A Beginner's Guide to the TARDIS
What is a TARDIS?
The TARDIS is the Doctor's method of travel through both time and space - all Gallifreyan Time Lords use TARDISes for getting from A to B - and from then to now.
And TARDIS means?
TARDIS, of course, stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. Or Time and Relative Dimension in Space, if you're a purist.
What's a police box?
The Doctor's rather unreliable type 40 TARDIS appears as a Police Box - but only because the chameleon circuit that allows the TARDIS to appear in any form got jammed on earth in 1963. Police boxes used to be everywhere - they contained emergency telephones for 'Bobbies' to use before the Police got walkie-talkies.
Of course, the external dimensions don't bear very much resemblance to what's inside. The interior of the TARDIS occupies a separate set of dimensions to the exterior - so it's a lot bigger on the inside than the outside.
How does it travel?
How the TARDIS actually travels through space time is a mystery. It does appear as though the whole ship (both external and internal dimensions) move through the time vortex, allowing the TARDIS to cross time and space. Hence the TARDIS interior shaking when the exterior is attacked.
Can you break it?
The TARDIS is almost indestructible. If it was completely indestructible then life wouldn't be very interesting, but it does appear to be resilient to extermination, being plunged into black holes and falling off cliffs.
What's inside it?
Inside the TARDIS there are an awful lot of rooms - libraries, gardens, swimming pools, and even a cricket pavilion. Plus two control rooms, a boot cupboard, a very large costume wardrobe and a pink Zero Room.
Who came up with the idea?
The idea of the TARDIS was originally mooted by Verity Lambert - the Police Box exterior was invented by Anthony Coburn, writer of 'An Unearthly Child'. The console room was originally designed by Peter Brachacki , who worked on the show's pilot episodes.
Ask a Time Lord, though, and they'll tell you that Rassilon and Omega together worked on making time-travel and TARDISes possible through a mighty feat of temporal engineering. No-one give the BBC credit for anything, these days.
Do we love it?
Over the years, the TARDIS has entered the national consciousness. Although the word isn't in the dictionary yet, it often gets used to describe something deceptively big on the inside - or automatic public toilets! Most recent proof of its enduring legacy is an artwork by respected contemporary artist Mark Wallinger, featuring two TARDIS replicas at the Museum of Natural History in Oxford.
Pictures of the TARDISes at the Museum of Natural History in Oxford.