Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
|236 – "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS"|
|Doctor Who episode|
Official Poster from the BBC Website
|Executive producer(s)||Steven Moffat
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Originally broadcast||27 April 2013|
"Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" is the tenth episode of the seventh series of the British science-fiction drama Doctor Who and was broadcast on 27 April 2013, and stars Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara Oswald. This episode was written by Stephen Thompson and is about an adventure into the inner depths of the TARDIS. The episode also includes three brothers from an intergalactic salvage crew, played by Ashley Walters, Mark Oliver, and Jahvel Hall.
The Doctor, sensing animosity between Clara and the TARDIS, decides to teach Clara how to operate the time machine, and disables its shields to enable its "basic mode". However, at that moment, the TARDIS is caught by the magnetic tractor beam of a space salvage ship, causing many of the TARDIS' systems to fail. Clara nags at the Doctor to fix it, but he claims there is no "big friendly button" that can simply fix everything. Clara spots a strange egg-like device roll across the floor and tries to grab it but burns her hand. The ship jolts and the two are thrown into darkness.
The Doctor awakes to find himself on the salvage ship, manned by the stern Gregor Van Baalen, his brother Bram, and a human-looking android named Tricky with enhanced sensory devices who is treated poorly by Gregor. The Doctor tries to convinces Gregor to help him rescue Clara inside the TARDIS, allowing them to salvage the rest of the ship. Gregor eventually agrees, but when the three join the Doctor inside, he assures their cooperation by locking the TARDIS doors and setting a self-destruct countdown time which he will disable once Clara is rescued. The group begin to explore the TARDIS, Gregor attempting to assess the value of the ship, though the Doctor warns him that removing key parts will make the TARDIS angry. Despite this, Gregor orders Bram to start to salvage the console, during which he is killed by an ossified humanoid creature. After removing part of the architectural reconfiguration system Gregor, Tricky, and the Doctor become trapped in a loop of corridors generated by the TARDIS as it tries to prevent the theft of its systems.
Clara, meanwhile, wakes up in a TARDIS corridor and tries to find her way to the console room. She finds herself pursued by an ossified creature, and takes shelter in the many rooms the TARDIS offers, including, at one point, the TARDIS library where she has a chance to read from The History of the Time War before she's forced to flee. Her hand continues to ache from the burn, but she sees the burn marks slowly resolving into letters. She ends up in the console room, finding another ossified creature, mimicking her movements, approaching her.
The Doctor, Gregor, and Tricky reach the console room, and the Doctor senses Clara in an echo of the console room. With the help of Gregor's scanner to identify Clara, the Doctor creates a temporary link and grabs Clara before the creature touches her. Gregor demands the Doctor end the countdown; the Doctor, though revealing the self-destruct was a ruse to get their cooperation, finds the TARDIS engines have become unstable due to the leakage of time caused by the incident, and they must go to the engine room by way of the Eye of Harmony to prevent it from exploding. En route, Tricky is injured and in pain, to his surprise; Gregor is forced to reveal Tricky is truly human and also his brother; after an accident that cost the life of their father, Tricky had lost his memories and had special implants to replace damaged organs, so Gregor had acted as if Tricky was an android so as to claim the captaincy of the salvage vessel. The Doctor comments on Gregor's treatment of Tricky and suggests he can do better.
While traveling through the Eye of Harmony, the four are trapped by ossified creatures. When Gregor scans them and finds one similar to Clara's biology, the Doctor confesses that these creatures are themselves from the future due to the time leak, and tries to prevent that future from happening. However, Gregor and Tricky are unable to avoid contacting themselves and become the conjoined ossified creature, seen earlier, before the Doctor and Clara's eyes. The two flee towards the engine room, but come across a chasm with no way across. The Doctor, thinking that they are going to die, asks Clara to explain who she is and how she could have died twice before. Clara doesn't understand, and the Doctor realises she has no knowledge of their previous encounters and is simply a young woman. The Doctor and Clara then leap across the chasm believing that it is just an illusion and reach the engine room.
In the engine room, they find the engine has already exploded but the TARDIS has placed the room in time stasis as a safety measure. The Doctor is aware the TARDIS is trying to tell him something, but cannot figure out what until Clara looks at her hand, the burn marks fully formed into words - "big friendly button". The Doctor realises that they need to go back to the point of the disaster and activate the magnetic beacon - the device Clara picked up - to stop the magnetic tractor and prevent the disaster. They race to the console room, where the Doctor takes the discarded beacon and prepares to travel through a time rift. Clara asks what she will remember and says she knows the Doctor's name from reading the Time War book; the Doctor promises her that she will remember nothing. The Doctor successfully crosses the rift and warns his past self. The past Doctor, understanding the warning, grabs the beacon from Clara when she picks it up - the letters "big friendly button" inscribed on its side - and hits the button.
Time resets to before the events of the episode. The Van Baalens ignore the TARDIS and continue, though in this new timeline, Gregor has become more appreciative of Tricky having recalled the Doctor's words. The picture of Gregor and Bram with their late father (seen at the start of the episode) is now shown to include Tricky as well. In the TARDIS, the Doctor asks Clara if she feels safe with him, and she readily agrees.
The Eye of Harmony is seen in its entirety for the first time in this episode. The scene where Bram tries to dismantle the TARDIS features audio clips from An Unearthly Child, Colony in Space, The Robots of Death, "Rose", "Smith and Jones", "The Beast Below", and "The Doctor's Wife". When the Encyclopedia Gallifreya 'leaks', audio from The End of Time is also heard.
When Clara is exploring through the rooms of the TARDIS, she comes across the Doctor's cot, first seen in "A Good Man Goes to War", and a toy TARDIS similar - if not identical - to the one that Amy Pond made, last seen in "Let's Kill Hitler". She also finds a magnifying glass, possibly the one that the Doctor used in the console room in "The Power of Three" and that Donna Noble used in "The Unicorn and the Wasp", as well as an umbrella that looks very similar to the one used by the Seventh Doctor in Paradise Towers. Clara passes several rooms mentioned before, such as the swimming pool, heard but not seen in the episode "Day of the Moon", and the library, which has been mentioned many times, most notably "The Eleventh Hour," when the Doctor tells young Amelia about the swimming pool in the library. In the library Clara finds a book about the "History of the Last Great Time War". This war between the Daleks and the Time Lords was mentioned several times since the series' revival. When Clara talks to the Doctor about what she read in that book she mentions the Doctor's name is written in the book and asks why the Doctor doesn't use it. He interrupts her and the knowledge of these events is erased from Clara's mind by the end of the episode.
The events of this episode are influenced by a crack in time, formed by a rupture in the TARDIS engines. A similar crack in time was formed in Series 5 by the destruction of the TARDIS. The resolution of this episode also contains some similarities to the finale of Series 5, with the Doctor being pulled into the crack and sent backwards through time.
Lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat gave the concept of an episode discovering the centre of the TARDIS to writer Stephen Thompson. Thompson explained that this was because Moffat was "haunted" by the 1978 story The Invasion of Time, which was set on the TARDIS but used hastily-constructed sets. Thompson was also interested in mathematics and remarked, "anything involving multi-dimensional geometry gets me excited". Moffat left the rest of the story to be developed by Thompson.
The read-through for "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" took place at Roath Lock studios on 29 August 2012, during the production of "The Snowmen". Filming took place from 4 to 24 September, mostly on studio sets. However, the scene where the Doctor and Clara enter the defensive front of the TARDIS' engine room was filmed later on 28 November at the Argoed Isha Quarry in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Guest star Ashley Walters managed to get in trouble with the producers on the first day of filming when he tweeted a picture of himself in his costume in his trailer with the word "space". The picture was immediately removed.
Broadcast and reception 
The episode first aired in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 27 April 2013. Overnight ratings showed that 4.9 million viewers watched the episode live. When final ratings were calculated, the figure rose to 6.5 million, the seventh most-watched programme of the week on BBC One. In addition, "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" received 1.19 million requests on the online BBC iPlayer for the four days it was available in the month of April, making it the tenth most-watched programme on the service for the month. It received an Appreciation Index of 85.
Critical reception 
"Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" received positive to mixed reviews. Dan Martin of The Guardian noted that the ending would upset fans because it made fun of them "so audaciously" and that the episode "frustratingly ... advances the arc before striding right back to square one". He praised the "creepy" side of the episode and wrote that the guest acting "sells" the underdeveloped plot of the three brothers. Digital Spy's Morgan Jeffery gave the episode five out of five stars, describing it as "an absolute treat for Doctor Who fans" as well as casual viewers, and said that the resolution was "not just a running gag but a timey-wimey, reset twist that actually works on a logical and a dramatic level, and doesn't feel like a cheat". However, he felt that the nature of the plot did not allow Clara to do much besides run and scream.
IGN's Mark Snow gave "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" a score of 8.5 out of 10. He was disappointed by the amount of time spent in corridors, but was positive towards the monster. He praised the "showdown" between the Doctor and Clara, though criticised how it was erased by a "no doubt polarising Deus Ex Machina ending". Radio Times reviewer Patrick Mulkern described the episode as "a reasonably entertaining, playfully timey-wimey adventure, with lots of nice touches". While he praised the set design and Coleman, he wished for a more consistent style of the TARDIS as seen in the classic series and called the three brothers "a singularly inept bunch of clods". Neela Debnath of The Independent wrote that the episode was "fun" but mostly "an excuse to explore the [TARDIS]", with an insubstantial plot and three supporting characters who were hard to care about. She wrote that "the aesthetics do add value to this adventure, in particular the Doctor's library".
Writing for SFX, Dave Golder gave "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" three out of five stars. He particularly criticised the plot for being "average" and "a reasonable, bog-standard, sci-fi corridor run-around complete with handy-dandy reset button ending". He felt that the episode had a lot of missed opportunities, and called the three brothers "bland and forgettable". Gavin Fuller of The Daily Telegraph gave the episode one and a half stars, also finding "wasted opportunities" and that it seemed "like a rehash of old Who". Fuller wrote that "the only redeeming feature was the spiky development of the Doctor/Clara relationship" but that "was nowhere near enough to save this deadly dull episode".
- "The Fourth Dimension: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS". BBC. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
- "Stephen Thompson interview". Doctor Who Magazine (Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics) (454). 15 November 2012.
- Lazarus, Susanna (22 October 2011). "Ashley Walters on his Doctor Who role: you'll see more of the Tardis than ever before". Radio Times. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
- "Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS". BBC. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- Golder, Dave (28 April 2013). "Doctor Who "Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS" Overnight Ratings". SFX. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Top 30 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- Golder, Dave (18 May 2013). "Doctor Who Dominates April iPlayer Chart". SFX. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
- "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS AI:85". Doctor Who News Page. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- Martin, Dan (27 April 2013). "Doctor Who: Journey to the Centre of the Tardis – series 33, episode 10". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- Jeffery, Morgan (27 April 2013). "'Doctor Who': New episode 'Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS' review". Digital Spy. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- Snow, Mark (27 April 2013). "The Doctor's Real Name Is...". IGN. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- Mulkern, Patrick (27 April 2013). "Journey to the Centre of the Tardis review — Doctor Who goes a bit Blake's 7". Radio Times. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- Debnath, Neela (27 April 2013). "Review of Doctor Who 'Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS' – Series 7, episode 10". The Independent. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- Golder, Dave (27 April 2013). "Doctor Who 7.10 "Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS" Review". SFX. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- Fuller, Gavin (27 April 2013). "Doctor Who: Journey to the Centre of the Tardis, BBC One, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Eleventh Doctor|
- "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" at the BBC Doctor Who homepage
- "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
- Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS on TARDIS Data Core, an external wiki
- "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" at the Internet Movie Database