Ever since Doctor Who premiered in 1963, the science fiction show has taken us on unforgettable adventures across strange worlds scattered through time, introducing us to aliens, friends, companions, and enemies. The journeys have been brought to life by countless people over the last half-century, including actors, producers, writers, and, of course, composers.
There have been numerous composers on the series since it began more than 50 years ago. Like so many other franchises, music is a key element of Doctor Who, and without it, the show would not be nearly the same. When Doctor Who finally returned to TV with an ongoing series in 2005, finding the right composer to strike a tone both nostalgic and contemporary was incredibly important. The producers settled on composer Murray Gold, and he was more than up for the task.
For the last 10 seasons, Gold succeeded in transporting us into the world of the Time Lord with beautiful music. After scoring a whopping 125 episodes, Gold is not returning to the show for Season 11, leaving a remarkable legacy and some lucky new composer the difficult task of following in his footsteps. In honor of all the work Gold has done on the show, we wanted to look back at his Whovian music and highlight what we think are some of his best pieces from the last 10 seasons.
Here are our picks for Gold’s 11 best pieces of music, counting down to our favorite.
“The Wedding of River Song” (Series 6 soundtrack)
This piece shares its name with the finale of the sixth season. Out of all the music in the show, “The Wedding of River Song” will stick most with you long after you watch the episode. It captures the gravity, joy, and excitement of a finale and a moment that fans had been waiting to see for a long time. Here it’s not just about how our heroes save the day, but the relationship between the Doctor and River Song, and seeing how they are finally married.
“A Noble Girl Around Town” (Series 4 soundtrack)
Donna Noble is one of my favorite companions from Doctor Who. She was one-of-a-kind and a true friend to the Doctor. This theme for Donna shows how much she stands out from the others and is a force to be reckoned with! It’s upbeat, exciting, fun, and is unique from every other companion theme.
“I Am the Doctor” (Series 5 soundtrack)
A brand-new Doctor was in the TARDIS for the fifth season, but he was still the Time Lord we all knew and loved. “I am the Doctor” establishes exactly that, while also adding a new theme that contains a sense of adventure for the latest regeneration. This is one of Gold’s most epic creations. Listening to it, you feel like you’re seeing all the new and wondrous things one does while traveling with the Doctor.
“The Doctor’s Theme” (Series 1 and 2 soundtracks)
Bringing the Doctor back to TV and crafting a theme for the Time Lord couldn’t have been easy, but the one Gold composed that we ended up hearing throughout the early seasons was fantastic. It captures the mystery of the Doctor, both for the new viewer and the long-time audience-member being introduced to this latest regeneration.
“This Is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home” (Series 3 soundtrack)
When the revived series aired, unless you had watched the classic Doctor Who shows, you didn’t know much about Gallifrey. The Doctor rarely discussed it or his past. Hints of it are brought more to the forefront at the end of the third season, when music offers references to the Master and Gallifrey. Finally, the Doctor talks more about everything and hearing this helps give us more of an idea of where the Doctor came from, and how he and the Master became who they are now. It does a brilliant job of conveying a sense of awe, beauty, and danger. It’s one of Gold’s most breathtaking pieces.
“The Singing Towers” (Series 9 soundtrack)
River Song is a fascinating character, but somewhere along the way her story became a little too complicated. Luckily, the character and her relationship with the Doctor righted itself in the Christmas special “The Husbands of River Song,” before it all ended with the much-anticipated scene before the Singing Towers of Darillium during their final night together. As they listen to the towers, River and the Twelfth Doctor share a heartfelt exchange. The weight of the moment and the beauty of the towers can be felt in this music. Gold even perfectly incorporated some other familiar music to recall their previous adventures. It makes us wish the Twelfth Doctor and River could have been in more shows together!
“Doomsday” (Series 1 and 2 soundtracks)
At the end of Season 2, Rose and the Doctor say goodbye in “Doomsday.” After the unthinkable happens and the two are separated, this piece starts and slowly begins to build as they realize they are now in different universes. They may have saved the world, but they lost each other. There’s a frustration, sadness, loss, and even a sense of determination to go on that comes through as Gold does an excellent job of putting everything we need to know about what they’re feeling into the music.
“Clara’s Diner” (Series 9 soundtrack)
Clara’s theme was always interesting, but it didn’t really stand out until it was played by Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor on guitar. It happens as he tries to remember Clara in “Hell Bent,” but can’t. “Clara’s Diner” is a sad, beautiful ending to the time this Doctor and companion spent together.
"The Madman With a Box" (Series 5 soundtrack)
Another new theme that appeared with the Eleventh Doctor in the fifth season. It was continued to be heard throughout the rest of the seasons and really is a stunning piece of music. With great vocals, it portrays the magical, unpredictable, amazing, ridiculous, and complex nature of the Doctor.
“Doctor Who Theme opening” (Series 1 and 2 soundtracks)
Even more important when bringing back the show than creating a theme for the Doctor was creating the opening theme. Gold had to find a way to update it in such a way that it evoked Doctor Who for long-time fans while also adding something new to the mix. Gold certainly succeeded and gave us a theme worthy of all the other openings with promises of a new adventure to come!
“A Good Man?” (Series 8 soundtrack)
There is something about this theme for the Doctor that makes it unique from what Gold had given us before to represent the Time Lord. It includes some familiar elements amid the new, but it does a great job of representing this new Doctor whenever you hear it or parts of it played during Capaldi’s time. It conveys how at the start this Doctor was wondering about himself and who he was, and reminds listeners there is still much we don’t know about the Doctor. However, as it builds to a more exciting pace and sounds more confident, it confirms that there are some things about the Time Lord that will always be the same, as the Twelfth Doctor realized. The Doctor will still always be the Doctor and everything that represents.
What’s your favorite Doctor Who piece composed by Murray Gold? Tell us in the comments!