Although I enjoy travelling the world and have branded myself a Runaway Brit, I do still appreciate the beauty of my home country. The UK is a small but diverse island and has many unappreciated areas of natural beauty. Many tourists travel to the UK in search of London, the Peaks, Dales, Lakes or Stonehenge so I will occasionally write about some UK alternatives.
Doctor Who is a classic Time-Travel TV series that has aired in the UK since 1963. Many a British child has cowered behind a sofa in fear of the Sontarans, the Cybermen, and the ever-present Daleks. That the TV series remained so terrifying despite the seriously dodgy special effects of the 70s is something of a testament to the talent of the scriptwriters who had a nation gripped until the late 80s. Doctor Who was not lost in time however. In 2005, after a 16-year hiatus, a new look Doctor Who was relaunched – complete with a grittier, leather-jacket wearing Doctor - to a whole new generation of time-travel fans.
Despite the new show’s main characters hailing from London, filming of the show was moved to Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, which was itself enjoying its own regeneration through the early 2000s with the development of the Bay area. This was a move designed to “…re-unite the City of Cardiff with its waterfront” and bring Cardiff into the spotlight as a modern capital city. The majority of the filming for Doctor Who would take place around the Cardiff Bay area, the city centre, outlying district Penarth and the beaches along the rugged South Wales coastline. This new ‘film set’ combined with inventive storylines, a razor-sharp script, the UKs hottest new actors, and a Dalek with a facelift, created TV magic.
One place often revisited by the Doctor Who film crew is Southerndown Beach, Dunraven Bay, which has long been a favourite of geologists due to its perfectly preserved stratum – the oldest of which dates back to the Jurassic period. The beach is subject to a rapid and dangerously high-rising tide which covers the entire beach in a surprisingly short amount of time. At low tide towering cliffs loom ominously over a wide stretch of, often deserted, beach. At high-tide, violent waves pound furiously against the ancient rocks, continuing to mould and shape them as they have for centuries. Time-travel seems tantalisingly possible here.
“I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself. I take the words. I scatter them … in time, and space. A message to lead myself here.”
On a perfect British summer’s day, the beach is a popular venue for those wanting to enjoy a day at the seaside, but come on a colder, windier day and you may well have the beach to yourself. In fact, to me the beach is more appealing when the wind drives angry waves crashing onto the shore and you can walk, wind-swept – for miles along along the beautifully wild and rugged welsh coastline.
Check out the beach in these scenes from the show.
The 10th Doctor’s final farewell to Rose Tyler at Bad Wolf Bay.
The 11th Doctor finds a cave full of weeping angels.
If you are in the UK then a visit to the Cardiff area is recommended and should be on your itinerary. Doctor Who fans can visit many more recognisable locations and even visit the Doctor Who museum. Those who just want to enjoy a buzzing and lively capital city, without the pace, smog and grime of London will find it in Cardiff.
Comments? Have you been on the trail of Doctor Who? Have you visited Cardiff? Do you have any other recommendations for the South Wales region. I’d love to hear your thoughts.