From city getaways in Paris to beach breaks in Lanzarote, Doctor Who has clocked up some serious air miles on his travels. Here’s our guide to the TARDIS on tour…
Dumpa de-dum, dumpa-de-dum, dumpa-de-dum, diddley-dum
Dumpa de-dum, dumpa-de-dum, dumpa-de-dum
This will be the soundtrack to my Saturday night. The reason? Doctor Who will be returning to our screens tomorrow at 7.50pm. And as if that wasn’t geek-tastic enough, we’re also going to be treated to a brand new Doctor in the shape of Peter Capaldi – you may remember him from ‘The Thick Of It’ as the potty-mouthed spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker.
To celebrate, I’ve pulled together a Doctor Who on location round-up featuring all the countries the show has been filmed in over the years. After all, there are only so many times you can stick a police box in a gravel quarry in Wales.
This was the first ever Doctor Who adventure to involve overseas filming. It took the production crew to the boulevards of Paris, all the way up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Other scenes were shot in the trendy Marais quarter, along the tree-lined Champs Elysees, outside the Louvre and even below ground in the Metro. Tom Baker – in all his multi-coloured scarf-wearing glory – was at the helm of the TARDIS as the 4th Doctor for this outing. He was ably assisted by his companion Romana, played by Lalla Ward, who interestingly went on to become Mrs Tom Baker not long afterwards.
Fast forwarding into the 1980s, the Doctor had morphed into the fresh-faced, cricket-loving 5th Doctor AKA Peter Davison. The story saw him pitted against a rogue Time Lord called Omega, with the action unfurling along the canals of Amsterdam. Star sights included Dam Square, the Prinsengracht Canal and Franendael House. Apparently the shoot left many locals and tourists looking rather bemused as Peter Davison ran through the city dressed in a boiler suit oozing slime, with green Rice Krispies stuck to his face.
The 5th Doctor’s penultimate story required a double whammy of locations – somewhere that resembled a Greek island and that could also pass for a scorched alien planet. The result? The Canary Islands – Lanzarote to be precise. The pure shores of Papagayo Beach perfectly mimicked a Cycladic isle while the volcanic terrain of the Timanfaya National Park did the job for the far-off world scenes. They also shot parts of the story in the Mirador del Rio – a futuristic-looking house built by Lanzarote’s most famous son, the avant-garde Spanish designer, Cesar Manrique.
As the title suggests, this episode saw a duo of Doctors on screen – the then incumbent Colin Baker as Doctor No.6, and Patrick Troughton who played the 2nd Doctor back in the Sixties. Crossing timelines, the incarnations team up to thwart a threat posed by the potato-headed Sontarans. Much of the plot unfolded in and around a Spanish hacienda in Dehera Boyar in rural Andalucia with additional chase scenes filmed in the middle of Seville. Additional geek fact – the opening moments of the first episode were shot in black and white as a nod to the Second Doctor’s era in the 1960s.
This one-off special from the mid-Nineties marked the return of Doctor Who to our screens since the original show was wound down at the end of the 1980s after 26 years of continuous service. Sylvester McCoy reprised his role as the panama hat-wearing 7th Doctor, albeit not for long. Upon landing the TARDIS in the streets of San Francisco, he’s shot by a street gang and forced to regenerate into the 8th Doctor in the guise of Paul McGann. While the story called for San Francisco, the action actually panned out in the Canadian city of Vancouver where they used to film The X-Files.
New York, USA
As the name of this episode suggests, this adventure, starring David Tennant as the 10th Doctor, saw those malevolent pepperpots – the Daleks – take on the Big Apple. As such, a small film crew jetted over the pond to New York to bank some core scenes which included the Statue of Liberty and Central Park. A lot of CGI work had to be done to erase some of the skyscrapers caught on camera – reason being the story was set during the Great Depression of the 1930s when the Empire State Building was still under construction.
While this romp was certainly filmed in Italy, it all took place miles from Pompeii. Instead, the famous Cinecitta film studios, just outside Rome, were used. As luck would have it, the production team didn’t need to build a set from scratch – ancient Roman backdrops used for the toga-fest series that was ‘Rome’ were still in place on the lot. Oh, and here’s another Whovian factoid – Peter Capaldi, the new face of Who, made his debut in the show during this episode. He popped up alongside David Tennant’s Doctor as a Roman merchant called Caecilius Lucundus.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Often referred to by fans as ‘the one with Zoe Slater’, this Easter special starred ex-EastEnders actress Michelle Ryan as a one-off side-kick to David Tennant’s Doc. She played a glamorous jewel thief called Lady Christina de Souza. Fleeing from the scene of her latest crime, she jumped aboard a red London bus that accidentally got sucked through a wormhole to a desert planet called San Helios. To make sure the desert looked as realistic as possible, the production team upped sticks over to Dubai for 3 days, sending over a real double-decker for filming.
While the script for this tale is set mainly in Venicecirca 1580, location filming took place in Trogir, a small medieval Croatian town just across the Adriatic. It doubled up a treat thanks to its clutch of faded palazzos and higgledy-piggledy terracotta rooftops. Interestingly, production for this episode took place on 23 November 2009, exactly 46 years after the very first episode of Doctor Who was broadcast. To celebrate this fact, Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor flashed a library card to some vixen-like vampires during the show – the picture was of the 1st Doctor, played by William Hartnell back in the Sixties.
This is arguably one of my all-time favourite Doctor Who episodes. Not only was it written by the very talented Richard Curtis of Four Weddings and a Funeral fame, but it featured some heavyweight performances from Bill Nighy and Tony Curran. The plot centres around Doctor No.11 meeting Vincent Van Gogh in Provence. Rather than heading over to the South of France, the crew shot the story in Croatia as part of the same production block as the Vampires of Venice. The art department did a great job at remodelling an old Croatian street to resemble the scene from Van Gogh’s painting ‘Café Terrace at Night’.
While elements of the Daleks in Manhattan were filmed in America, this was the first time Doctor Who featured extensive shooting in the States. Steven Moffat, the lead writer and executive producer on the show, famously said at the time, ‘the Doctor has visited every weird and wonderful planet you can imagine, so he was bound to get round to America eventually!’. And what a location they chose – Monument Valley and Lone Rock Beach in Utah. No wonder Matt Smith’s Doc took to wearing a Stetson hat.
Originally called ‘The Gunslinger’, this episode is set in the Wild West and sees the 11th Doctor dig out his Stetson again. But instead of the USA, this story was filmed in Almeria in southern Spain on a pre-existing set that had been used for spaghetti Westerns like A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. While they were out there, the crew also banked some footage up in the mountains which was later used as the backdrop for the adventure ‘Asylum of the Daleks’.
[Dalek cover image by Tony Hisgett]
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Author: Christian Torres
Published: August 22, 2014
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