I think its safe to say that the TARDIS interior for the Thirteenth Doctor’s era was a little strange. For me, it seemed to be a mixture of the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors’ TARDISes with the bright orange colouring of Matt Smith’s TARDIS merged with the coral motif that stuck with the Ninth and Tenth Doctors’ ships.
When it was first revealed properly at the end of the second episode, The Ghost Monument from Series 11, for many fans, it was far too removed from what we have previously had. While change isn’t a bad thing, this interior was met with an overwhelming dislike. It was far too dark and looked cramped; we’ve got some strange hexagonal panels that stuck out everywhere and would painful if you caught yourself on them.
Ahead of the release of Spyfall Part 1 later today (New Year’s Day 2020), we’ve been given a look at some of the new details of the TARDIS. The first of which is that the whole set looks a lot larger, more in keeping with the idea that the TARDIS is supposed to be bigger on the inside. And there is another crystal hanging down from the roof which actually makes the console look a bit better, even if, speaking personally, this TARDIS isn’t for me.
Another good note though is that it seems the lighting will be a lot brighter this time. In the last series, the interior looked far better in the finale, Resolution, when they seemed to turn the lights on and you could see everything.
In an interview with the Radio Times, Chris Chibnall spoke about the new additions to the interior.
“It’s not a revamp, its had an extension put in, it’s blossoming! The thing is with Doctor Who, you could keep on building a TARDIS forever. So you can never do everything you want to do in the first year anyway.”
Another question fans had was where the crew went when they wanted some downtime. All the past TARDIS console rooms have had a doorway leading towards the remaining interiors that we only really get glimpses of in the modern-series. Indeed, Series 11 seemed to imply that there wasn’t anything else, though I think a door was probably hidden in the darkened corners. Now though, we’ve got a new fancy set of steps (they look like they’re going to drive Ryan’s dyspraxia mad) that lead onto a balcony with what looks like a corridor leading towards the inner workings of the ship, bathrooms, bedrooms, libraries, swimming pools, the bins, workshops, and everything else we’ve ever seen.
“Some important things are going to happen on those steps,” Chibnall teased.
Producer Nikki Wilson added more about the ship’s slightly tweaked redesign.
“The staircase going up… We’ve got another level compared to what we had last year. It’s all tweaks and improvements.”
In the trailer we got in November, there seemed to be a creature that was invading the TARDIS, despite the Doctor’s claims that nothing could get inside the ship. But that isn’t necessarily true so perhaps we will have an episode where the TARDIS crew have to use items from around the TARDIS to defeat the invaders, maybe allowing us further exploration of the Thirteenth Doctor’s TARDIS?
Another way the production team have helped to make the TARDIS seem much larger is to take away one of the walls, which will no doubt also help when it comes to filming on the set, as some of the problem of the last series was that, with everyone having to be crammed into the set, both main and guest casts as well as the production crew, everyone felt squashed in. Hopefully the removal of one of those walls will allow for the interior to feel much bigger.
However, one of the strangest and intriguing additions seems to be the scanner that allows the TARDIS crew to see what’s going on outside. While the production crew have done away with the screen itself, they’ve decided to use a projector and a device that blows vapour into the set that then allows the image to be seen.
This new addition seems to have been a hit with the cast and crew and while Chibnall loved the viewer screens that were dotted all-over the inside of the TARDIS in the previous series, he’s happy with the new addition.
“In terms of lining up shots, because there’s so much distance, screens were cutaways rather than them being able to be part of the shots. So this was Dav’s idea to keep the kind of organic feel, but allow shots – you know, we’ve now got great shots this series where the image is projected and Jodie’s looking through the image. Which gives us more variety, really. I think Jodie loves these new screens,”
“[Jodie] loves moving all the time, she’s quite frenetic as a performer and she likes to keep that pace up. So anything which allows her to keep her performance coming is a good thing.”
It seems that the production team has listened to the fans in this case, adding the things that fans wanted to see, even if we aren’t going to be seeing much of them. I’m not sure where I stand on the idea on the scanner using vapour to show the crew messages and what’s outside but I’ll reserve judgement till I see it on screen. Overall all though, the TARDIS is continuing to change and evolve, and so long as they keep the lights on this time, maybe this interior will grow on me…
Spyfall airs tonight on BBC1 at 6:55pm.