Tales of the TARDIS is Packed with Doctor Who Easter Eggs – What Did You Spot?

Nods to classic and new Who abound in the new companion series. Did you catch these?

Tales of the Tardis Sylvester McCoy
Photo: BBC Studios/Alistair Heap

Contains spoilers for Tales of the TARDIS, ‘Earthshock’, ‘The Three Doctors’, ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’, ‘The War Games’, ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’, ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’, ‘Survival’ and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

It’s not even November 25th and already we’re looking for Easter Eggs. Then again time has no meaning in a Remembered TARDIS, the enigmatic location for Tales of the TARDIS. What is Tales of the TARDIS? I’m glad you asked. There are no stupid questions here, despite the best efforts of the comments section (I’m joking. Probably). Tales of the TARDIS (I should probably put that on my clipboard now) is a new series of Doctor Who stories, edited to omnibus length with no episode breaks and bookended by appearances from characters connected to the stories. We went into more detail about it here.

A Remembered TARDIS appears to be some sort of dream-based haven where all of the TARDIS’ memories can appear. We know the TARDIS has telepathic capabilities, and it seems to have reached out to its former occupants to offer them some sort of sanctuary where they can deal with unfinished business. So who are these people and why are they here?

The Fifth Doctor and Tegan

With links written by Russell T. Davies, the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) and Tegan (Janet Fielding) meet, establish why they’re here and what they’re doing, and the Doctor suggests reliving the experiences of ‘Earthshock’ where the Cybermen nearly destroyed Earth and companion Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) was killed.

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As noted, the Doctor and his companions never really stopped to grieve Adric. This story essentially gives them space to do so properly. Davison and Fielding, after years working together and plenty of sardonic DVD commentaries, are a good pairing for this given the events of ‘Earthshock’ and Tegan’s tearful departure in ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’.

Jamie and Zoe

Tales of the TARDIS Jamie and Zoe

Jamie (Fraser Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) travelled with the Second Doctor until his forced regeneration by the Time Lords. Their memories of all but their first adventure with the Doctor were wiped, leaving their TARDIS travels as a set of phantom memories, something there but beyond their reach.

Jamie and Zoe were a brilliant TARDIS team. Jamie was a fiercely loyal friend, slightly put out by Zoe’s outright genius. Zoe was incredibly clever but that was off-putting to her peers. They both found a home in the TARDIS with a Doctor who was a perfect foil for both of them, and both actors could be talking about Patrick Troughton as much as the Doctor here.

One sad reason for choosing Jamie and Zoe here is simply that no other Second Doctor TARDIS crew survives in its entirety. Nonetheless there are good story reasons for picking them: Jamie is able to reminisce about Victoria so that the late Deborah Watling is represented, for one. And, of course, their memory-wipe fate in ‘The War Games’ (1969) is a deeply poignant one. I’m sure fans were intrigued to see how it was addressed. ‘The Mind Robber’ is a strong choice for them, not least because it always has that tantalising possibility that Doctor Who never actually left that story.

The Sixth Doctor and Peri

Tales of the TARDIS Nicola Bryant as Peri

The Sixth Doctor was only seen travelling with Mel (Bonnie Langford) for six episodes and she left after he regenerated. This, plus the manner of her departure, meant Peri was the obvious pairing. Peri was being operated on to have an alien’s brain put into her body when the Doctor was taken out of time at the start of ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ (1986), and the Doctor initially believed she had been killed. Indeed, this was the original intention, but producer John Nathan-Turner changed it at the last minute so she survived and married a warrior King played by Brian Blessed.

Given the Sixth Doctor and Peri’s relationship, it’s an, eh, interesting choice to focus on what happened to Peri after this, but perhaps this series is part of too celebratory an event to delve into the rough edges of Eighties Doctor Who.

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Jo Grant and Clyde Langer

Tales of the TARDIS Jo and Clyde

Jo Grant (Katy Manning), beloved companion to the Third Doctor, met Clyde (Daniel Anthony) during The Sarah Jane Adventures story ‘The Death of the Doctor’ (2010). Given that series ended after Elisabeth Sladen’s death in 2011, the unfinished storyline here belongs to Clyde more than Jo. It turns out to be an inspired match, given the interconnections between Seventies Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures, and a chance to discuss the difference between the platonic love of a companion and Doctor (or, in this case, a teenager and a journalist in her 60s) and romantic love (as Jo had with the husband she met in her last Doctor Who story).

Vicki and Steven

Tales of the TARDIS Vicki and Steven

As with the Second Doctor, sadly there aren’t any other First Doctor TARDIS crews who are all still alive. There’s always the question over the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan, who he left with a new partner in the ruins of London after ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ (1964), but most other companions returned to their homes in roughly the right time period. Vicki and Steven didn’t, though, with Vicki falling in love and escaping the destruction of Troy, and Steven becoming ruler of an Earth-like planet. Essentially there was a sense that their stories were still untold, as they didn’t return to their lives before the Doctor.

The Seventh Doctor and Ace

Tales of the TARDIS Sophie Aldred as Ace

Of the Seventh Doctor’s two companions, we know that Mel (Bonnie Langford) is definitely returning to the show in series 14/season one/whatever it’s called, so we’ll have a sense of how life’s been treating her pretty soon. However, Ace and the Doctor – decades of spin-off material not withstanding – were last seen walking off screen to further adventures together in 1989’s ‘Survival’. While there’s an argument that ‘Survival’ offered an end to the Seventh Doctor’s manipulative tendencies, there are obviously more stories to be told with that pair and actors Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred have such an obvious rapport that it’s a no-brainer to give them more screen-time together.

An Easter Egg Spotter’s Guide

As well as the return of beloved characters and actors, there are plenty of Easter Eggs dotted around the set, more objects from the TARDIS’ memory crossing multiple eras of the show. This is what our tired, middle-aged eyes have been able to spot so far:

  • Different sides of various consoles on the walls (from the First, Fifth/Sixth/Seventh, Eighth, Ninth/Tenth Doctor’s consoles)
  • A full console on the ceiling (possibly a replica of the early Seventies one)
  • Roundels from the original TARDIS, something similar to the ones seen in ‘The Time Monster’, and some from the Thirteenth Doctor’s TARDIS
  • The hexagonal canopy seen in early episodes, part of the initial Peter Brachaki-designed TARDIS set
  • Stanchions from the Eighth Doctor’s TARDIS
  • Multiple scanners and screens from different eras (most obviously one that resembles the one from ‘The Three Doctors’ and a delightful keyboard/screen combo with Eighties graphics on it as part of the 1983-1989 console panel)
  • A tiny little Thirteenth Doctor’s TARDIS console room being used to represent a campfire.
Tales of the TARDIS The Mind Robber screengrab with yo-yo

Among the assorted items dotted around the set, we spotted:

  • An ‘Out of Order’ sign the Doctor hangs on the TARDIS in ‘The War Machines’ (1966) so it doesn’t get used as an actual Police Box.
  • The First Doctor’s fobwatch, recognised by Vicki as a sign that this must be the Doctor’s TARDIS.
  • A horned Viking helmet found on the beach in ‘The Time Meddler’.
  • The Sixth Doctor’s multicoloured coat
  • The Doctor’s orange spacesuit and helmet (as used by the Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth and Thirteenth Doctors)
  • Bessie’s Number Plate (‘WHO 1’) – Bessie was the name of the yellow Edwardian Roadster driven mostly by the Third Doctor (though the Fourth and Seventh had a drive too)
  • A yo-yo, as used by the Fourth Doctor to take a simple gravity reading.
  • The force-field generator of the TARDIS, as used to defeat Omega in ‘The Three Doctors’.
  • The Second Doctor’s recorder, something he occasionally tootled away on and also used to defeat Omega in ‘The Three Doctors’.
  • All the versions the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver are kept in a draw, including what looks like a replica of the original prop from ‘Fury from the Deep’ (1968).
  • Jo Grant finds comfort in the Third Doctor’s red velvet coat (which he wore when they met in ‘Terror of the Autons’ (1971)
  • Sarah Jane Smith’s owl toy from The Hand of Fear, which she carried with her as she leaves the TARDIS (1976)
  • A blue crystal of Metebelis 3, as seen in The Green Death (1973), Planet of the Spiders (1974) and Hide (2013)
  • Handles, the head of a Cybermen who was the Doctor’s companion for decades while he stayed protecting the town of Christmas in ‘The Time of the Doctor’ (2013)
  • Adric’s badge for mathematical excellence, which remained on the TARDIS after he died
  • The TARDIS clock from the TV Movie (1996)
  • A collection of different TARDIS keys
  • The Twelfth Doctor’s blackboard (mostly seen in 2014’s ‘Listen’)
  • The Twelfth Doctor’s guitar (mostly seen in Series 9)
  • The book ‘The History of the Time War’ from ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’ (2013).
  • One of Flowerchild’s kites from ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’ (2018).
  • That might quite possibly be Excalibur from ‘Battlefield’ (1989) in the umbrella stand.
  • The Fifth Doctor’s cricket gloves.
  • Ace’s Baseball bat, that she beat the crap out of a Dalek with, from ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ (1988)
  • The Doctor’s Hand canister from ‘Journey’s End’ (2009)
  • There’s a jukebox in there somewhere, but possibly too small a jukebox to be Cassandra’s from ‘The End of the World’ 2005.

There were a few fun additional references to past stories in there too:

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  • Zoe still likes wearing sparkly clothes (as seen in ‘The Mind Robber’)
  • There’s a wooden toy tank, possibly in a nod to the toy tank used in an effects shot in ‘Robot’ (1975).
  • The elaborate pineapple drink from ‘The Five Doctors’ (1983).
  • Eighties producer John Nathan-Turner’s decree of ‘no hanky panky in the TARDIS’ is referenced in the Doctor’s line of ‘We never really did this sort of thing did we?’
  • The Doctor’s statement ‘You can’t rewrite history, not one line’ from ‘The Aztecs’ (1964) is referenced in the context of the ageing of a gobby Australian.
Tales of the TARDIS Vengeance on Varos screengrab WHO1 car numberplate

There were a few things we couldn’t identify, if anyone knows what they are please let us know in the comments:

  • In ‘The Time Meddler’ segment there’s a bowl with three items in it that look slightly like the middle section of a Dalek eyestalk, with the concentric circle design.
  • In ‘The Mind Robber’ there’s a small blue suitcase with what looks like wooden dolls of several figures including the Tenth Doctor. A long shot, but could this be something to do with the Toymaker?
  • Also in ‘The Mind Robber’ are four mystery books with red-spines, but the writing on them is hard to make out.

Tales of the TARDIS is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.