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Richard Yeoman-Clark 1944-2019

Richard Yeoman-Clark was a composer and audio engineer. For millions of UK telefantasy fans, he was responsible for some of the most distinctive and recognisable special sounds through his work on the first one-and-a-half seasons of Blake’s 7.

Richard joined the BBC as soon as he left school, initially as a technical operator, slowly moving up the ranks to become a studio manager. In 1970, he joined the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and it would appear that his main contribution in those early years was as a technical engineer. His skills helped to enhance some of the new equipment installed in the workshop. A good example is the huge EMS Synthi 100, known as the ‘Delaware’ - Doctor Who fans will know this from the soundtrack for The Sea Devils - which benefited from the 'Richard Yeoman-Clark mixer’, allowing greater control of the different sources used to create a range of sounds.



That isn’t to say that traditional techniques such as musique concrete were not part of his repertoire, but as his output for Blake’s 7 testifies, he gravitated towards an engineered approach to sound creations, utilising tones, frequencies and oscillations. The hum of the Liberator’s engines and the blasts of various guns were simple, but highly effective. The operations of the various computers such as Zen and Orac were centered around different frequencies. The sound of the Liberator’s main screen, and teleport materialisation fx played with the rising and falling of pitch and tone.

His ‘regular’ sounds were direct and distinctive, but he could be capable of some complex layered soundscapes, such as the ‘psychic attack’ on Blake, Jenna and Avon as they enter the Liberator flight deck for the first time. He was responsible for a number of planetary and background atmospheres - his composition ‘Mysterioso’, which featured in Servalan’s office in Weapon is a case in point.



An opportunity to further his technical skills presented itself in 1978, and he left the Radiophonic Workshop to become a technical manager at a recording studio. This led to a hurried handover to Elizabeth Parker, who brought a completely different - and equally effective - approach to sound creation. She favoured organic, humanistic and - in her own words - ‘feminine’ textures. But the canvas she inherited was one of the most distinctive and recognisable collection of sounds that drove the high-octane narrative of Blake’s 7.

Richard continued to enjoy a busy career working in education and a number of studios, and in his later career he worked for the BFI National Archive until his retirement in 2012.

Richard Yeoman-Clark passed away peacefully on 16th September 2019, aged 75 years.

Sources:
Radiophonic Workshop Staff 2013
Richard Yeoman-Clark at the controls of the Delaware
BFI National Archives







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