Tag Archives: Jo Grant

No Man’s Fort, The Solent, Hampshire – October 2015

Tom and No Man's Fort in the background
Tom and No Man’s Fort in the background

Ahoy there and welcome to No Man’s Fort – a fort in the middle of the Solent, filming location for Classic Doctor Who episode The Sea Devils (1972) ! I was very lucky to be a guest of AmaZing Venues and Solent Forts so that I could report on No Man’s Fort for my Project Indigo readers.

In case you haven’t heard of The Solent, it is a strait, or narrow channel of water, that separates the mainland from the Isle of Wight. I left my house early in the morning to travel to Portsmouth and parked my TARDIS at the Historic Dockyard. I checked in at the Solent Forts office at Gunwharf Quays and mooched about the shops until it was time to get the boat.

City Quay at the Spinnaker Tower
Look at The Spinnaker Tower!

We embarked at City Quay and caught the boat called the Ashleigh R. While I was waiting I had a great view of The Spinnaker Tower which was being painted. It was covered in people dangling off the tower that looked like little ants wearing crash helmets! The waves were very bumpy and on the way out to sea we followed a ferry on it’s way to Spain. The sea rippled like snakeskin and on the top deck it was like walking on a moving bus. First we dropped people off at Spitbank Fort then carried on to No Man’s. The poor Doctor had to get a dinghy to the fort as he couldn’t use his TARDIS.

Approaching No Man's Fort by boat
Approaching No Man’s Fort

In The Sea Devils the Third Doctor and Jo Grant visit the sea fort to investigate why ships in the area are mysteriously disappearing. In the episode the sea fort was being converted to a SONAR Testing Station. As we approached the fort it looked smaller from the outside than I expected. Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning had to climb a ladder to get on to the fort which looked very dangerous but I was relieved that I had to walk up a ramp instead! I was expecting the fort to be dark and gloomy – instead it was light and cheerful as it has been converted into a luxury hotel which opened in April 2015.

On arrival at the fort the Doctor and Jo were attacked – but I was very kindly greeted and welcomed onto the fort with a drink and a chance to relax in the Atrium. The adults were given a glass of Champagne. Children are not normally allowed on the fort but they made a special exception for me!

Next all the visitors were given a guided tour of the fort and learnt about it’s history. No Man’s Fort is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is one of 30 forts built to defend the UK from the French under the orders of the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. Work started in 1865 and continued into the 1880s but it was never used and a shot was never fired in anger. The forts became known as ‘Palmerston’s Follies’ because by the time they were completed the threat had passed and the technology was out of date. The fort is now owned by AmaZing Venues, founded by Mike Clare, along with Spitbank Fort and Horse Sand Fort in the Solent. Spitbank is also a hotel and Horse Sand is currently home to lots of sea birds but will become a museum in the future.

Lunch in the Mess Hall at No Man's Fort
Enjoying my pudding!

After the tour it was time for lunch. We had a buffet lunch in the Mess Hall on the Lower Level, and I filled up on delicious bread and butter and Indian rice as I have a wobbly K-9 tooth. I did manage to eat chocolate and nut brownies and apple for pudding.

Scrabble on the Deck Level at No Man's Fort
Scrabble on the Deck Level

After lunch we were free to explore wherever we wanted. My companion and I took Scrabble up to the top-deck and played a game whilst enjoying views of the Isle of Wight, which I had only just visited on holiday. It was definitely the most picturesque setting for a Scrabble match and I won-thanks to a triple-letter score on the last round! Also on the deck were a boules track, Jacktar’s bar, a Hot House, a Fire Pit, a BBQ area and some Hot Tubs. There was even a Helipad which could be useful for materialising a TARDIS!

There was an even better view from the top of the lighthouse – it was panoramic and I could see the Isle of Wight and the mainland and I used some binoculars to see clearly.

he panoramic view from the lighthouse on No Man's Fort.
Checking out the panoramic view from the lighthouse.

Next I went down to the Upper Level and explored the luxurious hotel rooms. The rooms were named after famous ships. My favourite was HMS Victory. There was a portrait of Horatio Nelson on the wall – in the Sea Devils the Doctor says that he knew Nelson personally.

Nelson at No Man's Fort
Horatio on the wall

The walls in the corridor were decorated with quotes by Winston Churchill – but I didn’t see my favourite ‘K.B.O’! There lots of places to relax including a snooker room, a pool room and a games room. In the episode Clark and Hickman played cards to relax whilst they were staying on the fort, until they were interrupted by a Sea Devil. I bet they would have liked having all these rooms to play games in. There was even a French Bar on the Lower Level.

The bottom level was the Sea Level bunker and the tunnels felt the most likely place on the fort to run into a Sea Devil! I saw a LaZer Battle arena which looked like it would be a lot of fun and a war museum where I bumped into the Doctor’s old pal Churchie aka Winston Churchill! I could hear the sea rippling against the side and I wondered if I was standing right above the Sea Devil’s base which was discovered beneath the foundations of the fort.

In the Sea Level Bunker of No Man's Fort
Is there a Sea Devil round the corner?

Sadly at 4 o’clock it was time to go back to Portsmouth and it was back to the Embarkation Hall to board the Ashleigh R on the bumpy sea. I really enjoyed my special trip to No Man’s Fort and would love to return another day. All the staff and my fellow visitors were so friendly and welcoming and the whole day was a real adventure.

Thank you so much to AmaZing Venues and Solent Forts for making it possible for me and my companion to visit such a special place, we are both very grateful. If you would like to visit No Man’s Fort yourself, for lunch or to stay overnight, please find out more here.

In my last post I said I would be writing about a special museum – that will actually be NEXT time as I was so keen to tell you about my visit to No Man’s Fort straightaway! I hope you will join me for my next adventure through time and space.

Anchors Aweigh!

(Disclosure – my companion and I were invited guests at No Man’s Fort but all words and opinions are my own.)

Day 1, Film & Comic Con Bournemouth, Dorset – August 2015

Tom with Sylvester McCoy
Hello Sylvester McCoy aka MY Doctor, the Seventh Doctor!

Hello and welcome to another post.

Today I am writing what will be a very long post about Film & Comic Con Bournemouth because it is JAM PACKED with Doctor Who actors. This was the very first Film & Comic Con in my home town of Bournemouth and the organisers Showmasters were very kind and gave me a Press Pass so that I could interview all the Doctor Who stars for my Project Indigo readers!

I was very excited and knew that I would ask everybody my three Golden Questions:

  1. What is your favourite Doctor Who episode?

  2. What is your favourite Doctor Who filming location? and

  3. If you could go anywhere in time and space where would you like to go?

As soon as I arrived I went to meet the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, because he is my favourite Classic Doctor and I have been looking forward to this moment for a long time! Sylvester was just as I imagined and he was incredibly cheerful and was pleased to answer my questions.

I asked Sylvester my questions. He said that his favourite episode ever is the first one he saw, a Patrick Troughton episode but his favourite Seventh Doctor episode is possibly The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (1988) – my favourite Classic episode. What a co-incidence!

Sylvester’s favourite filming locations are both right here in Dorset! He enjoyed filming The Curse of Fenric (1989) at Lulworth Cove and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy and Survival (1989) in a sandpit in Dorset (Warmwell Quarry which I visited in October 2014). Later, in a talk that Sylvester gave with Bonnie Langford and Sophie Aldred , he said that he liked filming Survival in the sandpit because there was a heatwave and one of the ladies overheated in her cat costume and stripped off and ran away!

Bonnie Langford, Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred at Film & Comic Con Bournemouth
The Doctor Who talk at Film & Comic Con Bournemouth

If Sylvester could go anywhere in time and space he would like to visit America before the Westerners arrived to see what is was like. He said that as the Doctor he would not want to change anything he would just like to observe.

I felt so happy to meet Sylvester and relieved that I had finally met him as I tried once before but had to leave before I got the chance. He is the Fourth Doctor I have met and I feel like Project Indigo has been given a real boost by meeting him!

Next I met Terry Molloy (Davros), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) and Sophie Aldred (Ace). I have already asked them my golden questions before when I met them at the Timeless Collector’s Fair and The Bournemouth Invasion so I just had a little chat with each of them and welcomed them to Bournemouth. It was Sarah’s first visit to Bournemouth but Terry used to live in Bournemouth when he was a teenager. I spoke to Sophie about her new audio drama Strangeness in Space which is for anyone aged 8-80 to enjoy! It sounds really fun and I am definitely going to listen to it soon.

Tom and Bonnie Langford
Hello Bonnie Langford aka Mel!

After Sophie I met Bonnie Langford aka Mel Bush, companion to the Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Like everyone else she was very kind and answered my questions. Bonnie can never remember any titles of episodes but her favourites are the ones with Daleks in them.

Her favourite Doctor Who filming location is anywhere indoors! She said it would always rain on location – except for when they filmed Delta and the Bannermen (1987) on Barry Island. It was really sunny then but everyone got sunburnt!

If Bonnie could go anywhere in time and space she would like to visit Hollywood in its heyday and dance with Gene Kelly.

Tom and Matthew Waterhouse
Hello Matthew Waterhouse aka Adric!

Then I went to talk to Matthew Waterhouse who played one of my favourite ever companions Adric , the companion to the Fourth and Fifth Doctor, from Alzarius. I really hope the Doctor will have another alien companion one day as it was always really good when the companions were from another planet. Please make that happen Stephen, if you’re reading!

Although it is many years since he played Adric Matthew still looks like him. Matthew’s favourite episode that he was in was Keeper of Traken (1981), but other than that it was Spearhead from Space (1970) which was an episode he watched when he was 7 and he was very scared by it! His favourite filming location was Tunbridge Wells as the crew stayed in a hotel for a week and had lots of fun.

Matthew liked the idea of pressing a button in the TARDIS and landing anywhere but if had to choose he would love to go to Elizabethan England and see Shakespeare’s plays performed by his original players. That is just like the Tenth Doctor and Martha in The Shakespeare Code!

I was very pleased to meet Matthew, it is always good to meet someone nice but even better when you admire them. My companion bought a copy of Matthew’s autobiography ‘Blue Box Boy’ so we could learn all about his time in the TARDIS!

Tom and Dan Starkey
Hello Dan Starkey – aka Strax!

Next to Matthew was Dan Starkey who plays the Sontaran Strax who is part of the Paternoster Gang. It felt very strange looking at him as his normal self and looking at him as Strax but I recognised him as I have seen him in Wizards vs Aliens and on University Challenge. Luckily he doesn’t have the attitude of Strax because Strax is VERY weird!

Dan’s favourite episode is The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977), but out of the episodes he is in it is The Snowmen (2012). His favourite filming location was filming The Snowmen at Treberfydd House as he was able to stay at his Mum and Dad’s!

If Dan could go anywhere in time and space he would like to see Stonehenge being built. I wonder if the Pandorica is still there?

Tom and John Leeson
Hello John Leeson – the voice of K-9!

When I met John Leeson who is the voice of K-9 he was a very polite gentleman. He told me, in the voice of K-9, that his favourite episode is The Sun Makers (1977) by Robert Holmes.

John’s favourite filming locations were anywhere not far from home as he doesn’t like driving for miles. If he could go anywhere he would love to go to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire and have a very nice lunch. He says he has never been there before but would love to go there one day, I hope that his dream comes true.

Tom and K-9
The original K-9!

John was sat with Mat Irvine who was the Visual Effects Supervisor and he had brought along K-9 himself! It was great to meet K-9 and his voice – a double whammy.

Tom and William Russell

Next I went to meet William Russell who played Ian Chesterton one of the first companions who accompanied the First Doctor, William Hartnell, and he was first seen in the very first episode of Doctor Who, An Unearthly Child (1963). There was a long queue to meet William.

William said that his favourite episode is The Aztecs (1964) and he told me all about filming a fight scene for the episode. He didn’t have a favourite Doctor Who filming location as in those days it was mostly filmed in a studio.

William said that if he could go anywhere in time and space he would choose to be right here as he was happy at that moment. Isn’t that lovely? It was a special honour to meet William and I feel so happy to have met him.

Tom and Camille Coduri

After William I met Camille Coduri who played Jackie Tyler – Rose’s mother. Camille was in the very first episode of New Who Rose (2005) and appeared many times until The End of Time (2010). Camille loves lots of episodes – including Blink (2007), Doomsday (2006) and The Christmas Invasion (2005). There were too many favourites to choose from.

Her favourite filming location is the estate where the Tyler’s lived because she said it was always a lot of fun filming there. If Camille could go anywhere in time and space she would like to go the Sixties as they seemed good fun – just like Camille who was a lot of fun herself!

Tom and Rusty Goffe
Hello Rusty Goffe aka Little John!

From Camille I went to see Rusty Goffe – the United Kingdom’s No1 Dwarf! Rusty appeared as Little John in Robot of Sherwood (2014) and that is his favourite episode. He liked filming on location at Forest Fawr and Caerphilly Castle and said that the Merry Men were having so much fun in the forest that they didn’t want to leave!

If Rusty could go anywhere he would go to Samui in Thailand – and he said he would go there right now in a TARDIS if he could as he has been before and loves it there! Rusty was a very nice chap, I hope he gets to go again soon.

Tom and Doctor Squee from Gallifrey Stands Podcast
Hello Doctor Squee!

My final interview of the day was with Katy Manning who played Jo Grant, the Third Doctor’s companion. I met up with Doctor Squee from the Gallifrey Stands Podcast who was waiting to interview Katy too and he let me go first. Thank you Doctor Squee!

Tom and Katy Manning
Hello Katy Manning aka Jo Grant!

Katy had been flooded by fans all day and I was lucky to get some time with her. Katy’s favourite episodes were Terror of the Autons (1971) because that is where she met her Doctor Who family and also The Green Death (1973) – she told me how Jo and Cliff went into the Amazon looking for a magical fungus and that story predicted Quorn! Thank you Jo for discovering Quorn as I am a vegetarian and I eat A LOT of Quorn.

I asked Katy what her favourite location was and she didn’t have one because she was always filming in a cold claypit! Even when she filmed The Sarah Jane Adventures it was freezing. If she could go anywhere in time and space she would go ‘EVERYWHERE because she is greedy and loves adventure!’ Katy was very cheeky and it was great to meet her.

Day One at the Film & Comic Con Bournemouth was very tiring but it was an honour to meet so many stars. Thank you to everyone for a fantastic day and especially to Showmasters for making this happen. Soon I will be able to tell you all about Day 2, I hope you will come back soon.

Goodbye!