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The original Tardis interior blue-prints

Started by tony farrell, Jul 30, 2013, 06:25 pm

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tony farrell

Jul 30, 2013, 06:25 pm Last Edit: Nov 04, 2015, 04:29 pm by Tony Farrell
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The purpose of this article is to attempt to bring together - in one place - screen-accurate blueprints for the Tardis interior as designed by Peter Brachaki.

Polish-born Brachaki (or Brachacki - both spellings were used throughout his career) was a highly skilled television designer whose work spanned the 1960s and 1970s. Perhaps underrated and certainly little-known, Brachaki won belated recognition for his skills with a BAFTA for the BBC's 1930s-set drama "When The Boat Comes In". His most well-known work is however for a small television series called Doctor Who for which on a limited budget - it is fair to say - he created a true cultural icon. 50 years on, even to those that have no interest in it, with its hexagonal console and central column which rises and falls, the Tardis he designed in 1963 is instantly recognisable.

In this, the fiftieth anniversary year of his creation, I wanted to pay tribute to the great man and - for the first time - to recreate the Tardis in its full glory. Thank you Peter Brachaki.

In order to understand Brachaki's design, its necessary - in brief - to understand the nature of television production in 1963: Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s, with the exception of filmed inserts, most television dramas were recorded in story-telling scene order. This meant that there were no such things as permanent 'standing' studio sets. On the contrary, most sets were 'struck' (assembled/dis-assembled) as and when they were required. So, if an episode of Doctor Who required five sets, these five sets would be built only for this episode and then broken down and the parts put into storage until they were next needed.

As a plot device, the Tardis is simply a method of getting the actors into and out of a particular adventure. As such, its interior would largely only be required at the beginning and end of any given story. Because a particular story could span many episodes, the Tardis set could be 'struck' many weeks apart. Depending also on how much studio space was needed for the other sets, how the Tardis interior was assembled could also differ.

Herein lies the genius of Brachaki - he designed a set which was modular. If studio space was 'at a premium', only a small portion of the Tardis interior would be built. If the Tardis' involvement in an episode was greater, then more of the set could be used.

The second thing to understand is that Doctor Who was designed in the era of black and white, 405-line television. Because of the way this video technology behaved, certain real-life colours had to be avoided. For example, pure white would cause too much 'flare' and swamp a camera's recorded images. Given the technological limitations of the time, television studio sets were not necessarily designed with 'true-to-life' colours and would, to the modern eye, therefore appear to contain slightly odd or even garish colour combinations.

These photos were taken in 1969 on the set of a contemporary programme of Dr Who - Coronation Street. The first shows the set of the Rovers Return as decorated for black and white television; the second shows the same set, only a few weeks later, repainted for colour transmission:

corrie 1.pngcorrie2.png

And, for comparison, the same pictures but with the colour 'killed':

corriebw2.pngcorrie bw.png

In black and white, both versions of the Rovers set would seem quite naturalistic to the viewer and hardly any difference in appearance is visible. Clearly, apparently 'odd' or 'garish' colour schemes work perfectly acceptably for black and white transmission.

This seemingly odd combination of colours was also true of Brachaki's Tardis interior - this 'snippet' is of the studio floor plan for "An Unearthly Child"  and is posted courtesy of Rob:

part (2).jpg

From this, we can begin to establish Brachaki's Tardis colour scheme; the set has a pale blue floor with a beige hexagon located between the main entrance doors and the control console. The console itself is surrounded by a metallic six-section hexagonal plate of the same size as the beige one.

There is a wealth of later pictures which clearly show that the console was a pale 'olive' or 'moss' green. This 'screen grab' is from "Ambassadors of Death" and is the penultimate appearance of the original console.


Whilst this photo is from Patrick Troughton's debut story - "Power of the Daleks".

patrick debut.png

This earlier photo is significant as it, along with Carole Ann Ford's statement (in the documentary "Inside the Spaceship" on "The Beginnings" DVD) that the Tardis' walls were, in fact, a "very pale green" began a journey of discovery! It is not necessary to repeat the discussions and debate surrounding the colour of the Tardis' interior walls; for those that are interested, this can be found here:

The 'upshot' of the 'Pale Green Console and Set' thread is that the colour of the walls was the same as the console i.e., a pale 'moss' or 'olive' green. More specifically, this pale green appears to have been referred to as TX23 by the BBC and this colour - along with others - appeared on a list of standard colours used by BBC set designers. (Currently identified colours from this list are stated here: .) Interestingly, it appears that the plans for the Pilot Episode version of the Tardis set show that TX40 was specified as the colour. TX40 is a pale silver grey. It would therefore seem that before the recording of the transmitted version of "An Uneartly Child", the decision was made to repaint the entire tardis set in TX23 i.e., the very pale green referred to by Carole Ann Ford!

The most likely candidate for the very pale green colour is "Silvan Green" as supplied by the Mylands Paint Company who supplied and continue to supply the BBC. Another possible supplier was E. Wood and Co. Interestingly, when the BBC first trialed colour transmission in 1964, the test card used contained the same (Silvan) green as the background colour:

test card -BBC-405-Colour.jpg

This photo is from "The Keys of Marinus" DVD 'Easter Egg' and clearly shows the walls were green.


Indeed, the same colour scheme has now been chosen - in homage to the original - for the production of "An Adventure in Space and Time":


Here, in colour, is my version of the studio floor plans for the Tardis interior as seen in "Edge of Destruction" and "Brink of Disaster". At 43 feet by 35 feet, it was in these two episodes that the full scale of Brachaki's Control Room set can be seen!

tardis floor plan 40 percent for Tardis Builders.png


The modular nature of the Tardis can be clearly seen in the following 'screen grabs':

In no particular order, the first is from "The Rescue" and shows the main doors and second wall in a straight line with the photo blow-up walls placed behind the transparent dividing screens.


These are from "The Dead Planet" and show that the doors to the Living Quarters are 'sandwiched' between the main doors and Fault Locator/Computer Banks.

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Only a few weeks later, in "Edge of Destruction", the doors to the Living Quarters are now separated from the Fault Locator/Computer Banks by not only a wall but also by a translucent dividing screen as well!

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Even the 'Scanner Assembly' was subject to different configurations. Again, the first is from "The Dead Planet" whilst the second is from "The Celestial Toy Maker"

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Clearly between the two photos, the scanner has (apparently) moved 8 feet to the right and is now butted up to the lighting column (behind Peter Purves' head)!

Whilst in 'real life', the modular nature of the Tardis set may well have been necessitated - as we have seen - by the studio requirements for each story, in the fictional world(s) of Doctor Who, the almost constant re-arrangement of the Control Room was justified by the Doctor describing the Tardis as having "soft architecture".

This 'soft architecture' has one big advantage for us in that it allows us to compare the various elements 'side by side'. If the measurements of one element are known, by comparing this first element with the second, we can begin to establish the measurements of the second. These screen grabs illustrate this point:

The first shows the principal elements of the Tardis set.

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If, say, we know the length of the hexagonal floor plate, then with the aid of 'perspective lines', we can establish the lengths of everything else in the same picture. In this example, the floor plate is 140" in length and has been divided into 32 (140" divided by 32 = 4.375"). Each section of the screens behind the scanner measures eleven 'divisions' of the length of the floor plate (4.375" x 11 = 48.125"). So - rounded to the nearest inch - each screen section therefore measures 48" wide!

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The same technique can be used to work out the heights of adjacent elements of the set.

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In this example, let's take the diameter of the roundels as 25" (each separated vertically by a two inch gap). From this diameter, we can work out the heights of the Computer Banks/Fault Locator panels:

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Of course, this methodology isn't without its limitations; clearly at over 40 feet in length, the full-sized Tardis set was very large. There is no point then in trying to work out the dimensions of an object if the known measurements you are working from are forty-odd feet away. No matter how hard you try to draw accurate 'perspective lines' (or even count pixels), the further away your 'target' element is away from your 'source' element, the more room there is for distortion to creep into your calculations.

The second caveat to this methodology is the problem of screen distortion. The human eye's lens is actually curved. People therefore do not actually see straight lines at all. Even though the curve of the lense is fractional, the image produced on the retina is increasingly distorted the closer an object is to the periphery of the field of vision. It is the human brain which compensates for this distortion and causes us to see straight lines.

The same is true for television cameras - the lenses are actually curved. Here, I have attempted to draw the distortion that would result from this curvature. The drawing exaggerates the distortion in the camera's field of vision but, the closer an object is to the extreme edges of the picture, the greater the potential for distortion:
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I calculated the widths of the screens behind the scanner as being 48" from the length of the hexagonal floor plate over eight months ago - see;start=120#firstPost. Until last week (30.07.13), I had never seen this drawing which was sent to me by Marc and comes from the PDF material on "The Rescue" DVD:

pdf screens.png

So, even bearing in mind the stated limitations of this 'perspective line' methodology,  it can be seen that it does indeed work and does - in fact - produce accurate results.

Thankfully, any camera distortions and physical separation of the various elements can be largely mitigated by the almost constant re-arrangement of Brachaki's modular set. So, what Bill Hartnell called the Tardis' "soft architecture" can actually be used to produce 'hard' measurements!

At this point it is helpful to name the various elements of Brachaki's Tardis set. Wherever possible the terms used will be those used on the BBC's plans (where these are known). Where terminology is not known, I will try to use terms which 'best fit' what is being described.

tardis floor plan 40 percent for Tardis Builders.png

So, in Tom Bakers words, since "we've got to be able to get in and out" of the Tardis, what better place to start than with the main doors?



The PDF material from "The Rescue" obviously is little more than a sketch for the scenery shifters to 'pick' the required elements of the Tardis set from storage. Nevertheless it provides us with a starting point, stating as it does that the Tardis' main doors wall was 13' 5" wide and 10' 6" tall.

As part of the discussions regarding the Tardis' main doors and roundel diameters (see, this small section of the BBC's set plan was posted:

main doors rob.png

From the BBC plans, Rob then gave us this drawing:

Robs doors.png

(The measurements in red have been added by me as, from now on, all dimensions will be stated in inches.)

There are two problems with these drawings - firstly, the arrangement/spacing of the full-roundels above and to the sides of the door frame and, secondly, the the dimensions of the 'half'-roundels. Rob's drawing shows a wide gap between the roundels above and in each of the doors and fails to show the off-set in the actual widths of the doors themselves. This screen grab shows the differences - the green lines highlight the vertical spacings between the roundels whilst the blue lines show the horizontal spacings:

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There are major discrepancies between what was planned and what was actually constructed - the positioning of the 'full' roundels is clearly different. Less obvious are the differences in the positioning and dimensions of the 'half' roundels; in the drawing they are shown as being full semi-circles (there is a clearance of 1" between the full roundels and the base of the wall). In reality however, this one inch spacing did not exist as the 'full' roundels clearly 'sit' on the wall's base. These are from "Colony in Space" and illustrate this point:

colony.pngbottom of wall.png

For the 'half' roundels to have been 'full' semi-circles, they would have to extend below the level of the bottom of the 'full' roundels - the yellow lines show that they did not.

The differences between what was planned and what was built are highlighted here:


These renders (from Pete Wilson) help illustrate the true arrangement of the roundels with regards to walls' bases:


So, if the BBC's plans are so inaccurate with regards to the spacings/positioning of the roundels, how can we trust the other measurements stated in them?

At this point, the 'perspective line' methodology is useful. In this 'screen grab' from "The Time Monster" we see the Police Box prop standing directly in front of the Tardis' main doors:

myphoto (25).jpg

Though modified with the addition of the somewhat strange saucer-shaped mouldings, these are the original Tardis' main doors. We know that the original Brachaki Police Box prop had been heavily modified by this point in time - see - acquiring as it had, a new base, a simplified roof and reinforcing strips on the bottom edges of each side panel. These modifications meant that by 1972 when "The Time Monster" was recorded the Police Box prop looked like this:

police  box 1970 -1972.png

and in more detail

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Because the dimensions of the Police box prop are known, it is possible to establish the height of the Tardis' main doors.

25 inch roundels compared to Brachaki refitted box in front of doors.png

A close study of the photo from "The Time Monster" shows that the Police Box's base (shown in red) is fractionally taller than the base of the 'half' roundel (shown in yellow). The Police Box's base at this stage was 4.5", so the base of the half roundel is approximately 4.25" higher than the studio floor. From the studio floor to the underside of the three-tiered stepped section on the side of the Police Box prop is 83" (shown in red) and we can see that the top of the Tardis' main doors are slightly over an inch higher than this (in yellow).

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In this screen grab from "Death to the Daleks", we can see the ratio of the diameter of the main doors' roundels to the vertical spaces in between them.


From "The Time Monster" screen grabs the Tardis main doors are just over 84" BUT, 3" of this height needs to be taken out of our calculations to allow for the castors/wainscoting. So, the 'available' height in which the roundels and the vertical spaces between them must fit is a little over 81".  81" divided by three is 27" - this precisely matches the vertical distance stated on the BBC plans drawn by Rob.

From "the Death to the Daleks" photo, the ratio of the gap to the roundel is 30:400. 30 divided by 400 x 27" = 2.025". Thus, the diameter of the roundel is 25 inches and the vertical space between each roundel is 2 inches.

This grab is helpful in that it shows a split has developed in the wall above the doors. We can also see that the 'drum' or roundel 'tube' has become separated from the wall showing the thin nature of the material from which the roundel tubes were made:


We know the diameter of the roundels' visible opening (void) is 25". This 'finished' diameter includes the material out of which the tubes are made/lined. So, the unlined roundels must be fractionally bigger than the 'finished' or visible roundels.  The thin nature of the roundel 'tubes' seen in the split above Mr Pertwee's head, means that the arrangement of the roundels with regards to the wall's base looks like this.

25.25" diameter holes are cut into the plywood sheet 1.75" apart. These holes are then lined with a material which is 0.125" thick. This reduces the diameter of the visible roundel void to 25" whilst increasing the visible spacings to 2". The thickness of the full roundels' lining material means that their visible opening are 1.125" from the bottom of the wall's plywood fascia (i.e., the tube is mounted directly on the wall's 1" thick base).  

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The arrangement of the roundels at the top of the wall is a 'mirror' image of that at the wall's bottom edge:

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This arrangement is even clearer in this publicity still:

TARDIS wainscoting 07 (1V) ref.jpg

The spacing of the roundels' columns together with the fact that the 'half' roundels were not full semi-circles means that the Tardis' main doors as built looked like this:

Tardis Main Internal Doors 2013 final.png

As built, at 161" wide, the main doors' wall matches exactly the width stated on the BBC's plans (13' 5"). At 125" tall (including castors), as built, the height of the wall is only one inch shorter than was planned (10' 5" v 10' 6").


Again referring to the PDF material from "The Rescue" DVD, the approximate dimensions of the other three dimensional (3D) walls are given as 126" tall by 148" wide:

3d walls.png

Clearly, by reference to photographic evidence, there is no difference in height between the 3D walls and the wall containing the main doors (the apparent discrepancy in the heights of the walls seen in the publicity photo of Jean Marsh is due to the right-hand wall having lost its castors). Again, the 3D walls as built are 125" tall and not 126" as stated in the BBC's plans and, again, this discrepancy is due to the 'half' roundels not being full semi-circles.

Whereas not all columns of roundels on the main door wall overlap, clearly the same was not true of the other two 3D walls - each column of roundels overlaps the next.

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The BBC plans for the 3D walls give their widths as 148". For six columns of 25" diameter roundels to fit this space (allowing for 1" at each end of the walls for the metal frame and a further 1/2" for the end panels), mathematically, the overlap cannot exceed one inch i.e., each column of roundels is centred 24" apart. A distance of 24" from roundel centre to roundel centre also matches the positioning of the outer-most roundels either side of the main entrance doors. Taking these factors together means that the dimensions of the 3D walls are as this drawing:

secondary wall final.png

No description of the Tardis' walls would be complete without mention of the mouldings with which the roundel openings were backed:

Made from a thin translucent pale grey/off-white PVc, the roundel mouldings could be back-lit to create a wide variety atmospheric effects and to suggest alien landscapes outside the Tardis. This can perhaps be best seen when Susan is sent by the Daleks to retrieve the anti-radiation drugs from the Tardis; lightning illuminates both the petrified forest and the Control Room interior.

Clearly the rear of the Tardis' walls were not designed to be seen by the camera. The Tardis' main doors are the exception to this and so were finished to the same (viewable) standards on both sides. These grabs illustrate this point:

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Whilst, for reasons of economy, it is unlikely that the wall-mounted PVc mouldings would have been fitted with anything more complicated than tacks or staples, those fitted to the rear of the doors were properly 'finished' with a collar or bezel. This bezel not only conceals the fixings but can be used to determine the maximum diameter of the mouldings (i.e., the mouldings meet but do not overlap - so, the diameter is 27" i.e., the same as the roundels' vertical spacing). This drawing gives the dimensions of the PVc mouldings and the bezels fitted to the rear of the Tardis' main doors:

roundel backings.png

Here, using the dimensions stated in this article, Barry Ward has created some renders of the doors and Tardis' walls:


It is popularly held that the budget for the Tardis interior was small. However, at a reputed cost of £4,000, when Donald Baverstock (then Controller of Programmes for BBC1) heard about this, he ordered a stop to further production of Doctor Who and was only persuaded to allow the show to continue when this cost was met from separate funds and spread over the entire first season. In the autumn of 1963, £4,000 was clearly not to be sneezed at and - in today's money - is the equivalent of £150,000 ($250,000 US). This is certainly not a 'tiny' sum and, indeed, is comparable to the cost of the current (2013) Tardis set.

Nevertheless, even with £4,000 at his disposal, Peter Brachaki had to make compromises - the most obvious of which are the photographic blow-up walls which were placed between the 3D wall and the Computer Banks/Fault Locator wall at the rear of the Tardis set.

(At this point, it should be noted that - in the past - many have pointed to the presence of these photo blow-up wall as being proof that the Tardis set (and Dr Who in general) was made on a small budget. This (incorrect) assertion ignores the fact that the use of photographic elements in television studio sets was widespread at the time and, indeed, wasn't confined to British television; watch any episode of CBS's "Wild, Wild West" (1966 - 1969) and it is obvious that many set backgrounds were simply enlarged photographs. Similarly, the background tubular arrangement of the Starship Enterprise's engine room was nothing more than a painted 'flat'. So, the use of photographs to create set elements was commonplace even in productions which supposedly had a much bigger budget than was available to Peter Brachaki.)

In "The Pilot Episode" these photographic walls took the form of two enlarged photographs which were printed on canvas sheets and joined together. These enlarged canvas 'curtains' were then simply hung from rails in the studio's ceiling resulting in an uneven/wrinkled appearance. The join in these 'curtains' was apparent by the slight mismatch in the roundels (though, because the join was behind the lighting column, it can really only be briefly seen).

eight roundels no join.pngeight roundels meet wall.png  

Interestingly, for "The Pilot Episode", whatever was photographed to form the blow-up curtains seems to have been photographed broadly 'centre on' - these grabs show that the more of the roundel recess was visible to either side of the photo:

eight roundels no join.png

Clearly, whatever was photographed, the roundels have a chamfered edge. For the visible chamfer to increase towards either side of the picture, then the picture must have been taken broadly at the centre-point of the object being photographed. This drawing illustrates this point:

roundels perspective.png  

Rather than simply re-using the existing 'curtains', the remounted versions used for "An Unearthly Child" onwards appear to have used repeated versions of the left-hand curtain only - the visible wide side of the roundels now being solely on the left of the photographic panels. In these screen grabs the photo blow-up panel nearest the Tardis' main doors is numbered '1', the middle is number '2' and the third panel is nearest the Fault Locator:

photo blow ups2.png
photo blow ups.png

This render by Thomas Doran shows how much wider the left-hand side of each roundel becomes the further to the left of the picture the roundel is situated:


Though the 'original' curtains actually gave a truer image perspective wise, they were let down by not being properly mounted. The unsatisfactory quality that simply hanging these 'curtains' produced in "The Pilot Episode" was to be - partially - corrected for "An Unearthly Child". This BBC drawing shows that the intention was to re-mount the canvas photo blow-ups on plywood panels and then to cut holes through the panels and then to fix vacuum-formed mouldings to the rear of the panel - a kind of 'half-way house' between the 3D walls and a purely photographic wall.

An Unearthly Child - Elevations.jpg

In the event, costs again seem to have prevented this and the left hand side of the photo blow-up 'curtains' were simply reproduced and re-mounted (in the same way an oil painting would be) on three equal-sized frames or "stretchers" - each frame measuring 12 feet high by 10 feet wide. Whereas the plans show the intention was to conceal the panel joins with round strips, in actual fact the joins were hidden behind simple 'D'-shaped 6" wide timber strips painted in the familiar TX23/pale green (as seen in the photo from Patrick Troughton's debut):

patrick debut.png


These pictures show the thin, simple, construction of the panels and that they could be overlapped when necessary.

The_Chase (1a).jpg


Here Tom's renders have been reproduced to show the three photo blow-up panels as they were assembled (in full) for "Edge of Destruction" and "Brink of Disaster" (panel 1 is on the left, 2 is the middle and 3 is on the right):



The flexible nature of Peter Brachaki's Tardis set is, perhaps, best demonstrated by the use of the dividing screens/partitions: The dimensions of these screens are stated in the plans from "The Rescue DVD".

pdf screens.png

Perhaps inspired by the sound-proofing partitions used in sound recording studios, the main use of these screens was to separate the Computer Banks/Fault Locator Wall from the main part of the Tardis Control Room - when the time machine's crew are seen behind these partitions, the distinct hum of the computers can be heard.

The first time these screens appear elsewhere in the Tardis set is in establishing scenes of the first Dalek story - "The Dead Planet" when Ian and Barbara are introduced to he delights of 'salty' bacon from the food machine. In this scene, both the food machine and screens have suddenly appeared in the middle of the Control Room. Only a few weeks later, the screens (and food machine) have miraculously moved to the Living Quarters!


This photo is interesting in that it affords us the opportunity to study the partitions in detail. Whereas the sketch from "The Rescue" DVD gives us the overall dimensions, it doesn't give any details as to the construction of these partitions.

From the photo, it can be seen that there were at three least types of screen. Or, more accurately, that the screens were 'fitted-out' in three different ways - several partitions were made with clear (or at least only slightly tinted transparent Perspex panels), others were fitted with translucent panels whilst at least one was fitted with a simple curtain (and therefore a curtain track)!

The second thing to notice is that the partitions were joined together  at the top and bottom of each frame. Stability would be gained by joining the different sections at angles and the simplest way would be to use hinges.

Thirdly, "The Rescue" drawing doesn't make it clear that the partitions were each made up of two identical metal frames (1" square section) between which was 'sandwiched' the Persex sheet. The first drawing shows the dividing screen compared to the 3D wall (the rear of which can be seen in the Living Quarters) whilst the second shows the construction of the partitions in exploded form:
25 inch roundels compared to dividing screens.png


As can be seen in the last drawing, the colour of the frame has been presented as a metallic finish. In all probability however, the metal frames would have been painted to match the rest of the set i.e., in TX23/ pale green. The colour of the Perspex sheet, too, is for illustrative purposes only. Though the colour of the Perspex sheets used is not positively known, we can at least say what colours were not used:

According to the British Plastics Federation (, in the 1950s and 1960s five manufacturers dominated the plastics market not least of whom were Rohm and Haas. In the mid-fifties, they invented a plastics colour numbering system which rapidly became the industry's de facto standard numbering system and is still in use today - whereby the first digit represents the colour and the subsequent numbers represent the shade. The gaps in the numerical sequences represent either discontinued shades or are to allow for new shades/finishes to be created.

These colour cards are from The British Perspex Company (which has been in existence for 75 years, see and show which colours were/are available in transparent, translucent and opaque finishes. It is highly likely that Peter Brachaki, along with other television designers, would have been aware of this numbering system.


Given that the Tardis interior was primarily TX23/pale green, it is likely that (other than clear) the colours of the Perspex sheets used in the design would compliment this green - so, principally shades of green, grey and blue. It is now known, for instance, that the dark-tinted panels on the lighting columns was specified as colour 756. These panels are clearly transparent - we can see the fluorescent tubes inside - so, from the current colour charts, the nearest modern equivalent would be 7T22 (i.e., transparent blue).

Here, again using the dimensions stated in this thread, is another render by Barry Ward:


As well as allowing reasonable assumptions as to the colours of the Perspex used throughout the Tardis set, the partition screens are useful to us in establishing the measurements of the doors to the living quarters. (Again, the modular nature of the Tardis set also helps.)

The doors to the living quarters first appear in Dr. Who's second transmitted episode - "The Cave of Skulls". This element of the Tardis' interior consisted of a pair of double doors (each door being fitted with four roundels) hung inside a curved-sided recess, the lintel of which could be illuminated:

myphoto (5).pngDaleks_PDVD_027.jpg

The rear of the doors' roundels were smaller in diameter than the ones on the front:


The difference in roundel diameters was concealed by the fitting of a roundel collar or bezel on the Control Room side of the doors.

int doors.png

These bezels appear to have been painted a slightly different colour to the rest of the doors and, from these (later) screen grabs, appear to have been made separately from the translucent 'membranes'. In this picture seven of these bezels have been removed.  


Whilst in this (from "The Chase"), the bezels have been removed altogether:


The bezel details and profile construction of the doors are drawn here:

int doors collar in detail1.png

It is possible to begin to establish the dimensions of the living quarter doors; in this first picture, it can be seen that the combined width of the two doors is the same as the width of the partition screen - so, 48"wide.

doors and screen.png

The picture of the Living Quarters shows that the heights of the screens and the height of the section containing the doors to the living area are the same - so, 120".

From this snap from "The Dead Planet", we can judge the height of the living quarter doors compared to the Tardis' main doors - there is a difference of approximately three inches between them. The living quarters doors are therefore approximately 81" tall.

myphoto (56).png

Here, this picture is reproduced at 5 pixels per inch.


Taking the width of each door as 24" (120 pixels), it is possible to determine the widths of the curved recesses and the diameter of the roundels. Allowing for picture distortion this makes the curved section approximately 9" wide and the roundel diameter 14".

These grabs enable the positioning of the roundels to be established showing, as they do, the relationship between the heights of the lowest cross-rail on the Perspex screen and the positioning of the roundels in the living quarter doors:

myphoto (31).png

The top of the dividing screen's cross-rail is 12" from the floor; allowing for the doors being recessed, the position of the lowest door roundel can be judged against this height:

These drawings give the dimensions of the living quarter doors as calculated by comparing the various elements of the Tardis set:

living quarters doors dividing screen comparison.png
living quarters' doors.png

tony farrell

Oct 20, 2013, 12:47 am #1 Last Edit: Jun 21, 2015, 10:54 am by Tony Farrell


Occupying the rear part of the Tardis interior is the scanner/down-lighter assembly, behind which - separated from the main section of the control room by Perspex dividing screens - stand the computer banks/fault locator.

Here seen assembled to its fullest extent, this screen grab offers a good view of the principal elements of this part of Brachaki's design:

myphoto (42).png

Five curved fascias surmount five square boxes, each of which contains a circular down-lighter. The central down-lighter is blanked-off and contains the scanner behind which is a metal frame mounted on castors. To either side of this wheeled frame are are two metal-framed transparent Perspex dividing screens on which are mounted two columns of fluorescent tubes. Each of these columns contains eight tubes.

As described in the introduction, the entire scanner/down-lighter assembly was modular and could be split into three sections which could be used either separately or together. In this photo only the central scanner and right-hand section have been used - note the distinct split behind the microphone and the joining bolts in the fascia at the top left of the picture:

myphoto (36).png

In the Pilot Episode the scanner was housed inside a simple box on the outside of which could be seen the supporting wires.

TARDIS pilot blowups 3original.jpg

For the transmitted first episode, the scanner was contained in a wider box which concealed the supporting wires:

scanner wires2.png

Every time the scanner was televised, it was seen with the wheeled metal frame behind it. It seems sensible to suggest that this wheeled frame is an integral part of the scanner's means of support, allowing, as it would, manoeuvrability of this unit. The fact that the whole assembly could be split either side of this wheeled frame, supports this hypothesis.

Two factors should be considered: The weight of the television set and the fact that the wheeled frame is hollow and always appears with the rear down-lighter fitted; in the 1960s televisions were heavy, even allowing for the fact that the TV set is mounted at the rear of its surrounding box, some form of counter-balance would be needed. The fact the wheeled frame was hollow means that this counter-weight must be located either inside or immediately above the rear down-lighter.

In order to visually 'tie' the wheeled frame to the screens to on either side of it, cross-rails were fitted at a height of 12" from the floor. To further integrate the scanner's support into the design of the rest of the assembly, Perspex panels were fitted to the wheeled frame's sides.

The following pictures and drawing shows the supporting wheeled frame in more detail:

myphoto (6).png
myphoto (46a).png
myphoto (46).png
FotoFlexer_Photo (2).jpg

The 108" stated in the drawing above is a minimum height for the scanner's supporting frame. This height assumes that the scanner was designed to be seen in its permanently lowered position. However during the "Inside the Spaceship" documentary (Beginnings DVD), director Richard Martin states that the scanner was designed to have been raised and lowered.

Because we never see this happen on screen, it must be assumed this was either too time-consuming or too expensive. Which seems a little odd given that all would be required would be some kind of winch or hoist which could either be machine-driven or hand-operated. Nevertheless, Richard Martin's comment is significant:

For the scanner to have been raised and lowered, the height of the unit above it must be at least 25" (the depth of the TV's surrounding box) otherwise the bottom of the scanner would still be visible in its raised ('closed') position.

So, is there any picture evidence of this additional structure? Clearly, the curved fascia above the scanner obscures whatever might be behind it. So, we need to look for pictures taken from below the structure, looking up - a task which equates to searching for needles in hay-stacks!

Nevertheless, these pictures are useful:

myphoto (46a).png

As we have seen, the scanner's supporting structure has an additional frame attached to either side. Between these two frames is sandwiched a sheet of transparent Perspex but - to allow the castors to swivel - the lowest metal cross-bar (the one immediately above the studio floor) has been omitted and the Perspex sheet has also been shortened i.e., it doesn't extend as far as the studio floor (there is a gap visible between the two metal frames - to the right of the 01:27 DVD counter - which is not visible higher up).

myphoto (46).png

This screen-grab shows that the two side panels are the same height as the top of the rear down-lighter box and this box is mounted inside the inner metal frame:

height of fault locator is 10 feet original.png

Here, the arrow indicates that the inner metal frame extends above the level of the rear down-lighter:

height of fault locator is 10 feet.png

Bringing together all these factors - Richard Martin's statement, the fact that the inner frame appears to extend higher than would be needed if the scanner's position were to be permanently fixed (i.e., in the down/'open' position) - this drawing illustrates the scanner's supporting framework in more detail:

height of fault locator is 10 feet with comments.png

Whilst this drawing shows the scanner and supporting framework's dimensions (the thickness of the Perspex sheet is assumed to be 0.125" which was a standard measurement used at the time - see British Plastics Federation website). Note the aspect ratio of the opening in the box through which the television screen can be seen - 4:3 - which matches the shape and proportions of the TV screen:

scanner details.png

To either side of the scanner are two metal framed Perspex panels each of which have the same cross-rail detailing as the dividing screens seen elsewhere in the Tardis' interior. At first sight, it might appear that the screens either side of the scanner were the same design as the other partitions (i.e., 120" tall by 48" wide) and that the two panels either side of the scanner were simply two of these partitions bolted together in a straight line. However, this is not supported by pictorial evidence:

single upright2.jpg
single upright.png
single upright3.png

Rather than being two screens joined together in a line, the panels either side of the scanner appear to have been "made as one". This would mean that the spaces between the uprights would have to be slightly wider than the 46" of the other partitions/screens and would in fact have to be 46.5" (i.e., 3 x 1" uprights + 2 x 46.5" panels = 96" width).

Clearly, the upper section of these screens is hidden from view by the down-lighters in front of them. Whilst it cannot be definitively stated, we can at least state the minimum height these screens must be. These pictures are helpful:


By comparing the lengths of the fluorescent tubes to the height of the cross-rail from the studio floor (i.e., 12"), it can be seen each tube is also 12" long (including end caps). There are five tubes visible below the bottom of the scanner and a further two-and-a-half visible behind it. So, eight fluorescent tubes in each column. 8 x 12" = 96", which means the screens either side of the scanner must be at least this height.

Whilst not proven, it is logical to assume that Peter Brachaki would have designed these 'double' screens to echo the other screens/partitions. This would have offered even greater flexibility in how the Tardis set could be used. (Again, the thickness of the transparent Perspex sheets is assumed to be 0.125".)

screen to screen.png

Here the principal elements of the scanner/down-lighter assembly are shown in 'exploded' form (note, not to scale):

scanner sketch.png

The dimensions of the complete scanner/down-lighter assembly are brought together in the diagrams below (N.B., an extra 0.125" has been allowed either side of the scanner's wheeled frame for spacing/manoeuvring thereby increasing the width occupied by the scanner to 48.25"):

scanner assembly front.png
scanner assembly overhead.png


Behind the scanner/down-lighter assembly stand the computer banks/fault locator wall. In the Pilot Episode, this section was not present, its place being taken by a photographic representation of various lamps, valves and fluorescent tubes. The actual computer banks/fault locator didn't actually appear until the transmitted first episode. As such, this part of the Tardis' interior design should be credited to Barry Newbery who - by this time - had replaced Peter Brachaki.

Made up of five sections, like the rest of the Tardis set, the computer banks could be split-down dependent on studio requirements. Of the five sections, four were narrow with the fifth (fault locator section) being approximately twice the width of the others.

Each of the five sections was made up of three panels arranged vertically with each panel being separated by two small ledges or sills. Each section can be distinguished by the differing arrangement of the control panels on each one and by different geometric shapes towards the top of the middle panels in each section. These pictures help show the different arrangement of the control panels/symbols. The panels have been numbered for illustrative purposes only; this shouldn't be taken to imply the sections had to be presented in this order:
myphoto (11a).pngmyphoto (18).pngmyphoto (27).png

As well as containing units of flashing lamps, the central panel of each section also contained viewing 'panes' behind which were seen various instruments - including the fault locator counter itself. Each pane was made from a piece of clear, dark-tinted Perspex mounted behind the computer panels' fascias.

myphoto (21).png

These screen grabs are also useful in establishing not only the profile of each section of the computer banks, but also the heights of each of the panels:

computer dividing strips depths.pngmyphoto (7).png

This photo is from "Tomb of the Cybermen" and - though a back-projection - marks the final appearance of the original computer banks/fault locator wall:

measure lengths of fault locator panels.jpg

This picture enables us to gauge the widths of each section in relation to the heights of each section:

measure lengths of fault locator panels.jpg

In this picture, the height of the lowest panel is 155 pixels which equates to 36". 155 divided by 36 = 4.3 pixels per inch. Each panel is 181 pixels wide and the uprights are 26 pixels wide. 181 divided by 4.3 = 42.1 and 26 divided by 4.3 = 6. So, each panel is 42" wide and each upright is 6" wide.

In this picture, the width of the computer banks' widest section can be compared to the width of the narrower sections:

fault locator central section.png

The combined width of the narrow section and upright is 48" (204 pixels in this picture). 204 divided by 48 = 4.25 pixels per inch. The width of main (fault locator) panel is 406 pixels. 406 divided by 4.25 = 96".

Given the basic dimensions of each panel, the sizes and positioning of the various instruments can be established.


fault locator 2013 DETAILED MEASUREMENTS reduced.png


To either side of the scanner assembly stand two towers or columns, each the mirror image of the other and each containing a complex arrangement of fluorescent lighting tubes.


To avoid confusion with the terms left and right-hand (each column is the mirror image of its twin), only the column which stands nearest the photo blow-up walls will be described and only pictures of this column will be used.

This column consists of a tall Perspex-fronted unit mounted on top of a smaller box. Behind the tinted Perspex front are two uprights which have five slotted openings cut into their inner sides.

myphoto (34).png

Within the tall unit is a 'lighting array' consisting of five columns of fluorescent tubes arranged in a staggered pattern (four along the back and one on the right-hand side of the unit - the fifth column (right-hand side) is hidden behind William Russell's head in the first picture but is visible behind William Hartnell in the second).  

myphoto (12).png
myphoto (13).png

The wiring for the lighting array exits the column via five holes drilled into the top and base. In order to increase ventilation, additional holes were drilled into the top and base immediately behind the tinted Perspex front:

column 2.png
colum top.png

When viewed with the Perspex panel to the front, the left-hand side of the column is made up of a white/off-white translucent panel formed into a shallow 'V' shape.

myphoto (44).png

The on the opposite side to the 'V' shaped panel is a shallow square recess backed by the same translucent material. This recess occupies approximately a quarter of the total width of the side whilst the remainder of the panel is solid. The next two screen grabs show the same column but with its right-hand side nearest to us; for the 'twin' column the side panels are reversed.

myphoto (36).png
myphoto (47).png

The following drawings illustrate the construction of the columns in more detail. Note, the drawings are not to scale and should be reversed to form the 'twin' column. The colour of the Perspex is for illustrative purposes only.

column sketch.png
column sketch2.png
column sketch complete final.png

We can begin to establish the dimensions thanks to this drawing which was posted by Rob. A small part of the BBC plans, it shows the overhead view of the column:

comp tower rob.jpg

By comparing the height of the column with the height of the scanner assembly, it can be seen that each column stands 24" taller than the height of the scanner down-lighters (so, 120"). By comparing its height to the photo blow-up panels behind it, we can also see that the column is the equivalent of the diameter of the photo roundel shorter. Each photo blow-up panel is 144" tall, so again, this confirms the total height of the column as 120".

From the plan posted by Rob, each column consists of tall unit measuring 48" by 36" mounted on top of a smaller box measuring 40" by 28". This smaller supporting box is the same height as the cross-rails on the screens behind the scanner (i.e., 12" tall). The overall height of the columns therefore totals 120" with the tinted Perspex panel being 108" high by 48" wide.

In actual fact, the tinted Perspex front panel was formed from two sheets - one 96" by 48" and the other 12" by 48" with the join not being visible on 405 line television. There is a similar join in the 'V' shaped side panel on each column as well. Thanks to Jonathan/Markofrani for these photographs.

column join at V top.png
column join front.png

This drawing gives the dimensions of the columns in more detail (note, the thickness of the tinted Perspex panel is assumed to be 0.125"). As the column's twin is the mirror image, the dimensions are applicable to both. The colour of the transparent dark-tinted panel is specified in the BBC's plan as 756 (transparent blue - see introduction):

column for tb a.png
Again, thanks are due to Barry Ward for this render of the columns:


tony farrell

Oct 31, 2013, 11:12 pm #2 Last Edit: Sep 02, 2016, 09:28 pm by Tony Farrell
console page break1.png


Second only to the console in complexity of design, is the Tardis' hexagonal ceiling unit or 'canopy' as it is referred to in the BBC set plans.

canopy edge unearhly.png
canopy edge of destruction.png

The term 'canopy' is a strange choice of name as - excluding specific meanings such as the cock-pit cover on an aeroplane - it implies a structure mounted on poles or columns. Perhaps this was the intention and budgetary constraints prevented this from happening.

Consisting of a central drum (fitted with lighting diffusers in the shape of concentric circles) surrounded by two hexagonal frames, the canopy was designed to be hung at a variety of angles dependent on studio requirements.

The very fact that the canopy was hung at an angle, coupled with the fact that it is not hung sufficiently near to another object whose dimensions are known, means that the 'perspective line methodology' outlined in the introduction is inadequate in establishing the dimensions of the canopy.

Nevertheless, this photo is useful. Though showing the canopy in its later (cut-down) form, because we know the dimensions of the photo blow-up walls, we can at least estimate the canopy's measurements.

The_Chase (1a).jpg

As the photo shows, the width of the canopy (i.e., opposite side to opposite side) appears to be approximately 120".


At this point in the discussion thread, Rob  posted this extract from the BBC's Tardis' set plan:

part (2).jpg

Which provided confirmation of the width of the canopy. Rob then went on to post this fuller section of the BBC's drawings:


As has been seen with the BBC's plans for the Tardis' main doors, what was planned isn't necessarily what was built. The plans show the central drum's diffuser was made up from seven circles of "Lita glass". This screen grab shows that only six circular diffusers were fitted:


Apart from this minor difference, the over all proportions of the ceiling canopy do not seem to differ from the plans. However, this does not give us the full story: Close study of the photos at the start of this section show that the structure's supporting struts were deepened between the recording of "An Unearthly Child" and "Edge of Destruction".

Joining the central section of the canopy to its outer hexagonal frames, these struts originally were made only 12" deep. (From the BBC plans, it can be seen that the canopy was designed to be hung from six fixings at its outer-most corners; this would mean that the heaviest central part of the structure was only supported by comparatively thin/weak struts.)

This drawing shows the dimensions of the canopy as it first appeared in "The Pilot Episode" and "An Unearthly Child":

canopy dims unearthly.png

Whilst this drawing shows the strengthening work carried out to the supporting struts which were - in effect - doubled in size:

canopy dims brink.png

The strengthening work carried out doesn't seem to have resolved the issues encountered with the ceiling canopy. Now heavier than originally, its use remained intermittent and tales of the scene shifters' reluctance to hoist the canopy into place are common. Whether due to the weight issues or for some other reason (possibly damage), in 1965, the decision was made to cut the canopy down in size - with half its height being removed at this time:

canopy dims chase.png

The various changes described above are brought together in this diagram:

ceiling unit with measurements edge.png

The honeycomb pattern of the walls was echoed throughout the Brachaki Tardis set: The ceiling canopy, console and floor plates all being hexagonal and the floor plates being arranged in a manner which mimicked the arrangement of the walls' roundels.

Though only two were ever seen on screen, thanks to the Radio Times of September 2013, we know that three hexagonal floor plates were made.
The metallic plate which surrounds the console, a beige-coloured one which sits between the console and the main doors and a smaller white one which was placed to the right of the console:

floorplan pilot.png

On the Radio Times floor-plan, the position of the smallest floor plate is marked 1B (and shaded in red to indicate the TV camera's position). Interestingly, the floor-plan shows that six of the Perspex screens/partitions were to have been mounted on this floor plate and some sort of column-like structure was to have been added at each corner. Presumably, the screen-absence of this floor plate and screen structure means that - late in the day - the decision was taken for it not to be used. An angled screen arrangement did - in fact - appear in this area of the Control Room in "The Dead Planet" when Ian was introduced to the delights of the food machine's "salty" bacon!

This render is by Marc/Rassilonsrod and shows how the smallest floor-plate and screens would have looked (note, the columns at each corner have been imagined as containing fluorescent tubes):

Unearthly_Child_as_planned_05 (1).jpeg

The second floor plate - the beige one - gained only limited screen time, appearing as it did in the first and second episodes of the introductory story and again three years later in "Power of the Daleks"; its edge just being visible by the chair in this picture:


The third floor plate which surrounded the console was metallic in appearance and had a slightly mottled texture. Initially seen with a narrow white strip painted (or taped) on the studio floor along five of its outer edges, this plate measured 120" from opposite side to opposite side. (There was no white strip on the side which adjoined the beige hexagonal floor plate.)

Like the rest of the Tardis set, the metallic floor plate was modular and was made up of six metal sections whose outer edges were rounded to form a lip. Unlike the other floor plates, this remained in more-or-less continuous use throughout William Hartnell's tenure as the Doctor (though by the time of "The Daleks Master Plan", it was very badly damaged):

get-attachment (1).jpg

As well as showing the poor state the metal plates were in, this picture also shows that the console was not always placed centrally within the metallic floor plate. In addition, it is clear that the six sections of the floor plate were not triangular in shape but were actually trapezium-shaped. By comparing the width of each section of the metallic floor plates to that of the console, it can be seen that is 36" wide (inside edge to outside edge).

The three floor plates are described in the diagram below.

floorplate layout.png

Here Marc/Rassilonsrod has used the dimensions of the Tardis set, as so far stated in this topic, to recreate Lime Grove Studio D as it would have been seen for the recording of An Unearthly Child (the BBC's set plan is shown for comparison):  

lime grove.pngstudio floor plan BBC.png

In addition to the planned use of the smallest floor plate (complete with screens), the plans posted by The Radio Times also show that a duplicate set of Police Box doors were constructed; the dimensions of this secondary Police Box's front elevation are included here for completeness as is pictorial evidence that this particular prop was later used for publicity purposes:


secondary police box doors.png


At the heart of the Tardis Control Room stands the console. With its six sloping control panels surrounding a clear column which rises and falls, Peter Brachaki designed what has become an incontrovertible cultural icon.

Taking his cue from Anthony Coburn's script that the space/time machine should be controllable by a single pilot, Brachaki designed a compact control console whose panels could be reached with minimal movement by its operator. Had budgetary constraints not been a concern, it is rumoured that the controls were to have been moulded to the lead actor's hands. In short, an ergonomic and isomorphic control panel a full twelve years before the concept was introduced in "Pyramids of Mars"!

The concept that the control panels should be operable by a single person was - as we'll see - to have been further reinforced by the fact that the entire console (not just the central column's 'core') was designed to rotate. In fact, the mechanism to achieve this was not only conceived of but, was actually built and was actually televised.

Each sloping control panel was separated from the adjoining panels by a narrow tapering 'fin'. Each fin being the length of the panels' edges and each of the six fins rising to join an hexagonal 'collar' surrounding the console's central column.

Each of the six control panels was detachable from the main structure for access purposes. What is perhaps less obvious is the fact that the dividing fins were actually integral to the panels and not separate from them. Whereas these pictures of the later console show that the fins were separate from the panels (notice the misalignment of the fin; it does not meet the collar):


By contrast, this picture of the original console clearly shows that the fins were integral to the panels themselves.


On the left of the picture a distinct split is evident at the apex of the fin nearest us; this split runs down the entire length of this fin. A gap is also visible where the nearest fin is supposed to join the console's collar. Similarly, a gap of the same width is visible where the left-hand rear fin is supposed to meet the collar.

The gap along the length of the nearest fin shows that each fin was constructed from two triangular sections. However, the distinct gap where the fins are supposed to meet the console's collar are the same on both sides of the control panel and the panel's upper edge is casting a slight shadow on the collar i.e., part of the collar is obscured from view by the panel; the fact that both the panel and the 'inner facets' of both the fins are all misaligned to the same degree shows that each triangular section is mounted on the panel (one on each outer edge) giving this arrangement:

get-attachment (3b).jpg

This screen grab, perhaps, makes this clearer:

misaligned panel.png
misaligned panel1.png

Over the years, there has been a great deal of debate surrounding the precise dimensions of the original Brachaki console. Even though many of its controls were retained in the 1970 rebuild (and a few were even kept up to 1983), nothing of its original framework survived after 1970. A drawing of the Pertwee (Mark 1A) console by Mike Kelt shows the panels for this version were 46" wide - a dimension which was carried over by him to "The Five Doctors" iteration of the console.

By comparing the proportions of the original and Mark1A, it is clear that the first was smaller than the latter but by how much remained unresolved until these small sections of the BBC's plans were posted by Rob:

console 2 rob.pngconsole 3 rob.png

Before we go onto the dimensions of the console, it is helpful to discuss what this photo and these small sections of the plans reveal about the console's construction:

Clearly, for the misalignment of the left-hand panel and attached fins to have occurred, the panel must have been removable. The plans clearly specify this. Presumably then, the instructions to the contractor would have been to make these first so that "Visual Aids" could then fit the controls and central "Rotating Perspex Navigational Instrument".

As can be seen, the plans show that each control panel was to be made from a 3/4" thick plywood sheet cut into a trapezium shape. This sheet 'rests' on a sloping timber frame surrounded by an upright fascia. At the centre of this frame is a hollow hexagonal 'tube' which surrounds the central column.

As well as housing the central column, the hexagonal tube extends down into the console's plinth and forms the core of the supporting structure. The hexagonal tube's lower sections were clad with plywood fins echoing the design of the control panels.

Though partially obscured by what is termed the 'microphone shelf', the top of this hexagonal tube is surrounded by a sloping hexagonal 'collar' which descends below the top edge of the control panel i.e., the upper edge of the panel obscures the lower portion of the collar.

Here, the console is illustrated with a control panel (and the inner facets of the fins) removed exposing the unpainted timber structure underneath:


The small sections of the BBC's plans give us the principal dimensions of the console: In a geometrically pleasing design, the console's height (excluding the central Perspex column) is exactly half that of its width (84" wide - opposite corner to opposite corner - and 42" tall). The plans also state the heights of both the plinth and the sloping frame's hardwood fascia. From these dimensions, it is possible to extrapolate those that are not specified:

The plans have been drawn using quite wide lines and the definition isn't particularly clear especially where the microphone shelf was to have been located. So, the designer's intentions have to be interpreted and compared to what was actually built. Obviously the separate microphone panels weren't constructed; instead, ventilation grilles took their place in the upper central part of each control panel. So, as with the main doors, what was planned wasn't necessarily what was built.

Three principal differences can be seen: Firstly, the Perspex cylinder which forms the central column was designed to have had a much more rounded top than was built. Presumably for reasons of economy, the central column ended up being made in two parts - a cylinder and a chamfered or bevel-edged top.

console 1 rob.png

The second and third differences are less obvious and both relate to the proportions of the control panel dividing fins. The plans show that the fins taper towards a point approximately 2.5" to 3"  inside the console's outer edges. The plans also show that the upper sections of each fin are comparatively wide resulting in the collar appearing to taper inwards:

tapering fins.png

In reality, the fins extended almost to the fascia and were narrower than drawn - the tapering effect seen on the collar is much less pronounced than drawn.

comp tower inside.pngsingle upright2.jpg

Given the limitations of the BBC's plans and given what was actually built, these drawings show the 'missing' console dimensions:
orig console plans.png
console 3 sides rob.png
console top two sides.png
console panel master 24 pixels per inch leave as is.png

Here, using the dimensions stated in this topic, is a render by Barry Ward of the Console's "table" section:


It is curious that the console sometimes appears to have been mounted on a circular base - what some have called a dais. It is clear from the small section of the BBC's plan available, that the castors were mounted inside the base of the console's hexagonal tube. The same plywood is drawn as is used for the control panels - so, 3/4" thick. Clearly, the plinth's base has to be load bearing in order to take the weight of the column's raising/lowering mechanism. It would make sense (not only for reasons of strength but also to disguise them) to fix the castors here. Indeed - though not clear - the BBC's plans would seem to indicate that this was the case.


Here the positioning of the castors is marked and the relationship of the console's underside fins is drawn in more detail:

console underside.png

If the castors were hidden inside the console, then the clearance between the underside of the plinth and the studio floor would be minimal (just enough to allow room for the power cables). In this photo, this is the case - the console's base barely clears the studio floor.


In these rehearsal shots from "An Unearthly Child" the console is clearly mounted a shallow circular disc.  


But, what function does this disc perform? The console can be manoeuvred without it and the castors are hidden within the console so, the disc is not there to either replace or disguise the castors.

At this point it is useful to return to this drawing:

console 2 rob handles.png

Was the original intention to fit six metal handles to the console's fascia? If so, then the occasional appearance of the disc underneath the console's plinth would make sense. Brachaki incorporated the idea of a single pilot for the Tardis into the design of the console. It was comparatively small and the controls readily accessible i.e., the concept of ergonomic design and isomorphic operation. The idea that handles should be fitted further builds these concepts into the design; the entire console was conceived of as being capable of rotation to aid the pilot's operation of 'the ship'.

In the opening scenes of "The Web Planet", under the influence of the Animus, the console is seen to rotate on the spot. Obviously this was achieved by stage hands hiding under the console out of sight but, the console did not move out of position but was spun on the spot. Is this then the function of the disc? Is it in fact a detachable circular track/guide for the castors on which the console could be made to rotate?

This initial studio plan for "Edge of Destruction" would seem to support this idea. Note the instruction to fit the 'metal track for castors' to the Console:


tony farrell

Oct 09, 2015, 04:06 pm #3 Last Edit: Sep 02, 2016, 09:09 pm by Tony Farrell
I'm delighted that Chris Petts has sent me the following information regarding the controls on the sixth panel of his brilliant console build ( Celation's Hartnell/Troughton Console Build). The information is reproduced verbatim:

Large Grey Lever.

The base is 3​" x 9​" and approx 3/8" deep with approx 1/8" 45 degree bevel. The curved section has an effective overall diameter of 10​", is 7.5​" long and 1.5​" high and 2​" wide. The centre slot is 3/8" wide, curved at each end and reaches to approx 1.5​" distance from the base at each end.
The black knob is a standard old bakelite radio knob of 2 3/8" diameter - though with a thinner base than mine has. Tricky to find these.
Screws to attach - 10​ mm from each edge, 1/8" head domed slot head. Black.

Black strips above and to the sides

I have made these from 1​mm black styrene. The originals may well have been the same.
All black strips are 1/2" width.
Strip above approx 11​" long.
Strips either side approx 4.5​" long

Ping-pong lights
1.5" diameter. The surrounds are 2.5​" diameter and 2​mm thick. Possibly a bit thicker on the original.
Screws to attach. Countersunk black flat 3/16"slot headed.

Lamp displays
Surrounds are in two ring sections, both 1/8" thick, I think.
Lower - 4.75​" outer diameter, 3.5​" inner diameter (might have to re-check inner)
Upper - 4.5​" outer diameter, 3.25​" inner diameter.
Lamp used - Wipac 267, red.
3 countersunk screws covered.

Bank of five small levers
Plate supporting the switches - 8​" x 4.5​". Around 4​mm thick (possibly less on original)
Each switch - 4​" long; 1​" high; 1 1/8" wide at base. Extended circle diameter 5​".
Tapers slightly to top - to 1​" wide. Slot 1.5​" long; 3/8" wide.
Lever in two sections. Wider section (6mm?) 3/8" visible above lever. Thinner section (4mm?) 1​" visible.
Spherical knob on top 16​mm diameter.

Using this information as my 'starting point' and allowing for the fact that Chris' console represents a slightly later version than the original (so items such as the ventilation grilles had been changed), using the same 'perspective line' techniques - as explained in the introduction of this article - I began to establish the dimensions of the other controls. The following screen grabs illustrate this methodology:


Here, as a result of this research, are the finalised drawings of the original control panels:



Here - again using the dimensions stated in this topic - and showing the "Fast Return Switch" both with and without its detachable 'cover' is a rather splendid render by Marc D Taylor:




And here, using the dimensions stated in this topic, is a render of the "Stasis Switch" by Barry Ward:


Again, courtesy of Barry Ward, here are high-definition, fully-downloadable versions of the Main Meter graphics:


As we've seen, the Tardis set was not cheap. At four thousand pounds, it cost the price of a three-bedroom semi-detached house. Nevertheless, even with this amount of cash at his disposal, Peter Brachaki had to make compromises. Most obviously, this economy was evident in the Tardis' photo blow-up walls. Even though these photo blow-ups look obvious to the modern eye, set in their historical context - i.e. TV production of the 1960s - these should not be regarded as in anyway unusual: Watch any episode of Coronation Street (a long-running British 'soap opera' drama and contemporary of Doctor Who) and the background railway viaduct is clearly an enlarged photograph. Similarly, watch some episodes of CBS's "The Wild Wild West" (1965 to 1969) and it is equally obvious that some of the background scenery is simply painted 'flats'.

So, being 'good historians', we must judge Dr Who (and its contemporaries) by standards which are applicable to the times in which it was made.

As with the Mike Kelt iteration of the Console, as an economy measure, not all of the Console's Control Panels were designed to be seen in close-up; the 'rear' panel on the Kelt Console was fitted with a dummy TV monitor housing rather than a functioning screen.

Similarly, it is clear that on the Brachaki Console, Control Panel 2 was not designed to be viewed in close-up containing (as it did) several 'dummy' slide switches (note the lack of 'finger plates' and fixing screws):


By contrast, the slide switches on the panels more often 'seen' by the studio cameras were more detailed and contained 'functioning' slide switches mounted on 'finger plates':


Here, is my diagram of those more detailed 'slide switches':



Lastly, in terms of the Console's controls, Control Panel 5's 'ancillary' switch:


No description of the Tardis Console would be complete without the central column. Made of Perspex and clearly based on an antenna or radio telescope, the "Rotating Navigational Instrument" is described in detail below (for consistency, the terms used to describe the various components are taken from an actual radio antenna):


It seems that Peter Brachaki thought of everything!

In preparing this article, thanks must go to Marc/Rassilonsrod, Rob49152, Chris Petts/Celation, Jonathan/Markofrani, Dino Giangregorio/Galacticprobe, Barry R Ward and Thomas Doran/Kert Gantry for their contributions to our knowledge. Thanks also to Graham/Mechanoid, Nathan/Warmcanofcoke, Crispin/Scarfwearer and to numerous others for their encouragement and support.

Above all, however, thanks to Peter Brachaki.