TARDIS[nb 1][nb 2] (//; "Time And Relative Dimension In Space"[nb 3]) is a fictional time machine and spacecraft that appears in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who and its various spin-offs.
TARDIS prop used between 2010 and 2017.
|Plot element from the Doctor Who television series|
|Function||Travels through time and space|
|Specific traits and abilities||Can change its outer dimensions and inner layout, impregnable, telepathic|
|Affiliation||Time Lords |
The TV show Doctor Who mainly features a single TARDIS used by the central character the Doctor. However, in the series other TARDISes are sometimes seen or used. The Doctor's TARDIS has a number of peculiar features, notably due to its age and personality. While other TARDISes have the ability to change their appearance in order to blend in with their surroundings, the Doctor's always resembles a police box because its chameleon circuit is broken. However, in the new series (since 2005), a perception filter is used to make the TARDIS blend in with the surroundings, so that it is often ignored by passersby. While the exterior is of limited size, the TARDIS is famously "bigger on the inside", containing an infinite number of rooms, corridors and storage spaces including several squash courts, a pool, a library and much more.
Doctor Who has become so much a part of British popular culture that the shape of the police box has become associated with the TARDIS rather than with its real-world inspiration.[nb 4] The name TARDIS is a registered trademark of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The police box design has also been registered as a trademark by the BBC, despite the design having been created by the Metropolitan Police. The word TARDIS is listed in the Oxford English Dictionary.
When Doctor Who was being developed in 1963 the production staff discussed what the Doctor's time machine would look like. To keep the design within budget it was decided to make the outside resemble a police telephone box, this appearance was explained as the mechanism, a "chameleon circuit", that changes the outside appearance of the ship the millisecond it lands in order to fit in with its environment was broken and caused the TARIS to be stuck as a police box. The First Doctor explains that if it were to land in the middle of the Indian Mutiny, it might take on the appearance of a howdah (the carrier on the back of an elephant). Within the context of the series the Doctor's TARDIS has a faulty chameleon circuit that keeps it permanently stuck in the police box form. Despite being shown several times trying to repair it, the Doctor claims to have given up the attempt as he has grown accustomed to its appearance.
The idea for the police-box disguise came from a BBC staff writer, Anthony Coburn, who rewrote the programme's first episode from a draft by C. E. Webber. In the first episode, "An Unearthly Child" (1963), the TARDIS is first seen in a junkyard in 1963. It subsequently malfunctions, retaining the police box shape in a prehistoric landscape.
The first police box prop to be built for the programme was designed by Peter Brachacki, who worked as designer on the first episode. Nevertheless, one story has it that the box came from Z-Cars, while Doctor Who producer Steven Moffat has said that the original TARDIS prop was reused from Dixon of Dock Green, although this is explicitly contradicted by the research cited on the BBC's own website. Despite changes in the prop, the TARDIS has become the show's most consistently recognisable visual element.
The dimensions and colour of the TARDIS props used in the series have changed many times, as a result of damage and the requirements of the show, and none of the BBC props has been a faithful replica of the original MacKenzie Trench model. This was referenced on-screen in the episode "Blink" (2007), when the character Detective Inspector Shipton says the TARDIS "isn't a real [police box]. The phone's just a dummy, and the windows are the wrong size."[nb 5]
The production team conceived of the TARDIS travelling by dematerialising at one point and rematerialising elsewhere, although sometimes in the series it is shown also to be capable of conventional space travel. In the 2006 Christmas special, "The Runaway Bride", the Doctor remarks that for a spaceship, the TARDIS does remarkably little flying. The ability to travel simply by fading into and out of different locations became one of the trademarks of the show, allowing for a great deal of versatility in setting and storytelling without a large expense in special effects. The distinctive accompanying sound effect – a cyclic wheezing, groaning noise – was originally created in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop by Brian Hodgson. When employed in the series, the sound is usually synchronised with the flashing light on top of the police box, or the fade-in and fade-out effects of a TARDIS (see "Controls" below). Writer Patrick Ness has described the ship's distinctive dematerialisation noise as "a kind of haunted grinding sound", while the Doctor Who Magazine comic strips traditionally use the onomatopoeic phrase "vworp vworp vworp".
In 1996 the BBC applied to the UK Intellectual Property Office to register the TARDIS as a trademark. This was challenged by the Metropolitan Police, who felt that they owned the rights to the police box image. However, the Patent Office found that there was no evidence that the Metropolitan Police – or any other police force – had ever registered the image as a trademark. In addition, the BBC had been selling merchandise based on the image for over three decades without complaint by the police. The Patent Office issued a ruling in favour of the BBC in 2002.
TARDISes are grown, as stated by the Tenth Doctor in "The Impossible Planet" (2006), and new TARDISes cannot be grown to replace a missing TARDIS unless the Doctor is on his home planet, Gallifrey. They draw their power from several sources, but primarily from the Eye of Harmony, said to be the nucleus of a black hole created by the early Time Lords; a singularity. In The Edge of Destruction (1964), the power source of the TARDIS (referred to as the "heart of the TARDIS") is said to be beneath the central column of the console. They are also said to draw power from the entire universe as revealed in the episode "Rise of the Cybermen" (2006), in which the TARDIS is brought to a parallel universe and cannot function without the use of a crystal power source from within the TARDIS, charged by the Doctor's life force.
Other elements needed for the proper functioning of the TARDIS and requiring occasional replenishment include mercury (used in its fluid links), the rare ore Zeiton 7 ("Vengeance on Varos", 1985), a trachoid time crystal ("The Hand of Fear", 1976) and "artron energy". Artron energy is said to be the "residue of TARDIS engines", and is also found in Time Lord brains and bodies as well as other species of time traveller ("The Deadly Assassin", 1976; "Four to Doomsday", 1982; "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith", 2009; "Death of the Doctor", 2010; "The Doctor's Wife", 2011; "The Power of Three", 2012; "Rosa", 2018). Another form of energy, "huon energy", is found in the heart of the TARDIS and (apart from the activities of the Torchwood Institute) nowhere else in the universe ("The Runaway Bride", 2006).
Before a TARDIS becomes fully functional, it must be primed with the biological imprint of a Time Lord, normally done by simply having a Time Lord operate the TARDIS for the first time. This imprint comes from the Rassilon Imprimatur, part of the biological make-up of Time Lords, which gives them both a symbiotic link to their TARDISes and the ability to withstand the physical stresses of time travel (The Two Doctors, 1985). Without the Imprimatur, molecular disintegration would result; this serves as a safeguard against misuse of time travel even if the TARDIS technology were copied. Once a time machine is properly primed, however, with the imprint stored on a device called a "briode nebuliser", it can be used safely by any species.[nb 6] According to Time Lord law, unauthorised use of a TARDIS carries "only one penalty", implied to be death (The Invasion of Time, 1978).
A TARDIS usually travels by dematerialising in one spot, traversing the time vortex, and then rematerialising at its destination, without physically travelling through the intervening space. However, the Doctor's TARDIS has been seen to be able to fly through physical space, first in Fury from the Deep (1968) and at repeated times throughout the revived series, most notably in "The Runaway Bride" (2006), in which the TARDIS is shown launching into space (most previous incidents show the TARDIS flying only after it has dematerialised from a location). In "The Runaway Bride", extended flight of this nature puts a strain on the TARDIS's systems. While a TARDIS can materialise inside another, if both TARDISes occupy exactly the same space and time, a Time Ram will occur, resulting in their mutual annihilation (The Time Monster, 1972). In Logopolis (1981), the Master tricked the Doctor into materialising his TARDIS around the Master's, creating a dimensionally recursive loop, each TARDIS appearing inside the other's console room. In the mini-episodes "Space" and "Time" (2011), an accident results in the TARDIS automatically materialising in "the safest spot available", which turns out to be inside its own control room.
Apart from the ability to travel in space and time (and on occasion, to other dimensions), the most remarkable characteristic of a TARDIS is that its interior is much larger than it appears from the outside. The explanation is that a TARDIS is "dimensionally transcendental", meaning that its exterior and interior exist in separate dimensions. In The Robots of Death (1977), the Fourth Doctor tried to explain this to his companion Leela, using the analogy of how a larger cube can appear to be able to fit inside a smaller one if the larger cube is farther away, yet immediately accessible at the same time (see Tesseract). According to the Doctor, transdimensional engineering was "a key Time Lord discovery". To those unfamiliar with this aspect of a TARDIS, stepping inside the ship for the first time usually results in a reaction of shocked disbelief as they see the interior dimensions ("It's bigger on the inside!"). The Eleventh Doctor is particularly fond of this reaction, and is surprised and confused when Clara Oswald (in "The Snowmen", 2012) inverts the usual response by saying "It's smaller on the outside."
In An Unearthly Child (1963), Susan Foreman, the Doctor's granddaughter, claimed to have coined the acronym TARDIS, saying that she "made [it] up from the initials", while the Twelfth Doctor claims in "The Zygon Inversion" (2015) that he came up with the term from the initials, giving an entirely different set of words for "TARDIS". The word TARDIS is used to describe other Time Lords' travel capsules as well. The Discontinuity Guide, written by Paul Cornell, Keith Topping, and Martin Day, suggests that "[she] was a precocious young Time Lady, and her name for travel capsules caught on." The Virgin New Adventures novel Lungbarrow by Marc Platt records Susan telling the First Doctor that she gave him the idea when he was, implicitly, the "Other".
As seen in The Trial of a Time Lord (1986), the experiences of the TARDIS and its crew can be recorded and played back from the Matrix, the Time Lord computer network that is the repository of all their knowledge, as well as the memories and experiences of deceased Time Lords. The Doctor implies in this serial, with his protestations of being "bugged", that the TARDIS is not normally connected to the Matrix in this manner.
The TARDIS has been shown to be extremely rugged, withstanding gunfire (the 1996 television movie, Doctor Who; "The Runaway Bride"), temperatures of 3000 degrees without even scorching ("42"), atmospheric re-entry ("Voyage of the Damned"), falls of several miles ("The Satan Pit") and sinking into pooling acid ("The Almost People"). In The Curse of Peladon (1972), after the TARDIS falls down the side of a cliff, the Third Doctor remarks that it "may have its faults, but it is indestructible." This does not apply when facing certain extremely advanced weaponry, often created after the Doctor's Type 40 TARDIS, such as Dalek missiles ("The Parting of the Ways"), for which the TARDIS requires additional shielding. Another piece of advanced Dalek technology which comes near to destroying the TARDIS is the power source of the "Crucible" in "Journey's End" (2008). In Frontios (1984), the Fifth Doctor believes the TARDIS to have been destroyed in a meteorite bombardment, apparently contradicting the earlier claim of indestructibility. It explodes in The Mind Robber (1968) and the crew end up "out of the time space dimension. Out of reality." In 2007's Christmas special "Voyage of the Damned", the TARDIS is hit in mid-flight, creating a large hole in the interior wall, although its shields are down at the time. The Doctor later activates some controls and the TARDIS again becomes able to withstand an atmospheric re-entry. Also in the 2013 episode "The Name of the Doctor" the TARDIS is shown to be able to withstand immense speeds, pressure and heat by being pulled into Trenzalore's atmosphere without any functioning systems. The only noticeable damage caused was to the exterior of the TARDIS, in which a small crack is shown on the glass. In "Robot of Sherwood" (2014), Robin Hood's wooden arrow easily pierces the TARDIS's wooden frame. However, once the Twelfth Doctor removes it, the hole immediately seals itself. In "Flatline" (2014), the TARDIS demonstrated a 'siege mode' after being drained of power, miniaturised and hit by a train, when it reverted to a small metal cube with Gallifreyan markings. In the episodes "The Magician's Apprentice" and "The Witch's Familiar" (2015), it was apparently destroyed by a Dalek laser, but shown to have deliberately vaporised itself as a protective measure – the Doctor was then able to cause it to reassemble itself, undamaged, in the same spot.
The Doctor's TARDISEdit
In the programme, the Doctor's TARDIS is an obsolete "Type 40 TT capsule" that he unofficially "borrowed" from the repair shop when he departed his home planet of Gallifrey. That incident is referred to as early as 1969, but not actually shown on screen for another 44 years. In a flashback in "The Name of the Doctor" (2013), future companion Clara Oswald advises him on which TARDIS to take: although the Type 40 TT's navigational systems were malfunctioning, she claimed that it would be "much more fun."
The TARDIS was already old when the Doctor first took it, but its actual age is not specified. In the unfinished TV serial Shada, fellow Time Lord Professor Chronotis says that the Type 40 models came out when he was a boy. There were originally 305 registered Type 40s, but all the others had been decommissioned and replaced by new, improved models; however, the Doctor's TARDIS had at some point been removed from the registry by the Celestial Intervention Agency on Gallifrey. By the time of The Pirate Planet (1978), the Doctor had been travelling on board in time and space for 523 years, by the time of "The Doctor's Wife" (2011), he had been travelling in it for 700 years, and in "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" (2013) he had been travelling for 900 years.
The appearance of the primary console room has changed over the years, sometimes in minor ways and sometimes drastically when the set has had to be moved or rebuilt. This has often been rationalised in the scripts as redecoration, the ship's own ability to reconfigure or repair itself, or even a change of "desktop theme". In "The Doctor's Wife", the TARDIS says she has thirty desktops archived, although the Doctor has only changed it a dozen times "yet".
The undisguised appearance of a Type 40 TARDIS' exterior is a silver-grey cylinder only slightly larger than a police box. Its door is recessed and slides to open. This default state has appeared in 2013's "The Name of the Doctor", which depicts the Doctor's original theft of the TARDIS.
Although a TARDIS is supposed to blend inconspicuously into whatever environment it turns up in, the Doctor's TARDIS retains the shape of a police box because of a fault that occurred in the first Doctor Who serial, An Unearthly Child (1963). The ability to alter its appearance was first mentioned in the second episode of the series, where the First Doctor and Susan noted the unit was malfunctioning. ("It's still a police box! Why hasn't it changed?") It was first given a general term of a "camouflage unit" in The Time Meddler (1965). The name "chameleon circuit" was first used in the 1975 Target Books novelisation of The Terror of the Autons, and eventually mentioned on screen in Logopolis (1981). The circuit was called a "cloaking device" by the Eighth Doctor in the television movie Doctor Who (1996), and again a "chameleon circuit" in the 2005 series episode "Boom Town".
The Doctor attempts to repair the circuit in Logopolis, to disastrous results. He tries again in Attack of the Cybermen (1985), but the successful transformations of the TARDIS into the shape of a pipe organ, a painted Welsh dresser, and an elaborate gateway ended with a return to the police box shape. The circuit was also repaired during the Virgin New Adventures novels, but again the TARDIS' shape was eventually restored to a police box shape. In the 1996 television movie, and later in the episode "Boom Town", the Doctor implies that he had stopped trying to fix the circuit quite some time ago because he had become rather fond of the police box shape.
Despite the anachronistic police box shape, the TARDIS' presence is rarely questioned when it materialises in the present-day United Kingdom. In "Boom Town", the Ninth Doctor simply notes that humans do not notice odd things like the TARDIS, echoing a similar sentiment expressed by the Seventh Doctor in Remembrance of the Daleks (1988), that humans have an "amazing capacity for self-deception." Various episodes, notably "The Sound of Drums" (2007), also note that the TARDIS generates a perception filter to reinforce the idea that it is perfectly ordinary.
Cosmetically, the police box exterior of the TARDIS has remained virtually unchanged, although there have been slight modifications over the years. For example, the sign on the door concealing the police telephone has been black letters on a white background (An Unearthly Child), white on blue (The Seeds of Death, 1969)[dubious ] and white on black (The Curse of Peladon, 1972). Other modifications include different wordings on the phone panel; for example, "Urgent Calls" (An Unearthly Child) as opposed to "All Calls" (Castrovalva publicity photos). The POLICE BOX sign was wider from Season 18 (1980) onwards and for the 2005 series, but not for the television movie. From An Unearthly Child to The War Machines (1966), the TARDIS also had a St. John Ambulance badge on the main doors, as did real police boxes; this has been reinstated and the window frame colour has returned to white for Matt Smith's first season as the Doctor, shown in 2010. These various versions are depicted when thirteen incarnations of the Doctor all converge on Gallifrey at the climax of "The Day of the Doctor" (2013).
The telephone cupboard can be opened and the telephone accessed from the exterior. Although originally non-functional, as shown in "The Empty Child" (2005), the TARDIS can be called from across space and time.
When the TARDIS "died" with the Doctor in battle in an alternative timeline, it became his tomb on the grave fields of the planet Trenzalore. Although the tomb retains its police box exterior appearance, its interior volume begins to "leak", growing the exterior to hundreds of feet in height.
For most of the series's run, the exterior doors of the police box operated separately from the heavier interior doors, although sometimes the two sets could open simultaneously to allow the ship's passengers to look directly outside and vice versa. The revived series' TARDIS features no such secondary doors; the police box doors open directly into the console room.
The Doctor almost always opens the doors inwards, despite the fact that a real police box door opened outwards; in "The Doctor's Wife" (2011), it is revealed that the TARDIS is aware of this and finds it annoying. After crash-landing on its back in Amelia Pond's garden in "The Eleventh Hour" (2010), the doors uncharacteristically open outward, as they had previously done when the TARDIS was also on its back in The Ice Warriors (1967); additionally, the left door opened in tandem with the usual right door in these instances. When hovering against a building in the same 'doors-up' horizontal orientation in "Day of the Moon" (2011), however, the doors opened inward as usual to receive River Song.
The doors are supposed to be closed while materialising; in Planet of Giants (1964), the opening of the doors during a materialisation sequence causes the ship and its occupants to shrink to doll size. In The Enemy of the World (1967), taking off while the doors were still open results in an uncontrolled decompression, causing the villainous Salamander to be blown out of the TARDIS. In the Seventh Doctor audio drama Colditz (2001), a character is killed by being halfway inside the TARDIS when it dematerialises. In Warriors' Gate (1981), the doors open during flight between two universes, admitting a Tharil named Biroc, and allowing the time winds to burn the Doctor's hand and seriously damage K9. In "The Runaway Bride" (2006), "The Stolen Earth" (2008) and subsequent stories, the doors can be opened safely while the ship is in a vacuum, as the TARDIS protects its occupants (see the "Defences" section below); in The Horns of Nimon (1979), the Doctor deliberately extrudes the "defence shield" to dock with a spacecraft. In "The Time of Angels" (2010), River asks the Doctor to provide an "air corridor" to assist in her escape from the Byzantium in deep space.
The entrance to the TARDIS is capable of being locked and unlocked from the outside with a key, which the Doctor keeps on his person and occasionally gives copies of to his companions. In the 1996 television movie, the Doctor kept a spare key "in a cubbyhole above the 'P'" (of the POLICE BOX sign). In The Invasion of Time (1978), a Citadel Guard on Gallifrey is initially baffled by the archaic lock when attempting to open the Doctor's TARDIS.
In the 2005 series, the keys are also remotely linked to the TARDIS, capable of signalling its presence or impending arrival by heating up and glowing. The key is also able to repair temporal anomalies and paradoxes, including death aversion, through its link to the TARDIS.
The TARDIS' keys most commonly appear as ordinary Yale keys. However, various designs have been experimented with over the years including ankh-like keys embossed with an alien pattern (identified in Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke's 1972 book The Making of Doctor Who as the constellation of Kasterborous, Gallifrey's home system) and keys featuring the Seal of Rassilon.
The TARDIS' lock's security level has varied from story to story. Originally, it was said to have 21 different "combinations" and would melt if the key was placed in the wrong one (The Daleks, 1963–64). The First Doctor was also able to unlock it with his ring (The Web Planet, 1965) and repair it by using the light of an alien sun refracted through the ring's jewel (The Daleks' Master Plan, 1965–66). In The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964) and "Utopia" (2007), the TARDIS was shown to have an internal deadlock; once thrown, it would prevent entry even for authorised users with authorised keys. In The Dalek Invasion of Earth, this is known as 'double-locking'. In The Sensorites (1964), the entire lock mechanism is removed from the TARDIS' door via a hand-held Sensorite device.
In Spearhead from Space (1970), the Third Doctor said that the lock had a metabolism detector, so that even if an unauthorised person had a key, the doors would remain locked. This security measure was also seen in the New Series Adventures novel Only Human (2005), which called it an "advanced meson recognition system." The Ninth Doctor claims that when the doors were shut, even "the assembled hordes of Genghis Khan" could not enter ("believe me, they've tried") ("Rose", 2005). In "Army of Ghosts" (2006), when the TARDIS is confiscated, the Doctor claims, "You'll never get inside it." Several people have managed to just wander into the TARDIS without any problem over the years, including some who became companions. Despite the TARDIS' apparent infallibility in its security, some of the instruments inside or the interior itself have been breached and remote-controlled. In the serial The War Games (1969), the Time Lords manage to breach the inside of the TARDIS while in mid-flight and landing in order to erect something similar to a force field. In "Utopia" (2007), the Doctor is able to lock the TARDIS to the coordinates it had previously visited from outside using the sonic screwdriver. In the episode "The Rings of Akhaten" (2013), Clara Oswald cannot get into the TARDIS and says, "I don't think it likes me!"
In the 2008 episode "Forest of the Dead" (2008), River Song (a character whose timeline intersects with the Doctor's in non-linear order) says to the Doctor that she knows he would be able to open the TARDIS' doors with a snap of his fingers. Although the Doctor dismisses this as impossible, at the episode's conclusion, he opens and closes the doors by doing just that, eschewing the need for a key. He is later shown doing the same in "The Eleventh Hour" (2010), "Day of the Moon", and "The Caretaker" (2014). In addition, despite the animosity it previously displayed towards her, Clara Oswald is also shown being able to open and shut the TARDIS' doors by snapping her fingers (in "The Day of the Doctor", 2013, and "The Caretaker").
In the 2009 Christmas episode, part one of "The End of Time", the Doctor uses a remote locking system to lock the TARDIS, similar to the remote-control locking system used on modern cars. Upon pointing his key fob at the TARDIS, the TARDIS makes a distinctive chirp and the light on top of the TARDIS flashes. Later in the same episode, the key fob, when again used by the Doctor, shifts the TARDIS "just a second out of sync" (one second into the future), rendering it invisible and so hiding it from the Master.
In the 2018 episode, "The Ghost Monument", upon reuniting with the TARDIS, the Doctor explains to it that she lost her key after falling from it in "Twice Upon a Time". The TARDIS responds by opening its doors voluntarily.
Objects are sometimes shown clinging to the outside of the TARDIS and being carried with it as it dematerialises. In Silver Nemesis (1988), an arrow is fired at the TARDIS and is embedded in its door. The arrow remains in the door throughout the serial and through several dematerialisations before being removed at the story's conclusion; this is repeated in "The Shakespeare Code" (2007), and the arrow is removed in the following episode, "Gridlock". "Utopia" presents, for the first time on-screen, a circumstance in which a character travels on the exterior of the TARDIS during a flight, when Jack Harkness grabs hold of the TARDIS as it began to dematerialise and holds on until it reaches its destination; the episode does establish, however, that a normal person would not have survived the trip, as Jack is "killed" by the experience, but due to his immortality, soon revives. This concept was referenced in "The Time of the Doctor" (2013) where Clara also travels with the TARDIS by holding on to its exterior. To prevent Clara from dying, the TARDIS has to extend its force field to protect her, which drastically slows down its time travel and results in it arriving 300 years too late with a visibly aged Doctor. In "Vincent and the Doctor" (2010), some advertisements are attached to the TARDIS. After materialisation, they are shown to be burning. At the conclusion of the 2015 episode "Face the Raven", Rigsy decorates the TARDIS with painted flowers and a chalk drawing of Clara Oswald; when the Doctor dematerialises the retrieved TARDIS at the conclusion of "Hell Bent" (2015), the painted flowers and picture remain for a moment before the picture blows away and the flowers flake and fall to the ground.
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The Time Lords are able to divert the TARDIS' flight path during The Ribos Operation (1978), or have the ability to totally override and recall any TARDIS by the order of the Council in Arc of Infinity (1983). Alien influences have also, for example, trapped the Doctor's TARDIS and drained its power in The Web Planet (1965) and Death to the Daleks (1974), while its course has been diverted in The Keeper of Traken (1981), by the Mandragora Helix in The Masque of Mandragora (1976) and by the Daleks' "time corridor" in Resurrection of the Daleks (1984). In The Mark of the Rani (1985), the Rani uses a Stattenheim remote control to summon her TARDIS. In The Two Doctors (1985), the Second Doctor also uses a portable Stattenheim. The Ninth Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to trigger remotely "Emergency Program One", sending his human companion Rose Tyler to safety, while he stayed behind for a battle against the Daleks ("The Parting of the Ways", 2005). The Tenth Doctor also manipulates the TARDIS by utilising the self-attracting nature of huon particles, causing the TARDIS to materialise around both Donna Noble and himself, in order to escape into the past. However, this trick is used in turn by the Empress of the Racnoss, which pulls the TARDIS from the creation of the Earth to only a few minutes after its initial departure.
In "The Pandorica Opens" (2010), the TARDIS is drawn to a specific date, 26 June 2010, and then caused to explode by an outside influence.
The exterior dimensions can be severed from the interior dimensions under extraordinary circumstances. In Frontios (1984), when the TARDIS is destroyed in a Tractator-induced meteor storm, the interior ends up outside the police box shell with various bits embedded in the surrounding rock. The Fifth Doctor eventually tricks the Gravis, leader of the Tractators, into reassembling the ship. In "Father's Day" (2005), a temporal paradox resulting in a wound in time throws the interior of the ship out of the wound, leaving the TARDIS an empty shell of a police box. The Ninth Doctor attempts to use the TARDIS' key in conjunction with a small electrical charge to recover the ship, but the process is interrupted and the TARDIS was only restored after the paradox was resolved.
In "Turn Left" (2008), the "Police Box" sign and all other text on the TARDIS is shown as replaced with the words "Bad Wolf", as is all text in the universe; this is interpreted by the Doctor as an urgent warning concerning the end of the universe. The words "Bad Wolf" have also been spray-painted on and around the TARDIS in previous episodes.
The TARDIS interior has an unknown number of rooms and corridors, and the dimensions of the interior have not been specified. In "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" (2013), the Doctor states that the TARDIS is actually infinite in size. Apart from living quarters, the interior includes rooms such as: a swimming pool and bathroom, a sick bay, an ancillary power station disguised as an art gallery, and several brick-walled storage areas (The Invasion of Time, 1978); a "cloister room", an observatory, a library, a greenhouse, a baby room, and several squash courts. Numerous other rooms have been only mentioned in dialogue or in spin-off media. Portions of the TARDIS can also be reconfigured or "deleted"; the Doctor jettisons 25% of the TARDIS's structure in Castrovalva to provide additional "thrust". In "The Doctor's Wife" (2011), a fail-safe transfers any living creatures in "deleted" rooms to the main control room, and old (and future) control rooms can be "archived" by the TARDIS without the Doctor's knowledge. In "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" (2013) the TARDIS is shown to contain the Eye of Harmony, an exploding star in the process of becoming a black hole.
Other rooms seen include living quarters for many of the Doctor's companions. The TARDIS also had a "Zero Room", a chamber that was shielded from the rest of the universe and provided a restful environment for the Fifth Doctor to recover from his regeneration in Castrovalva (which was among the 25% jettisoned). However, the Seventh Doctor spin-off novel Deceit (1993) indicates that the Doctor rebuilt the Zero Room shortly before the events of that novel. In some of[clarification needed] the First Doctor serials, a nearby room contains a machine that dispenses food or nutrition bars to the Doctor and his companions. This machine disappears after the first few[clarification needed] serials, although mention is occasionally made of the TARDIS kitchen. In The One Doctor (2001), Mel mentions that the Doctor used the TARDIS's laundromat.
In Full Circle (1980), Romana states that the weight of the TARDIS is 5 × 106 kilograms in Alzarius's Earth-like gravity (about 5 × 107 Newtons, or the weight of 5,000 tonnes). It has been speculated that this is a mistake by the character and refers to its internal weight, as the external part of the TARDIS is at other times light enough for it to be lifted or otherwise moved with relative ease (although most real police boxes were concrete and hence quite difficult to move): several men lift it up in Marco Polo (1964), it is transported by truck and installed indoors by hand (all off-screen) in Spearhead from Space (1970), it requires a fork-lift truck in Time-Flight and is lifted in the cargo hold of a Concorde in the same serial, a group of small blue maintenance workers on Platform One push it along the ground in "The End of the World" (2005), a quartet of Weeping Angels are able to rock it back and forth in "Blink" (2007), and in "The Day of the Doctor" (2013) it is lifted by a helicopter using a steel cable. The TARDIS floats in Fury from the Deep (1968) but, conversely, remains stationary despite the tides in The Time Meddler (1965). If the solid exterior of the TARDIS is moved or shaken after materialisation, the movement is usually transmitted to its interior ("The Impossible Astronaut", 2011), although there is a manual control to separate the internal gravity from the exterior's orientation (Time-Flight, 1982). The Twelfth Doctor has stated that the TARDIS's weight is always adjusted; if it were not, its weight would shatter the Earth's surface.
A distinctive architectural feature of the TARDIS interior is the roundel. In the context of the TARDIS, a roundel is a circular decoration that adorns the walls of the rooms and corridors of the TARDIS, including the console room. Some roundels conceal TARDIS circuitry and devices, as seen in the serials The Wheel in Space (1968), Logopolis, Castrovalva (1981), Arc of Infinity (1983), Terminus (1983), and Attack of the Cybermen (1985), while in "The Husbands of River Song" (2015), one roundel is shown to be used as a bar to store alcoholic drinks in. The design of the roundels has varied throughout the show's history, from a basic circular cut-out with black background to a photographic image printed on wall board, to translucent illuminated discs in later serials. In the secondary console room, most of the roundels were executed in recessed wood panelling, with a few decorative ones in what appeared to be stained glass. In the TARDIS design from 2005–10, the roundels are built into hexagonal recesses in the walls. Ever since the TARDIS was redesigned at the beginning of the 2010 series, there have been a range of different roundel designs around the console room. These include circular holes that are recessed deep into the walls, hexagonal holes that are lit from behind each face, round indents with brass rings around the outside, and a glass centre that is illuminated blue. In "The Day of the Doctor", when the TARDIS' control room briefly appears as the War Doctor's room, the Eleventh Doctor points out to the Tenth Doctor that "the round things" have reappeared, to their mutual delight despite neither one knowing what they're for.
Although the interior corridors seen throughout the original series were not initially seen in the 2005 series, the fact that they still exist was established in "The Unquiet Dead" (2005), when the Doctor gives Rose some very complicated directions to the TARDIS wardrobe. The wardrobe is mentioned several times in the original series and spin-off fiction, and seen in The Androids of Tara (1978), The Twin Dilemma (1984) and Time and the Rani (1987). The redesigned version, from which the Tenth Doctor chooses his new clothes, was seen in "The Christmas Invasion" (2005) as a large multi-levelled room with a helical staircase. The corridors were eventually seen in the episode "The Doctor's Wife". The Doctor also mentions in "The Shakespeare Code" (2007) that the TARDIS has an attic.
In "Boom Town" (2005), a portion of the TARDIS console opens to reveal a luminescent vapour within, described by the Doctor as the "heart of the TARDIS", harking back to the description in The Edge of Destruction (1964). In "The Parting of the Ways" (2005) it was shown that this is connected to the powerful energies of the time vortex
The TARDIS includes a new set of stairs inside that leads to the balcony, and there is an additional door leading to another area or room of the TARDIS. This room will remain ambiguous.
The most often-seen room of the TARDIS is the console room, in which its flight controls are housed. It was originally called the "control room", being described as such in the stage directions of many scripts, and on air in such stories as The Masque of Mandragora, in which the Fourth Doctor says: "Do you know, this is the second control room. You know, I could run the TARDIS just as easily from here as I could from the old one."
The original console room was designed by Peter Brachacki. It was built on a shoestring budget and a tight schedule, which led to Brachacki leaving the show due to disagreements with the production team and possibly a feeling that he had been given an impossible task. Despite his leaving the show and mixed reactions as to how the set looked (producer Verity Lambert liked it but director Waris Hussein did not), the basic design of the hexagonal console and wall roundels has persisted to the present day.
In the Third Doctor serial The Time Monster (1972), the console room of the TARDIS was dramatically altered, including the wall roundels. This new set, designed by Tim Gleeson, was disliked by producer Barry Letts, who felt that the new roundels resembled washing-up bowls stuck to the wall. However, as fate would have it, the set was damaged in storage between production blocks and had to be rebuilt, so this particular design only saw service in the one serial.
The TARDIS has at least two console rooms: the primary one most used throughout the programme's history, and the secondary console room used during Season 14 in 1976/77, which has wood panelling and a more antique feel. It had been designed to make shooting more comfortable for the camera crew. Putting the console on a dais meant the cameramen no longer had to crouch for eye-level shots. However the set walls warped after it was put into storage at the end of production, and it had to be discarded.
In the 2005 series, the console room became a dome-shaped chamber with organic-looking support columns, and the interior doors were removed. The change in configuration is explained in "Time Crash" (2007) by the Fifth Doctor as a mere changing of "the desktop theme" to "Coral" (he also indicates that a "Leopard Skin" theme is also available, but he dislikes it). Several episodes of the revived series, such as "Army of Ghosts" (2006) and the end of "The Unicorn and the Wasp" (2008), reveal that there is storage space directly underneath the console room; the Doctor is shown periodically obtaining equipment from this area via a panel in the floor. The 2005 console room was destroyed by the regeneration energy of the Tenth Doctor in the final scene of "The End of Time" (2009–10) and cold open of "The Eleventh Hour" (2010), although it makes a reappearance in the 2011 episode "The Doctor's Wife" as well as the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor". This console room has made the most appearances in the revived series, and is the most well known one. A new console room, along with a new police box exterior, made its debut in "The Eleventh Hour". It was revealed in "The Doctor's Wife" that the older TARDIS interior designs are not destroyed or remodelled, but 'archived' off the official schematic without the Doctor's knowledge. The TARDIS reveals that she has around thirty console rooms archived, even those that the Doctor has yet to use. These archived console rooms are still capable of controlling TARDIS functions as shown when Amy and Rory are able to lower the TARDIS shields from an archived control room. The active console room at a given time will be the one connected to the exterior doors for ingress and egress.
A third console room design was unveiled in the 2012 Christmas special "The Snowmen". This set echoes the machine-like 1980s TARDIS console, but is coloured in the more shadowy blues, greens and purples of the 1996 TV movie. Though the central pillar is still connected to the ceiling – a design element introduced in the 1996 movie, and continued in the 2005 series – it is now joined to three circular connectors marked with Gallifreyan symbols that rotate clockwise and anticlockwise when the TARDIS is in flight.
Showrunner Steven Moffat stated that the new design was meant to be more 'scary' and machine-like than the previous bright orange design, which was more 'whimsical' to reflect upon the light-hearted and fairy-tale-like nature of the episodes following its introduction in "The Eleventh Hour". The seventh series' darker, more adult tone necessitated a more menacing and mysterious console – also reflecting the implications that the TARDIS is distrustful of the Doctor's companion, Clara Oswald. For instance, in "Hide" (2013), Clara's statement that the TARDIS actively dislikes her is intercut with footage of its circular connectors spinning from the ceiling. For the eighth series, Peter Capaldi's first as the Doctor, this console was still used but was tweaked and altered slightly, including the addition of a blackboard and bookshelves and the time rotor was changed to an orange colour replacing the blue.
A previously unseen version of the console room made an appearance in "The Day of the Doctor" (2013) and is associated with the War Doctor, portrayed by John Hurt. This console room has walls that are similar in design to those first seen in 1963, with multiple roundels illuminated from behind. The fourth major redesign of the TARDIS in the revived series appeared in the eleventh series. New production designer Arwel Wyn Jones said that the inspiration for the Thirteenth Doctor's TARDIS was based on the 2005-10 model, which he had worked on.
As seen in "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS", the console room is able to be replicated any number of times to create "echo rooms"; occupants in each of the different echo rooms will be able to feel the presence of the others in the forms of shadows and sounds, as the rooms are together for a brief second, with the rooms rapidly alternating between each other, "like a light switch ... flickering at super-infinite speeds."
The Virgin novels introduced a tertiary console room, which was described as resembling a Gothic cathedral (Nightshade, 1992). Another novel (Death and Diplomacy, 1996) suggested that the native configuration is so complex and irrational that most non-Time Lords who witness it are driven mad from the experience.
Throughout the programme's history there have been various attempts at humanising the console room by adding various accoutrements. For example, a hatstand has often been located somewhere in the room, and at the beginning of the series an old clock appeared in the room as well. In the series from 2005 onwards, the TARDIS console included a bench sitting area for the Doctor and/or his companions to relax during extended flight. In The Androids of Tara (1978) a cupboard containing fishing gear is shown nearby. In "The Rebel Flesh" (2011), a dartboard is seen installed in the console room, and it is revealed in the episode "Vincent and the Doctor" (2010) that the console is capable of playing recorded music. In keeping with the darker and more machine-like setting of the 2012 redesign of the console room, there is no hat-stand or bench; in "Hide", the Doctor and Clara both note that there is no longer anywhere in the room on which to hang Clara's umbrella.
The main feature of the console rooms, in any of the known configurations, is the TARDIS console that holds the instruments that control the ship's functions. The appearance of the primary TARDIS consoles has varied widely but shares common details: hexagonal pedestals with controls around the periphery, and a moveable column (or time rotor as it has been called in the original series and the 2011 episode "The Doctor's Wife") in the centre that bobs rhythmically up and down when the TARDIS is in flight, like a pump or a piston.
The secondary console was first seen in season 14 (1976–77) of the original series. It had the controls hidden behind wooden panels and had no central column. The 1996 television movie console also appeared to be made of wood and the central column connected to the ceiling of the console room. When the console appeared in 2005 it was circular in shape but still divided into six segments, with both the control panels and the central column glowing green, the latter once again connected to the ceiling.
The 2005 console has a much more thrown-together appearance than previous consoles, with bits of junk from various eras substituting as makeshift controls, including a glass paperweight, a locomotive style water sight glass and protector, a small bell, and a bicycle pump, the latter identified in the Tenth Doctor interactive mini-episode "Attack of the Graske" (2005) as the vortex loop control. Three other controls—the dimensional stabiliser, vector tracker, and the handbrake—were also identified. Although the stabiliser had been mentioned before in the series, the canonicity of the mini-episode is also unclear. As seen in "World War Three" (2005), there is also a working telephone attached to the console. In the 2010 series, the new console includes items such as a washer-fluid bottle from a car and a typewriter keyboard.
Precisely how much control the Doctor has in directing the TARDIS has varied over the course of the series. The First Doctor did not initially seem to be able to steer it accurately, making only one intended landing to the planet Kembel in The Daleks' Master Plan (1965–66) by using the directional unit taken from another TARDIS before the unit burns out. During the Third Doctor's exile on Earth, the TARDIS's course is shown as controlled successfully by the Time Lords, and from the point the Time Lords unblock his memory of time-travel mechanics in The Three Doctors (1972–73), the Doctor seems able to navigate correctly when needed.
Over time, the Doctor seems to be able to pilot the TARDIS with more precision. In The Seeds of Death (1969), the Second Doctor explains to Zoe Heriot that it would be impossible to use the TARDIS to fly from Earth to the Moon because it would likely "overshoot by a few million years, or a few million miles". However, in Logopolis (1981), the Fourth Doctor is able to make a "short hop" to the exact coordinates when he initially lands the TARDIS 1.6 metres off target.
Following The Key to Time season (1978–79), the Doctor installed a randomiser to the console which prevented the Doctor (and by extension the evil and powerful Black Guardian) from knowing where the TARDIS would land next. This device was eventually removed in The Leisure Hive (1980).
In the 2005 and later series, the Doctor is shown piloting the TARDIS at will, although writers continue to use the plot device of having the TARDIS randomly land somewhere, or imply that the TARDIS is "temperamental" in its courses through time and space, such as missing his intended mark by a century (1879 instead of 1979) in "Tooth and Claw" (2006), making the mistake of 12 months instead of 12 hours in "Aliens of London" (2005), getting the correct time but landing on the wrong continent (London instead of New York) in "The Idiot's Lantern" (2006) or even facing the wrong way (blocked by a metal container) in "Fear Her" (2006). He can also choose to "set the controls to random" as in "Planet of the Ood" (2008). Although the Eleventh Doctor's spatial accuracy in "The Eleventh Hour" (2010) was spot-on, the TARDIS' malfunctioning helmic regulator prevents him from controlling the exact time he arrives at, first promising a young Amelia that he would be gone for only five minutes, but taking 12 years to return, and again when he intended to leave Amy for a short while to give the newly regenerated TARDIS a brief shakedown cruise, and ends up returning another two years in the future. In "The Doctor's Wife" the reason why the Doctor seems to lack control over the TARDIS at times is explained: the TARDIS' soul, in the body of a humanoid named Idris, explained that while the TARDIS may not always take the Doctor where he "wants" to go, it always takes him where he "needs" to go.
In "Journey's End" (2008), the Tenth Doctor confirms that the TARDIS is intended to be flown by six pilots; Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Sarah Jane Smith, Mickey Smith, Jack Harkness and the Doctor man the controls, and the TARDIS runs far more smoothly during that brief period than it normally does. This also explains why the Doctor tends to do a lot of manic running around the console while he is piloting the TARDIS, as well as the difficulty he has in controlling it, although Romana, the Doctor's one-time Time Lord companion, is able to pilot the TARDIS successfully by herself. Companion Professor River Song, who has Time Lord DNA according to the episode "A Good Man Goes to War" (2011), was also shown to pilot the TARDIS smoothly and easily without help ("The Time of Angels" (2010), "The Pandorica Opens" (2010), "Let's Kill Hitler" (2011), "The Angels Take Manhattan" (2012)). Nyssa possessed at least rudimentary TARDIS piloting skill (Mawdryn Undead, 1983).
The Doctor in his eleventh incarnation was generally able to land the TARDIS with significantly superior accuracy to that of his predecessors. He returned four times to the same spot in Amy Pond's garden where he had crash-landed and originally met her. (2nd & 3rd arrivals "The Eleventh Hour", "The Big Bang", "The Angels Take Manhattan"); he routinely materialised in front of the London house which he had given to her and her husband ("The God Complex", "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe", "Pond Life: August", "The Power of Three"), or within her homes ("Flesh and Stone", "Pond Life: May", "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship", "The Power of Three"). He delivered himself to the precise space-time location where the pair (and, unbeknownst to them, their daughter River Song) had summoned him; ("Let's Kill Hitler") and his pin-point accurate landings repeatedly allowed him to catch River and save her life ("The Time of Angels", "Day of the Moon").
The console can be operated independently of the TARDIS. During the Third Doctor's era, he removes the console from the TARDIS to perform repairs on it. In Inferno (1970) the Doctor accidentally rides the detached console into a parallel universe. The Eleventh Doctor flies a detached console to his TARDIS in "The Doctor's Wife" (2011).
In "The Doctor's Wife", the "soul" of the ship is transferred into the body of a humanoid female called Idris, enabling the Doctor to have a conversation with his craft. The TARDIS says that she deliberately allowed the Doctor to "steal" her, as she wanted to see the universe itself; in a reversal of the traditional view, the TARDIS claims to have stolen the Doctor. When he accuses the TARDIS of being unreliable, she defends herself by saying that she has always taken him where he "needed to go", as opposed to where he "wanted to go". During their brief opportunity to converse, the TARDIS expresses both affection and frustration with the Doctor (including annoyance that he pushes her doors open rather than pulls them open as the instructional sign on the outside indicates). When asked by the Doctor if she actually has a name, she self-identifies with the name "Sexy", based upon what the Doctor calls her when he's alone in the ship (she later introduces herself to the Doctor's companions using this name). Eventually, the Idris "avatar" dies, and the last words uttered by the TARDIS to the Doctor using this interface are "I love you." Two additional pieces of information confirmed by the TARDIS during this incident are that TARDIS consciousnesses are female and that she and the Doctor have been travelling for approximately 700 years.
In a later episode, "Let's Kill Hitler" (2011), the Doctor speaks to the TARDIS by way of a holographic voice interface. In this instance, after providing options including an image of himself and former companions, the TARDIS manifests as an image of Amelia Pond as a child. In "Hide" (2013), companion Clara Oswald interacts with a similar interface outside the TARDIS' doors when it refuses to open for her. In a subsequent mini-episode entitled "Clara and the TARDIS", further animosity between Clara and the ship's consciousness is indicated when the TARDIS reconfigures her internal layout to prevent Clara from finding her bedroom. However, following "The Name of the Doctor" (2013) – in which her leap into the Doctor's time stream is what facilitated the Doctor and Susan to steal that TARDIS instead of the adjacent one that they had intended to take – the TARDIS' animosity appears to have disappeared as Clara is now shown as able to close the TARDIS doors with a snap of her fingers.
The episode "Hide" (2013) revealed that the Doctor's TARDIS is capable of operating autonomously; in the storyline, Clara convinces the ship, simply by speaking to her, to enter a pocket universe to rescue the imperiled Doctor.
Due to the age of the TARDIS, it is inclined to break down. The Doctor is often seen with his head stuck in a panel carrying out maintenance of some kind or another, and he occasionally has to give it "percussive maintenance" (a good thump on the console) to get it to start working properly. Efforts to repair, control, and maintain the TARDIS have been frequent plot devices throughout the show's run.
The TARDIS possesses telepathic circuits, although the Doctor prefers to pilot the TARDIS manually. In Pyramids of Mars (1975), the Fourth Doctor told Sutekh that the TARDIS controls were "isomorphic", meaning only the Doctor could operate them. However, this characteristic seems to appear and disappear when dramatically convenient, and various companions have been seen to be able to operate the TARDIS and even fly it. In "Blink" (2007), the TARDIS was 'pre-programmed' to travel to a specific time (1969) and place by inserting a DVD into the console. The DVD was one of the 17 owned by Sally Sparrow on which the Doctor appeared as an "Easter egg". In this situation, however, the TARDIS dematerialised without transporting its occupants. Despite the changes in the layout of the console controls, the Doctor seems to have no difficulty in operating the ship. In "Time Crash" (2007), the Fifth Doctor is able to fly the TARDIS despite the layout being radically different from the one he was used to, at first without even noticing that the machine had changed. In the episode "Utopia" (2007), the TARDIS is taken by the Master and the Doctor is only able to use his sonic screwdriver to restrict the destination times to the last two previous selected destinations. In the Big Finish Productions audio play Other Lives (2005), the Eighth Doctor deactivates the isomorphism of the controls to allow his companion C'rizz to operate the console.
Apart from the sound that accompanies dematerialisation, in The Web of Fear (1968), the TARDIS console was also seen to have a light that winked on and off during landing, although the more usual indicator of flight is the movement of the central column. The TARDIS also possesses a scanner so that its crew may examine the exterior environment before exiting the ship. In the 2005 series the scanner display is attached to the console and is able to display television signals as well as various computing functions and occasionally what the production team[who?][clarification needed] has stated are Gallifreyan numbers and text.
The 2005 series also sees the addition of the tribophysical waveform macro kinetic extrapolator to the TARDIS in the episode "Boom Town". This control was originally a pan-dimensional 'surf board' taken from the Slitheen. In "The Parting of the Ways", Captain Jack Harkness uses it to rig up a force field that defends the ship from Dalek missiles. The Doctor uses it again in the Christmas 2006 episode "The Runaway Bride", to jar it a few hundred metres off course when being dragged back to the Empress of Racnoss, in a similar manoeuvre to that used in The Web of Fear with another extra device he plugged into the console. In the last appearance, the TARDIS coral has begun to grow over the extrapolator.
In the television movie Doctor Who (1996), access to the Eye of Harmony is controlled by means of a device that requires a human eye to open. Why the Doctor would programme such a requirement is retroactively explained in the Big Finish Productions audio play The Apocalypse Element (2000), where a Dalek invasion of Gallifrey prompts the Time Lords to code their security locks to the retinal patterns of the Sixth Doctor's companion Evelyn Smythe.
The TARDIS came with an instruction manual that the Sixth Doctor claims in Vengeance on Varos (1985) to have started reading but never finished. Tegan Jovanka is unable to make sense of its contents, and Peri Brown later finds it propping open a vent. The usual function of the manual is to hold up a short leg on the Doctor's hat rack, though "Amy's Choice" (2010) features the Doctor revealing to have thrown it into a supernova, ostensibly due to disagreeing with it. Despite its complexity, some companions with exceptional intelligence, such as Nyssa, or familiarity with technology, such as Turlough and Jack Harkness, have been depicted as assisting the Doctor with TARDIS operations. In "The Sontaran Stratagem" (2008), Donna Noble displays an aptitude for piloting the TARDIS under the Doctor's guidance, much to the Doctor's apparent surprise. The Doctor's companion River Song claims to have been taught to pilot the TARDIS by "the very best" ("The Time of Angels", 2010); this turns out to have in fact been the TARDIS herself, rather than the Doctor ("Let's Kill Hitler", 2011).
In "Journey's End" (2008), the TARDIS is shown to ideally require six pilots positioned at various stations around the central console to be piloted properly. On that occasion, the six pilots were Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Sarah Jane Smith, Mickey Smith, Jack Harkness, and the Doctor. However, the ending of the 2011 episode "The Doctor's Wife" reveals that the TARDIS is actually capable of manipulating the controls herself (which is consistent with stories in which the TARDIS is summoned or otherwise travels by herself without the input of a pilot, such as The Two Doctors (1985) and "Hide" (2013).
In "The Time of Angels" (2010), River Song reveals that the TARDIS has a "stabilisation" and "brake" option. The "stabilisation" prevents the TARDIS from moving violently in flight. River Song claimed that leaving the "brakes" on is the cause of the (de)materialisation noise. However, other TARDISes have usually made the same sound when dematerialising and materialising, and it has even been identified as a particular component of every TARDIS. In "The Time of the Doctor" (2013), the Doctor is able to "turn the engines on silent". The consciousness of the Doctor's TARDIS, when briefly transposed into the body of a humanoid woman in "The Doctor's Wife", makes the sound in order to identify herself to the Doctor and is used when the TARDIS consciousness is transferred to and from the woman.
The central column is often referred to[by whom?][undue weight? ] as the "time rotor", although when the term was first used in The Chase (1965) it referred to a different instrument on the TARDIS console. However, the use of this term to describe the central column was common in fan literature,[undue weight? ][vague] and was finally used on screen to refer to the central column in Arc of Infinity (1983) and Terminus (1983). The current production team[needs update] uses the term in the same way. It was also referred to as the "time column" in Logopolis (1981). The 1996 television movie was the first appearance of the central column being attached to the ceiling. After season 26, a new design for the TARDIS console room featured the console being suspended from the ceiling via the central column. This design was never built because the show was cancelled before a 27th season was produced, but the set was used in a Doctor Who night presented by Sylvester McCoy, where a miniature was built and McCoy was superimposed into it.
When fully active, the TARDIS's outer defences are (nearly) impenetrable. In the last episode of The Armageddon Factor (1979), the Black Guardian is unable to enter the TARDIS after the Doctor activates "...all of the TARDIS's defences..." Similarly, when being chased by an Auton in "Rose" (2005), the Doctor reassures future companion Rose Tyler that "the assembled hordes of Genghis Khan couldn't break through those doors, and believe me, they've tried." However, in "Journey's End" (2008) the Tenth Doctor states that the Daleks, created and led by Davros, would have no problem breaching the TARDIS defences. "They're experts at fighting TARDISes, they can do anything. Right now, that wooden door is just wood."
One of the main TARDIS defenses is a force field. The field is seen in use in "The Runaway Bride" (2006), when the Tenth Doctor and the Bride, Donna Noble, are trying to escape the Empress of the Racnoss and in "The Beast Below" (2010), when the Doctor is showing Amy Pond the wonders of the universe. In "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" (2013), the Eleventh Doctor turns off the shields by putting the TARDIS on "basic mode" for his companion, Clara, to operate. Another device, a tribophysical waveform macro kinetic extrapolator, is installed to generate a force field in the episode "Boom Town" (2005) and is later used to protect the ship from Dalek missiles in "The Parting of the Ways".
Another defensive feature is the Hostile Action Displacement System (HADS), which can (if switched on by the ship's operator) teleport the ship away if it is attacked (The Krotons, 1968) or in great danger ("Cold War", 2013). The Hostile Action Dispersal System can, if the TARDIS is threatened, scatter its components so that it appears destroyed, then reassemble it via a sonic device such as a sonic screwdriver ("The Magician's Apprentice"/"The Witch's Familiar", 2015). It is unclear if the Displacement and Dispersal functions are part of the same system, or if they are separate features.
If required, the TARDIS can become temporarily invisible, but this is a significant power drain, as seen in "The Impossible Astronaut" (2011), when the Doctor lands the TARDIS in the middle of the Oval Office in the White House.
The interior of the TARDIS was described as being in a state of "temporal grace" (The Hand of Fear, 1976). The Fourth Doctor explains that, in a sense, things do not exist while inside the TARDIS. This had the practical effect of ensuring that no weapons can be used inside its environs; however, since then weapons have been fired in the console room in Earthshock (1982), Attack of the Cybermen (1985), "The Parting of the Ways" (2005), and "Last of the Time Lords" (2007), among others. When confronted by Nyssa on this contradiction in Arc of Infinity (1983), the Doctor responds, "Yes, well, nobody's perfect." In The Invasion of Time (1978), a guard's patrol staser will not function, even though K9's nose laser does. The Doctor explains on this occasion that the staser will not work within the field of a relative dimensional stabiliser, such as that found in the TARDIS. In the audio story Human Resources (2007), when a character mentions the temporal grace function, the Eighth Doctor, says that his TARDIS "hasn't done that in years". In "Let's Kill Hitler" (2011) the Doctor tells Mels about the temporal grace system and she shoots something in the TARDIS as a result, causing it to crash. The Doctor then admits that temporal grace is actually just a "clever lie."
The TARDIS can also use its living metal circuitry to continue to expand and change when required, as seen in "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" (2013), when the TARDIS creates a continuing "labyrinth" around its occupants, to stop the theft of a circuit.
The TARDIS also has another shield which keeps it from interacting with other objects in the time vortex, namely other TARDISes. When the Doctor forgets to restore these shields after the events of "Last of the Time Lords", he ends up merging his TARDIS with that of his fifth incarnation in the mini-episode "Time Crash". After successfully separating the two, the bow of the alien spaceship called Titanic, designed to look like the ship of the same name, smashes through the inside wall of the TARDIS before he can raise it again. Despite the shield being designed to keep the TARDIS from interacting with itself, its own interior is considered the safest place, and the ship will thus effect an emergency materialisation within itself under certain circumstances. This occurred in the mini-episodes "Space" and "Time" (both 2011), when Rory Williams' accidental dropping of a thermal coupling prompts the TARDIS' exterior to materialise within its interior, thereby trapping the ship and its occupants in a space loop. In "The Doctor's Wife", the Doctor's makeshift TARDIS materialises within the Doctor's own TARDIS, but only after Idris telepathically instructs the Doctor's companions, trapped aboard by the House entity, to deactivate the TARDIS's defences from an "archived" control room.
The TARDIS can be programmed to execute automatic functions based on certain conditions. The Ninth Doctor uses Emergency Programme One to send Rose home in "The Parting of the Ways" (2005). It is programmed to return to the Doctor upon the detection of the presence of one of Sally Sparrow's DVDs in "Blink" (2007). Emergency Programme One will also send Donna Noble back to her own time period if she is left alone in the TARDIS for more than five hours. In "Voyage of the Damned" (2007), the TARDIS will lock on to the nearest planetary body to land there when it becomes adrift in space. Similarly, when damage to the interior of the TARDIS threatens the inhabitants it will materialise at the nearest safe environment and create an emergency exit, as seen in Terminus (1983). The Master also pre-programs the Doctor's TARDIS on occasion, for example in Castrovalva (1982) where he programs it to travel back in time to "Event one" in order to destroy it.
The TARDIS also grants its passengers the ability to understand and speak other languages. This was originally described in The Masque of Mandragora (1976) as a "Time Lord gift" which the Doctor shares with his companions, but is ultimately attributed to the TARDIS's telepathic field in "The End of the World" (2005). In "The Christmas Invasion" (2005), it is revealed that the Doctor himself is an integral element of this capability. Rose is unable to understand the alien Sycorax whilst the Doctor is in a regenerative crisis. In "The Impossible Planet" (2006), it is said that the TARDIS normally even translates writing; in that episode, the TARDIS is unable to translate an alien script, which the Doctor claims makes the language "impossibly old". However, the TARDIS does not translate Gallifreyan, as seen in "Utopia", when the Doctor was reading Gallifreyan numbers from the console monitor to tell where the TARDIS was going, and again in "A Good Man Goes to War" (2011), in which the Gallifreyan script on the Doctor's crib remains unintelligible to the audience and the Ponds. River Song also explains in "A Good Man Goes to War" that the TARDIS' translation matrix can take "a while to kick in" for the written word, actually coming into effect after the departure of the Doctor and the TARDIS. In the Ninth Doctor Adventures novel Only Human (2005), the telepathic field includes a filter that replaces foul or undesirable language with more acceptable terms. In "The Fires of Pompeii" (2008), it is shown that if a TARDIS traveller speaks in a hearer's own language, the translation circuit renders these words appropriately as foreign to the listener's ear (for example, if an English-speaking TARDIS traveller deliberately tries to speak Latin to an ancient Roman, the Roman instead hears that Latin as "Celtic" or Welsh). It also affects the translation of accents: in "Vincent and the Doctor" (2010), a translated Scottish accent is heard by a Dutchman and understood as a Dutch accent. The translation circuit does not always function, even for the Doctor. In Four to Doomsday (1982), the Doctor is unable to understand the Aboriginal language spoken by a tribesman and the Doctor's companion Tegan. In Carnival of Monsters (1973) the Doctor is unable to understand Vorg when he tries to speak to him in Polari. Similarly, Martha Jones is initially unable to understand the Hath in the episode "The Doctor's Daughter" (2008) and although she is eventually able to communicate with them, the audience is never allowed to understand their words.
The TARDIS is able to tow other objects (a neutron star in The Creature from the Pit, 1979; a ship in "The Satan Pit", 2006); or follow a ship or a transmission through space and time ("The Empty Child", 2005; and "The Stolen Earth", 2008). In "Journey's End" (2008), the TARDIS (assisted by the Rift Manipulator situated at Torchwood Three in Cardiff and the supercomputer Mr Smith) is able to tow the Earth across space.
At times the TARDIS is shown to have a mind of its own. It is heavily implied in the television series that the TARDIS is "alive" and intelligent to a degree (first in The Edge of Destruction, 1964), and shares a bond with those who travel in it; in the television movie Doctor Who (1996), the Doctor calls the TARDIS "sentimental". In "The Parting of the Ways" (2005), the Doctor leaves a message for Rose when he believes he will never return, asking her to let the TARDIS die. In the same episode, Rose claims that the TARDIS is alive, echoing the Doctor's earlier statement in "Boom Town". The Doctor's TARDIS is also explicitly said to have died in the episode "Rise of the Cybermen" (2006), though the Doctor is able to revive it by giving up some of his life energy (reducing his life expectancy by a decade in the process). Other abilities the TARDIS displays include creating snow via "atmospheric excitation" ("The Runaway Bride", 2006) and, through a "chameleon arch", engineering an almost witness protection-style relocation[original research?][clarification needed] by making its Time Lord another species and placing him/her in a newly fabricated identity with new memories somewhere else in space and time ("Human Nature", 2007; "The Family of Blood", 2007; "Utopia", 2007). In "The Doctor's Wife" (2011), the TARDIS's intelligence is temporarily transferred to a humanoid body, during which time it is shown to possess a degree of precognition as well as limited telepathic abilities and a genuine fondness for the Doctor and his companions. This episode also demonstrates that certain capabilities of the physical TARDIS are operable independently of its intelligence, in particular the physical TARDIS's internal password security system (which is language-independent, relying on meanings rather than the words themselves) and ability to travel between "bubble universes". In "The Name of the Doctor" (2013), the TARDIS actively resists traveling to the planet Trenzalore, the site of the Doctor's grave, and once there, forces the Doctor to crash-land it on the planet's surface.
The TARDIS is also able to place particular areas of the ship in "time stasis", as is in "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" (2013) where the engine had exploded and the TARDIS "wrapped around the force" of the explosion as a temporary safety measure.
In the novels, a portion of the TARDIS could be separated and used for independent travel. This was featured in two Virgin novels, Iceberg (1993) and Sanctuary (1995). This subset of the TARDIS, resembling a small pagoda fashioned out of jade, had limited range and functionality, but is used occasionally when the main TARDIS is incapacitated. The sapient characteristics of the TARDIS have been made more explicit in the spin-off novels and audio plays. In the Big Finish audio play Omega (2003), the Doctor meets a TARDIS which "dies" after its Time Lord master's demise.
Other TARDISes have appeared in the television series. The first was that of the Monk, another Time Lord, in the 1965 serial The Time Meddler. The Master had at least two TARDISes of his own, each a more advanced model than the Doctor's. The chameleon circuits on these were fully functional, and his TARDISes have been seen in various forms, including a fully functional spacecraft, a Concorde aircraft, a grandfather clock, a computer, a fireplace, a Doric pillar,[nb 7] a lorry, a statue (able to move and walk around), a laurel tree and an iron maiden.[additional citation(s) needed] In the unaired 1980 serial Shada, the Time Lord known as Professor Chronotis has a TARDIS disguised as his quarters at Cambridge University.
Another renegade Time Lord, The Rani, appears with her TARDIS. In The Armageddon Factor (1979), the Time Lord Drax has a TARDIS, but it is in need of repair. The War Chief provides dimensionally transcendent time machines named SIDRATs ("TARDIS" spelled backwards) to the alien race known as the "War Lords" in The War Games (1969).[nb 8] In the script for The Chase (1965), Dalek time machines are known as DARDISes.
The renegade Time Lady Iris Wildthyme's own TARDIS was disguised as a No. 22 London bus, but was slightly smaller on the inside than it is on the outside. The Eighth Doctor Adventures novels have stated that future model Type 102 TARDISes will be fully sentient, and able to take on humanoid form. The Eighth Doctor's companion Compassion was the first Type 102 TARDIS, and she was seen to have enough firepower to annihilate other TARDISes.
In the 40th anniversary animated webcast Scream of the Shalka (2003), the Doctor has a TARDIS console room that looked similar to the Eighth Doctor's version. This console was covered in an array of clock-like dials, featured a long spiral staircase leading far above the console, and connected to a nearby room resembling a Victorian library and study.
In the Big Finish audio play The One Doctor (2001), confidence trickster Banto Zame impersonates the Doctor. However, due to incomplete information, his copy of the TARDIS (a short range transporter) is called a "Stardis", resembled a portaloo rather than a police box, and is not dimensionally transcendental. In Unregenerate! (2005), the Seventh Doctor and Mel stop a secret Time Lord project to download TARDIS minds into bodies of various alien species. This would have created living TARDIS pilots loyal to the Time Lords and ensuring that they would have ultimate control over any use of time travel technology by other races. Those created before the project is shut down depart on their own to explore the universe.
The 28 October 2006 Radio Times, in an image of the Torchwood Three headquarters, identified a piece of large coral on Captain Jack Harkness' desk as the beginnings of a TARDIS. John Barrowman, who plays Jack, said that "Jack's growing a TARDIS... It's probably been there for 30 years. I suppose in 500 years he'll be able to begin the carving process".
In the 2008 Christmas Special, "The Next Doctor", Jackson Lake (David Morrissey), while under the delusion that he is the Doctor, has a blue gas balloon which he identifies as his TARDIS, which he explains stands for "Tethered Aerial Release Developed In Style". It is not capable of time travel.
In a deleted scene from the series 4 finale "Journey's End", the Doctor gave a piece of the TARDIS to the half-human Doctor clone so that the latter could grow his own. When the clone remarked that growing a TARDIS would take hundreds of years, Donna Noble provided him with a method of speeding up the process.
In "The Lodger" (2010) a vessel, which the Doctor identifies as a somebody's attempt to build a TARDIS, lures in unsuspecting people to pilot its controls, all of whom die due to humans being incompatible with the process. The same interior was used by the Silence in "Day of the Moon" (2011) (and the similarity commented on by the Doctor as he enters), but the intended connections between the two are still mostly unknown.
In "The Doctor's Wife" (2011), the Doctor and the human avatar of his TARDIS' matrix (aka Idris) view a valley filled with parts of "half-eaten TARDISes", which upsets Idris. Later, the Doctor builds a makeshift TARDIS out of components of the dead TARDISes to be able to save Rory and Amy who are trapped inside his TARDIS, which is now under the control of a malevolent entity called the House. He still requires energy from Idris in order to make it work. The console used for this episode was designed by the winner of a Blue Peter competition in 2010.
In "Hell Bent" (2015), the Doctor once again escapes from Gallifrey, which had been safely put in another dimension and later returned to the universe, by stealing a TARDIS, which initially has the external appearance of a grey cylinder with a sliding door. At the end of the episode, when the Doctor's original TARDIS is returned to him, it is revealed that the newly stolen TARDIS is now being piloted by former travelling companion Clara Oswald and immortal human Ashildr, who are also in possession of a TARDIS manual. Ashildr mentions that she has not yet understood how to get the chameleon circuit working, meaning that this TARDIS is at least temporarily stuck in the form of an American diner, in which disguise it is revealed to have been the setting for that episode's frame story.
In "Spyfall" (2020), the Master has a TARDIS of his own, first seen disguised as the residence of his alias "O", in the Great Victoria desert, Australia. It is later revealed that O actually is the Master, and his house is in fact his TARDIS.
The sound of the Doctor's TARDIS featured in the final scene of the Torchwood episode "End of Days" (2007). As Torchwood Three's hub is situated at a rift of temporal energy, the Doctor often appears on Roald Dahl Plass directly above it in order to recharge the TARDIS. In the episode, Jack Harkness hears the tell-tale sound of the engines, smiles and afterwards is nowhere to be found; the scene picks up in the cold open of the Doctor Who episode "Utopia" (2007) in which Jack runs to and holds onto the TARDIS just before it disappears.
Former companion Sarah Jane Smith has a diagram of the TARDIS in her attic, as shown in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Invasion of the Bane" (2007). In the two-part serial The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith (2008), Sarah Jane becomes trapped in 1951 and briefly mistakes an actual police public call box for the Doctor's TARDIS (the moment is even heralded by the Doctor's musical cue, frequently used in the revived series). It makes a full appearance in The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith (2009), in which the Doctor briefly welcomes Sarah Jane's three adolescent companions into the control room. It then serves as a backdrop for the farewell scene between Sarah Jane and the Tenth Doctor, which echoed nearly word-for-word her final exchange with the Fourth Doctor aboard the TARDIS in 1976. It reappears in Death of the Doctor (2010), where is stolen by the Shansheeth who try to use it as an immortality machine, and transports Sarah Jane, Jo Grant and their adolescent companions (Rani Chandra, Clyde Langer and Santiago Jones).
As one of the most recognisable images connected with Doctor Who, the TARDIS has appeared on numerous items of merchandise associated with the programme. TARDIS scale models of various sizes have been manufactured to accompany other Doctor Who dolls and action figures, some with sound effects included. Fan-built full-size models of the police box are also common. There have been TARDIS-shaped video games, play tents for children, toy boxes, cookie jars, book ends, key chains, and even a police-box-shaped bottle for a TARDIS bubble bath. The 1993 VHS release of The Trial of a Time Lord was contained in a special-edition tin shaped like the TARDIS.
With the 2005 series revival, a variety of TARDIS-shaped merchandise has been produced, including a TARDIS coin box, TARDIS figure toy set, a TARDIS that detects the ring signal from a mobile phone and flashes when an incoming call is detected, TARDIS-shaped wardrobes and DVD cabinets, and a USB hub in the shape of the TARDIS. The complete 2005 season DVD box set, released in November 2005, was issued in packaging that resembled the TARDIS.
In popular cultureEdit
- A MacBook hybrid drive company is named tarDISK. Their website and videos contain references to flash memory which is bigger on the inside. They also claim native integration with Apple's "Time Machine Backup" software.
- Tardis Environmental UK are a supplier of portable toilets has their logo as a red TARDIS.
- "Doctorin' the Tardis" was a 1988 novelty pop single by The Timelords (better known as The KLF) which hit number one in the UK and had chart success worldwide. It was a reworking of several songs (principally "Rock and Roll Part 2", "Block Buster!" and the Doctor Who theme music) with lyrics referencing Doctor Who, specifically the TARDIS.
- An asteroid discovered by astronomer Brian A. Skiff was named 3325 TARDIS.
- Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger created a piece entitled Time and Relative Dimensions in Space in 2001 that is structurally a police box shape faced with mirrors. The BBC website describes it as "recent proof of [the TARDIS'] enduring legacy".
- In July 2014, the Monty Python comedy troupe opened their reunion show, Monty Python Live (Mostly), with a trademark animation featuring the Tardis – dubbed the "retardis" – flying through space before the Pythons came on stage.
- There is a TARDIS in the Earth Fleet scene of Iron Sky.
- The Perth Mint released a silver coin of 2 dollars for Niue Island depicting the TARDIS.
- The song "Up On The Ladder", by British rock band Radiohead, starts with the verse "I'm stuck in the TARDIS". It's the sixth song from their 2007 album In Rainbows disk 2.
- TARDIS is an acronym of "Time And Relative Dimension(s) in Space". Generally, "TARDIS" is written in all uppercase letters—this convention was popularised by the Target novelisations of the 1970s. However, the use of "Tardis" is equally correct (it was used in the Dr. Who [sic] films) and is consistent with current British press style, in which acronyms that form pronounceable words are spelled with only the first letters capitalised (for example, Bafta), while acronyms requiring each letter to be read out (also known as "initialisms") are capitalised in their entirety (for example, BBC). Many examples of the form Tardis are found in media and, occasionally, licensed publications (in the 2005 series episode "World War Three", the caller ID of the TARDIS is displayed on Rose Tyler's mobile phone as "Tardis calling"—this capitalisation of only the initial letter being the default setting for Nokia mobile phones). The OED has the word "Tardis" capitalised as such with a first appearance from the Times in 1969.
- The word "Tardis" first appeared in print in the Christmas 1963 edition of Radio Times and this BBC (until 2011) publication has often[additional citation(s) needed] italicised it to connote a ship's name.
- There is some disagreement over whether the "D" in the name stands for "dimension" or "dimensions"; both have been used in various episodes. The first story, An Unearthly Child (1963), used the singular "Dimension". The 1964 novelisation Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks used "Dimensions" for the first time and the 1965 serial The Time Meddler introduced the plural in the television series - although the script had it as singular, actor Maureen O'Brien changed it to "Dimensions". Since then both versions have been used. It is singular in Frontios (1984), and in "Rose" (2005), the Ninth Doctor uses the singular (although this was a decision of actor Christopher Eccleston— the line was scripted in the plural). The Tenth Doctor uses the singular in "Smith and Jones" (2007). The plaque set on the TARDIS console in the 2010–12 design also uses the singular form. In the 2011 episode "The Doctor's Wife" the TARDIS herself uses "Dimension". In "The Zygon Inversion" (2015), Osgood mentions hearing "a couple of different versions" of what TARDIS stands for. The Twelfth Doctor responds with a new acronym: "Totally and Radically Driving in Space".
- A Grade II-listed police box in Newport, Wales is now commonly known as the Somerton TARDIS and has been painted with a scarf resembling that of Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor.
- The episode's writer Steven Moffat confirmed that this line was an in-joke aimed at fans on "Internet forums".
- The Sixth Doctor states this in The Two Doctors (1985). However, the Doctor later states that he had made some things up to confuse the Sontarans, who were trying to duplicate the Imprimatur to prime their own time vessel.
- The Logopolis novelisation (1982) refers to this form as "an architectural pillar, stocky, yellowing and fluted", while Time-Flight (1983) describes it as a "Corinthian pillar". It is realised on television as a stunted Doric column, and not as an Ionic column as is often written.
- "Space and Inter-Dimensional Robot All-purpose Transporter" according to the novelisation of The War Games (1979).
- "Tardis, n.". Oxford English Dictionary. June 2002.
His best poems are like Doctor Who's Tardis, the solid streetcorner police box, which actually contains a sidereal spaceship.
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Number two control room has been closed for redecoration. I don't like the colour. ... That's the trouble with computers. Always think in black and white.
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Well, despite what you might have read absolutely everywhere, including the last paragraph, the Master's TARDIS is not, repeat not, an Ionic column.... it's a Doric column, topped by a simple slab or abacus.
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- Nathan-Turner, John (1985). The TARDIS Inside Out. UK: Picadilly Press, Ltd. ISBN 0-394-87415-3.
- Howe, David J.; Stephen James Walker (1994). The First Doctor Handbook. Virgin Publishing. ISBN 0-426-20430-1.
- Howe, David J.; Stephen James Walker (2003). The Television Companion: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who. Telos Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-903889-51-0.
- Howe, David J.; Arnold T. Blumberg (2003). Howe's Transcendental Toybox: The Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who Collectibles. UK: Telos Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-903889-56-1.
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