The Tomorrow People

The Tomorrow People wasn’t a BBC show—it was an ITV show, and the music wasn’t actually from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop—the theme’s composer, Dudley Simpson, was a freelancer who had worked on many BBC shows, including Doctor Who and Blake’s 7, but wasn’t officially a member of the Workshop. But seeing as how it was my gateway drug into the world of radiophonics, it seems only fair that I spend at least a little time on it. 

(A quick word about the term “radiophonics”: I’m using it here as a convenient term for electronic music and special sound created via sound generation and musique concrete techniques, although there may inevitably be some slippage to refer to the Workshop’s synthesizer music as well.)

The opening drumroll and bassline sound almost like conventional instruments, which is all the better as a contrast to the electronic melody and bridge. The theme is compelling on its own, but positively hypnotic when combined with opening credit visuals (to which, perhaps, The X-Files owe some small debt?). It may not be as strong or as catchy as, say, the Doctor Who theme, but it’s got an enjoyably swinging vibe that fits in well with the youth-culture themes of The Tomorrow People (it is, after all, a show about the youngsters who are the true future of the human race, and the ensuing chagrin of the establishment).

In his liner notes for the 2006 release of the Tomorrow People: Original Television Music album, Jonny Trunk writes that the show made heavy use of a particular piece of library music—specifically a Standard Library album known as “ESL 104”. There are three composers credited there: Li de la Russe, Nikki St George, and David Vorhaus—and it turns out that the first two names are pseudonyms for Radiophonic Workshop stalwarts Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson. Derbyshire and Hodgson were officially under contract to the BBC when ESL 104 was recorded in 1969, hence the pseudonyms. Still, the clues are fairly obvious in the track titles, which include, none too subtly, “Delia’s Theme”,  “Delia’s Psychadelian Waltz”, and “Delia’s Reverie”. 

I’ll have more to say about Ms Derbyshire later, but for now, you can give “Delia’s Psychadelian Waltz” a listen here.

References:

  • The Tomorrow People: Original Television Music, liner notes by Jonny Trunk. Trunk Records, 2006.
  • delia-derbyshire.org: Deliaography.