-TARDIS PROP HISTORY-
Researched by Anthony Sibley
THE BARRY NEWBERY BOX
(Season Fourteen to Seventeen)
Of all the props used during the programme's initial twenty six year run, this new model had the shortest service life - spanning just four years, 1976 to 1980. However, it was pressed again into service briefly during seasons Eighteen and Nineteen.
The Masque of Mandragora
Just like the original prop, this too was a timber construction and came apart for ease of transport. It consisted of the base, the two side walls, complete with corner posts, the back wall and front doors, plus the front and back sign boxes and finally the roof and lamp housing assembly. Barry Newbery was given the task of redesigning the TARDIS interior as well as the exterior, and of that, he said that he wished to bring the design back to that of a traditional Police Box look.
However, despite these good intentions, the design was radically different from before. Although often derided in some fan quarters over it's rather odd appearance, Newbery crafted this prop in direct response to the problems associated with the original model that this one replaced and with a keen eye, you can clearly see the thought process in evidence.
The prop was now much shorter with a very shallow pitched roof. The lamp lens had reverted back to a fresnelled navigation beacon sat on a raised base, but the housing that surrounded the lens itself had three upright struts that supported the cap (instead of four) and was positioned with two of the struts facing forward. The whole array (bar the raised base) was painted white, rather than the traditional blue. The "Police Public Call Box" sign graphics (now white lettering on a black background) were made slightly wider and there were two steps below the sign boxes rather than three, as had been before.
The walls themselves now had narrow windows and recessed panels, though for the first time ever, they had bevels, which were on a 45 degree angle. The phone panel door sported white lettering on a blue background and had returned to the correct wording as seen on the original prop during its formative years, though the handle was omitted from the surrounding frame. As for the windows themselves, pebbled glass was reintroduced on the two lower, outer panes on each separate window, with frosted Perspex filling the remaining panes.
The right hand side door still had a standard Yale lock, but this was painted over to disguise its presence as a fake lock had been included - again for the prop "ankh" shaped key. The door was not given a handle, so the actors once more had to close it by pulling on its framework, though on the odd occasion, it magically closed by itself, courtesy of a stage hand hiding inside the prop.
Surrounding the doors (and walls for the sake of symmetry) we're a set of wide vertical door restraints, there to prevent the doors from coming too far forward when closed. Having them all the way around the doors ensured one hundred percent that this could not accidentally happen, as had on the previous model. Finally the detailing of the quarter round quadrants (on the corner post pillars) were less pronounced and the base was a simple, non bevelled affair that sat on four castors - the whole construction was coated in Artex and painted in a flat, non-weathered shade of blue.
The TARDIS remained physically unchanged during this season, however.
Image of the Fendahl
The TARDIS was missing its lamp housing assembly for this story only, presumably left behind back at base in London , whilst the cast and crew were out on location filming.
The Ribos Operation
The TARDIS was now painted a slightly darker shade of blue.
The Stones of Blood
At the end of episode four, it can be clearly seen that the prop appears without its rear wall and sign housing. (Evidence of this can be also seen in the previous season's opening story, Horror of Fang Rock - though only in pictures taken during the rehearsals.)
The Power of Kroll
The fresnelled navigation beacon lens has been replaced by what appears to be an oil burning lamp - the glass is more bowed in the centre, though the metal housing that surrounds it does have four struts and has been painted blue to match the rest of the prop.
The Armageddon Factor
The lamp is now a blue domed Police Panda car light, with a rotating centre.
Destiny of the Daleks
The TARDIS appears without its roof as the prop was too tall to fit under the rocky outcrop where it materialises as part of the story. The flashing of the "light" was added later in post production, to give the illusion that the roof and lamp were still there. The front side door windows have clearly been repaired with new, slightly thinner, window bars covering the original snapped versions, resulting in these new bars being slightly proud of the main framework.
The Horns of Nimon
Once again the TARDIS appears without its rear wall and sign housing. This is quite visible when the actors step in and out of the box as you can see, very clearly, right through it to the rest of the set beyond, even though a black curtain has been hung between the two rear corner post pillars. The prop is also starting to look rather shabby with scuffed paint work.
The front sign housing, under the word "Box" has been broken.
From this point on, the prop was replaced by a new, fibre glass version, however it was recalled into service three more times - once at the end of Season Eighteen and twice during Season Nineteen.
This story required the use of a real Police Box as well as the new TARDIS exterior prop and plans were set to film at the Barnet Bypass where one of the last remaining boxes stood. Unfortunately, shortly before filming was due to commence, the authentic box was destroyed and so it was decided to film elsewhere, using the Newbery prop as a stand in.
The prop was redressed to fit the brief; it was given a new, much larger stacked roof, actually the wooden former used to make the mould for the new fibre glass TARDIS roof, with a fresnelled navigation beacon sat on top of a raised base. The sign boxes were re-clad on the front fascia to disguise the damage underneath and the sign graphics themselves were replaced with new style versions, white lettering stuck to a blue painted wooden backing.
Finally, the whole prop was repainted to match the new fibre glass prop, though this time around, the Yale lock was left visible as the character of Adric was requested to "pick" the lock as part of the narrative. The phone panel was now given a handle and behind it, a cubby hole with a telephone had been installed - again as a requirement of the story.
Although this story started out using the new fibre glass prop, the Newbery box was called into action yet again for the sequences involving the TARDIS that had materialised at an awkward, reclining angle on the planet Castrovalva. The reasoning behind this is likely to be that the wooden prop could withstand this kind of treatment, taking the weight of the actors as they stood inside of it, waiting for their cue to emerge.
Because the fibre glass version sported two (inward opening) back doors, they would inevitably have been damaged by this. Once again, this prop had been redressed slightly - this time the two original front doors were replaced by the wooden formers used to create the door moulds for the fibre glass prop and as a result of this, the doors no-longer matched the side walls.
A new phone panel (minus a handle) was added, though the text used two different fonts, one Serif and one San Serif, and was also worded slightly differently from the main prop, now reading; " Officer & Cars Respond to all calls " spread across two lines, rather than " OFFICERS AND CARS RESPOND TO URGENT CALLS " spread over three. These new doors were hung so that it was the left door that the actors would emerge from first, (had the prop been upright) with the lock on this side and the handle positioned on the centre divide which was attached to the right hand door - thus matching the new fibre glass version.
Finally, a second set of identical sign box graphics (white lettering on a blue background) from the fibre glass prop had been fitted into the existing sign boxes on this prop - it was also once again repainted to match more closely the new box.
The Newbery box, exactly as it had appeared in Castrovalva (although the base is much dirtier now), made it's final appearance here - after which, it was never to be seen again. Shortly after the recording of this story, it was sold to a private collector, where it remains to this day.