A brief history of the sonic screwdriver

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A rather odd post, but recently I have been annoyed by BBC America’s top 11 sonic screwdriver moments. It has got my annoyed because all the moments were from the most recent series. The sonic screwdriver has been around for a long time so I have decided to set the record straight (please indulge me, this article shall be good I promise.) and tell the complete history of The Doctor’s famous friend. The sonic screwdriver began life as basically, a sonic screwdriver. It was first seen in the story Fury from The Deep. I was used to open a hatch which The Doctor (then in his second incarnation) was investigating. Sadly this footage no longer exists.  It is seen briefly in The Dominators as a welding torch. The sonic’s next full on  appearance was in Troughton’s final story The War Games. This time The Doctor uses it to prove that he and his companions are from the future.

The object returns in the Jon Pertwee story Inferno, though again only briefly and as a “door handle.” The sonic is less used during Pertwee’s era though is more frequent than in Troughton’s era. Notable uses of it are in The Sea Devils, The Carnival of Monsters and The Three Doctors.

During the first three season’s of the fourth doctor’s era the screwdriver is again played down. It is not untill Grahame Williams takes over that the sonic is used again properly. It began to feature regularly from season 16 onwards  even in season 17, Romana getting her own sonic screwdriver (Interstingly later on both Sarah Jane Smith , Captain Jack  and Amy Pond would get sonic devices.)  This is an interesting landmark as previously we have only seen The Doctor with a sonic screwdriver. Does this suggest other timelords have similar equipment? Sadly by season 18 it was felt by John Nathan Turner that he had to destroy the sonic screwdriver. By The Fifth Doctor story The Visitation, the sonic made its final apperence for the remainder of the classic run of the show having been destroyed by a Terrieptal weapon.

By the TV movie in 1996 it seems The Doctor has made a new sonic screwdriver. Much sleeker than previous models it resembles The Fourth Doctor‘s sonic screwdriver but there is no red in the design or black unlike The Fourth Doctor’s version.

8th docs sonic

When the series returned in 2005  The Ninth Doctor appeared with a new redesigned sonic screwdriver. This version was very different from what had gone before. Much fatter than previous version it also seemed to echo the more organic TARDIS console room. The Ninth Doctor’s version was used several times throughout his era notable moments include World War Three in which The Doctor uses it to “triplicate the flammability” of a bottle of port wine.  This same sonic is used in the Tenth Doctor‘s era untill the episode Smith and Jones in which it is destroyed in a similar fashion to its destruction in The Vistiation. Later in the episode The Doctor is seen with a new sonic screwdriver which he uses from then on untill Series Five.


In The Eleventh Hour The Tenth Doctor’s sonic screwdriver is destroyed when The Eleventh Doctor uses it to signal the Atraxi ship to the presence of Prisoner Zero. Later in the episode the newly regenerated TARDIS gives The Doctor a brand new sonic screwdriver. Again this version is very different from the one that preceded it. It echos the Third Doctor‘s sonic screwdriver paticuarly the   fact that this version has  a spring. In Series Four we saw River Song’s future sonic screwdriver. This version is very much the same as The Tenth Doctor’s sonic screwdriver with the exception of the different light effects and the added wires ectera. Could this be used by The Eleventh Doctor in the future? Maybe not. Recently Character Options showed a new sonic screwdriver kit. You can make a brand new design of the sonic screwdriver. Could these three “alternative” sonic screwdrivers be the future? Or are they just toys? Who knows but whatever happens it seems the sonic screwdriver will be used for a long time to come.

2 responses to “A brief history of the sonic screwdriver

  1. Pingback: Everyone Needs A Sonic Screwdriver « Edwina Luck·

  2. Well.. BBC america will always try and sell the new Dr Who, let’s face it, it’s been shockingly bad since Capaldis dithering mess, and is now very dead. If you want to look a bit further at the props development I refer you to… Thunderbirds are go!.

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