The prop for the 11th Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver has a red button hidden under the tail cap, is there a scene where Matt Smith is actually seen pressing this button? Or is it just there on the prop and unused? If not, do we know what the intended purpose of the button was? If so, in which episode is this scene?

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    – Adamant
    Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 14:49

1 Answer 1


In the episode "Time of Angels", Matt is seen holding his sonic horizontally in a manner where his thumb would be over the tail button. But it is difficult to see whether he is actually pressing it or not. Here is a video of that scene (see the 2:00 mark):

According to this discussion:

Remember in "Time of Angels" when The Doctor uses the screwdriver to give River's communicator a boost?

Remember that Smith holds it oddly, with his thumb on the red button on the end?

It's a little known fact that this was because the prop had, in effect, fallen apart, and Smith had to actually hold the sections together and use the red button at the end because the primary activator switch stopped working. Indeed, some of the very first filmming pics to surface are of Matt talking to the prop guy as he re-assembles the whole thing, but this prop was always nutoriously fragile and had to pretty much have a full-time minder from the prop departement.

However, this discussion suggests the tail button does not actually do anything:

The red buttons are actually on the props, but none of them are functional and never have been. Something about the way the circuit is makes it impossible for the button to work.

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