My Years in the Mildewed Wedding Cake

Brian Hodgson

Brian Hodgson joined the Radiophonic Workshop in 1962 and worked on sound effects for Doctor Who until 1972. He devised the TARDIS sound, created by running a door key along a bass string of a gutted piano, as well as the voices of the Daleks, produced by feeding the sound of an actor’s voice through a ring modulator.

In 1966, along with Delia Derbyshire and EMS founder Peter Zinovieff, he helped set up Unit Delta Plus, promoting their work at various festivals. In the late sixties he again worked with Delia, this time along with David Vorhaus, at their Kaleidophon studio, their album as the band White Noise being entitled An Electric Storm.

Brian left the Workshop in 1972 to set up Electrophon Studios with Delia Derbyshire, where he collaborated with Dudley Simpson to produce the album In a Covent Garden / Further Thoughts On the Classics. He followed this by music for the horror film The Legend of Hell House and the production of Burt Alcantara’s pioneering album Zygoat.

In 1974 Brian teamed up with John Lewis under the name Wavemaker, creating two synthesiser collections, New Atlantis and Where Are We Captain ?….

He returned to the Workshop in 1977, becoming Head of the department in 1983. Due to the increasing pressures of the BBC’s ‘market economy’ he was forced to resign in 1995.

Brian describes how he joined the Workshop in its earliest days, how he and the other consummate professionals there struggled with the inadequate equipment of the time, and how, on his return to the Workshop, he instigated modern technology, only for that to be followed by the inevitable decline caused by commercial competition.

Brian: This memoir is my personal overview of events, including the political background. For engineering details, see Ray's superb information on this site. The BBC Radiophonic Workshop - The First 25 Years, by Desmond Briscoe and Roy Curtis Bramwell, has lots of details of the early years, whilst Peter Howell's excellent book, Radiophonic Times, provides much more information about the experience of the composer. Click here to see more details on books.

A Short Glossary of Terms

Mildewed Wedding Cake: the BBC’s Maida Vale studios, whose elaborate Edwardian stucco plasterwork, formerly begrimed and mouldy, had the appearance of cake icing.

Fag-end: money left over from other departments' completed projects.

Lollipop: provided to stop the Head of the Workshop complaining about a lack of resources.

1. From Radio Sonic to Radio Phonic

2. From Fag-ends and Lollipops to Final Curtains