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The Thomas Yardley-Jones Tardis

Started by tony farrell, Aug 11, 2016, 04:47 pm

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tony farrell

Aug 11, 2016, 04:47 pm Last Edit: Aug 01, 2019, 08:30 pm by rassilonsrod

History is not simply the collecting of facts about (or objects from) the past - that is antiquarianism. History is the interpretation of past events, people, places and objects - and that interpretation is therefore inescapably carried out from the present in which it is written. As our present knowledge grows and changes, so too does our interpretation of past events, people, places and objects.

History is simply our current view of these past events, people, places and objects.

As Bill Watterson - author of The Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat - put it: "History is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction. That's why events are always reinterpreted when values change. We need new versions of history to allow for our current prejudices."

"All history is bunk" - so said Henry Ford and he was right; it is 'bunk' because it is, as Watterson put it, fiction. And, if history is fiction, then it is nothing more than story-telling.

This is my story of the Thomas Yardley-Jones Tardis; I hope you enjoy it but remember, it is only a story!

Like all stories, it needs a beginning; for me, and I think many others, this beginning starts with the 'received wisdom' of previous story-tellers. This previous history is a story of two Tardis props only - the first built in 1980 and the second built in 1986:

The following extracts are quoted from Anthony Sibley's (a.k.a. Purpleblancmange) excellent research into the history of the Thomas Yardley-Jones Tardis prop -   http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/~trekker/policeboxes/props.html  and are reproduced here in accordance with the provisions of The Copyright Infringement Act for the purposes of "information, criticism and education". In order that Mr Sibley's words can be clearly identified, these have been both italicised and written in bold:

In 1980, newly-appointed Producer John Nathan-Turner commissioned Thomas Yardley-Jones to design a new Police Box prop to replace the previous Newbery version. This new prop had a three-tiered roof and the sign-boxes - unlike the previous versions - now had graphics which spanned their full widths. The actual sign-box graphics too were different in that "a full width piece of frosted perspex was employed and overlaid onto this was a blue 'fill' with the words 'Police Public Call Box' cut out".

A three-tiered stepped section was fitted immediately below each sign-box, "however, on one of the sets of doors there was a fourth step, split in two that sat either side of the centre divide. The centre divide also had a new element, rather than stopping at the steps below the sign boxes, it carried on up to the top of the first of the three roof stacks above the sign."

"The windows were given pebbled plastic on the two lower, outer panes and frosted plastic for the remaining panes - though for some reason, one of the door facias' (sic) window panes were all pebbled plastic.  However, due to the fact that the window 'glass' was a free floating unit, meaning that they could be removed when the prop was taken apart, these 'glass' units were often switched around with each time the TARDIS was reassembled."

The Yardley-Jones prop was also fitted with two sets of inward opening doors, front and rear "and the decision was taken to hang them so that on one side, the right door would open first and the opposing side, the left door would open first. The left door's side was favoured throughout seasons 18 and 19. Because of this, the phone panel was not a permanent fixture, it was held in place with double sided tape which meant that they could affix it to whichever side they were recording with".

"In terms of handles and locks, on the 'left opening' side, the lock was positioned on the right vertical stile of the door, half way up the phone panel, a handle was also attached to the phone panel's framework to allow the actors to close this door, and at the same level, another handle was affixed to the centre divide. On the opposing 'right opening' fascia, the lock position was reversed; on the stile to the right of the centre divide (without a handle) and placed half way up the panel below the window. A door handle was attached below the lock here."

So, let's look at how much of Anthony Sibley's story still holds true and how much does not.

Rather than presenting my story of the Thomas Yardley-Jones (TY-J) Tardis in the order its appearances were transmitted, I propose to present the chronology in the order that the episodes were actually made. Thus, any changes to the TY-J prop can be clearly identified in the order in which they were made.

In order to achieve this, for each serial I will quote the alphabetical production code used. (It is also necessary to note that location filming for each story usually - though not always - preceded the studio recordings for that adventure; therefore how the prop was assembled for location work isn't necessarily the same way it was assembled for the studio recording sessions.) Where the prop was used on location and in the studio, wherever possible both sources will be used.

The following photograph shows the terminology which will be used throughout this story to describe the component parts of the TY-J Tardis prop:



The Leisure Hive (Production Code 5N ):


Clearly, from the location photos, according to Mr Sibley, we are seeing the rear doors' elevation of the prop. However, just because the fourth step above the doors isn't present, we cannot say this definitively - the prop could just be assembled 'back-to-front' (i.e., the 'front' and 'rear' sign-boxes have been reversed). Conversely, if we are looking at the rear elevation, according to Mr Sibley, we should be able to see the 'continuation of the central door dividing strip' above the sign box. Clearly, we cannot.

The location photos provide a much clearer view of the prop than is afforded by the screen-grab. We can clearly see that the phone panel is fitted. Similarly, careful study of the photos show that both the 'front' and 'rear' doors were fitted - the yellow oval highlights the shadow of the 'rear' door through the prop's clear 'front' door's window whilst the red oval highlights the rear-most left-hand side window which is also visible through the 'front' door's window.

Also clearly visible in the photographs is the fact that the tops of the doors do not extend above the bottom of the three-stepped section immediately below the sign-box. This is a design flaw in the sense that there is nothing (apart from the central divider (and associated internal bolt on the left-hand door)) to stop the doors swinging forward thus putting strain on their hinges. It is therefore possible that the addition of the fourth step was an attempt to remedy this 'deficiency'. If the fourth step was either not fitted, or simply not visible, on the location shoot, then it was definitely fitted when production of "The Leisure Hive" entered the studio:


The third thing to note (on the studio shots) is the split in between the roof's third (bottom) and second tiers. This indicates that the prop was designed to be split at this point i.e., that the roof's top two tiers were one unit whilst the third (bottom) tier is actually part of the box's sides and (detachable) sign-boxes:


Thus, the roof's top two tiers are a one-piece unit which sits just inside the post caps. We can also see - at this early stage in the prop's history - that the sign-box signage insert sits just inside the sign-boxes' narrow outer frame.

State of Decay (Production Code 5P):

Immediately after the location filming for "The Leisure Hive", the Tardis and the Doctor were moved a few miles in land to the British Safety Council's regional offices in Brighton. As part of a campaign to promote safety, children were invited to submit paintings and Tom promoted this campaign with typical enthusiasm as this photo shows:

(Picture courtesy of George Seaton.)

Following the completion of the studio recordings for "The Leisure Hive", location work was undertaken for the next story - "State of Decay".


3JiSVRNa (1).jpg
(Picture courtesy of Simon Hodges.)


Interestingly, in the location pictures (the black and white photos especially), we can see that the clear panes in the 'front' doors' windows have been omitted and instead the 'open' panes have been backed with a thin translucent film - possibly a thin sheet of plastic. The window frames are casting a distinct shadow on this backing 'film'.

Again, presumably to correct the potential for the doors to swing outwards, we can see that the fourth of the steps under the sign-box is present (though again, because we cannot state whether we are seeing the 'front' or 'rear' elevation of the box in the Brighton photos, it could still have been present when the box was first made for The Leisure Hive rather than being fitted just prior to the studio session for that story).

The signage remains unchanged with the single-piece inserts and again, the split between the one-piece roof and the remainder of the prop is just about visible in the studio shot of the Tardis. Interestingly, as the photo of K9 exiting the Tardis shows, by the time the prop had been returned to the studio, the 'missing' window panes had been re-fitted!

Meglos (Production Code 5Q):

Whatever the thin material used to back the 'front' doors' windows was, it had been removed for the studio sessions of "State of Decay", though the photographic evidence as to the exact configuration of the panes is unclear. In the next story - "Meglos" - however, the 'front' doors' windows have definitely been returned to their "Leisure Hive" appearance of three clear panes in the top row and one clear central panel in the middle of the bottom row.

Whilst the prop appears unchanged from its previous appearance, the following screen-grabs are nevertheless revealing in three important respects: For the first time, we can clearly see the wording on the phone panel sign - it bears the legend "OFFICERS AND CARS RESPOND TO URGENT CALLS". Secondly, it should be noted that the depth of the phone panel's frame is quite shallow - this means that the entire panel sits inside the panel recess rather than its frame being more-or-less flush with the door's cross-rails. We will return to both these points in Season 19.

The third point to note is the position of the 'front' sign-box's signage insert. Whereas the in the previous pictures, the signage insert appeared to be mounted slightly recessed within the sign-box's narrow outer frame, in Meglos, we can clearly see that the signage has been mounted behind the frame i.e., actually inside the sign-box; the 'front' signage insert has started to work loose and has slightly dropped down inside the sign-box itself.


Full Circle (Production Code 5R):


The four location photos from Full Circle are significant in that they reveal four things about the Thomas Yardley-Jones Box:

For the first time, we can see both the front and rear elevations of the prop and - as can be seen - both sets of doors open the same way; in both sets of doors, it is the left-hand one which opens first i.e., that the central dividing strip is fitted to the right-hand door! So, when Anthony Sibley states that the rear doors opened the opposite way to the front doors and that they weren't replaced to open the same way as the front doors until 1986, he is incorrect.

Secondly, as can be seen in the shots of Lalla Ward, the rear door - at this stage - is not fitted with a phone panel.

The third thing to notice from the location photos is the appearance of the near-side signage insert. The way the light is catching the near-side's signage shows that this sign (and this sign only) was made from a clear layer of Perspex with the letters being cut out of the blue layer mounted on top of this clear layer (this sign is also flush with the sign-box's frame as is the 'front' signage in the studio shots - see below).

The fourth thing to notice from the location photos is that the rear signage insert hasn't been fitted - the sign-box itself is empty!


The studio shots also show the position of the door's hinge - like the phone panel, this is a subject we will return to in Season 19.


Note the different configuration of the 'front' doors' window panes in the studio shots from this story. The left-hand door now contains four pebbled panes with two clear panes nearest the door's hinges whilst the right-hand door has three pebbled panes - one in the centre of the top row and two in the bottom either side of the clear central pane.

Warriors' Gate (Production Code 5S):


Even though the prop is less than a year old, by the time Warrior's Gate went before the studio cameras. the deterioration of the TY-J Tardis is already starting to become evident - the split between the one-piece roof section and the remainder of the prop underneath is now much more evident.

Whereas in "Meglos" the 'front' signage had visibly slipped down inside the sign-box, in "Full Circle" it had been mounted on the outside of the sign-box so that it was flush with the narrow outer-frame. Here too, the 'front' signage insert is still flush with the sign-box frame whilst the one on the side is still slightly recessed just as it was in the studio shots of the prop inside the Starliner from "Full Circle".

Again, note the positioning of the front doors' pebbled 'glass' window panes. So, when Anthony Sibley states "for some reason, one of the door facias' (sic) window panes were all pebbled plastic", again, he is incorrect. Also note the position of the open door's hinge i.e., level with the cross-rail immediately below the window (we will return to the positioning of the hinges later in Season 19).

The Keeper of Traken (Production Code 5T):


Again, note the positioning of the pebbled 'glass'; whilst the window panes in the left-hand door are unchanged, the pebbled 'glass' pane in the right-hand window's top row has moved positions - it is now adjacent to the door's dividing strip!

The continuing deterioration of the TY-J prop is also evident: The fourth step above the left-hand door is now missing and the front sign-box signage is either bowed outwards underneath the words "Police Public Call Box" or (possibly) has been repaired with what looks like a narrower version of the sign mounted on top of the pre-existing longer version. (The 'transparent-layer'-backed signage  appears to have been mounted on the same side as it was in the location photos from "Full Circle" - again it is flush with the sign-box's frame.)

Logopolis (Production Code 5V):


For the location scenes (fictionally set on the Barnett By-pass) two Tardis props were required. As such, the Newbery Box was 'brought out of retirement' and redressed with a stepped roof to match the TY-J Box. It seems reasonable to suggest that the Newbery box's new roof was drawn from the same mould as that of the TY-J Box. In addition, both boxes acquired a large square base for each of their fresnel lamps.

(It should be noted that for the Barnett By-pass scenes, the handle previously fitted to the central dividing strip was - for some reason - omitted. For the scenes filmed by the river Thames and in the studio sessions, it was again fitted. See screen-grabs above.)

Slightly less obvious is the new signage insert that was fitted to the TY-J prop's 'front' sign-box for the location shoot. The lettering is much bolder (and brighter) than before and matches the new sign inserts now fitted on the Newbery Box. In the studio scenes, this sign insert appears to have been mounted on the side elevation (rather than the front) and - as can be seen in the screen grab above, the sign insert on the side panel is no longer recessed as it was in previous adventures.


As can be seen the fourth step above the right-hand 'front' door is still missing; the deteriorating condition of the TY-J prop is even more evident in the picture showing the 'rear' elevation of the box: Not only is the rear sign-box still empty (as it was in Full Circle), but now the right-hand door is plainly hanging off its hinges:


To sum up our story so far, at the start of Season 18, a new de-mountable fibreglass Police Box prop was constructed. It seems to have had a 'design flaw' in that the doors did not extend up and behind the stepped section above them and - to compensate - a fourth 'step' was fitted to the 'front' elevation to stop the doors swinging outwards. The right-hand fourth step subsequently went missing and there is no definitive evidence to state that this fourth step was fitted to the 'rear' elevation. (We do not see the rear elevation sufficiently clearly to state that it was and, indeed, close inspection of the screen grab from Logopolis would seem to indicate it wasn't (compare the height of the stepped section on the 'rear' compared to the side).)

The TY-J box's roof was 'made as one' (with the upper two tiers being detachable from the remainder of the prop) and both sets of doors opened the same way (with the left-hand door opening first and the divider strip being fitted to the right-hand door).

The signage inserts originally appeared to be slightly recessed when compared to the sign-box frames but were - in actual fact - mounted inside the sign-boxes with one sign insert being made from a transparent (or near transparent) Perspex onto which was applied a blue top-layer. Over the course of  Season 18 - each of these signage inserts was individually (rather than en masse) later mounted flush with the sign-boxes' outer frames i.e., now fitted to the outside of the sign-boxes.

At this stage, there is no evidence to suggest that the extension to the central door dividing strip above the sign-boxes was present at all.


Due in part to John Nathan-Turner's reluctance to throw Peter Davison 'in at the deep end' in his role as the new Doctor, the decision was made that Castrovalva (the Doctor's post-regenerative story) should not be the first story that Peter would record. Accordingly, the entirely studio-bound "Four To Doomsday" was the first story to go before the cameras.

Four To Doomsday (Production Code 5W):

As we've seen from Season 18, as both sets of doors opened the same way, there was nothing to distinguish the 'front' from the 'back' of the Tardis prop. Equally as both sets of doors opened the same way, we cannot say that the positions of the central dividing strip, the position of the handles and lock were distinguishing factors either. Similarly, the mounting of the signage inserts cannot be relied upon to prove which side of the prop we are seeing (i.e., 'front' or 'rear'). The only distinguishing factor seems to have been the additional fourth step above the doors.

Nevertheless, purely on the basis that the fourth step fitted to the prop (albeit with the right-hand portion of this step missing by Keeper of Traken) indicates which set of doors was most likely to have been most frequently used, let's call these the 'front' doors.

As noted the right-hand portion of this extra step had 'gone missing' by Traken. By the time that Peter Davison's introductory publicity photos were taken, this additional step had been replaced by a single-piece fourth step which spanned the entire width of the doors' opening:

(Open image in a separate tab and use the 'magnifying glass' to see it at full size.)


In the publicity stills, it would appear that the prop had been poorly assembled, either that or the doors had been slammed against the rear of this one-piece fourth step, resulting in this entire section (and the sign-box above it) being forced forward. Note too that the bolder signage insert (fitted for Logopolis) was still fitted to the prop's right-hand side (this would support, but not prove, that the set of doors with the additional step above them were the same doors used as the front doors in the previous season).

By the time the prop went before the studio cameras for "Four To Doomsday", both the stepped section above the 'front' doors and the sign-box had been correctly fitted:

four to doomsday 2.jpg
four to doomsday1.jpg
tardis4 (1).jpg


We'd previously made a note of the phrasing used on the phone panel (i.e., "RESPOND TO URGENT CALLS") and that it had a shallow frame - in "Four To Doomsday", the phone panel is still the same original version; it still sits within the panel recess rather than being flush with the door's cross-rails and stiles. Indeed, the phone panel still retains its handle:


Obviously we cannot yet tell if the 'rear' doors' hinges have been repaired but, in terms of what we can see, apart from the one-piece fourth step above the 'front' doors, the TY-J prop at this stage appears to be identical to its last appearance in "Logopolis".

The Visitation (Production Code 5X) and Kinda (Production Code 5Y):

As can be seen, I have treated these two stories together; the reason for this will become obvious in a moment.

The Tardis prop appears to be unchanged since "Four To Doomsday". However, note the damage to the nearest window frame on the left-hand side of the box; this damage is revealing in that it shows that this particular window was now backed with a single sheet of translucent Perspex rather than six individual window panes. The rear-most window on this side, too, now appears to be backed with a single piece of Perspex though the bottom row of this window appears to still retain one individual pane closest to the 'rear' of the prop.


In "Kinda", as in "The Visitation", at first sight the Tardis prop appears to be physically identical to its previous appearances but this is not the case: Whereas in Season 18, the pebbled 'glass' panes seemed to move around the front doors' windows more-or-less with every story now, all the windows appear to be fitted with pebbled 'glass' (again note the missing horizontal divider in the window frame - now apparently on the other side of the box). This missing detail could simply indicate that the box has been assembled with the side-panels reversed to how it was assembled in "The Visitation", however, the absence of the fourth step above the doors actually means that - for the first time - the prop's 'rear' doors have actually been deliberately televised (i.e., used as the entrance to the Tardis)!


The idea that we are now looking at the prop's 'back' is supported by further evidence:

Whereas (up to now) we have only ever seen a shallow-framed phone panel with the words "URGENT CALLS", in "Kinda" - for the first time - we now see a phone panel which reads "OFFICERS AND CARS RESPOND TO ALL CALLS". Note too, that this phone panel is not fitted with a handle:


Readers will note that I used the phrase that "Kinda" marks the first televised use of the rear doors complete with "ALL CALLS" phone panel. However, was the 'ALL CALLS' phone panel actually fitted for "Kinda" or at some earlier point?

As we've seen, in Tom Baker's final season, the TY-J prop didn't have a phone panel fitted on the rear doors and, by "Logopolis", the rear doors' hinges had failed. So, at some point, the rear doors have been rehung. At this point, we return to "The Visitation" and these publicity shots which were taken on the Pudding Lane set at the BBC's Ealing Studios:


Note that there are only three steps above cast's heads - i.e., this is the 'rear' of the box (contrast this with the four steps which are visible above the doors from the televised version of "The Visitation").

As can be seen, the rear doors were fitted with a phone panel for "The Visitation". However, the phone panel was blank!

So, "Kinda" does indeed mark the first use of the "ALL CALLS" phone panel however, the actual phone panel's frame was fitted beforehand. The phone panel wasn't present in Season 18 and so, it seems sensible to suggest that the phone panel frame was fitted at the same time as the 'rear' doors were rehung.

The absence of the fourth step above the 'rear' doors and the fact that in "The Visitation" we see both sets of doors is categorical proof that both sets of doors opened the same way - left-hand door first!

Following a two month recording break, the recording of Davison's first season continued with the fifth Doctor's introductory story - "Castrovalva".

When we last saw the TY-J prop in "Kinda", it was fitted with pebbled glass throughout all its windows. We've also noted that the 'visible' phone panel now lacked its handle. We noted too that the damaged window frame was still present (as it was in "The Visitation"). We also noted that if we compared the damaged window frame to the doors 'in use' (and the absence of the fourth step above the doors being used), this would indicate that the 'rear' doors were being used.

Now, it is important to note that the terms 'front' and 'rear' are purely arbitrary terms in the sense that the prop was modular - apart from the fourth step above one set of doors, there is nothing to distinguish the 'back' from the 'front' - we can't even rely on the positioning of the doors' handles as a distinguishing factor between the different doors as these too were identical in their positioning.

Conceivably, we could even be seeing the 'front' left-hand door paired with the 'rear' right-hand door and vice versa. And, as we have also seen from "Kinda/Visitation" on, there were two phone panels (one with a deeper frame than the other and the deeper-framed panel bore the words "ALL CALLS" as opposed to the original shallow-framed "URGENT CALLS" version).

Trying to judge the prop by its signage too is an equally fruitless task, because - as we have seen - the sign inserts too were a 'move-able feast'.

Equally, the presence (or absence) of the fourth step doesn't mean that we are seeing the same pair of doors underneath that step; because the 'front' and 'rear' sign-boxes (and their steps) were detachable from the framework, in theory we could be seeing the 'rear' doors paired with the 'front' sign-box and vice versa. And, since the side-panels were identical (apart from the now-damaged window frame) these too could be swapped over. So, every element of the prop could - conceivably - be assembled in a different order: Thus, the TY-J prop was truly modular.

However, between the recording of "Kinda" and "Castrovalva", repairs to the prop were undertaken and for "Castrovalva", "Earthshock" and "Timeflight", we can at least distinguish between the 'front' and 'rear' elevations or - more accurately - between the 'front' and 'rear' corner-posts by the presence of four bolts - two in each 'rear' corner-post.

Castrovalva (Production Code 5Z):

As we've noted, in "Castrovalva", both the Newbery and TY-J props were used. For the opening scenes (still set at the Pharos Research Station where the Doctor had regenerated), the TY-J version was used, whilst for the scenes set on Castrovalva itself, the Newbery prop was utilised instead.

(It has been argued that the use of the Newbery prop was dictated by the fact that this prop was made out of wood and was, therefore, able to stand up to the strains of being presented lying on its back with the Tardis crew being able to climb out of it. However - as we'll see - in "Timeflight", the TY-J prop was also seen 'on its back' and Peter Davison was able to climb over and into it without the fibreglass structure giving way under his weight. So, it is unlikely that any supposed weakness in the fibreglass prop's structure was the real reason for the substitution of the Newbery prop.)

Castrovalva cleaned.jpg

(With thanks to Steve White for this rarely seen photograph which was taken especially for the stereo-scopic "Viewmaster" released in 1982.)

As can be seen, the windows have now been returned to their 'traditional' mixture of pebbled and plain 'glass' panes. The central door divider's handle is still present and the lock is still on the left-hand door. Apart from the change of window panes, the prop appears essentially unaltered since "Kinda".

However, closer inspection reveals three things, the doors (though still opening the same way i.e., left-hand door first) have been rehung - the top hinges are now fixed higher up the door frame than previously seen; in "Full Circle", the top hinge was level with the cross-rail immediately below the window - the upper hinge is now higher up (though the lower hinge is still in its original position i.e., level with the cross-rail immediately above the doors' bottom panel).

In addition, the sign-boxes have been fitted with wider frames which now hold the signage inserts firmly in place (contrast these retaining frames with the often ill-fitted sign inserts seen earlier).

Perhaps less obvious is the presence of four bolts - two on each 'rear' corner-post - which presumably indicate the presence of some kind of strengthening work to the box's supporting internal structure. These bolts, coupled with the higher-up hinges may therefore be an attempt to strengthen the prop following the failure of its 'rear' door hinges seen in Logopolis i.e., the hinges may now have been screwed through the fibreglass structure and into internal wooden blocks which were held in place by the bolts.

As previously noted, only the Newbery Box was used in the following story (Black Orchid - Production Code 6A) though, it is important to note the difference in the depth of the Newbery sign-boxes when compared to the depth of the TY-J prop's sign-boxes.

Earthshock (Production Code 6B):

In his history of the TY-J prop, Anthony Sibley states that the Newbery front sign-box was fitted for "Timeflight" only. However, this 'blink-and-you-miss-it' scene proves otherwise:


The Newbery-style sign-box is clearly visible behind Tegan and Nyssa's heads. Later in the same opening episode, we see the opposite side of the TY-J prop:


The box has simply been turned round between the two scenes (both scenes were recorded in the same studio session i.e., the box hasn't been dis-assembled and then re-assembled).  The rotation of the prop is proved by the changing sign-box and the presence - in the later scene - of the four bolts in the corner posts. In addition, we can see the fourth step above the doors (compare this to the absence of the fourth step above the doors with the strengthening bolts fitted to their corner-posts as seen in the screen grabs from "Castrovalva" (proving, again, that the prop was not always assembled in the same way)).

Because the prop is in semi-darkness, it is not possible to see the wording on the phone panel. However, in both scenes - showing the 'front' and then the 'rear', neither phone panel is fitted with a handle. This could simply mean that the phone panel had been removed from one side and then re-mounted on the opposite side when the prop was rotated. However, as the publicity photos from "The Visitation" suggest, it could mean that there were now two phone panel signage inserts fitted (one in each of the two phone panel frames).

Note too, that the fourth step above the doors has - again - been modified; it has been returned to its Season 18 configuration and is once gain split into two halves - one on either side of the central dividing strip.

For the remainder of "Earthshock" we only see the side of the prop with the corner-post bolts:


Timeflight (Production Code 6​C):

As can be seen in these screen-grabs and photographs, the TY-J prop seems to be 'perfectly happy' on its back and - equally, seems perfectly capable of supporting Peter Davison's weight:


As these photos show, the Newbery-style sign-box has now been fitted on the same elevation which has the bolts in the corner posts (contrast this with the prop's appearance in "Earthshock" where the Newbery-style sign was fitted to the opposite side). A truly modular prop indeed!

(Note the use of the term "Newbery-style sign-box". This shouldn't be taken as a definitive statement that one of the Newbery prop's sign-boxes had been removed and fitted to the TY-J prop. Indeed, the Newbery signage was white on black, the Newbery-style sign-box sported white lettering on a blue background. However, when the Newbery prop was auctioned-off after its appearance at Longleat in 1983, it was indeed missing its left-hand side sign-box so, it is entirely possible that one of its sign-boxes had been removed.)


As these publicity shots show, the fourth step immediately above the doors has once more been fitted in two halves, just as it was in "Earthshock" and just as it was throughout Season 18.


In addition, in this screen-grab, we can clearly see that the phone panel with the words "ALL CALLS" has been fitted to the side with the four bolts in the corner posts:


When we saw the TY-J Tardis on location at Heathrow, the Police Box prop sported a Newbery sign-box fitted over the four stepped section. In addition, unlike "Earthshock", the four steps (and Newbery sign-box) were fitted to the side of the prop which had - since Castrovalva - been characterised by the presence of four bolts, thus proving the modular nature of the prop.

As well as the thicker-framed "ALL CALLS" phone panel sign, the prop was still fitted with the large square lamp-base (which had been present since Logopolis). These pictures illustrate the prop as seen in the studio sessions for "Timeflight" - the yellow arrow indicates the elevation fitted with the Newbery sign-box (in the first screen-grab, the Newbery sign-box is behind Peter Davison's head):


In Season 18, we'd noted the gradual deterioration of the prop, the move-able nature of the sign-box signage inserts and the fact that the 'rear' doors' hinges had failed. We noted too that the doors did not extend up and behind the three stepped section above them and that - as a result - a fourth step was fitted to stop the 'front' doors swinging outwards (this fourth step was originally made in two halves, of which, the right-hand section had gone missing by "The Keeper of Traken").

In Season 19, we noted that the fourth step above the 'front' doors was now a one-piece step (though the two-piece step appeared again in "Earthshock" and "Timefight") and that the three TY-J sign-boxes had been fitted with a narrow retaining strip which now held the signage inserts securely in place. Also, in both Seasons 18 and 19, we had noted the absence of the continuation of the central dividing strips above the sign-boxes, which - according to all available screen-references - had never been present on the prop.

We've also noted the changes to the phone panel - the appearance of a second frame on the 'rear' doors in "The Visitation" and the change of wording from "URGENT CALLS" to "ALL CALLS". We noted too that the failure of the 'rear' doors' hinges had been corrected by strengthening work to the 'rear' corner posts and that this strengthening work was apparent due to the presence of the four bolts in these corner-posts.

Throughout Seasons 18 and 19, up to and including "Timeflight", both sets of doors were fitted so that the dividing strip was always fitted to the right-hand door - meaning that the left-hand door was always designed to open first.

At the start of Season Twenty, all these aspects of the Thomas Yardley-Jones prop were to change; in fact, unlike Season 19 which might be characterised as a series of minor changes or 'running repairs', all the changes were to be made 'in one go' - indicating that between "Timeflight" and the start of Season 20, the prop had undergone a major re-furbishment.

tony farrell

Aug 12, 2016, 01:33 pm #1 Last Edit: Aug 01, 2019, 06:49 pm by Tony Farrell

After the completion of recording on Season 19, the original TY-J Tardis prop was to make one final appearance in, of all places, Trafalgar Square:


Here, viewed from the 'rear', it is evident just how much the prop had suffered in its two year existence. The rear doors have been removed altogether (presumably during "Timeflight" so that Peter Davison could climb into the prop without having to stand on them thereby avoiding putting his feet quite literally through them). The section immediately below the detachable roof's two top tiers is evidently very distorted in shape as are the two post caps either side of this section. The nearside sign-box is also showing signs of damage as are the corner-posts and the nearest window to us appears to be still missing part of its cross-rail (just as it was in "The Visitation").

In short, the prop was in a very poor condition indeed.

We only catch a brief glimpse of the Tardis in Snakedance (the serial to be recorded after "Timeflight") and so we have to wait until "Arc of Infinity" before we can see the TY-J Tardis in all her 'restored glory'.

Gone were the badly distorted sections above the sign-boxes and in their place were neat, square-topped sections. Each of these sections were fitted with the continuations of the central dividing strips. Gone, too, was the large square lamp-base and also gone was the Newbery sign-box which had been fitted for "Earthshock" and "Timeflight". In fact, all the sign-boxes were now fitted with much wider retaining strips which served to reduce the amount of the "Police Public Call Box" signage visible to a narrow, elongated, 'strip'.

The four bolts in the corner-posts, too, were now absent as was the handle which had previously been consistently fitted to the central dividing strip between the doors; from Season 20 onwards, this handle was to be fitted to the right-hand door instead.

However, as the title of this chapter might suggest, the most note-worthy change was the reversal in the way the doors now opened. Whereas in Seasons 18 and 19, the left-hand door was designed to open first, from Season 20 onwards, the right-hand door was designed to open first - the dividing strip was now fitted to the left-hand door and, indeed, the lock changed doors too - it was now fitted on the right-hand door immediately above the handle. In fact the doors themselves were also fractionally taller than their predecessors and now extended above and behind the three-tiered stepped sections thereby rendering the fourth step redundant. As a result of these changes to the doors, this fourth step was now removed from above the 'front' doors.

With so much work done to the TY-J Tardis prop, it is really hard to say what - apart from the fresnel lamp, signage and the detachable roof (and base) - remained of the prop constructed back in 1980!

Snakedance (Production Code 6D):

The TY-J prop only appears briefly and is mostly concealed. However, we can see that the deeper framed phone panel sign has again been fitted and the words "ALL CALLS" are plainly visible:


Arc of Infinity (Production Code 6E):

Screenshot 2016-09-06 18.jpg

Mawdryn Undead (Production Code 6​F):


Terminus (Production Code 6G):

The Tardis exterior is not seen in this story.

Enlightenment (Production Code 6H):

The TY-J prop only appears in semi-darkness:


The King's Demons (Production Code 6J):


Whilst the prop appears unchanged from its previous two appearances, it is evident that damage has already occurred to both the centre of the bottom step above one set of doors and to the right-hand sign-box seen in the location shoot (note the sign-box framework is partially visible underneath the wider signage fascia fitted at the start of Season 20):

kings demons2 with damage.jpgkings1.jpg

The Five Doctors (Production Code 6K):

five d1.jpgfive d2.jpgfive d3.jpg


Beset with both script and production problems, the first story of Season 21, was "Warriors of the Deep".

Due to Mrs Thatcher's decision to call a 'snap' General Election in the wake of the Falklands Conflict, and the consequent requirement for an 'election-special' studio, production of this serial had to be either brought forward or to be dropped altogether. Due to industrial action at the BBC, the previous season had lost a story and John Nathan-Turner was keen to avoid any such repetition with Season 21.  

With hindsight, this decision was a mistake; the sudden advancement of the recording schedule, the lack of recording time, the consequent unavailability of the intended studio facilities and the - frankly - rushed special effects (i.e., the Myrka in particular) all conspired to transform what could have been a 'cold war parable' into a hastily cobbled-together and needlessly violent story. Not even the presence of two returning 'monsters' - the Silurians and the Sea Devils - could rescue this disaster. Indeed, if rumours are to be believed, it was his viewing of this story which prompted Michael Grade to cancel Doctor Who.

Setting this background aside, let's return to our study of the Thomas Yardley-Jones Tardis exterior as it appeared in Season 21.

As we've seen, throughout seasons eighteen and nineteen, the original TY-J prop was characterised by the absence of the door dividing strip above the sign-boxes, both sets of doors opened the same way (left-hand door first) and one set of doors was topped by four steps whilst the other set was topped by three steps only. In addition, the constant assembling and dis-assembling of the prop had resulted not only in an inconsistent appearance but also in a marked deterioration of its fibreglass structure.

This deterioration had ultimately resulted in a major overhaul (if not a complete rebuilding) of the prop for the start of Season Twenty. The principal differences between the original and overhauled prop were that the doors now opened the opposite way round - right-hand door first. The fourth step above one set of doors was removed, the continuation of the dividing strip above the four sign-boxes now appeared and the sign-box apertures were now much narrower, with a much wider fascia now holding the signage inserts in place. The prop remained in this altered state throughout Season 20 and was to remain in this form throughout Season 21 as well:

Warriors of the Deep (Production Code 6L):


The damage to the centre of the stepped section above the doors is again evident just as it was in "The King's Demons" however, here, the deterioration appears to have spread - the entire sign-box appears to have been incorrectly mounted - its left-hand side is now 'proud' of the prop's corner-post (note the gap between the left-hand corner-post and the stepped section (circled in green)). The damage to the lowest step above the doors' central dividing strip is again visible (circled in red) whilst the entire sign-box is crooked when compared to the rest of the prop. Indeed, the right-hand sign-box is also crooked and the right-hand signage insert has also begun to work loose from its retaining frame (circled in yellow):


The Awakening (Production Code 6M):


Frontios (Production Code 6N:


The near-side sign-box's deterioration is now severe with a sizeable portion of the signage insert now missing and the retaining fascia now no longer holding the signage insert in place. The sign-box above the doors is - again - mounted crooked when compared to the remainder of the prop and the damage to the central section of the lowest of the three steps above the doors is equally as apparent as it was in earlier stories.

By the time "Frontios" went before the studio cameras, it would appear - just as it had towards the end of Season 19 - that after nearly two years of almost constant assembly and dis-assembly, the start-of-season 20 re-furbished TY-J Tardis prop was once again showing its age - the signs of a considerable deterioration in its structure were un-mistakeable!

Following directly on from "Frontios" - both in terms of story-line and in the recording schedule - was the first story of the Davison era to properly feature the Doctor's most enduring enemy: The Daleks were back!

Resurrection of the Daleks (Production Code 6P):

As we've already noted, given that both the 'front' and 'rear' elevations of the Tardis prop were identical, the only way to distinguish them was the slight damage to the lowest of the three-stepped section above one set of doors. Given the prop was modular, this doesn't mean that the damaged step was always fitted above the same set of doors, simply that the damage had resulted from the most frequently used set of doors hitting the inside/back of this lowest step.

We've previously noted similar damage to the earlier version of the prop in publicity photos when Peter Davison first took on the role of the Doctor:


Now, we can turn to the screen grabs and location photos of the Tardis prop as it appeared in "Resurrection of the Daleks".

Again, we see the damage to the lowest step above the 'front' doors:


Now, let's look at the 'rear' of the prop from the same location shoot:


And a larger version of the same photo:


Not only does this photo show that both sets of doors were fitted with the phone panel at the same time, this photo also shows that the 'rear' sign-box and stepped section wasn't fitted at all! Close inspection of the location photograph from "Resurrection of the Daleks" also shows that the near-side post cap is also damaged - its inside quadrant is missing. We will return to the "THE CASE OF THE MISSING QUADRANT" in Season 26. Every good story should have an element of mystery!


So, to recap our story so far: We'd noted that by the end of Season 19 the first version of the prop had deteriorated quite markedly and that as a result of this, it was either heavily refurbished or (possibly) completely replaced at the start of Season 20 - the large square lamp base was removed, the continuation of the dividing strips above the sign-boxes appeared, the sign-boxes gained much wider frames, the damage to the side window frames was repaired, at least two corner-posts were replaced and both sets of doors now opened the opposite way round i.e., the right-hand doors now opened first whereas (previously) the left-hand doors had opened first. We also noted that both sets of doors might have had had a phone panel fitted (a point which has now been now confirmed in "Resurrection of the Daleks").

Whilst the prop remained unaltered in its appearance throughout Seasons 20 and 21, we also noted that it had begun to deteriorate as early as "The King's Demons"; there was damage to the lowest step above the doors most frequently used in that the central dividing strip appears to have rubbed against the centre of this lowest step causing the central piece of this step either to have been worn away or to have been chipped off. Similarly there was damage to one side's sign-box frame which first appears in "The King's Demons" and by the time that "Frontios" was recorded this damage was so bad that the entire sign-box front was falling apart. Lastly, by the time of "Resurrection of the Daleks", the entire 'rear' sign-box and steps above the 'rear' doors were missing and at least one of the post caps was damaged.

So, by the time "Resurrection of the Daleks" went before the cameras, the TY-J Tardis prop really was in a quite bad condition once more.

Now, our story comes to "Planet of Fire", a trip abroad - the "foreign holiday" of this chapter's title!

Planet of Fire (Production Code 6Q):

If - as with "THE CASE OF THE MISSING QUADRANT" - every story need a bit of mystery, then every story should also have a bit of controversy too!

According to the commentary on the DVD of "Planet of Fire", the Tardis exterior seen on location in part one of this adventure was nothing more than a three foot tall model which was placed close to the camera to create a 'false perspective' - thereby giving the illusion that the full-sized prop had been used:


At first sight, because we don't see either the top or bottom of the prop, this might be true. It is also reasonable to assume that the BBC would get its facts correct as well. With all the archive material available to the producers of the DVD range, it must be documented somewhere that a model Tardis was indeed taken to Lanzarote for the location shoot of "Planet of Fire".

But then, how do we explain this piece of information?


I think we can take the weights of the items as being correct as these would be used by the air-carrier in order to transport the "Tardis Panels" to Lanzarote. So, let's try to identify the parts listed:

At 4​' 6​" (54" square), it is reasonable safe to assume that this is the prop's base. At 4​' 3​" by 7​' 6​" (51" x 90​"), I think we can take this to represent the side panels (inclusive of the sign-boxes). Note, I stated side panels - the weight stated is 140​ pounds. Compare this weight to that of 63​ pounds stated for the section which has the measurements stated as 6​' 3​" by 3​' (75" by 36​"). The latter would therefore appear to represent the doors whilst the former (at over twice the weight) would therefore seem to represent two side panels!

It would seem - according to the cargo manifest - that what was taken to Lanzarote for "Planet of Fire" was the Tardis' base, two sides, two corner posts and one set of doors - enough (when filmed in close-up) to suggest the presence of the full prop and enough to build a stable prop (i.e., one which wouldn't require stagehands to hold it upright).

We'll come back to how much of the prop is actually shown in the location footage from Lanzarote in a moment; for now let's return to the dimensions stated in the cargo manifest.

At 75​" tall by 36​" wide and weighing 63​ pounds, this seems to represent a pair of Tardis doors. However, 75​" for the height cannot be correct. This is simply too short: 75​" equals 6​' 3​" (the same height as Tom Baker and only 2.75​ inches taller than Peter Davison); neither actor had to stoop when entering or leaving the TYJ Tardis prop, so the doors must be at least 6​' 6​" (78") tall.

So, apart from the cargo manifest, what evidence is there to prove that the commentary on "The Planet of Fire" DVD is incorrect when it stated that a model Tardis rather than a full-sized prop was used?

Well, lets take this 'in reverse order' - what evidence is there to prove that a model was used? Obviously there is the commentary itself. The BBC is an august body - it is reasonable to expect it would get its facts correct! Secondly there are these publicity photos taken on location in Lanzarote:


And, here, a close-up of the last picture:


It's fair to say that this isn't the most accurate model of the Tardis; whilst it might be suitable for use in a long-distance shot, with the best will in the world, it wouldn't pass for the full-sized prop when viewed in close-up. And yet, the location shots of the Tardis were indeed filmed in close-up:


It could be argued that all that would be needed to create the illusion that the full prop was filmed would be the Tardis' doors and corner-posts - close the doors and remove the phone panel and they could 'pass' as the side panel as well.

This is a good point however, careful study of the patterned glass in the windows, the window frames themselves and the actual 'dirtied-down' paintwork would seem to indicate that both the doors, corner-posts and a side panel were actually used.

This next picture is a combination of the screen-grabs above, whilst in the subsequent pictures, we can compare the paintwork from the location footage to that seen in the studio recordings of the same story (and the window frames from the Lanzarote location shoot to a later publicity shot of Colin Baker from "The Twin Dilemma" which was made only a couple of months later than "Planet of Fire"):

fire11 combo.png

The paintwork on the side panel seen on location matches that seen in the studio, whilst there is damage to the recessed panel's edge on the side panel, there is no matching damage to the equivalent recessed panel on the doors, the differences in the patterned glass between the side and doors are evident as is the damage seen to the doors' window frames.

In short, we can conclude that the cargo manifest is correct - whilst the complete full-sized prop wasn't taken to Lanzarote, a side panel, two doors and two corner-posts (and a base to make the whole prop stable) do indeed seem to have been taken as planned.

This is also confirmed by the shooting schedule for Friday 14th October:


The very last line on this page of the shooting schedule states that the full-sized Tardis was to be struck i.e., dismantled.

The BBC DVD commentary is quite simply incorrect and the full-sized (newly built) Tardis prop was indeed taken on location to Lanzarote!

The Caves of Androzani (Production Code 6R):

In this adventure, apart from a very brief glimpse of a corner-post - we only really see the Tardis prop in the distance.

caves1a.jpgcaves1 (1).jpgcaves3.jpg

Now these photos:


The first shows the prop being assembled, whilst the second shows it fully assembled; look at the 'dirtied-down' paintwork and compare the paintwork on the "Caves of Androzani" location shots to the paintwork on same panels as seen in "Planet of Fire" which was the previous story to be recorded:

caves and planet 1.jpg
caves and planet 2.jpg

This is the same prop that was taken to Lanzarote; it is the same prop which was used in the studio recordings for "Planet of Fire" and it is the same prop which has now been used for the location filming for "The Caves of Androzani".

If what was taken to Lanzarote was our first controversy, let us now throw a second controversy into our story of the TY-J prop:

When we saw the Tardis in "Resurrection of the Daleks", we saw that the thick framed phone panel bore the wording: "OFFICERS AND CARS RESPOND TO ALL CALLS". In fact, since the introduction of the thicker-frame phone panel in Season 19's "Kinda", this thicker-framed phone panel had always borne the words "ALL CALLS". (By contrast the thinner-framed phone panel originally fitted at the start of Season 18 used the wording "URGENT CALLS".) But, in "Planet of Fire", "Caves of Androzani" and in "The Twin Dilemma" the Tardis is fitted with a thick-framed phone panel with the words "URGENT CALLS".

So, where did this new thicker-framed phone panel with the words "URGENT CALLS" come from? This is the first point.

The second point to bear in mind is the condition of the Tardis prop as seen in "Frontios" and "Resurrection of the Daleks" - it really was looking very battered with damage to the side sign-boxes and to the stepped section above the doors and - in "Resurrection of the Daleks" - it was missing the 'rear' sign-box altogether.

The third point to bear in mind is that in "Planet of Fire", the Tardis prop appears to be in good condition (or, at least the sides we can see appear to be in good condition) - there is no evidence of any damage.

Now we come to the fourth point which is this:

TARDIS Design83.jpg

At first sight, these plans would appear to be a direct copy of the plans issued for the initial construction of the TY-J prop back in 1980 - they contain the same design drawings, they contain the same detailed instructions for the signage wording, they contain the same instruction to take delivery of the wooden Tardis prop and they even contain the same incorrect design for the sign-boxes:


So, this then is our second controversy - was a brand new Tardis prop constructed for "Planet of Fire"?

The uncanny similarity of these plans has lead some to argue that the 1983 set are superfluous - why bother to issue a new set of plans if all you're doing is making an identical prop? It's even been suggested - because the plans are near-identical - that the 1983 weren't actually enacted and that a prop wasn't built in 1983 at all!

But this misses the point; the 'devil' is - as always - in the detail: The two sets of plans have different project numbers, both sets of plans have different designers, both sets of plans have different approval personnel and both sets of plans have different 'zero' dates.

More of the 'zero dates' in a moment but first, in brief, it is necessary to point out how the BBC worked in the 1980s: Any given production was allocated an over all budget - from this budget, the various departments - set design, costume, visual effects etc., were allocated monies - they had to be paid for the services they provided from the over all budget. In effect the production was charged by the department for the work it (the department) carried out.

Now back to the 'zero dates'. A zero date is the date by which the various departments work had to be completed - in this case, the date by which the new Tardis prop had to be delivered. The 1983 plans specify 30/9/83 as "an early zero date because of (location) filming" i.e., to allow time for the prop to be sent to Lanzarote. Location filming for "Planet of Fire" took place between 14/10/83 and 19/10/83 with the studio sessions following on 26 to 27/10/83 and 9 to 10/11/83.

So, to sum up: we have a battered Tardis prop seen in "Resurrection of the Daleks", the prop which appears in "Planet of Fire" appears to be in good condition. The prop used in "Planet of Fire" has a new phone panel and we have approved plans which state to construct a new Tardis prop for "Planet of Fire" (these plans are specifically annotated to deliver the prop early because of the required location filming) and the same prop is then used for "Caves of Androzani".

For the next part of our story to make sense, we need to know the specific filming dates for the events we're about to discuss:

As we've seen, work on "Planet of Fire" was completed on 10/11/83. Location work for "Caves of Androzani" followed a week later on 15/11/83 to 17/11/83. The studio sessions for "Caves" were delayed due to industrial action and were recorded either side of the Christmas holidays on 15/12/83 to 17/12/83 and 11/1/84 to 12/1/84 respectively.

Colin Baker's in-costume photo-call went ahead (as originally planned) on 10/1/84 with the delayed first studio recording block for "The Twin Dilemma" taking place on 24/1/84 to 26/1/84. There then followed two days location filming for "The Twin Dilemma" on 7/2/84 to 8/2/84 with the final studio recordings on "Twin Dilemma" taking place on 14/2/84 and 15/2/84.

So, on 15/11/83 to 17/11/83, the Tardis prop looked like this:

planet caves combo (panel combo).jpg

On 10/1/84 the Tardis prop looked like this:


In Colin's photo-call we can see both sides of the prop (in the shots of him stood in the Tardis doors, the pathway leads to the foot bridge he is sat on in the shots of the Tardis prop from the rear). In the shots of the Tardis' 'front doors', the left-hand door is hanging off its hinges and there is a split in the structure above the left-hand side of the sign-box. In the photos of the 'rear' of the prop, the right-hand door is hanging off its hinges whilst the left-hand door is hung so that there is a distinct gap underneath it. The sign-box above the rear doors is also crooked.

In the close-up pictures of Colin's in-costume photo call, the phone panel reads "ALL CALLS" - contrast this with the "URGENT CALLS" phone panel seen in "Planet of Fire". Note too the presence of a much taller base. Now, readers of my story, keep those thoughts in your minds.........

Now we turn to.....

The Twin Dilemma (Production Code 6S):

First, the location shoot (recorded on 7/2/84 and 8/2/84). At first sight, the prop used on location for "The Twin Dilemma" looks equally as battered as the one seen in the Baker photo call only a fortnight earlier (the doors appear to be equally badly aligned):


However, this is not the case - as soon as Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant step out of the prop, it rights itself; it is their combined weights and the fact that the Tardis is stood on uneven ground which has caused the prop to temporarily flex out of shape:


Now we turn to the paintwork: Again, at first sight, the prop looks shabby:


However, this is purely cosmetic - there is no structural failure in the prop; in all probability, the 'shabby' paintwork is due to the component parts being laid on the sandy ground prior to assembly.

Unlike the prop photographed in Colin Baker's in-costume photo-call on 10/1/84, here - a mere two weeks later - we see the Tardis prop with a shallower base and the prop's phone panel sign too is different: The thick-framed "URGENT CALLS" phone panel first seen in "Planet of Fire" is back!


A quick wash (and a lick of paint) later, this is how the Tardis appeared in the studio session for "The Twin Dilemma" (14 and 15/2/84):


Lastly, this comparison of the window frames from "Planet of Fire" and "The Twin Dilemma":


To sum up; we have a shabby prop in "Resurrection of the Daleks" (it is fitted with the "ALL CALLS" phone panel), we have a prop which is in good condition for "Planet of Fire" (it is fitted with the "URGENT CALLS" phone panel) and the same prop is used for "The Twin Dilemma" and we have a shabby prop used for Colin baker's photo-call which sports the "ALL CALLS" phone panel and a taller base. (It seems reasonable to suggest - as this is the first time that we've seen it - that the taller base was constructed for the "Planet of Fire" prop but that it got fitted here to the older prop 'by mistake'.)

It would appear that we have two Tardis props and that a new prop was in fact built for "Planet of Fire" just as the plans say that it was!

tony farrell

Aug 13, 2016, 01:41 pm #2 Last Edit: Apr 29, 2017, 11:42 pm by Tony Farrell

Before moving on to describe the TY-J Tardis prop as it appeared in Season 22, it is perhaps helpful to sum up our story so far:


In short - just like the Doctor - at the end of Season 21, the Tardis does indeed appear to have gained a new body! And, just as the new Doctor gained a new costume part way through "The Twin Dilemma", so too was the Tardis prop given a fresh coat of paint! However, unlike Colin Baker's gaudily-coloured costume, the new brighter-blue coloured Tardis was soon to be toned down. In fact, the brighter-blue Tardis livery was to last for one more story only - "Attack of the Cybermen".

Attack of the Cybermen (Production Code 6T):


We'd previously used this screen-grab from "Planet of Fire" to distinguish the side panel seen on location from the doors also seen on location - we noted the damage to the corner of the panel recess:


Here is the same damage on the same panel recess from "Attack of the Cybermen":

attack3 with damaged panel.png

Though not visible (because of the angle in which it was filmed) on the location footage from "Planet of Fire", the side panel can also be identified by similar damage to the upper-edge of the window frame as well:


And for comparison, the same window as seen in "Attack of the Cybermen":


Lastly, as we noted earlier, "Planet of Fire" marked the debut of the new thicker-framed phone panel with the words "OFFICERS AND CARS RESPOND TO URGENT CALLS". The same panel is clearly visible in the junk yard scenes from "Attack of the Cybermen" as well:


Vengeance on Varos (Production Code 6V):

Following "Attack of the Cybermen" was the studio-bound "Vengeance on Varos". Dark in tone, this adventure was also darkly lit which, from the point of view of our story makes determining what, if any, changes were made to the Tardis prop slightly difficult to determine. Nevertheless, this story does reveal a couple of interesting details.

vengeance on varos.jpgvlcsnap-2016-08-07-02h42m17s531.jpg

First and foremost, the prop has clearly been repainted once more - this time with a grey 'wash' which has served to considerably darken the prop - a darker-toned prop for a dark-in-tone story. The grey 'wash' also serves to emphasise the more vibrant blue of the "URGENT CALLS" thicker-framed phone panel introduced in "Planet of Fire". The phone panel hasn't - at this stage - been repainted to match the rest of the prop.

This screen-grab is interesting for two reasons:


Firstly, glimpses of the more vibrant blue paint can still be seen on the prop's roof section and secondly, the sign-box appears to be slightly off-set to the right when compared to the stepped-section beneath it:


Given that the prop had only been constructed in September 1983, by the time "Vengeance on Varos" was recorded in June 1984 the new Tardis prop was barely nine months old; and yet, it is obvious that it had already begun to deteriorate. A case of history repeating itself!

As part of the plot, the Tardis is moved to the more brightly lit Governor's office - this affords us a view of the 'left-hand' side of the prop.


We can state that this is not the same side of the prop seen in either "Planet of Fire" or "Attack of the Cybermen" as evidenced by the lack of damage to either the window's top corner or to the bottom corner of the panel recess. Note also that all the bottom window panes on this side of the prop are fitted with pebbled 'glass'.


In terms of distinguishing features, there is another difference between the prop that was built for "Planet of Fire" and its predecessor - its door hinges: We'd noted that at the start of Season 19, the original prop's 'rear' doors had been rehung and that - as a result - the top hinges were now sited much higher up the door frame than before. But, there were still only two hinges per door.

For the prop that was constructed in September 1983 however, the Tardis was now fitted with three hinges per door. Though Colin Baker's ample frame is obscuring the middle hinge, we can clearly see the top and bottom hinges:


And here, is a view of that middle hinge:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 21.14.52.jpg

Almost exactly ten months after its creation for "Planet of Fire", the Tardis once more materialised in a foreign location  - only this time, instead of Lanzarote, the cast and crew enjoyed a sojourn to sunny Spain.

The Two Doctors (Production Code 6W):

2 docs.jpgtwo doctors 3.jpgthe two doctors4.jpg

At first sight, the prop appears unchanged from the previous adventure ("Vengeance on Varos"); this is not the case - from the location screen-grabs, it can be seen that the phone panel appears to have been dirtied-down to match the remainder of the prop. It is not until the prop is returned to the UK however, that the truth is fully revealed:

At some point after its duties on location, the Tardis prop has developed a crack in its right-hand door:

two doctors 4a.jpg

However, as can now be seen in the studio footage, the phone panel hadn't in fact been 'dirtied-down' to match the prop; in actual fact, "The Two Doctors" marks the re-appearance of the thicker-framed "ALL CALLS" phone panel last televised in "Resurrection of the Daleks":

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It could be that both the "ALL CALLS" and the "URGENT CALLS" versions of the phone panels had been fitted to the prop just as they had been on the previous prop last seen in "Resurrection of the Daleks" (and again, in Colin Baker's in-costume photo-call on 10/1/1984); therefore, it could be that in "Planet of Fire", "The Caves of Androzani", "The Twin Dilemma", "Attack of the Cybermen" and "Vengeance on Varos" we are simply seeing the 'front' doors whilst in "The Two Doctors" we are seeing the 'rear' doors.

However the next story to be recorded would seem to indicate otherwise.

The Mark of the Rani (Production Code 6X):

In "Vengeance on Varos" we'd noted that the brighter blue of the "URGENT CALLS" phone panel formed a distinct contrast to the now greyer body-work of the Tardis prop. Unlike the "The Two Doctors" where the colour of the phone panel and the remainder of the prop were a much better match, in "The Mark of the Rani", the strong contrast between the much bluer phone panel and the greyer livery of the rest of the prop is once more clearly apparent:


The reason for this contrast becomes clear in this story's closing moments as the Doctor and Peri prepare to leave 19th century England:


Once again, we are seeing the "URGENT CALLS" thicker-framed phone panel which made its debut in "Planet of Fire"! Again, we could now be seeing the 'front' doors and again, the "ALL CALLS" phone panel could still have been fitted to the 'rear' doors. However, in the scenes where Anthony Ainley's Master arranges for the sleep-deprived miners to throw the Tardis down the mine-shaft, this would appear not to be the case:


We can see both sides of the prop and yet only one phone panel has been fitted!

Unlike the preceding prop which had two phone panels fitted, it seems that the Tardis created for "Planet of Fire" was designed to have a demountable phone panel and that - even though two phone panels were available - only one phone panel was fitted at a time. (The reason for this will become evident when we reach Season 23 but, before then we still have two more adventures from Season 22 to discuss.)

Timelash (Production Code 6Y):

The otherwise eminently forgettable "Timelash" is, for our purposes, noteworthy for three reasons:

Firstly, the Tardis prop has been 'dirtied-down' still further:


Secondly, the "ALL CALLS" phone panel is once again in use:


Thirdly, presumably because the Tardis prop had been laid on its side in "The Mark of the Rani", one of its sign-boxes had had to be hastily repaired - lacking as it now did its signage insert and outer frame:


Revelation of the Daleks (Production Code 6Z):

The final story of Season 22 to be recorded was "Revelation of the Daleks". Filming took place in the first week of January 1985 in Hampshire with Portsmouth's IBM's British Headquarter's doubling as the exterior of "The Tranquil Repose".

Unfortunately whoever was responsible for arranging to transport the Tardis prop forgot to ensure that the roof lamp was taken with it (presumably that individual was still 'hung-over' from the Christmas and New Year's festivities)! As a result of this, a temporary - and somewhat crude - lamp was fitted:


Fortunately, as the prop only briefly appears on screen and in the distance, the temporary roof lamp was barely noticeable as this rather atmospheric photograph shows!


tony farrell

Aug 14, 2016, 04:53 pm #3 Last Edit: May 19, 2017, 05:40 pm by Tony Farrell
As the previous chapter's title "A New Body At Last?" implies, there were several differences between the prop that was constructed for "Planet of Fire" and the preceding prop - the characteristic damage to one side's panel and window recesses, the all-pebbled 'glass' panes in the opposite side's bottom halves of the windows, the new "URGENT CALLS" de-mountable phone panel and the three hinges on each door.

Before we continue our story of the TY-J Tardis prop with Season 23's "Trial of a Time Lord" it is necessary - in brief - to mention the eighteen month long 'hiatus' which occurred between Seasons 22 and 23. This hiatus saw only one production of Doctor Who and this production was for BBC Radio Four.

Recorded in June 1985, "Slipback" was Valentine (the Black Guardian) Dyall's final acting role. As part of the publicity for this radio drama, a Tardis prop was brought out of storage and stood outside the BBC's Broadcasting House for these publicity photos:


Fairly obviously, the roof lamp is absent and the sign-boxes are in a poor state of repair - the front signage insert appears to have either been mounted back-to-front or it may be that it hasn't been fitted at all (and a plain piece of off-white Perspex has been temporarily substituted in its place).

However these obvious 'omissions' serve to distract the viewer from two somewhat more subtle facts: Firstly, there is no phone panel fitted and secondly, the detachable roof section is fitted with what appears to be two bolts. Let's take these two points in reverse order:

What function do these 'bolts' perform and when were they fitted?


Based on this photograph,


I drew this diagram to illustrate how I thought the TY-J prop was assembled:

TYJ Construction.jpg

After I drew my diagram in June 2016, Panini have since published their latest Doctor Who Magazine Special.


In this latest special addition of the Doctor Who Magazine, the following photograph was published:


Clearly, the roof section is detachable - it appears to just 'sit' on small 'shelves' in between each of the four post-caps. So, if the detachable roof simply sits on top of the prop, it follows that the Tardis prop is designed to be assembled so that it is always stood (broadly) upright - otherwise the detachable roof section would fall off.

However, between 1980 (when the first TY-J prop was constructed) and 1985 (the date of Slipback's recording), there have been two instances where the TY-J prop has been seen on its side - the first was Season 19's "Timeflight" and the second was Season 22's "The Mark of the Rani". (The Tardis was seen on its side in "Castrovalva" but, this was the Newbery prop.)

So, is that the function of these bolts? Were they fitted to secure the detachable roof to the remainder of the prop? A close-up of the DWM Special's photograph seems to support this idea:

roof close-up.jpg

The other possibility is that these bolts were fitted to secure the roof-section's fibreglass 'shell' to the internal wooden frame inside it; the photograph shows that the roof section appears to have a thick internal frame which is approximately one inch thick (compare the width of this internal 'frame' to the thickness of the prop handler's fingers).

Now we turn to the 'missing' phone panel in the "Slipback" publicity photos. As we've seen in the previous chapter, the Tardis prop built in 1983 has several characteristics which can be used to distinguish it from its predecessor - one of which seems to have been a detachable phone panel. As we've also seen, the TY-J prop which preceded the one built in 1983 had been heavily re-furbished at the start of Season 20 before being eventually 'retired' after "Resurrection of the Daleks".

But does 'retirement' equal 'disposal'? The original 1980 TY-J prop had been re-furbished before, so why not again? You'll notice that when I introduced the "Slipback" publicity photos. I used the following phrase "a Tardis prop was brought out of storage and stood outside the BBC's Broadcasting House...."

From 1983 on, there were two Tardis props which were conceivably available. This, then, is the subject of the next chapter in our story.......


According to Anthony Sibley, a second TY-J style Tardis prop was built for Season 23's "Trial of a Time Lord" and from this point on, it (the supposedly 'brand new' 1986 prop) and the original (1980) prop were then used inter-changeably. But, as we've seen, a new prop had been constructed for 1983's "Planet of Fire".

Mr Sibley also states that the two props (i.e., the 1980 and 1986 versions) can be distinguished from each other in two ways - a tall base was fitted to the 1986-build and the 1986-build's door lock was also in a different position to the lock on the 1980-built prop. He further states that the doors on the 1980-build opened the opposite way round depending on which side is being viewed and were only rehung in 1986 to open the same way round.

But, Mr Sibley cannot be correct: As we've seen the doors on the 1980-built prop always opened the same way round (in Seasons 18 and 19, the left-hand door on both sides of the prop opened first, whilst from Season 20 on, the right-hand door on both sides of the prop opened first). As to his point about the base being taller on the prop supposedly built in 1986, again, this is plainly incorrect - the taller base was first seen on 10/1/1984 for Colin Baker's first in-costume photo-call!

So what of Mr Sibley's third point, that the position of the lock can be used to distinguish the two props? Well, here he has got his facts correct!

As we've seen, in both props used in Seasons 18 to 22, the lock was always fitted above the handle (albeit in seasons 18 and 19 the lock was fitted on the left-hand doors whilst from Season 20 on, the lock was fitted on the right-hand doors). On the prop which first appears in "Trial of a Time Lord", the lock is level with the doors' middle cross-rail.

So, whilst Mr Sibley has certainly got some of his facts wrong, what of his central point? Was the prop with the differently positioned locks which was introduced in 1986 a brand-new prop or not?

This then is the 'twin dilemma' of this chapter's title.

The Mysterious Planet - The Trial of a Time Lord, Segment One (Production Code 7A):

In a nice 'twist of fate', when recording began on the first segment of "Trial of a Time Lord" on 8/4/1986, the production team 'picked up where it had left off' and returned to the same location used in the closing adventure of Season 22 - "Revelation of the Daleks". Whereas Hampshire had previously doubled for Necros, now it represented Ravalox - the 'mysterious planet' of Season 23's opening adventure!

Though the Tardis prop's location footage was edited out of the transmitted opening episode, the prop was nevertheless utilised as these screen-grabs from the 'deleted scenes feature' of the DVD show:

mysterious planet deleted scene.jpg

As is evident, when compared to the publicity photographs from "Slipback", the Tardis prop has been repaired and re-furbished - gaining as it had, a fresh coat of paint. Though not visible in this screen-grab, the damaged sign-boxes had also been repaired/replaced and now sported new (much narrower) sign-box fascias. The phone panel has been re-fitted - with the "ALL CALLS" version now being used.

Due to a change in the availability of television studios (meaning that the court room set had to be modified), the Tardis' materialisation scene on board the Time Lords' space-station was not recorded as part of "The Mysterious Planet" but was delayed until the recording of "Mindwarp" (segment two of "Trial of a Time Lord") in June of 1986. It is in this materialisation scene that we first encounter the Tardis with the differently positioned door lock - though at this stage (because Colin Baker actually opens the doors before the camera's 'fade-in' effect is complete), we barely get to see the lock at all. But, it is there - level with the right-hand door's middle cross-rail (note too, that the taller base - last seen in Colin Baker's first in-costume photo-call of January 1984 - is also fitted to the prop):

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So, in the same adventure, we have two Tardis props being used - what appears to be the 1983-built prop (with its lock above the right-hand door handle) and our 'mysterious newcomer' (with its lock below the right-hand door handle and fitted with the taller base last seen in 1984)!

Both Tardis props were to be used in the following adventure as well.

Mindwarp - The Trial of a Time Lord, Segment Two (Production Code 7B):

As with "The Mysterious Planet", the location footage appears to feature the 1983 prop whilst the studio footage features our 'mysterious newcomer'.

mindwarp1.jpgScreenshot 2016-08-15 15.jpgScreenshot 2016-08-15 15.20.52.jpg

Note that the prop used on location appears to have been repainted yet again and now appears to be much darker than it was in "The Mysterious Planet". Note too that the right-hand door's top hinge has been re-fitted. Also note the position of the lock and handle - this appears to be the 1983 prop and is definitely not our 'mysterious newcomer'.

Lastly, note the missing phone panel and the screw-heads (one at each corner of the panel recess where the phone panel should have been fitted). Contrary to Anthony Sibley's assertion that the detachable phone panel was held in place with double-sided tape, it wasn't; on the doors of the 1983 prop, the phone panel was mounted on two screw-heads. Both versions of the phone panel ("ALL CALLS" & "URGENT CALLS") were simply slotted into place over these screw-heads - presumably therefore, the rear of each phone panel was fitted with corresponding keyhole brackets. A neat, simple, solution which gave the production team the flexibility to swap the phone panels as they wanted.

As we've noted, the Tardis' materialisation scene in "The Mysterious Planet" was recorded as part of the studio session for "Mindwarp" and - unlike the location footage - our 'mysterious newcomer' was used. Similarly, for "Mindwarp" part four, when the Tardis materialises under the control of the Time Lords, the 'mysterious newcomer' was used once more:

Screenshot 2016-08-15 15.50.40.jpg

Even though we can't see the position of the door lock due to the Time Lords' 'traction beam', we can see the taller base. The presence of the taller base doesn't - in itself - prove which prop is being used however, the following screen grabs do help us in this regard:

Screenshot 2016-08-15 15.52.22.jpgScreenshot 2016-08-15 15.52.40.jpg

Note the position of the upper door hinge and compare it to that seen on the prop used on location - it is much lower down. Note too, that the doors on the prop used in the studio only have two hinges; as we've seen, the prop constructed for "Planet of Fire" had three hinges per door.

So, as well as having a differently positioned lock and handle, our 'mysterious newcomer' also has a different number of door hinges. At last, we are beginning to be able to correctly identify our mysterious newcomer's characteristics!

Terror of the Vervoids - The Trial of a Time Lord, Segment Three (Production Code 7C):

terror of the vervoids1.jpg
Screenshot 2016-08-15 15.57.16.jpg
Screenshot 2016-08-15 16.jpg

Just as it was in the prop's first appearance in "The Mysterious Planet", our mysterious newcomer's right-hand door is still the one seen to open first and - just as it did in Season 23's opening episode - the studio-used Tardis prop's phone panel reads "URGENT CALLS":

Screenshot 2016-08-15 16.02.14.jpg

The Ultimate Foe - Trial of a Time Lord, Segment Four (Production Code 7C):

Whereas - up to now - we have only seen our mysterious newcomer's right-hand door open first, in the final segment of "Trial of a Time Lord", we now see the other side of the prop. Again, we can determine that the phone panel reads "URGENT CALLS" but this time, the lock and handle are on the left-hand door:

Screenshot 2016-08-15 15.40.40.jpg
Screenshot 2016-08-15 15.jpg

To sum up Season 23, we have two Tardis props in use. On location it appears to be the 1983 prop (albeit re-furbished with new, thin-framed sign-boxes and a fresh coat of paint). By contrast, in the studio recording sessions, it is our 'mysterious newcomer'.

The mysterious newcomer can be distinguished from the other prop in use not by its taller base (which was first seen in 1984) but by the position of its door locks and handles (the locks are level with the central cross-rails and the handles are above the locks). It can also be distinguished by the fact its doors only have two hinges per door (whereas the 1983 prop has three hinges per door). In addition, on the 'mysterious newcomer', the 'front' doors open right-hand door first whilst its 'rear' doors open left-hand door first.

So, we can distinguish between our 'twins' but where did this 'mysterious newcomer' originate? The second part of this chapter's "twin dilemma" as yet remains unanswered; was our 'mysterious newcomer' a brand-new prop as Anthony Sibley has claimed or was it the prop last seen in Colin Baker's first in-costume photo-call of January 1984 (albeit now heavily restored)? Or, was it neither of these possibilities?

As we've seen, because it was detachable, the phone panel proves nothing. However, two facts seem to suggest that the 'newcomer' could be the same prop last seen in the Colin Baker photo-call - the taller base and the fact that the doors each have two hinges. But both of these points can be countered by the fact that the base is clearly detachable and the doors now open the opposite way round depending on which side of the prop is in view; apart from their value in identifying the prop's characteristics, the doors do not prove the origin of the prop.

So, we need to look elsewhere for our 'proof' as to the newcomer's origins.

Well, the obvious place to start is the condition of the 'newcomer' prop seen in 1986 and to compare it to the condition of the prop last seen in January 1984. Is the newcomer the same prop or a different prop to the one last seen in 1984?

10jan4.pngScreenshot 2016-08-16 18.52.14.jpg
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Our 'mysterious newcomer' just looks too new to be the same prop as seen in the Colin Baker photo-call
. If it is the same prop, whoever repaired/restored it did an absolutely stunning job; in the 1986 prop, there isn't a crack, dent or scuff-mark in sight!

Now contrast the 1986 'newcomer' with what appears to be the 1983 version seen only a few months later at Sylvester McCoy's introductory photo-call (note the three hinges on the doors which, as we have seen is a characteristic on the 1983 prop and also note the "home sweet home" sign is hanging from one of the phone panel's mounting screws - these screw-heads were also a characteristic of the 1983 prop):


(As an aside, note that we can see through the signage insert above Sylvester's head - underneath, a grey lettered "Police Public Call Box" sign is visible through the cut-out lettering of the 'outer' blue layer. Is this, perhaps, the same signage insert seen in the location photographs from "Full Circle"?)

But, leaving that question aside, is this the 1983 prop? All that can be definitively stated is that this prop has been fitted with the 1983 prop's doors! Given the battered state of the prop seen in the "Slipback" photos and the equally battered state of the prop seen in the McCoy photos, is that prop actually the 1983 prop or is it the earlier prop but with the 1983 doors fitted?

You'll notice that throughout Season 23 whenever I've described what appears to be the 1983 prop, I've used the word "appears". I've purposely tried to avoid stating that the prop used in the un-transmitted location footage from "The Mysterious Planet" and again in the beach scene from "Mindwarp" was the 1983 prop. This choice of wording is entirely deliberate:

Comparing the battered condition of the prop last seen in Colin Baker's first photo-call of January 1984 and the equally battered state of the prop seen in both the "Slipback" and the McCoy photos raises the possibility that our 1986 'mysterious newcomer' isn't actually a 'newcomer' at all but could - in fact - be the 1983 prop but fitted with new doors and the doors from the 1983 prop could have been fitted to the earlier (battered) prop!

We'll return to the subject of the battered prop in our next chapter and the 'strengthening work' carried out on it. Just because we first see the 'strengthening work' in "Delta and the Bannermen" doesn't mean that this work hadn't been carried out earlier. If this 'strengthening work' had been carried out at the start of "The Trial of a Time Lord" (and we just can't see it because of the angle at which the prop is filmed), then this would support the idea that what appears to be the 1983 prop isn't at all and is - instead - the retired prop last seen in Colin Baker's first photo-call.

Given the pristine condition of the prop used in the studios throughout "Trial of a Time Lord", Anthony Sibley could be correct - our 'mysterious newcomer' could indeed be a brand new prop. But its pristine condition is not categorical proof; it could be the 1983 prop but with new doors. The doors from the 1983 prop could therefore have been fitted to the earlier (battered but now 'strengthened') prop.

As soon as two de-mountable props exist, the possibility that parts from one prop could be swapped over with parts from the other prop also exists. As Patrick Troughton's Doctor said to Omega "appearances aren't everything".

'The jury may still be out' on this aspect of the history of the TY-J props but, since the BBC operates a '30 year rule' on its archive material, we don't have long to wait before the 1986 documentation becomes more widely available.

So, we have a partial solution to the 'twin dilemma' of this chapter's title, we can at least correctly identify the 1986 'newcomer' prop's characteristics. As to the rest of the dilemma, to paraphrase Sylvester McCoy's Doctor, "time will tell; it always does"!

tony farrell

Aug 16, 2016, 11:18 pm #4 Last Edit: Apr 15, 2018, 06:39 pm by Tony Farrell

Whatever the exact provenance of the prop used in the studio-recorded scenes of Season 23, the next time we see the Tardis it has a new occupant - a certain spoon-playing Sylvester McCoy. And, though the Doctor has changed, the prop had not.

Time and the Rani (Production Code 7D):

Whereas - no matter which side was in view - the studio-used prop of the previous season (our so-called 'mysterious newcomer') had consistently been presented with the "URGENT CALLS" phone panel, for the scenes set on Lakertya, the same prop now not only appeared on location but had the "ALL CALLS" version of the phone panel fitted. The "ALL CALLS" phone panel had last been used on the un-transmitted exterior footage for "The Mysterious Planet" but had then been fitted to the Tardis prop with the right-hand opening doors mounted on three hinges:

time and the rani2.png
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Because of the rocks which partially conceal it from view, it is unclear whether the prop stands on the taller or shallower base. Note the scuff marks on the prop's 'front' right-hand corner-post and compare these scuffs to those seen on the same corner-post seen in the next adventure.

Paradise Towers (Production Code 7E):

Again, setting aside this prop's exact 'provenance', in "Paradise Towers" we see the prop which we first saw used for the studio scenes in "Trial of a Time Lord" i.e. the prop with the lock which was level with the doors' central cross-rail and which had the doors which were mounted with two hinges.

paradise towers.jpg

Though difficult to see, because of the slightly more vivid blue panel and the spacing of the wording, it is possible to state that the Tardis prop was - again - fitted with the "ALL CALLS" phone panel. Just as it was throughout Season 23, on this occasion, the Tardis definitely stands on its taller base.

Whereas this version of the prop had remained in a pristine condition throughout the previous season, it was now beginning to deteriorate - note that the signage inserts are beginning to work loose from their surrounds. Note, too, the damage to the taller base; this indicates but does not prove that the taller base had indeed been fitted for the location work in the quarry which doubled as Lakertya in "Time and the Rani".

Delta and the Bannermen (Production Code 7F):

For the production of "Delta and the Bannermen", for the first time since the un-transmitted location footage from "The Mysterious Planet" segment of "Trial of a Time Lord", the other (perhaps older) version of the Tardis prop was used.

Fictionally, the Doctor and Mel win a time-travelling coach trip to a 1950s holiday camp. In reality, for the first time since "The Sontaran Experiment", the production of "Delta and the Bannermen" was recorded entirely on location with Barry Island's "Majestic Holiday Camp" in South Wales doubling as the fictional "Shangri-La"!

gift wrap.jpg

As can be seen, the 'front' doors of the prop weren't hung evenly. However, this wasn't the only change to have been made to the prop fitted with the three-hinged doors. In fact, for this 'coach trip to Wales', several notable changes are apparent on this version of the Tardis prop:


First - and foremost - according to Mark Barton Hill, the reason that the doors appear to have been unevenly hung is because the left-hand door has been replaced with a wooden one. The reason that a wooden door had been fitted is because the Tardis prop was fictionally required to 'double-up' as a real-life Police Box and, as such, a fully-practical open-able phone panel was required:


Again, the "ALL CALLS" phone panel has been used but, for the first time since "The Visitation", the phone panel sports a handle!


The right-hand door remains the one fitted with the three hinges (characteristic of the doors created for the 1983 prop):


The changes to the phone panel however were not the only ones made. In the Colin Baker photo-call for "Slipback", we'd noted the bolts in the detachable roof-section of the prop. In "Delta and the Bannermen", the roof section is now held in place with with four square brackets - two mounted on top of each side-panel:

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There are similar square brackets fitted to the bottom of at least one of the prop's side-panels as well:

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Are these square brackets, perhaps, some kind of strengthening work which has been carried out on the prop? Are the side-panels now bolted to the roof section (thereby holding the side-panels vertically against the sides of the square roof rather than simply relying on the front and rear sign-boxes to hold the prop together as was previously the case)? We can't see if these brackets were fitted in this photograph because Bonnie Langford's leg is in the way:

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But, if the brackets were fitted to strengthen the battered prop, then this would support the idea that the prop we are seeing in "Delta and the Bannermen" (and in the Mysterious Planet's unused location footage and also in the beach sequences for "Mindwarp") was in fact the prop last seen in Colin baker's debut photo-call:


If this is the case, then our Season 23's 'mysterious newcomer' (with its near-pristine bodywork) might indeed be the 1983 "Planet of Fire" prop - albeit with new doors. If that is the case, then all that has happened is that the 1983 prop's original doors have been fitted to the older prop and the older prop has been strengthened/reinforced to bring it back into serviceable use.

Dragonfire (Production Code 7G):


This version of the Tardis prop appears to be unaltered since its last appearance in "Paradise Towers". Though the graffiti has now been removed, the sign-boxes signage inserts are equally ill-fitted, the taller base still appears to be damaged and the scuff marks from its use in the quarry from "Time and the Rani" are still present on the front right-hand corner-post. Again, it sports the "ALL CALLS" version of the phone panel.


Returning to where it all began a quarter of a century earlier, for the start of the Silver Anniversary Season, the Tardis materialises once more in the London of 1963.

Remembrance of the Daleks (Production Code 7H):

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Again, we see the 'damaged' window frame that we noted in "Planet of Fire" and "The Twin Dilemma"

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(Thanks to Darren Burch for pointing out the damaged window frame as seen in "Remembrance of the Daleks".)

Though not clear in the televised episodes, because of the angle in which it was recorded, this is the older (strengthened) prop - as this publicity photo shows:

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The upper strengthening brackets are clearly visible and - behind Sophie Aldred's arm - one of the two brackets on the bottom edge of the side-panel is visible as well.

This (somewhat grainy) photo is interesting - the opposite side of the prop is shown here. Again, the side-panel's top brackets are just visible but notice that the phone panel is yet to be fitted. The void in the door created for the 'functioning' phone panel in the previous season's "Delta and the Bannermen" is plainly visible:


The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (Production Code 7J):

Just as the previous year's "Delta and the Bannermen" had been shot entirely on location so, too, was "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy"; this time though, the decision was forced on John Nathan-Turner due to an asbestos scare at the BBC's Television Centre.

Again it is the (older) 'strengthened' prop which is in use:

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And a slightly lightened version which shows the nearest side-panel's 'strengthening brackets':

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Here, I've slightly increased the exposure of the screen-grabs so that the higher-positioned lock (with the door handle underneath it) can be seen more clearly (again the 'functioning "ALL CALLS" phone panel is still fitted):


Silver Nemesis (Production Code 7K):

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Again, the 'strengthening brackets' are clearly visible in the photograph of artist Andrew Skilleter stood in the Tardis' doorway. What cannot be seen however is the colour of the panel recess immediately below the window in the open door. In these screen-grabs, it can be seen that this particular panel recess is a slightly darker blue than the remainder of the prop:

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But, why is this? These screen-grabs might help to provide the answer:


As can be seen, the slightly darker panel recess is apparent. What is less obvious, however, is the missing door lock. This next screen-grab shows that not only is the lock missing, but when compared to the left-hand door, the dimensions of the right-hand door's panel recesses are actually different too:


The panel with the arrow embedded in it is not only less tall than the phone panel on the left-hand door, it is also narrower. In fact, all the panel recesses on the right-hand door are narrower than those on the left-hand door. So, when Mark Barton Hill stated that the left-hand door with the functioning phone panel made for "Delta and the Bannermen" was made out of wood, was he correct? Or was it the right-hand door made for "Silver Nemesis" which was made out of wood?

The pictorial evidence isn't (of itself) definitive. However Mark is in the best position to comment, so, it is likely he is correct. So, in "Silver Nemesis" we could be seeing the same wooden door that was constructed for "Delta and the Bannermen" - only this time it has been mounted on the right-hand side of the Tardis' doorway. If this is correct, then all that has happened is that the void for the functional phone panel has been backed with a material which was suitable to 'take' the impact of an arrow being fired at it!

As this screen-grab shows, the door with the arrow embedded in it was definitely made from wood, the joins either side of the cross-rail are plainly visible:


Perhaps the reason it was made out of wood was specific to the plot i.e., so that an arrow could be fired into it! Perhaps the production team thought that an arrow fired at a fibreglass door would simply either bounce of a fibreglass door or - even worse - might actually shoot straight through it rather than embedding in it.

As part of the programme's silver anniversary, BBC/Lionheart and the New Jersey Network co-operated on a documentary to promote Dr Who in the United States. (Again, thanks to Darren Burch for this piece of information.)

These two screen-grabs are taken from that programme and show that the door with the arrow embedded in it was indeed only temporarily fitted to the prop:

Screenshot 2016-09-17 11.42.25.jpg
Screenshot 2016-09-17 11.44.10.jpg

Whilst it is not apparent from the screen-grabs, this is a 'tracking shot' i.e., not cut-together; both the door lying on the ground and the 'stunt' door fitted to the prop are visible in the same 'tracking' shot. Incidentally, both "Delta and the Bannermen" and "Silver Nemesis" shared the same director - John Ashbridge. Fairly obviously, he would therefore be aware that the wooden door existed!

Perhaps then, the reason the panel on the door was painted a darker blue for this adventure was simply so that the archer had something to take a clear aim at?

To coin a phrase: "Who knows"?!

The final recorded adventure of the twenty-fifth season also saw some very peculiar paintwork applied to the Tardis prop. Only this time, the paint wasn't simply a slightly different shade of blue, it was pink and it was applied to the newer prop last used in the previous season's "Dragonfire".

The Happiness Patrol (Production Code 7L):


tony farrell

Aug 18, 2016, 09:19 pm #5 Last Edit: May 06, 2018, 08:41 pm by Tony Farrell

The recording of what would turn out to be the final season of Doctor Who's 'classic' run began in April 1989. The first story of Season 26 to go before the cameras was a mixture of Norse mythology, vampiric legend and and Second World War conspiracy thriller....

The Curse of Fenric (Production Code 7M):

Appearing only briefly, the Tardis is once more represented by the newer prop with the lock level with the door's central cross-rail and, just as it had throughout the previous season, the phone panel had the "ALL CALLS" wording and a handle to mimic the opening (functional) phone panel which had been fitted on the 'older' Tardis prop since "Delta and the Bannermen":

curse of fenric1.jpg

Battlefield (Production Code 7N):


In Battlefield, we again see the older prop with the side-panels' strengthening brackets.

battlefield1 rings.jpg

However, unlike Seasons 24 and 25 where we had seen the 'front' doors with the hinged (functional) "ALL CALLS" phone panel, here we see the 'dummy' "ALL CALLS" phone panel fitted - note the absence of hinges on the phone panel:


So, either the left-hand front door has been repaired (and the void for the opening phone panel has now been filled) or, perhaps, the left-hand door has been swapped with the corresponding door from the 'newcomer' prop.

Note the following detail seen (or rather, not seen), above the doors:

missing post cap battlefield.jpg

Compare this with the photograph of the prop as seen in "Resurrection of the Daleks":


So, this is either the same prop or, if this isn't the same prop, then the structure has failed in exactly the same place. When I told you the story of Season 21, I promised you a little mystery; this then is "The Case of the Missing Quadrant"!

But first, the final two adventures of season 26:

Survival (Production Code 7P):


Interestingly, the 'rear' doors are missing their central dividing strip.


Again, we see the dummy "ALL CALLS" phone panel but, whereas in "Battlefield" the right-hand door was missing its handle in "Survival" both right-hand doors ('front' and 'rear') were now fitted with handles!

Lastly - again from "Survival" - a close-up view of one of the side-panel's top 'strengthening' brackets:

survival roof.png

"Ghostlight" (Production Code 7Q):

For the final adventure of the 'classic' series' run to be recorded, the Tardis materialises in the darkened observatory of "Gabriel Chase":

ghost light1a.jpg

Again, note the missing 'rear' doors' central dividing strip.

ghost light3a.jpg

To recap, we have seen a 'mysterious newcomer' make its first appearance in 1986's "The Trial of a Time Lord". According to Anthony Sibley, our 'mysterious newcomer' is a brand new prop and - certainly - it has a near-pristine appearance. Depending on which side of this 'mysterious newcomer' is in view, the doors open the opposite way round; on the 'front', the right-hand door opens first, on the 'rear', the left-hand door opens first. Both sets of doors have two hinges per door.

According to the BBC's plans however, 1983 had seen a brand new prop constructed for "Planet of Fire". It too had a near-pristine appearance but, both sets of its doors opened the same way round (right-hand door first) and both sets of its doors were fitted with three hinges per door.

The prop the 1983 version replaced was in a poor state of repair and was last televised in "Resurrection of the Daleks". It (the damaged prop) briefly appeared again in Colin Baker's first in-costume photo-call on 10/1/1984 where a distinct split in its structure was apparent at the sides of the the front sign-box. It (the damaged prop) had a quadrant missing from the inside edge of its 'rear' post-cap ("The Case of the Missing Quadrant" - this chapter's title).

From "The Trial of a Time Lord" onwards, two props were used inter-changeably - the near-pristine 'mysterious newcomer' prop and a repaired prop which had - apparently - been fitted with strengthening brackets to hold the side panels in place (i.e., to close the split at the side of the 'front' sign-box). The repaired prop had identical damage to the inside quadrant of the post cap last seen in the prop from "Resurrection of the Daleks".

Is this then the solution to our mystery? Far from being a brand new prop, was 1986's near-pristine 'mysterious newcomer' actually the near-pristine 1983 prop? If so, then all that happened in 1986 was that the 1983 prop had gained new doors and that its original doors had been fitted to the earlier - repaired - prop. These publicity shots were used in the 1992 Doctor Who Poster Book by Adrian Rigelsford and show the 1983 three-hinged door fitted to the older Tardis.


(With thanks to Matthew Purchase.)

Also of interest here is the detachable roof section or, rather, its paintwork. The outline of the strengthening brackets can be seen (as can the two drilled holes). What appears to have happened is that - for this occasion during Silver Nemesis - the roof had been rotated through 180 degrees. Also clearly visible is the crack in the nearside corner-post which was apparent in this box when used for the Colin Baker photo shoot.

To sum up, we have the old-battered Tardis prop fitted with the 1983 three-hinged doors and we have at least one wooden door (possibly a pair of wooden doors). In addition, we have the 1983 Tardis but now fitted with two-hinged doors which open the opposite way round depending on which side of the box is in view.

So, apart from the fact that Anthony Sibley has got his facts wrong about the windows, the way the doors opened, the introduction of the taller base, how the phone panels were attached and the possible date a second prop was built, what of his central point - that there were simply only ever two TY-J Tardis props built?

Well, in the words of Oscar Wilde: "The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple".

This then is the subject of the final chapter in my story of the Thomas Yardley-Jones Tardis prop.


William Hartnell's Doctor often referred to his Tardis as a "ship". The "Tardis", along with the "Titanic", the "Enterprise", "HMS Victory" and "Noah's Ark" are probably among the most famous 'ships' in the world. Others include the "Argo" (of "Jason and the Argonauts" fame) and the "Ship of Theseus".

The Ship of Theseus - also known as the "Theseus Paradox" - is a philosophical debate which asks whether an object that has had all of its parts replaced over time remains the same object. If a wooden ship, such as the "Victory" or the "Cutty Sark" (which was almost totally destroyed by fire in 2007) had all its timbers replaced, would it still be the same ship? It might be made to the same design, it might be made using the same materials and using the same techniques but, is it still the same ship?

The philosopher Thomas Hobbes further complicates this 'train of thought'; he pondered what would happen if the ship's original timbers were gathered up after they had been replaced and were then re-used to build a second ship. Hobbes asked which ship, if either, could really be called the original ship.

But what is the relevance of this centuries-old philosophical debate to our history of the TY-J Tardis props? The key here is how the terms 're-furbishment' and 'replacement' are defined. In order to do this, we need to understand how the Tardis props were constructed:

This diagram provides part of the answer - it shows how the constituent parts were assembled.

TYJ Construction.jpg

We have a base, two side panels, two de-mountable sign-boxes (with integral stepped-sections), two pairs of doors and a detachable roof-section. The prop's rigidity is due solely to the front and rear sign-boxes. If either the 'front' or 'rear' sign-box mountings were to fail, there is nothing to stop the side-panels 'splaying' apart at their tops (especially once the effect of the weight of the roof section is added):

falling apart.png

My diagram has deliberately exaggerated the effect of the damage but, this appears to be exactly what had happened to the prop last seen in Colin Baker's introductory photo-call of January 1984:


If I am correct, this is why the 'strengthening brackets' we first see in "Delta and the Bannermen" were added - to stop the side-panels 'splaying out':

bolt function.png

So, we've described the constituent parts and the proposed use of the 'strengthening brackets' to give the prop rigidity once more. But how were those 'constituent parts' made?

Fairly obviously, the doors and side panels would have been drawn from the same mould with the dividing strip being used to join the two halves of the side-panel together to create one unit. The sign-boxes would be made and then the three-stepped section joined to their undersides with the sides' sign-boxes then being permanently joined to the panels beneath them.

As these pictures indicate, the corner-posts would have to have been made in two sections (otherwise they wouldn't be able to be withdrawn from their moulds) with the two sections then being permanently joined together before being finally permanently fixed to the side-panels. As can be seen the props have all begun to fail at the same point i.e., where the two halves of the corner-post's front fascia have been joined:


(Picture courtesy of Mark Barton Hill)


(Picture courtesy of Steve White)

So, given that the corner-posts would have to be made in two parts before being permanently joined to the remainder of the side-panels, this means that the side-panels were constructed as per the following diagram and then the constituent parts were permanently fibreglassed together.

panel construct1.png

These photos would seem to support that view:

(Picture courtesy of Tim Wearing)

(Photographs courtesy of Mark Barton Hill)

(Pictures copyright Matthew Morgenstern and are used with his kind permission.)

The fact that the side-panels' constituent parts were permanently fixed together brings us back to the "Theseus Paradox":

Before he became known as John Lumic in "Age of Steel", Roger Lloyd-Pack had already achieved fame as the endearingly stupid market sweeper Colin (Trigger) Ball in the BBC's hit sit-com "Only Fools and Horses".

In an episode called "Heroes and Villains", "Trigger" is seen chatting to the local café owner; in this classic scene, Trigger claims that he's had his road sweeper's broom for 20 years but, he then adds that the broom has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles. "How can it be the same bloody broom then?" asks Sid the café owner. Trigger produces a twenty-year-old picture of himself with his broom and asks: "What more proof do you need?"


At the end of Season 19, the original TY-J Tardis prop was in a very poor state of repair.


At the start of Season 20, its doors had been replaced, its sign-boxes had been replaced as had the single-stepped section above each one of them (gaining the continuation of the dividing strips on all four sides). At least one window frame had been replaced as had both 'rear' corner-posts.

Given that the corner-posts, side-panels and sign-boxes were permanently joined together, are we really expected to believe that the corner-posts and sign-boxes would have been cut from both of the side-panels and their replacements then re-fibreglassed in place? Similarly, because the doors now open the opposite way round, are we really expected to believe that someone went to the trouble of cutting off the centre-divides from each set of doors and then remounted the divide on the opposite doors whilst simultaneously creating new edges on the doors to take the hinges and swapping the locks over to the opposite doors as well?

Surely the labour costs in carrying out all that work (and then still having to remake the disposed-of-parts) would out-way the cost of making new fibreglass side-panels and doors 'from scratch'?

This, then, is our "Theseus Paradox" or our "Trigger's Broom": Is the prop which made its debut in Season 20 still the same prop which debuted in Season 18? The sheer amount of work done to the prop suggests otherwise. If we accept that the start-of-season 20 box was virtually a brand new prop, then we must - by definition - refer to the Season 20 prop as the second TY-J Tardis prop.

As we have seen, the BBC's own plans show that another Tardis prop was constructed at the end of Season 21 (for "Planet of Fire"). So, if the start-of-season 20 prop was the second TY-J Tardis, then the "Planet of Fire" prop must be the third version.

Now, Anthony Sibley would have us believe that a brand-new prop was constructed for "Trial of a Time Lord" so, conceivably, that would make four TY-J Tardis props!

I do not believe that Mr Sibley is correct. On the contrary, in my view, the Trial of a Time Lord's "mysterious newcomer" was - in fact - the prop constructed for "Planet of Fire" and that for "Trial of a Time Lord", the 1983 prop was simply fitted with new (two-hinged) doors and that the taller base -  also constructed at the end of 1983 for "Planet of Fire" -  was now fitted to this prop.

At the same time - i.e., in 1986 - the 1983 prop's original (three-hinged) doors were re-mounted on the older (Season 20) prop which was also repaired and fitted with 'strengthening' brackets. (We simply don't see the 'strengthening brackets' until "Delta and the Bannermen" because of the angle and/or distance at which the prop is photographed.)

So, just because only two TY-J props survive, it does not follow that only two were built. The story of almost constant 'tinkering', maintenance and alterations is simply much more complicated than a simple, bland, assertion that we have two props and that we have only ever had two props.

But, it doesn't matter what I believe. What matters is the second part of our "Theseus Paradox" - the part Thomas Hobbes added about re-using what was left-over from the various refits/rebuilds.

I wrote earlier that as soon as two (or more) props exist simultaneously - side-by-side - there exists the possibility that their de-mountable parts could get swapped over. Unless there was a specific plot requirement for a functioning phone panel or for a door to have an arrow shot at it, in all likelihood, the scene shifters/prop handlers would simply gather enough parts from storage to assemble a complete Tardis prop; because they're modular, the parts don't even have to have 'originated' from the same prop. This would explain how the 'rear' doors in "Survival" and "Ghostlight" could appear without their central dividing strip - i.e., one 'rear' door from the 1983 refitted prop paired with the opposite 'front' door from the same prop or even one 'rear' door from the earlier prop 'paired' with the other 'rear' door from the later prop. It could even be that we are seeing the re-appearance of the wooden door(s) last seen in "Silver Nemesis".

In addition, because the TY-J props were designed to be modular, those modules could - in theory - be assembled in any order ('front' and 'rear' sign-boxes could swap sides, 'left' and 'right' side-panels could swap sides, phone panels could be inter-changed, the lamp could be rotated, etc).

Here we turn to the two surviving TYJ props and their dimensions or - more accurately - we turn to the Dr Who Experience Tardis which would appear to be precisely what I've just described: A 'hybrid' of parts from the different props....

Before we discuss the dimensions of the Cardiff Tardis prop, it is necessary - in brief - to mention how the angle from which the prop is viewed can alter its perceived dimensions:

Fairly obviously, if we look at any vertical-sided object from either well-below or well-above its centre-point, its sides will appear to taper inwards. Equally obviously, if we were to look at a skyscraper from ground level, as we scan up the structure, as well as its sides appearing to taper inwards, its windows will appear to become progressively shorter the higher up the skyscraper we look:


These line drawings show how the angle from which we view the Tardis prop can alter its perceived dimensions. The first drawing shows the perceived dimensions which will result from the prop being photographed from its centre-point whilst the second drawing shows the result gained from photographing the prop from above its centre-point (in both cases - for reasons of clarity - I've ignored the perceived inward 'tapering effect' that would also be seen):

light travels in straight lines.png
light travels in straight lines2.png

And for comparison, the results of the two different view-points are shown side-by-side. Depending on the angle from which it is viewed, the perceived dimensions of the Tardis prop can appear to be markedly different:

comparison of supposed centre-point and true centre-point.png

The further away you are from the object being photographed, the more this perceived distortion will be minimised but, conversely, there will be a loss of definition. The only way to 'get round' this problem of perception, is either to take a lot of pictures of small sections of the prop from a position which is precisely square-on to the part being photographed. But, that would certainly be time-consuming and may not be practical. So, what we have to do is discount the perceived dimensions which we know will be distorted.

The following picture is courtesy of Steve White and illustrates this point.

IMG_1002_zpsc4d4ed72 (2).jpg

Width-wise, this picture has been taken broadly centre-on. However as evidenced by the tapering effect of the phone panel's vertical sides, the picture has been taken from above the phone panel's centre-point. This means that the top width of the phone panel appears to be wider than the bottom edge. In addition, because the picture has been taken height-wise from above the phone panel's centre-point, its perceived height has also been distorted (i.e., to return to the analogy of the skyscraper, because we are looking down, its windows appear to get progressively shorter).

Thus, a measurement of one inch at (or towards) the top of the picture will appear to be bigger than a measurement of one inch towards the bottom of the picture. So, the perceived height of the phone panel has to be discounted from our study of its dimensions. However, because the picture has been taken broadly centre-on width-wise, we can 'trust' the perceived widths provided that we the take the measurements of our widths at the same point height-wise i.e., level with the lock.

(Even though the plans for the Thomas Yardley-Jones are stated in imperial dimensions between 1969 and 1975, the British construction industry (including suppliers of timber) converted to the metric system; by 1980 therefore, the timber used to form the 'master plugs' for the TY-J Tardis would have been supplied in metric sizes. The dimensions of the TY-J box(es) will therefore be stated using the metric system.)

Fortunately, the principal dimensions of the Thomas Yardley-Jones Tardis are known - having been measured directly from the second version of the prop which - at the time of writing - is in Cardiff:

Height of box from floor to top of roof (including castors but excluding the lamp) = 2550 mm.
Height of door opening = 1980 mm.
Width of sides (outside edge of corner-post to outside edge of corner-post) = 1300 mm.
Depth of recessed panels = 25 mm.
Size of phone panel - see below.

These measurements give us the 'bare bones of the beast' but, what of the other dimensions?

Let's begin with the picture of the phone panel immediately above: In the United Kingdom, the standard diameter of a cylinder lock is 45 millimeters. if we compare the phone panel's width to the diameter of the lock, we get a result of 305 mm. Because the door's cross rail is at the same height as the lock, we can also 'trust' the perceived height of the cross-rail i.e., approximately 90 mm.

In 2012 Bonhams offered one of the TY-J Tardis' phone panels up for auction (see http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19801/lot/147/ ). Though ultimately the lot was withdrawn from sale, nevertheless, the item's description is revealing; Bonhams stated the dimensions of the phone panel as 365 millimeters tall by 290 mm wide. Clearly the phone panel fitted within the panel recess, so the panel recess must be fractionally bigger than 365 mm by 290 mm:


Together, the photographic evidence and the dimensions stated by Bonhams, give us our 'starting point' - the Tardis door's panel recesses are 305 millimeters wide. From this, we can begin to calculate the remaining dimensions of the Cardiff Tardis prop:

Firstly, a picture of the prop's 'left-hand' side:

IMG_6075 reduced.png
(Picture courtesy of Steve White)

The yellow arrows indicate the approximate height at which the picture was taken - it cannot have been taken from below the lowest arrows otherwise the the prop would appear to taper inwards towards the top of the picture. So, the picture has been taken from above just above the centre-point of two solid panel recesses under the windows to somewhere just above the cross-rail under the windows and the camera is pointing very slightly downwards. In addition, the right-hand corner-post is fractionally nearer to us. Thus the right-hand portion of the side-panel will appear fractionally bigger than the left-hand portion and the lower the panel-recesses, the smaller they will appear to be.

So, we can only 'trust' the prop's perceived dimensions in the upper portion of the photograph and more specifically at the height of the cross-rail immediately below the windows. Again, because the camera is pointing very slightly downwards, there is a very slight tapering effect to the vertical surfaces. As established by the picture of the phone panel, taking the panel recess widths to be 305 mm, here the same picture has been scaled to one pixel per millimeter:


Taking the mean of the heights of the windows' vertical sides gives us the following:

(379+385+387+389) divided by 4 = 385 mm. The Tardis' 'left-hand' side windows are 385 millimeters tall by 305 millimeters wide.
The two solid panels under the windows are 380 mm tall.
The centre-divide is in the middle of the picture and measures 50 pixels or 50 millimeters wide. The cross-rail immediately below the windows is 90 mm tall.

Now for the Cardiff prop's 'right-hand' side (again, the same caveats regarding the angle at which the photograph was taken apply). Taking the centre-dividing strip as being 50 mm wide, the following pictures have been scaled at one pixel per millimeter:

IMG_6080 RH Side reduced.png
IMG_6080 RH Side.png
(Pictures courtesy of Steve White)

This gives us identical dimensions for the prop's right-hand side:

The windows measure 385 mm by 305 mm whilst the two solid panel recesses below them measure 380 mm by 305 mm. The cross rails measure 90 mm.

Now for the doors and corner-posts. The following photograph is of the same Tardis prop but was taken before it was moved to Cardiff. As can be seen, the photograph is taken from further away than the excellent photos provided by Steve White, thus, any perceived distortion of the dimensions has therefore been minimised.

Firstly a low(ish) JPG version of the whole picture:


And now the same picture in a high-definition (PNG) version but split into four sections to allow it to be uploaded:

1 top.png1 mid t.png1 mid b.png1 bot.png

At first sight, the box appears to be 1315 millimeters wide. However, this is somewhat misleading:

Even though the prop has been photographed almost exactly square-on, we must remember that the door panels are slightly recessed when compared to the corner-posts. Clearly the nearer something is to the viewer, the bigger it will appear. However, this is not what concerns us here - the difference in depths between the "faces" of the corner-posts and the "faces" of the doors is not enough to make the corner-posts appear bigger than they actually are; compare the widths of each corner-posts' flat "face" with the previous photos - 104 millimeters is consistent.

What is of concern is the fact that - because of the central position of the camera - we can see more of each inner quadrant than we can of each outer quadrant. This gives rise to the illusion that the inner quadrants are wider than the outer ones; this diagram illustrates this point:

overhead perspective.png

What we need is a photograph which is taken more-or-less central to the corner-post's flat face:


And a larger version:


As can be seen, the windows and panels have the same dimensions as established in previous photos. The widths of the corner-posts' faces are consistent at 104 millimeters but, crucially, the quadrants appear to be the same size i.e., 25 millimeters.

So, having established the dimensions of the corner-posts and the fact that in the front-view of the TY-J Tardis the wider appearance of the inner quadrants is an optical illusion, let us now return to the subject of the Cardiff Tardis' doors.

1 top.png

The doors' windows do not match.

The Tardis prop on display in Cardiff appears to be made up from parts which have been drawn from two separate moulds; one door has a window panel recess which is 385 mm by 305 mm whilst the other door has a window panel recess which measures 380 mm by 305 mm.

The Cardiff Tardis appears to be exactly what I described - a hybrid!

But if the Cardiff Tardis was assembled using doors which seem to originate from two separate moulds, which are the dimensions of the parts from the original mould? Setting aside the question of whether the start-of-season 20 refit was a major refurbishment or a complete re-build, which of the parts which have found there way into the Cardiff Tardis prop were created when the prop was first constructed in 1980 and which parts come from the later mould?

We need to go back to the Thomas Yardley-Jones prop's earliest appearances and find a picture which is both square-on to the camera and which is of a good enough resolution. Fortunately, and I never thought I would say this, we have "Meglos"!

Screenshot 2016-08-10 14.09.30.jpg

The prop's left-hand door is slightly ajar and - by pure fluke - is square-on to the camera:

Screenshot 2016-08-10 14.09.30 with lines.png

(Note the gap between the top of the doors' dividing strip and the underside of the third step above the doors and compare this gap to that seen in the photographs of the prop seen on Brighton's beach in "The Leisure Hive".)

As can be seen, the windows measure 385 by 305 millimeters (there is no discernible difference in the windows' sizes on both doors) - this is consistent with the left-hand door on the prop currently in Cardiff and is also consistent with the dimensions of the Cardiff prop's side panels. Whilst not proven, this is a very strong indication that the Cardiff prop's left-hand door and the Cardiff prop's side-panels were drawn from the original 1980 moulds (or at least from moulds which had the same dimensions as the 1980 version) and that its right-hand door was drawn from a later mould.  

So, let's bring all these findings together - our principal dimensions which are taken directly from measurements from the Cardiff TY-J Tardis prop and the 'missing' dimensions as derived from the various photographs:



overhead perspective.png
(The slight gap drawn between the sign-boxes and main body of the Yardley-Jones Tardis above both sets of doors indicates that these sign-boxes were detachable from the main framework.)


TY-J 1980 (Front and Sides with dimensions).png


TY-J Season 20 (Front and Sides with dimensions).png


TY-J Season 23 (Planet of Fire).png


TY-J Trial of a Time Lord.png



Post script, throughout this article, I have referred to the Thomas Yardley-Jones Tardises as being 'props'. The following information has been provided by Visual Effects Designer Mat Irvine:

The following is quoted from two e-mails sent to me by Mat Irvine:

"I can't be any help about your Tardis piece as you are dealing with the 1:1 prop, (actually if you want to be really precise - scenery), whereas FX only dealt with the miniatures - and OK they differed too! The differences you note of Tardis changes between stories - even scenes within the same story - can be easily explained - many people involved in storing it, transporting it, setting up, mending it, moving it again, (probably mending it again...)  and no one person involved in the entirety of its journey - so no continuity. As I said when it comes down to it 'Does it look like a Police Box?' - 'Yes'.... "

Thus, the primary responsibility for the setting-up and dis-assembly of the Tardis lay with the scenery department. According to Mat Irvine therefore, the Tardis - in terms of roles and responsibilities - was classed as a piece of scenery!

The exception to this was - paradoxically - the roof lamp. Mr Irvine goes on to clarify this apparent 'anomaly':

Whilst "the main Police Box structure came under scenic design - so prop guys (and girls) would shift it around, set it up, and the chippy would mend it! BUT the light on top came under FX! Precisely why is slightly unclear - this was already established before I came on the scene -  but I suspect it was because it ran on 12 volts, and - then - FX dealt with 12 volts - so on location FX would be the only ones there to have a convenient 12 volt supply to hand... "

We have reached the end of my history of the Thomas Yardley-Jones Tardis. Like all histories, it is written from the present and tells a story of past events. Because it is simply a story, it is a work of fiction. Accept it and agree with it, reject it and disagree with it; either way, it doesn't matter as long as you enjoyed it.

As Henry Ford stated - "all history is bunk"!


And finally - what's the use of creating a good picture if you can't re-use it?


Tony K Farrell - 2017