I have no idea when or where, but I seem to recall the Doctor saying at some point that the TARDIS’s chameleon circuit is not broken—on landing, it scans the surroundings, determines a suitable form to blend in and go undetected, and promptly disguises itself as a police box.

Was a line like this ever uttered in Doctor Who, whether classic or revived? If I didn’t imagine it, when and where was it said?

  • There is also the Sixth Doctor episode Attack of the Cybermen where he manages to repair the chameleon circuit, at least temporarily. But you didn't mean that one. – Mr Lister Dec 26 '15 at 10:34
  • The 9th Doctor does mention the TARDIS resembles a police box from the 1950s as a disguise, but doesn't explicitly mention the chameleon circuit. – Huey Dec 26 '15 at 15:22
  • @MrLister: Right, not that one, but I really should watch it sometime. – Frungi Dec 27 '15 at 22:56
  • @Huey: Neither did 11 in that minisode. But did 9 give a similar explanation, that it does everything it’s supposed to… and then goes with the police box anyway? – Frungi Dec 27 '15 at 22:58

This is "Meanwhile in the TARDIS 1", a minisode from series five set moments after the end of The Eleventh Hour. It was included as a special feature on the DVD release, but is also on Youtube:

Relevant transcript:

Amy: Why is it a police box?

[Amy babbles a bit; I'll spare you]

Doctor: Well it's not really a police box. Which, by the way, is a special kind of telephone box that policemen used to use.

[More babbling]

Doctor: It's camouflage. It's disguised as a police telephone box from 1963. Every time the TARDIS materializes in a new location, within the first nanosecond of landing, it analyzes its surroundings, calculates a twelve-dimensional data map of everything within a thousand mile radius, and determines which outer shell would blend in best with the environment. And then it disguises itself as a police telephone box from 1963.

Doctor Who Minisode "Meanwhile in the TARDIS 1"

  • 3
    Please watch the video. It's a pretty good gag, but Matt Smith absolutely nails the delivery – Jason Baker Dec 26 '15 at 5:27
  • Thank you! This is exactly what I was failing to remember. – Frungi Dec 26 '15 at 5:39

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