Delia Derbyshire wrote some of, and played all of, one of the most famous—and earliest widely-known—pieces of electronic music ever. Not only that, she did so before the advent of the first commercially-available synthesizer.
(Brian Hodgson composed the tardis sound.)
She was a kid in Coventry during WW2, hearing all the weird and haunting sounds of air raids and all-clear signals.
Decca Records told her that they did not employ women in their recording studios. So she joined the BBC. Delia said, “I was told in no uncertain terms that the BBC does not employ composers.”
Seeing the footage about her contributions to the Doctor Who theme was really the highlight of the Doctor Who Experience. As a Torchwood fan (and not really a Doctor Who fan), I felt left out for the most part.
There’s a great page about the history of the theme song.
On first hearing it Grainer was tickled pink: “Did I really write this?” he asked. “Most of it,” replied Derbyshire.
Yet, even though Grainer wanted Derbyshire to receive credit and a share of the royalties, it didn’t happen that way due to BBC red tape (no doubt assisted by the fact that Delia was female). Thus, she became uncredited and without royalties for something that has been heard by millions of people.
Bitter, she left the industry, became an alcoholic, and later developed breast cancer. Though she did get back into electronic music in the 90s, toward the end of her life, she died of kidney failure in 2001.
I find it curious that the BBC created an exhibit for her in the Doctor Who Experience—but still never managed to correct the credits or royalty situation.
If you’d like to learn more about her, here’s a bunch of YouTube links, but you probably want to start with Sculptress of Sound
Her name was Delia Derbyshire, and she loved listening to thunderstorms.