD
Owned:
Buy:
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Used:  £29.98
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Used:  $13.53
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Note:  Catalogue number: CD MMI-4

Cover blurb:
None.

Track listing:
Same as previous editions.

Cover image for Variations on a Theme
Edition: UK (limited CD)
Released:  April 1990
Publisher:  Metro Music International
Format: 1 x CD
Owned:
Buy:
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Note:  Catalogue number: CDX MMI-4. Limited to 2,000 copies and touted as the “world’s first square CD”, this novelty item was manufactured by trimming the edges off a regular CD.

Cover blurb:
Warning!
This CD is square in shape and therefore does not conform to the internationally recognised compact disc standards. Not all CD players will be capable of playing this CD and no liability is accepted for such non-compatability [sic], or damage caused to players through attempting to play this CD.

Track listing:
Same as previous editions.

Cover image for Variations on a Theme
Edition: UK (2nd standard CD)
Released:  July 1991
Publisher:  Silva Screen
Format: 1 x CD
Owned:
Buy:
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Order from Amazon.com
Used:  $39.99
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Note:  Catalogue number: FILMCD 706

Cover blurb:
None.

Track listing:
Same as previous editions.


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