Dr Who - Technical Manual

Created 10/05/2013, Changed; 20/06/2020, 11/05/2020

Old this webpage;   http://ww1.andrew-lohmann.me.uk/engineer/dr-who-classic-estb-1963/dr-who---technical-manual

Dr Who - Timelords and Celestial beings

The answer to those awkward technical questions in Sci-Fi? 

To paraphrase "Don't bother me now I have not got time to explain" Do Read the TARDIS Manual is one example from the Pirate Plant. 


Doctor Who has endured because of good original research work and enduring team effort.  Two great actor's William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton also made the story work adapting and setting the tone and style. The TV series reflected and was part of the enthusiasm in science and engineering, public nationalised services, the enjoyment of doing things well and for the common good so much a feature of the 1960s. 

Dr Who - Bag of sweets often, Lemon sherbets, Jelly babies or Licorice Assorts because they show up on camera well.

Ten years earlier Quatemass of 1953 TV storytelling was like traditional story either written or spoken. Starting with setting the scene, through to closing press conference summing up the story. By 1960 the stories were becoming much more to the point and less an art of story telling this can make the story told misleading list of simple points.  The status quo, in the 1980s, was being pushed towards for money, individualism and Dr Who continued to move towards in Doctor No.6's interpretation just telling the punch line of a story, a more superman and fantasy style and had move away from empowerment of people by a clever kindly alien past way.

Quatamass II (telling a story slowly and fully)

BBC TV 1955 - Roger Delgado who played The Master in Doctor Who but in Quatemass, episode 4 he plays the journalist Conrad.  Jon Pertwee as Doctor Who No.3 is somewhat like the Professor Bernard Quatamass government, Army advisor and fixer role, but the era is quite different in 1970 and this Doctor Who style does not work for everyone.  The Dr. Who story Spearhead from Space is a re-telling of this Quatamass story. Followers (like my mum) who were absolutely glued to Quatemass TV series and liked the first Doctor Who do not find Dr. Who gripping by this time but maybe entertaining. Jon Pertwee as Dr. No. 3 for me tinkers with gadgets too much and behaves more like One Musketeer, this whilst Sarah Jane Smith gets on investigating makes a few mistakes particularly telling the wrong senior person what is happen only to find out he is complicit (Sarah looks absolutely sick at this point), imprisoned climbing out of and escaping then putting things right particularly so in the Dinosaur story that probably goes down more for its bad plastic models which would have been entirely acceptable on TV a decade earlier.  Invasion of the dinosaurs was one of a few story's to make (rather than show) a point about what humans were doing to our planet particularly a mark of the 3rd Dr. also see Green Death.  The era was about consequences of man's actions to the planet but Jon Pertwee also made point about not glorifying war in telling about a battle but talk of the casualties and how hard it is see Planet of the Daleks

I said before but to put it another way; The 1st Doctor Who as a person, I guess, as he was in many of the roles he played like an old Sargent Major short back and sides.  I think Doctor Who was quite an unusual role for him.  He would stand his ground until he did not have a leg to stand on then quietly back down this was good acting.  He played flawed human and inconsistent and always right old man, willing to act those things.  You could watch this making you annoyed, hate the nasty old man - wonderful stuff to watch!

In talking about the story I have also matched the prevailing conditions as they changed with the story.  In the 1970s general wealth improved went together with indifference but it was not until the 1990s that people openly said "greed is good".  The Effluent Society to misquote a cliché, and the worry turned to cynicism following the 1973 fuel crisis and subsequent evidence that despite convenient fantasy we are bound to nature.

The picture is a link to a page. In a BBC interview with Sylvester McCoy (Dr No. 7)  Was Doctor Who rubbish in the 1980s?  Sheila Handcock says she is playing Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher in The Happiness Patrol.

This Doctor Who project has also discussed what is or was good about British Engineering.  More is explained below.  I try to be even-handed but quite honestly there is something very special about British Engineering in the understand of what is required rather than what seems ideal or correct.  Engineering excellence is not a uniquely British thing.

Baroness Williams of Crosby (Shirley Williams) on many things including her time in the Labour Party. Interesting perspective on Blair-ism, she did not expect when "The Gang of Four" left the Labour Party that ultimately the party would abandon all its principals to get elected.  Tactically the gang of 4's timing in leaving the Labour Party gave the Thatcher government the foot hold when that government was at its most vulnerable in the 1983 General Election.  It became all right to do things for money.  New Labour was elected when the culture of greed is good was a good thing to say but people were questioning there own gains but perhaps not enough to give up there perceived gains. The Gang of four were naive in thinking people had changed and would not easily revert to mob rule that had permitted Nazism, or racism in the UK to thrive.

The second world war did not seem to be a feature of the 1960s it was behind us but the payback to ordinary people was evident.  View it as rights expected or as gifts given in reward to be handed or taken back in the 1980s depends on your outlook.  Either way Status Quo has very definitely swung away from rational and the practical to idealism and fantasy.  It seems young people are being trained to operate supermarket tills and do pub quizzes rather than educated to do practically anything.

In the British science fiction series Blakes 7 - Story, Shadow; It is discovered that the Federation also runs the illegal drug operation, gambling and all the vices. Blake concludes; To have total power you must control both sides of the law. This series was broadcast between 1978 and 1981.

Blakes 7 - Shadow

Similarly in USA, Contra-Gate scandal broke in the 1990's in which President Reagan had orderer the running of drugs for arms in South America. But a very junior military officer was Oliver North was convicted, evidently a scapegoat, and the scandal was also nicknamed Oli Gate.

It was not until the 1993 that, but for Premium Bonds, the UK government did not run any gambling and the government still does not run alcohol (liquor stores) unlike many countries. But Governments have condoned by licensing those things + Usury for centuries.

Interaction between the people of different Temperament types;

In Blake's 7 the TV series starts out with characters that represent the four temperament types;

The other characters have temperaments including Orac which is also far sited (steers, misleads them into what should have been a one way trip into a Black Hole finding it fascinating) and Zen is protective and strong (in the end goes over and over I have failed you), also that computer is also insightful saying; "Wisdom must be gathered, not given". 

These are a bit like the Wizard of Oz Here is another diagram of Temperament that I discuss elsewhere but substituting the charters from Wizard of Oz. Clearly the message of empowerment, doing and realisation of capabilities is very strong in this famous musical from 1939.

More on Temperament (Motive and Change)

Use this diagram like a compass for direction and magnitude but you need the table form to see the explanation.

You will notice that Tom Baker is good when he is rained in.  Patrick Troughton got the character right and play it just so using the script to guide.  I suspect that PT or both these doctors temperament is rational "Do What works" "What is possible" that type is a minority.  You will see that the continuity across different writers is very good in Dr. No.2 era consequently.

Celestial Toymaker and Mind-robbers Stories.

The Invasion of the Dynasors

The Invasion of the Dinosaurs - The Doctor No.3 can travel in time without his TARDIS. - Mind over matter! Capturing a popular fiction.

The thread I am developing is to understand that the real world is not absolute but understanding is a balance of probabilities.  When resolved far enough produce an excellent outcome.  Although nothing is absolute, but can be clearly defined even-so, in nature (death may seem fairly final but even so ideas understood in life may not die).  Life may exist for another 1,000,000,000 years (one billion years - Giga) and lower organisms deep within the ground for 3,000,000,000 when all the water have evaporated away.

More examples of Engineering excellence

The truth is that there are ever so many very nicely designed things taken for granted and unnoticed. British were traditionally regarded internationally as second to none in engineering.  British engineering is particularly pragmatic and elegant that is both far-sited and conservative as necessary. I picked a few example above because readers might recognise them particularly the military ones but have taken for granted the civilian examples.


TV Doctor Who viewer ratings - Patrick Troughton was selected because he was the only one that could pull off the regeneration William Hartnell had worked with him, as had Jon Pertwee indecently a long time before Doctor Who. But the Doctor Who TV viewing figures are lower after the first regeneration http://www.themindrobber.co.uk/ratings.html

The stories are much tighter not at all over the place no more Christmas greeting to the viewers as there had been in Dalek Master Plan - 7 Feast of Steven previously.

Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galexy on Daleks

Machines can't create Random numbers;

That is not true (or the difference in outcome is so small that it amounts to being not true which is the same) but Doctor Who frequently comes back to this point, though.  A point that there are things that can be done better if they are not done precisely, the human factor, but it is the natural factor.  Computers usually create pseudo random numbers which are a sequence of numbers but they look random unless you know the circuit and the seed number.  Hence a cypher can be created and decoded by knowing the seed number for a machine that creates pseudo random numbers but if the machine noise source is replaced by a noise source such as an electronic resistor, for example a cypher, can not be broken or decoded. 

This website http://www.random.org/ claims to create truly random numbers.  Nothing wrong with that website, I am sure it does meet the claim made.  I say "claims to" because it is difficult to prove lack of bias in any circuit to test the numbers.

Me; At college long ago the teacher who taught engineering management got the class to pair up and he gave out pairs of dice but one set was slightly biased.  We went on throwing dice and plotting the numbers that came up on a histogram till one of us realised we had the loaded set.  My set seemed a bit loaded but keep going there are a lot of us in the class must be sure. Yes it was me that got the loaded dice.

Other; That's an intriguing experiment... were you supposed to learn not to trust your instruments?

Me; The teacher was an old R&D chap who had worked for Murphy Richards and he had stories about components by chance coming together to make occasionally super powerful vacuum cleaners.  Other teachers said of him he is a good engineering teacher (which is so) why does he teach engineering management?

He had devised another exercise.  A square like a crossword 10x10 where he had hidden 10 special squares and said we will try most of the other squares before we found them.  This teacher also similarly hid 25 squares.  True we called out rows and columns did not get his hidden squares until there were few others left.

I am a design engineer - understanding probability and human difficulty with random numbers is important to judging what to do next after test or theorising on a sample of one or two.   

Me; Learn how to trust yourself and your instruments or, more like, what to get from the information or inferences.

Other; Ah, bless your heart, that last part actually led me to understand a bit of what you meant before.  That's very cool, actually, and something probably quite pertinent and more in danger of being lost, I'm guessing, in the digital age -- so few even have a grasp of how their instruments do what they do.

Dr Who - Ice Warriors

Ice Warriors;

Not a perfect landing (6mins in) but at least the TARDIS has righted itself and is standing up properly when they return to leave.  In this story we see Patrick Troughton as the Doctor enters the control room take control almost, because it is vital someone does, doing the maths and prevent the nuclear power plant blowing up - Convincingly!

Here is an example based on a Facebook discussion;

Me; This instrument works about 15 times faster than its competitors (probably still does after 20 years) The electronics analogue and digital is very good my work, and the software is particularity neat and clever and is my work. Off and on developed over about 15 years look inside does not look like much.  I am really proud of that one.

Other; That's excellent, Andrew!

Me; You are right I am brought up and work for a scientific instrument maker for 30 years. As an old git I do the sort of British Engineering is regard as the best that us old ones do do.  What is required - interpreting a requirement well enough, quickly and completely satisfying.

Other; British-made absolutely always meant very well-engineered through my lifetime, so cool that you've been part of that.

Me; USA, Germany say that. British engineers are (were) sort after.  The craftsmen I worked with turned new stuff around in months when now it takes years and they accepted me as one of them aged 21. Plan and do it right first time - any other way is just hard work.

Dr Who - Galexy 4

The pretty women in Galaxy 4 are very bad but the very nasty looking creature is empathetic and humane.  Early Dr Who Stories were different.

The Chumbleys are sweet but seem fairly useless little robots.

Rules and when they don't apply;

As a general rule, which is almost without exception, a person who resigns over an issue is forgotten soon after.  There have been some examples in politics where the resignation has been remembered not because of the quality of the resignation speech but because of the consequences.  The general rule is the person who leaves is the scapegoat, that is irrespective of whether they blew any whistles or acquiesced in what they observed.

Robin Cook's Resignation speech

Robin Cook MP resigned from the Labour Cabinet over wars that the country got into.  In it's time regarded as the best and most respectful resignation speech - if people like Robin Cook can never become Prime Minster then the country surely has no hope!!!!

If you can't do any good and you are finding a situation impossible leave or get away from it.  Do that for your own health.  Don't expect others to change what they do, you can not control them.  To think otherwise will cause you pain.  We do influence each other more so when not unnecessarily stressed and under pressure. Do also observe that Patrick Troughton particularly cultivates good acting.

What are these rules anyway and where did they come from?

So why is there such a resistance to rational discussion.  Part of it is that the media are generally the conduit of discussion but can spin it.  General rules given in childhood are flawed e.g.;  I can't say something unless I live that way - well I don't live that way but I'd like to and I like it if things change to make it easier.

What a road building sceptics says on road building often tests the, otherwise, most reasonable person. Road building generally leads to congestion, insatiable demand (that can not be met) and poor air quality, that is unless it is studied, demand management steps taken and the plans taken in small steps measured and corrected on the way.  I suppose you could call it Military Industrial Complex syndrome.  Unhealthy food, health insurance and the pharmaceutical industries have a mutual interest conflicts have to be corrected how ever difficult?

The number of deaths due to road vehicles continues to rise as air quality is overwhelmingly the main factor (a significant proportion of the 50,000 deaths a year in the UK) the accepted figure in 2014/5 is 29,000 deaths which the EU fined the UK for not addressing.

2018 - the number of deaths due to vehicle emissions has started to reduce in the UK but has been taken to court by the EU they give a conservative figure of 23,500/yr but 40,000 premature deaths a year are estimated.  The introduction of electric cars is not significant at only 0.12%.  Diesel is a small proportion of the total 5,000 deaths.  Media Lens - Heading For A Different Planet

Porridge - The Harder They Fall - Ronnie Barker

 Entrepreneurs are good (1980s Trickle down economics)

Funny thing the British lovable rouge - Why? Many of us have received money advice but there is no comeback from the company selling the policy if the pension turns out to have no value having index linked charges.  There is no reality in moving money around or talking something down so that the value fall or a government falls, a successful pension provider, like Equitable Life, breaks.  Everything is Language (Post-modernism) can bring things about that are not rational or naturally difficult, but only up to a point.

Ronnie Barker in the 1970's TV series Porridge. The well liked rogue Fletcher considers prison to be an occupational hazard.

 National politics and local politics - Another flawed rule children are often told - You must not argue, talk politics or religion - I never was given those rules in any case but they cause people to give there power away. I don't have a problem with different parties. The problem is the party, war, cause, union, church, is right don't argue.  One sort of the left tend to be more open responding to reason and the right are more open responding to courtesy to be over simplistic because it goes all ways. There are ranters and bullies who have no hope or no interest in hope - roads are for cars, pedestrians are in the way - otherwise shut up.  I would not discount any view though NIMBY, Green, we have know since 1973 fuel crises if not before that we can't all have everything we want or just live off money creation, war and the third world, forever.  Mayan civilisation fell we can chose how softly or not at all we make it for ourselves.

Humans are not impartial and cannot behave in a random way;

In order to learn you have to play. So don't do home work, play. But you can instead train kids to do well in pub quizzes and operate supermarket tills. 

The Web Planet - the atmospheric pressure is low so the travellers wear protective clothing and take medicine. The sets are quite poor by later standards but the story is good also tackling the reality of real environmental conditions found on other worlds being different. Significantly the story and the props were made to work by the actors taking those seriously.

Dr Who - The Web Planet

Do check often, words and deeds of people do not coincide. In (electronics for example) helping someone fault find someone can tell you, because they are struggling with a problem, observations that do not make sense. Look again ask different questions. When the answer is found the prior fault is easy to express.

That where there is discord, may I bring Harmony (or Union)

[Quoted from time to time such as by Mrs Thatchers speech on becoming Prime Minister]

The much quoted Yes Minister TV series of the 1980's the civil servant's advise on a difficult policy. Put it in the title of the document then don't mention it again.

The reality was; Home derived pizza, the couch potato, to complain about everything but can't do anything.

 People vote and behave in a cynical way and get what they vote for, but doing that imposes on the rest of us. The consequence is that many candidates hold their noses do what is necessary to get elected. Therefore we only need to say what is needed and for the good and it will happen but the problem is what people ask for. Similarly bad engineering comes out of a closed defensive environment. That about concludes Doctor Who and how to recover excellence and pleasure in engineering and life.

Dr Who - The Keys of Marinous

The Keys of Marinus - is not quite another maze story or another story about what is left of  an old civilization with advance technology that enforces peace (contradiction that is). The water surrounding the island is acidic and the travellers in one sub-story are drugged into believing they are guests of some very kind generous people. But there is a cost in the apparent generosity. Another unique story. The costumes that the actors wear are colourful and beautiful although lost in the black and white broadcast surely enhances the performance. 

In this story we see the time travellers handed a teleportation bracelet device that works like that seen on Star Trek or Blake's 7. This story was broadcast prior to Star Trek but is not the first time matter disassembly transportation and reassembly is seen in 1939 the TV series Buck Rogers a more primitive form is used.  This Dr Who story hints at a near rape situation in which Barbara is able to foil an important issue performed with sensitivity.

Applying numbers, history, science and life experience to making and bringing things about;

In schools children can be taught arithmetic by using abacus and number sticks. These give a child a feel for the symbols but in a physical sense. In history Humphrey Davies Lamp which was used in coal mining has a flame proof copper mesh on the air inlet and outlets so that if the gas entering burns the copper mesh conducts the heat away and extinguishes the flame when the gas leaves the lamp - made a otherwise notably forgettable History lesson in junior school memorable.

In medicine why teach doctors calculus unless you explain thinks, flesh and bones, bending or breaking. The optimum size of a tin of food that uses the least metal is the size of a standard baked bean tin this uses a form of calculus called Maximum & Minimum, but use trial and error approach is easily understood use that if it works for you.

In the first year of Junior school, in the 1960s, numbers and the meaning of symbols were taught using number sticks. There are some basic rules with maths called Identities;

1 + 1 = 2, 1 + 2 = 3 so on; once you have 0 to 9 covered and some other rules you can work out the others logically. The lesson was to understand what these symbols mean using physical things apples, cake etc. to get how to apply the symbol to the real thing.

Strangely though in accountancy, again language, you can have Three cakes take two then take one more and you have no cakes. But in reality you have cake crumbs and how ever hard you try to eat or clean up the crumbs you will still find another crumb. Newtonian and Quantum physics, sometime struggle with that particularly with proving light is waves or particles (Duality). Light is photo particles but there are all sorts of thought experiments which struggle with the cake crumb left problem like Schroedinger's Cat and thinking you can control particles precisely down to single particles (although the thought experiment is necessary in order to develop theoretical maths further).

The lesson is that these are symbols like language and they work but in reality until something else turns up reality is the speed of light is an absolute and the dead cat or other wise is true irrespective of when that is know.  

The dancer's stage name is; Buster Bloodvessel ‎- Madness 1981