It seems that, while many of us are familiar with the traditional red phone boxes distributed around the UK, a company in Leeds has decided not only to update the phone boxes, but to paint them a very TARDIS-like shade of blue. Presumably, this will lead Inspector Spacetime and the Doctor to accidentally mix up the TARDIS and the DARSIT, possibly resulting in some sort of meta-television time-space paradox.
The company aql is working on painting the phone boxes that iconic blue and adding Wi-Fi and touch screens for a suitably high-tech touch. The boxes serve as free Wi-Fi hubs with a range of several hundred yards and work for emergency calls as well. In some sense, the blue boxes will be emergency call boxes. Plus, the company is fitting the TARDIS-blue boxes with technology that will allow the people of Leeds to record messages about the area around each box. The company hopes that residents will record memories of Leeds that visitors and other locals can watch. While I can’t help but think that allowing the general public to just leave messages could end up going a bit awry, aql hopes that the messages and iconic color will become an integral part of creating memories in Leeds. Its director, Adam Beaumont, described the new phone boxes by saying that the public would not be seeing them, at least in the particularly familiar shade of blue, in other areas of the UK.
“We want them to become something iconic. We won’t be putting the blue boxes in any other cities, as we want them to be a symbol of Leeds.”
The K2, or Kiosk 2, red boxes that these new blue phone boothes have been adapted from have been a fixture in the UK since 1924, when they were designed as part of a competition by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The police boxes that the TARDIS mimics predate even the red-cast iron boothes, however. Glasgow first had police call boxes in 1891, and while when the boxes were adopted in the mid ’20s by other areas of the UK they were painted the recognizable TARDIS blue, it seems that the phone boxes and police boxes have switched colors in the past. Glasgow’s boxes were actually red, making the situation even more confusing for the Doctor and the Inspector.
The TARDIS has become a tourist attraction with the rising popularity of Doctor Who, so it makes sense that Leeds would choose a color associated with the UK that makes them stand out more than the traditional red. Plus, what better time to introduce TARDIS blue infrastructure than the year of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary?