Warning: contains spoilers for “The Star Beast”
Doctor Who’s new TARDIS interior set will do “amazing things,” promises producer Phil Collinson. Speaking alongside fellow producer Vicki Delow and actor David Tennant on the official inside commentary accompanying “The Star Beast”, Collinson explained that the vast new white interior engineered by production designer Phil Sims isn’t only as big as it looks, but also has some surprises in store.
“All the lights work independently, they can spell out words. Every single one of the roundel lights is an individually controlled LED light. Viewers, you are going to see this set do amazing things through the series.”
Tennant describes it as a great honour to have been the Doctor to unveil the new TARDIS interior, and have been “the first person to fiddle” with the super-sized new console and multi-layer gantries, as well as the first person to run around it like a child at Disneyworld. “There’s these tantalising doors to other places.”
Fourteen’s excited lap around the ship at the end of “The Star Beast” was an idea proposed by episode director Rachel Talalay, and one that Tennant literally ran with, having to find a route around its many walkways: “I’m not acting at all! I’m having the time of my life. It’s a long way though, I had a bit of a recovery between takes.”
Speaking on The Official Doctor Who Podcast, showrunner Russell T Davies explained that the new look isn’t just harking back to the plainer, white TARDIS interiors of Doctor Who in the Classic era, but also much more recent Who under the showrunning of Steven Moffat and Chris Chibnall.
“I based that over the past few years on very much loving the white TARDISes that were beginning to crop up in the programme. Clara and Me flew off into the Vortex in a white TARDIS, then Jodie’s era saw the Fugitive Doctor with that white TARDIS, and they stole that TARDIS from Gallifrey and flew back to Earth with it, and I loved it!
“I had a long conversation with myself sitting there going do I love that because I’m a fan of the 60s, 70s and 80s when the TARDIS was white, or do I love that because it’s genuinely good? And I think now we’ve built one, the answer is because it’s genuinely good, but feel free to argue!”
The Official Doctor Who Podcast presenter Tyrell Charles doesn’t argue and praises the choice of white as a “universally accepted futuristic look” while looking forward to the colour-change potential of the new LED roundels:
“It reminds me of the end of “Turn Left” when Bad Wolf was everywhere and the TARDIS goes on red alert and everything turns red when it was dangerous, so it borrows elements from the modern era but it takes what was a genuinely good design from classic and says: what if we looked at this on a nice wide-screen TV.”
Blowing It Up
The new interior set is so inviting that on first being shown inside, series 14 episode directors had to be physically removed from wandering around in a reverie so they could start work, say Collinson and Delow.
It takes Tennant much longer to run around the console than it used to– and that’s nothing to do with 15 years having passed since he was last full time on Doctor Who. All that space, a significantly bigger console – and what happens minutes in? Donna blows it up with a slosh of coffee.
Collinson jokingly describes reading the end of “The Star Beast” script and calling Davies in a faux-rage:
“We spent so much money and we get this beautiful gleaming TARDIS and then in the first scene, Russell blows it up! I was absolutely furious with him. I phoned him up and said you have got to be joking, and he said I don’t just want it to be a little thing, it’s got to be the biggest explosion there’s ever been on a TARDIS.”
What’s your verdict?
Doctor Who continues with Wild Blue Yonder on Saturday December 2 on BBC One and iPlayer in the UK, and on Disney+ around the world.