Tardisodes were mini-episodes which served as prologues for each episode of Series 2 of the BBC Wales version of Doctor Who. They were made available serially, with a new one debuting in the week prior to the episode to which they were attached. They were primarily meant to be seen on mobile telephones and were released to paying phone subscribers first. As each week progressed, however, the BBC made them available as webcasts.
Format and crew
Each Tardisode was approximately one minute in length and was optimised for quick mobile download. Though exact specifications are not currently known, they were of a technical standard obviously inferior to a televised episode.
They served as an early "proving ground" for two people who would later become more significant to the televised Doctor Who universe. Their lone writer was Gareth Roberts, who would go on to write several episodes of Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures. They were all directed by Ashley Way, who would later helm several episodes of Torchwood and Matt Smith-era Doctor Who.
They did not feature the Tenth Doctor or Rose Tyler, but focused on other characters and monsters. Most served to set up elements of the episode's story line; in one case, School Reunion, the Tardisode was a direct prequel, explaining how Mickey Smith recruited the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler to investigate the school in question.
As no Tardisode was made for The Christmas Invasion, there were thirteen Tardisodes in all.
The BBC did not include the Tardisodes with the DVD release of Series 2. They are no longer easily accessible on the BBC's website. As of 2010, they cannot be found linked in any way to the main Doctor Who website. Instead, they exist as programmes which can be selected on a BBC media player. However, the format in which they are retained is specialised and requires many computer users to use workaround software.
These facts render the mini-episodes legally inaccessible to most viewers at the current time. Despite their relative scarcity, however, they are not, presumably, missing episodes, as the BBC almost certainly retains them in BBC Film and Videotape Library or a similar facility at BBC Wales.
No Tardisodes were produced beyond the 2006 series. In 2007, the BBC's annual report said that the Tardisodes "were not the hit we expected, although they were popular on broadband", presumably why they were discontinued after series 2.
BBC has offered a further attempt at multimedia narrative, with "Music of the Spheres", a special mini-episode meant for consumption by a live audience at the Proms.
Series 6 and 7 featured a small series of prequels, which were similar in concept, except that they were more widely distributed online and through streaming services, and all prequels produced since the Tardisodes have been also released on DVD and Blu-ray internationally.
List of Tardisodes
- Tardisode 1 - Prelude to New Earth
- Tardisode 2 - Prelude to Tooth and Claw
- Tardisode 3 - Prelude to School Reunion
- Tardisode 4 - Prelude to The Girl in the Fireplace
- Tardisode 5 - Prelude to Rise of the Cybermen
- Tardisode 6 - Prelude to The Age of Steel
- Tardisode 7 - Takes place during The Idiot's Lantern
- Tardisode 8 - Prelude to The Impossible Planet
- Tardisode 9 - Prelude to The Satan Pit
- Tardisode 10 - Prelude to Love & Monsters
- Tardisode 11 - Prelude to Fear Her
- Tardisode 12 - Prelude to Army of Ghosts
- Tardisode 13 - Takes place during Doomsday
- In an interview with Noel Clarke for Totally Doctor Who, he revealed that his hair was noticeably shorter during the filming of Tardisode 3 than in the episode it accompanied, "School Reunion". For this reason, to maintain continuity, he wears a hat for the duration of the Tardisode.
- Images of the Doctor are shown in two of the shorts. In Tardisode 10 a drawing of him is seen on a computer; in Tardisode 12 he appears in drawings and in an antique photograph.
- Tardisode 12 references Tooth and Claw and The Christmas Invasion.
- Before a Tardisode, the time vortex is briefly seen. If the main episode is set in the past, the vortex is blue and if the main episode is set in the present or future, the vortex is red.
- A new set was built for Tardisode 4.
- Tardisode 8 was filmed entirely in the BBC Wales Canteen.