Jun 23, 2024, 11:29 am


New, New TardisBuilders!

Tardis Builders in DWM and Twice upon a Time

Started by saintcar, Jan 11, 2018, 02:53 pm

Previous topic - Next topic


Jan 11, 2018, 02:53 pm Last Edit: Jan 11, 2018, 02:55 pm by saintcar
Great to see in todays Dr Who Magazine (Feb2018) that Tony Farrell and Simon Nash feature in an item by Matt Saunders about their work building/advising on the Hartnell/David Bradley Tardis prop used in the 2017 Christmas special "Twice Upon a Time"
Many congratulations guys.

tony farrell

Jan 11, 2018, 11:22 pm #1 Last Edit: Jan 11, 2018, 11:26 pm by Tony Farrell
Well, I was only just made aware of this by Steve W (Fivefingeredstyre) so, I guess I'll have to make a journey to W H Smith's now!

Matt Sanders did say he'd be posting his article in full here on Tardis Builders (i.e., not edited to fit the DWM requirements). If Matt goes down that route, I've some interesting behind the scenes photos which I've now been given permission to share.


Angelus Lupus

A mixed-up non-conformist, trying to fit in.


Jan 12, 2018, 05:51 am #3 Last Edit: Jan 12, 2018, 05:51 am by galacticprobe
Tony, judging by the details on the Brachacki-Altered-Bradley TARDIS prop (since we still haven't settled on a "proper" name for that one yet), I wouldn't be surprised if you found yourself getting a job offer from the BBC!

Well done, you, and Matt!

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

tony farrell

Jan 12, 2018, 10:16 am #4 Last Edit: Jul 03, 2019, 03:02 am by warmcanofcoke
Oh dear - this is getting a bit over-blown and is making me slightly uncomfortable.

I haven't read the DWM article yet so, I don't know what's been written but, let's be quite clear here; all I did was my impersonation of the First Doctor trapped in the time eddy from The Three Doctors: I just advised!

It all started at the beginning of May 2017 when Matt Sanders got in touch with me to see if I had full-sized copies of the studio floor plans for the Tracking Base and Cybership from "The Tenth Planet". (Bear in mind, it was already common knowledge that the return of the Mondasian Cybermen was known and that recording of The Doctor Falls had been completed so, I put two and two together and realised that the information Matt had asked for was nothing to do with The Doctor Falls but rather was for something else - something which hadn't yet been made!)

As Matt began to trust me, he gradually 'opened up' with what was going on and I gladly sent him the studio floor plans along with information about these sets such as the colour scheme and pointing out where elements of the Polar Base had been re-used in such stories as "The Power of the Daleks" and "Fury from the Deep"; whilst it's well known that the big map from the Tracking Base re-appeared in Power of the Daleks, what might not be known is that other elements were re-used such as the strange wall lights. Similarly, the computer banks later re-appeared in Fury from the Deep and there are colour photos of these. So, Matt now had the basis of these sets' dimensions and their colour schemes. (I also gave Matt the BBC's colour charts so that he could identify the colours used i.e., the TX numbering scheme - so, if the studio floor plan indicated TX40 as the choice of colour, then Matt would know that this meant silver-grey.)

I also sent Matt various production photos of the sets and at some point in our e-mail discussions, I pointed out that things like the heights of the various sections could be worked out from 'known' dimensions: There are two ladders in the Tracking Base set - the distance between each rung of a ladder is a standard dimension so, by counting the number of rungs from studio floor to 'balcony', you can work out how high the balcony was! This is a technique that I've used numerous times and is well-described elsewhere on this forum.

Matt used the same technique for the dimensions of the 'prison chairs' in the Cybership. He knew their widths because I'd sent him the studio floor plans, he knew the overall colour-scheme because the TX numbers are specified on the plans but the heights and 'missing dimensions' had to be worked out (you can see some of Matt's workings-out on these pictures):


So, I simply provided Matt with the bare bones of the Tracking Room and Cybership sets - their overall foot print and their basic colour schemes. The rest of these (sadly mainly unseen) sets was down to Matt.


Alongside discussing the Tracking Room and Cybership sets, our conversation also turned to the Tardis exterior. As Matt has already commented elsewhere on Tardis Builders, we nearly didn't get the fantastic recreation of the 1966 Tardis exterior. Thankfully Matt and Rachel Talalay persuaded Steven Moffat against simply utilising the 'spare' Capaldi Box and to go for something more accurate.

Once the decision had been made to approach This Planet Earth to recreate the 1966 Tardis exterior again, all I did was provide advice and plans i.e., to point out the changes that would be needed to transform TPE's version of the Pertwee Tardis into a version which better resembled the box's 1966 appearance:

tpe (1).png
Brachacki Altered Box - 1966 Plans 1.png
Brachacki Altered Box - 1966 Plans 2.png

Let's be quite clear, the the actual construction of the box, the texturing, etc was all down to the talents of Simon Nash. Apart from the window panes, the door lock and the electrics, the construction of the 1966 Tardis exterior was all down to Simon and what a superb job he did on her!


Now we turn to the recreated Tardis interior and here is where the bulk of my involvement comes in. Again, my involvement was due solely to the good graces of Mr Sanders - without him approaching me, we might have ended up with something that wasn't nearly so impressive:

From what I can gather, Rachel Talalay had been less than impressed with the Tardis interior which had appeared in "Hell Bent/Heaven Sent" - the roundels were the wrong size and the doors were too small with the result that Peter Capaldi was unable to be filmed entering or leaving this version of the Tardis interior. This set was also comparatively small - lacking any real distance between the console and doors which, again, restricted how it could be shot.

So, with about a month to go before the start of shooting for the Xmas Special and having gained his trust (i.e., by proving that I could keep my mouth shut), Matt now asked me for help with the Tardis interior:

Being a member of this august site, Matt had obviously seen my plans for the original Brachacki Tardis interior (http://tardisbuilders.com/index.php?topic=4825.0) and asked if he could use these plans. The problem with Tardis Builders when I first posted these plans back in 2013 was that the then-existing upload limit meant that they had to be reduced in size so, I sent Matt the full-sized versions on which he could base his drawings for the recreated set.

Now, fairly obviously, I've studied the various iterations of the original Tardis set (it was modular so, not every element of the set was used in every story) and I was able to point out how the set appeared in "The Tenth Planet" and to ask Matt what version the Production Team wanted. The original plan was to go for the full-sized version of the set as it appeared in Edge of Destruction and to omit the usually unseen wall to allow the cameras to film the Tardis interior through this void as was done in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the event, the decision was taken to fully enclose the set and to use a single hand-held camera and to repeatedly record the various scenes from a multitude of different camera angles.

As well as a fully-enclosed set, the other notable changes/adaptations to my plans which were made was the omission of the two lighting columns and the replacement of the photo blow-up walls with the hexagons which had last appeared in the Curator scenes in "The Day of the Doctor". Via e-mail, I did say to Matt at the time of planning this set, that I'd have preferred the lighting columns to be included but, there simply wasn't the money/labour available to build these.  I can console myself with the thought that the lighting columns weren't used in the original version as it appeared in "The Tenth Planet"!

The only other real change that Matt made I didn't find out about until my set visit on 23rd June 2017: Whereas the original idea was to have an open-sided full sized version of the Tardis set as it appeared in "Edge of Destruction", when the decision was made to fully-enclose the set, the Production Team took the decision to match the set's 'foot print' as it appeared in "An Unearthly Child" i.e. a slightly shorter set than the full-sized version from "Edge of Destruction".

Unfortunately no-one told the buyers who then ordered far more 'hexagonals' than they actually needed to complete the additional 'enclosing' wall! Still, from my point of view, this was a case of serendipity as - when I visited - Supervising Art Director Martin Boddison gave me one as a thank you gift!

No message is associated with this attachment.

(Note the shorter length of the recreated set when compared to the 'foot print' from my plans of the full-sized version as it appeared in "The Edge of Destruction".)


(The last picture shows Matt holding a model of the Tardis set - you can see that they have simply printed out my plans for the Console's control panels and the Fault Locator and glued them on to the model set.)

So, there you have it - I didn't build anything, I didn't design anything; what you saw on screen was purely down to Matt Sanders, Simon Nash and the rest of the hugely talented guys at Roath Lock. All I did was provide a few plans and a bit of research which Matt and the rest of the team wouldn't have had the time to do.

As a reward for my limited involvement, I had a lovely day in Matt's company. I got to watch some filming, was given unlimited behind-the-scenes access to the Dr Who studios and the opportunity to chat to a really friendly and talented team (and I got to meet Tom Spilsbury).

As well as some lovely memories and a hexagonal roundel, via Twitter, I also got a message of thanks from Rachel Talalay:

Screenshot 2017-12-31 01.42.29.png

Happy times and places!  :)


(Edited to include photos of Matt's excellent recreations of the Cybership and Tracking Base sets which were sadly under-utilised in the transmitted episode.)



I think you are being too modest.
Sounds like you had quite a bit of creative input into the finished product/products.

I think you, Matt & Simon are very inspirational people,

I also really do appreciate the fact that you always have time to interact, advise & help us amateur enthusiasts!

More power to your elbow!!

Best regards,


Angelus Lupus

I agree with Russell.
You may not have picked up a hammer or saw, but there are clearly many hours of detailed research, digging up/comparing obscure images to find more detailed/colour reference of each component, that served as the plans for what was built.
A mixed-up non-conformist, trying to fit in.


If you had not dedicated the free time and passion to pursue this over 5 years ago, then goodness knows what we might have ended up with! I'm afraid you're going to have to live with feeling slightly uncomfortable, Tony. Your efforts and contributions have benefited the tv show we all adore. :)


I love all you guys and the effort you've put into detail and research so the rest of us have an easy baseline for our "good enough" versions.  And I mostly love the BBC.  (I'm a bit mad because I suspect they raised prices on Tom Baker serials to RetroTV because they've cut about half his stories, but that's another story.)  Not only have they tolerated our little hobby, they've embraced our research and even used it for the show. 

(Maybe I can still hope for Jody Whittaker's first episode to consist of her materializing in various backyards and living rooms around the UK with the TARDIS looking slightly different each time before settling in on whatever hers is going to look like. ;) )

Oh, and Matt needs to finish his fiberglass police box before I die or I shall haunt him for the rest of his life.  (I'm not planning on dying anytime soon, but I'm not getting any younger and he hasn't done an update in awhile.) 
"My dear Litefoot, I've got a lantern and a pair of waders, and possibly the most fearsome piece of hand artillery in all England. What could possibly go wrong?"
-The Doctor.


Have to agree with the crew Tony,  research and plans are as an important piece of the puzzle as the actual building, as you can't have one without the other.  The builders are extremely talented but it was your research and diligence for accuracy that aided them in creating what they did. 

so there


I want notes, lists and answers by the time I finish this here Juicy-a-Box! WARNING: I am Thirst-ay! And it is Fruit Punch! And it is Delicious!"


I have just read the article in question & two things immediately spring to mind...

Firstly, Just how much effort, dedication & teamwork went into getting the prop ready for shooting. Kudos to all involved.

Secondly,  Thank God Matt managed to convince Steven Moffat to go with the 60's style prop. Can you imagine if he's stuck with his original idea of using a modern box with a 60's style door sign?!?! :o AArrgghh!!!!
It would have been a disaster!

As it is, I think the 2 boxes look great next to each other.




Just wanted to chime in and say I'm very impressed with everyone's work on the Christmas special Hartnell TARDIS, and am very glad that Tony and Simon were able to assist the production in this way.

It was a childhood dream of mine to work on the TVM console (the production design of that film inspired me in my career as an engineer), and I imagine having their own work involved with/on screen in an official BBC production of Doctor Who was also a well deserved dream fulfillment for both of them.



Hi Tony,

That is a great article and congrats on getting to keep one of the hexagons -- The research and dedication that you gave in making the plans has helped
so many of us here on the site with our own projects --

The greatest thing about doing this kind of design work is being able to see something that was made long ago recreated, displayed and shared for all to see -- 

So once again, congrats on the work and as always looking forward to your next project --




are the plans here for the 1966 version or the twice upon a time version of the box? im aware there different