Clayton Hickman Profile picture
Apr 8, 2018 19 tweets 17 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Some kind people said they missed my Saturday night TARDIS blather yesterday, so I promised I’d rustle summat up today. So here begins a thread about the TARDIS lamp (THRILLING, EH?) in classic #DoctorWho. I’ve not really prepared this one so sorry if it’s a bit shambolic 😅 1/
Okay, so real police boxes - by the time we get to the TARDIS type anyway - had a fresnel lensed lamp with a round, domed cap and 4 vertical struts, standing on a shallow square plinth. I like the word ‘plinth’ 👍 2/
The original 1963 TARDIS prop copied this very faithfully - it’s actually *really* hard to find good pictures of the original lamp, but hopefully you can kind of see what it looked like 👍 3/
This lasted for the first season until - and this is my theory rather than something definite - the lamp was badly damaged during the collapsing bridge sequence in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. You can see the damage to the windows and sign boxes in these pics 😱 4/
In The Rescue it looks weird - like it had been hastily repaired, and by The Web Planet it’s been replaced by a weird skinny lantern thing 😱 Luckily, by the end of that story a whole new proper lamp had been added. More on that next, thrill-seekers! 5/
So here’s the new lamp - a simple perspex tube with a square base, square cap with domed top, and four supporting struts. This one lasts for AGES. Basically all the way through until 1970, though the dome gets flattened down a fair bit over the years. 6/
It’s basically falling apart by the time of Spearhead from Space and when we next see it, for the Terror of the Autons Radio Times cover shoot, the perspex tube looks to have been hastily replaced with some blue lighting gel 😳 7/
Luckily the whole TARDIS gets a proper refurbishment before the studio taping for Terror of the Autons, though the set roof beams totally hide the lamp. In any case it’s back to normal later in Season 8 and stays that way until Season 11. 8/
The dome goes missing by The Time Warrior and by Planet of the Spiders the whole cap and supporting structure has been lost too 😢 9/
It continues in this sorry state until, by Planet of Evil, it’s even lost the black cap at the top of the perspex tube. They do fix it up a bit - the Android Invasion lamp almost looks spherical?! - and for its last appearance in Seeds of Doom it has a round cap fitted. Aww. 10/
Season 14 brings the first fully new TARDIS prop since the show began, and it’s a fresnel lens (yay) with a round white cap and dome, plus 3 white supporting struts, sitting on a pretty chunky square blue base. This lasts through to The Androids of Tara. But it’ll be back! 😱 11/
Okay. Brace yourselves. Now things get tricky. By Power of Kroll they seem to have lost the lamp. That story has a bizarre lantern/camping stove thing. And for Armageddon Factor that’s been replaced by *audible gasp* a blue rotating police siren 😱😱😱 /12
S17 was filmed out of order just to complicate things, so bear with me.
For The Creature from the Pit filming, in Mar 79 there’s no lamp at all!
But by studio filming in April 79 they seem to have found the white lamp again. Yay! It’s still there in City of Death in June 79. 13/
For Destiny of the Daleks the lamp had to be removed so the TARDIS could fit under the overhanging rocks. And it seems they went and lost it again after that 🤦‍♂️ For Eden, Nimon and Shada it’s back to the blue rotating beacon again. Erk. 14/
New Season! New producer! New TARDIS prop! The lamp on this one has a fresnel lens with a thin blue metal cap & dome with 3 blue struts and no base at all. At least to start with... 15/
For Logopolis the old TARDIS is brought out of storage & has a new stacked roof added. It also gets a copy of the 1980 lamp. Except up on a big square block. And then they add a big block to the lamp on the new TARDIS too, to match. For some reason. This lasts til Time-Flight 16/
For Season 20 the big blue base block is removed and the lamp, back in its original state, stays the same right through til Survival in 1989. Except for filming of Revelation of the Daleks in 1985, when they forgot to bring the lamp and had to, er, improvise... 😱 17/
The 1996 TV Movie TARDIS was made from a fresnel-lensed hurricane lantern, with top and bottom removed and fitted into a square frame very much like the 65-76 one. It also flashed blue, apparently 😝 /18
And that’s yer lot. I’m not going into the new series lamps cos a) I’m not really an expert on them, and b) they’re too hideously depressing and I wanted this story to have a happy ending 😜

Hope you enjoyed the story of the TARDIS lamp. Or tolerated it at least 😘 19/END

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More from @claytonhickman

May 11, 2018
Danger: a LONG thread of ridiculously overcomplicated nonsense about #DoctorWho TARDIS minutiae is imminent. Feel free to mute me! This time it’s about those 1960s photo-blowup walls. I’ve been thinking about them WAY too hard. Thread starts... NOW! 👇
1/ It seems that it was always planned that one wall of the TARDIS would be taken up by a photographic blowup - although the original plan was that the centre of each photo roundel would be cut out to allow for backlighting.
2/ The pilot featured two photo blowups, each 14ft wide by 12ft high, printed on cloth (even though the design plan specified hardboard) and joined in the centre - you can just see the join, hidden behind one of the light boxes, as the perspective/shadows abruptly change.
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