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How does the TARDIS reflect The Doctor? (Part 3)

Guest contributor Richard Elliot takes a look at some of the other TARDISes.

Well here I am again, frankly I’m astounded you haven’t all decided I’m nuts yet! I was once again blown away by the warm reaction to my last article, thank you all from the bottom of my heart! I deliberated over doing a third instalment, it seemed to me that I’d already covered all the topics I had originally planned to and there wasn’t much left to discuss but I had some really nice messages and comments suggesting other TARDISes I could look at before calling it quits, two of them pretty significant really, so I decided to do another three-part piece discussing those two and ending with something a little different that I touched on in my first article, something that I dearly wanted to discuss at length but didn’t have the word count to do. I hope you can bear with me in this one last time!

NOTE: There are a number of production reasons that lead to much of what I have and will talk about to have come into play. For the most part, I ignore these. I discuss the changes they entail but for the most part I try to focus on the changes that occur irrespective of these production reasons and what they signify as this leads to more significant discussion.

The Rani’s TARDIS

rani-tardis

To be clear, I am talking here about the “canon” TARDIS The Rani uses in “The Mark of the Rani” and “Time and the Rani”; the prop used in “Dimensions in Time” is an altogether different (shoe-string budget) piece that although nice in many isn’t the focus here.

Right, where to begin? A stunning original design that I cannot help but love but that I left out originally because, well, it doesn’t reflect the Doctor! Nevertheless, a cunning mistress the Rani is, and so is her TARDIS. A monolith of stone, with its dark colour palette and gothic lighting it’s perhaps the most imposing of any TARDIS. Plinths supporting scientific specimens (or conquests?) surround a black console on a wider plinth: the console is smaller than the Doctor’s, simpler, with black and silver controls and an intriguing rotor that looks just as sharp and deadly as it is hypnotic.

It’s not hard to see where this is going. The Rani’s TARDIS is a prime example of functionality over comfort: there is not a chair, or a coloured light, or a living space in sight. This suits her highly goal-orientated mind-set; she’s a scientist, first and foremost, but she also has ambition, and whereas for the Doctor we can see how his TARDIS has to be a home too, The Rani’s is a mere spring-board for her designs. Research material within easy reach, minimalistic console allowing for quick and easy getaway but perhaps less overall control over flight, open plan floor space and stark white lights all contribute to this functionality. As a work space, a tool? Yeah, great! As a home? Not so much.

Coupled with this is the pretty simple message delivered by the gothic feel and dark stone walls. The Rani is immovable, she is motivated, she is resolute. She is not necessarily evil per se, but she’s not good or friendly, she serves herself, and finding yourself in her TARDIS is just as dismal a prospect as finding yourself in the clutches of her current scheme.

The Master’s TARDIS

master-tardis-time-monster-planet-of-fire

The Master has had a few TARDISes over his lifetime, and whereas the dark interior of the Melkur from “Keeper of Traken” is clearly unsettling, for purposes of discussion I will reference two incarnations of his primary TARDIS – the one from “The Time Monster” and the one from “Planet of Fire”.

Little description is needed of either: the former looks exactly like the Doctor’s (rather odd) contemporary interior but with a rotor that looked more like some sort of radio transmitter than glowing TARDIS engine, and a door that pushed outwards to open rather than swung inwards. The latter is again, basically the same, it’s the same console and room but painted black! The walls have gone black, whereas the console remains a stark white with black detailing. As an aside I’ve always thought this room looks incredible, eerie and futuristic.

When analysing both it would be easy to say “Oh, the differences look sharper, sinister and darker and therefore show the Master’s evilness”. That may to an extent be true, but what I find more interesting by far is how close these are to the Doctor’s.

During the Pertwee years very little separates The Master from the Doctor: they are well spoken, polite, astronomically clever, have an affinity for Earth and enjoy witty banter. If not for their contrasting purposes, they’d be best friends, and watching the show sometimes it feels like they still are! As such, they’re TARDISes show how close they really are but the tiny differences set them apart.

During Davison’s run things have changed somewhat. They are still similar, but now at opposites. They are still clever, witty and enjoy space travel but things are now very clear. The Doctor is ALWAYS good and The Master is ALWAYS bad. It’s sad to me actually that they lose that closeness and that The Master becomes a full villain rather than a mirror image of The Doctor, they’re now opposite sides of the same coin; black and white – ring a bell?

The Tennant Effect

eotdec-(2)

After my first article it was pointed out that it seemed almost unfair that the 10th (11th? 12th? Tennant? Whatever people prefer) Doctor had to share his TARDIS completely with the 9th. Whilst not a unique position, considering the following Doctor got 3 TARDISes of his own (including the Silence ship) to stake dibs on you really notice Tennant’s lack! Allow me to dispel that belief. DAVID TENNANT HAD HIS OWN TARDIS, UNIQUE AND PERSONAL. Puzzled? Allow me to explain.

Compare the TARDIS from “Rose” and many other instances in Series 1. Now, skip to “The End of Time”. See the differences? Those things you’ve never noticed before? The whole room looks changed!

Bad WolfIn Series 1 the TARDIS was pale, it was cold, the console shone an aquamarine blue into a room that had little in the way of warm lights, even had cool purple glows emanating from the coral pillars. By well into Tennant’s run the room had been suffused with warm orange glows that seeped through the walls. The console alternated between warm green or turquoise illumination and it’s controls filled up with a now familiar assortment of oddments that now seem like they were there forever, it’s strange to imagine it without. The pale cracked porcelain on the console in Series 3 was replaced with a burnished yellow and brown “tear” crackle that remains to this day, and the pillars and maybe walls were overpainted in warmer colours so light from within the former was no longer visible.

And there is the difference: as the Doctor warmed up in so many different ways, through the passing of time, Rose and regeneration, so did the console room. It no longer displayed the original brief of looking like it was under the sea, it looked like home, a warm organic place to relax and travel. Just as Eccleston’s Doctor was alien and removed Tennant’s was flippant and friendly and just how much the room came to reflect that is staggering. The two console rooms may indeed be (mostly) the same structure and design but at heart they could not be more different. In “The Eleventh Hour” the coral console room remains as the TARDIS redecorates but now the transformation is complete, none of that initial coldness remains and we are left with colour and wonder.

Similar transformations are evident in “The Doctor’s Wife” and “The Day of the Doctor”. In the former, the room is once again cooler and dusty – you can tell this is no longer home and House’s eerie green lights seal the deal. In the latter the room returns, it is warm and homely again! But harbours a deep fault that sets it apart – this is no longer our home. We look back at Tennant’s Doctor with 5 years added to our own journey, therefore whilst he remains happy in his own TARDIS, to us it now appears dark and removed, the console pure ice blue. What is different we cannot at first put our finger on, but we are left in no doubt that where this Doctor will go now, we cannot follow.

So I hope you enjoyed my ramblings once again! I think I’ve covered all major TARDISes now and I was glad of the chance to revisit Tennant’s. As was suggested, hopefully with time we’ll see the effects of this new TARDIS on the new Doctor, and here’s to more exciting and unique TARDIS design for many a year to come!

Step back in time...

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43 comments
davidbrummy
davidbrummy

I like the way she operated it by moving her hands in a circle.

Princess Moffat
Princess Moffat

These three articles have been fantastic reads! You could do another article on how the Doctors outfits reflect on who he is as well perhaps? 

Tardis Stowaway
Tardis Stowaway

The Tennant TARDIS has to be my favourite design, it was the one I started with so it has a special place in my heart and it looks alien, warm and functional. It's also the only TARDIS set that I've been on, as I was lucky enough to visit the Doctor Who Experience a few times and walk on that famous grated metal floor - in fact that's where I took my avatar pic. You can see the effects of the 10/11 regenerations still (parts of the console are slightly blackened where a section blew out in the Eleventh Hour) but it's been quite carefully restored to near it's former glory and I'm grateful for that because that meant it could return in Day last year, which at the time got me quite excited and nostalgic. Anyway, I might be geeking out, but it's quite nice to see other people also appreciate the history of that set. :) A very interesting  and enjoyable trilogy of articles to read, well done, and thank you!

Venawesomeo
Venawesomeo

Magnificent trilogy! Awesome point about Tennant's TARDIS. Watched Rose the other day for the first time in ages and was genuinely amazed by how turquoise it was. Didn't remember it being like that at all! 

Love the Rani's console too... that Time Rotor looks wonderful. 

I also like to think the absence of his TARDIS speaks volumes about the Master in later years as well. Lost, homeless and wondering about looking for little evil quests to get himself back on top. Quite sad really. No wonder the Doctor just kept wanting to help him.


Huknar
Huknar

Thank you. I finally understand the 2005 console room now.




The coral/seaweed buttresses, the walls that look like barnacles or at least like an octopus sat underneath the console and wrapped its tentacles around to form the dome and of course the original lighting. Blue, watery lighting. 

NeutronFlow
NeutronFlow


I've really enjoyed your series of articles Richard, such a shame you've exhausted the list of console rooms. 

I'd love to see your obvious talents tackle another subject ...



Hibernus
Hibernus

Thanks for a great trilogy of TARDIS articles! Fantastic read!

Polyphase
Polyphase

The Rani's Tardis was amazing, I was transfixed as child. So sad she never got pilot it again :(

davidbrummy
davidbrummy

I really like the Rani's TARDIS as it was the first time we saw a console room that was not a redress of the Doctors.  The Dinosaur embryo was a great touch as it shows how she is a scientist with no morals.  For her the ends do justify the means.



jackwho007
jackwho007

have you missed out the dalek movies' tardis?

TheOncomingStorm
TheOncomingStorm

Awesome article, as ever. I think my favourite Tardis interior is Tennant's, but I really, really love the idea of book shelves around the room. 

GoodYear92
GoodYear92

This has been one of the best, most unique series of articles I've come across on this site. Your analysis is really, very insightful, and extremely eloquently put. I've enjoyed reading every word. If inspiration does strike for another addition to the series, please don't hesitate. I'm sure everyone would love to read more of your thoughts on this topic. I know I would. Well done!

Richard Elliot
Richard Elliot

Thanks guys! I'm extremely happy you enjoyed the articles, it's an unexpected pleasure! I think I have well and truly run out of TARDISes now, though I did draft out a piece for article 1 that was also scrapped which could be turned into a full article and would probably be from quite an unexpected angle - a spin off of sorts! I'll have a think about that...

Thank you all for your comments which have made most interesting reading and given ideas for me to continue far beyond what I expected, it's a pleasure to be on this website!

allons_ywibblywobbly
allons_ywibblywobbly

Brilliant subject and amazingly written article (all 3 parts)! I've always thought of Nine/Ten TARDIS as a different thing, despite having the same structure. You explained it perfectly. 


Also, I have to admit that you made me tear up a bit at this: 'We look back at Tennant’s Doctor with 5 years added to our own journey, therefore whilst he remains happy in his own TARDIS, to us it now appears dark and removed, the console pure ice blue. What is different we cannot at first put our finger on, but we are left in no doubt that where this Doctor will go now, we cannot follow.' I will never forget the first TARDIS that I fell in love with :) 

ahunter8056
ahunter8056

A really nice end to a brilliant trilogy of articles. Thank you. :)

JamesStroud
JamesStroud

You are a brilliant author. Your first article was spectacular, and on each rtice you listened to your audience and extended the content to reflect their wishes. Fantastic! Thank you for three really interesting articles!

WhoFanNo565
WhoFanNo565

Fantastic article (yet again). Very happy to see another on of these up again. I always thought there was a difference between Chris' and David's TARDISes, but I couldn't put my finger on it, thank you for pointing it out!

supermoff
supermoff

Another great article, and a nice final piece to your unanticipated trilogy of TARDIS exploration! (unless you've got a part four in the works, which would be awesome, though I can't think of any more TARDISes you could possibly explore XD). 

The change in the RTD era TARDIS is something I completely overlooked for many years, only noticing on my most recent rewatch of the RTD era! But yes, the change is most apparent, and also for the better in my opinion. In retrospect, Nine's TARDIS seemed a bit dim and cold, and by the end of Ten's time, it was really warm and a much nicer place to be frankly. I suppose we're getting a repeat of this now with Twelve's TARDIS: small differences to the lighting, making it seem a much warmer place. We'll probably get small changes like this as time goes on, at least until we get another TARDIS interior. 


floppy_who
floppy_who

I think the difference in appearance of the Tennant console room as time went on seems to coincide with the BBC's move of the TARDIS set to their new Upper Boat studio? Also, can't help but think that the time rotor of the Master's 1972 TARDIS looks a little like a chocolate fountain machine....

MrRazza, General Rogue Timelord Identifier
MrRazza, General Rogue Timelord Identifier

Not only responding to the comments in the first place to produce a second article, you've gone on to produce a third - as eloquent, reasoned and enjoyable as its predecessors. Thank you immensely for this series, Richard!

0blong1
0blong1

I completely agree with all you've written, although it's still a shame to see it in the state that it's in. I wish I could've visited it during the production years!

floppy_who
floppy_who

@Venawesomeo The optical illusion of the Rani's time rotor when her TARDIS is in flight is noteworthy too. Certainly made me look twice  when I watch Mark of the Rani first time around back in 1985..!

davidbrummy
davidbrummy

@jackwho007 I should be clear the Dalek movies are not canon.  The main character is those movies is called "Doctor Who" and is a human being.  The Beeb has made it clear from the start of the revival that the 8th Doctor movie is canon and Paul McGann is one of the main actors to play the Doctors.

davidbrummy
davidbrummy

@jackwho007 He does mention he is discussing stuff that is considered canon.  The movies are not part of the show.

Temporal Tomato
Temporal Tomato

The true reason of the Master's evil: Lack of self control. Of course demonstrated by the fact that he has a chocolate fountain in his console room.

Richard Elliot
Richard Elliot

You're correct in part, I think it was after series 2 the move happened, but changes were sill going on around that. The pillars were repainted in time for "The Christmas Invasion" I believe, and that strange change in the colour of the walls had also occurred by the end of series 2. I'm not sure if there were actually repainted or all the lights were changed or what, they look so distinctly orange on screen but still pale in real life at the Experience!

The move was actually when all the cracked porcelain was overhauled. Parts of the console were damaged in the move and had to be replaced, the paint this time actually being the same bright yellow "Heritage Gold" paint used on the MFX sonic screwdrivers (used by Tennant in "Day of the Doctor").

Thank you for your comment! I too cannot now use the chocolate fountain!

floppy_who
floppy_who

(And great set of articles, by the way..!)

DasManiac
DasManiac

@davidbrummy @jackwho007 Everything in Doctor Who is canon. It's a show that embraces alternate universes so everything can be canon in one way or another.

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

@Richard Elliot Fascinating stuff. It's interesting that the BBC didn't use the move to Upper Boat as a reason to completely rebuild the TARDIS, whereas when the studios moved to Roath Lock, they did rebuild the interior completely! I read somewhere that the first Matt Smith TARDIS interior wasn't easily dismantled and rebuilt, so they built a new one?

TheOncomingStorm
TheOncomingStorm

@supermoff  @floppy_who We don't know it isn't a chocolate fountain as well as a time rotor. It could double up to be both - the Master may be fond of chocolate fountains.

davidbrummy
davidbrummy

@DasManiac @davidbrummy @jackwho007 As a fan you can define things as you want.  However Canon has a definition and the show clearly has what it considers to be Canon. 


This is not true of all shows.  Red Dwarf is a clear example of where to humorous effect Canon is changed on multiple occasions and the writers admit it.

Tardis Stowaway
Tardis Stowaway

@Planet of the Deaf @Richard Elliot  Yep, the Eccleston/Tennant TARDIS wasn't built to come apart but I think the nature of it's design and the fact that it had nothing around it allowed it to disassemble without much damage. However, the larger Smith TARDIS was fitted into what remained of the old Torchwood Hub set next door and was essentially bolted onto the old set's frame, so removing it would have meant ripping it up. I suppose the cost of removing, rebuilding and restoring that one to HD quality would have came quite close to the cost of just building a brand new one. :)

NeutronFlow
NeutronFlow

@Planet of the Deaf @Richard Elliot 'the first Matt Smith TARDIS interior wasn't easily dismantled and rebuilt, so they built a new one' 

A great shame that. 

I know some won't agree with me on this, but i've been watching for almost forty years and i think Matt Smith's first console room was the most beautiful and inviting that we have ever seen. 




NewWho2012
NewWho2012

@Tardis Stowaway @Planet of the Deaf @Richard Elliot What has happened to that TARDIS now. Have they kept it or have they destroyed it? As I'd imagine they'd want to preserve in the Doctor Who Experience like Tennant's TARDIS (an absolute surprise and priviledge to be able to step on myself after seeing it there).

Tardis Stowaway
Tardis Stowaway

@NewWho2012 @Tardis Stowaway @Planet of the Deaf @Richard Elliot  What was left of it actually came out of storage and appeared during the 50th celebration event at the Excel in London last year. The console, glass floor, the doors and the surrounding copper walls and a segment of the coral wall with the circle cut-outs were arranged so that people who were lucky enough to have tickets could have a photo touching the console. I found a photo here (credit to the original owner) : http://www.flickr.com/photos/115928978@N08/12667504574/in/photolist-kiogMh-kimnr6-kajaoF-kaneK1-kantjq-kajbUg-kaiEzk-kaktC4-kajNBF-kanxt7-kajdti-k9vcLF-jWJDqc-jWJDqx-jNEKjV-jexCJo-jevuR1-jeoHdF-jetgBb-jeqTxy-jbhvNL-jaHSKw-j7AWjQ-inPP3X-imxf49-iaXyAV-iaDfLJ-iaCYKM-i2FoQL-i2Gapx-hYtQgW-jTrde3-jNEJav-jHn8NP-jFJsha-jB1CsR-jyThsA-jyHyYR-jy2Mu3-jwcpVL-jqNNF9-jqLN3R-jqNqcF-jjv25F-jckrkM-j5FEtw-j4Yo9D-iFeUhH-iuzuax-isFSiu , there are likely some more floating around the web that have a bit more detail but it shows the general layout. It looked to be in quite a decent condition as well, so I too am hoping that when they redo the Experience this summer to update it with Capaldi's Doctor, that they have an opportunity to find space to install what remains of the set - presuming they still have it (I expect they do, the celebration event had loads of props and costumes from BBC storage that were much older and less important than an actual TARDIS). They might have some more of it still in storage, or they could mix it with bits of the current replica in the interactive bit, which I presume will also be replaced with the new interior this summer, to complete it a bit more. It'd be great to see it preserved and join the others, I think it deserves to be on display.

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  1. […] How does the TARDIS reflect The Doctor? (Part 3) To be clear, I am talking here about the “canon” TARDIS The Rani uses in “The Mark of the Rani” and “Time and the Rani”; the prop used in “Dimensions in Time” is an altogether different (shoe-string budget) piece that although nice in many isn't the … Read more on Doctor Who TV (blog) […]