News Categories
Archives

How does the TARDIS reflect the Doctor? (Part 2)

Guest contributor Richard Elliot analyses what the TARDIS console room says about each Doctor (Part 2).

tardis-console-war-doctor-hurt

I was extremely humbled by many of the responses to the article I wrote recently, “How does the TARDIS reflect the Doctor?”; a piece in which I discussed how each TARDIS control room over the years has reflected some of the core character traits of the incumbent incarnation at the time. Thank you all for your interest and your feedback, it really did blow me away and I feel extremely grateful to you and Doctor Who TV for the chance to write such an article.

One thing that kept cropping up, though, was my omission of the War Doctor’s TARDIS, something which I, too, consider one of my favourites and feel deserves consideration. In actual fact, in an early half-forgotten rough cut of the article, the War Doctor’s did make an appearance although it soon became obvious to me that the words would be better put to use discussing the more mainstream control rooms. Seeing as there seemed to be some interest, I decided to write out the piece about the War Doctor’s TARDIS in full, as well as the others I had considered…

The War Doctor’s Control Room

hurts-tardis-console

One might think that due to the nature that this set was constructed there must be little to say about how it can reflect the War Doctor, but to paraphrase Irene Adler in the BBC’s “Sherlock” – no matter how hard you try it’s always a self-portrait, really.

This set is a mixture of repurposed TARDIS parts. The console is from 2007, from a little known “Doctor Who Roadshow” that travelled Wales during Tennant’s era. Wondrously, it featured its own console room! A replica of the screen version albeit smaller with cardboard façade walls. The console and coral pillars, however, were built by the same chap who built the TV counterpart, and so are of very good quality, though smaller by about 30%. The roundel walls are from Hartnell’s control room from “An Adventure from in Space and Time” and are not green-screen as is commonly thought (This can be confirmed as one roundel is actually missing and you can see the studio floor behind!). The floor remains the only newly-constructed set piece.

Whilst on one hand the mix of styles, old and new, is clearly a measure to bridge the gap between Classic and Modern Who it still reflects the character in other ways. The console is coral and dirty, it has none of the flourishes of the McGann variant and none of the decoration of the Davison one. It’s almost as if it was built in a hurry with no thought as to where certain controls should be placed, navigation controls may be feet away from each other, for example, and there’s no effort at comfort. Exactly what we’d expect from a Doctor who is trying to fight a war, who does not allow himself to relax or who is trying to rid himself of many habits of his past, but has still had to make do with that he already has, old components or old templates, just to keep the ship running.

Tennant’s console (incidentally my favourite console, seeing as that seemed to be a discussion topic in the comments before!) has also undergone a few alterations since the Roadshow. The coral is dirtier and there are metal plates around the console panels as opposed to the later coral rings. This is more functional, the TARDIS isn’t growing at its leisure, and not being allowed to become beautiful, but simply needs to do a job and is feeling the effects of that severely. It, too, is almost crying out in desperation “NO MORE”. Much like the War Doctor, this TARDIS is likeable and beautiful on top, a really interesting character in itself, but it screams pain.

Season 27 Control Room

tardis-console-proto-season-27

Ah, the one some of you may not have seen or even heard of! There’s a reason for that – it never existed! Discussion of this needs context:

During the late 1980s it was no secret Doctor Who was failing. Ratings and audience appreciation were down, the show seemed to have lost its sci-fi roots, one Doctor had been disgracefully treated and the current one was barely allowed any choice in his own characterisation; the latter perhaps the biggest mistake possible when producing Doctor Who. Nevertheless, in 1988, and certainly by 1989 something strange happened: suddenly Doctor Who was good again! Stories like “Remembrance of the Daleks” and “The Curse of Fenric” reinvented what Doctor Who was for that era, whilst less-loved storied such as “Battlefield” honoured the past in great ways whilst allowing McCoy to stretch his legs and really take the Doctor in his own ground-breaking direction. It is small wonder, then, why there is so much bad feeling towards the BBC during that time. It is one thing to cancel a failing show, it is another entirely to axe a show that is making a startlingly quick comeback in both ratings and appreciation.

Had this new Doctor Who continued, a new control room would be needed. The old one was pretty much useless now (ever wondered why it looks strange in “Battlefield”?) and the new show needed distance from recent past. The Season 27 control room was an original idea that both honoured the old and celebrated the new. It was relatively small, with small roundels and walls that bowed outwards. The main door was made more of a feature, as was the back door, inviting the audience to wonder what else this ship contained. The console was a symphony of intricacy and engineering, a full-length rotor stretching into the ceiling and suspending the futuristic panels 2 feet off the floor.

It’s difficult to tell how this relates to the Season 27 7th Doctor, we never saw him, but we can guess from his direction in 26: He’s once again becoming more thoughtful and calculated, the room is less comfortable, whilst the console position and controls immediately boggle the mind of anyone who are not up to the task of understanding the underlying principles of flying the ship. It’s a dark room, almost claustrophobic and intimidating with its sharp pillars, grey walls and Gallifreyan heritage, but it’s also deceptively light and spacious. The lights in the ceiling provide welcome relief from the heavy atmosphere and it’s mainly because of the angle of the walls the room looks so small. All in all then, whereas the Doctor has started to become more calculating and more of a trickster than before, manipulating his enemies but still retaining that soft and humorous centre from earlier on, the TARDIS likewise puts on a show, looking less approachable than it actually is and retaining the old good nature at heart.

Shalka Control Room

shalka-tardis-console

Probably not canon unless you like to consider this some sort of alternate universe, the control room from “Scream of the Shalka” featuring Richard E. Grant as an alternative 9th Doctor from 2003 is nevertheless unique and worthy of consideration. It’s perhaps the best example of a TARDIS resembling its Doctor.

The room is dark and uninviting. How big it truly is we don’t know, it seems almost like a tunnel stretching up into darkness with a magnificent spiral staircase leading the way up. The console is on a raised dais and is ugly in a beautiful way; dark and with a tall time rotor, it has angled panels full of manual controls and gears, it’s more steam locomotive than TARDIS. A ruined Victorian/Jules Verne theme is evident: red and green carpets and brass abound.

Just like this room, the Shalka Doctor is unfriendly. We don’t know him, how far he will stretch. He screams refinement in his voice and appearance but seems to have more in common with Dracula than Victorian fancy. Everything about both characters is intimidating and unlikable, yet they are both still recognisably the Doctor and The TARDIS, and neither seem beyond salvage. The Doctor’s unfailing morality and kindness and the TARDIS’s grandeur ready to be revealed at the flick of a light switch do not fail to endear either of them to the beholder. Although they may seem far-gone now, one day they will both come back, yes, they will both come back.

So there we have it, my ramblings on 3 more of the control rooms I considered for the original article. I tried to be a bit more meaty here with more room to work with and I hope it lead to some interesting discussion! I have no doubt that Peter Capaldi will be a fantastic new Doctor – bring on August 23rd!

Step back in time...

COMMENT GUIDELINES

Please be civil and keep article comments relevant and on topic. Flag and report any offensive/trolling behavior, or contact us with details.
Please do not post SPOILERS including anything from leaked episodes! Your account could be banned. For complete details on our comment policy please read.
60 comments
BobbieBob
BobbieBob

Thank you, very thought-provoking article.

StephenCoppins
StephenCoppins

Your analysis and thoughts about each of the Doctors and their control rooms, in both articles, is spot on.  Well done!

MJJ
MJJ

Thanks for the Hurt Doctor TARDIS, and the others two as well.

davidbrummy
davidbrummy

I think the fact the console had bits missing, the TARDIS walls had been junked says it all about how the BBC felt about Doctor Who when it cancelled the show.  

The One Eyestalk
The One Eyestalk

These were some great articles! Thanks for making them, both have been interesting and fun to read!

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

Good follow up article. Would the console in the S27 set be hung from the ceiling? Fine for the modern permanent set, but for something temporarily built in BBC TV centre might be tricky to make solid!

MetamorphmagusWho
MetamorphmagusWho

Will you be doing one of these articles on Capaldi's TARDIS, once we see it in action? I find these articles very interesting and make me realise how much thought goes in to designing each Doctor's console room.

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

a suspended console would have been interesting but id be worried that whenever anyone lent on it it would break lol

The Finn
The Finn

A very interesting sequel!

Oodkind is foretold...
Oodkind is foretold...

Great article once again! I didn't know anything about the 27 control room-- very interesting. I wonder what Doctor Who would be like if it wasn't canceled. I like your analysis of the war doctor's TARDIS too. Good work!

DasManiac
DasManiac

Despite being cobbled together, The War Doctor's TARDIS really does suit him. It's functional and suits his more down to business personality. Whereas The Eighth was an exuberant flashy man, The War Doctor was quieter and more rigged. It fits him being solder to have something functional. I would argue the roundels represent The Doctor subconsciously acknowledging that he is still The Doctor. It's a reminder of his past and a testament to who he really is.

Polyphase
Polyphase

Love that first photo and the scene that goes along with it :)

11th Doctor: Okay. Gentlemen, we're ready. Geronimo!
10th Doctor 10: Allons-y!
War Doctor: Oh, for God's sake. Gallifrey stands!

Unibot
Unibot

That hypothetical Seventh Doctor Tardis is beautiful. 

Venawesomeo
Venawesomeo

Once again, beautiful article. Didn't have a clue the Series 27 console existed. 

Love the War Doctor's room too.... I see it more of a bridge between the Classic and Revived though the part where the coral from the console meets the metal of the floor looks a bit... unpleasant. Painful, even. I agree with you on that one. 

My personal fave is either Eleventh's first (which was just lovely) or Capaldi's with the orange glow and the bookcases. Tis just nice.



Polyphase
Polyphase

Great article and a lot of interesting stuff :)

Love the season 27 console and the Shalka one, seriously though any of them would do.......... please

doctorwhomultiverse
doctorwhomultiverse

Perhaps the you could also write a brief article on the Master's and the Rani's Tardis as this article was amazing and I think we all want more! THANK YOU!!! Also perhaps how the Paradox Machine version of Tennant's Tardis reflected the Master! I can't wait for a part 3 if you are going to write one!!!!!

davidbrummy
davidbrummy

I like these articles.  It would be fun to also discuss other TARDIS/Time Engines we have seen.

Clara Laurinda
Clara Laurinda

THANK YOU for this sequel, responding so thoroughly to some of our thoughts and questions. Well done and much appreciated, as was your first part.

Skylord Maldon
Skylord Maldon

When I look at the War Doctor's TARDIS, I see something that was beautiful, look at the white floor around the console and the round things as an example, and then the war doctor came along and abandoned it and left it "rotting" so to speak or another analogy is a old worn painting, you can admire the beauty that is there but time has worn it away. I don't quite see pain when I look at it :) but the article is well thought out :D


The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

My favourite interior was the Ninth/Tenth Doctor too. It was the first one I've seen and it stuck in my mind it seemed so alive, warm, welcoming and magical at the same time.

davidbrummy
davidbrummy

I like the whole battered approach to the War Doctors console showing the TARDIS to be at war also. The outside prop for the War Doctor looks in bad shape as well adding the whole feeling of the Time War.

The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

Very interesting and well researched article! I didn't know about the series 27 TARDIS and I've heard about Shada but I've never seen how the TARDIS looked like.


YaelMoise wonders if they'll reference the goddess
YaelMoise wonders if they'll reference the goddess

The War Doctor's Tardis screams pain? I really don't see it. 

Thanks for covering these ones too (I did not know about the season 27 one!), but I really don't agree with your take on War's console room.

Huknar
Huknar

I was half expecting the Lodger/Silence's TARDIS. Despite not being entirely sure how, or why they have it (it might not even be theirs!) it's still a very interesting control room. Got to love those coffin-shaped control panels.

JFrance
JFrance

Great articles. I didn't know about the season 27 console. It looks like a good console. It makes you think what Doctor Who would of been like if it never got cancelled in 89.  

Master Michael Moon
Master Michael Moon

How about the temporary control room that the Doctor built from old TARDIS scraps in The Doctor's Wife...? *quickly rushes to type third article*


Awqwapwnics
Awqwapwnics

@Oodkind An interesting thought- I wish we could give an animator the schematics of this console and tell them to adapt a Big Finish audio starring the older Seventh Doctor- around the time Bernice Summerfield joined him on his travels. I've always wanted to see that empty void between "Survival" and the TV movie close up in some way on screen. But the finances for such a production would be daunting to gather.

chmayer
chmayer

Not my favorite, but I like it very much. And it well suits the Doctors it held.

TheCyberDoctor isn't a Mummy
TheCyberDoctor isn't a Mummy

@The Outer Space K9 It certainly seemed more alive than any of the other interiors before and since. It seemed like it had been through a war, which made it so different to the previous designs. It suited both Doctor's perfectly! On a side note, I love how it was lit in The Doctor's Wife. It would probably have been lit similarly in TDOTD had it been possible to do it in an actual studio.

Huknar
Huknar

@YaelMoise I have to agree. The only thing I can see in The War Doctor's room is a hark back to Three's. The scientists room. Much like his view on the sonic screwdriver. Cold scientific viewpoint. The visible wires is very obviously a "straight to the point, do anything you have to, no prettying-up" attitude.

legionofthebeast
legionofthebeast

@TheCyberDoctor is Undead @The Outer Space K9 Wasn't Nine/Ten's TARDIS only lit poorly because of damage sustained by the pyrotechnics in The End of Time and the fact that it wasn't built for HD? I'm sure I've read a few comments like that before. Anyway, it's still beautiful however it's lit. In an interview of Ed Thomas for Da Vinci's Demons, he said RTD asked for it to be a "cathedral-like space" (he also says to look out for a TARDIS in some drawings in the background of DVD)

The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

It was a Blue Peter contest. I think there was quite a lot of interest in the matter at the time, especially since the expectations were really high for Gaiman's first episode.

chmayer
chmayer

For kids of all ages. : )