Audio visionary Delia Derbyshire

What Happened to McCartney’s Delia Derbyshire Collaboration?

The Beatles legend Paul McCartney has revealed that he asked Delia Derbyshire, who realised Doctor Who’s unique and timeless theme tune, to remake his massive hit, “Yesterday”.

Delia Derbyshire

McCartney told Q Magazine that he sought Derbyshire out as a fan of her experimental and ground-breaking electronic music, in order to achieve an avant-garde backing to The Beatles’ “Yesterday”, the original of which he apparently recorded completely single-handed, so the legend goes. He said:

“I even found out where Miss Derbyshire lived, and went round to visit her. We even went into the hut at the bottom of her garden. It was full of tape machines and funny instruments. My plan in meeting her was to do an electronic backing for my song, Yesterday. We’d already recorded it with a string quartet, but I wanted to give the arrangement electronic backing.”

“Yesterday” was released on their 1965 album, Help!, and has been covered by other bands over 2,000 times. However, McCartney hasn’t said why the collaboration didn’t materialise, simply stating of the BBC department Derbyshire primarily worked for:

“The Radiophonic Workshop, I loved all that; it fascinated me, and still does.”

The Beatles occasionally experimented with electronic sounds, but not all of the Fab Four thought so highly of it; George Harrison described it as:

“Avant-garde a clue.”


Nonetheless, they did create “Carnival Of Light” – an eccentric mix of church organs, drums, shouts and even gargled water – which was created for the Roundhouse Theatre as part of the art festival, “The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave”. The 1967 psychedelic show saw The Beatles share a bill with Unit Delta Plus, which featured Radiophonic Workshop pioneers, Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson (who was the first sound effects creator for Doctor Who).

Despite McCartney’s various attempts, notably in 1996 and 2008, “Carnival Of Light” has never been released… and perhaps we’ll never find out what happened to the McCartney/ Derbyshire collaboration.

(Thanks to The Guardian.)


When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates (Kasterborous' former Editor) pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. He is the co-founder of The Doctor Who Companion:

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