Note: The premier of Season 8 of “Dr. Who” airs today with Peter Capaldi as the new doctor. The last time I saw Capaldi, he played the young Danny Oldsen in “Local Hero.” I liked him then and I’m excited about seeing him in the role of Dr. Who now. It seemed fitting to re-post this blog piece today and I hope you enjoy it. The show starts in minutes few! – Jan (first published Nov. 14, 2013.)
Dr. Who must be skulking in the neighborhood, because the TARDIS has landed in Metro Vancouver. We didn’t hear it cascading down, but there it is, sure enough. It landed two months ago, so the Doctor’s mission must be taking him far and wee. The Doctor, a Time Lord over 900 years old, is the main character of a fantastically inventive BBC science fiction television show which began airing in 1963. TARDIS is the acronym for Time and Relative Dimension in Space. A TARDIS is the time travel machine used by Dr Who. It was designed to blend into whatever landscape it landed in, but this particular machine went wonky and only ever appears as a police box. An example of art deco architecture, the structure is modeled after the British metropolitan police box, which, at one time, dotted the landscape throughout the UK. All London police boxes were built of concrete and had teak doors, but some in outlying areas may have been wooden. The BBC’s police boxes are wooden and, as opposed to the actual police box, it’s right-hand door swings inward.
There is a lot of buzz about the Doctor at present and, because of it, one wonders why he has chosen to land on a quiet street in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Maybe he’s escaping the limelight. The BBC’s “Dr. Who” is 50 years old this year and the 50th anniversary of the show is being celebrated throughout the world. On November 23, the BBC special “The Day of the Doctor” will be simulcast across the globe. In addition, lost episodes of the BBC show have been found in Nigeria and fans everywhere have rejoiced. The Doctor is no longer just a character on a television show. He’s an integral part of the British psyche…it’s hopes and dreams. Much has been written and theorized and criticized, but I like the Doctor. Why? For starters, the Doctor doesn’t have a macho build, isn’t pumped up on steroids. Then, the Doctor
carries no weapon; he only has a tool, a sonic screwdriver, which can open things. The Doctor is a romantic figure…he’s adventurous and he spends his time fixing things and, well, saving the Universe. The Doctor isn’t sexualized; he’s on a mission and he takes his missions one-by-one. He does have traveling companions, but only platonic relationships are depicted. Doctor Who is a refreshing alternative to a lot of what you find on tv or in the cinemas these days.
When “Dr. Who” first started, it was extremely low budget, but now it has a blank check, or so it seems, and with that $, the BBC fashions tv shows that show an intelligent use of special effects. The writers are splendid, in addition. And nothing could be better than the original theme, written by Rob Grainer, but brought to life by the genius of Delia Derbyshire of the amazing BBC Radiophonic workshop. What came to be known as the howl-around effect, the graphic sequence of the original Dr. Who intro, was created by Norman Taylor. According to the Independent, Taylor said, “I got the usual effect of diminishing images of the monitor disappearing into limbo when, suddenly, some stray light hit the monitor screen and the whole picture went mobile, with swirling patterns of black and white.” Everyone who has ever watched and liked Dr. Who has ‘their’ doctor. While getting on in years, he doesn’t necessarily have to age that much bodily, as he is able to regenerate a new body. The Doctor has recently enjoyed his 11th incarnation in the form of Matt Smith. The 50th Anniversary will usher in the 12th incarnation of the Time Lord, played by Peter Capaldi, who I first saw in “Local Hero,” in the 1980s. ‘My’ Dr. Who was Tom Baker, mainly because I began watching the show in the 1970s, when Baker was cast in the role of the fourth doctor. He remains a favorite among many fans and was notable for his long curly hair, big beak, and wonderfully long scarf.
The television show died out for a period of time but was resurrected and revamped in the 1990s. Since then, there have been new generations of fans, Whovians. I’m rather partial to David Tennant’s Dr. Who, as he was rather swashbuckling, yet, at the same time, sensitive as the 10th doctor. His altruism and passion really come across. But, back to the TARDIS…on our block… Some months ago, we were planning on building a triangular garden shed to set on the corner of our deck, but after researching plans, I kept coming across a British garden shed trend: Dr. Who’s time travel machine. They were large enough for what we wanted, but even more than that, they fit into our sense of aesthetics. So, my husband began researching, by using internet forums and web surfing. He wanted to find out about the origin, the history, so he went back to the advent of the police box. He found blueprints of the original British boxes, then ones from the BBC of successive TARDIS’. After much study, he began developing his plans, customizing the dimensions for our needs but
retaining all the design elements. The Jane Street TARDIS is 1o’x4’4′. In every way, it looks like a British police box. It has a light, illuminated signage, a St. John’s Ambulance decal, a Yale lock, and police box telephone instructions. Because we live in SW BC, he used rubberized paint to seal it and opted for the original police box lip at the base of the door, which will keep the rain out (added after the photos above were shot). Original British boxes were about 10’x5’x5′, but we decided that was too big for our deck. It’s still mammoth; no photo shows its true scale. The deck floor is strong, the box was braced, and it’s extremely well-built. I’m posting blueprints, in case you want to build one of your own. Note, it’s a big project and not inexpensive. It’s also very heavy and needs a couple of people to place the top on the walls. Good luck with your endeavor, if you should choose to take this mission…
In the end, Dr. Who is about creativity and Jane Street Clayworks gives that a big “thumbs up.”