Sunday, July 31, 2016

Transdimensional TARDIS Visit at Cardiff

Sometimes the world tilts in just the right way, and you find yourself enjoying something which is exclusive and amazing and which just ticks one of those bucket items on the long list of aspirational things to do ... Such it was on a recent trip to Cardiff, where we had the opportunity to visit the actual working TARDIS set from Doctor Who, the one that the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, actually uses for his travels in Space and Time!

This was due to Ed Russell, Brand Manager for Doctor Who, who generously offered to show us around the set while the main Doctor Who team was off filming in Spain. He arranged for the lights to be put on especially for us, and we had no restrictions or limitations placed on us (except for a 'no video' rule, which of course we complied with). I'm told that there is a TARDIS tour that you can pay for as an 'add on' to a visit to the Doctor Who Experience, but this is only when they are not recording the show, and on these visits, the console and upper level is roped off ...

The entrance to the TARDIS ...
My first impression of the set was that it was massive. It rests in its own studio at Roath Lock, and takes up most of it! You enter through the actual external TARDIS doors, which is a lovely touch, and inside, it's like a bubble of Time Lord Technology.

I actually love this control room. It feels functional and right in a way that the Eccleston/Tennant/Smith ones didn't ... and I was very impressed that the console is indeed fully functional, with switches and levers and buttons that mostly make lights light up and things move. There's a gorgeous illuminated cog arrangement on one panel which is a work of art, and another has the interface to the TARDIS' telepathic circuits: a Zygon-like latex/silicon panel of bumps and grooves into which you can plunge your fingers.

On the upper level there are bookcases full of books, tables piled with magazines and other things, blackboards covered with arcane scribblings ... skulls, ornaments ... all manner of exotic ephemera. It's lovely! You can walk around the whole room, with staircases down to the main console area, and there are also blocked off exits to the rest of the TARDIS as well ...  We were told that sections of the upper area can be removed to allow cameras in, but it works brilliantly as an enclosed space as well.

Under the main area there's the lower floor, which again has tables covered with bits of junk and equipment, there's a hatstand, chairs ... and the under-console area, which again is fully practical in that each section lifts up allowing access to the tubes and pipes and whatever else they want to put down there. I was so impressed at the thought which has gone into making the whole set as practical and tactile as possible, so that pretty much any future requirement can be incorporated depending on what the scripts demand. Very clever. This also helps to ground the TARDIS as a real object, a solid and practical space where the Doctor and companions can live and travel and which feels like home.

Under the console ... just doing a little rewiring ...
This is of course the whole point and indeed ethos of the TARDIS from the early years of the show, and it's great to see that reflected again here. At no point does this feel like a set!  You are actually in the TARDIS, and it's all lit up! Magnificent!

Outside the set, there are the usual boxes of unidentified stuff, and even a Dalek sits forlornly there too ... whether waiting for use in future episodes, or the sole remnant of a Dalek attack on the TARDIS we don't know ... it's cool to see it there though!

There is also another set under construction in the same studio, but this is for the next season and thus is top secret ... Apparently it's supposed to tie in and match with something on location, but as we don't know what that is either, it's all a bit bewildering ... I'm sure it will come clear when the episodes are transmitted ...

We landed safely!
We ended our visit feeling uplifted and privileged that we got to visit the Doctor's TARDIS ... we may not have travelled in time and space, but in our minds we battled Daleks and Cybermen and Zygons as the Doctor rushed around the control room in a haze of blue velvet and scots accent ... Magnificent!

Here's a selection of pics from the visit ...
Sam checks out the books

A lone Dalek outside the TARDIS set

We enter the TARDIS for the first time ...

The top part of the console.

Blackboards and arcane scribblings

The amazing central console

Another view

Trying to get us home ...

External view of one of the exits from the
Console Room ... this would lead to the
rest of the ship ...

Beautiful section of the ship

Sam checks in with the Doctor ...

We all need some help!

Sam under the console!

The amazing cog and gear panel on the console

Sam is in da Ship!

Making sure the Doctor got his sums right ...

Another view of the console room. The external door is in the

Sam links into the telepathic circuits ...

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