Delia Ann Derbyshire – A Tribute

Delia Derbyshire at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Eleven years and a month ago, Delia Ann Derbyshire died at the age of 64

Delia Ann Derbyshire started out as a working class girl in bombed-out Coventry, soon to grow into a brilliant mathematician in Cambridge – where only one in ten students were female at the time. But it was her decision to specialise in modern music in 1959 which changed her life – and that of millions of people throughout the world up to this day.

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A tale of one director

ImageThere once was a young director with good eye for detail, instinct and great ideas. He made a science fiction movie, which was thrilling, original, captivating, playing with conventions. It was a commercial success.

He then made another science fiction movie. This one was even better. Arguably (not very) the best science fiction movie ever made. It had everything. It was breaking new ground, destroying genre cliches, it was thought-provoking, mind-boggling, poetic, beautiful and shattering.

It was also a great flop.

The director soon learned his lesson. There was no point trying. He started making big movies; Block-busting epics for a mass viewer. Instead of new grounds, he was breaking box office records. Instead of boggling the mind with awesomeness, he was boggling the mind with mediocrity crammed into awesome visuals. Some said he had lost his touch – but not his accountant.

And then he decided he wanted to go back to his roots. He made his third science-fiction movie. But he forgot. He forgot how to tell a simple story. How to focus on clever plot and well rounded characters instead of booming sound systems, lots of shouting and explosions. And while his new movie looked like his first one, it was just an empty shell of an Alien egg filled with mangled remains of a Gladiator.