Saturday, 14 July 2012
Doctor Who's very first designer - and the architect of the iconic TARDIS control room - was the little known Peter Brachacki. Despite his massive contribution to the show, very little is known about him. He seems to vanish after 1979.
An Unearthly Child was his sole contribution - but he gave us a design icon. Every TARDIS interior since 1963 has used his original as its inspiration. They all have the 6-sided console, the rising and falling time rotor, and the wall roundels. The Matt Smith version has even re-introduced a version of the strange hexagonal ceiling feature (above).
Originally, Brachacki wanted the walls to be translucent, and to pulse with light when the ship was in flight. This proved too expensive to achieve. He also wanted to avoid conventional controls - designing isomorphic controls moulded to the Doctor's hands - again lost due to cost.
The scanner screen was to have descended from the ceiling when needed - but this interfered with the overhead lights and boom mikes. He actually wanted each of the 6 console panels to hold concealed microphones - to negate the need for boom mikes (the shadows of which represent Doctor Who's most persistent unwanted guest appearances).
Brachacki fell ill just after the recording of what would become the "pilot" episode, and was not available for the October 1963 remount. Barry Newbery stepped in, but exactly followed Brachacki's designs, and it was Brachacki who was credited.
Brachacki never returned (Waris Hussein has said he was never happy with his work and wanted someone more experienced) and Newbery would go on to become one of the programme's most accomplished designers.
For someone with little experience, Brachacki achieved a place in design history.
One wonders what he might have achieved had he continued with the programme.