Doctor Who walking tour in Wales

Cardiff Bay is a pivotal setting for the adventures of Doctor Who and Torchwood – here’s how to walk in David Tennant and Matt Smith's steps

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Doctor Who walking tour in Wales
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Doctor Who, since its launch in 1963, has become the longest-running sci-fi show in the world. When the series returned to our screens in 2005 the show’s chief writer, Russell T Davies (born in Swansea) moved the production to Wales, making Cardiff both the home location for the show’s filming and a setting for some episodes. And when the spin-off series Torchwood kicked off in 2006, the alien- hunters’ home base, The Hub, was established as being in the heavily regenerated Cardiff Bay — the rebirth of the bay from post-Second World War industrial malaise and Doctor Who’s regeneration from TV inertia having occurred at the same time, 2004—2006. The city and surrounding area are dotted with locations for both series. Dedicated Whovians can take a four- hour bus tour of the city (and visit the Doctor Who Experience in London’s Olympia), but this short walk around Cardiff Bay takes in key locations.

Distance: Half a mile. Time: An hour

START

Roald Dahl Plass, named after the Cardiff-born author, sits directly in front of the architecturally impressive Wales Millennium Centre and The Senedd (the Welsh Assembly building). The 70ft-high stainless steel Water Tower in the plaza’s centre can’t be missed. This was where the time rift hidden below Cardiff funnelled out through the Tardis in Doctor Who’s 2005 episode Boom Town and, in Torchwood’s first episode, Everything Changes (2006), a secret “lift” entrance to The Hub appeared here. Look across to the entrance to the Millennium Centre. This is where Van Gogh’s exhibition was held in Doctor Who’s 2010 episode Vincent and the Doctor. Walk south to The Senedd and you’ll find that not even the home of Welsh democracy has escaped being a location for Doctor Who. The interior of this striking structure — opened in 2006 — was used in The Lazarus Experiment. Then, almost directly in front of The Senedd, you’ll see the imposing, red-brick Pierhead Building — backdrop for David Tennant’s Doctor chatting with his companions Captain Jack Harkness and Martha Jones in 2007’s Last of the Time Lords.


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BARTS HOSPITAL

IANTO’S SHRINE

Head down to the water’s edge, passing under the bridge, turn right and you’ll see an unassuming doorway behind a grill. This was the entrance to The Hub in Torchwood. Since the death of the character Ianto Jones in episode four of the story Children of Earth (2009), an impromptu shrine has grown, with fans leaving letters, poems and flowers for the deceased team member (played by Welsh actor Gareth David-Lloyd). Proof, if proof were needed, of the huge affection in which these characters are held!

TERRAIN

Easy stroll through a pedestrianised area.

GETTING THERE

From Cardiff Central station, catch a train to Cardiff Bay, 0.2 miles from Roald Dahl Plass. Exit onto Lloyd George Avenue and head south. Or take a Route 8 bus to the Plass from Cardiff City Centre.

PITSTOPS

The west side of Cardiff Bay has lots of restaurants, bars and pubs. The Norwegian Church Arts Centre, south east of the Plass, formerly a Norwegian sailors’ church, is now a stylish bar and coffee house,

and hosts art exhibitions and concerts (norwegianchurch cardiff.com)

MAPS

OS Explorer 151

MORE INFO

visitcardiff.com, cardiffbay.co.uk

Images courtesy of Fitzpartrick Woolmer


Visit Wales with Radio Times Travel, 3 nights from only £189 – see here for more info