Since Doctor Who’s production team relocated to Cardiff with the current programme in 2005, the city has certainly been used as both itself and other locations throughout nine series and the specials. Whether it’s a Victorian Cardiff haunted by the Gelth or a modern English village, Doctor Who can go anywhere while staying right in the middle of Wales’ largest city. In the wake of Doctor Who’s popularity, Cardiff is more than happy to encourage tourists visiting to get a glimpse of the stars or revisit their favourite episodes. Many companies offer walking tours, bus tours, and you can even visit the Doctor Who Experience to get up close and personal with everyone’s favourite Time Lord. Have a look at five of the best filming locations from the programme to visit in the City of Cardiff.
National Museum of Wales
The National Museum of Wales is dedicated to the history and culture of the nation as well as featuring numerous other exhibits that bring the world to the Welsh capital. Anyplace full of that much history is bound to attract a programme about time traveling, and Doctor Who has used the museum as a filming location several times. Lady Christina steals a diamond from the museum in “Planet of the Dead”, where it doubles for the National Gallery, a role it would play again in “The Day of the Doctor”. It also played the role of the British Museum in “The Big Bang”. The National Museum features as the event gala for “The Lazarus Experiment” and as other museums such as the Musee D’Orsay in “Vincent and the Doctor” and Henry Van Statton’s alien artifact collection in “Dalek”.
Anyone wanting to visit the Ponds’ home village of Leadworth need only go a little northwest of Cardiff Bay to Llandaff. “The Eleventh Hour” was filmed almost entirely in the village and features The White House (Mrs. Angelo and Jeff’s place) and the Cathedral Green (where everyone snaps photos of the Sun). What’s more, this episode wasn’t the first time that Llandaff was used in filming. Llandaff Cathedral itself appeared in “Vincent and the Doctor” as the church in which Vincent van Gogh spotted the monster and was the vision of John Smith’s wedding in “The Family of Blood”. The Cathedral’s interior also served as the dormitory for “Human Nature”.
Cardiff University, Cathays Park Campus
Part of the university’s campus, Doctor Who has made use of multiple buildings across several series. The statues of Alexandra Gardens featured prominently at the end of “Blink” and Martha runs along the garden path leading to Town Hall to give flowers to Professor Docherty in “Last of the Time Lords”. Blackwells Bookshop serves as the book signing location for Verity Newman in “The End of Time”. The inside of the Temple of Peace and Health has made a couple of appearances as well, serving as Platform One in “The End of the World” and hosting the Human-Silurian negotiations in “Cold Blood.” Beyond that, it’s also appeared in “Gridlock”, “The Fires of Pompeii”, “Let’s Kill Hitler”, and “Nightmare in Silver”. It’s amazing the ways one room can be redressed.
Okay, it’s a bit of a cheat for this one since it’s actually north of Cardiff, but at not more than a half-hour’s ride (or an hour by coach), it can certainly be included in any trip to the city. Gilbert de Clare built it in the 13th Century as part of his conquest of Glamorgan and has appeared in Doctor Who multiple times as the resurrection place of the Master in “The End of Time”, an Italian castle in “The Vampires of Venice”, the site of Robin Hood’s archery contest in “Robots of Sherwood”, and of one epic axe battle in “The Magician’s Apprentice. The castle is open to visitors and regularly hosts tours and events designed to teach you about real medieval history.
More filming locations in one part of Cardiff than you can count are here. Eddie’s Diner appeared in Series 6 and Series 9 (don’t expect the back door to lead to a TARDIS), Roald Dahl Plass (secret entrance for Torchwood), and the Wales National Opera (the New Earth hospital) are only some of the important filming locations for Doctor Who. Additionally, you may find yourself wandering around and noticing how other buildings often doubled for London in episodes such as “The Christmas Invasion”, “The Runaway Bride”, and “Last of the Time Lords.” Whenever you get done running all over the bay taking pictures, travel across the way and finish your trip at the Doctor Who Experience.