In the 2005 revival, we see that the doors of the TARDIS are consistent from inside to outside. (From the inside, they look like you'd expect them to in a real police box.) But the original series depicted them very differently. The "honeycomb" wall had a panel that opened and somehow connected to the police box doors as seen from the outside.

In the revival series, this allows for views directly from outside to inside (or vice versa), and shots like that of the motorcycle ridden straight into and around the console.

In the original series, you never (that I recall) see through the open doors into the console room from outside the police box like has been done a number of times in the revival. There is always a sort of shadowy blackness within the police box that characters emerge from or disappear into. Likewise, they just seem to disappear around the edge of the interior door.

So, I have always wondered: is there any canon depiction or explanation of the connection between the inner and outer doors of the original series TARDIS? Is there a hallway or vestibule?

  • Not really. Although they did attempt the effect in the pilot of An Unearthly Child it wasn't deemed a success, from the link, Part 1 - Begins with Barbara, then Ian and the Doctor entering the TARDIS. A noticeable difference between this and the final version is that the interior of the TARDIS is visible as Barbara forces her way through the doors. This effect was not used in the final transmitted version or any stories of the original series, though it has become standard in the new series. Feb 18, 2017 at 5:02

3 Answers 3


The only time they allowed you to see through the doors was the pilot, An Unearthly Child. You can see a shot where, in the original pilot, they tried to have a "look through the doors' effect.

There was another shot toward the end, where you could see a snowscape through the doors.

The problem was that Doctor Who was shot live, with minimal post-production, as most TV shows were filmed by the BBC that way. It's one of the reasons why early Doctor Who shows contain so many glitches and bodged lines; if it was good enough they moved forward.

In just about every other shot, they were careful to shoot the doors obliquely, so you couldn't see quite inside.

Now, at 45 degree angles or so, one could see inside the tardis while people were dashing in; because it's just a plexiglas prop, you'd see the dark interior (reboot-Who uses bluescreen effects to comp in the interior.).

In Classic Who, there were two separate sets of doors, exterior and interior, connected via a dark hallway. This was the explanation for the "dark interior" of the TARDIS prop; it was also the explanation as to why the outer doors were always operated by hand, while the interior doors were automatic.

In Logopolis, we learn a lot more on how Time Lord Technology works (specifically Block Transfer Computation, where the Universe can essentially have things created with pure math), and we also learn about the "Real World Interface," the hallway where people translate from the dimensionally transcendental interior to regular space. This connection between the "shell" and the interior could be broken by Siege Mode (Flatline) or via wibly-wobbly shenanigans (Father's Day).

Head canon tells me that the "tunnel" doors were a feature of early TARDISs, like the Doctor's Mark 40, because we see the same in the Rani's TARDIS and The Master's updated TARDIS. Sometime between Doctor 8's initial regeneration and The Great Time War, it looks like the doors were upgraded to remove the tunnel.

  • 1
    Since the TARDIS seems to be able to reformat its interior to the needs of its Timelord, and since the Doctor is quite often entering/leaving in a hurry, perhaps the TARDIS just determined removal of the corridor (saving a few seconds on each journey) would be more prudent :)
    – delinear
    Feb 22, 2017 at 12:54
  • 1
    The Doctor certainly does have an awful lot of running to do, @delinear. However, according to Classic Who, the whole point of the "corridor" was to provide the dimensional de-transendentalling features of the Interface; you were compressed and decompressed while you went through the hallway. From a lore point of view, the new Doctor's door is way more amazing, especially in "Siege Mode" situations, where the Doctor sticks his hand out of the Micro-Tardis... what must that have looked like through the doorway? Such a thing would be impossible with the corridor.
    – Zoey Green
    Feb 23, 2017 at 2:30

In the Third Doctor era (primarily season 8, I think), there was sometimes shown to be a vestibule between the inner and outer doors. For example, this is from near the beginning of episode four of "The Claws of Axos" (1971).

Vestibule visible

You can clearly see that there is another antechamber with roundels on the walls between the outer doors of the Doctor's TARDIS and the control room. (Although it is the Master stepping inside, it is the Doctor's TARDIS.) They created this appearance by hanging a cloth scrim with the roundels printed on it outside the doorway of the TARDIS set. The actual hanging cloth was a leftover from the black-and-white era of the show (hence its different color palette from that used inside the control room), when it has sometimes been used to represent an interior wall of the TARDIS.

By season eleven, the vestibule seems to be gone. It does not show up, for example, in "Death to the Daleks," which includes a fair amount of action right up against the TARDIS's inner doors.


In the original series, you never (that I recall) see through the open doors into the console room from outside the police box like has been done a number of times in the revival. There is always a sort of shadowy blackness within the police box that characters emerge from or disappear into.

One of my favourite scenes from any episode (IIRC) takes place in ''Logopolis''. After realizing that The Master must be aboard, the Doctor decides to flush him out, literally, by submerging the tardis in the Thames and flooding the interior and forcing him to take his own tardis elsewhere.

Now the key part: as part of the trick, Adric and the Doctor have to (briefly) hold the doors of the Tardis closed. So this implies there are not two sets of doors, but one. I would not be surprised to find counterexamples, after all, they did kill the dinosaurs many different ways...

  • "... they did kill the dinosaurs many different ways ..." I only remember the one in Earthshock. What other ways would that be?
    – Pete
    Jan 26, 2023 at 21:57

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