David Arnold, the composer behind a number of James Bond films and Sherlock has ruled out composing for Doctor Who.
Well that’s not exactly what he said. Arnold knows Murray Gold, the composer for nuWho since its return in 2005, and has even shared a room with him while each laboured over the scores for their respective British television institutions…
“There was a time last year actually when I was doing the last episode of the last season of Sherlock, and Murray who lives in New York needed somewhere to work over here while he was doing the Christmas Special of Doctor Who… We were both in the same room – a room as big as this. I was just at one end of the room doing Sherlock and he was doing Doctor Who… I’d watch the Christmas Special and he’d find out how Sherlock didn’t die. Some people’s heads would explode if they knew these things were happening in the same room at the same time!”
He’s not wrong. Wipe the brains off your screen and keep reading.
Arnold has known Mark Gatiss, co-creator of Sherlock and occasional writer for nuWho, for some time. Back in 2001 when he was writing for Big Finish Doctor Who audios, he asked Arnold a special favour:
“Doctor Who was kind of dead in the water in a way, as far as TV was concerned, after Michael Grade had announced that it would never happen again… Mark said they were just doing a CD adventure and would I do a theme tune for it. I think they said it was £60 or something to do it… I think I did it in an afternoon really in a home studio, there wasn’t any money to do anything.”
The Arnold version of the theme used for Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor audio adventures has a bygone, 8-bit sound to it that conjures up valves, dials and all things steampunk. Not bad for an afternoon at home…
Arnold is a composer of some renown with a host of prestigious scores to his name. Of note he created the Lawrence-of-Arabia-meets-Star-Wars theme for Stargate (1994) – one of the cinematic sci-fi successes of the ’90s.
After scoring another 90s triumph in Independence Day (1996), he got the gig for James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) on the recommendation of John Barry, the creator of the original Bond theme. Arnold went on to write the soundtrack for five Bond films including Daniel Craig’s first two outings, Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008).
When asked about turning his talents to Doctor Who, he’s very clear – he doesn’t want to tread on Murray Gold’s toes…
“Murray has just done an extraordinary job with the new series and now people expect the theme tune to be with all his things, his additional moments… Murray is so much in the driving seat of that – any more than he would do a Sherlock.”
But he also had this to say about his experience re-doing the title theme for Paul McGann’s audios: “I thought it would just be a little thing that ended up being a little thing on a little thing somewhere else! Now it’s on YouTube… I’ve listened to it a few times and actually it’s not – I’d like to do it again and feel like I’d do it properly.”
Quite right too. Exceptional composers should want to have a proper go at the best theme in the world!
But no Arnold for the time being, then. Murray Gold has given us some utterly brilliant music since he first came on board in 2005. His thematic range is broad, he’s created show-stoppers like I Am The Doctor and an enormously popular version of the original theme. His music has been accused of being intrusive or over-the-top, but either way his creative output is a huge part of nuWho as a cohesive package.
What do you think, Kasterborites? Would you like to see what Arnold could do to the mood and atmosphere of Doctor Who with Capaldi at the helm? A little bit of this accompanying Clara and Twelve? Who would be your dream composer for the show – or would you go for Gold every time?
Tell us below…