Tag Archives: doctor who

Doctor Who filming locations in Cardiff

Beth Girdler-Maslen takes a tour around some locations in Cardiff that you can see on the small screen! Fans of Doctor Who and Torchwood, take note! 

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Doctor Who is a cult classic television programme that is out of this world, in storylines and in Daleks. Exploring outer space is something that not many of us normal people (who aren’t timelords) get a chance to do, which makes Cardiff the perfect place to take a walk down memory lane and discover the amazing filming locations of the iconic BBC show. The Doctor Who Experience sadly closed down a year ago, but there are many walking guides and other places to indulge in your ‘Who’ obsession. Here’s a Cardiff based guide for Doctor Who locations to follow and maybe find some aliens along the way.

Cardiff Bay

Big wheel and Pierhead building, Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay is the perfect place to go for all BBC filming sets, with Sherlock, Torchwood and Doctor Who all being filmed there. Roald Dahl Plass is the home to The Hub, Torchwood’s headquarters, a spin-off to Doctor Who. On the Space-Time Rift, the TARDIS can also use this spot to re-fuel. The Millennium Centre has been used for scenes in Doctor Who and appears in the background for Torchwood. The lobby has been used for hospital scenes, like the Cat Hospital in the 2006 ‘New Earth’ episode and another hospital for the 2011 episode, ‘The Girl Who Waited’. A little bit further down the bay, you can find The Shrine to Ianto Jones, a permanent memorial celebrating the life of the Torchwood character who ‘died’ in 2009. I had a look at it not too long ago, wondering who he was and was surprised and confused to see so many tributes from people all over the world, from Spain, France and Finland, to name a few. A weird and whacky find for those who would like to pay tribute and for others to have a bit of a giggle. Eddie’s Diner is used in two episodes and is a disguise for the TARDIS. Clara goes through a toilet door to a console room in the series 9 finale and Matt Smith later enters through that door. The American diner is now a regular tourist spot.

Cardiff Castle

Photo by johnpeterfarrell on Instagram

Cardiff Castle has been used for multiple episodes in Torchwood, the Sarah-Jane Adventures and Doctor Who as well as Sherlock (it’s the castle where Moriarty stole the crown jewels). It was used for the series 6 two-part episode ‘The Rebel Flesh’ and ‘Almost People’ as well as ‘The Snowmen’, the Christmas special episode.

National Museum of Wales

Photo by bmpdenyc on Instagram

Again, the National Museum is in lots of episodes of Doctor Who, like ‘Dalek’, ‘The Lazarus Experiment’ and ‘The Big Bang’. Its probably most memorable for ‘The Day of the Doctor’ 50th anniversary special with previous doctors, David Tennant, Matt Smith and John Hurt. An alien exhibition was held there, Vincent Van Gough visited, and it has been used as a base for different museums seen in the show.

St Fagans National History Museum

Photo by lizzie.eats.explores on Instagram

As an open-air museum documenting Welsh life from decades ago, St Fagans was the perfect setting for the two-part episode ‘Human Nature/The Family of Blood’, set in 1913. ‘The Woman Who Lived’ was also filmed there for series 9, starring Maisie Williams.

Queen Street

Photo by Nzachar on Instagram

Best known for shopping and a very popular place in the city of Cardiff, filming Doctor Who was a public affair with tons of fans pouring in to catch a glimpse of Peter Capaldi. Who can blame them, when the Doctor, the TARDIS and Cybermen were in the centre of Cardiff?

Cardiff University

Cardiff University, by mrbachmeier on Instagram

The Main Building of Cardiff University is consistently used as the fictional Bristol-based St Luke’s University for the Doctor’s companion studies. Alexandra Gardens, a beautiful garden behind the main building and near the Bute building is the location for the series 3 finale ‘Last of the Time Lords’. The angels in the gardens also look like the angels from ‘Don’t Blink’, which is something to keep in mind as you walk through!

Westgate Street

Champions League Final, Cardiff 2017

Take a walk along Westgate Street and you’ll find a hidden alleyway, that the Doctor and Clara found in ‘Face the Raven’ and where Clara meets her death. A sad visit but an exciting one, where you can disappear down a secret street.

Southerndown Beach

A bit outside of Cardiff but worth the journey, Southerndown Beach has been used for numerous episodes but the most memorable and heart-breaking one has to be Rose’s exit from the show. Dead in her own universe and stuck in another, Rose and the Doctor meet on the beach to say their final goodbye. A tear-jerker episode and a beautiful place to visit for all the Whovians to re-enact the emotional moment.

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This piece was by Beth Girdler-Maslen – Beth is an English Literature and Journalism graduate, with a love of books, running and pugs. An aspiring author and journalist, you’ll mostly find her compulsively writing or with her nose in a book. Follow Beth’s Instagram: @bethgirdlerm / Follow Beth’s Blog – Reading On The Treadmill

A-Z of Cardiff – D is for Daleks …

Writer Katie Hamer is busily discovering parts of the city and revealing them through her We Are Cardiff series, the A-Z of what makes Cardiff special to her. She’ll be sharing the parts of the city she finds with you over the following weeks, so stay tuned! 

D is for Daleks


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I had real difficulty deciding on what my ‘D’ could be.

Then I remembered a conversation I had with an American friend. She said that my previous articles had opened her eyes to a whole new Cardiff. Before, she’d only known the city from the Doctor Who television series. Eureka! I had a light bulb moment from talking to her. I’d found the answer to my quest – D is for Daleks!

With this new idea in mind, I decided to investigate the Doctor Who Experience. I booked a time-slot online, which is very easy to do, printed out my e-tickets, and planned my train journey there.

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The venue is in a prime location in Cardiff Bay, very near to the Norwegian Church and Welsh Assembly buildings. On arrival, you’re invited on an interactive journey, hosted by eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith. It’s suitable for children, and adults of all ages, and holds you captive for half an hour. There’s set time slots for this guided part. After that, you’re free to explore the exhibits in the main museum for as long as you want.

This visit brought a lot of memories back. I started watching Doctor Who when I was very little. I always watched with my older brother, with whom I had many squabbles over what channel to watch, even though there were only three back then. However, when Doctor Who showed, we’d be glued to the box. We still had our difference of opinion on the show though, especially about who was our favourite doctor. 

My brother was a huge fan of Tom Baker, whereas Peter Davison was my favourite. Tom, with his booming voice and non-smiling appearance lent to the show an incredibly powerful theatrical presence. I can see the appeal now, but was very spooked by watching him at the time. Even so, when my brother, also called Tom, received a Tom Baker Doctor Who action figure for his sixth birthday, I couldn’t deny being a little envious.

Peter Davison had a completely different take on the role, playing a much more bright and breezy character. I warmed to him, with his comparative vulnerability, and indecisiveness in the face of danger. For me, there was every bit as much drama and tension in the episodes in which he starred. Inexplicably, he dressed as an Edwardian cricketer. I wonder if the BBC can explain that one?

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It’s very much to the show’s credit, that they haven’t turned succeeding Doctors into clones. Each Doctor has been an established talent, who has added something unique to the role. I can’t fault their selection. My only suggestion to the production team is that, perhaps they could introduce a female doctor, with a male sidekick? Now that would be interesting!

Like many children growing up on Doctor Who, I have very clear memories of hiding behind the settee during scary parts. I remember being terrified of the Daleks, with their role call of “Exterminate, exterminate!” They could move scarily swiftly, proving to be extremely deadly enemies for the Doctor and his accomplices. They had one Achilles’ heel, however; their inability to climb stairs.

I had to see the Daleks for myself. Would they be less scary, menacing in real life, than I remembered as a child? Would they appear smaller in size, as I had grown?

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I have to admit, upon seeing them in the exhibition that they still have a sinister place in my imagination. Their presence is very intimidating. What I hadn’t realised, but which amazed me, was how each new generation of Daleks evolved from the previous one. The Daleks changed, alongside the Doctor. Long may they continue their reign of terror!

The Doctor Who Experience also organise walking tours of the Bay. These tours take in a 1.5mile route, exploring many important filming locations, and last about an hour. The Experience website states “Walking Tours are being held every Friday/Saturday/Sunday from Saturday 14 June – Sunday 20 July [with] further dates to be announced”. The tours were fully booked up when I attended; they tend to book quickly. However, I may return yet to take in these sights. Watch this space!

Find further information about the Doctor Who Experience

Who was your favourite Doctor? What most scared you? Feel free to share your own reminiscences in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

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