The TARDIS is bigger on the inside, but it might be even larger than you realise. We take a look at some of the rarely-seen rooms from the Doctor’s famous machine…
The architectural reconfiguration system
Only the Doctor would have a mechanical tree covered in glowing orbs that could bend matter to its will. The TARDIS‘ architectural reconfiguration system may look pleasing to the eye, but it’s not to be messed with. This tree-like structure is buried deep within the Doctor’s vessel and has the ability to create and destroy structures in the blink of an eye.
It was first seen in the Series Seven episode ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’ where one of the Van Baalen brothers (a salvage team exploring the ship’s corridors) tried to take one of the arch recon system’s glowing orbs, much to the TARDIS’ annoyance. The Doctor’s machine paid him back by taking away the room’s exit, and then creating a loop of corridors which sent the Van Baalen brother round and round in circles.
Presumably, the arch recon system explains how the TARDIS is able to create new console rooms at a whim. After all, as the Doctor once said, the machine wasn’t built but “grown,” so it makes sense that it would have something of an organic nerve centre.
And speaking of console rooms…
The console room archive
Somewhere within the TARDIS is an archive of all the Doctor’s past (and future!) console rooms that the machine automatically catalogues. But, so far, this room has never been seen – perhaps because it doesn’t exist.
In the Series Six episode ‘The Doctor’s Wife,’ the Time Lord is actually able to speak to his famous machine, and she admits that she has created an archive of all the TARDIS control rooms, even the ones that haven’t happened yet, numbering 30 so far. But it’s unclear whether all of these control rooms are in a single place, like a library, or whether they are scattered throughout the TARDIS corridors.
Based on what we’ve seen on screen, it’s likely to be the latter. For instance, in the Season Fourteen story ‘The Masque of Mandragora,’ the Doctor stumbles across an alternative control room when he’s exploring the TARDIS hallways, and Amy and Rory also find one by accident when they’re trying to outrun the villainous House in ‘The Doctor’s Wife.’
But it’s fun to imagine that, somewhere, there’s a TARDIS console room library that the Doctor can peruse at his leisure. Although he might want to bypass the leopard skin…
The cloister room
Many of you will be familiar with the TARDIS’ cloister bell, which has a habit of ringing out at moments of impending doom (which, in the Doctor’s case, is almost every day.) But it’s not often that viewers are actually given a glimpse at the vessel’s mysterious cloister room, which is buried deep within the TARDIS passages.
It was first seen the Season Eighteen story ‘Logopolis‘ as an overgrown and long-forgotten area of the TARDIS, but by the time of the 1996 TV movie, the cloister room had evolved into something of a gargantuan, cathedral-like chamber leading off from the console room. And uniquely for the TV movie, the cloister room housed the Eye of Harmony – the power source at the heart of the TARDIS.
Actually, to call it a “power source” is something of an understatement. The Eye of Harmony is actually an exploding star frozen at the point of becoming a black hole. And if you know your physics, you will know that black holes have a tendency to become so dense that they can bend the fabric of spacetime, and in theory this bending can be used to allow a person to travel to different points in time. (See here for more on the science of the Doctor’s machine.)
And whilst the exact mechanics of the Eye of Harmony are unclear, we do know that it is essential for the TARDIS‘ operation, and indeed the technology is at the heart of all Time Lord power, having been discovered (or engineered) by one of Gallifrey’s founding fathers, Rassilon.
To date, the cloister room has only been seen twice in the TV series, featuring in ‘Logopolis’ and the 1996 TV movie. But the Doctor does revisit the Eye of Harmony in ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’ where it is housed deep within the ship’s bowels, but it is unclear whether this is the cloister room or not.
Captain Jack’s cocktail lounge
Where, exactly, do the Doctor’s companions sleep? Over the years, viewers have been given a tantalising glimpse at some of the TARDIS’ living quarters, but perhaps the most extravagant of these would have to be the suite belonging to Captain Jack Harkness which came complete with its own cocktail lounge – and yet it’s never been seen.
Indeed, the only reference to such a room is in the 2021 episode ‘Revolution of the Daleks’ where Captain Jack enquires as to the fate of his lavish bedroom. And knowing the Doctor’s distaste for alcohol, it’s likely that Captain Jack’s quarters were his own bespoke creation. Perhaps he made use of the TARDIS’ architectural reconfiguration system to mold the room to his specific needs?
Whatever the explanation, his luxurious TARDIS suite sounds a lot more extravagant than some of the other bedrooms. Romana, Tegan and Adric, for example, all had their own quarters and they were seemingly much more conventional in design, incorporating basic furniture with the classic TARDIS roundels. But then, these companions’ tastes were perhaps a little tamer than Captain Jack’s. It’s certainly hard to imagine Adric retiring to a cocktail bar after a hard day’s block transfer computationing.
There are, of course, many other rarely-seen rooms within the TARDIS hallways such as the swimming pool, the wardrobe, the library and the observatory. If you’re keen to see more of the Time Lord’s famous vessel, the best stories to watch are ‘The Invasion of Time,’ ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ and ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.’ And maybe finish off with ‘Castrovalva.’
Can you think of any other mysterious rooms within the Doctor’s TARDIS? And which one is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.
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