Top 10 Doctor Who filming locations

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Series Six of the new Doctor Who, concludes this Saturday.  I followed the adventures of the Doctor and his assistants as they saved the Earth, along with countless other planets, throughout my formative years.  The Doctor and the monsters were an important part of my childhood.  Then in 1989 the series went off air, only to return in 2005, with CGI special effects replacing the cardboard, tin foil and plastic sets. Quarries appear frequently in both the old and the new series, but they are not easily visited, nor of interest to most folks, therefore, they do not make this list. The show is now produced by BBC Wales, so unsurprisingly, Cardiff appears regularly, so I’ll start my list there, before moving a little further afield in South Wales. There are hundreds of locations documented by the “Doctor Who Confidential” programme and fan websites.  The ten locations in this post are worth visiting in their own right. If you have a favourite Doctor Who location, then feel free to add it in the comments, along with what it has to offer.

Millennium Centre, Roald Dahl Plaza, Cardiff
Home to the Wales National Opera it has appeared in numerous episodes ranging from the Hospital  in “New Earth” to the more recent tour booking facility in “The Girl Who Waited”. In addition to viewing opera, ballet or musicals, the centre runs a tour of the futuristic facility, where Doctor Who gets a frequent mention. Outside Roald Dahl Plaza is another location recognisable by any Doctor Who or Torchwood fan, as it is the site of the Rift and Torchwood Cardiff.  An excellent place to refuel a Tardis using Rift Energy.
Millennium Centre and Roald Dahl Plaza, Cardiff
Senedd, Cardiff Bay
The Senedd appeared in “The Lazarus Experiment”. It is home to the Welsh Parliament, designed by the Richard Rodgers Partnership to incorporate excellent environmental credentials. The hot air from the debating chamber is literally used to power the natural ventilation. Admission: Free.
Senedd, the Welsh Parliament Building

National Museum of Wales, Cardiff
Has stood in for the Musée D’Orsay in Paris in “Vincent and the Doctor”, the International Gallery in “Planet of the Dead” and featured in “The Big Bang”, finale to Series 5.
The museum displays an excellent collection of art, as well as engaging Archaeological, Zoological and Geological exhibits. Admission: Free.
The National Museum, Cardiff.

Cardiff Castle, Cardiff
Cardiff Castle corridors became the monastery in  ”The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People”. The castle dates from  Roman times, but has a Norman keep and was rebuilt by the Marquis of Bute. It is an extravagant folly funded by profits from the Butes’ coal concessions and Cardiff Docks. In fact Cardiff was once the world’s biggest coal exporting port.  Admission : Adult   £11.00 Child (5-16 years) £8.50.

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
The main stadium stand in for the 2012 Olympic Stadium, in the episode, “Fear Her” and appears in a number of other Doctor Who episodes. This is where the Daleks made their comeback in the new series, in the episode, “Dalek”. The Stormcage facility where River Song is held, is actually filmed in the Stadium Car Park .  As well as being the spiritual home of Welsh Rugby the Millennium Stadium hosts other sporting events, sometimes even football. It has a retractable roof and makes a top flight venue for big rock concerts. Stadium Tours: Adults £7.50 Under 16 £4.95.

Millennium Stadium  volcanic sunset

St Fagans National History Museum, St Fagans
Was used for the village in “Human Traces” and “The Family of Blood”. At St Fagans buildings have been relocated to the museum, from all over Wales. It is possible to visit anything from an Iron Age Village to a Miners’ Welfare Building. Admission: Free.

Dyffryn Gardens
Dyffryn Gardens is 7 miles from Cardiff. The house and gardens featured in many episodes. The house appears as the hospital and Donna’s bedroom in “The Forest of the Dead”  and  Reinette’s bedroom in “The Girl in the Fireplace” . The gardens starred as the Gardens of Versailles in the later and recently in “The Girl Who Waited”.

Tredegar House, Newportt
Tredegar House interiors have stood in for Versailles in “The Girl in the Fireplace”, Sir Robert’s House in “Tooth and Claw”,  the school in “Human Nature” and “Family of Blood” to name but a few. Tredegar House is open to the public. If you take a tour, expect to hear a famous Timelord mentioned.
Admission high season: Adult £6.50 Child £2.50

Southerndown Beach, Vale of Glamorgan
This is where the Doctor says his farewells to Rose in “Doomsday” and “Journey’s End”. It is Alfava Metraxis in “The Time of Angels”. It is one of the biggest sandy beaches in South Wales with some impressive rock strata on display in the cliffs and by the shore.
Coolblues

National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthne, Camarthenshire
The dome in the National Botanic Garden of Wales served as the Hydroponics Centre in “The Waters of Mars”. The dome, designed by Norman Foster and Partners  is the largest single span glasshouse in the world. Admission: Adult £8.50 Child (5-16) £4.50
National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthne, Camarthenshire
Photos by author, except National Museum of Wales by Stephen Thomas _bohemian_, Millennium Stadium by DJLeekee and Southerndown Beach by focusquik from LoveUK’s Flickr Group.

Author:

John Williams

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4 Responses to “Top 10 Doctor Who filming locations”

  1. Brent Davies
    December 27, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Hi,
    Love the Doctor Who article, but please can you change – Southerndown, Ogmore Vale, it should read Southerendown, Ogmore by Sea.
    Many thanks,
    Brent

    • John Williams
      January 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

      Thank you Brent, hopefully the error is corrected. Not sure your suggested location is correct though.

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