Podcast #60: Delia Derbyshire

In this episode, we’re going to hear about a woman sometimes called a sculptress of sound —  “the unsung heroine of British electronic music” —  Delia Derbyshire, ably presented by our very own DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire.  

A working-class girl from Coventry, England, Delia studied music and mathematics, and went on to work at the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop. If you’re a SciFi fan, you’ve probably heard one of her best known works — the otherworldly theme tune to the TV show Doctor Who. A true pioneer of pre-synthesizer electronic sounds, Delia created music for more than 200 projects, but remained anonymous due to the BBC’s bureaucratic structures. She also set up studios making electronic music for soundtracks, festivals and theatre productions, until she left the public eye in 1975. 

DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens joins producer Susan to set things up. 

Also available on SpotifyApple PodcastsRadioPublicPocket CastsStitcherGoogle Podcasts, and Acast. You can download the transcript, created by Rachel Pronger, here.

Show notes:

Delia Derbyshire doing a patient face in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Delia’s reel-to-reel recorder in the Coventry Music Museum
A woman playing a spinet
Claiming credit on a programme from a Unit Delta Plus event
A new job
In the kitchen, avoiding washing dishes

If you’d like to find out more about Delia Derbyshire’s later life, Katy recommends this fascinating article by David Butler: Whatever Happened to Delia Derbyshire? Delia Derbyshire, Visual Art and the Myth of her Post-BBC Activity.

For those with a little more time, there’s Caroline Catz’s fab film Delia Derbyshire: The Myths & The Legendary Tapes.

And if you’re looking for a deep dive with a triple helping of women’s biography, it’s got to be Cosi Fanni Tutti’s RE-SISTERS. The limited-edition package behind the link gets you “a fine bound copy of the book, signed on page one by the author and numbered by hand; a pewter erotic pilgrim brooch with Re-Sisters waveform motif, in a velvet pouch; and an audio tape cassette with Music to Read By composed and performed by Cosey Fanni Tutti in a colour printed cardboard sleeve.” Go on!

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Drop us a line info@deadladiesshow.com or reach us on social media @deadladiesshow

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month.