The 50th Anniversary of everyone’s favourite Time Lord is fast approaching and the other day I found myself catching up with some classic and new episodes in anticipation of what Mr Moffat might throw at us. As a result I decided a nostalgic look back at 50 years of The Doctor and the TARDIS would be rather appropriate, after all, surviving a half-century is not easy (seriously…..some cricketers can barely make 15 runs).
Over the last 50 years we have seen 11 different regeneration’s of The Doctor, starting from William Hartnell in 1963 to the 11th current Doctor Matt Smith and as history has shown; no Doctor is the same as the previous. Various elements change during his regeneration that give us essentially the same person but in a new man. The most notable changes (aside from the obvious of physical appearance) are usually personality and, of course, his fashion sense.
The general trend with the Doctors regenerations is that he gets younger with each. In the first ever Dr. Who serial “An Unearthly Child”, William Hartnell’s Doctor seemed to find Humans more of a nuisance than intriguing and almost seemed to take pleasure in Ian Chesterton (one of the Doctors first, albeit initially, unwilling companions along with Barbara Wright) getting shocked in the TARDIS while he is trying to find the door controls (for future reference if anyone else has this problem it is the red lever on the left of the console opposite the hat stand). But as we can see in future episodes, his attitude towards the human race has since changed dramatically.
Each Doctor also had his own little “thing” shall we say, something that was unique to each one. In the earlier series it was usually an item of some form, examples from the earlier Doctors would be John Pertwee with Bessie (an Edwardian roadster) and Tom Baker with his extremely long scarf (knitted by Marie Antoinette) and a packet of jelly babies in his pocket. The new series hasn’t really lent towards a particular item that is unique to each Doctor but went more for a signature catch phrase.
Christopher Eccleston, being the first of the new Doctors, had his leather jacket and the catchphrase “Fantastic”. Tennant, who is currently standing as the people favourite, was known for his long jacket, suit and converse trainers and always saying “Allon’s-ey”. Our current Doctor, Matt Smith is a fan of Bow-Ties (because they are cool and he even had a thing with Fezzes for an episode or two) and likes to shout out “Geronimo” occasionally. So in their own little ways, each Doctor is different, bringing something new to the character each time.
Through out all the years of Doctor Who, we have watched him regenerate 11 different times as a result of varying reasons. However, the method through which he regenerates has changed. I will admit that the regeneration of Hartnell to Troughton is one I have never seen (I believe it is one of the many lost episodes). Patrick Troughton into John Pertwee was a forced regeneration by the Time Lords and banishment to earth. Tom Baker to Peter Davidson changed it up again with the being known as The Watcher having a part to play in it.
The modern regeneration’s seem to be much more volatile with an explosion of golden rays. Tennant’s regeneration was one that was heavily anticipated after a “false” regeneration earlier in his tenure. When he finally regenerates in The End Of Time Part 2 (I don’t mind admitting that I was a rather sad when it happen), it is more of a massive explosion that all but destroys the TARDIS and sends it crashing back down to earth.
The T.A.R.D.I.S. (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) is without a doubt THE trademark of the show. It’s blue Police box exterior and engine sound (even heard at the London Olympics opening ceremony for those with a keen ear) has spanned every single series of the show and hasn’t changed since it’s Chameleon circuit got stuck (and we pray it never gets fixed). The TARDIS is the Doctors legendary living time travelling machine. A bit temperamental at times but to quote the TARDIS in The Doctors Wife “I always took you where you needed to be”. Forwards and Backwards in time, to parallel universes and back, the TARDIS has never left the Doctors side. The Doctor cares for her and she cares for him.
Though the exterior of the TARDIS has remained the same, the interior has gone through several makeovers during the last 50 years. The most frequent interior that has been seen, strangely enough has been her original with the white and circular design. This particular one can be seen in almost all of the classic series at some stage. John Pertwee was the only Doctor to ever have the TARDIS console with no exterior. The six part serial Inferno is where the Doctor explains that he removed the console to initiate some repairs and attempt to upgrade a couple of the systems. This is one the only times that the famed Police Box exterior isn’t featured at all during a Doctor Who serial.
Tom Baker was also the first and only when it comes to a TARDIS design. Regenerating from John Pertwee he adopted the classic white interior and then the design went more Victorian. The interior was changed to brownish tinge with wood panels dotted around and the console in the center no longer featured the up and down central column or any of the other gubbins, gadgets or gizmos that other TARDIS consoles have ever featured. Needless to say that this design didn’t last an overly long time and soon the original white interior was returned before his regeneration into Peter Davidson.
Now the Doctor Who Movie (1996) used a completely different design for the TARDIS. Naturally they had a bit more money to through around when they went in to production so they could be slightly more elaborate with the TARDIS interior. They decided upon a much more cavernous interior (an idea which has been continued in the modern series). As much as I hate America trying to make or remake British ideas, I quite liked it. It really gave a proper idea of quite how big the TARDIS truly was.
The main control room was far bigger than we had seen in all previous TARDIS incarnations and we also had “The Cloister Room”, containing the Eye of Harmony, also giving an idea of the sheer vastness of the TARDIS. For the new series of Doctor Who, they stuck with a large spacious design for the interior but made it much more basic with the first design of the new series. The main control room was similar in design to the original concept but nothing extra really thrown in, making the main focus of any event in the TARDIS based almost solely around the console.
With the two interiors we have seen since Matt Smith took up the mantle of The Doctor, they have gone from basic to much more extravagant with a lot more colour and depth in the first and making the current look, for lack of a better, more techy. We have even been given the TARDIS personified in The Doctors Wife, where the essence of the TARDIS was removed and placed into a human vessel. This gave us a very brief insight into who, yes who, the TARDIS is and what her personality is like. We also see towards the end of the episode just how much they truly care for each other.
So like the Doctor, the TARDIS may have changed in her appearance but underneath she is still the same old time machine that we all know and love.Tags: cybermen, daleks, david tennant, doctor who, doctor who 50th anniversary special, doctor who companions, matt smith, the t.a.r.d.i.s.