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The TARDIS through the ages

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Briode nebulisers and painted Welsh dressers

Fascists run a parallel Britain in 1970.

Years would pass with only fragments of information about the TARDIS. The mention of the (no laughing, please) “briode nebuliser” in 1985 and the Fourth Doctor’s brief adoption of a wood-paneled console room set the theorisers stroking their chins. Speculation continued across the years – why did the Sixth Doctor fix the TARDIS’ ‘Chameleon Circuit’ only for it to look like a painted Welsh dresser and a church organ? – but always while adding to the mystique.

The 2005 reboot brought a flash and enormous new flight deck, though that season’s conclusion The Parting Of The Ways almost sought to the reduce the TARDIS to the status of the humdrum. When Rose literally opened the box, ingested TARDIS-power and became a time goddess, what might have been a top ruck with the Daleks was deus ex machina’d out of existence to allow more time for smooching.

(God knows what they were thinking when they decided Captain Jack should be brought back to life as an immortal. Add to this his neat-o time bracelet, which pretty much does what the TARDIS does, and his ability to actually ride on the outside of the TARDIS in 2007’s Utopia and it looks rather like flicking the V’s. Just saying).

Home-made Zero Room

After the Tenth Doctor’s TARDIS blew up in sympathy in the midst of his hilariously OTT regeneration in The End Of Time in 2010, the Eleventh Doctor’s wheels – with its egg whisks, swanee whistles and sink plungers – was arguably a little too steampunk-inspired for the hardcore. But deny it if you can, the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure has seen some outstanding stories about Time gone mental and the TARDIS itself.

Among the corkers were The Girl Who Waited’s Old versus Young Amy, the mini-episodes Space and Time where the TARDIS materialises inside itself, and best of all, The Doctor’s Wife, which delivered the hardened TARDIS watcher with all the essence rare they could wish for. With the TARDIS incarnated in the humanoid form of Idris, the Doctor gripes that she never took him where he wanted to go. When Idris counters that she took him where he needed to go, we get one of those super-panoramas that goes back to a scrapyard in Shoreditch in 1963, and brings everything that’s happened since into greater focus.

The Tardis as a Welsh dresser...

But this is no time for complacency. A new film version aimed at America has been mooted, with the BBC’s collaborators (who made the Harry Potter films) declaring that nothing is sacred. So expect the TARDIS to appear as a full-time attractive policewoman, partnering a Doctor who can never be killed and who carries a shooter. Write to your MP now, because it has the potential to make the two-men-and-a-baby episode where the Cybermen are holed up underneath the British Home Stores look like a classic. ®

Ian Harrison also writes about pop music and will miss Ceefax.

Read Verity Stob's history of computers in Dr Who and read how touchy-feely Doctors threaten the very fabric of the Who universe.

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