The Brachaki Police Box Prop (The War Machines to Seeds of Doom)

Started by Tony Farrell, Apr 02, 2013, 03:23 am

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gerald lovell

vlcsnap-2013-04-12-14h32m28s21_zpsb9e30c9d.png

I managed to get access to "The Green Death" after all, so it does look like the damage to the phone panel was perpetrated by those over-eager Thals!

I hope this helps, Tony, and thanks again for an excellent and fascinating thread.

G

Tony Farrell


Tony Farrell

Quote from: kert gantry on Apr 12, 2013, 01:11 pm
Whaaaat?  Never heard that before!  Can't wait to hear more about this!

Patience Tom, patience!  ;D I'm trying to write this thread in date order - I'm up to 1973, so you won't have to wait too long!
Tony

Tony Farrell

Quote from: galacticprobe on Apr 12, 2013, 05:04 am
Maybe it was intended more as a "finger pull", as the small door wouldn't really need a full handle? They obviously wanted that door to be able to be opened
Dino.

I like the term 'finger pull' - I'll call the little handle this from now on  :). Replying here to both you and Marc: The Brachaki phone panel was never opened (as far as we know) in its appearances in Dr Who. Tom has helpfully shown us the prop was 'loaned out' for the production of an episode from "Out of the Unknown" when the Brachaki phone panel (and left-hand door) was fitted with a handle and a 'cubby hole' behind it (presumably the plot of the "Out of the Unknown" story involved someone making an emergency call to the Police).
I had a new cooker delivered a month ago and - in 'large friendly lettering' ( ;)) on the packaging - it clearly stated not to attempt to move this appliance by its handles. To quote a certain someone - "admirable advice", as within weeks of the handle being fitted, the original phone panel was obviously broken and removed from the Police Box prop.
The cubby hole was still there so, I guess, the fitting of the 'finger pull' was made to provide the future option of providing the prop with a telephone. This option was never taken-up but, it's interesting to note that the panel wasn't fixed into its closed position as, in virtually all of Pertwee's stories, it can be seen in various degrees of openness (even though the cubby hole behind it had definitely been removed by October 1970).
On the subject of the phone panel, does anyone actually know what the original was made from? I've always assumed that it was (like the windows and signage) a Perspex sheet rather than glass, but I don't actually know.
T

kert gantry

Quote from: Tony Farrell on Apr 12, 2013, 05:55 pm
Tom has helpfully shown us the prop was 'loaned out' for the production of an episode from "Out of the Unknown" when the Brachaki phone panel (and left-hand door) was fitted with a handle and a 'cubby hole' behind it (presumably the plot of the "Out of the Unknown" story involved someone making an emergency call to the Police).



It did indeed.  The plot involves a Mind Robber-esque mental duel between two people.  The police box is one of a series of mundane objects summoned up by one of them to counteract the alien planet dreamscape that the other has created.  He uses the phone to ring for the assistance of a policeman!  Quite ironic that the prop is used to represent normality given the fantastic associations it would have had to much of the audience at the time!

BTW, as far as I can tell all the alien planet scenes were part of the taping sessions at TC8 so, barring any filmed inserts, that narrows the dates of the prop's use on OOTU down to 28th or 30th August '68; nice and close to the Invasion shoot on Sept 3.

galacticprobe

Does anyone know which episode title of 'Out of the Unknown' the TARDIS prop was used in? This is mainly curiosity as it appears this series suffered the same fate as the early 'Who' episodes; the tapes were wiped in the early 1970s, and so far only 20 of the 49 are known to exist intact (a total of 22 if you count the partials and audio clips).

From the filming dates kert gantry mentioned, that would have put the episode from OOTU's Series 3 (7th January to 1st April 1969: last episode of Series 2 ("The Prophet") aired 1st January 1967). And if this is the case - the prop being used in Series 3, the only episodes that exist are #3, "The Last Lonely Man", and a partial #8, "The Little Black Bag" (30 minutes survive from this ep, plus some audio). All other Series 3 episodes no longer exist, or are MIA.

And it seems that turnabout is fair play; the robot costumes created for the Series 2 episode "The Prophet" were reused in the Patrick Troughton story "The Mind Robber". (Sadly, only some short audio clips of "The Prophet" exist. It would have been nice to see those costumes in their pre-"Mind Robber" appearance.)

Dino.
"What's wrong with being childish?! I like being childish." -3rd Doctor, "Terror of the Autons"

kert gantry

Hi Dino.  The OOTU episode in question was 'Get Off My Cloud', as mentioned some way back on this thread.  Sadly, it is indeed missing.

Particularly sad for DW fans as it also featured three Daleks in a couple of nightmare sequences.  It was made in colour so, for those few in Britain with colour TV at the time, this would have been an early glimpse of TARDIS and BBC Daleks in all their glory!

Relatively few on-set photos seem to have been taken, and none with either Daleks or the police box.  According to Ian Levine, the widow of series producer Alan Bromly showed him a set of John Cura off-screen telesnaps from the episode, but again none featured the Brachaki or Daleks.  The whereabouts of these pictures is currently unknown.

There are quite a few stills from 'The Prophet' showing the robots in their pre-'Mind Robber' state (much darker colour and with serial numbers on their chests), also off-screen pics taken by John Cura.  These are reproduced in Mark Ward's superb book on OOTU, which I'd recommend to any cult sci-fi fan and was still available last time I looked.

Volpone

Toward the end it is actually painful to look at the top of the prop.  I mean everything below the POLICE BOX signs has had some wear and tear, but above it it is like they just gave up. 
"My dear Litefoot, I've got a lantern and a pair of waders, and possibly the most fearsome piece of hand artillery in all England. What could possibly go wrong?"
-The Doctor.

fivefingeredstyre

As its possibly my favourite of the three Classic series boxes, its saddening to see just how dilapidated the prop got...

When you see how many times they patched it up and repainted it, It does make you wonder why they didn't just replace the whole thing years before?

Mark

It amazes me how long it actually lasted!

Nowadays they have loads of TARDIS props to use with a hero one for "special" and even in the late 80s they had a spare but back then it was just that box that was used for everything.

Perhaps thats why Terrence Dicks "....battered blue police box" works quite well for this prop.

BTW, great work, yet again Tony. Out of interest, are the hinges we sometines see holding the roof on in later times actual hinges or brackets? Hinges would really not have helped during erectionsso to speak.

Also why not just fix the roof permenantly as by this time the box wasnt collapsable anyway?

DoctorWho8

Actually, there was only 1 TARDIS prop from 1980-1985. Then they made a second one in 1986, but they alternated the use of both boxes up until 1989.  But both being Fiberglass, they wouldn't stand to last as long as a wooden one.
Bill "the Doctor" Rudloff

Mark

Cheers Bill, I knew it was late 80's but wasn't sure of the precise year.

Tony Farrell

Thanks for the contributions gents - I'm glad this thread is of interest.
I would just say that the discussions about the TYJ boxes aren't directly relevant here though I will add that the first TYJ box is in private hands (I believe a Mr Beech owns it). The second TYJ box was made for "Trial of a Timelord" and currently resides at the Dr Who Exhibition in Cardiff. I believe the (incomplete) Barry Newbery box was auctioned-off at the same time as the mark 1 TYJ box and that it, too, is in a private collection. I believe - though I don't know that the prop built for "30 Years in the Tardis" is also privately owned.
Together, this means that at least four versions of the TV Police Box prop existed in the late 1980s/early 1990s  (Newbery, two TYJs and the "30 years prop") - that only leaves the Brachaki original unaccounted for.
Tony

Volpone

Well, if it did fall on Liz Sladen's head, chances are it got busted up and chucked in a dumpster.  Especially given that they blanked so many of the Troughton tapes.  Even by the beginning of the Tom Baker era, I don't think they had an eye towards history.  For that matter what, one actual police box has survived to the modern era (not counting the Scottish boxes).  It is probably long gone.  Although it is more likely that the phone plaque or something like that might still be around somewhere.
"My dear Litefoot, I've got a lantern and a pair of waders, and possibly the most fearsome piece of hand artillery in all England. What could possibly go wrong?"
-The Doctor.

markofrani

Personally, I think the chances of the Brachacki prop - or what's left of it - could well have survived. I have it on good authority that the prop still existed as late as 1993. It was being stored in pieces, labelled for junking, at the East Tower of Television Centre. It is possible that by that time, someone realised the value of it and saved it from destruction. Here's hoping!