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Toast to Time Lord pure Gold

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Celebrate the sounds of sci-fi at the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, writes Michael Idato.

At first glance it is a peculiar notion: a packed audience at the Sydney Opera House listening to a concert of incidental music from a television program. But Doctor Who is no ordinary television program. And Murray Gold, its composer, is no ordinary composer.

Such a rich tapestry begins, says actor Alex Kingston, with a single piece of music: the iconic Doctor Who theme, composed by Ron Grainer and realised by Delia Derbyshire at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

"The original composition of the Doctor Who theme, going back to 1963, is so strange and other-worldly," Kingston says.

"There was nothing quite like it on television, and the wonderful thing is that throughout its reincarnation, that basic structure has never really been jettisoned, it's been rebooted and reinvented."

Gold's version of that theme, she says, is "fantastic, there is a lot more emotion. It feels very epic, and just by the very nature of the fact that Doctor Who has been going for 50 years, that theme tune is in everybody's psyche whether they are aware of it or not."

The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular is a live concert of the full suite of Gold's Doctor Who soundtrack, presented on stage by two actors from the show - Kingston, who plays River Song, and Mark Williams, who plays Rory's dad, Brian Williams. It also features video material and props from the series, including Daleks and Cybermen.

The concert itself owes its origin to three concerts staged in Britain, 2006's Doctor Who: A Celebration and two Doctor Who "proms" held as part of the BBC Proms in 2008 and 2010 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The proms - or, more fully, the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts - are an annual series of classical-music concerts that were first held in 1895.

Kingston has not attended any of the previous concerts, so she comes to this project as a novice, she says.

"Mark and I introduce the music and the video clips, and we take the audience on a journey through this story, accompanied by the symphony," she says. "I am a presenter but I will also be an audience participator because I think I will enjoy it as much as the audience."

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the show, in presentation terms, is the inclusion of working props from the series, notably the iconic Daleks.

"I didn't come into contact with a Dalek on set until last year for the first time and it was kind of a thrill because they go back so far," Kingston says. "I haven't done an episode with a Cyberman but I have been around the set when they are filming and it's quite funny, you end up chatting with them and then you go, hang on, I am talking about the weather with a Cyberman."

One of the distinct aspects of Gold's music is its extensive array of unique pieces, such as the Ood Song of Captivity and Song of Freedom, which have become de facto anthems, darker melodies for darker themes and the distinct character "themes" written for each of the show's featured players.

Kingston says she was not aware of River's Theme until co-star Matt Smith, who plays the Doctor, pointed it out. "I was like, 'What do you mean, River's Theme?' I'd never really been aware of that before. I am going to be as intrigued as I think the audience will be."


December 15-21, Sydney Opera House, Concert Hall, 9250 7777, $111.30-$159.

GRAPHIC: FOUR PHOTOS: Epic ... (clockwise from top) Melbourne Symphony Orchestra plays Doctor Who; Matt Smith as the Doctor; conductor Ben Foster and a Dalek; Alex Kingston as River Song. Photos: Lucas Dawson

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  • APA 6th ed.: Idato, Michael (2012-12-14). Toast to Time Lord pure Gold. The Sydney Morning Herald p. Metro, p. 3.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Idato, Michael. "Toast to Time Lord pure Gold." The Sydney Morning Herald [add city] 2012-12-14, Metro, p. 3. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Idato, Michael. "Toast to Time Lord pure Gold." The Sydney Morning Herald, edition, sec., 2012-12-14
  • Turabian: Idato, Michael. "Toast to Time Lord pure Gold." The Sydney Morning Herald, 2012-12-14, section, Metro, p. 3 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Toast to Time Lord pure Gold | url= | work=The Sydney Morning Herald | pages=Metro, p. 3 | date=2012-12-14 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=2 October 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Toast to Time Lord pure Gold | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=2 October 2023}}</ref>