TARDIS Index File

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (TV story)

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Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
We're going to the centre of the TARDIS
Doctor: Eleventh Doctor
Companion(s): Clara
Main enemy: Time zombies
Main setting: The Doctor's TARDIS
Key crew
Writer: Steve Thompson
Director: Mat King
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Release details
Story number: 235
Season/series: 7
Premiere broadcast: 27 April 2013
Premiere network: BBC One
Format: 1x45 minute episode
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Doctor Who television stories
Hide The Crimson Horror
Production order
The Snowmen The Bells of Saint John
Official trailer
Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS - Next Time Trailer - Series 7 2013 - BBC One00:37

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS - Next Time Trailer - Series 7 2013 - BBC One

Memorable moment
Time Zombie Attack! - Doctor Who - Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS - Series 7 - BBC02:11

Time Zombie Attack! - Doctor Who - Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS - Series 7 - BBC

Another memorable moment
The Heart of the TARDIS - Doctor Who - Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS - Series 7 - BBC03:45

The Heart of the TARDIS - Doctor Who - Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS - Series 7 - BBC

One more memorable moment
DOCTOR WHO The Doctor's Name - "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" BBC AMERICA00:55

DOCTOR WHO The Doctor's Name - "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" BBC AMERICA

Behind the scenes video
Behind the Scenes of Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS - Doctor Who - Series 7 2013 - BBC One03:40

Behind the Scenes of Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS - Doctor Who - Series 7 2013 - BBC One

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS was the tenth episode of the seventh series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales. It was the first time a TARDIS room other than a console room or corridor had been seen on television since The Christmas Invasion re-introduced the TARDIS wardrobe. It afforded by far the most expansive view of the TARDIS interior since the 1996 tele-film.

As a child, head writer Steven Moffat was disappointed with the way the inside of a TARDIS was depicted in part 6 of The Invasion of Time. As a result, Moffat "challenged" writer Steve Thompson, who also found Time "wanting" as a kid, to explore the TARDIS interior "more effectively" than Time. (TEDW 2)

As important to the series' narrative arc, it also contained the first instance of the Eleventh Doctor confronting Clara Oswald about her multiple lives and deaths.

Synopsis Edit

The Doctor's TARDIS is captured by brothers running a salvage company in space. In the process, Clara gets lost inside the time machine. To save her, the Eleventh Doctor promises the brothers they can have the TARDIS if they'll help search for his missing companion. They agree, only to find that what lies at the centre of the TARDIS can kill them all.

Plot Edit

The android Tricky is polishing a part inside the Van Baalen Bros. salvage ship when the system alerts him and Bram that there is salvage to be verified. Bram believes that it's just space junk, but his brother Gregor wants to go for it, anyway. They suit up.

Meanwhile, the Eleventh Doctor insists Clara should bond with the TARDIS. She flatly refuses to talk to a piece of machinery. He gets her to agree to try flying it, and to make it easier, he puts it into Basic Mode. She flips some levers and suddenly, the ship shudders, losing then regaining power, and the music that the Van Baalen ship had been playing starts to play. The scanner screen cracks and shudders, and the Doctor starts to work the controls more frantically. He can't get the shields up, and the salvage ship's magno-grab nearly has them. The Doctor forces a lever up, and something in the TARDIS console explodes, throwing them both back. Clara asks him to tell her that there's a button he can press to fix it. He says, "Oh, yes, big, friendly button." Clara asks if he's lying to make her feel better, and he is. A hand-sized metal object rolls towards Clara, who picks it up. It burns her right hand, and she drops it.

The machinery of the salvage ship pulls the TARDIS into a bay, and, believing it to be a derelict escape pod, the brothers attempt to cut into it, but are unsuccessful. Tricky's bionic eyes pick up signs of a living being — a pair of shoes sticking out from under the wreckage. They withdraw, and Gregor is whispering a cover story to the other two when the Doctor pops in, saying it's not polite to whisper. Bram contends that they found his ship adrift. The Doctor immediately corrects him. An illegal magno-grab broke his ship. He shows them that he found the remote to the magno-grab in Gregor's pocket.

The Doctor realises that Clara is still inside, so he bolts for the TARDIS. Tricky stops him, telling him that the fuel is leaking. The Doctor spots respirators, then talks the salvage crew into going with him, promising the salvage of a lifetime within the ship.

Red Flashing Light? - Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS - Series 7 2013 - BBC One00:33

Red Flashing Light? - Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS - Series 7 2013 - BBC One

Red flashing light?

Inside the TARDIS, the Cloister Bell sounds. Clara awakens in a corridor, having been knocked unconscious. She checks the hand that was burned. Coming to a door with a red light, she debates opening it. She regrets deciding to do so, as flames gush out. She runs down the corridor to escape. Moving around the TARDIS, Clara hears a growling noise. She takes refuge in a room containing a cot and a small model of a police box.

Self Destruct - Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS - Doctor Who Series 7 Part 2 (2013) - BBC One00:32

Self Destruct - Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS - Doctor Who Series 7 Part 2 (2013) - BBC One

The Doctor activates the TARDIS self-destruct — "one hour until this ship blows!"

In the console room, the Doctor is amused by the reaction of the others to the size of the TARDIS. He uses fans to vent the gas and smoke from the room. As they all take off their respirators, he tells the others that he needs them to help find Clara. They initially refuse, but he tells them he has activated the TARDIS self-destruct. Locking the doors so they can't leave, he informs them that the "salvage of a lifetime" he referred to was not the ship, but Clara.

To avoid the source of the growling noise, Clara has moved to another room, a very large library. She goes to a large book entitled The History of the Time War. Flipping through a few pages, she pauses and reads something, muttering to herself "So that's who..." She then hears the growling noise again, and hides behind a bookshelf. She knocks over some glass containers labelled Encyclopedia Gallifreya, and the source of the growling - a dark, "zombie-like" creature - runs past her.

Her hand continues to ache from the burn, but she sees the burn marks slowly resolving into letters. She ends up in the console room, finding another ossified creature, mimicking her movements and approaching her.

The Doctor, Gregor and Tricky reach the console room, and the Doctor senses Clara in an echo of the console room. With the help of Gregor's scanner to identify Clara, the Doctor creates a temporary link and grabs Clara before the creature touches her. Gregor demands the Doctor end the countdown; the Doctor, though revealing the self-destruct was a ruse to get their cooperation, finds the TARDIS engines have become unstable, thanks to a deadly time rift caused by the magno-grab. They must go to the engine room by way of the Eye of Harmony to prevent it from exploding. En route, Tricky is injured and in pain and, to his surprise, Gregor is forced to reveal Tricky is truly human and also his brother. After an accident that cost the life of their father, Tricky had lost his memories and had special implants to replace damaged organs, so Gregor had acted as if Tricky was an android so as to claim the captaincy of the salvage vessel. The Doctor comments on Gregor's treatment of Tricky and suggests he can do better.

While travelling through the Eye of Harmony, the four are trapped by ossified creatures. When Gregor scans them and finds one similar to Clara's biology, the Doctor confesses that these creatures are themselves from the future due to the time rift, and tries to prevent that future from happening. However, Gregor and Tricky are unable to avoid contacting themselves and become the conjoined ossified creature, seen earlier, before the Doctor and Clara's eyes. The two flee towards the engine room, but come across a chasm with no way across. The Doctor, thinking that they are going to die, asks Clara to explain who she is and how she could have died twice before. Clara doesn't understand, and the Doctor is relieved when he realises she has no knowledge of their previous encounters and is simply a young woman. The Doctor and Clara then leap across the chasm believing that it is just an illusion and reach the engine room.

In the engine room, they find the engine has already exploded but the TARDIS has placed the room in time stasis as a safety measure. The Doctor is aware the TARDIS is trying to tell him something, but cannot figure out what — until he notices Clara's hand. The burn marks have now fully formed into the words "big friendly button". The Doctor realises that they need to go back to the point of the disaster and activate the magno-grab remote — the device Clara picked up. They race to the console room, where the Doctor takes the discarded beacon and prepares to travel through a time rift. Clara asks what she will remember in the new timeline. She says she knows the Doctor's name from reading the Time War book. The Doctor tells her that she will remember nothing.

The Doctor then crosses the rift and warns his younger self. Understanding the implications of his elder self, the younger Doctor grabs the beacon from Clara when she picks it up - the letters "big friendly button" inscribed on its side - and hits the button.

Time resets to before the events of the episode. The Van Baalens ignore the TARDIS and continue. Still, something has mysteriously changed because of the Doctor. In this new timeline, Gregor has become more appreciative of Tricky. In the TARDIS, the Doctor is concerned and asks Clara if she feels safe with him, and she readily agrees. She urges the Doctor to "hit the button" so they can go to their next port of call.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.

References Edit

Books Edit


  • The Doctor tells Clara to "take the wheel" before quickly correcting himself. He previously argued with Captain Avery about the Atom accelerator being the 'wheel' of the TARDIS in The Curse of the Black Spot.
  • This is the first episode in which Clara is shown operating TARDIS controls.
  • Tricky mistakenly describes the TARDIS as "some kind of escape pod."
  • The TARDIS' sentience is alluded to yet again; and when the salvage team tries to open it, Tricky senses that she seems to "suffer".
  • The Doctor tells Clara that the TARDIS is not like a cheese grater.
  • The TARDIS display that declares "Engine Status: Overload" also mentions the console room, Eye of Harmony, library, observatory, and Arch-Recon. These rooms are all seen in the episode, although Arch-Recon is named fully as architectural reconfiguration system.
  • Clara sees the swimming pool while wandering through the TARDIS.
  • The Doctor states that the TARDIS is "infinite."
  • The clock key was made by Smiths.
  • The Doctor stores his cot in a small cupboard room lined with many other knick-knacks and gadgetry he has acquired over the years, including a small model of a police box.
  • The fuel rods of the TARDIS are meant to be kept immersed in fuel at all times. When they become exposed, the rods can cool down and warp, causing them to bust and break apart at extreme velocities, becoming deadly projectiles capable of piercing through the corridors of the TARDIS- and unfortunate bystanders.
  • At the end of the episode, Clara is seen toweling off, suggesting she has either just taken a shower or used the pool.

Individuals Edit

  • Tricky thinks he's an android, as this is what his brothers told him as a means of relieving boredom. There is also a bar code tattooed on the right of his neck that may or may not be part of the joke.

Songs from the real world Edit

Story notes Edit

The Doctor and Clara in the heart of the TARDIS

The Doctor and Clara in the Heart of the TARDIS.

  • The name of the episode was influenced by the novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
  • This is the first televised story to include the word "TARDIS" in its title.
  • At seven words long, this episode shares the record for the longest televised story title to date with The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, which also is a title inspired by a book/film.
  • Sarah Louise Madison, Ruari Mears and Paul Kasey (Time Zombies) are credited on-screen, but not in Radio Times.
  • Although the action was normal in the classic series, this is the first time since the series restarted that the Doctor has closed the TARDIS doors from the console, rather than manually shutting them or occasionally closing them by snapping his fingers.
  • This is the first Doctor Who episode since the final story in The Web Planet, The Centre, to use the "British" spelling of a word "Centre" versus "Center", although other episodes don't use words that have different spellings in Britain and America.
  • The TARDIS in the opening credits shakes to match the captured TARDIS in the magno-grab.

Ratings Edit

The episode first aired in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 27 April 2013. Overnight ratings showed that 4.9 million viewers watched the episode live. When final ratings were calculated, the figure rose to 6.5 million, the seventh most-watched programme of the week on BBC One. In addition, "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" received 1.19 million requests on the online BBC iPlayer for the four days it was available in the month of April, making it the tenth most-watched programme on the service for the month. It received an Appreciation Index of 85.

Filming locations Edit

to be added

Production errors Edit

BigFriendlyButton BigFriendlyButton2
How could this lettering……have come from this prop?
  • In a way totally unexplained by the narrative, the magno-grab remote prop has a different font to the scar it left behind on Clara's hand. Though it's not noticeable while watching the episode at normal speed, screen grabs make it immediately apparent that the letters just don't match up in any way. Most obviously, the prop's lettering is centre-justified, while the writing on her hand is left-justified. The error reveals a lack of continuity between the make-up department (or possibly VFX, if the scar was inserted digitally) and the art department.
Although the scar writing on Clara's hand is from the Magno-Grab Remote of the previous timeline where the Doctor simply threw the remote through the rift instead of climbing through. As a result, he had to re-burn the writing into the remote from his current timeline (the main one seen through most of the story). This could explain the difference in writing style as the narrative does establish that not everything happens the same as previously; we never actually see what Clara's burn looks like in the restored timeline, if she even receives one.
  • When the magno-grab pulls the TARDIS in, the TARDIS is handled by several large mechanical arms before being dumped onto the pile of junk that Tricky sees a pair of legs in, legs that presumably belong to the Doctor. In order for the Doctor to have been thrown free in the way implied in the story, he would have had to be hanging on to the outside of the TARDIS unseen as it was being passed from one large mechanical arm to another and then somehow gotten underneath a pile of junk that the TARDIS was deposited on top of. This is most likely a result of a lack of continuity between different art departments.
  • When the Magno-Grab Remote rolls along the floor at the beginning of the episode, it is apparent that there is no writing on it as you can see all the way around it.
  • There is a noticeable jump cut after Clara's line "Because I'm a girl". Suddenly, the Doctor has his hands rested on the console again and Clara is standing up straight and looking straight at the Doctor.
  • There is another such cut later the lights go red in the TARDIS and after the Doctor's line "Ahh, Okay". In the First shot Clara's hands are together near her chin, but in the next shot they are by her sides being raised to a similar position as before.
If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

Series 7b UK DVD Cover

Series 7, Part 2 DVD cover.

DVD Releases Edit

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS was released as part of Doctor Who Series 7 Part 2 on May 22, 2013, and as part of The Complete Seventh Series on September 24, 2013.

Blu Ray Releases Edit

to be added

External links Edit

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