Doctor Who TARDIS interiors ranked from worst to best
The Doctor’s not the only one who regenerates. Here’s every time the TARDIS got a new model ranked from worst to best.
"The Doctor, in the TARDIS, next stop everywhere." It’s a formula that’s stood the test of time for Doctor Who.
For the last 60 years, the Doctor has sailed throughout the universe in the TARDIS – or Time and Relative Dimension in Space. While humans and alien threats have come and gone, the Time Lord and his trusty time machine have stayed together like, well, two hearts beating in sync.
It goes without saying that the image of the 1950’s police box is central to what has made Doctor Who so memorable all these years. Yet while the iconic blue exterior has stayed largely the same, the inside has changed as many times as The Doctor – and then some.
Every few years on this six-decade journey, the TARDIS has whipped out a fresh new look for the interior console room. Sometimes this was because of a new actor coming in, sometimes because the old room got destroyed within the show, or sometimes The Doctor clearly just decided that pillars were out.
So, we’re going to reflect on every single console room by ranking them from worst to best. We’ll be basing our rankings on design and cultural impact, so hold on tight, because we’re about to take you back through time.
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15. War Doctor
The War Doctor’s TARDIS was shown for just a few moments in the 50th anniversary, and to be honest, we’re grateful it didn’t appear more.
Conceptually, it makes sense that this TARDIS would be a blend of the classic series and modern one, and yes, we do love the round things. But there’s no getting away from the fact that the pillars just don’t gel with the white background, and neither seem to really fit John Hurt’s dark and damaged soldier Doctor.
Plus, it’s just a bit ugly.
14. Third Doctor – first TARDIS
When the Time Lords stranded the Third Doctor on Earth, he was forced to build this version of the TARDIS in secret.
Half of the room is basically an ordinary lounge, with patterned wallpaper and wooden furniture, while the other half is more like a garage, with metal shelves and exposed brick.
It definitely does the job of looking a bit jumbled and home spun, but that doesn’t mean we have to like its confused design.
13. Third Doctor – second TARDIS
In series nine the Third Doctor did a “spot of redecoration” and got a brand-new console room.
This redesign first appeared in 1972’s the Time Monster and was also used in The Master’s TARDIS too. While it was nice to see Jon Pertwee back in a proper time machine, this TARDIS swaps the much-loved roundels for plastic bowls that look an awful lot like frog spawn.
12. Eleventh Doctor – second TARDIS
The Eleventh Doctor’s second TARDIS came about halfway through season seven after the deaths of Amy and Rory.
As a result, this console room has a much darker and colder design that, sadly, just doesn’t work for us. Although it’s understandable that a grieving Doctor would make such a room, the metal panels and lack of colours makes the whole thing feel lifeless and uninviting. Plus, it’s not at all suited to the general optimism of Matt Smith’s Doctor.
11. Fourth Doctor – secondary console room
Look, we know in the '70s and '80s pretty much everything was brown, but that doesn’t excuse this grandma’s sitting room of a TARDIS.
At the time, the designers were apparently going for a decadent manor house feel that was a reoccurring theme for the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane. Sadly, this doesn’t quite come across and instead what we get is a very plain and dark room that, thankfully, didn’t appear too often.
10. Thirteenth Doctor
The Thirteenth Doctor’s era did a great job at refreshing the design of many things, including the sonic, the Doctor’s wardrobe and the title sequence.
But the problem with her TARDIS is that it feels too, well… alien. You can tell from the basic structure that it’s the TARDIS, but the jagged pillars are a bit freaky and the lighting is too dark which takes away any feeling of comfort the TARDIS normally has.
Plus, Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor never really spends much time in it.
9. Third Doctor – third TARDIS
Third time’s the charm for this Doctor. After the set from the Time Monster was damaged in 1972, Jon Pertwee got yet another redesigned TARDIS.
This time, with the roundels back in place and a bigger room to play with, this console room even had a pull-out bed which we saw in Planet of the Daleks.
8. Fourth Doctor – main console room
The Fourth Doctor’s main console room definitely has the classic look. With its silver walls, roundels and bright lights, it’s very similar to the original set from 1963.
However, it is the first TARDIS to have proper pillars, giving it a very Greek temple feel, and it also comes with a fresh console featuring a new red Time Rotor.
We like this redesign, but by this point in the show they were doing so much with other spaceship sets, for instance The Ark in Space, that it looks a bit sparse and simple by comparison. All in all, it could have done with a slightly more drastic update.
7. Twelfth Doctor
Although very similar to the Eleventh Doctor’s second TARDIS, this sleek silver model is far more suited to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.
You could easily expect the man who wears sunglasses and plays guitars on tanks to live in this darker, metal model. Plus, the design is massively improved by the use of warm orange lighting rather than eerie green and over the three seasons, the Twelfth Doctor really made the space his own with the addition of bookcases, chalk boards, and a sneaky drinks cabinet.
6. Fifth Doctor
This techno TARDIS was just perfect for the '80s. Moving away from the simpler design of previous years, this TARDIS got a flashy new console packed with way more buttons, lights, and screens.
Although the rest of the interior stayed white, the addition of the colourful panels and shiny controls was enough to give the space a refresh, which is probably why it stayed the same up until the TV Movie.
5. Eighth Doctor
How cruel is it that we never got more time with this one? In the Paul McGann TV movie, we get exactly what Jon Pertwee’s first TARDIS should have been: part time machine part cosy sitting room.
With its armchairs, rugs and walls lined with books, this TARDIS feels like a space The Doctor would actually live in. Plus, it’s got a brand-new bronze console and metal columns that still make it feel like a magical alien world.
4. Fourteenth Doctor
As millions tuned into The Star Beast on Saturday night, everything seemed to hinge on the reveal of the brand-new TARDS... and we were not disappointed.
In this list, there's been a lot of talk about the blending of old and new, and this TARDIS does it better than ever before.
Mixing the grandeur and scale of Matt Smith's first TARDIS with the gleaming white alien-ness of William Hartnell's original set, this spaceship spectacularly pays homage to the last 60 years while also driving us forward into an exciting new (and high budget) era. Let's just hope Donna's coffee hasn't ruined it!
3. First Doctor
Without this TARDIS, Doctor Who would never have become the show it is today. Not only is this the one that started it all but it’s also an incredible design.
The control room is large and airy, perfect for the Doctor’s original three-person posse. Then, you have the contrast of the high-tech roundels with the Doctor’s earthly antiques, which shows off exactly who he is.
Last of all, the console, with its buttons and dials, sharp hexagonal design and a moving time rotor that defined an entire genre. It may have been made in the '60s, but this room is nothing but timeless.
2. Ninth/Tenth Doctor
Who could ever forget the moment Billie Piper’s Rose stepped into the TARDIS for the first time? In one second, saw everything the show was and would be again.
The Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s TARDIS had all the elements from the classic series, except with an overgrown, earthy look that made the space so magical for new viewers.
With its bendy pillars and green central column, it wasn’t difficult to think of the room as an alien world, and yet it never felt dark or too strange, always making the audience feel safe inside it. Plus, with this model we got to stare right into the heart of the TARDIS itself.
1. Eleventh Doctor – first TARDIS
Matt Smith’s first TARDIS was truly the epitome of a mad man with a box. This TARDIS felt like something out of Alice and Wonderland or Narnia with its many staircases and corridors branching off. But at the same time, it was the pinnacle of sci-fi technology. The glass panels, bright lights and gloriously shiny buttons are iconic.
We were truly fortunate to see the Doctor spend so much time in this TARDIS. It was large, warm, inviting and perfectly captured the essence of this era of Doctor Who. This was also the TARDIS we probably learnt the most about with features like the scanner and zig-zag plotter pointed out to us across several episodes. Oh yeah, and we actually got to meet her.
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