On Location

A Portrait of the Modern Artist as a Young Time Lord (part two)

Oh, the man loved his wheatfields.

London_2016 (09)

I’m no art critic, but there are two things that jump out at me every time I look at this. One is the cloud formation. I don’t know what sort of day it was when he painted this, but they’re billowing. It’s a swirling mass of cumulus, dancing in some sort of abstract Rorschach formation, enticing you to see what you want to see. To the right, there are the cypresses, tall and dark and imposing like the edges of a sinister forest, the dark against the light.

Sadly, there is no sign of a gigantic chicken. But that’s OK.

We were in the National Gallery, which (you will remember) was where they airlifted the TARDIS in the opening scenes of ‘Day of the Doctor’. The Doctor (resplendent in tweed) strides across Trafalgar Square to a slightly embarrassed Kate Stewart, who apologises, before they all go off to look at some pictures. It’s like an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker. (The gallery’s interior, I’m told, was in Cardiff. Do not make the mistake of gallivanting round London trying to find it. That’s something that happens in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, and that it doesn’t end in tears is largely thanks to John Barrowman.)


We’d really only gone to the National to see the Van Gogh. We were, as you might imagine after Friday, rather weary of looking at pictures. Plus it was a Saturday, and the place was crammed full of tourists all crowding round The Hay Wain. Within five minutes, Thomas had had enough. “This is boring,” he said. “It’s just paintings of people and stuff.”  Call it an autism reaction: he responds better to the abstract, which enables you to form your own impressions in a way that the concrete does not. I can see his point. Even the Constable is basically a horse pulling a cart across a river, which no one wanted to buy until it was revered by a Frenchman.

It made me think about the value of art, and whether things are considered great because great minds think them great. If someone of influence and authority takes a particular shine to something that was previously considered mediocre, isn’t that a fast-track to the sort of validation that it might otherwise have taken decades to earn? Put it this way. If someone like…oh, I don’t know, Philip Pullman was to talk about the merits of ‘Boom Town’, wouldn’t that push it up the polls a bit? Or if Hilary Mantel was to tell you that ‘The Twin Dilemma’ was among her favourite stories, wouldn’t Baker’s cluttered debut merit something of a re-appraisal? If people of literary talent and assumed knowledge (and perhaps this is why I don’t listen to critics, who typically show evidence of one, but not the other) argue in favour of something, perhaps they influence our own views.

Perhaps it would explain the enduring appeal of the Mona Lisa, a painting whose reputation I’ve never really understood. There are many theories: the identity of the girl in the picture, the enigmatic smile, the eyebrows (or lack thereof). People tell me it’s because Da Vinci was doing things with form that no one had done before, which is venturing into an area of art criticism I don’t really want to visit, largely because I’ll be out of my depth. Perhaps they’re right, but I’ve never been convinced. It’s a pretty painting, for sure, and I’ve not seen it in the flesh (oil. Whatever) but I wonder how much of its immortality may be ascribed to people telling you it’s great. Art is subjective but it is generally agreed that the Mona Lisa is wonderful. Citizen Kane is similarly bold and innovative, and enormously influential, but also rather dull – nonetheless, if you tell people it’s the greatest film ever made with sufficient regularity they will, eventually, start to believe it.


The main entrance to the impressionists’ wing was closed, so we had to hunt for The Sunflowers. They sit on a wall facing north-west, this unassuming bunch of dried-up flora, a still half-life, “somewhere between living and dying; half-human as they turn to the sun”. There’s a reverence to them, something bold and tortured that jumps out as you stare at the thing, a sense of awe somewhat undermined by the people with iPhones. But I took one anyway, just to say that I’d done it.

London_2016 (08)

“You should have done a selfie,” said Emily, not entirely seriously. “That way people would know you’d actually been, rather than just taking a photo off the internet.”

“I’d need a stick,” I said. “You know I can’t stand selfie sticks.”

I went to Philadelphia a few years back; did I ever tell you that? The art gallery there – arguably more famous for the ascending staircase that leads up to its entrance than anything inside – houses several Gilbert & George works, a couple of Warhols – oh, and this.


This is the repetition of the third version (the original third hangs in Munich), while the one at the National is the (original) fourth. (In Whovian terms, that’s presumably Katy Manning impersonating Jon Pertwee.) It looks rather unassuming on screen, the oils crystallised as pixels, a tribesman missing his soul. Seeing things like this up close is unique because you can get close enough to see the brushwork, the hours of labour, the years of psychosis. And yet I wonder how much of my love of Van Gogh and his childish scribbling is thanks to Doctor Who. Is it possible to appreciate the birth of impressionism for what it is and simultaneously be indifferent to the Lisa del Giocondo? Perhaps it isn’t. It’s times like this I wish I really understood art, so I could at least make you think I knew what I was talking about.

There is something rather special about sunflowers, I’ll give you that. They are used to striking effect in the finale of Everything is Illuminated, in which Jonathan Foer arrives at his destination, deep in the heart of Ukraine, having spent most the running time searching for the woman who saved his grandfather during World War II. Emily and I saw the film back in 2005 (being perhaps the only people in the country to do so, given the box office ratings) and one thing that struck us about it was Elijah Wood, who had spent much of the last decade playing a Hobbit. We’d already seen him earlier that year in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (a film we often joke about not having seen, which you’ll understand if you know the plot) and now, it seemed, he’d finally shrugged off the last vestiges of potential typecasting, free to be his own man again. He sits in the cottage, eyes glistening a little as Augustina’s sister muses on the nature of journeys and the significance of the heirloom he carries. “The ring is not here because of you,” she says eventually. “You are here because of the ring.”


Oh, and it was all going so well.

By the time we finished at the National Gallery everyone was about ready to come home. We’d spent the morning at the Science Museum, which houses more than you can reasonably examine in a single day, so we concentrated on the home life exhibition in the basement (Betamax! Pong! SPEAK AND SPELL!) before trooping up to the aviation centre. It was humbling, somehow, being surrounded by all those ancient engines and prototypes, strolling across the shoulders of giants. Amelia Johnson was in residence; she’s looking pretty sprightly for a woman of 112.

The second floor houses technology (antique mobiles! An original copy of Windows! A DRAGON 32!). There was an exhibit about the history of TV. Daniel was watching the coronation. So naturally I did this.

London_2016 (10)

I asked Daniel for his favourite part of the trip, which turned out to be a tie between the youth hostel we visited and the Tower of London, which we’d skirted the day before. It sits on the north bank of the Thames, not far from Fenchurch Street, brown and somehow unassuming. It’s not even much of a tower, really, at least not in the sense that Barad Dur is a tower, or Orthanc is a tower, or Stark Tower is – well, you get the idea. It’s more a fortress, which I suppose is the point.

“So why did you swear?” said Josh, as we strolled around the square outside.

“I didn’t swear,” I said. “That’s its name. The Tower of London, or the Bloody Tower.”
“So we can say ‘bloody’ without it being swearing?”
“Yes, but don’t make a habit of it.”

London_2016 (01)

If you read this blog regularly you’ll know I have a habit of tying up entrances and exits, and you’ll also remember that the Tower is now the new UNIT HQ, as visited by Amy and the Doctor in ‘The Power of Three’, (it was actually filmed at Caerphilly, but it still counts). It’s also host to one of my favourite scenes in ‘Day of the Doctor’, in which Jemma Redgrave is seen relaxing on a bench, gazing at Tower Bridge. “The ravens are looking a bit sluggish,” she says. “Tell Malcolm they need new batteries.”

I was thinking about this as we wandered around, slightly frustrated that I seem to be the only one who remembered it. It’s an excuse to watch DOTD again, I suppose, not that I need one. It remains a high point, infused as it is with an invigorating sense of wonder, understated (but carefully crafted) narrative and the best use of eyebrows in the history of the show. It was an episode that made me appreciate Doctor Who all the more, at the end of a year of borderline overkill (let’s not discuss the after-show party, please) and given my current sense of weariness about the whole thing, it’s one I often go back to. Perhaps that’s what it’s all about: surrounded by people who watch the show but don’t necessarily understand it, who just want to take photos and run…perhaps I’m a residential bird, tired and sluggish and in need of new batteries.

“Ooh, look!” cheered Emily, as we passed by one of the best views of the Tower, with a bunch of visitors all snapping away with selfie sticks. “It’s the London ravens, boys!”
“What on earth are you doing?” I said.”Those are pigeons.”
“I know,” she replied. “I’m just trying to confuse the tourists.”


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

The Hagbourne Invasion

A while back I mentioned that ‘The Android Invasion’ was filmed in East Hagbourne, just up the road from here. In something of an exclusive, here are some photos Emily found in a now defunct Facebook group, including one of Tom Baker holding a cat.

Baker 2

Baker 3


I have no idea who any of these people are, but there’s something curiously satisfying about that second image – and the last one is rather sweet, really. “Although,” says Gareth, “a ‘Tom Baker’ sounds like someone to keep away from cats.”

He adds “If you look for ‘tom baker cat’ on Google Images, you find a lot of pictures of Baker with cats. And also this ‘Dr. Who Neo Traditional cat tattoo’.”


“Neo-traditional…?” we both said. Really, the mind boggles.

Categories: Classic Who, On Location | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m going to look at rocks!


Stonehenge. Where the demons dwell. Where the banshees live, apparently in some comfort. It’s mythical, it’s iconic, it’s an overpriced tourist attraction. It is a hippy’s Mecca (Avebury /  Glastonbury Tor aside). And it has spawned a wealth of tacky merchandise, including some amazing snow globes. We know, because we’ve got one.

I first visited Stonehenge in the summer of 1992. I know this because we were on the way down to Cornwall (it only rained twice; once for three days and once for four) and I was reading The Shining. The site itself was about a hundred yards from a road that ran right past it. The sensation I had was not unlike the sensation I had the first time I watched ‘Time and the Rani’: a lot of hype that preceded a colossal disappointment in fifty shades of grey. “It’s just fucking boulders,” said my brother, when we reminisced about it some years later. “Standing in the middle of a field. Seen it once. Not impressed. Have no wish to see it again.” (Again, if you switch ‘field’ for ‘quarry’ this is a perfect description of ‘Time and the Rani’.)

It is just a pile of rocks in the middle of a field, but the fact that it’s there at all is a feat of technological wizardry (or, at least, advanced neolithic civil engineering). It is about the oldest thing in the country, and there is nothing like it in the world (no, really, the football goal-like horizontal slabs that sit astride the vertical ones make it unique). Here’s another interesting fact: the reason it’s stayed up so long is at least in part down to the interlocking ‘studs’ that are on top of the vertical posts, which slot neatly into holes in the horizontal ones – which you can see below, at least in part. Lego, thousands of years before time.


Even though the access road is now a track, you can still see Stonehenge from the A303; it looms over the crest of a hill on the road to Salisbury and MY GOD THE RUBBERNECKING. How there are not more fatalities along that stretch I have no idea. On this occasion, we’d taken the boys (because culture is important, and getting them out of the house over the long stretch of the summer holidays is always a good idea). The new visitor’s centre drops back in at least some of the air of mystery that had been lost when they originally intersected the site with tarmac; you park next to a peculiar structure, almost bamboo-like from a distance (it’s nothing of the kind, of course) and then it’s a ten minute stroll up the same trail the druids allegedly used all those thousands of years ago. Shuttle buses are available if you don’t fancy the walk, or if it’s raining.


You still can’t go up to the thing, the way that Chevy Chase did in National Lampoon’s European Vacation, but you can get within a respectable distance. There were plenty of tourists the day we visited. I came across an American family trying desperately to capture a family portrait: a young couple with their infant son, posing with fixed smiles while a middle-aged woman – someone’s mother,apparently – got snap happy. “Yep,” said the dad, in an ostensibly good-humoured but, you felt, ultimately long-suffering tone. “Mom loves takin’ her photos. Usually to the detriment of the actual thing.” Meanwhile, grandma was busy with the camera. “Jimbo! Where are ya, Jimbo? Wheeeeeeere’s Jimbo? There he is! You gonna smile, fella? Smile, Jimbo! Wheeeeeeeere’s that smile?”

This went on for about a minute and a half; all the while Jimbo had his head buried in his mother’s chest, apparently because it was more fun to play a game than it was to actually pose for something. We left them to it, and walked past a busload of Germans carrying matching raincoats and selfie sticks. Oh and if you’ve ever seen Touch, and wondered what happened to Miyoko and Izumi, I’d be willing to bet that at least one of them was here.


Actually, Joshua and I had a conversation about selfie sticks at a festival just last week. The beatboxer on stage said “Now, I’m told that if you use a selfie stick you look like a dickhead.” As everyone laughed, Joshua said “What does he mean?”

“Oh, I just think they’re ridiculous,” I said. “It’s this stick, right, and you put your mobile on it, so you can hold it further away from you to get in more of the background. Which I understand in principle, but they just look completely stupid.”

“Yeah,” said the chap sitting next to us. “Sort of like this.” And he pulled one out of his bag.

Stonehenge features prominently in one particular Doctor Who story, ‘The Pandorica Opens’, #4 on the mother-of-all-cliffhangers list. Part of the story concerns the Underhenge, a mythical network of tunnels underneath the main structure, containing a large metal box and a barely-conscious Cyberman. The Doctor and Amy play around with the locks – this is like The Crystal Maze, with Alex Kingston playing a slightly hairier Richard O’Brien – while Arthur Darvill announces that he’s not dead, disappointingly without using the words “I think I’ll go for a walk“. Meanwhile, the Doctor muses about the legend of the Pandorica, in which a force of unspeakable evil is imprisoned within the cube, because “a good wizard tricked it”. “I hate good wizards,” muses River, glancing in the Doctor’s direction. “They always turn out to be him.”

It’s all building to The Big Scene, of course, in which a colossal band of CG-generated villains gather in the skies above the Earth, and in an oft-quoted and frequently-shared moment, the Doctor tells them – in no uncertain terms – to come and have a go if they think they’re ‘ard enough.

It’s ridiculous, but Smith’s overblown pomposity – particularly, knowing as we do, that the Doctor is headed for a massive fall – is just about enough to carry it. (Somewhere in a parallel universe, he never went into acting; he became a biology teacher instead, and his classroom catchphrase was “I. AM. TALKING!”.) This is, one would assume, shot on a sound stage or at least somewhere that isn’t Salisbury Plain, given that the Doctor is actively clambering on the rocks. Truth be told I’ve never been sure precisely which scenes were shot at Stonehenge and which at the hastily-constructed replica, not being sufficiently versed in the making of stuff for New Who (I don’t know, it just all seems a bit self-congratulatory) but it is, at least, a far cry from the jarring effect you’d get in the 70s or 80s when the Doctor and his companion walked away from a filmed location and into the harsh lights of a studio set.


The how has been explored in quite a lot of detail; it’s just the why that remains curiously elusive. We may never really know, although the ‘recently-discovered’ presence of another circle a couple of miles away (at Durrington Walls, to be precise) may grant further illumination, if anyone ever digs them up. And yes, I know the tag ‘Superhenge’ relates to size, but surely ‘Subhenge’ would be more appropriate, if they’re still buried? In the meantime, we’re left with the speculation of historians as to Stonehenge’s actual purpose. A calendar is most likely. A sacrificial altar is another theory. Even Doctor Who‘s had a go: see ‘The Secret of the Stones’, a short story contained within volume twelve of the Doctor Who Files, in which the Doctor and Martha visit the site throughout various stages of its construction over the course of a century or two – and inadvertently cause its very design, purely by parking the TARDIS near enough for the stonemasons to copy its shape. “I just hope,” says the Doctor as they leave, “that we haven’t done anything, you know – silly.” Well, it wouldn’t be the first time.


We took the bus back to the visitors’ centre. Emily and I discussed the possibility of wooden rollers with the boys. We talked about the burial mounds and who might be underneath. And I tried not to get freaked when the bus rolled down a slope and turned into a Hitchcock film.


“Like a bird on a wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free…”

And yet for all the scientific waffle about the evolution of humanity and the transition for hunter-gatherers to farmers, I have a far more interesting explanation: what if it was a group of visiting Martians? Enormous Martian teenagers who visited our planet on a brief intergalactic sightseeing tour, found no signs of intelligent life except for the cows (“Why did you turn some of us inside out?”) and then, being bored at having no one to talk to or look at, decided to etch a brief message in the grass? We’ll probably never know, but it would be a delicious irony if one of the most studied, examined, admired, over hyped and hotly debated landmarks in the world turned out to be nothing more than a hastily scribbled “MARVIN WOZ HERE”.

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

“Doctor, we’re at Devesham!”

Here’s Eric Pickles. Gareth pointed out the interesting effect rendered by his headgear.


He’s obviously a Doctor Who fan. (Eric Pickles, I mean. Gareth can’t stand it. Harrumph.)

One sunny evening last week the six of us jumped in the van and drove out to a village just up the road. East Hagbourne is, for those of you who don’t know your production history, the location for ‘The Android Invasion’, in which the Doctor and Sarah Jane land in a pastoral scene that ostensibly resembles rural Earth but which is, in fact, an alien planet dressed up to look like Earth so that a bunch of murderous androids can have a practice run before they invade the real Earth, which of course looks exactly like East Hagbourne from one end to the other, leaving the androids perfectly equipped to deal with stuff like sand, and traffic, and lifts.


If I sound a little cynical this morning it’s basically because ‘The Android Invasion’ isn’t really very good, having as it does a nonsensical plot, rubbish monster, an entirely forgettable antagonists and U.N.I.T. without the Brigadier. It does, however, feature some lovely location work, and one of the greatest cliffhangers in the history of Who.



Today, the village is a bustling community, and the pub they used is still open (the interior was a set, of course). Emily and I almost lived in Habgbourne when we were house-hunting some twelve years ago, except the only cottage we found was at the end of the sort of overgrown garden that could have been owned by a witch. It also turned out to be smaller on the inside. Nonetheless the place itself is lovely, and the people are immensely creative, although we’re talking about the sort of ‘interesting-stuff-at-the-side-of-the-road ‘creative’ that almost makes you crash the car when you round a bend on your way to a scouting event and come across a model from ‘Terror of the Zygons’.


I mean, I know it was St. George’s Day. But honestly.

The scarecrow trail – which finishes today – is an annual event, and we always try and drive through there at least once if we possibly can. This year’s event featured a beautifully-constructed Olaf from Frozen, a scene from Sweeney Todd, complete with severed heads and unsavoury pie mixture. Oh, and it’s forty years since ‘The Android Invasion’, so it should have been no great surprise to discover this by the war memorial.


We were busy snapping photos when the designer, who lives in a nice house nearby, came out to say hello. “I’m told the scarf is wrong,” she said. “The colours are off, apparently.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said. “There’s no real one way to do a Fourth Doctor scarf. It’s instantly recognisable, whatever the detail. It’s certainly difficult to tell it’s different, unless you’re prepared to Google it.”

“I confess,” she confided in a somewhat conspiratorial manner, “that I couldn’t really watch much of the story they shot here. I found it very boring.”

“Don’t worry,” I admitted. “You’re by no means the only one. I’ve always thought it’s basically rubbish.”

Still, from second-rate Who, a first-rate scarecrow…

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

You and whose Rani?

There’s trouble at t’mine.


For the uninitiated, the photo you can see above shows Blists Hill Victorian Town, part of the Ironbridge experience. Ironbridge is situated in the eastern half of Emily’s native Shropshire, on the banks of the Severn; the eponymous bridge spans the river like an enormous version of one of the Meccano structures it doubtless inspired. The town’s claim to be the “Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution” is a little sketchy, but there is a lot to see and do – and Blists Hill, with its blacksmiths and wood turner and foundry and schoolroom, all surrounded by woodland and back-to-back with an impressive incline railway system – is a great day out.

It’s also where they filmed ‘Mark of the Rani’. Oh, and it was all going so well.

Part of my problem with the story is the Rani herself. Despite her Dynasty associations, as far as I’m concerned, Kate O’Mara will always be Laura Wilde in Howards’ Way, and I simply can’t take her seriously in black leather sneering at Anthony Ainley over an operating table. Gareth rightly points out that she has potential. The Master is a rogue Time Lord who wants to take over the universe simply because it looks like a bit of a laugh. The Rani doesn’t share his immoral principles – indeed, she’s the amoral scientist personified, likening her disdain for humans to that of the humans’ own use and abuse of livestock. “What harm have the animals in the fields done them?” she says to the Doctor when the two first meet. “The rabbits they snare, the sheep they nourish to slaughter. Do they worry about the lesser species when they sink their teeth into a lamb chop?”

It’s a valid point, but Emmy material this is not, and no better are the angry ramblings of the sleep-deprived Luddites, whose role is chiefly to cart the Doctor from one place to another, usually on a hospital trolley. This also leads to the first episode’s cliffhanger, set up as it is on the pretext that the Doctor asks Peri to push him away from the approaching Rani, only for her to get it spectacularly wrong and send him barrelling off down a steep path. At the beginning of part two, he’s saved by George Stephenson. Then things get silly.

Gareth Roberts says (and I paraphrase) that “What’s great about ‘Mark of the Rani’ is that the Rani is a character who just doesn’t want to be in Doctor Who. There’s these two clowns gallivanting around and plotting against each other, and she turns her nose up at the whole thing and just wants to get on with her work. The next time we see her? Wigs? Dressing up as Bonnie Langford? She’s probably watched all the episodes in the interim. I bet she has them all on videotape, stacked on her shelf, all very neatly labelled.”


Whatever my misgivings about both the Rani’s adventures – not to mention the telethon special where she’s outdone by an Eastenders actress – it’s a location, and we were in that neck of the woods, and even though we’ve been before it was the first time I could actually show Thomas the set, and so the first thing we did was wander around the town and draw a depressing blank when we tried to work out where the bathhouse was. Indeed, the most tangible and memorable exterior location in the place is the overgrown exit to the mine where Colin Baker runs beats a hasty retreat with Peri at the story’s climax.


Not too far from here is the path that leads off to the forest, in which the Rani is conducting some particularly gruesome experiments. First she forces the Doctor to take part in a crappy circus skills workshop.


What’s worse, he’s missed out on the chance to cop a feel of Peri, so instead the honour falls to a semi-anthropomorphic tree.


I am not going to bother explaining this; it’s (literally) monstrous. Suffice to say that there is an amusing denouement in the Rani’s TARDIS featuring a baby dinosaur, and then it’s off to sunny Spain for ‘The Two Doctors’. The photo below features no reference to the path or forest whatsoever, but I include it because I rather like the lighting.


We left not long after and headed for Enginuity, a hands-on exhibition about ten minutes’ drive from the Victorian town. It has robots and ecological-themed experiments and you get to learn about water and electricity and wind power. It is fantastic and the boys love it. But it’s set in the middle of a large collection of old buildings that make up the slate museums and monuments that showcase the heritage of the town and its industrial past, and it’s a little disconcerting when you walk out of the high-ceilinged, air-conditioned hall full of rolling video and hi-tech wizardry, and this is what you see.


“I can’t help thinking,” I said to Thomas, “that this would have made a great place for a UNIT shootout or something in a 1970s Doctor Who story. You know, with someone falling off the stairs and the Brigadier down in the yard on the front line.”

“You could always make one,” he said.

So I did.

Categories: Classic Who, On Location | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

There’ll be spaceships over the White Cliffs of Dover


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.

IMG_3873 IMG_3913

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.


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


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.


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?


Well, maybe.

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

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: