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How did the various TARDIS Consoles differ?

Started by purpleblancmange, Feb 10, 2009, 09:50 am

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Feb 10, 2009, 09:50 am Last Edit: Sep 15, 2012, 12:19 am by Scarfwearer
Below is an overview of the design development of each TARDIS Console prop, it is not intended to be a blow by blow account of its evolution, just a quick guide.

MkI Console
[float-right]HARTNELLtbfSMALL.jpg[/float-right]The Pilot Episode: Peter Brachacki reasoned that the console would be controlled by a single pilot and had the notion that each control would be ergonomically designed to fit that pilot's hand.  Further investigation into this idea proved that the budget would not stretch to such an expense, so instead the controls were fashioned from readily available parts - mostly found items from left over vision mixing equipment and other junk.  The console was built by Shawcraft - the same people who made the original Daleks.

The rotor mechanism was to be a motorised car foot pump (noted by BBC Effects Designer, Jack Kine) but ended up being a chain driven affair (stated by Bernard Wilkie, also of BBC Effects) that often would slip, causing a rather jerky movement, possibly because the motor wasn't geared well enough for the job.

An Unearthly Child:  For the recording of this story, all of the transparent plastic levers are replaced with brass or wooden versions so they'd show up better on screen.

Inferno:  The original console was beyond knackered and in a state of poor repair.  It was "junked" shortly afterwards.

MkIa Console
[float-right]Recovered_JPEG_3939.jpg[/float-right]The Claws of Axos:  A "new" console debuted.  It was a partial rebuild / partial new build with most of the original parts that were still servicable, carried over from the "original" onto this prop, such items were: the various controls, rotor and elements of the substructure. The substructure itself had been beefed out a little, making the top panels slightly bigger than before, adding a handful of inches to the over-all size of the prop.

Although the Rotor was carried over, all of the original internal perspex elements were removed and the rest of the base was added to and upgraded.  The coloumn now had three central tubes, tinted with green gels.  

The prop was continually added to or adjusted over the years.

MkIa Console - Refurb 1
[float-right]POMtbfSMALL.jpg[/float-right]Planet of Evil:  The console debuts with its latest refurb. Most of the controls are replaced with new items, some of the original levers are retained.  The original, much modified rotor is modified once again, this time the gels are switched from green to red and the "new" perspex detailing from the previous refurb is simplified.

*The image above is actually from The Pyramids of Mars - this was in the same season as Planet of Evil.

MkII Console
[float-right]S14tbfSMALL.jpg[/float-right]Masque of the Mandragora:  A new much smaller console was built which in effect looked like a wooden writing desk as it had opening control panel flaps and no central rotor column.  Its designer (Barry Newbery) said this design was inspired by the writings of Jules Verne.  This prop was scrapped by BBC Effects Designer, Mat Irvine (stripped of all controls, smashed up and put in a skip) shortly after season 14, the only season in which it appeared.  Mat would later say that he deeply regretted doing this.

MkIa Console - Refurb 2
[float-right]IEtbfSMALL.jpg[/float-right]The Invisible Enemy:  The larger console is brought out of storage and refurbed once more. The controls are slightly rearranged, but are effectively pretty much as they were in season 13, only with all the transparent control housings removed.  The console is yet again fiddled with over the coming years.

Destiny of the Daleks:  In this season, the console has the large red lever added - but it isn't always used for the door control... in fact everything seems to control the doors for this period of the console's history.

Meglos:  The rotor has had 3 new strip lights added, replacing the 6 smaller versions that were stacked two high in each of the three upright red columns. The controls are the same, but some are on in different possitions. Two of the panels are modified extensively.

Castrovalva:  A new mechanism is built for the rotor. It's much quieter this time around.  Some of the controls are added to and repainted. From this story onward, the red lever exclusively becomes the door controller.

The Arc of Infinity:  Another upgrade, new controls added and the control panel bases are repaired.

The Kings Demons:  This is the last time we see this "original" much modified original console.

MkIII Console
[float-right]5DOCStbfSMALL.jpg[/float-right]The Five Doctors:  Two new much updated fibre glass consoles are built, a studio version and a rehearsal version - the latter has no rotor at all and no controls. The rotor mechanism built previously is placed into the new studio prop.  At the time, this prop looked very high tech, much more than it ever had before.

MkIII Console with MkIa Control Panel Dressings
[float-right]2DOCtbfSMALL.jpg[/float-right]The Two Doctors:  For the scenes set in the 2nd Doctor's TARDIS, this is actually the new fibre glass console with the old wooden control panels sitting in place of the fibre glass panels.  The original rotor innards are sitting inside the new rotor housing.  A mock up of the original control base plinth is built around the fibre glass version - which is why it looks somewhat oversized here.

This is the last time these original 1963 parts are seen.  The original rotor was auctioned off at a fan convention in September 1993, the remaining wooden control panels whereabouts are unknown.

Battlefield:  This is last time we see the fibre glass console.

The two fibre glass consoles end up in private hands.

MkIV Console
[float-right]TVMtbfSMALL.jpg[/float-right]The Television Movie:  On the face of it, it looks like an adapted version of the season 14 design of console, retaining the "Jules Verne" overtones.  Obviously it gets used just the once, went into storage, never to see the light of day again.
[EDIT: The console is now in the hands of a private collector in California]

MkV Console
[float-right]NEWSERIEStbfSMALL.jpg[/float-right]The 2005 Series:  This new prop, and in deed the entire Console Room set, now appears to be much larger and somewhat more organic in its design theme.  Each control panel illuminates from below and is decorated in a variety of junk and pipework.  

New transparent panels are added after the original ones melt when someone over egged the internal lighting during the Children in Need post regeneration scene.

MkVI Console
[float-right]S5-TARDIS-interiorx.JPG[/float-right]The 2010 Series:  New producer, another new prop, and another entire Console Room set.    

Updated by Scarfwearer - November 2010