Saturday, 15 March 2014

Doctor Who Walk No.1

I decided to make the most of the lovely weather today by taking a leisurely walk along the Thames through Central London. It's a walk I've enjoyed many times, and have previously noted that it passes a number of locations that have been seen in Doctor Who. Here, then is my first DW locations walk. It follows the river eastwards from Pimlico. Why start there? Well, it's where I happen to live. The first location just happens to be right across the river from me and I see it every day:

Battersea Power Station. This was the first London landmark to appear in the programme - in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Ian notices it has lost two of its chimneys, and there is now an atomic power plant built next door. I can assure you there are no warehouses opposite the power station - though maybe there will be one in 2164. In 2006, the station featured in the programme once again - this time the location of John Lumic's Cyber-conversion factory in The Age of Steel. It also featured in early drafts of The Claws of Axos.
Continue eastwards along Grosvenor Road until you get to Vauxhall Bridge and cross over to the south bank. The remainder of the walk follows this side of the river. The next notable location we see is:

Millbank Tower - or the headquarters of International Electromatics. Tobias Vaughn's office is top floor right hand side. It is along this stretch of the Thames that the Skarasen emerges at the climax of Terror of the Zygons. As you approach Lambeth Bridge, you see the MI6 building opposite. This featured prominently in Torchwood: Children of Earth. It's where poor Ianto Jones pops his clogs. Pass through the underpass beneath the bridge.

Every time I walk past this spot, I imagine the sky full of Zeppelins. The TARDIS materialises just to the right of the snack bar - with Lambeth Palace in the background - in Rise of the Cybermen. Continue along the embankment and we are back in The Dalek Invasion of Earth territory.

Westminster Bridge, with the Houses of Parliament directly opposite. The latter are first seen in Doctor Who in the 1964 Dalek story as the pastry cutter saucer flies over them. Big Ben's biggest role is in Aliens of London, where the clock tower is smashed by the Slitheen spaceship. Those steps in the first image are the ones that Dortmun, Barbara and Jenny are seen mounting. A Dalek trundles along the stretch of embankment in the lower image and eyes the steps - wistfully, I thought. Ian and Barbara are also to be seen running along here at the conclusion of The Chase.
Go through the underpass beneath the bridge and you come to the old County Hall building.

Oh look - a Dalek! An advert for the Film & Television Museum which is in County Hall. This is one of the busiest spots in the whole of London, because it's where the Eye is located.

Used, of course, by the Nestene Consciousness to generate the Auton activation signal in Rose. Once you've fought your way through the crowds, you pass the Royal Festival Hall. Continue on towards Waterloo Bridge and you come to the South Bank complex, containing the National Theatre and the National Film Theatre.

It's looking a lot more colourful than it did when it featured in Frontier in Space. Katy Manning tells a lovely story about a group of homeless men getting the fright of their life when confronted by a squad of Ogrons when they filmed here. Make sure you check out the second-hand book stalls under Waterloo Bridge before continuing your walk. You get some nice views of St Paul's Cathedral across the river - which features in The Invasion. More about that in a future walk. The next Doctor Who location is just past Tate Modern.

These beautiful old houses on Bankside feature in The Talons of Weng-Chiang. Standing on the same spot and simply turning to the left you are confronted by:

Shakespeare's Globe. Its interior seen in The Shakespeare Code, naturally. David Tennant had his wedding reception in the bar next door, by the way. More Talons of Weng-Chiang coming up.

We're on Clink Street. Once the location for a notorious prison - and where we get that slang name for a jail from - there is now a "London Dungeon" style museum here. Many scenes from Talons were recorded along this short street, including the Doctor being narrowly missed by an axe - filmed just where the museum entrance is. Keep going towards London Bridge.

Two Doctor Who locations here - Southwark Cathedral in the foreground is where the Professor meets his doom in The Lazarus Experiment, and the Shard beyond featured as the base for Miss Kizlett and the Great Intelligence in The Bells of Saint John. Of course, the actual interiors of the cathedral were filmed at Wells Cathedral - much closer to Cardiff. Pass under London Bridge and along Tooley Street. You can rejoin the river walk by cutting through Hays Galleria. You'll see HMS Belfast, which happens to have a Doctor Who connection in that the independent video production Shakedown - which featured the Sontarans - was filmed onboard. Carry onto Tower Bridge - passing beneath it.

This is Shad Thames - location for Resurrection of the Daleks. The high walkways that once served the warehouses of Butler's Wharf are still there but the street has long been totally gentrified. Just before you pass under the first of them, on your left, is the short passage that leads to the river - where the TARDIS materialised.
You've now reached your furthest point east on this walk, so double back to Tower Bridge and cross over to the north bank. There is the Tower of London on your left - aka UNIT HQ since The Christmas Invasion - and St Katherine's Dock on the right. Go to the dock first.

You can see where the Doctor and Professor Litefoot boated to the sewer opening to rescue Leela from the giant rat in The Talons of Weng-Chiang. St Katherine's Dock also appears in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. A couple of Robomen are seen patrolling, with Butler's Wharf - where we have just come from - seen across the river. You can continue eastwards if you want to - taking in other Talons locations at Wapping and viewing Torchwood Tower at Canary Wharf. I elected to head for home - by tube from Tower Hill - so headed back towards UNIT HQ.

The Tower has been visited by the Doctor on several occasions. In a pre-An Unearthly Child story, the First Doctor got Henry VIIIth angry with him (by throwing a parson's nose at him) in order to get locked up there. That's because the TARDIS was in the Tower. During the reign of Elizabeth I, three Doctors were imprisoned there at the same time - Ten, Eleven and the War Doctor. During the reign of James I the Doctor was there and met Sir Walter Raleigh. Then, in Charles II's time, the Eleventh Doctor was locked up again - escaping by balloon, apparently.
If you want to cover the same ground, allow yourself a good three hours.

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