The Doctor’s backyard is the whole of time and space. All of the universe and beyond to explore and make his mark. The Doctor Who production team’s backyard, however, is sunny, sunny Cardiff. With limited budgets and time, it’s understandable that the team use – and reuse – the resources on their doorstep.
If you’ve paid enough attention over the years you might just have noticed that some locations and sets have starred as different places in different episodes – but just how many times have they visited that quarry, that castle, that park?
Did you spot these?
1. Llansannor Court – Cowbridge, Wales
This is Llansannor Court, Wales. Or to you and me, the home of Lady Eddison in 2008’s The Unicorn and the Wasp. Or the home of Me in 2015’s The Woman Who Lived. Or Torchwood House, ‘Scottish’ residence of Queen Victoria and home of the werewolf in 2006’s Tooth and Claw. Yep, this house has been used quite a bit. Unsurprising really, it’s a beautiful estate.
2. Coedarhydyglyn House – Cardiff, Wales
In 2012’s The Angels Take Manhattan Amy, River and the Doctor go to Grayle’s House to try to find Rory. Six years earlier in 2006, they would have found the Cybermen – it was also Pete and Jackie Tyler’s lovely home in episodes Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel and Doomsday. It also posed as Amy and Rory’s anniversary present from the Doctor – the Savoy hotel in series seven’s The Power of Three. Recognise that stairwell?
3. Eddie’s Diner – Cardiff Bay, Cardiff
This 1950’s style diner has been used twice in two massive story lines. 2011’s The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon and 2015’s Hell Bent. At the end of that series nine finale, Clara went through the toilet door and into her very own console room, meaning that the diner is in fact a kind of disguise for the TARDIS. Which would make sense, as 2011’s opener saw the Eleventh Doctor emerge from the same door with his TARDIS visible in the background. The diner itself is in Cardiff and is now a tourist spot for fans.
4. The Wales Millennium Centre – Cardiff
If you need a futuristic hospital, this art centre-cum-theatre is clearly the way to go, with the building having been used for both the “Cat Hospital” as seen in 2006 episode New Earth and the “time-streamed” hospital from 2011 episode The Girl Who Waited. It’s also played the building where the Master makes his first address as UK Prime Minister in 2007’s The Sound of Drums, so it’s good at public-sector work in general.
The building’s exterior has also popped up a few times in episodes like Last of the Time Lords and Boom Town, as well as in Cardiff-set spin-off Torchwood.
5. Dyffren Gardens – Vale of Glamorgan, Wales
Speaking of The Girl Who Waited, that episode also features one of Doctor Who’s most significant reused locations – this garden on the Dyffren Estate, which appears as part of Amy’s hospital in that episode only to reappear as Missy’s “Heaven” virtual reality in 2014 episode Deep Breath (above), with actress Michelle Gomez hinting that could be no coincidence…
But that’s not the only time we’ve seen this garden – it previously turned up in The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2009 episode The Eternity Trap (above) and in Torchwood for 2007’s Something Borrowed (below). Clearly, if new spin-off Class doesn’t film there too it will never be a true part of the Whoniverse.
6.The Dyffren Estate (again) – Vale of Glamorgan, Wales
God, they love the Dyffren. Outside of the oft-used garden (above), the Edwardian house and grounds have represented the French palace gardens of King Louis XV in The Girl in the Fireplace (2006), Churchill’s office in The Wedding of River Song (2011) and CAL’s database in Forest of the Dead (2008).
7. Clearwell caves – Gloucestershire, England
The second series of New Who spent a lot of time at these Gloucestershire caves, with the formation doubling for both the Sycorax spaceship in David Tennant’s debut episode The Christmas Invasion and the titular Satan Pit from 2006 two-parter The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit.
8. Fforest Fawr – Powys, Wales
This Welsh woodland appeared most notably as the home of Robin Hood and his merry men in 2014’s Robot of Sherwood, though it’s also turned up in 2013 episode The Bells of St John, 2014’s In the Forest of the Night and recent two-parter The Girl Who Died/The Woman Who Lived.
9. Castell Coch – Tongwynlais, Wales
This red-themed courtyard and keep stood in for the German UNIT base Martha visits in 2008 finale Journey’s End, the Calvierri castle in 2010’s Vampires of Venice and the home of the new Cybermen in 2013’s Nightmare in Silver. Still versatile in its old age, eh?
10. Southerndown Beach – Mid Glamorgan, Wales
A generic beach can be handy for Doctor Who, with this particular location standing in for two alien planets (unnamed in 2006’s Army of Ghosts and as Alfava Metraxis in 2010’s The Time of Angels), a parallel universe (in the Tenth Doctor and Rose’s tearjerking farewell in 2006 finale Doomsday and 2008’s Journey’s End) and the power converters for a spaceship (in 2012’s Dinosaurs on a Spaceship). And the cliff was also the site of a monastery in 2012’s The Bells of St John.
11. Cosmeston Medieval Village
This handy pre-built medieval village has appeared in both Robot of Sherwood (2014) and The Girl Who died (2015), where it was home to Maisie Williams’s young Viking Ashildr and was attacked by a fake Odin and his Mire army.
12. The National Museum of Wales – Cardiff, Wales
This is definitely one of Doctor Who’s most popular locations, over the years having stood in for Van Staten’s alien exhibition hall in 2005’s Dalek, the site of Professor Lazarus’s demonstration in 2007’s The Lazarus Experiment, the gallery that was robbed in 2009’s Planet of the Dead, the Musée Dorsay in 2010’s Vincent and the Doctor (below, with the exterior doors filmed at the Millennium Centre) and the museum seen in series five finale The Big Bang.
More recently, the location has appeared as different museums in 2013 anniversary special The Day of the Doctor and 2014 episode In the Forest of the Night (both below).
13. Neath Abbey – Neath, Wales
It’s played two different versions of the Tower of London (the UNIT lab in 2012’s The Power of Three and the spaceship version in 2010’s The Beast Below), a monster-infested crypt in Vincent and the Doctor and a chapel in 2011’s The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People – not bad for a little abbey from Swansea, eh?
14. Cardiff Castle – Cardiff, Wales
Cardiff Castle played a huge part as the primary location in instant-classic 2015 episode Heaven Sent, but by that point it was already a Whoniverse veteran.
Used for 2013’s The Name of the Doctor, 2012’s The Snowmen, 2011’s The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People as well as several Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood episodes, it’s basically location royalty.
Also notable is the fact that, like Neath Abbey (above), the castle has been used as a Tower of London stand-in – though in this case the location was used for Steven Moffat’s OTHER Cardiff-filmed series, Sherlock. Versatile place, Cardiff.