Monday 20 January 2014

Dr Who and the Five Musical Links To Alan's Album Archives!

Dear all, our top twenty dedicated to Dr Who last November seemed to go down rather well - although it has confused a few members of our regular readership. As a result, we've decided to kill two Byrds with one Rolling Stones or whatever the old expression is and talk about the links between the long running time-travelling series and our Alan's Album Archives, thus meaning that everyone is happy (well, hopefully). Some of the links may surprise and shock you - but probably not as much as the fact we now have to wait till blooming September for a new series of our favourite TV show (heck in my day in 1988 we used to moan at only having 13 episodes a year...)Oh and full marks to anyone who spotted the links between 'jelly babies' in Dr Who and in music (expect a 'top ten' of sweets coming some time soon...or not - is that an article too far?!)Anyway, we've decided to list these entries in chronological order for ease of access, although as all good Dr Who scholars know, time is relative...

1) Time: 1965/out of time Space: Manchester's Top Of The Pops/The Tardis Studio Event: The Beatles perform 'Ticket To Ride', as seen by the Tardis crew using their space-time visualiser (a kind of futuristic television)

The all-singing all-dancing third Dalek story 'The Chase' takes in practically everything writer Terry Nation can think of: The Marie Celeste, a haunted house, giant mechanical creatures whose idea of a regular conversation is '', an 'arid land' (helpfully called Aridius even back in the days when it was covered in water) and several events of huge historical importance shown again on the 'space-time visualiser' (you know the sort of thing: Shakespeare - looking most unlike the chap David Tennant meets 700 odd episodes later in 'The Shakespeare Code' getting the idea for Hamlet and Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address, complete with changes in 'camera angles' that make it a lot more entertaining than the film). The companions all choose what they want to see before Vicki - born in the 25th century remember - wants to see The Beatles. What an idea - the makers of the programme in 1965 already realising that the Beatles-led revolution of society, only two years on from 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', will be seen as significant as any of the major events from the Earth's past. Neatly, the fab four were all huge fans of Dr Who (they didn't quite see it from the first episode but joined in with the first Daleks story when most everyone else did) and when Dr Who producer Verity Lambert approached them to 'appear' in a cameo they jumped at the chance. Initially the cameo was due to be even funnier: The Beatles would be dressed as 'old men', around 2115 (i.e. now!), performing one last concert in a futuristic vision of Liverpool. Alas, it was not to be: The Beatles' schedules were so fully booked that manager Brian Epstein had to reluctantly squash the idea but he did grant Dr Who the rights to repeat a film clip of the band performing 'Ticket To Ride' from Top Of The Pops (a good job he did, because it's the only clip of this TOTP performance that exists now): the only time any programme were ever allowed to do this in the Beatles' lifetime! What a shame the Tardis crew are too busy singing (William Russell as Ian even does some groovy choreography) to notice the daleks putting them down on the 'other channel' when the space-time visualiser goes to standby...

2) Time: 1972 Space: London Event: Jimmy Winston (founding member of the Small Faces) appears in 'The Day Of The Daleks' as 'Shura'

Poor Jimmy Winston got a raw deal from life. He was to all intents and purposes the 'star' of the Small Faces, being both older and taller than the rest of the group, before 17-year-old Steve Marriott's confidence grew and the pair butted heads. For a year, though, he was the band's keyboard player and singer of many of their tougher r and b songs, even if all that exists of him with them today is a couple of songs 'hidden' on Decca compilation 'From The Beginning'. After several years as the main guy in the under-rated 'Winston's Thumbs' (check out 'Real Crazy Apartment', as funky and psychedelic as anything the Faces ever did) he grew fed up with the music scene and decided to become an actor. As luck would have it, one of the small parts he managed to get in the 1970s was as Shura in Dr Who - one of three guerrillas from the future trying to assassinate the pompous Reginald Styles (using UNIT as his boydguards) in the belief that this will stop a dalek war that breaks out in the future (Shura is the one Jon Pertwee practices his Venusian karate on when the trio break into the house and find him sitting there instead of their intended victim). As luck would have it, the very presence of the three time travellers - and not Styles at all - causes the war, meaning that Jimmy Winston's character is accidentally responsible for one of the biggest death counts in Who history. Oops...

3) Time: 1973 Space: Abbey Road Studios, London Event: Pink Floyd record 'One Of These Days', quoting a riff from a certain science-fiction TV theme...

Ah the fuss we've had about Dr Who's 50th anniversary, when we fans seemed to take over everything (special editions of Blue Peter, The Culture Show, even 'The News'...ah bliss!) It's a far cry from how the BBC celebrated all the other big anniversaries - well, all except the first one, in 1973, when any programme lasting ten years seemed like an amazing feat of longevity and brilliance (who knew we'd last another 40 and counting eh?) Dr Who was everywhere then, too, which may be why Pink Floyd decide to cheekily quote from the theme tune during 'One Of These Days I'm Going To Cut You Into Little Pieces', a rather nasty little rocker that kick-started their album 'Meddle' (you know, the one before 'Dark Side Of The Moon'). David Gilmour later admitted to the 'quote' and labelled himself a 'casual fan', saying that the improvised opening bars of Delia Darbyshire's classic theme tune 'just seemed to fit', You can hear it around the 3 minute mark quietly in the background, just before Roger Waters' distorted guitar part starts going all loud and weird. There are some performances of this popular song in concert that quote even more from the theme tune, although sadly none of these have been officially released at the time of writing (come on guys, when are you going to do a 'Meddle' box on the same lines as your last three?...)

4) Time: 1975 Space: Stargroves, a country estate in Hampshire Event: Mick Jagger's house is loaned to the BBC so they can film the Dr Who story 'Pyramids Of Mars'

Another big Who fan was/is Rolling Stone Mick Jagger. Knowing his interest - and the fact that he was looking for acting jobs after a run of impressive and then not so impressive film parts - the BBC approached Mick for a cameo part in Dr Who. He declined, sadly (1975 was just the wrong timing, when the Stones were gearing up for their first 'proper' world tour in some years) but he did grant use of his impressive 'Stargroves' mansion he'd bought in East Woodhey, Hampshire with Stones money and wouldn't be needing while he was on tour. Fans might be interested to learn that parts of the Stones albums 'Sticky Fingers' and 'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll' were recorded there, along with the pre-France bits of 'Exile On Main Street'), while Mick also occasionally 'leant' the house to other bands (The Who recorded parts of 'Who's Next' there too). The story 'Pyramids of Mars' uses the outside of the house extensively as 'The Scarman Estate', especially during the scenes where the 4th Doctor and Sarah Jane escape from 'the mummies', while rumours have it that 'Stargroves' is the house used in the later Dr Who story 'Image Of The Fendahl' too (although chances are it's a similar looking house). The 'Mars' DVD features a 'then and now' feature of what the estate looked like 'then and now' (well, 2004 is the 'now' as the set's been out a while now but you know what I mean...)

5) Time: 1978 Space: A recording studio in Sheffield Event: The Human League record a futuristic-sounding B-side named 'Tom Baker'

Finally, The Human League loved anything 'space age' (they took their name from a three-dimensional 'board game' featured in an episode of Star Trek after all). Their last single using the original line-up (ie without the 'cocktail waitress' singers Sulley and Caterall) was the moody 'Boys and Girls', which featured an even moodier instrumental on the back of it. Figuring that the song sounded like something that might feature as incidental music in Dr Who, the band nicknamed the B-side 'Tom Baker', thus causing a generation of music lovers to assume there was more to the song than there really was.
And that's that. Join us next week for more news, views and music whichever part of time and space we might end up in...

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