16th Nov, 2018

Dr Who theme writer Delia Derbyshire-inspired school workshops launched by Coventry University

Felix Nobes 27th Nov, 2017

A SCHOOLS initiative in honour of a late electronic music pioneer has been launched by Coventry University.

The children at Hearsall School became space travellers when they took part in a Delia Derbyshire themed workshop last week.

Coventry University arranged the science, maths and music workshops to mark the life of Coventry-born Delia, who created the eerie Doctor Who theme music while at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the 60s.

Delia was awarded a posthumous honorary doctorate by the university in a ceremony at Coventry Cathedral last year.

Children from years four and six at the Kingston Road school took part in the workshops, led by Coventry University staff, actors from Noctium Theatre and local sound engineer and musician Tim Seeley.

The workshop will again be staged at Walsgrave Church of England Academy on December 11.

The sessions were designed to raise awareness of Delia’s achievements and to help them think about maths and science in a different way – just like Delia.

Delia famously said the noises of air raid sirens and bombs dropping which she heard as a child in the Coventry Blitz inspired her electronic music creations.

Delia, a former Barr’s Hill Grammar School pupil, studied maths at Cambridge university.

But when she applied for a job as a studio manager at Decca Records, she was rebuffed as they ‘did not employ women’.

Although she found a post at the Radiophonic Workshop, she was not credited for her work on the Doctor Who theme.

As part of the workshops, children watched Delia step out of a Tardis into war-torn Coventry, before learning about her life and trying her innovative music-making techniques.

Coventry University staff, led by journalism course leader Bianca Wright, also used virtual reality helmets to transport children back into 1940s Coventry, so they could experience the world which inspired Delia for themselves.

Year Four pupil Ishmael Kohler, nine, said: “I think it was very selfish she did not get to work at the record company because she was a woman. It was great she got to write music eventually or we wouldn’t have the Doctor Who them.”

Harry Crowther, nine, said: “It was so interesting hearing about her life in the Blitz. It was scary but it helped her make her music.”

Nora Faulkner, nine, said: “I found out lots about Delia I didn’t know. It was really interesting.”

Sound engineer and musician Tim Seeley, who helped lead the workshop, said: “Delia was incredibly important and it is great now that we and Coventry university are helping her get the credit that is long overdue. She really fought against the odds to succeed and her story and techniques have really engaged the children.”

Coventry University are supporting Noctium Theatre, which is made up of former Coventry University drama students, to tour a play about Delia’s life next year.

Jess Rowe, Noctium Theatre actor, who played Delia in the workshops, said: “It was a privilege to play such and interesting woman and the children clearly found her life so interesting. I think Delia would be pleased to think she was inspiring future mathematicians and musicians.”

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