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…


When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates (Kasterborous' former Editor) pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. He is the co-founder of The Doctor Who Companion:

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