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!
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.
No sign of anyone dressed for a disco!
I can’t see the red carpet. How will I find the spaceship?
What if the TARDIS is lost in time?
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.
Did you see a man drive past in a silver costume?
I’m sure Skagra passed here!
Skagra must be here somewhere. Where did he go?
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.
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.
Ciao! Welcome to Fifteenth Century Italy – otherwise known as Portmeirion in July 2015! We are travelling back in time to last summer to visit North Wales for the filming location of the Tom Baker Doctor Who episode The Masque of Mandragora (1976).
In this classic episode, The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane materialise the TARDIS in an orange grove on Earth in the 15th Century, which the Doctor describes as
‘not a pleasant time’.
They are in San Martino, Italy in 1492 and have brought a piece of energy from the Mandragora Helix with them by accident! This story is a historical drama which was rare for Doctor Who at that time.
Portmeirion is located in area of Wales called Gwynedd and is near Porthmadog. It was designed and built by the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the style of an Italian village, and it is now a tourist village. Work started in 1925 and it took 50 years for him to build this village but it was finished just before he died. He built it to show how you can develop a naturally beautiful site without ruining it. If you would like to find out more about the history of Portmeirion please check out this excellent blog post A Very Brief History of Portmeirion Village.
I’m glad he’s holding that up! This is Hercules.
Outside the Unicorn House! Where are the rainbows?
Proof it was sunny when I was there!
Another view of the Unicorn House
Apart from Doctor Who, Portmeirion has served as the location for many films and television shows, and is very well known as the filming location for the 1960s television show The Prisoner. It is also famous for pottery – in fact my own plates are made by Portmeirion Pottery from the Botanic Garden range .
The Prisoner was filmed in Portmeirion
The house of Number 6 in The Prisoner
I visited Portmeirion during my Welsh road-trip of 2015 and it was my first Northern Wales stop – the weather was very sunny which showed off the colours of Portmeirion and it looked very cheerful.
This doesn’t look like Wales – where am I?
Well this view is even better!
In The Masque of Mandragora DVD extra ‘Secret of the Labyrinth’ (the original name for this episode) the episode Producer Philip Hinchcliffe said that he had been to Portmeirion many years before and that the writer Louis Marks had studied Renaissance Italy at Oxford. They couldn’t go abroad to film this episode but Portmeirion stepped up!
Production Manager Chris D’Oyly-John thought it was good news that they had a location but a lot of time and money was spent travelling back and forth between London and North Wales. With travelling the shoot would take 5 or 6 days and there were no motorways. It was hard to get horses, props, costumes and make-up vans there.
To keep it looking like 15th Century Italy the Director Rodney Bennett did very selective shooting and not many panoramic movements. He used the Italianate backgrounds and covered up bits that didn’t look right for the period. A fake catacomb entrance was made to link the studio scenes with Portmeirion.
There is also a DVD extra, produced by Richard Bignell, called Now and Then. It says that in a memo, written on 03.01.76, Philip Hinchcliffe said:
‘The only suitable location for exterior location filming is Portmeirion in North Wales’.
Filming started on the 3rd of May 1976 and lasted three days. In three months it will be the 40th Anniversary!
The DVD extra shows us a map the places that were used for filming. I didn’t get to visit the woods but I visited everywhere else in the village.
The Bridge House. You are welcome to enter Portmeirion.
Outside the Pantheon
The first stop was the Bridge House which was used as the City Gate when Count Federico returns to San Martino. He also passes the Pantheon.
The Doctor fled the soldiers in the market here
Look out for the soldiers!
The Bell Tower above Battery Square
Where’s my lunch?
Battery Square was used for the market scene when the Doctor was on the run from the soldiers. Hangings were used to hide the bits that didn’t look suitable. There was no market when I was there, it was all set.
Who just ran past here?
The Loggia with the hidden Buddha
Hello Mr Buddha, do you know your way around here?
Have you seen the Doctor anywhere?
The Doctor passes The Loggia which houses a big Golden Buddha.
This is on the way to The Temple of Demnos
The Bristol Colonnade
Enjoying the sun in front of the Bristol Colonnade
The Doctor, Sarah Jane and Giuliano scurry along the Bristol Colonnade on their way to the Temple Ruins.
No executions today!
A side view of the Gloriette
See, it was all a façade! The back of the Gloriette.
In the Piazza there is a gloriette facing the ornamental pond. The Doctor is brought there to be executed but luckily tricked the executor to get away. It’s not a real building, it is just a façade. Rugs covered the iron work in the same way the hangings were used.
The Doctor jumped over the balustrade
Did you see the Doctor on horseback?
Outside Hercules Hall
Inside Hercules Hall – you can get married here!
Where is the Doctor’s horse? This is the road to Hercules Hall
The Doctor rode a horse past the Hercules Hall and jumps the balustrade and steps on his way to the woodlands.
Between Neptune and Trinity Cottages, the Doctor is chased, past the Watchhouse and Belltower down towards the beach.
Clough Williams-Ellis liked the look of the ruins Temple of Demnos and asked the BBC to leave them. Sadly they were made of polystyrene!
‘…..we know it’s Portmeirion, but actually when you are watching it I don’t think that distracts, I don’t think it gets in the way at all. I’m absolutely convinced they went to Italy as far as I’m concerned’
which proves that Portmeirion was the most convincing place to film The Masque of Mandragora!
Portmeirion is a calm, tranquil and cool place to visit and is worth the travel. My favourite part was paddling in the pool in the Piazza – I was lucky that it was sunny that day because it is Wales which is a very rainy country. I hope that it will be bright for you too if you go.
In other news, I am VERY peeved about the latest Doctor Who news – Steven Moffat is quitting and there will be no new series to watch in 2016! I guess I will just have to watch some old episodes instead – there are lots for me to watch still so at least I have that to look forward to. What do you think of this news? Please leave a comment and let me know.
Thank you for reading my post, I have another classic location to tell you about next.
now I shall tell you who the lucky winner is of a Doctor Who Limited Special Edition Audio Adventure – The Romance of Crime and The English Way of Death. These stories were written by Gareth Roberts and star Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and John Leeson.
Thank you to Big Finish for donating this amazing prize! I am still listening to my copy and enjoying it very much.
I asked the question:
What would you like to give to the Doctor as a gift?
I picked the winner at random by numbering the entries and using a Random Number Generator.
Congratulations to the winner, Andrew H!
A weekend spa break so he can relax after a tough monster run-in.
Thank you again to everyone who entered, I enjoyed reading all 91 of your entries and I can see you put a lot of thought into your answers. Please take a look at the comments here if you want to read all the absolutely delightful answers.
Andrew has received his prize and said:
I am absolutely delighted, thank you very much!
I hope you enjoy your prize Andrew!
There will a new post coming up soon – I am going to tell you all about a special Italian location associated with the Doctor.
First things first, it is Project Indigo’s 1st Anniversary on March 25th 2015 and to celebrate I am giving away an amazing prize –
A Limited Special Edition Doctor Who Audio Adventure ‘The Romance of Crime and The English Way of Death’!
This audio book features the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K9. Starring Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and John Leeson, this is a five-disc limited Special Edition which includes a behind the scenes interview disc and a cover exclusive to this release. This edition also comes in deluxe limited edition packaging, which features a stunning array of professional photos of the cast. These stories are based on the novels by Gareth Roberts, adapted by John Dornet and directed by Nicholas Briggs.
Thank you so much to Big Finish for donating this very special prize which one lucky reader will win! I am very grateful.
To be in with a chance of winning , here is the question that you must answer!
What would you like to give to the Doctor as a gift?
Please leave a comment on this post with your answer and one winner will be picked at random. Only one entry per person please. I will e-mail the winner to confirm the delivery address.
Closing date is 11.59 pm on April 30th 2015.
This has been an awesome year! Since I started Project Indigo I have had many adventures of my own. I have travelled the British Isles and visited many Doctor Who locations. I spent some time in Wales over the summer and visited around 30 different locations – from ancient castles to beautiful beaches. I even got to attend the Doctor Who World Tour 2014! That was a red carpet event and I was in the audience for the World Premiere of Deep Breath, the first episode of the latest series.
I have met lots of lovely people at Sci-Fi events, including many famous Doctor Who actors and I have collected lots of autographs and made many friends. I have even been shown on TV – Project Indigo was shown on Blue Peter and I was given a Blue Peter badge, which was really cool!
One day I met the Doctor and his companion Clara, Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, completely by accident! I bumped into them doing a photoshoot in Parliament Square. I was lucky enough to be given a wristband to get into the press area where I could take lots of photos. I was introduced to Peter and Jenna who were both very kind and friendly. It was the best day of my life!
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to chat with me including :
Thank you to my friends and family, my blog friends and followers and Twitter friends and followers, competition entrants and winners, the friends I have made at conventions and everyone who has featured Project Indigo including my school magazine, Blogtor Who, Blue Peter, Jump! Mag, Kids’ Blog Club, The Local Eye, MAD Blog Awards, Mumsnet Bloggers Network, thisisFoxx, Whoogle News, and Kate and the team at Who Wars.
(UPDATE – Uh-oh, TARDIS Malfunction. One of my readers told me that I actually landed at Haytor, not Hound Tor. Looks like I visited the wrong bit of Dartmoor, guess I will have to go back again one day. )
Surrender to the glory of the Sontaran Empire!
Help! There’s a Sontaran in my house whilst I write this. ‘Take that!’ A bosh on the head. Phew, it’s just disappeared through the floor. It must have followed me back from Hound Tor in Dartmoor where The Sontaran Experiment (1975) was filmed….
Hound Tor was the filming location for Picadilly Circus in the year 16087! In this episode the Sontarans were experimenting on humans. The Fourth Doctor, Sarah and Harry teamed up with some GalSec colonists who were stranded on Earth to defeat the Sontaran, Styre. Luckily when I went there was no sign of any Sontarans taking people away to experiment on!
When I went on my adventure I left my TARDIS at the bottom of the hill and walked up to take a look at Hound Tor. No Sontarans about but plenty of Dartmoor ponies! The ponies were dark and majestic and were not frightened of the humans all around. The hill was very steep and the ground was very slanted and bumpy. Luckily when I got to the top I was as fit as a fiddle, but my companions were out of puff.
At the top of the hill is the rock pile that is said to have been the inspiration for Conan Doyle’s book ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ and in fact that episode of Sherlock was filmed here too! Sherlock Holmes was the detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle and The Sontaran Experiment’s Script Editor was Robert Holmes! Spot the difference! What a coincidence.
The area was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as ‘Hundatora’ and is believed to have taken its name from the word ‘hound’. There was a rumour that ‘The Hound’ was a dog that had been changed to stone by some witches! Lots of people think it is a place of mystery and some people are scared of it and believe they have seen ghosts. I didn’t see any ghosts of any description when I was there.
I felt as if it was deserted as there was hardly anyone to be seen for miles. There were some climbers who had a lot of gear and were climbing the hard side. They could have just walked up the back! The views were amazing and it gave me a burst of joyfulness to be there.
I explored all around before I climbed to the top of the rock! I found it really easy climbing up the rock and soon reached the tip-top. It was as windy as an air tunnel and the air rushed around my nose and ears turning them into the colour of a Violet. It was a great view, I could see a lot of horses and the moor which was gigantic and stretched out as far as the eye could see. The people in the distance looked like ants. I felt like Superman at the top.
I really didn’t want to come down as I was having a great time at the top. I almost wanted to jump down but it was too high. I started to walk down but the rock was jagged and bumpy under my feet and I felt as if I would slip down. I had to be slow and steady.
Then it was back to back to my TARDIS and on to another adventure. I can’t wait to go back to Dartmoor and explore there another time – maybe then I will get a glimpse of the Beast of Dartmoor?
Thanks for reading and see you very soon. Right, I’m going off to play with my grenades.
Welcome to ‘the village that came to life’ – East Hagbourne in Oxfordshire, filming location for the episode The Android Invasion (1975). I went there as I was passing earlier this week on my way home from another adventure.
This episode is set in the village of Devesham, which East Hagbourne stands in for. The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane arrive in the village which is always Friday 6th July, a day with no future. Luckily I went in June or I might have had to stay forever.
I parked my TARDIS near the Fleur de Lys pub and went to liven up the place, (well I tried to at least). The village was deserted just like in the episode! I wonder if the androids were still there? In fact the whole time I was there the only other person that I saw was a young girl wearing a t-shirt that said ‘ Keep Calm, I’m The Doctor’. Awkward but true!
I saw the war memorial in the centre of the road and set off down the road past the Fleur de Lys. The Doctor and Sarah hid in the pub and watched people who could not move and looked like they were statues filled with cement. They came to life eventually – when I watched the episode I tried clicking my fingers at the TV but actually it was the clock striking 12 that brought them out of their trance. I tried to go in the pub myself but it was shut for the afternoon, which was a shame as I wanted a beer. Fooled you!
As I explored I saw some goats and chickens in a garden and the paths were lined with hollyhocks. The weather was sunny and everything looked so summery it was a typical English village. This village is known for The Great Fire of Hagbourne, just 7 years before the Great Fire of London. It is also famous as the place where blotting paper was invented!
In a documentary about this episode ‘The ViIlage That Came To Life’, Nicholas Briggs walks around East Hagbourne and interviews some of the local people about what they remember about the filming in July 1975. One lady remembers that hundreds of children from all over the place descended on the village to see if they could get Tom Baker’s autograph! He was still a new Doctor when he filmed the episode. One of the interviewees had his photo taken with Tom Baker for the local paper as his name was Colin Baker, but not THE Colin Baker! Another remembered his family selling beer from their front window to the crew.
The Android Invasion was the last episode that featured Benton and Harry Sullivan pops up for his last appearance. It is a fan-dabby-dosy story and everyone should watch it!
Do you have any facts about East Hagbourne? Let me know.
Looking forward to seeing you all soon! Bloop blip Bloop blip, Goodbye in Androidese.
I visited Wookey Hole in February 2014 and I stayed in The Wookey Hole Hotel which was unusual because it had a witch’s hat as a roof! It was early in the day when I set off to explore the caves with our guide. The caves are a series of limestone caverns formed by the River Axe. Humans lived in the cave up to 45,000 years ago and before that hyenas lived in the caves.
It was very gloomy in the caves and felt foreboding. The chambers were lit with multi-coloured lights so that you can see creatures such as the bats that still live in the caves. You can also see the stalagmites and stalactites which have formed over thousands of years. How do you know which is which? One way to remember is that stalactite has a “c” in it for “ceiling,” and stalagmite has a “g” in it for“ground.” One stalagmite is the famous Wookey Hole Witch who was turned to stone by one of the monks from Glastonbury. ( Maybe he was the Doctor in disguise).
I moved from chamber to chamber by ducking and limboing. I saw Voga where the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane met the Cybermen. I haven’t seen the episode yet so I’m not sure what happened but it’s on my list of episodes to watch! I also saw The Council of the Oods Chamber which the Tenth Doctor visited in The End of Time before his regeneration. The Ood warn the Doctor of a great danger rising from the darkness which will bring the end of time itself. AAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
I was freaked out when I walked over a high bridge between the caverns. The bridge swung like the Millennium Bridge and I felt nervous. I found the cylinders of cheese that are kept in the caves to mature, because it an ideal temperature and humidity. The cheese smelt awful as if it tasted like granite.
As I left the caves it was much better as I could breathe and the sun was shining.The garden contained models of dinosaurs like in Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.
I then explored inside which was very interesting to me as I have a family link to Wookey Hole. There was a Victorian hand-made paper mill there which my Great Great Great Grandfather Mr Bookless managed, and other family members worked there too. I wonder if they lived up to their last names because they wouldn’t need any paper. I could see the machinery my family used and it smelt a lot like the mouldy cheese.
I then played some games in the Penny Arcade which was fun and I had my fortune told – which I didn’t like and will keep a secret. There was also an exhibition about the circus which showed a circus character, an alien called Ynolab who was found near Lake Arizona. Is he real? The clue is in the name!
I will be exploring some new places this week and I can’t wait to do posts about them.
My FAVOURITEway to spend a sunny day outside is go to places where they have filmed Doctor Who of course! So on a beautiful sunny bank holiday weekend I went to Athelhampton House and Gardens, location of The Seeds of Doom (1976).
The Seeds of Doom features The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane and Athelhampton is used as the house of eccentric millionaire Harrison Chase. He has a seed pod found in the arctic permafrost which contains a Krynoid…. OF DOOM. The Doctor and his companion must stop Harrison and the carnivorous Krynoid from destroying the world.
In the 8 years of my life, this is only the second time I have visited Athelhampton. I used the chameleon circuit to disguise my TARDIS as a car and parked in the car park which was very busy because there was a plant sale. It is lucky there were no Krynoid pods for sale so I didn’t have to worry about fighting plants! First I explored the surprising gardens, one called The Great Court had pyramid shaped yew trees! There were spitting fountains and a huge pond – I couldn’t see any fish but I did see pond weed and pond snails. I took a walk along the River Piddle and was very glad it was made of water! I then entered the whiffy Dovecote which was quite dark, cool and a bit smelly because it was full of doves.
Next I visited the house which was built in the 15th century – you can’t look in every room because people live there. It was quite dark inside and I had to be patient on the stairs as there were a lot of other visitors. Everything was very old but I felt very welcome there. On the top floor there were paintings made by Marevna who was an artist who once lived at Athelhampton. My favourite was one with a man and a goat – look out for it if you go there.
I left via the gift shop where you can buy Doctor Who stuff and all that jazz and I bought the book The Seeds of Doom and The Deadly Assassin. The receptionist was very kind and said that I should read John Challis’ autobiography if I want to find out more about the filming at Athelhampton as he played Scorby in the episode.
Athelhampton was also the location for ‘From Time to Time’ (2009) and ‘Sleuth’ (1972). I hope you keep enjoying the locations in this blog – which location do you think I should do next? Have you been anywhere that Doctor Who has been filmed? Please leave a comment with your answer to these questions, I would love to hear from you.