Many people have had a huge influence on Doctor Who across the years. Writers, directors, producers and casting agents; actors and musicians and many whose names are familiar to us all. But in terms of individuals who worked on a single broadcast episode of the show, yet have exerted an influence that can be seen in almost every one of the Doctor’s adventures, it’s difficult to look beyond Peter Brachaki…
Born Kazimierz Pidtr Brachacki in Dobiensko, Poland, in early 1926, Brachaki was the man who served as designer on the pilot episode of Doctor Who, and in doing so he helped create something as enduring as it is iconic: Peter Brachaki’s crucial contribution was to design the interior of the TARDIS. That stunning, audacious, gorgeous set came from his brilliant imagination.
Looking back on that first design it’s easy to overlook what a masterpiece Brachaki designed. The weird and futuristic appearance of the set is often commented upon; but this TARDIS interior conjured up a physical sense of the Doctor’s mystery, magic, background and power. In the same way the submarine Nautilus – the vessel in Jules Verne’s Nemo novels – reflects the character of its solitary, incredible captain, so this TARDIS interior suggests the kind of character viewers met for the first time on 23 November, 1963.
Since that first gleaming version of the TARDIS interior, it has been upgraded, regenerated and remodelled several times but the basic iconic elements have remained. And when considering Brachaki’s impact on Doctor Who, it’s easy to overlook what a superb junk yard he created, couching the TARDIS exterior in a strangely threatening environment for its eerie debut.
Following his brief stint on Doctor Who (the final three episodes of the show’s first story were designed by Barry Newbery), Brachaki worked on countless BBC productions including The Valiant Varneys, The Witch’s Daughter and the acclaimed Fall of Eagles. He received a BAFTA nomination for his work on the period drama, When the Boat Comes In and in 1978 he returned to the world of science fiction, working on Breakdown, an early adventure for Blake’s Seven.
Peter Brachaki (1926–1980)