Doctor Who: 10 Secrets Of The Sonic Screwdriver You Need To Know

How much do you know about the Doctor's greatest gadget?

Doctor Who sonic screwdriver Fourteenth Doctor Eleventh Doctor
BBC Studios

Throughout its many years on the air, Doctor Who has given the title character plenty of toys to play with.

There's obviously the TARDIS, there's Bessie, and there's the Tenth Doctor's "machine that goes ding". The Doctor has utilised countless tools in their never-ending battle against the evils of the universe – some incredibly useful, and others... not so much.

But far and away, the most famous of the Gallifreyan's gizmos is the sonic screwdriver.

First appearing during the Second Doctor's era but getting a real renaissance during modern Who, the sonic screwdriver (or just "the sonic", as we'll mainly call it from here on out) has saved the day so many times, by opening doors, locking doors, and doing other things that don't involve doors too.

Considering that it debuted back in 1968, it should come as no shock that the device's history is full of surprises. There's way more to this glowing, buzzing trinket than first meets the eye – facts, statistics, and stories that even the most ardent sonic supporter might have missed over the years.

So let's dive in!

10. It’s Not As Powerful As You Think

Doctor Who sonic screwdriver Fourteenth Doctor Eleventh Doctor
BBC Studios

The most common criticism levelled at the sonic is that it's too strong, that it can get the Doctor and their crew out of any spot, no matter how implausible.

Stuck in a room? Screwdriver. Being attacked by a robot? Screwdriver. Need to whip up a three-course meal in ten minutes before your in-laws arrive? Not that this has ever been confirmed in the show, but the answer is still probably screwdriver.

It's not the complete deus ex machina that many people think it is though, as there have been plenty of moments that have cut the metallic legs out from under this seemingly faultless gadget.

In Bad Wolf, it's mentioned that the sonic can't open the deadlock seal attached to the door of the Big Brother house. Deadlock seals would return in School Reunion, The Time of Angels, and others, and have proved to be the sonic screwdriver's greatest enemy over the years.

Doctor Who Bad Wolf sonic screwdriver deadlock seal
BBC Studios

The sonic can't open the TARDIS doors from the outside if they've been manually locked, as demonstrated when the Master did so in Utopia. And most bizarrely of all, the Tenth Doctor once revealed that his trusty screwdriver doesn't work in the presence of some hairdryers.

If only the Daleks had hair to dry, they'd have stopped the Doctor centuries ago!

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Jacob Simmons has a great many passions, including rock music, giving acclaimed films three-and-a-half stars, watching random clips from The Simpsons on YouTube at 3am, and writing about himself in the third person.