Clayton Hickman Profile picture
May 11, 2018 26 tweets 18 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
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.
3/ Sadly, the cloth printing meant they sort of crumple as they reach the studio floor. Both sheets were 7 roundels wide by 5.5 high.
4/ For the reshoot it was decided instead to mount the photo blowups on plywood. The design plan states that the original cloths would be used, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case. Instead a new photo blowup is used with the exact same pic duplicated 3 times.
5/ Each board measured 10 feet wide by 12 feet high. Dividers with ‘French braces’ supported them. Each was 5 roundels wide by 5.5 roundels high. Again it was planned that the centres would be cut out and backed with vacuum moulds for a 3D look. Again, this wasn’t actually done.
6/ As a quick aside the Fault Locator bay seen in the pilot also featured photo blowup roundels - bloody HUGE ones - along with blowups of various valves and electrical components. For the remount (and beyond) this backcloth was replaced by flat panels and small indicator lights
7/ These larger roundels had the same spacing as the regular ones but seemingly whatever they photographed was far shallower. The white central ‘holes’ in these roundels nearly reach the edges, unlike the deep/wide rims of the more familiar photo. Anyway they’re never seen again.
8/ So what WAS photographed to make these roundels? Frustratingly we don’t know. The design plans don’t say - just that they’ll use a new photo supplied by the BBC. Interestingly the plan (drawn by Ray London) shows hexagons with inner circles - much like the new series roundels!
9/ There’s been a lot of talk over the years of pill packets - but I don’t think that’s possible. Blister packs only came into use alongside development of the contraceptive pill in the early 60s - if any *were* available in the UK in 1963 they would have been very rare.
10/ Whatever was photographed had to be at least 8 roundels wide by 7 tall. There’s a visible perspective change as you move further from the centre - the central roundels have an equal ‘lip’ around the central disc, those further out have a bigger lip to one side and above/below
11/ This is a recreation of what we see - slightly exaggerated for clarity - and how much of the photo is visible in the pilot blowups vs those made for the remount.
12/ This shows that the indentations were relatively deep - again a pill packet might seem a good suggestion, but finding a sheet of at least 8 x 7 blisters AND with offset blisters (most have their rows of indentations side by side) is nearly impossible today - let alone in 1963
13/ Also the roundel photo has the outer edge of each indentation almost touching. Pill blister packs (even ones WITH offset indentations) aren’t made like that - there’s a hard edge to each blister and they are more widely spaced.
14/ So: theory time. My feeling is that they photographed a perforated sheet of metal with ‘collared’ or indented, counter-sunk holes. Though awful, pics 3 & 4, from a metal supply website are the best match I’ve ever found to what we see on the TARDIS photo blowups.
15/ There’s a huge variety of perforated metal available, in a massive array of styles, for flooring, wall panels, even sorting trays for food manufacturing. So it's not beyond the realms of possibility that something in the 'roundel' style was available ‘off the shelf’ in 1963.
16/ Admittedly, I have very little to back this assertion up - aside from staring at them for a long time and researching what would likely have been available in 1963 - but there *may* be a clue on one of Peter Brachacki’s original design drawings…
17/ One of the set elements planned but later cut was a hexagon of 6 perspex and metal screens that (somehow) cut through the second 3D roundel wall. It was to be mounted on a hexagonal aluminium base - specified as “‘Naral’ patterned” and “polka dot”. Hmmm...
18/ I’ve drawn a blank as to what a “Naral pattern” is (99% of hits were for the US National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, the rest for ‘Naral leather cushions’). But ‘polka dot’ is how the familiar staggered circle pattern is commonly described.. So…maybe?🤷‍♂️
19/ Nearly there now... 👍

The photo(s) used to make the blowups have sadly never come to light. And I have a suspicion they went missing quite quickly. The original blowups have a lot of clarity and low contrast - you can see details of the ridges even in the darker areas.
20/ But those seen later in the Troughton era are much less clear and VERY contrasty. Dark areas are now solid black - even, as in pic 1, with a light shining right at them - and overall they look dark and grainy.
21/ interestingly, it’s possible to match the roundel walls used in The Mind Robber (albeit sideways) to those from An Unearthly Child. In fact the Mind Robber walls exactly fit the original 5 roundels x 5.5 roundels visible on the AUC blowups. But are much poorer quality. Why?
22/ My guess is that when they needed new photo blowup walls they found they’d lost the original 1963 photo/negative & had to re-photograph the least decrepit of the surviving walls instead. Hence new walls of the exact same shape but of poorer quality - they’re copies of a copy.
23/ The blowups were hung in all four directions over the years and their final outings in the Pertwee era look to me to be re-uses of the Troughton copies - the detail and contrast aren’t a patch on the 63 versions.
24/ As a final aside there are a couple of shots in Enemy of the World 6 - only one of two TARDIS interiors ever shot on film - where the blowups look much bigger than normal. In wider shots they seem fine. Maybe just an optical illusion?
25/ And that’s everything really. I wish I could be more definite about it all, but there’s so little to go on. So any experts on perforated metal, ‘Naral’ patterns, pill packets or 60s photo blowup techniques reading this - get in touch! 😘

Hope it wasn't too dull! Bye!

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More from @claytonhickman

Apr 8, 2018
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/
Read 19 tweets

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