November 23rd marks the 54th anniversary of “An Unearthly Child,” the debut episode of Doctor Who and the origin point of an ever-expanding universe. Originally airing on the BBC, William Hartnell’s Doctor Prime hopped in his big blue police box and embarked on an adventure that has enamored millions of fans for more than a half-century. Since then the Doctor has grown so much within the last 50 plus years and has taught us so many valuable things that we wouldn't have gotten else where so thank you Doctor Who and happy 54th belated birthday.
So how do we celebrate Doctor Who Day aka “TARDIS Day”? Whip up some fish fingers and custard and invite your fellow Whovians over for an afternoon viewing party. Doctor Who captures our imagination. It offers us a chance to get out of our heads an hour at a time, to ponder science and philosophy, and when it really works well, to ponder our own humanity.
But it's much bigger than that. The real fun in any show that reaches this sort of cult status is fan interaction. Die-hard Doctor Who fans obviously love the show, but we love being Doctor Who fans and interacting with other fans just as much. We love to argue over the best actors, outfits, and villains, quizzing each other on obscure Who history, and all of the inside jokes and Easter eggs. Ultimately, we love to nerd out, and it’s even better when we can nerd out together with other Whovian fans.
The original model sonic screwdriver made it's first appearance during the Second Doctor’s adventure “Fury from the Deep.” With it, we saw the Second Doctor open doors and panels, as well as literally turn screws. In one adventure, he turned up the power and used it as a cutting tool. It really was just what he called it, a screwdriver that used focused sonic output. From then on, the Doctor has always had his trusty sonic screwdriver with him everywhere he went and whenever he needed it within a pinch.
The Third Doctor was exiled to Earth without time travel for a few years. During his time there, he worked as “Dr. John Smith,” scientific advisor to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart of UNIT. Since he couldn’t use the Tardis and it's machinery often, he regularly tinkered in his lab and created complex gadgets to help him in his adventures, so it makes sense that he made some improvements on the sonic screwdriver but the writers knew they couldn't add any features that were too out of place. So this version had small features like manipulating electronic locks, scanning technology, and was subtle enough to ignite gas agents in the air and set off land mines from a distance. Ever since then it has transformed and added new features to the sonic screwdrivers thus turning it into the modern screwdriver that we know and love today.
Similar to the previous model, the Fourth Doctor sonic screwdriver was now able to not only cut and break apart things, but was precise enough to break hypnotic trances in a person without injury and fuse delicate wires without damaging them. It could also redirect and manipulate other energy fields it scanned.
The Fifth Doctor also used this version for his first several adventures, but it was destroyed during the 1982 TV story “The Visitation.” Showrunner John Nathan-Turner considered the sonic screwdriver to be a “magic wand” and “plot-killer,” so once he got rid of it during the Fifth Doctor’s first season, he prohibited it's return. When the original Doctor Who program ended in 1989, the screwdriver was still gone. We never saw the Sixth or Seventh Doctors use them in their on-air episodes.
Though in the 1996 Doctor Who TV-movie, the Seventh Doctor had a new sonic screwdriver similar to his previous model. Some fans assumed he’d rebuilt it, a tie-in novel later said it was given to him by Romana. That TV-movie featured the Doctor regenerating into his eighth form, so this screwdriver became the property of the Eighth Doctor. He was using it again many years later when he regenerated during the Third and Last Great Time War.
The Eighth Doctor remarked that starting with this model, he was now trying to make the screwdriver as much of a multi-purpose tool as possible so it would be useful in a variety of situations. This screwdriver could hack into computers and read their programming, fix portions of large pieces of metal such as train tracks, detect temporal disturbances, and track down the Tardis.
The War Doctor had a simplistic looking version of the sonic screwdriver with a red light. The program used in this model would remain the same throughout his next several screwdrivers (it’s not known if previous screwdrivers contained the same programming). We didn’t see much of it on-screen, but it’s also been featured in the War Doctor novel Engines of War. Behind the scenes, this screwdriver was actually made by taking a Fourth Doctor sonic screwdriver toy and tweaking it.
During the hours in-between the end of the Time War and when he first met Rose Tyler, the Ninth Doctor ditched the War Doctor’s screwdriver and created a new one with a polished blue gemstone and a telescopic feature. This screwdriver was an updated version of the Eighth Doctor’s wooden handled one. Not only could it manipulate energy fields it scanned and hack into outside programs and tech, it could actually upgrade certain forms of technology. It also now had medical scanning features (fitting for a person who calls himself “the Doctor”).
In “Smith and Jones,” the Tenth Doctor burned out the screwdriver he’d been using since his previous incarnation. He then built a new version that was slightly larger, though mainly had the same features as before. This screwdriver was later damaged and finally destroyed in the episode “The Eleventh Hour.” A version of this screwdriver with added features and a “red setting” was given to the time traveler River Song.
The Eleventh Doctor had a brand new screwdriver made that better complemented the new Tardis interior. Unlike the previous two models and the Eighth Doctor’s model, this had a green gem that lit up during activation. This model used telepathic circuits similar to the Tardis itself, allowing the Tardis to sometimes just think about what he wanted rather than physically alter any settings. The Twelfth Doctor also admitted it has a voice control feature but that he forgets about it. Considering how long the Eleventh Doctor lived in that incarnation, this is the longest lasting of all the screwdrivers. The Twelfth Doctor finally gave it up on the planet Skaro, when he decided apparently to start using “wearable technology.”
While we didn’t get to see the Twelfth Doctor use the sonic sunglasses too much, it did get some screen time before getting a new upgrade at the end of the 9th season for “The Husbands of River Song” The new sonic screwdriver is definitely an upgrade from the sonic sunglasses and definitely seems a lot less like an all-purpose magic wand and more like, you know, a tricorder that also fastens and unfastens screws. All the way back in the earliest days of the sonic screwdriver with the Second Doctor, nowadays it’s gotten way more ornate—this new screwdriver is a work of art!
The Doctor Who sonic screwdriver have been a staple for many DIY 3D printing cosplay enthusiast and you can find many of them up on Thingiverse, MyMiniFactory and Pinshape. Though many of the models are of the 9th Doctor and on there's are still many sonic screwdrivers available online and various DIY kits for creating your very own Doctor Who sonic screwdriver up on the internet for any Doctor Who fan that wants to cosplay as the Doctor at any reincarnation of his life.
The Beloved Tardis
The Tardis is just as iconic as Doctor Who itself and is the perfect thing to have in your 3D printed collection. Thanks to Charlesworth Dynamics who uploaded this 3D model of the Tardis within a Deluxe kit with all kinds of goodies on Thingiverse you too can have this iconic piece in your collection as well. For our collection piece we edited the 3D model around in Blender to fit our 3D printed sandstone figurines to have as a set piece. With a little bit of fine tuning we were able to change the 3D model around and have the doors swing inwards and have a better lightning feature even though the top of the piece broke off during the printing process.
The model was created from the official blueprints from the BBC production, and the attention to detail is meticulous. All of the parts were designed to snap together without the need for any glue. While you could easily print this out in any color and paint it, it’s a nice enough design that it can just be printed in blue filament. Just make sure you don't run out of blue filament and have to either start all over again or have to end up painting the entire Tardis a Tardis blue to match.
But don't get us wrong, painting the Tardis a Tardis blue is absolutely acceptable and is what we ended up doing when we ran out of blue filament and the new blue filament that we got didn't match the already 3D printed part. So with a couple hours to spare and some blue, black, purple and some white paint you too can have a custom 3D printed Tardis with an original paint color. Even the Tardis has some bumps and bruises on it so don't even think that once painted that it won't look right. With whatever paint combination that you paint it it's still going to resemble a Tardis.
We've taken it a step further and with the intent of Charlesworth Dynamics we printed the pdf files of the police box and telephone logos on sticky paper and added them to the Tardis to really sell the look and really bring it all together. Though the inside of the Tardis is bare we took it one step more and printed off the inside of the Tardis on card stock with correct measurements of our 3D printed Tardis and put the two together and now we can open the door to even more possibilities. Now with your Tardis finally finished and ready for an adventure through space and time you can take it out and show the world your 3D printed Tardis or in our case go outside and do some clever positioning to get the perfect picture and make an "adventure" out of it.
Meet The 13th Doctor
The new Doctor Who has a new look. As portrayed by Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to take on the vaunted role, the 13th incarnation of the time-and-space-tripping Gallifreyan is all dressed up with everywhere to go. In a new photo from the BBC, the "Broadchurch" star flaunts shin-skimming, high-waisted teal culottes, mustard suspenders à la the Second and Eleventh Doctors, burnished combat boots, and cobalt-and-white socks. A deep navy shirt with a ballet neckline is embellished at the bust line with mustard, orange and teal stripes — a little Wesley Crusher–adjacent but more likely a reference to the Fifth Doctor's iconic scarf.
There is, of course, a voluminous overcoat, which no Doctor's ensemble is complete without. More anorak-like than the stiff, tweedy greatcoats we've seen on several Doctors past, Whittaker's topper features a Fifth Doctor–reminiscent light tan exterior and a dark navy lining trimmed with slimmer versions of the mustard, orange and teal stripes.
We won't be able to tell until next fall, when the Thirteenth Doctor, fresh from her regeneration from Peter Capaldi's Twelfth this Christmas, makes her official, full-length debut. The upcoming 11th season will comprise nine episodes with a 50-minute runtime and a special 1-hour premiere, according to the BBC. Whittaker will be accompanied by series regulars Bradley Walsh as Graham, Tosin Cole as Ryan and Mandip Gill as Yasmin. Sharon D. Clarke will appear in a recurring role.