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A TARDIS control console (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Armageddon Factor) — often simply known as "the console" or the TARDIS console — controlled most of the operations of the TARDIS that allowed for manoeuvrability through time and space. It was the namesake of the room of the TARDIS in which it was found — a room alternately known as the "control room" or "console room".
A TARDIS console had a wide range of functions. Chiefly, it was the device used to control a TARDIS' flight. But it also contained a variety of other devices and buttons. It could be used to open the exterior doors, (TV: An Unearthly Child, et al.) control the chameleon circuit, (TV: Logopolis) access the TARDIS information system (TV: Castrovalva) and a vocal archive, (PROSE: The Nameless City) dispense condiments, (TV: Vincent and the Doctor) make the TARDIS invisible, (TV: The Invasion) eject waste tanks located further within the TARDIS, (TV: The Husbands of River Song) and provide power to devices outside the TARDIS and activate loudspeakers on the exterior of the TARDIS. (TV: Utopia)
In addition, the console could even travel in space and time by itself, independently of the rest of the TARDIS, though it lacked the power generation and supply facilities to manage more than one or two jumps before needing to be recharged. (TV: Inferno, The Doctor's Wife)
The Tenth Doctor explained it's hexagonal shape and control layout was attributed to a TARDIS' specification of an intended six pilots, whilst the Doctor frequently piloted his own TARDIS single-handed. (TV: Journey's End)
Eleventh Doctor's first console Edit
The various systems of the Eleventh Doctor's initial console were fairly well-understood. According to one account, each of the six panels controlled discrete functions. The mechanical panel contained the engine release lever, door release lever, gyroscopic stabiliser, locking down mechanism (described as a physical handbrake) and the TARDIS display dials.
The helm panel contained the eyepiece (an alternative to visual scanners), the time rotor handbrake and the space-time throttle. The navigation panel contained a time and space forward/back control, directional pointer, atom accelerator and the spatial location input (a computer keyboard). The diagnostic panel contained the inertial dampers, the cooling systems (gauges), a bunsen burner and a microphone/water dispenser.
The communications panel contained an analogue telephone, digital com, voice recorder (so the Doctor could leave himself memos), analogue radio waves detector/monitor/changer and a scanner/typewriter.
The fabrication panel contained the materialise/dematerialise function, harmonic generator, time altimeter, a fabrication dispenser (which was described as being able to produce sonic screwdrivers and other technology) which eventually housed the laser screwdriver, and a Heisenberg focusing device which was used to break Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. (GAME: TARDIS) It also had an appilly-named "wibbly lever", which helped the Doctor and companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams escape after the exterior shell of the TARDIS had materialised inside its interior shell (TV: Time)
The Doctor's TARDIS Edit
First, Second and Third Doctor Edit
This was the default console possessed by all TARDISes, which was originally designed and fitted in the Doctor's TARDIS when the First Doctor stole it. (TV: Hell Bent; AUDIO: The Beginning) While the Second Doctor had a habit of altering the functionality of the TARDIS console, he didn't alter its actual appearance.
This console was removed by the Third Doctor during his exile on Earth for use in his laboratory, hoping that he would be able to bypass the limitations that the Time Lords had placed on his ability to control the TARDIS by removing the console from the TARDIS itself.
However, not only did he require a significant amount of power to make the TARDIS move more than a few seconds in time and a few hundred metres in space, he also removed so many security protocols that he travelled sideways in time into a parallel universe, where he was nearly killed before he managed to convince the alternate versions of his friends to help him return home. (TV: Inferno)
Third Doctor Edit
The Third Doctor made significant functional alterations to the TARDIS console during his exile on Earth, though its aesthetic appearance wasn't too dissimilar to that of the previous console, in that it was a more obvious shade of green, and the time rotor had a different internal structure, consisting of three, illuminated green rods surrounding a centre red one.
The console itself also had a series of lines on it connecting all of the controls, though this didn't seem to have any function other than aesthetic. The controls on the console were also larger, even if they weren't in different places. This console also had an emergency summons control which sent a distress signal to the Time Lords in times of dire crisis. (TV: The Three Doctors)
Fourth Doctor Edit
The console in the TARDIS after the Doctor's regeneration into his fourth incarnation had a lot of changes. It was actually in the centre of the console room and had a completely different control layout. The time rotor also changed, but was not entirely different to the previous model, in that it was completely red/pink and fully illuminated.
Just like all of the previous consoles, the Doctor and, on occasions, certain companions could access and repair the TARDIS's systems through panels at the base of the console. Also concealed underneath a console panel was a switch which revealed a hidden keyboard that protruded from beneath another set of switches, which the Doctor used to manually override the chameleon circuit. (TV: Logopolis) This console ultimately remained after the Doctor regenerated into his fifth incarnation.
Fourth Doctor secondary console Edit
For a short period, the Fourth Doctor relocated to a secondary control room in the TARDIS with an entirely different console to any that had come before it. (TV: The Masque of Mandragora) Smaller than previous designs, the console was entirely made of wood, did not possess a time rotor and the controls were merely a series of buttons concealed behind hinged wooden panels on the console itself.
Not all of these hinged panels concealed controls either, with one hiding a small storage area for the Doctor's possessions. Eventually, the Doctor went back to using the primary console room. (TV: The Invisible Enemy)
Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctor Edit
At some phase, the Fifth Doctor again redesigned the TARDIS console with an entirely different control layout. (TV: The Five Doctors, et al.) This model of console consisted almost entirely of panels of toggle switches and monitors protruding from among these panels, with the exceptions being the controls operating the door and the scanner.
The top and bottom of the panels were also built on a slant raised up from the top of the base and to the edge of the time rotor, which also had a different design, appearing as a multiple-layered glass structure built around a series of pulsating rods and lights. The base of the console was significantly different, with indented shapes in its six sides and hexagons risen out from them.
With this new design, repairs could no longer be made from the base of the console, but instead through wiring behind the roundels throughout the TARDIS. (TV: Terminus, Attack of the Cybermen, etc). However, some functions could be accessed from behind the slanted panels beneath the controls (TV: Planet of Fire)
Seventh and Eighth Doctor Edit
The console in the control room redesigned by the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex (AUDIO: The Settling) was the most significantly different model of console the TARDIS had seen at that point. The base of the console was made of metal with three supports holding up the base of the control panels, which were made of wood. The controls adopted a somewhat Victorian aesthetic, including wooden dials, switches and a large brake lever which enacted an emergency halt in the TARDIS' flight.
While the console had a small monitor connected above the time rotor, there was a large lever on one of the panels which activated a larger scanner which engulfed the entire ceiling of the control room. This console had a completely different time rotor; instead of being a singular column ascending and descending like previous consoles, the time rotor on this console was a raised cylindrical structure, containing two sets of ascending and descending, translucent rods, one at the top and one at the bottom, with the structure itself halting at a different metal structure at the top, with four support girders emerging from it, which were connected to the floor around the base of the console with room for the Doctor to move around it. (TV: Doctor Who)
Eighth and War Doctor Edit
In the midst of the Time War, the Eighth Doctor again changed the desktop theme of the TARDIS control room with another radically redesigned console. This console had six curved coral supports with a connecting ring holding the control panels in place, and the console itself was circular instead of hexagonal. The control panels themselves were translucent and lit white with the controls being connected to them, including the main dematerialisation lever; there were also controls connected to the coral supports on the console.
The base of the console also had a plethora of wires emerging from it. The time rotor was raised from a metal support with two coral rings along the base. Like the previous console, the rotor was raised to the ceiling, and contained a white-lit glass structure with a single set of rings that ascend and descend during flight. The top of the rotor had an identical but larger set of coral rings compared to the bottom, continuing with a large structure at the top.
Ninth and Tenth Doctor Edit
The console used by the Ninth Doctor was almost identical to the previous one; the differences, however, include the change of white lighting to bright green and the alteration of some of the controls. This console featured a monitor that displayed Gallifreyan writing with sticky notes left on it by the Doctor.
It could also show television channels. (TV: Rose onwards) When Mickey Smith asked Rose Tyler how it worked, Rose said, "It sort of tunes itself." (TV: The Christmas Invasion) It also contained a working telephone, used once by the Doctor (TV: World War Three), and a small slot which the Tenth Doctor used to store the mobile phone given to him by Martha Jones. (TV: The Sontaran Stratagem)
The time rotor was also slightly different, as it now had a similar structure to that used by the Eighth Doctor; the pair of rings connected to glass pillars were doubled, one set being at the top and the other at the bottom. In flight, these rings would rise and collapse towards and away from each other. The Tenth Doctor continued to use this console model, but it was severely damaged after his regeneration into his eleventh incarnation. (TV: The End of Time)
Eleventh Doctor Edit
When the TARDIS regenerated itself, the console was also drastically different. The shape of the console had returned to hexagonal, but control panels maintained a very unique shape, with the panels themselves being slightly separated from each other. The panels were mostly made of glass and plastic materials with Gallifreyan shapes etched into them and lights present underneath. This was the second console to have a primary dematerialisation lever, which appeared similar to the throttle of a 21st century plane, but with yellow lights.
The time rotor was a different shape and the structure inside was a rising and falling glass structure illuminated by a green light from underneath. (TV: The Eleventh Hour to The Angels Take Manhattan) The Eleventh Doctor made all repairs to the console from underneath the glass floor on which the console was stationed; the console structure continued through the glass floor with an entire system of wires emerging from the base, which the Doctor was constantly reconnecting to improve the console's functionality. (TV: The Vampires of Venice et al)
Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor Edit
During his period of grieving the losses of Amy and Rory, the Eleventh Doctor became a recluse; landing his TARDIS on a cloud in Victorian England, and changed the desktop to suit his mood. (TV: The Snowmen) The console in this room was at the centre of the main deck and had a very sophisticated and technological appearance. The base of the console was a supported glass cylinder which was lit in a very bright green light. The six control panels formed a hexagonal console, with each panel containing different types of controls. For example, one was formed up of wheels and gears (TV: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS), while another was completely comprised of the telepathic circuits. (TV: Listen)
These panels could be individually separated from the console structure. The panel furthest from the doors had the main dematerialisation control, as well as a special 'handbrake', which was used by both the Doctor and Clara Oswald in order to keep the TARDIS grounded or bring it in to land urgently. (TV: The Day of the Doctor, Kill the Moon, Under the Lake) Unlike previous consoles, it had two screens, which moved on a rail around the time rotor. The Eleventh Doctor once had a special mounting for his Cyber-head, 'Handles', connected to this rail. (TV: The Time of the Doctor)
The rotor itself contained six green rods which lit up most of the room, and was again raised to the ceiling. The rods and light at the console base were changed to orange by the Twelfth Doctor. (TV: Deep Breath) Above the rotor was a series of three spinning roundels with Gallifreyan symbols embellished on various panels, which moved in opposing directions when the TARDIS was in flight. Just like the previous console, there was a continued system below the control deck, which continued with the lit rods with six metallic protrusions for support, ending with six hinged compartments on the floor that the Doctor had different functions for. (TV: The Bells of Saint John, Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, The Time of the Doctor).
Also beneath the deck, again similar to the previous console, was another system of wires for TARDIS functionality. Among these systems was a secondary link to the TARDIS telepathic circuits; the Doctor used this feature on Clara to retrieve details regarding Trenzalore. (TV: The Name of the Doctor) This console was destroyed when the Thirteenth Doctor pressed a button after her regeneration from the Twelfth Doctor; the time rotor was engulfed in flames and shattered as the console panel she was holding onto gave way, causing the Doctor to fall from the ship. (TV: Twice Upon a Time)
Other TARDISes Edit
The Master's TARDIS console Edit
The Master's TARDIS occasionally altered its interior aesthetics, usually emulating that of the Doctor's TARDIS. Originally, his TARDIS console had a similar aesthetic to the Third Doctor's TARDIS, pertaining to the control layout, with the primary difference being the time rotor, which was not contained in a glass cylinder and, unlike that of the Doctor's console, was instead a symmetrical metal structure which ascended and descended during flight. (TV: The Time Monster)
When the Master reached the end of his original regeneration cycle, his TARDIS was also in a similar condition, with the Master using a generic computer bank to control the ship instead of a regular console. (TV: The Keeper of Traken) After having taken the body of Tremas, the Master's TARDIS regenerated itself until its console was almost an exact version of the Fifth Doctor's. (TV: Planet of Fire, The Ultimate Foe).
During the Time War, the War Master redesigned his TARDIS again, but to a different style. This console was square, only having four control panels, and had a generic metal base connecting it to the floor. The time rotor in this console was also square-based, containing a series of nine red and white rods, rising and falling toward and away from each other. There was four white rods at the top of the rotor and four red ones at the bottom, with an additional red central rod. (AUDIO: Beneath the Viscoid)
What became of this console and the ship itself is unknown as the Master preset his TARDIS to dematerialise after he exited it on the edge of the Silver Devastation. (AUDIO: The Heavenly Paradigm, TV: Utopia)
The Rani's TARDIS console Edit
The Rani's console had a very unique aesthetic to general TARDIS models, as well as the consoles of the Doctor's and the Master's TARDISes. The Rani's console was round without any distinct panels for the controls. The brim of the console was covered in semi-spheres all the way round, but they didn't appear to have any function. The console was stationed on an elongated metal cylinder in the centre of the control platform.
Like the Master's original TARDIS console, this console didn't have a glass cylinder around the rotor, but were instead two magnetised rings which oriented around each other's axis during flight. The Sixth Doctor sabotaged this console in order to defeat the Rani and the Master. (TV: The Mark of the Rani)
During the Master's attempt to correct the ship's trajectory, the TARDIS' primary control room was lost, the console along with it; as a result, the Rani cannibalised other TARDIS parts to merely allow her to control the TARDIS at all. She eventually fitted a crude duplication of the Doctor's console to her TARDIS, again allowing her to pilot it properly. (PROSE: State of Change)
Omega's TARDIS Edit
While plotting against the Time Lords to escape his anti-matter universe, Omega conceived a TARDIS from which to operate. This TARDIS wasn't so much designed for flight as it was for observation and insight to the Matrix. It was completely lacking in a conventional TARDIS console (with a chair for Omega to sit in it's place), and was instead controlled by a single computer close beside the chair, which controlled his observation screens. (TV: Arc of Infinity)
Stormblood and Sepulchra's TARDIS Edit
The Eighth Doctor, Liv Chenka and Helen Sinclair discovered a mostly dilapidated TARDIS stationary in the time vortex, which now resembled a gothic castle when the exterior shell was torn apart by time winds. The Time Lords living inside, Stormblood and Sepulchra, who had been driven half mad by residing so long in the vortex, made the regular features of the TARDIS into castle faculties, which included changing the console into a dining table, extensively stripping it of all functionality in the process. (AUDIO: Scenes From Her Life)