BBC National Orchestra of Wales

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The logo of the BBC NOW, current as of 2016

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales — often abbreviated as BBC NOW, and known in Welsh as Cerddorfa Genedlaethol Gymreig y BBC — was the orchestra used by composer Murray Gold and orchestrator-conductors Ben Foster and Alastair King from series 2 to perform the incidental and theme music for Doctor Who. Technically, their full name is the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales; Gold used both the choral and orchestral aspects of the group to score Doctor Who. The orchestra, along with Gold, departed the show after the 2017 Christmas Special, but both have since returned for the 60th anniversary specials in 2023 and beyond.


The orchestra can be traced back to 1928 as the "Cardiff Station Orchestra", while the Chorus began in 1947 as the "BBC Welsh Chorus". Although it has always served as a broadcasting orchestra, it has equally been considered the national orchestra of Wales for most of its life. That is to say, it records music for programmes broadcast on television and radio, but it also gives public concerts for the people of Wales and represents Wales by touring abroad. However, it was not until 1993 that it assumed its present name, which underscores its dual status.

Doctor Who-related programming[[edit]]

The inclusion of the orchestra in Doctor Who was largely because of the unexpected success of series 1. With an expanded budget for series 2, Julie Gardner could afford to indulge the wishes of Russell T Davies and Murray Gold to orchestrate fully the show's score. The production team emphasised the importance of the orchestra with a special concert in Cardiff in November 2006, just prior to the premiere of The Runaway Bride. That concert featured the talents of the chorus as well, because the NOW Chorus was used extensively throughout series 2.

This chorus was not the first to be employed by Gold. He had used the Crouch End Festival Chorus briefly in series 1, before switching to NOW for series 2. Gold returned to Crouch End for series 3 and gradually came to prefer them. As of series 5, NOW were the Doctor Who orchestra, and Crouch End its chorus. As of December 2023, Crouch End has yet to be credited on any shows from after NOW's return for the 60th anniversary.

The orchestra has been of relatively less importance to the BBC Wales spin-off shows. They have never been used on The Sarah Jane Adventures or Class, and were only a part of the third series of Torchwood, Children of Earth.

Prior to 2023, on no Doctor Who or Torchwood television story were they credited for anything specifically to do with music. Instead their credit was always "With thanks to". The End of Time was the first Doctor Who story to credit conductor/orchestrator Ben Foster (later replaced by Alastair King midway through series 9), recordist Gerry O'Riordan and mixer Jake Jackson for their work, though this style of crediting varied throughout series 5. From series 8 to Twice Upon a Time, the orchestra were credited singularly in the "With thanks to" section, with the priorly-listed crew now added to the main list of credits, aside from series 8's Time Heist, which briefly returned to the previous format. Some episodes in series 10 left them uncredited, while others simply had them credited as "National Orchestra of Wales". Upon the orchestra's return in the 2023 specials, they were formally credited for the first time as the performer of Murray Gold's music, once again alongside King and Jackson, but not an orchestral recordist.



Music performer[[edit]]

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