Happy 50th Anniversary Doctor Who!
Friday, 22nd November 2013 by Ian Brown
Whovians everywhere are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their favourite time traveller. Doctor Who first aired on the BBC on November 23rd 1963. Fifty years, 10 regenerations1, numerous companions and countless enemies later, a special extended episode titled The Day Of The Doctor is being shown on TV and in cinemas around the world. Hide behind the sofa kids and read along as we pay tribute by visiting a few notable locations (no spoilers, we promise!), beginning with the TARDIS!
This isn’t just any old police box standing on a street in London. Click forward and you actually enter the TARDIS:
Click around and explore, though unfortunately it’s not possible to find the swimming pool. To explore even further, visit this interactive version of the interior, which allows you to take the TARDIS anywhere in the world (where there is Street View), and a few other surprise locations – see this blog post from the developer for more details.
The Doctor’s greatest enemy can be found in a couple of locations on Street View. We’re not entirely sure why a Dalek has materialised along a pipe organ in a tailor’s shop on England’s south coast, but again clicking forward takes you inside.
Meanwhile, the Doctor will need a bigger sonic screwdriver if he’s going to take on this 10m (35′) tall Dalek at an ice cream producer in Cheshire.
Much of the filming of Doctor Who (since the 2005 relaunch) takes place at the BBC Cymru Wales Studios in Cardiff, which is just a short distance away from the Doctor Who Experience museum which opened a couple of years ago. (Spot the TARDIS on the jetty to the north of the museum!)
However, hundreds of other locations (indoor and outdoor) have been used for filming over the past five decades. We’ll just take a brief look at a few of the places used in recent years.
Across Cardiff bay is Roald Dahl Plass and the Wales Millennium Centre. The plaza and the water tower fountain are home to a spatial-temporal rift which featured in a couple of Doctor Who episodes, and then was used heavily in the spin-off show Torchwood, with the organisation having its headquarters beneath the area.
The National Museum of Wales has been used in a number of episodes across several seasons, including standing in for the Musée d’Orsay in Vincent and the Doctor.
North-west of Cardiff, the Cemex Quarry has been used for other-worldly landscapes in several episodes, including The Waters of Mars. Several other quarries and mines have also been used.
West along the coast, Southerndown Beach has also been used in several episodes, most notably as Bad Wolf Bay (in Norway) in Rose’s final episode.
Away from the alien worlds created on green screen and in studio sets, the public buildings, abandoned industrial facilities, quarries and well-known landmarks such as Big Ben and the London Eye, it is often the scenes of everyday life which make the show really work on a human level. Taking a quick look at a few such locations…
Numerous locations in both Cardiff (such as Lydstep Flats) and London (like Brandon Estate) collectively made up the Powell Estate, home to Rose Tyler in seasons one and two with Christopher Eccleston and then David Tennant as the Doctor.
Tredegar House near Newport portrayed the school where Martha unhappily worked as a maid while the Doctor was John Smith in Human Nature, and was used in several other episodes.
This is the road junction where Donna turns left:
The Vicarage in Rhymney was used as the house where Amy Pond lived throughout season five, when Matt Smith crashed the TARDIS into her shed and kept her waiting for 14 years before coming back.
This street in Newport is where the Doctor – in the most recent season – sees Clara’s parents meet by accident when a leaf falls from a tree.
If you know of any other Doctor Who related objects on Maps or Street View, please post them in the comments! Or just link to locations featured in your favourite episode. There’s also a website dedicated to filming locations, with close to a thousand listed. Finally, if this entire post means nothing to you, you can learn about Doctor Who at the BBC website and Wikipedia.
Happy birthday Doctor!
Matt Smith is the Eleventh Doctor, but add the War Doctor and various special episodes into the mix and it gets complicated. Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey. ↩