The noise made by the TARDIS in Doctor Who has been the same ever since its very first trip way back in 1963:

In-universe, it's the wheezing of the time rotor, possibly because of the Doctor leaving the handbrake on. But what makes this sound effect out-of-universe? Whatever it is, it's been producing pretty much the same sound for the last 50+ years.


1 Answer 1


At least originally, keys scraped on a piano

According to the person who made it:

On how the Tardis should sound, he said: "I don't know who thought of it, but we came up with the 'rending of the fabric of time and space'. I was in a cinema and in the interval I had a programme and I drew it - exactly how I wanted it to go together.

"I'd done a programme called The Survivors where we had to have the sound of a ship scraping on the rocks, and the piano sounds I'd used for that, very slowed down, seemed a good starting point.

Mr Hodgson used a device known as a ring modulator to create the sound of the Daleks

"I got my bunch of keys out, I got my mum's front door key and scraped that up the strings. We did that several times on the bass strings on an old Sunday school piano that had been taken apart. "So we took those and speeded them up, slowed them down and cut several of them together and started to add feedback to get that echoey sort of thing."

The takeoff sound specifically:

"They came to listen to it and said they liked it, but there was something missing - why hadn't I put a rising note in it? "I said 'time machines don't go up, they go everywhere'. They said 'well we think it needs it'. So I put the rising note in it with loads of feedback and the Tardis was born.

The landing sound was the same as the takeoff sound, but with a "bang" at the end!

"Unfortunately, I'd spent so much time on the sound of it taking off, when we were asked for it to land I only had three days to sort that out. So I literally played it backwards, again with loads of feedback on it, and put a great big bang on the end of it."


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.