The Twelfth Doctor’s Sonic ScrewdriverBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 7 October 2015 - Reviewed by Matthew Kilburn

So much for that, one might think. For the Doctor, his once-beloved sonic screwdriver seems to be a compromised object, reminding him of failures of ethics and manipulations past. However, Steven Moffat has hinted that this is not the end for the sonic screwdriver; and The Wand Company will be hoping so too as they have launched a new Twelfth Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver model in time for the Christmas market, a ‘fully-functioning gesture-based universal remote control’ and extendable replica of the most recent sonic screwdriver prop, with which one can control a vast range of gadgets around the home while remembering less conflicted times for the Doctor.

Speaking to a gathering of correspondents from several Doctor Who websites in September, Wand Company co-founder Chris Barnardo explained that although they already had a universal remote control based on this sonic screwdriver on the market, messages from fans since that product’s launch had convinced them to engineer an extendable version which more closely mimicked the action of the prop seemed on television. The old model, marketed as The Eleventh Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver, had sold over 55 000 units.

The main difference between old and new models is the extension function, but there has been detailed retooling of other components. Just as the sonic screwdriver prop has become weathered since it was first used on set in 2009, the new commercial model now uses a darker, flecked ivory colouring in the acetyl handle to reflect the original’s greater age. Another challenge was the light, which needs to be part of the extending section. The barrel is too small to accommodate a connecting ribbon to carry electricity and data, so instead the electrics stay put and the sonic’s familiar green light is reflected up the extended barrel. The old ‘steampunk’ horizontal stand has been superseded by a clear plastic ‘Gallifreyan stand for vertical presentation’.

Chris Barnardo and Richard Blakesley, founders of The Wand Company, are both engineers, and Chris’s creative endeavours beyond his design work have included a speculative script submitted to Star Trek: Voyager. Chris was at pains to point out that the licence gives them no initiative in the design of the sonic screwdriver prop used in the series, or developments that may happen on screen, which is firmly the prerogative of Steven Moffat and the other writers. Other ideas which they’d be tempted by would be sonic lipstick, but they are wary of products which might only appeal to one sex; asked about a vortex manipulator model, Chris replied that if enough people wrote in and proved there was demand, they’d consider developing a copy and launching it on to the market.

While Chris chatted with attendees and advised on how to flick the sonic screwdriver in order to change its settings, representatives of BBC Worldwide were also present with various BBC Shop exclusives including Christmas jumpers and canvas bags, and early news – since developed further – on Lego Dimensions and the DVD release of The Underwater Menace. Most of Television Centre may be a building site, but BBC Worldwide in the former News Stage remain a centre of activity and their concern for maintaining the prominence of Doctor Who and communicating with the fan market was amply demonstrated.