Monday, 5 March 2012

A Doctor Who Bus Tour - Cardiff 2011 Review

If you know me, you know that I LOVE Doctor Who. However, I will admit, I was a complete latecomer to the series, as my partner only got me into it once Matt Smith took the lead in 2010. Since then, I have gone back and watched every episode since 2005 a dozen or more times, and it’s fair to say I am completely addicted! The last year has seen me doing a lot of Doctor Who related outings, so I thought I would bring you all up to speed, before I continue to endure even more of the franchise over the coming weeks.

For my 21st birthday last year, the boyfriend treated me to a weekend in Cardiff for the Doctor Who Tour, courtesy of Brit Movie Tour . I had often hinted about this day out, and had read such rave reviews, so it was brilliant to be spending my birthday this way. Here's some of the best bits:-

The tour started at Cardiff Castle, where my partner had decided to dress up in his Doctor gear, along with the much younger kids who were also on the tour. We were then introduced to our tour guide David (who was brill and had such knowledge of the city and surrounding areas which were used in the series!) who provided us with an introduction of himself, what the tour would entail and gave everyone his mobile phone number just in case anyone needed to get in contact with him during the tour. First of all, he took us around the city centre, pin-pointing spots filmed in the first 2005 episode 'Rose', the Christmas specials, ‘Closing Time’ and the church from Catherine Tate’s first episode, the 'Runaway Bride'. 
 We then hopped on the tour bus to the Art Gallery, where they filmed many episodes including Matt Smiths 'Vincent and the Doctor' and ‘The Big Bang’ from series 5. We were given a good 20 minutes to walk around the building and soak up the atmosphere, as well as taking as many pictures as we liked.
 The next stop was a little village about 20mins from the centre of Cardiff. This was where the majority of the scenes from Matt Smith's first episode, 'The Eleventh Hour' were filmed. Here, me and my partner were picked from the crowd to re-enact a scene, aided with a script, played out by The Doctor and Amy Pond, as they run into the centre of 'Leadworth' after fleeing from Prisoner Zero. Personally, I loved this part of the tour, as the village was no different to how it is viewed on screen, and being chosen to re-enact one of my favourite scenes was awesome. We were then asked to re-enact the scene which takes place on 'Leadworth Green' where the locals take photos of the sun through the forcefield made by the Atraxi. I have included the photo below, but you can only see the back of my head! - Luke's bad photography skills. The village's green was also used in the 10th Doctor/David Tennant episode, ‘Family of Blood', where the memorial was the main focus.
 After hopping back onto the bus, we visited the spots from David Tennants episodes of 'Human Nature'/'Family of Blood', including the shop used as a back drop when the Doctor saves a child from a falling piano buy throwing a cricket ball, and the hall where the school dance takes place. These were found in the National History Museum in St Fagans, which I recommend for a day out. You can even buy fresh bread and cakes! 
Next off we went to the house owned by Sarah-Jane Smith in the Sarah-Jane Adventures. I had only watched a few episodes prior to this visit, but I was still well aware of the unique looking building. Our tour guide provided lots of information about Sarah-Jane's character in Doctor Who, and how sad it was to learn of her passing. 
 Our tour guide David provided a mini quiz for the bus ride back to the city centre, where all the adults were overthrown by the children concerning Doctor Who knowledge - it was great fun for everyone! He also passed round a photo of him from when he met Matt Smith and Karen Gillan when filming Doctor Who Confidential at Caerphilly Castle. You can find this video here:- and my post on when I visited Caerphilly Castle the following year, here:- 

When we arrived back into Cardiff Bay we were able to wonder around the Millennium Centre, where a huge amount of old and new scenes have taken place, such as Tennants ‘New Earth’ and Smiths ‘The Girl Who Waited’. We were also pointed to where 'The Rift' opened, now known as the ‘Torchwood Hub’ and to the American Diner used in the Series 6 episode 'The Impossible Astronaut'.
 An added little gem to the day was when David took us to Matt Smiths popular haunt, a pub located in Cardiff Bay with the most amazing entrance doors! Needless to say, me and the boyfriend have enjoyed a cocktail/beer or two in there since.
Our last location brought us to the park where Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) filmed a large number of her shots during the first two series, but is known most for the action-packed 'Bad Wolf' episode, which sees Christopher Eccleston in his last scenes. David pointed out how the 'Bad Wolf' writing is still clearly visible on some of the brick walls.
My favourite part of the weekend had to be lunch in 'Eddies Diner'. I am a HUGE fan of the Matt Smith series and I made sure I sat exactly where the doctor himself sat before he went off to meet his death in the opening scene of the dramatic 'The Impossible Astronaut', series 6. The lunch in the diner itself was fantastic, the staff were excellent and everything on the menu was reasonably priced! We loved the place so much we later went back for evening cocktails! Visit their website HERE
(Second Image: Courtesy of the BBC)

Overall, the Doctor Who bus tour of Cardiff was an absolutely brilliant day out, worth every penny and made my 21st birthday extra special. I'll never forget the day and it really  did begin igniting my passion for finding film and TV locations with the same enthusiasm shown by the tour guides themselves. I hope one day I can pass on the information I have learnt about the show to younger people who love Doctor Who as much as me! I would definitely book a tour with this company again. 

To book your Doctor Who tour or to find out more about the tour go to: