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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Well, while my reasoning is sound, I'm often wrong here.  And if it did in fact last until 1993, it is probably still around.  It would be a bit like finding Yuri Gagarin's space capsule in a closet.
"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.


I love this thread :)

We are probably getting ahead of ourselves in the story here, but does anyone know what the pedigree of the box that was held at the Dapol museum?

I always wondered if it was a refurbed Brachaki box... Hell, it looked fragile enough... :D


The roof never fell on Liz Sladen's head, at least not due to structural failure.  It may have fan myth or something got taken out of context, but the roof never collapsed.  The roof it a solid structure, so it would have to been severely broken to begin with to have fallen inside the box.
Bill "the Doctor" Rudloff

tony farrell

Quote from: fivefingeredstyre on Apr 15, 2013, 01:54 pm
I love this thread :)

We are probably getting ahead of ourselves in the story here, but does anyone know what the pedigree of the box that was held at the Dapol museum?

I always wondered if it was a refurbed Brachaki box... Hell, it looked fragile enough... :D

Hi Fivefingeredstyre - glad you're enjoying the thread  :). Anyone who has read or will know how threads I've started have a habit of 'wandering around a bit' but, we get there in the end!
I don't know anything about the Dapol prop but, given the state the Brachaki prop was in when the photo of it with Robert Holmes was taken, I doubt it would have been refurbished for Dapol's benefit.
But, as you say, this is to jump ahead; I'm trying to write this thread in chronological order - we still have the prop's final three TV appearances to discuss. I'd like to add what little I know about the prop after 1975 but very much as a 'post script' (I'm aware that there is a lot of speculation on the 'interweb' but, it is just that, speculation). With the moderators' permission, I think - for completeness - I should acknowledge my source material; that way, if people want, they can check what I've said.
(Tom, on this subject, you've quoted "Out of the Unknown". Could you give us the details of the book - publisher, date, etc? Thanks.)

tony farrell

Quote from: Mark on Apr 14, 2013, 01:45 pm
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 erections so to speak.
Also why not just fix the roof permanently as by this time the box wasn't collapsible anyway?

Thanks too to Bill for this reminder about the excessive 'claims' (in sections of 'fandom') of the Brachaki Police Box prop 'attacking' Miss Sladen and being forcibly 'retired' as a result.  ;) Mark, I've quoted you here because Bill's comment ties in nicely with your's and also the comments about the general state of the prop towards the end of her working life.
This might surprise some of you, but I'm about to argue that - following the season 12/13 refit - the prop was actually in quite reasonable physical condition and certainly nowhere near ready to collapse. Mark, do you mind if I take your point about the hinges as part of that?


Great stuff Tony! One thing though, what about the appearance of the fresnal roof lamp in 'The Android Invasion'? Weird how that just appeared for one story, never to be seen again...

tony farrell

I've looked at the roof lamp in the Android Invasion numerous times - sometimes I think I can see support struts and sometimes not. Equally the lamp does look to me to be fresnel-like but, when I look again, I see shapes caused by the trees and foliage. Have you any decent (close-up) pictures?


Tony, just wanted to say im still very impressed with your research on this prop! Very much appreciated!

gerald lovell

A brilliant thread, Tony: marvellous and detailed work you have put into it.

Maybe we can hope that when they're clearing out Television Centre, they come across the remains of the beloved prop AND don't then throw it in a skip.


Rassilons Rod

I haven't commented much on this thread, though we have spoken also by email and PM.

Just wanted to throw in a few words myself, also :)

The thread makes for some really great reading! Thanks for all your hard work on it, Tony!
In the cities in the streets there's a tension you can feel,
The breaking strain is fast approaching, guns and riots.
Politicians gamble and lie to save their skins,
And the press get fed the scapegoats,
Public Enema Number One.

tony farrell

Thank you gents, your kind comments are much appreciated.
I started this thread because I felt there was a gap here on Tardis Builders - we have measurements for all the props as they first appeared but not for the numerous alterations to the Brachaki original.
There are, of course, other 'histories' out there - the Mindrobber's website and Anthony Sibley's spring to mind. Both of these are superb but - with the greatest of respect to the authors - both contain what I think are errors/inaccuracies; the Mindrobber incorrectly asserts that the lock got swapped back to the left-hand door for "The Invasion" (see whilst I disagree with two aspects of Mr Sibley's essay - that a new roof was built for the 1966 refit (I believe this occurred in September 1970) and that the rear doors were rehung to open inwards for The Three Doctors (see Neither of these assertions are backed-up by contemporary pictorial evidence.
So, these two sites were my 'starting point' but, most of the information in this thread has come directly from the BBC DVD range. As such, with a few exceptions, all photos/screen grabs may be found on the DVD appropriate to the transmitted story being discussed. Where no DVD exists, further reference photos have been taken from the BBC's website  - see:
Specific thanks for reference photos should be made to Jonathan (Markofrani) for screen grabs from "The Time Monster" and the black and white on-set photos from "Planet of the Spiders", "Seeds of Doom" and "The Chase". Thanks are also due to Markofrani for information relating to the prop's survival into at least 1993.
In addition, I'd like to thank Marc (Rassilonsrod) and Gerald Lovell for providing information relating to the prop's repainting after it was damaged by spray-on foam filler in "Planet of the Daleks" and for providing screen grabs to illustrate this (The Green Death). Thanks to Gerald also for the photo from The Space Pirates showing that the small 'D' shaped 'finger-pull' handle was fitted to the replacement phone panel from the very beginning in "Seeds of Death".
The black and white picture of the Tardis' small door step (fitted in 1966 - see page 1 of this thread) is taken from "The Dominators" episode one and has been quoted from Whopix - see: Quotes from Purpleblancmange are reproduced with permission and the internet link is included in the relevant screen grabs of the same.
Where quoted, filming/studio recording dates are taken from Panini's Doctor Who Monthly Magazine's articles relating to the appropriate episodes/stories - principally, but not exclusively, these are issue numbers 181, 183, 185, 189, 200 to 205, 238, 245, 260, 263, 264, 274, 297, 300 and 318.
Special thanks are due to Tom (Kert Gantry) for information relating to the use of the Brachaki Police Box prop in the BBC's anthology series "Out of the Unknown" (episode entitled "Get off My Cloud").
Thanks also to all those who have given me encouragement along the way.


Thanks.... This has been a fascinating and informative Thread
(Something I did once write to Dr Who magazine to suggest to cover...The History of the Police Box Prop!)
All the things that have come to light that I've never noticed over the years of Watching it!
Maybe it could be edited and placed as a reference topic for future reference?


P.S. the next 3 boxes didn't have quite an interesting History?

tony farrell

Thank you Pete - I've enjoyed doing the thread and, I think it's also important that I thanked others for their input. Marc (Rassilonsrod) has suggested the same thing and, I believe, Crispin is working on editing the thread to form 'an article'.

My 'bag' is the original Police Box prop and the original control room - they both had such a long 'life' and even though they were altered, it's fun to be able to spot how the various parts were re-used and re-interpreted over time. But, at both their hearts is Peter Brachaki: He knew exactly what he was doing and his later BAFTA (for best set design on "When the Boat Comes In") was long overdue. Now, if (in 1963) he'd just been given that bit more money, the true ambition of his Tardis control room would really have shone through.....

Histories of the other Police Boxes would be a great idea - but I'll leave that for someone else; writing a 'history' spanning 27 years for the Brachaki original is enough for me at the moment (besides, now that we know the height of the prop's sides' sign-boxes was altered due to several refits, I now have to revisit the Brachaki console measurements thread as 'taller' Police Box side panels means taller Tardis' main interior doors). Actually, for my own sanity, I wish I'd done the Police Box history first.

Is that a scream I just heard from Vienna? Doh!!!  ;D