“I wish he’d never discovered that place…”

VASTRA: WHERE’S STRAX GOT TO?
JENNY: THE USUAL. IT’S HIS WEEKEND OFF.
VASTRA: I WISH HE’D NEVER DISCOVERED THAT PLACE…

Speaking of Victorian Glasgow, I am very glad he did as it gave Doctor Who composer Murray Gold the excuse to take me to London to perform at the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Prom.  I’ve been making Murray aware of my existance as a Doctor Who loving bagpiper for many years now, hoping this unlikely opportunity may arise.  To my joy, after a short spell of logistic and admin organizing, it did.

The piece was short, but essentially a 6/8 battle march version of the 11th Doctor’s theme forming part of a suite of music from the most recent TV episode “The Name of the Doctor”.  The scene involved Strax, the Sontaran, having a bar fight in a Glasgow pub in 1893.

Written in Am, the guys wanted the look of Highland Pipes so I used my A Chanter from Hamish Moore and some new accessories from MG Reeds and McCallum Bagpipes to extend the drones.

After the first run through I had a chat with Ben Foster, conductor and orchestrator, who surprised me when he told me there some Scottish blood in him and loved the pipes – he was also a big fan of “Oor Wullie”!  A semi-joke of a comment at the organising stage from orchestrator to composer had been what sparked the whole idea of having live pipes in the show!

All in all, I only performed the piece four times between rehearsals and gigs but what an experience it was to be hanging about backstage with the Doctor Who cast and crew from all 50 years of the show, I met a lot of great people from the show and it’s house band, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the London Philharmonic Choir.  One of the Choir members made the moment even more surreal when he produced his “Sight Readable Ceol Mor” Book from his bag – a book of classic bagpipe scores!
The picture above shows Jenna Coleman (Clara), Matt Smith (The Doctor), Carol Anne Ford (Susan), Ben Foster (Conductor, Orchestrator), Peter Davison (The Fifth Doctor), Neeve McIntosh (Vastra), Dan Starkey (Strax), Kerri Ingram (Queen of Years), Elin Manahan Thomas, Allan Clayton, Nick Briggs (Voice of the Daleks, Cybermen, Judoon, etc), me and Murray Gold (Composer).

The picture above shows Jenna Coleman (Clara), Matt Smith (The Doctor), Carol Anne Ford (Susan), Ben Foster (Conductor, Orchestrator), Peter Davison (The Fifth Doctor), Neeve McIntosh (Vastra), Dan Starkey (Strax), Kerri Ingram (Queen of Years), Elin Manahan Thomas, Allan Clayton, Nick Briggs (Voice of the Daleks, Cybermen, Judoon, etc), me and Murray Gold (Composer).


I can’t thank these guys enough for this opportunity – unlikely though it was!

The show went out live on BBC Radio 3 and will be broadcast on BBC One this Autumn.  In the meantime, here’s a video of the piece from the audience. :)

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