diamond geezer

 Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Who's London

I don't know whether you've noticed, but Doctor Who is back on our TV screens this Saturday after a 16-year hiatus. The return of this sci-fi classic will either fill you with nostalgic childlike joy, or leave you reaching for the remote in total indifference. For the next few days, I'm hoping it's the former.

With the entire infinite universe at his disposal, the Doctor instead chose to spend an inordinate amount of his time on just one small blue-green planet - our own Earth. Careful scrutiny of videotape records narrows down his particular interest to protecting the UK from imminent alien invasion and, more specifically, in safeguarding residents living within five miles of BBC Television Centre. A surprisingly high proportion of the Doctor's adventures took place in the capital and, as if to make the point, the first episode of the new series is set here too (somewhere on the number 16 bus route). OK, so the latest stuff was actually filmed in Cardiff with the help of a few hijacked Routemasters, but many of the old stories really were shot in London, just for added realism. I spent last Saturday visiting a handful of these choice locations, just to see what's left after Who's gone. First location report tomorrow.

In the meantime, courtesy of this splendid (but now defunct) website, here's a rundown of Doctor Who's London film locations.

William Hartnell (1963-66)
The Dalek Invasion of Earth (filmed August 1964): Classic shots of Daleks in Trafalgar Square, rolling along the Embankment and perching on top of the Albert Memorial (how did they get up the steps?)
The Massacre (filmed January 1966): New companion Dodo runs inside what she thinks is a police box, near the windmill on Wimbledon Common.
The War Machines (filmed May 1966): The Doctor discovers that the new Post Office Tower is in fact the base of an evil computer bent on taking over the world.

Patrick Troughton (1966-69)
The Invasion (filmed September 1968): Cybermen crawl out of the sewers and invade the capital (including that iconic shot of silver-suited robots walking down the steps in front of St Paul's Cathedral.

Jon Pertwee (1970-74)
Spearhead From Space (filmed September 1969): Shop window dummies spring to life in Ealing High Street.
The Terror of the Autons (filmed September 1970): The Master's first appearance, in a circus tent on land now covered by the Lea Bridge Ice Centre, Leyton.
The Mind of Evil (filmed November 1970): Exterior shots of UNIT headquarters are shot in Cornwall Gardens, South Kensington.
Day of the Daleks (filmed September 1971): Ogrons emerge from a time tunnel underneath Bull's Bridge, Hayes, Middlesex.
Invasion of the Dinosaurs (filmed 1973): The Doctor parks his Whomobile outside a deserted Moorgate station, only to be hemmed in by a stegosaurus.

Tom Baker (1974-81)
Terror of the Zygons (filmed March 1975): The Loch Ness Monster emerges from the River Thames beside Lambeth Bridge, beneath Millbank Tower.
The Talons of Weng-Chiang (filmed December 1976): Seminal Victorian East London fogbound mystery adventure, featuring Clink Street, St Katherine's Dock and Wapping Old Stairs.
Logopolis (filmed December 1980): The Tardis materialises on Cadogan Pier beneath Albert Bridge, where The Watcher is standing guard.

Peter Davison (1981-84)
Mawdryn Undead (filmed August 1982): The Brigadier has become a maths teacher at a minor public school, located in Trent Park, Enfield (just north of Cockfosters station).
Resurrection of the Daleks (filmed September 1983): The deserted warehouses to the east of Tower Bridge turn out to be full of Daleks (and not yet trendy restaurants).

Colin Baker (1984-86)
Attack of the Cybermen (filmed May 1984): Those evil silver creatures swarm all over some obscure backstreets across Acton, including a certain junkyard that turns out to be where the series began.

Sylvester McCoy (1987-89)
Remembrance of the Daleks (filmed April 1988): The Doctor goes back to school (off Hammersmith High Street) and uncovers the Hand of Omega in a grave in a cemetery in Kilburn (the same one where my great-grandfather is buried).
Survival (filmed June 1989): The final story of the final series sees Cheetah People invading a sleepy Perivale estate.

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