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Tuesday, October 13, 1998 Published at 23:27 GMT 00:27 UK


Time machine for sale - one careless owner

In action with the Doctor's most lethal enemies Daleks

After years of materialising and then dematerialising, the legendary Tardis from the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who is finally about to be going, going, gone.

June Kelly sees the Tardis and meets the auctioneer
The time machine which resembles a normal police box is the highlight of an auction of television props and costumes to be held this week.

But the buyer may have to dig deep into their pockets to take it home.

[ image: Lot 688: The Tardis with the famous notice]
Lot 688: The Tardis with the famous notice
On the face of it, the Tardis looks very ordinary.

The boxes were actually used in the days before police radios, for locking up criminals while assistance was called using the telephone on the outside.

The famous blue light on the top flashed when there was a call for an officer, rather than when it was disappearing into thin air in the TV series.

Although the boxes were once a common sight on UK street corners, they are now remembered more for their extra-terrestrial role.

[ image: Compact but surprisingly roomy inside]
Compact but surprisingly roomy inside
Instead of a dark, confined space for villains, the Doctor's box had an interior which was light and airy to say the least.

Indeed estate agents would have loved to try to sell its compact yet spacious features, because a technological trick meant the Doctor and his companions certainly travelled in comfort.

The fact that Tardis stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space gives a clue into how the space inside was expanded.

[ image: Sticking out like a sore thumb thanks to the famous fault]
Sticking out like a sore thumb thanks to the famous fault
Any fan of the Doctor will offer that information, and also explain why it looked like a police box.

The Tardis should have blended into the scenery wherever it went, but it developed a fault whilst in London and never regained its adaptability.

This model has several million miles on the clock - and one not-so-careful owner.

[ image: Third Doctor Jon Pertwee with the famous box]
Third Doctor Jon Pertwee with the famous box
Many different Doctors may have taken the controls, but technically they were all regenerations of the Doctor as he made his way through time and space.

But prospective purchasers are unlikely to want a full service history.

Auctioneer George McManara says there has been plenty of interest in the ultimate piece of Who memorabilia.

"Perhaps there's a Doctor Who museum, or Doctor Who fanatics who will come and pay loads of money for it," he said.

"We don't know what it will go for but there is no reserve and the highest bidder will get it."

[ image: Porridge: Prison cell door could be yours]
Porridge: Prison cell door could be yours
The Tardis is being sold along with other relics from TV's past - including an entire Old Bailey courtroom from the series Rumpole.

The auction also includes the original cell door that kept the public safe from one of TV's favourite rogues, Norman Stanley Fletcher, played by Ronnie Barker in the BBC prison comedy Porridge.

[ image: Not the real Number Ten as the backdrop proves]
Not the real Number Ten as the backdrop proves
Another famous opening available is the front of the country's most famous terraced house - No 10 Downing Street.

There is also a bust of one of the men who lived behind it - Winston Churchill.

But Lot 688 - the Tardis - is the prop that is attracting most attention.

"It's bigger than I expected," said one woman who wondered just how large it really was when you step inside.

[ image: Price on his head: This bust of Churchill is for sale]
Price on his head: This bust of Churchill is for sale
Meanwhile a man looking around reminisced about his boyhood spent hiding from the Doctor's mortal enemies behind the sofa.

"I was scared of the Cybermen and the Daleks," he admitted.

There have already been dozens of enquiries about the Tardis from potential new owners.

But the auctioneers are refusing to speculate on what the machine will go for - it is simply impossible to put a price on a time machine, particularly one that is held in such affection by the Doctor's fans.

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