In 2017, actress and filmmaker Caroline Catz delivered a short documentary titled Delia Derbyshire: The Myths And The Legendary Tapes as proof of concept to raise funds for a more ambitious project. The full film of the same name has now been fleshed out to a runtime of 98 minutes and a trailer has been shared ahead of its online premiere via BFI London Film Festival from October 15th-18th.
Delia Derbyshire was an early electronic music composer perhaps best known for her work on the theme song for the television show Doctor Who. The documentary explores her life and artistry, with particular focus on her time with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and subsequent move to Cumbria, where she found work at the LYC Museum and Gallery. Catz both directed and starred in the film, with Cosey Fanni Tutti scoring it using samples from Derbyshire’s Attic Tapes (which were recovered after her death in 2001).
Shortly after BFI London Film Festival screened the teaser in 2018, Catz wrote a guest piece for Delia Derbyshire Day about the journey leading up to Delia Derbyshire: The Myths And The Legendary Tapes. She recounted gaining access to the Derbyshire’s archive of 267 tapes and journals in 2008, which were in the custody of the University of Manchester‘s Centre for Screen Studies.
“These were wonderful pieces that were so powerful and affecting and I was moved by how beautiful and melodic they were and yet not a single musical instrument had been used,” wrote Catz. “These were handcrafted tapestries of electronic sound. It was through listening to these tapes that I really connected with Delia.”
Tickets to watch Delia Derbyshire: The Myths And The Legendary Tapes can be purchased on the BFI London Film Festival website.