This past week on Doctor Who the Time Lord was reunited with her ship. As expected, Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor has triggered a redesign of the TARDIS interior. New photographs have been released which provide a more detailed glimpse inside the blue box. BlogtorWho takes a look…

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
Doctor Who – Series 11 – TARDIS (c) BBC

In a slight change from recent years, the TARDIS doors don’t enter directly into the console room. Instead the police box itself is present, acting as intergalactic porch if you will. If you look very closely you can see that the windows are attached at the top, suggesting that they can open inwards, hinged at the base. This little feature has only previously been seen in the 1960’s Dalek movies which starred Peter Cushing. Stepping through the TARDIS Police Box an intricate pattern surrounds, forming an archway over the walkway to the central console.

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
Doctor Who – Series 11 – TARDIS (c) BBC

Roundels in a hexagonal arrangement, with a seventh roundel in the centre, have been a consistent theme since 1963. Originally designed by Peter Brachacki it has been an ever-present since. Season 14’s secondary control room, full of wood panelling had roundels but not in the hexagonal pattern. The 1996 Eighth Doctor and original 2010 Eleventh Doctor console room toned down the roundels and hexagons. With only those exceptions it has been constant. Now in 2018 however, the two have been cleverly merged together. Roundels within hexagons and a clever interlocking pattern.

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
Doctor Who – Series 11 – TARDIS (c) BBC

This intricate pattern arches over the walkway to the console. It cleverly provides a bridging between the outside universe and the dimensionally transcendental interior. Additional hexagons are also seen on the walkway ramp, providing illumination from beneath, perhaps from within the heart of the TARDIS itself. This geometric pattern also hints at the interlocking cogs and gears of complex mechanical machinery.

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
Doctor Who – Series 11 – TARDIS (c) BBC

The Console

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
Doctor Who – Series 11 – TARDIS (c) BBC

With a new TARDIS interior comes a new console. This new design has chrome features and subtle lighting. A clean and elegant control system for a time and space ship. In the centre, a crystalline core protrudes outward to the ceiling. Below the console is a new floor with pattern that again alludes to the hexagonal. Coupled with a glowing yellow, it is akin to a honeycomb, a pattern seen in nature. This combination of the organic and the scientific harks back to the 2005 design which was used by the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. Edward Thomas’ design used coral rather than crystal with this new version a fresh interpretation on that theme.

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
Doctor Who – Series 11 – TARDIS (c) BBC

Surrounding the edge of the TARDIS floor is some intricate Gallifreyan script. Since Doctor Who returned in 2005 Circular Gallifreyan has been seen regularly. From post-it notes on the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s screen to the symbols lining the rotating time rotor seen in the previous console design. On this occasion the lettering appears to surround the edging of the flooring that elevates the console.

Features

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
Picture shows: TARDIS interior (c) BBC

Atop the new console are some extra features. An egg timer seems rather appropriate for a time machine. ‘The Sands of Time’ was also the title of a Fifth Doctor Missing Adventures novel by Justin Richards, recently republished by BBC Books. Perhaps someone was a fan? The retro chrome microphone is also an intriguing feature. Perhaps we may see the Thirteenth Doctor recording a ‘Captain’s Log’ style diary entry after an adventure? A microphone was also useful for the Eleventh Doctor when delivering the iconic “I am talking!” speech during ‘The Pandorica Opens’.

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
Doctor Who – Series 11 – TARDIS (c) BBC

The crystal theme continues with a partly transparent, crystalline miniature of the TARDIS exterior attached to the console. Older fans may recall that the Daleks used a model of the TARDIS as target practice for their primitive weapons testing in ‘Death to the Daleks’. With a fixed central column, incapable of rising and falling to indicate flight, this feature fits the role instead. In the previous console room, which originally debuted in ‘The Snowmen’, the TARDIS’ flight status was indicated by the massive rotating time rotor high above. This solution is far simpler and far more intricate, consistent with the many other design intricacies already noted.

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
Doctor Who – Series 11 – TARDIS (c) BBC

Protective Shell

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
Doctor Who – Series 11 – TARDIS (c) BBC

In the single wide shot used in ‘The Ghost Monument’ revealed a protective outer shell. Although the TARDIS interior is said to be in a state of temporal grace, the exterior does come under stress at times. From crash landings in Berlin to Leadworth, it does seem wise to protect the ship’s occupants at times. This protective shell again uses the hexagonal pattern, continuing the honeycomb, interlocking motif which has been dominant thus far. A glowing blue also adds calming illumination.

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
Doctor Who – Series 11 – TARDIS (c) BBC

A close up of one panel again reveals the continuation of the hexagon and roundel theme. Once again the ideas of Peter Brachacki for ‘An Unearthly Child’ 55 years ago resonate. They are also particularly similar to features seen dotted around the outside of the 2010 Eleventh Doctor console room and the roundels of the previous coral design used by his two predecessors. The deep blue also mirrors the colour of the exterior, cementing that the two representations of the ship, interior and exterior, are unified.

Huge congratulations to Arwel Wyn Jones as Production Designer and his team for the new TARDIS interior.

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Bedwyr Gullidge
Assistant Director (uncredited) on Doctor Who episodes ‘Dark Water/Death in Heaven’, ‘Last Christmas’, 'The Return of Doctor Mysterio' and ‘Thin Ice’. A fan and collector since 6 years of age having watched Doctor Who repeats on BBC2. Equally enthusiastic about Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Lucky enough to own original costumes worn by Freema Agyeman, John Barrowman and Elisabeth Sladen. Author of a book chronicling the history of Doctor Who exhibitions coming soon from Telos Publishing.

5 COMMENTS

  1. In the William Hartnell story “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” the TARDIS windows were seen to be open inwards when the ship landed.
    Your assertion that only Peter Cushing’s TARDIS had this feature is incorrect. Good article though.

    • That’s true. My memories have clearly blurred with the two versions over the years. Don’t remember any other instances during the Hartnell era though? Thank you.

  2. That raised circular dias that the console sits on bothers me, as does the fact that it is circular, not hexagonal. I can only think of one reason for these features: that the rotor remains still and the whole console slowly rotates. That would look stunning!

  3. You are incorrect in saying that the central crystalline structure in the middle of the console (that looks very plastic in my opinion) does not move; it actually does. I saw it moving up and down several times (albeit quite wobbly) in various episodes. It is also linked to the four ‘pillars’ around the console, at the top!

    You also neglected to say that the small police box model on the console actually spins!

    I’m not a big fan of the new interior ‘look’, especially the console, as there are realistically not enough in the way of controls on it to be able to operate a ship the size and complexity of the Tardis!

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