Doctor Who: The Theme

The Definitive Guide to the Doctor Who Theme Music

Welcome to the definitive guide to the original theme music for long-running BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, composed in 1963 by Ron Grainer and realised by Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

The material explained below is based on the original Derbyshire theme. Subsequent versions of the theme will be covered in the future, and the ways in which they differ will be covered in their individual sections.

Primary Sections


The Intro section was originally comprised of four repeats of the bassline in the form (E, E, E, G). In the first two, each bassline block is a dum-de-dum, and in the second two, all of the E's are diddly-dums, with the G being a high-low dum-dum-diddy.

In some later versions, the Intro section is shortened by removing the second half.

Melody 1

All Melody 1 sections begin with a G high-low dum-dum-diddy. The only exceptions to this are when the Melody 1 bassline plays at the end of the bridge or when one Melody 1 leads directly into another.

The bassline during Melody 1 is in the form (E, E, B, B) and always consists of two repeats of:

  • two E diddly-dums (not dum-de-dums),
  • a B diddly-dum,
  • a B low-high dum-dum-diddy.

Melody 2

The bassline during the Melody 2 section is in the form (E, E, G, B, E, E) and always consists of:

  • two E dum-de-dums,
  • one G dum-de-dum,
  • a B low-high dum-dum-diddy,
  • two E dum-de-dums.

Then follows a segment which is repeated twice, in the form (B, B, B, D) and comprised of:

  • three B dum-de-dums,
  • a D high-low dum-dum-diddy.

If leading back into Melody 1, the final D high-low dum-dum-diddy is replaced with a G high-low dum-dum-diddy.


As stated above, the bridge bassline always begins with a D high-low dum-dum-diddy. From there, the bassline during the first section of the bridge is in the form (G, G, G, G, D, G, G, G) and consists of:

  • four low G diddly-dums,
  • one D dum-de-dum,
  • three low G diddly-dums.

The second section of the bridge is in the form (C, G, C, G, B, B) and has:

  • one C diddly-dum,
  • one low G diddly-dum,
  • one C diddly-dum,
  • one low G diddly-dum,
  • two B diddly-dums.

Note that there is no dum-dum-diddy at the end of the bridge bassline. This is a common misunderstanding, as it is the only place in the theme where two consecutive B bassline blocks are followed by an E without a low-high dum-dum-diddy to link them.

Additional Sections

Bassline Solo

The Bassline Solo consists of two repeats of the first two bars of the bassline of Melody 2 (E, E, G, B).


The end of the theme consists of two Melody 1 sections back-to-back.

Note that the G high-low dum-dum-diddy that leads into the first Melody 1 is not repeated for the second Melody 1.

Bringing it Together

Bassline: First Layer

Bassline: Second Layer

Bassline: Both Layers Together


Melody with Emphasis

Full Theme

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