The Dr Who Christmas special started filming in Bristol yesterday, with Corn Street taken over by film crews last night and Portland Square in St Paul’s the rumoured location of today’s shoot. Coincidentally, filming also took place in Clevedon yesterday for a new drama starring former Doctor, David Tennant.
Dr Who is usually filmed in Cardiff Docks, where Casualty is also now based after being in Bristol for 25 years. But the historic locations available in Bristol obviously tempted Matt Smith and the production team across the Severn Bridge.
Crowds gathered in Corn Street last night long before filming was due to start at 9pm, and there were excited squeals when Matt Smith appeared at around 8.50pm and immediately headed to the alleyway off All Saints Lane near The Rummer where the evening’s first scenes were being shot.
This was most people’s views of the shoot:
From this vantage point, I caught a glimpse of one alien, with a big squashed face and a bald head, sitting on a chair waiting for filming to commence.
[NB I have since been informed that this alien was a Sontaran]
But nobody could see much, so with a little bit of Dr Who magic, let’s travel back in time to earlier in the day, when props were being unloaded onto Corn Street at lunchtime, confirming suspicions that the episode will be set in Victorian England.
An eclectic array of paraphernalia included old suitcases, bales of hay, lampposts, Christmas trees, and model chickens, rabbits and game birds. “We need some guns don’t we,” I heard one prop mistress say to another.
Some signs had been changed:
Other signs had been added:
There was even a granite obelisk:
Before filming started, it was clear that much of the action would be concentrated down All Saints Lane. Here’s a glimpse into the courtyard near the Rummer, a location also used in season one of Being Human:
Here’s a cart with some hay next to the Rummer:
And here’s a bit of set decoration along All Saints Lane, with authentic Victorian electricity cable presumably just out of shot or CGI-ed out:
As the clock on the Exchange struck 6pm, Corn Street was closed to pedestrians, with filming scheduled to take place from last night until 5am this morning.
When Bristol appears as 1890s London on Christmas Day, it won’t be the city’s first involvement with Dr Who. Other filming locations used over the years include Waring House in Redcliffe and Tyntesfield in Wraxall.
And when the Tardis needed a makeover in 2010 after being destroyed in David Tennant’s final episode, Bristol Blue Glass came to the rescue. The Brislington firm, which also made all of the goblets for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, designed and built the time rotor, the glass pillar in the centre of the famous police box.