A series of Gladstone bags were used by the First, Fourth, and later the Seventh and Eighth and Eleventh Doctors on several occasions. The bag included many objects which the Doctor used to escape specific situations.
Technology and functions Edit
The Doctor's Gladstone bag was a notable source for many objects for which the Doctor had use. (COMIC: Shark Bait, et al.) In one of the Eighth Doctor's dreams, the Gladstone bag was, like the TARDIS, bigger-on-the-inside. (COMIC: The Land of Happy Endings) In contrast, the Seventh Doctor's Gladstone bag seemed to have regular internal dimensions. (TV: Doctor Who) It didn't always carry everything that the Doctor needed, as he once cursed himself for not packing it with water. (COMIC: Plague of the Black Scorpi)
The earliest account of the First Doctor using one of these bags was on a sand planet, where the TARDIS sunk into an underground cave. In order to pass a watery area in the cave, the Doctor pulled several pairs of flippers in order to allow them to swim across. When his companion and grandchild John was attacked by a giant crab, the Doctor stopped it with an electroliser. The bag was left in the water, and the Doctor left the planet without retrieving it. (COMIC: Shark Bait)
The Doctor brought another bag to Christmas-land, where he met Santa Claus. In order to help Santa Claus make toy TARDISes, he emerged a magic box which could shrink or enlarge objects. The Doctor again left the planet without the bag. (COMIC: A Christmas Story)
The Doctor then visited a desert planet with his grandchildren. He later cursed himself for not bringing water with them in the bag. Upon discovering a grouping of coconut trees, the Doctor dropped the bag. He left the planet without retrieving it. (COMIC: Plague of the Black Scorpi)
The Fourth Doctor recalled once helping Howard Carter find the tomb of Tutankhamun, using his Gladstone bag. He again brought out his Gladstone bag when he decided to help a group of archaeologists who discovered a Movellan artefact in 1980 London. (AUDIO: The Movellan Grave)
At the end of his life, the Seventh Doctor was using a Gladstone bag as a toolbox. He pulled the sonic screwdriver from the bag, using it to seal the Master's remains. It also contained at least three fob watches, a set of keys, a magnetic drone, a neutron ram and a laser cutter. Later, the Eighth Doctor used the bag while trying to jump-start the TARDIS, requiring the neutron ram but was knocked out by the magnetic clamp instead. (TV: Doctor Who) These tools were similar to the kit he stored in a tool box from his fifth to seventh incarnations. (TV: Earthshock - Time and the Rani)
Behind the scenes Edit
Having first appeared in the TV Comic story Shark Bait, the Gladstone bag was invented by the writers of the comic as a "'catch all' saviour of all script dead ends". In the days before such devices as the sonic screwdriver, the Gladstone bag allowed for quick resolutions to things in the way of the main characters, allowing for more to happen within the narrative.
While it featured in only three comic stories, the bag went on to become a minor staple of the Doctor's accessories in other media, being used often in the BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures. As noted above, a Gladstone bag was also used as the base for the Seventh Doctor's toolbox in the 1996 TV Movie, although it's unclear if the connection was purposeful on the part of the production team. Given Matthew Jacobs' interest in putting continuity in the film, and his interest in Doctor Who as it existed in the 1960s, it being a purposeful nod is a distinct possibility.
It could be noted that the tools inside the bag from the TV movie were based on the ones from the tool kit as documented in REF: The Doctor Who Technical Manual. It reused the Moog drone clamp, the pen torch, the laser (or laser cutter), the Master drone clamp (or magnetic drone), the stalog gyro, the neutron ram, and the magnetic clamp, but it apparently omitted the universal detector and the infinity booster stabiliser.
It made a notable return to comics during the Doctor Who Magazine celebration of TV Comics in the story The Land of Happy Endings, where it was used by the Eighth Doctor. The comic revealed many secrets about the bag, such as that it was bigger on the inside, but the ultimate twist of the story was that most of the narrative shown (and possibly any story to feature John and Gillian) was a dream inside the Doctor's mind. However, the Gladstone bag apparently also existed within the "real" TARDIS, again confusing how much of the story had been true.