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Onion's Tardis

A life-sized Tardis on the seafront could be a real draw with tourists, according to a Bay councillor. Tory Andrew Cook, who represents Heron ward, raised the issue for discussion at Tuesday's meeting of the town's councillors.

The unusual agenda item came up after local prop-maker Jason Onion, 35, suggested the town go Dr Who mad and put a Tardis on the seafront. He said it would be in recognition of BBC scriptwriter Anthony Coburn, who lived and worked in the Bay and conceived the idea of a police box as a time machine.

Mr Onion said a 9ft (2.7m) blue box would be a good excuse to coach the country's Dr Who fans down to the Bay. Town manager Chris West said he thought it was a great idea. He said:

"Anything that serves to draw more people down to the town can only be a good thing. I understand that he's donating a full-sized replica to the library along with some original scripts for the series so we could have what amounts to a very nice exhibition!"

Mr Cook said:

"It's an unusual idea but as a councillor I'm here to facilitate ideas and give people a voice. It's up to my colleagues to agree or disagree as they see fit. But if you think how many Dr Who fans there are – you can't go into a shop in the country without finding Tardis merchandise – out there, it could be a great draw as there seems to be a genuine link to the town."

The first four episodes of Doctor Who were written by Mr Coburn in 1963. Next year is the show's 50th anniversary.

HB Times 16th Jun 2011

Plans to install a full-size replica Tardis on Herne Bay seafront could become reality after the idea was given a massive thumbs-up by town councillors. The 8ft wooden booth – which will operate as a working police box – will be sited on the entrance to the pier.

Creator Jason Onion, from Beltinge, presented the idea at a meeting on Tuesday night and won a round of applause from councillors and the public. He said the £7,000 Tardis – which will take two months to build – will acknowledge the late Anthony Coburn, who lived in Herne Bay and wrote the first ever Doctor Who episode. It will also have a 360 degree CCTV camera on top to deter would-be vandals. Mr Onion, 35, said:

“I have approached Maidstone Police for their inclusion on this and they are favourable. I wish to involve all emergency services, including St John’s and the coastguard, so the item functions as was intended while serving as a new landmark for the town. I can see only positives for this and know it will do good for Herne Bay.”

The time-travelling machine was well-received by those at the meeting, with many claiming it will give the seafront a boost. Town centre councillor Andrew Cook said:

“I think it’s a great idea and has certainly attracted a lot of attention. Everyone has an interest in it so I think we should take it a step further. It could open up some very interesting doors for Herne Bay and be another thing for us to hang our hat on.”

Heron Ward sidekick Joe Howes added:

“The idea’s great, but Andrew Coburn wasn’t just Dr Who. He wrote lots of other things, including Poldark, so it’s important we recognise that as well.”

West Bay’s Peter Lee said:

“This seems like an excellent idea with benefits to the town. The Herne Bay Regeneration Group Working Party has been looking at the seafront for awhile now and at areas where things can be put and developed. I think the best way forward is to refer this to them so they can look for a permanent site as part of the work they’re doing.”

County councillor David Hirst added:

“It seems great to me - I love it. There’s definitely a use for it.”

It’s thought the Tardis could be built from reclaimed wood from the soon-to-be demolished pier pavilion. Councillors agreed for the idea to be considered by the regeneration working group. Kent County Council has also confirmed it is considering putting a 1963 replica in the town’s library.

HB Gazette 16th Jun 2011

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Reader Comments (1)

Hi there,

I think it's a great idea but could the present Joe Howes stop referring to my father, the late Anthony Coburn as Andrew Coburn. As Mr Howes suggests honouring Mr Coburn's other writing achievements would be a wonderful gesture from the town he nurtured so many of his creative years in.

As well as conceiving the TARDIS and writing the first four episodes of Dr Who (An Unearthly Child), he was also indeed responsible for writing scripts for the third series of Poldark, though also a great deal more besides such as the pilot episode of The Onedin Line and was responsible for finding the ship The Charlotte Rose used in the series. Also conceiving and producing the Royal Navy fictional drama based on board HMS Hero 'Warship'.

He was cremated and his ashes sprinkled in Herne Bay Cemetery in 1977 and his widow still lives in the town as well as three of his nine children... perhaps a plaque in his name attached to the Tardis might be a fitting gesture to an unsung great TV writer and producer.

Yours Sincerely,
Richard Coburn
Tue, February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Coburn

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