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Why did the doors always open inwards?

Started by petewilson, Jun 23, 2013, 02:41 pm

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Jun 23, 2013, 02:41 pm Last Edit: Mar 02, 2018, 05:13 pm by Scarfwearer
Hi All,

A question that has always puzzled me.......
Does anyone know why it was decided that the TV Series Prop door(s) should open inwards?
Obviously "real" Police Box doors (and the movie prop) had one outward opening door!
I just wondered if it was just a mistake or for some practical reason  ???



Jun 23, 2013, 04:22 pm #1 Last Edit: Jun 23, 2013, 04:23 pm by galacticprobe
At first speculation, I'd say that for filming of the pilot episode it would have made it easier for the camera to track Barbara as she forced her way into the TARDIS, where you could see the expanse of the console room inside if she just "pushed" her way in, rather than having to pull one door open and then rush in. Also having both doors open gave the camera a better view of the interior than it would have had from just the one narrow door being open. Also having the door open outward, at the angle they filmed that scene, the door would have blocked most of what they wanted to show. (So that's my take on a practical reason for having two doors with both doors opening inward.)

For filming of the series, since by the time they re-filmed the pilot scenes the TARDIS prop had been sealed together and the tracking shot of Barbara forcing her way in wasn't possible to recreate, my guess would be that they just left the front of the prop (as in doors) the way they were rather than rebuilding the front and having to spend more money from their limited budget to do it.

(Now from a storyline viewpoint, with the interior main doors opening inwards and having them supposedly connected to the outer doors (as seen in an early Hartnell story - may even have been Ep 2 of "An Unearthly Child") when Ian is standing in the threshold and the TARDIS is closing her main doors, while inside the doors look like the rest of the TARDIS interior, when they shove Ian out of the way and close, from the exterior we see the police box doors. Also, since the TARDIS was intended to have some malfunctioning systems - navigation control and Chameleon Circuit to name two - this was just another aspect of the things, that the 4th Doctor would eventually mention to Adric in "Logopolis", that the TARDIS got wrong when taking that shape.)

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


I'd always taken the change to be because the internal console room doors opened inwards, and it was supposed to be a perception continuity thing.

If you look in at the end of "The Survivors" you have a TARDIS interior camera angle taken from behind Susan (Over the wobbly console) looking out the doors into the petrified jungle beyond. As you look out the open doors you cannot see any sign of a Police Box exterior, so I always wondered if (in the early days at least) the interior doors that you see were supposed to be the same ones as the exterior but you can only see them as Police Box doors once you are outside of the ship...

Thats kind of backed up by the fact that you see all the outdoor lightning flashes through the semi transparent roundels inside the ship. Perhaps the intention was that, from the occupants perception, the Police Box exterior does not exist to the occupant until they step outside the ship and can view it....

Or something...  ???

tony farrell

Jun 24, 2013, 12:30 pm #3 Last Edit: Mar 12, 2018, 08:35 pm by Scarfwearer
For what it's worth, I actually think the original intention was to actually build a set of Police Box doors as a kind of vestibule to the main Tardis' interior (there is a zig-zag frame behind the Tardis' main doors).

colony katie in doors.jpg

When attached, the flat containing the Police Box doors would have given this effect:


Renders courtesy of Marc (Rassilonsrod) - see my Console Room measurements thread.

The original Tardis set is reputed to have cost slightly over £3000. In today's money (depending on how you calculate inflation) that equates to somewhere between £120,000 and £150,000. This is therefore comparable to the cost of Matt Smith's current Tardis set.

This might seem expensive, but there is a lot of metal in the original set - not just the dividing screens seen behind the scanner and subsequently in the Living Quarters but the 3D walls were also metal framed. The console itself - with its complex moving parts and electronics - would have gobbled up a considerable portion of this £3000. For comparison, "The Five Doctors" Tardis set cost £40,000 and was co-funded by Australia's ABC network. Don't forget also, at 43 feet by 35 feet, the original Tardis interior set was - by the standards of 1963 - absolutely huge and, even now would still be considered large (see

As with everything else, a lack of money got in the way - when he first got the bill for the original Tardis set, Donald Baverstock almost cancelled Dr. Who on the spot and was only persuaded to allow production to continue by spreading the £3000 cost over the entire first season.

As Dino has said, as an economy measure, the Pilot Episode used the split-down front of the Police Box prop but this can hardly be considered a success as, when the Doctor follows Ian into the ship, a stage hand can be seen holding the Police Box doors. Later in the same scene, after the internal Tardis' doors do eventually close and Ian and Barbara try to open them, the silhouette of the stage hand can clearly be seen through the roundels as he walks away from the Police Box doors. It's a lovely scene to watch, but, for all the wrong reasons!

By the way, Fivefingeredstyre, I love the photos of your Police Box especially the ones of it covered in snow at night!



Jun 25, 2013, 04:34 am #4 Last Edit: Jun 25, 2013, 04:59 am by galacticprobe
Interesting renders, Marc, and thank you, Tony, for posting them. That second image (first render) above - missing console aside - is almost spot on for that scene in the Pilot:
(Image from the thread courtesy of Peted.)

And while Tony is right in that this configuration wasn't a "practical" success in the way it was built for the Pilot, my guess is they were just trying to get the effect across. It obviously was a success (of sorts) or there wouldn't have been a series, and at the time those watching the Pilot probably didn't take too much notice of the stagehands - it being the "Wow!" factor level for 1963 production. It's only in the later years that those involved with making the Pilot, and we fans, have looked back to notice those things that Tony mentions.

To follow up on that, Colin Baker said at Timegate (advance to time index 3:57 to hear it in his own words as he recalls watching the first story, and touches on comments related to Tony's - the entire video runs 7:17, but it's a lot of "home video"-type stuff with just snippets of Colin Baker):

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


I would further say from a practical build perspective it makes sense too.  Again, strictly hypothetical and/or based on practical experience.  If you're building a Police Box, you want the door to open outward.  The Police Boxes weren't designed to be watertight so they had a sloped floor so water would drain out.  With an inward opening door you'd run into problems with it hitting the sloped floor.  Furthermore, it would be easier to force a door that opens inward.  Say a ne'er-do-well wanted to get into a Police Box--for whatever reason, if you shouldered an inward opening door, all the stress would go onto the lock.  Hitting a door that opens outward, the jamb, the hinges--everything takes the impact. 

Conversely, if you are building a TARDIS prop, it makes much more sense to have the door open inward.  In my opinion it is a lot easier to hang a door so it opens inward than outward.  You don't have to get the hinges lined up perfectly because the door doesn't have to clear the jamb.  You also don't have to fit the center stop to the door (so that it has to mate up with the stepped lintel on top.  If the door opens inward, the center strip and the stepped lintel serve as stops instead.  So it is actually useful to have the door a bit "proud" because then it slams closed nicely. 
"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.

the pioneer

On the point of a suggested vestibule, in the main there wasn't one in the early years with two exceptions.
1, at the end of the Massacre of St. Batholemew's Eve, from inside the Ship we see the complete inside of the Police Box prop (3 sides) as Steven exits and later returns,
2, in Claws of Axos we see a vestibule of Tardis wall roundels!

So, do we turn a blind eye to this, considering it a Production/Director error or is there something more meaningful to discover?

Rassilons Rod

Is there a publicity photo of Steven doing that? If so please share it :)

The Massacre is a reconstruction, so we can't be sure of the accuracy in this case...
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.

the pioneer

I remember the Massacre incident it as clearly as if it was yesterday because it seemed so strange to see the inside of the Police Box. (I did draw a picture of it while fresh in my mind, I'll see if I can find it)


Wonderful to have this confirmed from another source! Thank you! :)


This is a very important piece from old friend Purpleblancmange about the original TARDIS prop, and how the idea that it was split apart so the doors were in front of the console room for the pilot was the wrong conclusion in his research that he made public years ago when he was active in TARDIS Builders forums.  In fact, thanks to the floor plans released by the Radio Times this week, he has the final nail in the evidence that ANOTHER set of doors were fashioned and placed in front of the TARDIS console room, just like the new series TARDIS console rooms have had.  Please read and digest.  This does mean the 1966 refit details will have a different meaning now.
Bill "the Doctor" Rudloff