Thursday, 28 May 2015

Doctor Who: On location in Cardiff for Season 9

For a Doctor Who fan, getting the chance to watch some location filming up close and personal is surely there on the bucket list? You get to see a scene or two played out in front of you, your favourite characters are in full costume and you might be able to grab a selfie and autograph or two. But by its very nature, you can’t plan for it, and that’s what makes the experience so sweet.

Crashing a location shoot relies on being in the right place at the right time. Having booked tickets for the Cardiff leg of the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular some four months previously, it was always a hope that the visit would tie-in with some filming, but what were the chances of finding out in good time, and what if they were in a private location or the studio those days?   

I’d already been alerted that filming had taken place on Friday 22nd May at Canal Park, sitting somewhere between Cardiff Bay and the city centre. This felt like awful timing – why couldn’t I have been there that day? But then the word on the street was that filming at the location would continue on the Bank Holiday Monday (the same day as the concert) and minutes away from my hotel.

And so, at midday on 25th May I joined a crowd of around 30-40 fans, locals and tourists in watching a series of takes focusing on the TARDIS as The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman) and Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) said their farewells. I won’t spoil any more of the story points which have already started circulating, and the BBC had already revealed in advance that Osgood was returning for this story.
The playground location has previously appeared on the show in Army of Ghosts and where Rose spotted the ‘Bad Wolf’ graffiti in The Parting of the Ways. This time round a mysterious alien ‘paw print’ had been added to the park signage. Friday’s filming had centred on a Zygon attack in the season 9 two-parter by Peter Harness, today it was all about fond farewells. What really strikes you about watching filming is just how long everything takes, just how many people are involved, and how the lighting crew are constantly compensating for the changing light – filling in, blocking and adding light sources where required as clouds break or the sun shines.

As has previously been said many times before, Peter Capaldi loves his fans. In the 2.5 hours I was present he came over and saw fans at the barrier on four occasions, signing autographs and posing for photos. He took time to talk to everyone, asking where they’d come from and generally being as nice as you’d want him to be. Jenna Coleman and Ingrid Oliver also visited the fans and were equally polite, though understandably it was Peter who was doing the lion’s share of the work. I’d met him twice before, but seeing him kitted in his Doctor gear made it extra special.
I can’t wait to see how the scenes appear in the final episode once edited, graded and placed in the right part of the running time. Unfortunately the actors were working until 11pm that night so wouldn’t get the chance to watch the Symphonic Spectacular, and they also had to work on a Bank Holiday! A big thank you to the cast and crew for indulging this fan boy, making it feel special to be a fan and being able to witness a part of this 50+ year old phenomena.  

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