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The Doctor drops into Cambridge | by Beardy Vulcan
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The Doctor drops into Cambridge

A full-sized TARDIS was spotted on King's Parade, Cambridge this week, unfortunately, it was just a replica (as opposed to the real time machine...) and wasn't accompanied by Matt Smith and his enviable bow ties, but by the Dr Who equivalent of punt touts for Cambridge Punting Tours. Promoters in camouflage jump-suits were appealing to passers-by to attend "The Crash of the Elysium" in London - an "immersive theatre" installation that has been touring the country and which has been unexpectedly successful at attracting adults in addition to the 7-12 year old audience it is was designed for.


This being a mere theatre promotion will disappoint Doctor Who fans who still hold out hope that the famous unbroadcasted episode "Shada" will one day be completed. The script was set in Cambridge and features a 300 year old Professor of Chronology at St. Cedd's College, and a bicycle chase.


The TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) is a time machine and spacecraft in the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who and its associated spin-offs.


A TARDIS is a product of the advanced technology of the Time Lords, an extraterrestrial civilization to which the programme's central character, the Doctor, belongs. A properly maintained and piloted TARDIS can transport its occupants to any point in time and any place in the universe. The interior of a TARDIS is much larger than its exterior, which can blend in with its surroundings using the ship's "chameleon circuit".


In the series, the Doctor pilots an unreliable, obsolete TT Type 40, Mark 3 TARDIS. Its chameleon circuit is faulty, leaving it locked in the shape of a 1960s-style London police box after a visit to London in 1963. The Doctor's TARDIS was for most of the franchise's history said to have been stolen from the Time Lords' home planet, Gallifrey, where it was old, decommissioned and derelict (and, in fact, in a museum).


Although "TARDIS" is a type of craft, rather than a specific one, the Doctor's TARDIS is usually referred to as "the" TARDIS or, in some of the earlier serials, just as "the ship", "the blue box", "the capsule" or even "the police box".


Doctor Who has become so much a part of British popular culture that not only has the shape of the police box become more immediately associated with the TARDIS than with its real-world inspiration, the word "TARDIS" has been used to describe anything that seems to be bigger on the inside than on the outside.


The name TARDIS is a registered trademark of the British Broadcasting Corporation.


A police box was in reality a British telephone kiosk or callbox located in a public place for the use of members of the police, or for members of the public to contact the police. Unlike an ordinary callbox, its telephone is located behind a hinged door so it can be used from the outside, and the interior of the box was, in effect, a miniature police station for use by police officers.


Police boxes predate the era of mobile telecommunications; now police officers, in many countries, carry two-way radios and/or mobile phones rather than relying on fixed kiosks. Many boxes are now disused or have been withdrawn from service.


The typical police box contained a telephone linked directly to the local police station, allowing patrolling officers to keep in contact with the station, reporting anything unusual or requesting help if necessary. A light on top of the box would flash to alert an officer that he/she was requested to contact the station. Members of the public could also use the phone to contact a police station in an emergency. This type of police box was known as the Mackenzie Trench design.


The building in the background is King's College Chapel which is one of the most iconic buildings in the world, and is a splendid example of late Gothic (Perpendicular) architecture. It was started in 1446 by Henry VI (1421-71) and took over a century to build. It has the largest fan vault ceiling in the world and some of the finest medieval stained glass.


The Chapel is also the venue for the Christmas Eve service, A Festival of Nine Lessons, which is broadcast to millions around the world.


The Chapel plays a central role in College life. It was originally built as a place of daily worship for the College scholars, and today the choir still sing evensong during term time.

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Taken on April 16, 2012