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The Kenneth Sharp Tardis Console

Started by tony farrell, Jan 05, 2016, 02:06 am

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tony farrell

Jan 05, 2016, 02:06 am Last Edit: Jan 05, 2016, 03:23 am by Tony Farrell
ALMOST EXACTLY 45 YEARS AGO TO THE DAY, ON 4th JANUARY 1971,  PRODUCTION BEGAN ON "CLAWS OF AXOS". THIS STORY MARKED THE DEBUT APPEARANCE OF THE KENNETH SHARP VERSION OF THE TARDIS CONSOLE.

By its final appearance in "Inferno" in 1970, Peter Brachacki's original Tardis Console was in a very poor state of repair and had to be retired. The job of designing its replacement was given to BBC designer Kenneth Sharp.

Unlike the construction of the original which was contracted out to Shawcraft, the building of the new MK1A Console (as it is often referred to) was handled in-house by the BBC, probably by the Visual Effects Department who built a simplified timber frame on which were fitted the various controls (most of which were salvaged from the original Brachacki Console).

As well as having a slightly wider (and slightly sleeker) 'silhouette', the most obvious difference between the two versions of the Console was the design of the central column's interior.

The Brachacki central column's interior was clearly reminiscent of a steerable radio antenna (and, as such, was capable of rotating). The Sharp/Pertwee/MK1A version of the console's central column is clearly designed for the then new medium of colour television - containing as it does brightly coloured plastics in the form of 'shafts' and various angled panels.

Though made of plastic, especially when viewed from above, the column's interior is more reminiscent of the 'clover-leaf' shaped piers which can be seen in many medieval and later 'Gothic revival' Victorian-era buildings:

064time036-1 showing collar lining.jpgcloverleaf column.jpg

In architectural terms, this type of pier is known as a "compound column"; a compound column consists of a central "pier", to which engaged (touching) or semi-detached "shafts" are attached. The central pier and shafts can be any regular geometric shape - in the case of the Tardis, a triangular central pier with three circular shafts.

Where the shafts are fully detached from the central pier, they are coupled to it by "armulets" (bridging pieces) at regular heights to maintain structural integrity. A compound column can be free-standing or mounted on a "base". (Note, all terms in quote marks ("-") are correct and a compound column does not need to support anything on top of it.)

This architectural analogy is particularly suited to the Pertwee/Sharp/MK1A console:

PERTWEE COLUMN FOR TB.png

(For reasons of clarity, at this stage, the multi-directional angled panels are not shown.)

Here I'm posting Lespaceplie's excellent version of the Baker/Davison "compound column" for comparison.

lespaceplie column.png

Though obviously simplified by the removal of the colourful angled panels and their replacement with frosted panels (which serve to obscure the still-slightly-gaudy pink/red central triangular pier), the later Baker/Davison version re-utilises the Sharp original.

Note, there are subtle differences in the construction methods implied by these drawings and these subtleties alter the overall dimensions as a result:

Firstly, let me say that (whilst I'm going to explain why I slightly disagree with his conclusions) how much I admire Lespaceplie's work here on TB and, equally, how much I admire Crispin/Scarfwearer's earlier work in trying to establish the dimensions of the MK1A Console as well.

They say 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'; well, in creating my version of the Pertwee "compound column", I've hopefully achieved precisely that! So where I'm now going on to explain why I differ from Lespaceplie (and Crispin) it is meant in the spirit of respectful, polite and friendly disagreement. Above all however, it is meant in the spirit of creating screen accurate plans:

In Lespaceplie's drawing, structural stability is gained by recessing each shaft within a four inch diameter hole cut into the acrylic mirror which tops the column's black base. Further rigidity is provided by the three Perspex "annular sectors" which are screwed through the mirrored disc and into the black base.

At the top of Lespaceplie's column, three small armulets attach the shafts to a triangular collar which (in turn) attaches to the central triangular pier. Here I completely agree with Lespaceplie:

rotor close.png

Where I disagree is in the relationship of the shafts to the mirrored disc. In my view, only the 'sheaths' for the fluorescent tubes are recessed into the mirrored disc. This would  only require the cutting of three one inch diameter holes through the mirrored disc rather than three four inch diameter holes.

In my opinion, stability is not only provided by the three annular sectors but also by the presence of a triangular collar fitted onto the mirrored disc (i.e., except for the armulets, identical to the structure at the top of the column). The three circular shafts are therefore 'locked' into position rather than being 'recessed' into position.

This arrangement would seem to be borne out by the pictorial evidence:

axos7reduced for tb.png
068PlanetoftheDaleks012.jpg
axos2a cropped.png
planet of daleks1.png

(The presence of the lower stabilising triangular collar - fitted to the mirrored disc - is highlighted in yellow in the last picture.)

By comparing the diameters of the hole in the Console's collar, the Perspex cylinder and the diameters of both the mirrored disc and black base, we can also begin to establish the Central Column's overall dimensions; it doesn't matter what the unit of measurement is, the ratios of the diameters will remain the same (476:438:352 pixels at the points indicated). So, once you've established one diameter, the others can be calculated accordingly.

But which diameter do you choose? As with everything connected with Dr Who, the Pertwee/Sharp/MK1A console was subjected to adaptation - for example, a microphone was fitted for "The Time Monster" as was the 'time ram' dial, whilst in "Death to the Daleks", coloured lamps replaced the small toggle switches on Control Panel 2; famously in "Colony in Space", sudden damage to this panel was supposedly hidden by the creation of a 'socket' into which the housing for the Tardis' de-materialisation circuit could be fitted!

So, our diameter needs to be something we know was not altered. This therefore effectively rules out the diameter of the outer Perspex cylinder:

Not only were controls modified or replaced, throughout its screen lifetime the Central Column too underwent various refits; it is obvious that the outer cylinder was made in two halves from very thin Perspex sheets which were riveted together. When first introduced in "Claws of Axos", these joins were achieved using two metal re-enforcing strips:

057axos007.jpg
 
This is a close-up from "The Time Monster":

rivets.png

Note the main securing brass rivets/small bolts/screws in the 'rear' join of Perspex cylinder (left-hand side of picture).  Note also that the two Perspex halves of the outer cylinder meet rather than overlap so, the metal strip acts as the original joining piece (see nearside of cylinder/right of picture where upright join meets the circular top of the central column). Also note the small holes in the Perspex on either side of the nearside join (these are in addition to the holes which correspond to the main nearside brass fixings).

These metallic joining strips remained until Pyramids of Mars but were removed in the next story - Planet of Evil:
082PyramidsofMars0004.jpg
081PlanetofEvil0006 - thin fascia aluminium.jpg

By the time "The Pirate Planet" was recorded, it is clear that the production team had decided that overlapping the two Perspex halves would be more durable/easier than fitting any kind of joining strip:

pirate2 reduced size for tb.png
pirate2 top.png


The screen grab from Pirate Planet is also helpful in determining the relative diameters of the hole in the Console's collar, outer cylinder, mirrored disc and black base:

The Central Column is (more or less) at its full height and has (for once) risen vertically! These pictures are the full-sized version of the same screen capture but split into three to 'dodge' the forum's 500KB upload limit):

pirate2 top.png
pirate2 middle.png
pirate2 bottom.png

Note the ratios of the three diameters we are discussing (760:700:570) and compare them to the same ratios seen in Claws of Axos (476:438:352). Also note that in the Pirate Planet the mirrored disc appears to be fractionally smaller than the black base whereas in Axos, both the mirrored disc and black base appear to be the same diameter.

Now to the maths and - remember - we don't yet know any dimensions, we are simply talking about how big each diameter is in relation to the others. Secondly, the two pictures are different sizes so the comparative diameters need to be expressed in the same way: To achieve this, I am going to take the diameter of the hole in the Console's collar as my baseline i.e., its diameter is one hundred units.

For Pirate Planet:-
Where 760 pixels = 100 units,
the diameter of the Perspex cylinder = 700/760 x 100 = 92.105 units and
the diameter of the black base = 570/760 x 100 = 75 units.

For Claws of Axos:-
Where 476 pixels = 100 units,
the diameter of The Perspex cylinder = 438/476 = 92.017 units and
the diameter of the black base = 352/476 = 73.950 units.

Clearly at 73.950 units and 75 units respectively - and given the appearance of a slight discrepancy between the diameter of the mirrored disc and the diameter of the black base in the later Baker picture  - the black base has been fractionally increased in size between the two stories (possibly a later thin 'skin' was added to disguise some damage to the original - MK1A - black base).

So, with different outer Perspex cylinders and a re-dressed internal 'compound column', between the Pertwee and Baker versions, just what were the dimensions of the MK1A Console's Central Column as designed by Kenneth Sharp in January 1971?

As the only 'constant' dimension is the hole in the Console's collar, we need to accurately establish this measurement. The only way to do that is to create screen accurate plans for the entire Sharp Tardis Console itself!

We'll discuss these measurements in Part Two. And Happy New Year!

galacticprobe

Jan 05, 2016, 06:26 am #1 Last Edit: Jan 05, 2016, 06:32 am by galacticprobe
Good suffering Jehoshaphat! That's some serious research, Tony! :o Bravo! (And that drawing of the Pertwee column you've started is still an amazing feat using just Paint!)

Just one minor correction I would like to propose: the removal and replacing of that metal strips that hold the two halves of the column cover together. It is true that it looks like they removed the strips for "Planet of Evil", however this story preceded "Pyramids of Mars" rather than following it. (Story order: "Terror of the Zygons" - "Planet of Evil" - "Pyramids of Mars".) So they may have removed those strips for "Planet of Evil" thinking the strips weren't needed (or looked unsightly), but then realized that the strips were needed for structural integrity and replaced for "Pyramids of Mars".

So other than the order of the Stories, I think you've just about nailed every detail. I can't wait to see the completed Pertwee column! (And am I correct in presuming that you plan to do the same drawings with this console as you did with the original Brachacki?)

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

fivefingeredstyre

Jan 05, 2016, 07:42 am #2 Last Edit: Jan 05, 2016, 07:43 am by fivefingeredstyre
Quote from: galacticprobe on Jan 05, 2016, 06:26 amJust one minor correction I would like to propose: the removal and replacing of that metal strips that hold the two halves of the column cover together. It is true that it looks like they removed the strips for "Planet of Evil", however this story preceded "Pyramids of Mars" rather than following it. (Story order: "Terror of the Zygons" - "Planet of Evil" - "Pyramids of Mars".) So they may have removed those strips for "Planet of Evil" thinking the strips weren't needed (or looked unsightly), but then realized that the strips were needed for structural integrity and replaced for "Pyramids of Mars"
I'm pretty sure Pyramids of Mars was made before Planet of Evil, but transmitted the other way round (Planet of Evil was shown before Pyramids of Mars)...

I am so looking forward to this thread... :)

galacticprobe

Jan 05, 2016, 07:51 am #3 Last Edit: Jan 05, 2016, 08:02 am by galacticprobe
Quote from: fivefingeredstyre on Jan 05, 2016, 07:42 am
I'm pretty sure Pyramids of Mars was made before Planet of Evil, but transmitted the other way round (Planet of Evil was shown before Pyramids of Mars)...


Possibly. The only argument against this is Tom Baker's costume. In "Planet of Evil" he's still wearing his red corduroy jacket, wide window pane patterned shirt, and original scarf. In "Pyramids of Mars", he's wearing his new burgundy frock coat, plain white shirt, and his scarf has been drastically modified to its Season 13 pattern, so it's nothing like its original condition. This makes it difficult to believe that they would put Baker in a new costume and alter the scarf to record "Pyramids", and then alter the scarf back to its Season 12 state to put Baker back in his Season 12 costume to record "Planet", and then alter the scarf and everything back to the Season 13 state as in "Pyramids" for the following Season 13 stories.

That's not to say they didn't do all that to record the stories in a different order, it just seems unlikely as for that one story ("Planet of Evil") it would require an awful lot of work to alter and re-alter the costume, especially the scarf. This is why I think "Planet" was recorded first. (Of course, someone could always find some documentation that would prove me wrong - I wouldn't argue with that; it's proof positive. But until then, I'll stick with "Planet" being recorded first for the reasons stated above.)

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

fivefingeredstyre

According to Virgin's Fourth Doctor Handbook studio recording for Planet of Evil took place between 30th June -15th July 1975, whereas studio recording for Pyramids was between May 19th - 3rd June 1975. This means though that the differences in the console room sets between the stories happened post Pyramids.

I'm no expert on the scarf, but I think its the same one as the previous years in both stories (happy to stand corrected on that, though). The costume is definitely different, quite why they were swapped is anyones guess...


It always looks to me as though they forgot to plug in the Time Rotor lights in the opening episode of Planet of Evil...

Rassilons Rod

Jan 05, 2016, 11:01 am #5 Last Edit: Jan 05, 2016, 04:25 pm by rassilonsrod
Love your new diagram of the Pertwee rotor, Tony :)

As for the scarf, the holy grail of info is www.doctorwhoscarf.com  and also fourthdoctorcostume.blogspot.co.uk
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

Jan 05, 2016, 01:51 pm #6 Last Edit: Jan 05, 2016, 02:10 pm by Tony Farrell
I'm not sure what scarves have got to do with anything  :) but just to confirm, though transmitted the other way round, Pyramids of Mars was recorded before Planet of Evil, so the removal of the metal strips occurred in the order I stated (thanks to Steve W for confirmation of the dates)!

To answer Dino's question, yes, the plans are on their way and they will show different dimensions to those that have gone before (including the dimensions stated by Scarfwearer and Lespaceplie) so, I've brought my tin helmet!!!!

T

Rassilons Rod

Quote from: Tony Farrell on Jan 05, 2016, 01:51 pm
I'm not sure what scarves have got to do with anything  :) but just to confirm, though transmitted the other way round, Pyramids of Mars was recorded before Planet of Evil, so the removal of the metal strips occurred in the order I stated (thanks to Steve W for confirmation of the dates)!


Me neither. :)  I'd assumed that it was an aid to dating but in this case, the season 13 is the season 13 is the season 13 :)

fourthdoctorcostume.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/costume-index-season-thirteen.html?m=1
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

Jan 05, 2016, 05:51 pm #8 Last Edit: Jan 05, 2016, 06:04 pm by Tony Farrell
I've just realised that when I posted the close-up of the original metallic strips (used to join the two halves of the column's outer cylinder), I failed to publicly thank Jonathan for providing me with the photo from The Time Monster (it took him three goes to send it - oh the joys of the "inter-web" :) )!

column close up time monster.png


Quote from: fivefingeredstyre on Jan 05, 2016, 08:22 am
According to Virgin's Fourth Doctor Handbook studio recording for Planet of Evil took place between 30th June -15th July 1975, whereas studio recording for Pyramids was between May 19th - 3rd June 1975.


Thanks for the confirmation (Dino had me doubting myself for a moment).

Quote from: fivefingeredstyre on Jan 05, 2016, 08:22 am
It always looks to me as though they forgot to plug in the Time Rotor lights in the opening episode of Planet of Evil...


On the subject of the column's lights, in my drawing, I've shown them as all being lit simultaneously; this is purely to show their positions (I realise they flash in different sequences)!  :)

I'd be really interested to hear from anyone who could describe the wiring needed to achieve the intermittent flashing effect. I have accurately drawn the positioning of the curly wires and lamp-holder fixings as far as I can see them (side one of the pier definitely had four lamps, side two had three lamps and side three might have had just the top three of the four lamps I've drawn - it's really hard to see when the column is in motion) but I'm not an electrician, so don't know how this would work given what we can see.

If there are any electricians 'out there', replies in simple English please; I really am a bit thick when it comes to electrics!

Quote from: rassilonsrod on Jan 05, 2016, 11:01 am
Love your new diagram of the Pertwee rotor, Tony :)


Cheers Marc! It took over twenty hours to create but I really enjoyed it. I actually like Microsoft Paint - it does exactly what it says on the tin. As long as you remember it's exactly the same as drawing with coloured pencils, you can get reasonable results (here's one I did a few years ago in the real world of St. Patrick in pencil on paper). Glass - or clear Perspex - is extremely hard to draw in the real world let alone in "Paint", so I'm quite pleased.  :)

271122_216751468365057_1175464_n.jpg

Just so we can agree on terminology (for when we come to discuss dimensions), I've added my descriptions to the various parts:

PERTWEE COLUMN FOR TB with descriptions.png

Well, what's the use of a good drawing if you can't re-use it?!

T

andrewkent

Fantastic!  Really hoped you'd tackle this console.  I've often thought that the MK1a was a brand new build, and am glad that you confirm this.  The use of MK1a as a name has always suggested a modification of the Brachacki.  Perhaps now is the time to call it the MK2?

Will be following with extreme interest.

fivefingeredstyre

Jan 05, 2016, 08:29 pm #10 Last Edit: Jan 05, 2016, 08:39 pm by fivefingeredstyre
Quote from: Tony Farrell on Jan 05, 2016, 05:51 pmOn the subject of the column's lights, in my drawing, I've shown them as all being lit simultaneously; this is purely to show their positions (I realise they flash in different sequences)!  :)

I'd be really interested to hear from anyone who could describe the wiring needed to achieve the intermittent flashing effect. I have accurately drawn the positioning of the curly wires and lamp-holder fixings as far as I can see them (side one of the pier definitely had four lamps, side two had three lamps and side three might have had just the top three of the four lamps I've drawn - it's really hard to see when the column is in motion) but I'm not an electrician, so don't know how this would work given what we can see.

If there are any electricians 'out there', replies in simple English please; I really am a bit thick when it comes to electrics!
Well, I'm a sparky, but I'm more of the mains voltage variety. For this I'm guessing some sort of 3 or 4 channel sequencer built into the console base that would the lights flash seemingly at random (although in reality they would be flashing to a pattern). In order for this to happen though each of the lamps on the sides of the central pier would need to be wired independently, so they can appear to flash at different rates on each of the three faces of the pier.

If this was right, each of the coiled wire sections would be made up of multiple thin cables to take each of the channels

(Does any of that make sense...?  ???)

Are the lamps held on by Cable ties?


ETA... YOu know that rotor does look seriously easy to make... The only problem is, if I made it I would then have to make the whole console to go with it...  ;D

tony farrell

Quote from: fivefingeredstyre on Jan 05, 2016, 08:29 pm
Well, I'm a sparky, but I'm more of the mains voltage variety. For this I'm guessing some sort of 3 or 4 channel sequencer built into the console base that would the lights flash seemingly at random (although in reality they would be flashing to a pattern).


I think I have the sequence for two sides of the pier (from Colony in Space and Axos). I don't have the DVD for "The Time Monster" (which has some overhead shots). Death to the Daleks is next to useless because the restored episode one's quality is poor and Planet of the Daleks/Frontier in Space is mainly tracking shots. So, I'm struggling with what the 'third side' of the pier's lighting does. 

Having watched the various take-off/landing scenes, for the side which definitely has four lamps (I'm calling this side one because the lamp is nearest the top of the pier), the sequence is lamps 1 to 3 on (lamp 1 at the top, 4 at the bottom) for at least five seconds. Then, still on side one, lamps 2 to 4 are lit (again for about five seconds - the camera cuts away after this). Meanwhile on side two (with three lamps), the bottom two lamps illuminate alternately (I've no idea if the top lamp flashes, I presume it does, but have never seen it lit). From what I've seen of side three (the one where the spacing would definitely allow room for four lamps but, of which I've never seen the bottom lamp because the height of the column hasn't been 'appropriate'), either all three visible lamps are lit ( i.e., 1 to 3) or the bottom two lamps are lit (i.e., 2 and 3). So, if there were four lamps on this side as well, then the sequence could very well be identical to that on side one of the pier.

If people didn't realise that I was a 'rivet counter' before, they certainly will now!  ;)

T

 

fivefingeredstyre

I admire your attention to detail Tony... I honestly don't have the attention span to count the flashing lighting sequence...  ;D

tony farrell

Neither do I normally but it's done nothing but rain for a month (and, as you may have seen on the news, my local pub/restaurant in Summerseat was swept away when the bridge it had stood on for 200 years collapsed) so I've had the time!

If you want to contribute a wiring diagram (an idiot's guide would be a better term in my case), then, brilliant!

T

fivefingeredstyre

Blimey, was that near you? I saw the footage, it looked horrific! hopefully no one was inside when it went..? Is your place OK?

As for a wiring diagram... I'd imagine at the time the controller/sequencer was more a sort of plug in unit rather than something made from scratch. Nowadays you could make something from scratch quite easily if you have the skills (electronics are not my forte... the voltage is too tiny...;) )

I think Dino is a bit of a whizz with electronics... Can you help, Dino?