Dr Who Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote review

Channel hop like a Timelord with this gesture-based remote control

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  • Superb build quality
  • Fun when it works
  • Sonic sound effects
  • Makes you feel like the 12th Doctor


  • Frustratingly imprecise control
  • Doesn't work with all devices
  • Formasi sound effects
  • At £60 it's expensive

Time-travelling TARDIS aside, The Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver is the most iconic gadget from the BBC's flagship science-fiction series, Doctor Who.

It can unlock doors, disable weapons, fry Robot Santas' brains, and much more.

This replica from The Wand Company (specifically tuned for humanoid operation) has more limited functionality, but it will change the channel on your telly at the flick of a wrist.

Based on the Eleventh Doctor's Mark VII Sonic, the universal remote is a seriously sexy piece of kit.

Original prop maker Nick Robatto has said it's a "99% accurate" replica, and it has a pleasing heft, though the pincers at the top don't pop open as they do on the show and, bafflingly, not all the sound effects are Sonic sound effects – almost half are the noises classic Who monster the Foamasi makes!

It comes with a wibbly-wobbly plastic display stand and joyously geeky instruction manual that will make it a desirable package for fans.

Dr Who Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote review

It has four operational modes: practice, FX (sound only), Control (sound and remote functions) and Quiet Control (remote functions but no sound).

A single button on the bottom is used to turn the device on and off, switch between modes and activate a simple lock code. Otherwise all control is based on 13 gestures.

Dr Who Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote review

Programming the device is simpler than a trip to the Triassic (and back) for a Timelord. There are three memory banks, so up to 39 functions can be stored.

It had no problem recognising the inputs from the devices we used, but proved frustratingly inconsistent in its ability to actually control anything.

Other than the odd basic function, the remote is about as useful as the Doctor's sonic in the face of a deadlock seal.

Dr Who Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote review

It's a killer idea. Kids (big and small) have been wielding carrots or similarly phallic objects for almost 50 years, imitating the last son of Gallifrey, but the gesture-based hardware doesn't have the precision or reliability of a bog-standard button remote.

If you've used The Wand Company's previous gesture-remote, the Kymera Wand, you might get on with this a little better than most, just don't expect it to spend much time out of the display stand after you've bought it.

Dr Who Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote review


Aesthetically, it's a device the Doctor himself would be proud to carry through space and time, but in all other aspects it's the fish fingers and custard of Who gadgets - just not right. Check it out at Firebox.