Doctor Who: The 5 Most Important Women Behind the Scenes

Categories: Doctor Who

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Joanna Lumley as The Doctor in "The Curse of Fatal Death"
Last Saturday was International Women's Day, and while I would like to say that my Facebook newsfeed was filled to the brim with intelligent discussions involving the accomplishments and struggles of women around the world the truth is I saw a lot more ruminations on why women need a day when the rest of the year is dedicated to making men put up with them as it is. Long story short, I need a new Caps Lock button on my laptop... and wine.

Now, it's a pretty well established fact that our current showrunner Steven Moffat has some... issues with the fairer sex. It's not a subject I'm keen to debate at the moment because I frankly feel that it won't do a lick of good. Moffat's Moffat, and until we see a regime change I have a feeling the women of Doctor Who are going to have a hard time holding their own.

So today I thought I'd look back at the women behind the scenes and off camera that have contributed to Who, and in many cases without whom there wouldn't be a show at all. Hopefully it can serve as a reminder that women are not only as good as men in this arena, sometimes they knock it right out of the freakin' park.

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Verity Lambert (Center) with her first season stars
Verity Lambert
Of course, any discussion of women and Doctor Who begins with the one and only Verity Lambert. Without her there simply wouldn't be a Doctor Who at all. Handpicked by Head of Drama Sydney Newman to helm his science fiction brainchild of a television show, Lambert was one of the first female television producers in the history of the industry. She was instrumental in securing William Hartnell as the First Doctor, and guided the show from the very beginning in "An Unearthly Child" right up to "Mission to the Unknown" before moving on.

In fact, you could say that she is also indirectly responsible for the concept of regeneration. Though it's often stated that the reason for Hartnell leaving the role of The Doctor was his increasingly poor health, another large factor was the fact that without Lambert by his side he no longer enjoyed the show as much. The two of them formed an amazing bond and team, mixing their considerable skills in their respective areas to create the greatest television adventure ever, and she lived long enough to see her creation reborn in 2005 stronger than ever.

Delia Derbyshire
The main theme for Doctor Who is one of a kind. It's not the traditional score of something like Star Wars nor is it the more new age sound of Star Trek. It's a strange and unique thing that defies conventional description.

Everyone knows that Ron Grainer wrote it, but Delia Derbyshire is the one who turned it into the unearthly masterpiece that instantly glued audiences. Who was Delia Derbyshire? Well, she was a member of White Noise, then band that was Kid A-era Radiohead before most of the members of Radiohead were even born. The world was not ready at all for their music, and Derbyshire went to work for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. It was there she transformed Grainer's work into the iconic theme. Grainer himself spent years trying to get her credited as a co-writer of the song for royalty purposes, but was never able to do so even though her work has been acknowledged on screen. Her arrangement was retired in 1980, but made a return last year in "The Day of the Doctor".

This story continues on the next page.


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