Doctor Who season 11 is a brand new start for the sci-fi behemoth in every way possible, from new showrunner Chris Chibnall to new Doctor Jodie Whittaker. And let’s not forget the brand new TARDIS. After it went missing at Christmas, the Time Lord’s trusty time machine finally reappeared in episode 2 “The Ghost Monument,” with its regenerated interior being unveiled in the hour’s closing moments.
The new control room is quite the departure from what’s come before, too. Gone is the sleek chrome of the Twelfth Doctor’s TARDIS, as it now looks like some sort of mechanical beehive in a cave. But what was the thinking behind the blue box’s new look? Well, production designer Arwel Wyn Jones spoke to Vulture recently and revealed his secrets.
First of all, the Thirteenth Doctor’s TARDIS glows with a mix of teal blue and amber lightning, something that Wyn Jones attributes to his team wanting the time machine to feel like “a warm place.”
“We wanted to make the universe feel a warm place, so it seemed perfect to give the TARDIS a warm color at its heart. Then, as we played with the colors, we found that the teal blue seemed to work best in the infinity mirrors as a complement.”
The outer walls of the TARDIS resemble interlocking gears, which Wyn Jones describes as “more of a mesh than gears — a fractal interweaving mesh to convey the idea of containing and controlling an incredible power, very much like a Faraday cage.” Something you might have missed so far on screen is the detailing on the floor beneath the console. Watch out for it, though, and you’ll see that “the floor pattern is a play on a snowflake,” Wyn Jones said. “It gave us a very cool six-sided fractal pattern that tied into the whole well.”
As for the central console itself, Wyn Jones was keen to give it a cohesive feel this time as opposed to the ramshackle bunch of controls that usually litter its surface. The designer wanted to approach it from an engineering standpoint rather than an electronic one.
“The central console has always had all manner of controls on it. In this incarnation, I wanted it to feel like it was engineering rather than electronics that controlled it — the flow of gases and fluids and energy controlled by valves, taps, and levers rather than tapping a keyboard.”
One thing about the TARDIS that stood out in “The Ghost Monument” was the quirky addition of a biscuit dispenser – which served the Doctor up a custard cream when it took off into the vortex. Wyn Jones admitted that this was included in the design specifically to give Jodie Whittaker a treat.
“I wanted to make the console feel like it was Jodie’s. I’d started designing the TARDIS before I knew it was Jodie playing the Doctor, and then when I was at the filming of the regeneration, I found out that custard creams were her favorite biscuit, and an idea was born!”
Be sure to catch Doctor Who season 11 every Sunday on BBC America.