There’ll be spaceships over the White Cliffs of Dover

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I was lucky enough to get freshly pressed this week (all right, luck had nothing to do with it; it was all thanks to SJ, to whom I am incredibly grateful). The post in question was a retrospective of my grandparents as seen through the eyes of an adult revisiting childhood haunts. We took the boys down to the town I visited every summer, and showed them round the sights.

But you don’t want to read all about that, do you?

Let me explain. A couple of weeks ago, Thomas and Emily and I started on ‘The Mind of Evil’. It is wonderful vintage Who. There is a mad scientist (all right, it turns out to be the Master) channelling an alien intelligence through a machine that sucks the evil out of men’s minds. In an early sequence in the story it does this to Neil McCarthy (later to be seen in ‘The Power of Kroll’), reducing him to a childlike simpleton. There’s a nuclear missile and poor Jo gets captured and recaptured so often I lost count. There are wobbly steps, less-than-substantial doors and the Brigadier gets to have a lengthy (and really pretty violent) gun battle towards the end of the tale. It’s wonderful, despite some occasionally questionable acting and the fact that four cliffhangers out of five feature the machine about to scare someone to death. (One of those is by proxy, but it still counts.)

It’s also shot at Dover Castle, its walls and battlements serving as the exterior of the prison where the bulk of ‘Mind’ is set. As is traditional with Classic Who many of the entrances were used more than once, but the central square that surrounds the great tower was immediately familiar.

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The observant among you will recall that this is the place where the Brigadier spoke through a loudhailer and then turned to gun down a prisoner who’d climbed on the wall behind him, causing the deceased convict to take a spectacular western-style tumble.

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Of course, we couldn’t do that, so I had to improvise.

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We almost didn’t make it to Dover Castle. This has nothing to do with chronic tiredness from the lengthy journey down the day before, or the fact that no one could find their water bottles, or that we got lost on the Folkestone one way system. No, it was because in the B&B the boys were anxious to explore the room next door to ours.

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I had to explain that no, it didn’t contain a crack in the fabric of the universe, although they were having issues with the plumbing.

I’m sure there are other Doctor Who related places to visit in Kent. But I didn’t have time to scout locations near our planned route or actually watch the stories they filmed there. Kit Pedler is buried in Graveney, which was too far away to visit, and I’d have found it hard to resist the urge to leave a can of oil or something at his graveside. But discovering this fact did make me wonder about doing a tour of deceased Who veterans’ resting places to pay respects in some form or another. It also made me wonder what they all got up to once they left the show – those that disappeared from the public eye (or who were never in it). Do they wake up one morning in a mysterious village with their identity stripped and where a giant balloon chases them every time they try to leave to work on other science fiction programmes? Do they all write books as gossipy and vindictive as Matthew Waterhouse’s autobiography? Or do they simply get other jobs?

Tom

Well, maybe.

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Categories: Classic Who, On Location | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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