Ron Grainer

Last updated 12 October 2022

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Title Music: An Unearthly Child; The Daleks; The Edge of Destruction; Marco Polo; The Keys of Marinus; The Aztecs; The Sensorites; The Reign Of Terror; Planet of Giants; The Dalek Invasion of Earth; The Rescue; The Romans; The Web Planet; The Crusade; The Space Museum; The Chase; The Time Meddler; Galaxy 4; Mission to the Unknown; The Myth Makers; The Daleks' Master Plan; The Massacre; The Ark; The Celestial Toymaker; The Gunfighters; The Savages; The War Machines; The Smugglers; The Tenth Planet; The Power of the Daleks; The Highlanders; The Underwater Menace; The Moonbase; The Macra Terror; The Faceless Ones; The Evil of the Daleks; The Tomb of the Cybermen; The Abominable Snowmen; The Ice Warriors; The Enemy of the World; The Web of Fear; Fury From the Deep; The Wheel In Space; The Dominators; The Mind Robber; The Invasion; The Krotons; The Seeds of Death; The Space Pirates; The War Games; Spearhead From Space; Doctor Who And The Silurians; The Ambassadors of Death; Inferno; Terror of the Autons; The Mind of Evil; The Claws of Axos; Colony In Space; The Dæmons; Day of the Daleks; The Curse of Peladon; The Sea Devils; The Mutants; The Time Monster; The Three Doctors; Carnival Of Monsters; Frontier In Space; Planet of the Daleks; The Green Death; The Time Warrior; Invasion of the Dinosaurs; Death to the Daleks; The Monster of Peladon; Planet of the Spiders; Robot; The Ark In Space; The Sontaran Experiment; Genesis of the Daleks; Revenge of the Cybermen; Terror of the Zygons; Planet of Evil; Pyramids of Mars; The Android Invasion; The Brain of Morbius; The Seeds of Doom; The Masque of Mandragora; The Hand Of Fear; The Deadly Assassin; The Face of Evil; The Robots of Death; The Talons of Weng-Chiang; The Invasion of Time; The Five Doctors; The Awakening; Resurrection of the Daleks; Planet of Fire; The Caves of Androzani; The Twin Dilemma; Attack of the Cybermen; The Mark of the Rani; The Two Doctors; Timelash; Revelation of the Daleks; Slipback[Misc]; The Trial of a Time Lord (The Mysterious Planet); The Trial of a Time Lord (The Ultimate Foe); Time and the Rani; Paradise Towers; Delta and the Bannermen; Dragonfire; Remembrance of the Daleks; The Happiness Patrol; Silver Nemesis; The Greatest Show in the Galaxy; Battlefield; Ghost Light; The Curse of Fenric; Survival; The Paradise Of Death[Misc]; Dimensions In Time[Misc]; The Ghosts of N Space[Misc]; Rose; The End Of The World; The Unquiet Dead; Aliens of London / World War Three; Dalek; The Long Game; Father's Day; The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances; Boom Town; Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways; The Christmas Invasion; New Earth; Tooth and Claw; School Reunion; The Girl in the Fireplace; Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel; The Idiot's Lantern; The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit; Love & Monsters; Fear Her; Army of Ghosts / Doomsday; Doctor Who: A Celebration[Music]; The Runaway Bride; Smith and Jones; The Shakespeare Code; Gridlock; Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks; The Lazarus Experiment; 42; Human Nature / The Family of Blood; Blink; Utopia; The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords; Voyage of the Damned; Partners in Crime; The Fires of Pompeii; Planet of the Ood; The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky; The Doctor's Daughter; The Unicorn and the Wasp; Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead; Midnight; Turn Left; The Stolen Earth / Journey's End; The Next Doctor; Planet of the Dead; The Waters of Mars; Dreamland; The End of Time; Victory of the Daleks; The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone; The Vampires of Venice; Amy's Choice; The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood; Vincent and the Doctor; The Lodger; The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang; A Christmas Carol; The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon; The Curse of the Black Spot; The Doctor's Wife; The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People; A Good Man Goes to War; Let's Kill Hitler; Night Terrors; The Girl Who Waited; The God Complex; Closing Time; The Wedding of River Song; The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe; Good as Gold; Asylum of the Daleks; Dinosaurs on a Spaceship; A Town Called Mercy; The Power Of Three; The Angels Take Manhattan; The Snowmen; Cold War; Hide; Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS; The Crimson Horror; The Time of the Doctor; Deep Breath; Into the Dalek; Robot Of Sherwood; Listen; Time Heist; The Caretaker; Kill The Moon; Mummy On The Orient Express; Flatline; In The Forest Of The Night; Dark Water / Death in Heaven; Last Christmas; The Magician's Apprentice / The Witch's Familiar; Under the Lake / Before The Flood; The Girl Who Died; The Woman Who Lived; The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion; Sleep No More; Face The Raven; Heaven Sent; Hell Bent; The Husbands of River Song; The Return of Doctor Mysterio; Smile; Thin Ice; Oxygen; Extremis; The Pyramid At The End Of The World; The Lie Of The Land; Empress Of Mars; The Eaters of Light; World Enough And Time / The Doctor Falls; Twice Upon A Time; The Woman Who Fell To Earth; The Ghost Monument; Rosa; Arachnids In The UK; The Tsuranga Conundrum; Demons Of The Punjab; Kerblam!; The Witchfinders; It Takes You Away; The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos; Resolution; Spyfall; Orphan 55; Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror; Fugitive of the Judoon; Praxeus; Can You Hear Me?; The Haunting Of Villa Diodati; Ascension of the Cybermen/The Timeless Children; Space / Time (Comic Relief); Children in Need Special; Music of the Spheres; Time Crash (Children in Need); Horror of Fang Rock(uncredited); The Invisible Enemy(uncredited); Image of the Fendahl(uncredited); The Sun Makers(uncredited); Underworld(uncredited); The Ribos Operation(uncredited); The Pirate Planet(uncredited); The Stones of Blood(uncredited); The Androids of Tara(uncredited); The Power of Kroll(uncredited); The Armageddon Factor(uncredited); Destiny of the Daleks(uncredited); City of Death(uncredited); The Creature from the Pit(uncredited); Nightmare of Eden(uncredited); The Horns of Nimon(uncredited); The Leisure Hive(uncredited); Meglos(uncredited); Full Circle(uncredited); State of Decay(uncredited); Warriors' Gate(uncredited); The Keeper of Traken(uncredited); Logopolis(uncredited); Castrovalva(uncredited); Four To Doomsday(uncredited); Kinda(uncredited); The Visitation(uncredited); Black Orchid(uncredited); Earthshock(uncredited); Time-Flight(uncredited); Arc of Infinity(uncredited); Snakedance(uncredited); Mawdryn Undead(uncredited); Terminus(uncredited); Enlightenment(uncredited); The King's Demons(uncredited); Warriors of the Deep(uncredited); Frontios(uncredited); Vengeance on Varos(uncredited); The Trial of a Time Lord (Mindwarp)(uncredited); The Trial of a Time Lord (Terror of the Vervoids)(uncredited); The TV Movie(uncredited); Shada(uncredited) | as Doctor Who Theme Composer: 30 Years In The TARDIS[Factual] | as Original Theme Music: Doctor Who Prom (2008)[Music]; The Eleventh Hour; The Beast Below; The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone; The Bells of Saint John; The Rings of Akhaten; Nightmare in Silver; The Name of the Doctor; The Day of The Doctor
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Ron Grainer (1922-1981)
(this image appears for illustrative purposes only and no attempt is made to supersede any copyright attributed to it)

Ronald Erle Grainer

Born: Friday 11th August 1922
Died: Saturday 21st February 1981 (age: 58)


Ron Grainer was one of the mos prolific composers of music for British television.  He composed the Doctor Who Theme music used on every episode of the series.

Grainer was born in Atherton, Queensland, Australia, where his father owned the local milk bar. His mother played piano and Ron was on the keyboard from the age of two and considered a child genius, playing concerts for the local community by the age of six. 

He studied music under Sir Eugene Goosens at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, but this was interrupted by World War II. He returned to Sydney Conservatorium when the war ended but he gave up the violin to concentrate on composition. 

In 1952, he moved to England, initially finding work as a pianist in light entertainment, touring as part of a musical act - The Alien Brothers & June - with other acts such as Billy Daniels, Guy Mitchell, Frankie Laine, Al Martino and Billy Eckstine. He was rewarded with no less than three appearances at the London Palladium.

He began to act regularly as musical adviser to many gala programmes produced by Associated Rediffusion TV, including those featuring Tito Gobbi and Maria Callas. He was asked to write music for a number of television plays, including The Birthday Party, and also accepted the job as musical adviser to a Julie Andrews series. He was commissioned to write both the theme and incidental music for a new detective series - "Maigret" (1960) - based on the books written by Georges Simenon. This proved to be a major landmark in Grainer's own career. His work on Maigret, which began in 1960 with Rupert Davies in the title role, was directly responsible for him securing his first recording deal with Warner Bros., who issued both a single and e.p. featuring musical extracts from the BBC series. Bandleader Joe Loss also recorded the theme and perhaps surprisingly it was his single which reached number 20 in the charts.

Over the next few years, a succession of TV themes and scores followed, many for the BBC. The first of these was Happy Joe in 1962, the theme to "Comedy Playhouse" One of the first Comedy Playhouse pilots to get its own series was "Steptoe and Son" (1962), which starred Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H. Corbett as the feuding father and son rag and bone men. Grainer was invited to compose the theme, which he named Old Ned - a reference to the horse which in the opening sequence was shown pulling the cart along.

One of BBC's very first cooking programmes, Fanny Craddock, transmitted in 1963, also benefited from a Grainer theme, as did Giants Of Steam, "The Flying Swan" (1965) & "The Old Curiosity Shop" (1962). In 1963, Grainer was asked to provide a theme for a new children's BBC's science fiction series entitled "Doctor Who" (1963). Despite some changes in the arrangement, this theme is still being used today.

Producer Ned Sherrin was impressed with Grainer's ability to create themes for such a wide variety of programmes and in the same year commissioned him to compose the theme for the ground-breaking satirical BBC TV show, "That Was the Week That Was" (1962) and its successor, "Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life" (1964). Lyricist Caryl Brahms provided the words sung by Millicent Martin.

After concentrating for a few years on films and theatre work, 1967 saw him back on the small screen. "Man in a Suitcase" (1967), an ITC series starring Richard Bradford as McGill - "The Prisoner (1967). and  "Paul Temple" (1969), created by thriller-writer Francis Durbridge for a series of novels in the 1930s.

 In the early seventies, Grainer achieved further success as a writer of television themes with three commissions for London Weekend Television: Man In The News, "Trouble with Lilian, The" (1971) and "The Train Now Standing (1972), as well as one for Thames - "For the Love of Ada" (1970). 

He was commissioned by Anglia Television to write the theme for a new mystery series entitled "Tales of the Unexpected" (1979). Thames Television provided Grainer with two further commissions in that same year. "Born and Bred" (1978) and "Edward & Mrs. Simpson" (1980). 

Ron Grainer continued writing music for television and films right up to his death in 1981, including two comedies for Independent Television: "Shelley" (1979) and "It Takes a Worried Man" (1981) His score for The Business Of Murder, an episode of LWT's Saturday Night Thriller series, was his very last and was transmitted posthumously in 1982. 

He died on 21st February, 1981, suffering from cancer of the spine.