My own TARDIS history

I made my first TARDIS when I was 11 years old. I found an old chicken incubator half buried under a shed and it reminded me of a TARDIS roof. After retrieving and cleaning it, I added sides and a floor and painted it black. (When I first watched Dr Who, we had a black & white TV. Although we had colour TV by the time I built this TARDIS, I must have got it into my head that it was black, rather than dark blue).

- who1.ukBuilding the TARDIS (age 12)It wasn’t by any means an accurate copy, but it served the purpose for our games of Dr Who. Sadly, there are only a couple of photos of my TARDIS and they aren’t very big. You have to appreciate that in the 1970’s people didn’t have digital cameras. Furthermore, we weren’t obsessed with uploading images to social media, since it didn’t exist. The only reason I have any photos of my constructions, is because my Dad was interested in child creativity and art, as part of his job in education, and he used to give talks on learning through art and making. My brother (also shown, right) was making his ‘Master’s TARDIS’. 

TARDIS - Tom Baker yearsIt was another 2 years before I made a TARDIS Control Console for my bedroom. I was age 13 and Tom Baker had just taken over as Dr Who. At Christmas, my parents bought me a Tandy, electronic, 65-in-1 Kit, which I promptly cut in half and added to my TARDIS (you can see half of it exposed and half of it covered, on the lower right side of the photo).

After this photo was taken, I installed a clear plastic, upturned sweet jar, in the centre hole, and a clockwork Meccano motor which turned it via a belt. Small lights with coloured covers made from Quality Street sweet wrappers, shone light through the spinning jar, giving the effect of electrical sparks dancing inside the jar. Side panels were also added around the central plinth. See my early attempt to recreate an impression, using Flash, at my old Who1 website here. (Unfortunately, Flash is no longer permitted. However, if you search for ‘ruffle’ you can add a plugin to firefox or chrome browsers to view Flash). PS: I will make a video from the Flash and add it here in due course.

TARDIS in garage - www.who1.ukSeveral years later, whilst living in Bedfordshire, I rented a house with a single garage in front of its back entrance. Circa 1997, I decided to build a TARDIS in the garage. The idea was to enter the garage by its single door at the far end, on the house side, and be immediately faced by a TARDIS. I wanted to create the illusion of a free standing TARDIS with no apparent connection to any walls. I also wanted to be able to enter the TARDIS and arrive in my workshop. Because of theWorkshop - www.who1.uk relatively low garage roof height, I decided I wouldn’t be able to have a proper roof on my TARDIS. (This is why the roof is missing from subsequent moves to other locations). Funds and resources were a bit limited at the time and some details were not possible. I also scaled it up from a couple of Corgi toy model TARDIS’ s which I owned, and a few images I was able to find at the time. (I know it’s hard to believe now, when so much is taken for granted, but social media and Internet searching, even up to year 2004, wasn’t at the level it has become today).

TARDIS entrance - www.who1.ukWhen I moved house to Yorkshire, I dismantled my TARDIS and stored it for a while. When my daughter became interested in Dr Who (when it was resurrected with Christopher Ecclestone in 2005), I decided to put the doors of my TARDIS as the entrance to a bedroom. A year later, I rebuilt it properly in the lounge, where it TARDIS in lounge - www.who1.ukremains to this day as a cupboard.

Approaching from a corridor, towards the lounge door, it can be seen quite clearly, standing in the corner of the room – still without a top or better signage, but also still an illusion. This is probably the only TARDIS which is bigger on the outside, than the inside.

Drooping over the top, is a clock in the style of those painted by surrealist artist, Salvador Dali. On the right hangs a photo from a time I returned to Starlab, where there had once been a scientist working on time travel.

After looking like this (above left) for about 17 years, I decided to make a few improvements. Although the top typography is possibly a little bit large, I had to manage with what I had access to. The surround for the sign would have been wood of the same cross section, but I only had to hand what I ended up using. I decided to screw, rather than nail or glue the frame, and then painted over the shiny screws later:

The little door for the public telephone varies on different TARDIS designs – sometimes opening from the left and sometimes opening from the right. My TARDIS isn’t specifically modelled on any particular historical Dr Who series, but is simply intended to represent a Dr Who TARDIS. My preference is to have the handle for the little door on the right and hinges on the left. (Of course, on this particular build, the door doesn’t actually exist).

The next thing I decided to do, was a make a roof. Since it began life in a low height garage, there was no room for a top section at the time. I knew I had some old cardboard boxes in the attic, and managed to find one that was perfect for the job. However, there was some trepidation when I started making my first cuts – any mistake could mess things up, and I didn’t have another suitable piece of cardboard. Corrugated section cardboard doesn’t create the neatest of edges when cut, so this necessitated some covering with masking tape. (I later added some ceiling crack cover tape, as this seemed more likely to stay attached than the masking tape and was also designed for painting over).

The lamp was a bit of a challenge, since I didn’t really have the materials I wanted to use. However, after a bit of searching around – and a lot of improvisation – I came up with something that would work well enough. I also had a remote controlled, colour changing LED lightbulb, together with a lamp holder attached to a clip. All this was easily mounted inside the roof housing.

lamp assembly TARDIS Cupboard

So whilst it may not be perfect, I’m rather attached to my old TARDIS. Perhaps one day, I will make a proper free-standing TARDIS from proper plans – but for now, this has improved the general look. A reasonable upgrade, I’d say.