Despite adventures set on exotic alien worlds and in different time zones, BBC One’s Doctor Who is made in Cardiff’s Roath Lock studios.
Local blogger Jane Cook shares the top spots and key Cardiff locations that every Doctor Who fan should visit to follow in the footsteps of the Time Lord, while also revealing some locations for fans of spin-off series, Torchwood.
The Doctor Who Experience
This BBC-run interactive exhibition of everything Doctor Who now has a permanent home in Cardiff bay, and is a must-visit for any Who fan. Guests begin by becoming part of a specially created adventure starring Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi and the infamous Daleks, before ending up in a huge exhibition space which explores the Doctor through the years. Replica models of the most famous baddies sit alongside real props and costumes from the show, and there’s an extensive and pretty cool gift shop, too.
Tickets start at £9.75, Discovery Quay, Cardiff CF10 4GA, doctorwho.tv/doctor-who-experience
Llandaff will be better known as the village of Leadworth to fans of the series, and the location was used frequently during the Matt Smith era; the picturesque Cathedral Green took centre stage in Smith’s first episode as the Doctor, The Eleventh Hour (2011). For non-Who fans, Llandaff is just a short drive or bus ride from the centre of Cardiff, and is famously the birth place of Roald Dahl and the inspiration for a number of his stories, as well as being the location of many independent shops and restaurants.
This ‘public’ entrance to Torchwood’s Hub (otherwise known as Ianto’s Tourist information office) can be found on the boardwalk at Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Bay, where the speed boats and day cruises land. Since July 2009, the location has become something of an impromptu shrine to some of the characters of Torchwood – covered with dedications and outpourings of respect for reasons that fans of the series will understand. Feel free to leave your own images, messages or photos when you visit.
Roald Dahl Plass
Named after the Cardiff-born author, this area of Cardiff bay also plays home to the secret location of The Hub, Torchwood’s headquarters. The Oval Basin – home to the Wales Millennium Centre – and the huge, mirrored water tower both featured heavily in the series. Doctor Who fans will also be delighted to spot the directional signs all around Roald Dahl Plass, featuring the iconic Dalek from the series.
Dyffryn Gardens is a collection of botanical gardens near the village of St Nicholas, just outside of Cardiff; the grounds of the grand, nineteenth century Dyffryn House sit on an estate which dates back to 640AD. Catherine Tate, David Tennant, and Sophia Myles have all filmed Doctor Who episodes here, including Tooth and Claw (2005), The Girl in the Fireplace (2005) and Forest of the Dead (2008). Visitors can also enjoy afternoon tea, coffee and cake at the on-site tea-rooms.
Tickets start at £3.90, Dyffryn Gardens, St Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan CF5 6SU, nationaltrust.org.uk/dyffryn-gardens
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