Doctor Who News dw-s7-promo-tardis

Published on September 5th, 2013 | by Philip Bates

BBC Investigates Tardis Toilet Firm

Ever wandered around a music festival, caked in mud, blood, guts, the larvae of extinct moths, and Slitheen goo, trying desperately to find your tent because, as you now realise, it was a bad idea to buy one that looked the same as everyone else’s – and then stumbled upon a Tardis?

Now, don’t fret – I never worked for TARGET books, nor those questionable-but-nonetheless-official annuals from the 70s and 80s, and so I know that the TARDIS is an acronym, and thus needs to appear in capitals. However, we’re not talking about your conventional TARDIS here.

Tardis Environmentals supplies portable toilets across the UK. And the BBC isn’t very happy about it.

Tardis Environmentals

The broadcaster is now investigating the company, who are possibly breaching the name’s trademark and image. The firm has been trading for 15 years, and says that they chose their logo – essentially an orange police public call box – because of its similarity to portable toilets.

A BBC spokesman told The Daily Mail:

“The BBC carefully protects the use of its brands and would take action in the event that it considered members of the public might be confused.”

This isn’t really a question of confusion, however. I doubt any fan would see a portable loo and figure, ‘hey, that must be the official toilet of Doctor Who.’ No, this is purely about who owns the name and image, itself a very interesting and dangerous topic. Even The Metropolitan Police had issue with the BBC’s use of the police box, stating that most associated the iconic design with them and not the sci-fi show.

Well, not any more, obviously; the Met lost the battle in 2002 and were forced to pay the BBC compensation, according to The Daily Mail.

TARDIS in clouds

Surprisingly, the name of the Doctor’s incredible time and space machine was only trademarked in 1976, 13 years after it first appeared on screen.

I did actually see one of Tardis Environmentals’ trucks on the motorway last year and thought it was a bit quirky – but then, I no doubt noticed it because it had ‘TARDIS’ written in huge letters on the side. So is this just a kooky notion that doesn’t really matter – after all, no one had noticed for the past 15 years! – or is it the company trying to gain an advantage using the show’s reputation?

The jury’s still out…


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About the Author


When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything.

11 Responses to BBC Investigates Tardis Toilet Firm

  1. avatar Lord Darth Tyeler says:

    Seems a bit petty really; the BBC weren’t all that bothered about this during the hiatus. If they were as bothered about their programming quality as they were about trivial matters like this, or how many forms it takes to change a light bulb, the licence fee payer might get more bang for their buck.

    • avatar Simon Magellan says:

      They may find themselves with a bit of a problem here – very little doubt that the company is infringing the copyright on the use of the name Tardis and possibly the image of a Police Box too – but given they have been doing it for 15 years the Courts may ask while it has taken this long to do anything!

      When I first saw this I did think the portaloos looked like Tardis’ I must say! Now that would be an idea…

    • “Hiatus” sounds planned, doesn’t it?

      Let’s call it he SCHISM instead :D

  2. avatar vortexter says:

    There is a caravan company that makes small caravans big enough to take a double bed which they call the Tardis- Oops!I’ve said too much…

  3. avatar Debbie Moody says:

    Oh, good grief…has the BBC never heard the term “parody”, and do they need a humor transplant?

  4. avatar Rebecca Crockett says:

    Yeah Im pretty sure that here in the US the company would claim if falls under fair use parody laws

  5. avatar Tongmaster5 says:

    This whole “news item” smells a bit off

    • avatar Philip Bates says:

      Don’t blame me: blame The Daily Mail! (And that stands for everything wrong with life.) ;)

  6. avatar Ryan O'dell says:

    BBC pussy footing again… The Police Box isnt owned by the BBC its Owned by WHO WOULD OF GUESSED IT BUT THE POLICE! And Tardis is a acronym… no one ones a name… its like someone saying my name is Stephen no one else can be called stephen…

    • No, they don’t.

  7. Here in the US we do have portable loos that do, at first glance, strongly resemble The Doctor’s ride. I have been taken aback more than once, half expecting to see him walk out of one of them.

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