Doctor Who 13th Doctor TARDIS

Doctor Who production designer explains why the new TARDIS dispenses cookies

Contributed by
Nov 1, 2018

Just as the Doctor evolves with each new regeneration, so too does the TARDIS. The iconic time-and-space-traveling vessel has gone through a number of different looks throughout Doctor Who's history, so it makes sense that Jodie Whittaker's 13th Doctor also got her own new design to go with the show's new hero. Now we're getting a little more insight into why it looks the way it does.

Every TARDIS is different, from the coral veins of the David Tennant era to the bookcase-lined professorial home of Peter Capaldi's 12th Doctor. For Whittaker, production designer Arwel Wyn Jones went with a crystal look, something that plays with light and the notion of the TARDIS' power in ways we perhaps haven't seen before. In a new interview with Vulture, Wyn Jones broke down why each design decision was made, including the most important one: Why there's a custard-cream dispenser on the ship now. 

Yes, the 13th Doctor's TARDIS has a number of new design elements, but perhaps the most delightful is its cookie (or biscuit, to the Brits) dispenser, which the 13th Doctor discovers when she takes over the controls for the first time. According to Wyn Jones, that idea came when Whittaker was filming her very first scene.

“I wanted to make the console feel like it was Jodie’s,” Wyn Jones explained. “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!”

A number of decisions were made to make the TARDIS feel unique to Whittaker, including the design of the new console beyond just putting a custard-cream dispenser on it. Whittaker specifically wanted a console she could move around and play with to really look like she's flying the TARDIS, so Wyn Jones delivered, but he also made sure the machinery at work on her console was different from any other.

“The central console has always had all manner of controls on it,” he said. “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.”

Doctor Who airs Sundays on BBC America. What's your favorite element of the new TARDIS design?

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