Back around the middle of January and more by accident than design I became involved with a group making their own fan film celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who. At the time they had a specific prop request which I was able to help out with, which was quickly followed by a costume requirement necessitating a weekend of speedy building and then a further additional day of work as 24 hours before filming it was clarified they needed two of them!
At that point my involvement with the production was complete but being at a loose end one Sunday when I knew they were filming myself and the other half dropped by the studio to see the Police Box prop they’d had someone create and watch them film the console room scenes for various episodes.
The console being used had a bit of a story to it. Prior to the controls being fitted, originally built out of MDF and stored in the joiners workshop under a leaky roof meant the winter storms had ruined the original panels on top and these had been replaced last-minute with some thin sheets of ABS. Onto this various household bits had been Pritt Sticked (Pritt Stuck?)/Blu-Tacked and sticky taped with a flat plate on top in lieu of a central column.
To be frank I felt it was letting down the hard work they were putting in to other areas of the production, but they had already been filming for a day with it at that stage and there was nothing to be done without a substantial remount of the scenes concerned so I kept my mouth shut even as bits would fall off during filming and be stuck back on in a different position for the next scene.
By the end of filming the whole thing had to be struck and would need to be re-constructed from continuity pictures for the next studio session due in a couple of weeks. Since the central column was, in-story, hidden inside the console until the TARDIS was in flight I took the opportunity to order some bits from EMA with the intention of building them a Hartnell-esque replica to use when it might briefly appear.
As it transpired though, the endeavour escalated from fan homage to someone’s final year film studies project and with the approval of the writer/director/star and the understanding that the whole thing probably needed reshot I agreed to pimp out their original console.
18 Days till deadline
So onto eBay for a bunch of switches to give the actors something to interact with. While I’m there I luck across a job lot of vintage dials. Prior to this I’ve had a vague notion of replacing the prismatic tape they had previously with LEDs but no real plan for the console. Since I was already using Celations build as a reference for the central column, with the dials in the bag I started thinking of how far I could emulate the original Brachacki console. I mean it’s just a load of meters and ping-pong balls right..?
One thing is for sure, the ABS isn’t going to be supporting the weight of these parts so I have to source some wooden replacements cut to the same shape. Ignoring for the moment the one slight hitch that beyond a five-year old Dremmel I own no power tools I’m confident that switching materials is a smart move. I mean wood, right, it’s just like thick cardboard really, and proceed to buy six sufficiently sized off cuts from a local lumber dealer…
Meanwhile the auction for a bomb release control panel from a Lancaster bomber is coming to a close at a cheaper price than it would cost to buy the number of switches on it separately. Unfortunately there’s a splurge of bidding in the last few minutes which drives the price up. I don’t really want it that much but don’t like being beaten either so increase my bid accordingly.