Posted: July 31, 2007 in Doctor Who, Reviews, Technology, Television

0011.jpgThe series of Doctor Who which restarted in 2005 introduced us, once again, to The Doctor’s famous time machine known as The TARDIS. However the TARDIS seen in the new series appears to differ in several major ways from the one seen in the classic series. The following is a brief examination of what could easily be called The Last TARDIS. An overview of the classic series TARDIS is also available.

The Name

TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space (Rose, Smith and Jones).

The Exterior

008.jpgThe exterior of the TARDIS is controlled by the Chameleon Circuit but is currently stuck on the form of a Police Box (Doomsday). The phone attached to the inside of the door does not work (The Empty Child).

The weight of the exterior shell seems to be relatively light, able to be lifted and moved without too much trouble; having been moved by animated Shop Mannequins (number unknown) (Rose), a small team of dwarf sized hospitality assistants (number unknown, possibly with mechanical help) (The End of the World).

007.jpgThe surface of the exterior can be affected by relatively normal objects. Paint sticks to it as per any other surface (Aliens of London), while an arrow fired from a bow can stick into the door (The Shakespeare Code).

004.jpgThe Interior

The interior dimensions are considerable bigger than the exterior shell would suggest, though even an approximate size of the interior has yet to be determined. So far only two rooms have been seen; The Control Room (Rose) and the TARDIS Wardrobe (The Christmas Invasion), though the interior is bigger than that with the directions from the Control Room to a wardrobe being gives as “first 016.jpgleft, second right, third on the left, go straight ahead, under the stairs, past the bins, fifth door on your left.” (The Unquiet Dead). An attic has also been stated to exist (The Shakespeare Code).

Under special circumstances, the interior and exterior dimensions of the TARDIS can be separated. They can be reunited by adding even a small power source to a TARDIS key, wherein the exterior shell will reconstruct itself (Father’s Day).


005.jpgBy plugging in an item receiving signal into the control console, the TARDIS can trace the signal back to the originating spot (Rose).

Readouts are displayed on a screen attached to the central Control Console, which can also serve to display the environment outside of the TARDIS.

0061.jpgWith minor tinkering, radar is ‘patched in’ and the TARDIS can look back in time at earlier readings (Aliens of London). He TARDIS is also able to intercept satellite communications, such as TV signals, and relay them to the display screen on the Control Console (Aliens of London).


Power is derived from soaking up energies from Space/Time rifts, landing on such rifts and ‘opening up the engines’ allows the TARDIS to refuel (Boom Town, Utopia). If extra power is required, energy can be absorbed by the TARDIS from such cosmic events as a supernova (Doomsday).

If contact with the Time Vortex or the TARDIS’s native universe is lost, it loses all main power; Emergency power exists, enough to dimly light the control room yet the Control Console is demonstratively completely dead (Rise of the Cybermen).


The TARDIS possesses no conventional weapons as such but is resilient to attacks and damage to a large extent, including exposure to the gravitational forces of a Black Hole with no apparent strain on any systems (The Satan Pit).

014.jpgIn extreme cases, the TARDIS can open its Control Console and expose others to ‘The Heart of the TARDIS’, which seems to possess unquantified abilities – presumably that of regressing persons in time (Boom Town) and direct telepathic contact (The Parting of the Ways).

The TARDIS is highly resistant to having things teleported in or out of it, it takes Time War Dalek level technology to be able to do so, a transmat beam ’15 million times more powerful’ than standard (Bad Wolf).

The interior is resistant to damage, the walls of the Control Room exhibiting no damage from being hit with Dalek firepower (The Parting of the Ways).


The Nestene Consciousness was able to recognize the TARDIS as ‘superior technology’, and that it had links to the Time War, which terrified it.

The Materialisation and Dematerialisation process causes the air to stir to the strength of a notable breeze around where the craft will land/depart from.

Noted systems include; Gravitic anomaliser, Helmic Regulator (Smith and Jones)

The TARDIS projects a telepathic field which automatically translates all spoken and written languages for recognised operators and companions (The End of the World). This field does not function if the operator is incapacitated/near death (The Christmas Invasion) and only works on languages which the TARDIS has knowledge of (The Impossible Planet).

009.jpgIf TARDIS arrival is imminent and someone with a key to the craft is near the landing spot, the key will glow. There is a small switch on the interior door lock which disables a key’s ability to open the TARDIS lock. Linked to this, there is a switch on the Control Console which renders the door un-openable from the outside (Utopia).

There is a phone attached to the Control Console which can interact with telephone networks on Earth (World War Three).

The TARDIS can send out signals which disperse signals sent by others, cancelling them out (World War Three).

015.jpgMaterialisation and Dematerialisation is possible around a target, resulting in the target appearing in the TARDIS interior or leaving an occupant behind (The Parting of the Ways, Blink).

There is an internal holographic display system, used for projecting the image of a person which then communicates a pre-recorded message (The Parting of the Ways, Blink).

017.jpgThere are power cells under the Control Console, which assist in regulating power through the ship. If main power is lost, it is possible that these ‘insignificant’ power cells may retain low amounts of power (Rise of the Cybermen).

The TARDIS possesses a tractor beam of some sort, a system able to drag an Earth made rocket out of the gravitational pull/effect of a Black Hole (The Satan Pit).

Noted Differences Between New and Classic (Type 40) TARDIS

The modern TARDIS has only one set of main doors, with no space between the exterior and interior dimensions. The classic version had two sets, an exterior and interior main door and a notable space between the two.

There is no lever on the Control Console which opens the main doors, they are opened only through manual use.

The interior has a completely different design, seemingly a stripped back version of the classic. The interior certainly does not seem as refined and does not fit the style seen in other TARDISes.

The Modern TARDIS possesses no innate defensive force fields capable of stopping an attack (The Parting of the Ways), whereas the Type 40 had two separate systems identified. The addition of an ‘Extrapolator’ device provided the ship with a fully functional force field of unknown upper limits (The Parting of the Ways).

For the purposes of this examination, only TV episodes of the series have been used as a reference. Novels have been ignored, as have any reference books and the like.

  1. BillSiwicki says:

    Great post, a very fun read. But one point: Can your article truly be called “The LAST Tardis”? (Insert evil laugh here)

  2. mikel000 says:

    I think this is brilliant!

    I read a bunch of stuff (your sute, links, etc) and it’s great to see that people are still keeping data up to date. (season 29, tennant 2, just finished here in USA)

    Bravo & keep up the great work!!

  3. Phantom_Faith says:

    fantastic article!
    but if they could bring Doctor Who back once, who says they can’t do it again.

  4. Dante Ashton says:

    The new TARDIS does have a forcefield…it was in effect when aboard the Dalak invasion fleet (the one with Captain Jack Harkness)
    Other then that, lovely article!

  5. Matt says:

    That force field was produced by the extrapolator, not the TARDIS.

  6. Doctor says:

    You Have failed to mention the type 40 TT Version, was stolen from the ship yards on Galifrey by The Doctor.

  7. Matt says:

    Not relevant to this topic, sorry.

  8. Cataboligne says:

    In timecrash, 5th upon observing 10’s TARDIS stated “You changed the [desktop] theme…”
    One could postulate 5 is referring to the entire interior scheme – thus placing the evolution of the interior of the doctors TARDIS into canon. The rest could be extrapolated from there. What I find is that 8th’s interior scheme is even less like the earlier versions than the newest interior.

  9. Cataboligne says:

    What I really like about the newer interiors is the subdued lighting…the old versions were always so bright.

  10. Manveru says:

    You forgot to mention the Heart of the TARDIS. I think that’s pretty important. 😛

  11. kev smith says:

    this Tardis, in particular the “doctors”, was essentially in the repair shops for overhaul or possible decommisioning, The “doctor” and “Susan” will have planned their escape quite thoroughly, the fact it took the doctor to contact gallifrey during the war games incident proves how well he planned his escape and his state of incognito, we have to ask the question – did professor chronotis know he was on earth, k’anpo rinpoche, did Torchwood lnow they would have been aware of his presence (jack harkness may have even been in contact).

    whatever the reasons and thoughts he knew he had to do what he had to do.

    this tardis does have its forcefields in operation – they have been and used on various occasions, it has been deliberatly tampered with several times – usually by the master so that certain functions were disabled. the master may well hate the doctor – “a universe without the doctor scarcely bears thinking about” he confesses to borusa during borusas brief revival of the death zone, temporal fission has also occured. it would also appear that The doctor and Rassillon are now enemies, i think they were once friends, we know the doctor is more than who he says – lady peinfort still knows his secrets

    many items have been repaired or replaced most probably during the time war
    as a “failed” Unit and still in need of a considerable overhaul. it would appear the chameleon circuit wasnt touched – it could even be that the Tardis itself is comfortable with its exterior appearance. certainly it is a form that is well known throughout the universe and history – appearance of a blue box nearly always sets nerves on edge….
    We can postulate that in real terms this TT capsule can be considered a museum piece even when it was due for overhaul, it in my opinion the equivelant of the constitution class of starfleet vessels (jim kirks first command and ship ).

    whatever the state of it, it certainly isnt the last Tardis left, there will be wrecks and dormant Capsules adrift, hidden and surviving timelords. The Monk, drax, the rani may well still be on earth, along with the master.

    anyway just my thoughts

  12. Mr Rose says:

    Hi people,

    Just to settle any disputes, the TARDIS is the same model used throughout the entires doctor tenure. The model is a Type 40 MK III TT Capsual.

    The Doctor stole (“Borrowed”) the capsual from a fellow Timelord, which was already considered and antique at the time, as it had at least 200 years existence by that point.

    When the Doctor stole the TARDIS, the chamelion circuit was functioning. This is shown in the stroy 100,000 BC (William Hartnell) when he exclaims “The Ship! It hasnt changed its shape!”

    If you want more information on the doctors “prequal” read LUNGBARROW.

    FYI:- The TARDIS is indistructable to ALL lifeforms and attacks by said lifeforms, with the exception of the Daleks who evolved their TT Technology to rival the Time Lords. The only thing the Daleks could not/cannot replicate is the trans-dimension (bigger interior than exterior). This is the reason that Jack Harkness added a further more powerful forcefield. If the missle launched by the Daleks was a standard “Earth Missile”, the TARDIS would not have had a scratch on it.

    The reasons that that control room differ between Doctors 1-7, 8, 9-10 and 11 is because the TARDIS can change its interior. It can jettison rooms, swap them around (like the movie CUBE) and even change the location of the enterance.

    The Masters TARDIS, like the Rani’s and the Monks are superior versions (ONE of the Masters was a Type 70) Hence Tom Bakers line: “I have to confess Master, I do admire your TARDIS).

    For more cannon information regarding TARDIS History watch “The Deadly Assasin”.

    Finally, the Doctor, over the years HAS repaired the TARDIS with nik-nak parts salvaged over the years. The ongoing in-gag is the fact that the TARDIS remains a Police Box is because the doctor does not know how to fix it. He tries in “Attack of the Cybermen” with limited success, changing iot into a pipe organ. Eventually the circuit fails and the TARDIS reverts to a Police Box, to which the doctor seems rather happy. Confirmed in “Doctor Who: The Movie” When Mr McGann confirms he has grown “Rather fond of it”

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