The 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie Sonic Screwdriver Prop.
It just goes to show that if you’re patient, eventually you’ll get the answers that you’re looking for.
The other day, I was on the Gallifrey Base forum and a photograph of both the original TARDIS toolkit and the Sonic Screwdriver prop from the Paul McGann 1996 Doctor Who TV movie was put up and it was the screwdriver that caught my eye. I immediately recognised it for what it really was… so I was right all along.
Here’s a picture of the said items in question, not the image that was recently put up, but I’m sure that you can find that if you really wanted to.
When the movie came out and this image was shown in a variety of publications, I thought that the Sonic looked strangely familiar, in fact near identical to a replica that I’d owned since the early 1990s and therefore way before the movie was produced. Thing was, there was a slight difference, the one in the movie had a gold band around the lower main handle and it had the ability to telescope down into itself, mine didn’t as it was a single piece, turned from aluminium.
It’s widely known that the TARDIS key that was used in this production was an off the shelf replica made by 800-Trekker and at the time, I did wonder whether their Sonic could have been from a similar source and it wasn’t until this photo was posted the other day that I finally got the answer that I’d been pondering over for the last 16 years – not obsessively mind you.
Now, the Sonic and Toolkit as displayed in the picture on Gallifrey Base came directly from the producer of the movie, Philip Segal, so it had excellent provenance, but the screwdriver itself was the static version with no gold band. That confirmed it, at least to me anyway, that back when the film was being made, a replica must have been bought and then handed over to an effects company, whose name I cannot recall right now, and they then replicated the replica. In doing so, not only did they go as far as to duplicate the dimensions of the off the shelf replica exactly to the millimeter, but they then went on to embellish the design (superficially) by giving it the ability to telescope down in on itself and then finally prettied up the over all appearance with this gold / brass band on the handle. It’s also more than likely that the static version (made from aluminium) was used as the stunt prop as again, it’s fairly common knowledge that a stunt version was also used, so it stands to reason.
I’ve looked at the recently published image and it matches mine perfectly. I even scaled the picture to full size and placed my prop right next to it and guess what? A perfect alignment over every aspect – result (!), for me at least because now I can say that I have the same prop that they used for the movie. I guess my next step is to have mine duplicated with the gold band added and the telescoping feature included too, but by the same token, I guess I should now house my current copy somewhere on display, rather than relegated to a box as it has been for the last two decades.
Just out of interest, in the photo above, I’ve also included the pen torch that the 4th Doctor has in Genesis of the Daleks, during the scene in which he’s emptying out his pockets in episode one after having been captured by Kaled soldiers. I bought this back in the 1980s and it was only “recently” when I was doing some screen cap work from the DVD that I noticed that it was identical to mine. Another happy accident then, that too can now go in the box of props that I never look at. I’m only including this here today as I was chatting to Lee Moone about this a few weeks back, here on the blog, and I thought that he (and maybe you) may like to have a look.
So there we are then, two items that I’d never really liked and didn’t really give a second thought to, but now it turns out that they are a bit special after all. Not a bad turn of events then.