In Hide, a hologram of Clara appears as the TARDIS speaks to her - but at the end of The Doctor's Wife, Idris (essentially possessed by the TARDIS at this point) says that she (the TARDIS) would never be able to speak to him again.

What is it that allows the TARDIS able to speak to Clara through a hologram, but not the Doctor? Or have I misinterpreted something there?

  • 2
    To me, it seemed mostly like an automated help console - just questions & answers. Now then, it is very strange why can't the Tardis use the same console to speak.
    – Saturn
    Apr 28, 2013 at 21:23

2 Answers 2


At the end of The Doctor's Wife, the TARDIS points out that she will never be able to personally speak to The Doctor as a stand-alone, sentient being. However, we have already seen that the TARDIS is capable of interacting in the form of an image of a person, in a form of voice-activated interface.

We've seen The TARDIS play back holograms of The Doctor on a few occasions (Blink, Parting of Ways, etc.) However, those were pre-recorded events, which mostly show the TARDIS's capacity to display full-sized holograms.

However, when The Doctor was dying in Let's Kill Hitler, the TARDIS produced a series of holographic images of current and former companions, which interacted with The Doctor via normal speech communication. These were not sentient holograms driven by the TARDIS's consciousness, but rather intelligent user interfaces.

What we see appearing to Clara appears to be another case of this interactive user interface, and not a fully self-aware TARDIS consciousness.

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    "These were not sentient holograms driven by the TARDIS's consciousness, but rather intelligent user interfaces." - Which immediately raises the question of how the interface knew to say "fish fingers and custard" in "Let's Kill Hitler." Even Idris would have some difficulty coming up with that since IIRC Amy only said it once inside the TARDIS (during "The Impossible Astronaut"). Are we really supposing that a glorified Clippy figured that out all by itself?
    – Kevin
    Oct 25, 2016 at 2:47
  • Let me switch to another show - MST3K. Gypsy runs all the systems on the ship, has a weird squeaky voice, and seems to be a little befuddled. In one episode she shuts down all the systems on the ship so she has enough bandwidth to have a real intelligent heart to heart with Joel. Now think about all the systems on the TARDIS - that could explain how a seemingly sentient intelligence could be reduces to recorded responses - she's just too damn busy. Feb 16, 2017 at 20:49
  • @Kevin If only I could give you actual points for the "Clippy" reference!
    – FreeMan
    Aug 6, 2021 at 14:50

Idris was the TARDIS' personality matrix forced into a human body; it was a living, conscious entity with a personality of its own. Under normal circumstances, that part of the TARDIS cannot communicate with anybody.

The voice interface with which Clara was speaking was more like an A.I. system that only follows a set of protocols and doesn't have a mind of its own.

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