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Bookmark and Share Blue Peter sonic device contest winners announced

12/19/2013 11:42:00 pm - Reported by John Bowman

The three winners of the Blue Peter competition to design sonic devices to be used in Doctor Who were announced today on the CBBC magazine show's Christmas special.

Last month, viewers aged between six and 15 were invited to come up with gadgets that could be used by the characters Commander Strax, Madame Vastra, or Jenny Flint - and the show received some 3,600 entries over 12 days.

The winners were revealed on today's edition as 13-year-old Connor from Somerset, 11-year-old Arthur from Hampshire, and seven-year-old Amber from Kent. (No surnames were given.) They were chosen by a panel of judges that included Doctor Who's head writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, producer Nikki Wilson, production designer Michael Pickwoad, and brand account manager Edward Russell, Blue Peter editor Ewan Vinnicombe and series producer Ellen Evans, plus CBBC presenter Chris Johnson.

Connor designed a sonic gauntlet for use by Jenny. His intricate invention included a tumbler to make locks fall apart, a radioactivity measurer and receiver dish, and a watch that shows the conductivity of metal in a lock. Moffat said that the design was a multi-purpose toolkit that fitted in your arm and could do a whole manner of things:
We love this because it looks really cool. It looks quite steam-punk – it looks Victorian, but looks technological at the same time, and I can just imagine Jenny Flint when she goes out in the morning needing something like that on her arm.
Arthur's design was a sonic lorgnette – a pair of handheld eyeglasses - for Commander Strax. It included an X-ray lens for seeing inside people and objects, a thermal lens for detecting people, and a sonic light. Moffat called it a beautiful design that was perfect for Strax:
You feel you want to pick it up and hold it, but it's also about the other side of his life because - of course - Strax is a nurse and this allows him to examine his patients and see what's wrong with them. I think it will be very funny seeing Strax's big clumsy hands holding that.
Amber's winning device for Madame Vastra was a sonic hat pin that works as a remote control for her carriage but can also turn into a sonic sword that increases in size with the flick of a special switch, and Moffat said:
The sonic hat pin is a glorious idea. It can actually summon her carriage just by plucking it out of her hat, and she can lock it as well. It's funny, it makes absolute sense and it's got a little dinosaur feather in it, which sells it to me.
In an interview recorded for the show, he said:
All the finalists, they've all won because every single one of these ideas is good enough to be in Doctor Who . . They're all brilliant . . . There were so many stories there, that's what impressed me. It wasn't just the idea or the drawing or something simple, it was the whole back story to what this does, what its limitations are, what it costs you, how it gives you something. It's more than just design, it's actual narrative, and a huge exercise of the imagination.
Vinnicombe told BBC staff magazine Ariel:
The Doctor Who production team gave us a great opportunity. They offered us the option of three characters, which was brilliant because it gave every child a chance to design for their favourite one.
The winners joined Blue Peter presenters Barney Harwood, Lindsey Russell and Radzi Chinyanganya in Salford and will also be invited to Cardiff to see their devices being used on the Doctor Who set.

A video message of congratulations from actors Dan Starkey, Neve McIntosh and Catrin Stewart, who portray Strax, Vastra and Jenny respectively, was played during the show, with the trio saying they were looking forward to using the new devices in the series.

The winning designs are shown here:


and are also featured, along with the designs that were runners-up, in an online gallery, while the programme is currently available to watch in the UK via the BBC iPlayer (go to 16:44).