Grantchester, Cambridgeshire – December 2015

The Church of St Andrew and St Mary - Grantchester filming location
Welcome to Grantchester!

Hello and welcome back to Project Indigo! Today we are travelling back in time to New Year’s Eve 2015 – not to Wales this time but Cambridgeshire. We are vising Classic Doctor Who filming location Grantchester where The Fourth Doctor and Romana 2 materialised the TARDIS in the episode Shada (1979, released 1992). You may have noticed that there is quite a few years between the filming and the release. That is because there was a big BBC Union strike when Shada was being filmed which left many scenes of the episode unfinished. It was eventually released on video in 1992 with Tom Baker narrating what was going on in the gaps!

Doctor Who Shada filming location Grantchester Meadows
I can’t go backwards – there’s an invisible spaceship behind me!

Grantchester is a village just outside Cambridge and is said to have one of the highest concentration per person of Nobel Prize Winners! This is due to the number of residents who went to or worked at Cambridge University. In Shada, the Doctor and Romana were at Cambridge University to visit Professor Chronotis, a retired Time Lord. Whilst they were there Skagra called upon Professor Chronotis to interrogate him and find the whereabouts of the lost planet of Shada.  It was in Grantchester Meadows that Skagra concealed his 100m long invisible spaceship and captured Romana, K9 and a student, Chris Parsons.

Doctor Who Shada filming location Grantchester Meadows
Where has the TARDIS gone? Now I can’t get back home!

It may not have been sunny when the Doctor and Romana were there, but it was surprisingly sunny when I visited, however it was quite cold. It was the middle of winter and very early in the morning. The village was like a ghost town, I expect everyone was still in bed saving their energy to make it to midnight and see in 2016. Sadly I didn’t see anyone dressed like Skagra – in a white and silver whatever that is! He was definitely dressed for a disco. On the High Street I saw The Green Man pub and its neighbour The Red Lion which Skagra drove past. I explored the village and the meadows which are just behind the village on the banks of the River Cam. This area was the inspiration for the Pink Floyd song Grantchester Meadows on the album Ummagumma. I have just had a listen and it is very calm and soothing, and can double up as a lullaby.

Grantchester is also the filming location for the ITV Series Grantchester. This is based on the books The Grantchester Mysteries by James Runcie featuring Sidney Chambers, a vicar who is also a detective. James Norton plays Sidney, Robson Green plays Geordie and Morven Christie plays Amanda. Two of the main stars have also been in Doctor Who – both in underwater episodes. Isn’t that a coincidence? James Norton played Onegin a Russian Soldier on the submarine The Firebird in the episode Cold War (2013) and Morvern Christie played O’Donnell in Under the Lake (2015) set on The Drum, an underwater mining base.

Sidney's Chambers' church in Grantchester, Doctor Who filming location for Shada
Sidney’s Chambers’ church in Grantchester

Thank you very much to Doctor Who The Locations Guide for helping me to find this filming location.  I hope you have enjoyed reading about Grantchester. This summer I will be taking my TARDIS to Kent and seeing what the Doctor has got up to there. If there are any places you would like me to visit please leave a comment and let me know.

See you next time, bye!

Sign post at Doctor Who filming location Grantchester
Is this named after Donald?
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