You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Doctor Who’ tag.

Is this the best outfit in which to introduce a strong, female character to legions of young, impressionable fans about to embark on the mystical journey through gender development and personal identity?


In the 14th century, Chaucer’s pilgrims made the long trip to Canterbury, and needed a good story to pay their way. In the 21st, pilgrims make their way to Cardiff and all you need is a fiver for the Severn Bridge.

This winter, Cardiff-vision has returned to our screens, as the third and final series of Gavin and Stacey airs and David Tennant’s much-anticipated but bittersweet Doctor Who Christmas specials are finally broadcast.

Four years ago, the tardis, with the Doctor safely inside, rematerialised on our television screens, and from that moment on, the world’s eyes have been trained on Cardiff, whether they could recognise it or not. Since then, fans have stormed the capital, trying to get glimpses of the Doctor at work. But what effect has this had on the city? Will people really wait around for hours to see the cast for a few minutes? It would seem so. Sarah Thomas, from the Doctor Who Up Close Exhibition in Cardiff Bay, explained, “Here fans just turn up and want to watch and the actors welcome it.”

With filming locations in Llandaff, Cardiff Bay, and  Bute Park, there are plenty of places for Doctor-philes  to shuffle their feet and wait for the action to unfold.  Even the most observant of fans would be hard-pushed to recognise some of the locations used  though, as the designers transform the area into an  ice planet, a biosphere on Mars, or even 17th century  London. Which is why BBC Wales are doing their  best to ensure people know that Cardiff is the  backdrop to the majority of Doctor Who episodes,  with tie-in programmes like Doctor Who  Confidential, which features location managers explaining how they created the mind-blowing scenery for each episode.

The Red Dragon Centre in Cardiff Bay is a showcase of all things Doctor Who, be it costumes, life-size replicas, or the All-New Dalek Encounter. Looking around the exhibition, it becomes obvious why people are drawn in by the fantastic stories and meticulously crafted props and costumes.

Cardiff and Co, the agency in charge of marketing the city of Cardiff, have been quick to capitalise on this craze, and a senior spokesperson from the company said, “We market strongly on the basis of Doctor Who being one of the elements of the city that is of interest to people.”

The savvy people at the Park Plaza Hotel were the first to offer a Doctor Who package, which promises a weekend of tardis-related fun, and other Cardiff hotels quickly followed suit.

And, while Doctor Who was busy setting up its exhibition, and Torchwood was gathering momentum, two unknown writers were putting together a story about a boy from Essex and a girl from Barry. When James Corden and Ruth Jones came to filming their Gavin and Stacey, they chose to shoot on location in Cardiff’s Barry. Fans of the show will be disappointed to hear though, that the lovers are not all that star-crossed, as the long-distance relationship between Billericay and Barry, is actually between Cardiff and Barry, as the producers found a suitably English-looking house for the Shipmans in a village just outside Cardiff.

Cardiff Council and residents alike have taken to the steady stream of visitors, and one resident in particular has to deal with it more than most. Glenda Kenyon doesn’t just live in a small house on a steep hill in Barry, she lives in Stacey’s house. From the very first time Gavin made the long trip down the M4, Kenyon has been inundated with Gavin and Stacey pilgrims. And with Media Guardian counting six million viewers for the episode screened on 10 December, there are plenty more to come. Sarah Thomas, Doctor Who Up Close’s resident expert on all things BBC Wales attributes the move towards Cardiff as the media capital of the future, to the attitude of the council and the fans: “the council have gone all out to say they’ll accommodate anything that producers want. And the people here leave them alone, there’s not really that distraction like in London where people get mobbed all day.”

And now, after 20 years of rescuing the extras of Bristol from destitution and falls from cliffs, the Casualty team is moving to Cardiff. As of 2011, the sirens will be ringing through the streets of the Welsh capital, as cameramen from various crews try desperately not to cross beams. It would seem that Bristol is fast being overtaken by Cardiff as the media location of the UK. Cardiff and Co said, “Having the BBC bring something as large and prestigious as Casualty to the area confirmed really that Cardiff’s moving forward as a media centre.”

Doctor Who is still the big draw though, as people come from all corners of the world to see where he has been doing battle. Jackie Jones, manager of Doctor Who Up Close says, “we get all sorts at the exhibition, from all over the world. We were only meant to be here for three months and we’ve been here four years.”

With more and more filming going on in Cardiff, and Hollywood blockbusters like Sherlock Holmes and the new Robin Hood being filmed here, Cardiff will be full of fans waving autograph books and location maps for the foreseeable future.

Okay, so I finally made it to the cinema. I had been looking forward to An Education for months. I had been waiting for Carey Mulligan to be given a film of her own, since her brilliant episode of Doctor Who (Sally Sparrow is my idol) and since she made her much more experienced Pride and Prejudice co-star, Jena Malone look like a sour-faced old scragbag, just by standing next to her.

It is the story of Jenny, a 1960s schoolgirl, stifled by her father’s dreams of Oxford, and saddled with a cumbersome cello and a pretentious personality. That is, until she meets a dashing older man. It should have been the ideal first starring film role for Mulligan. And yet, it just wasn’t.

She wasn’t the only disappointment. Nick Hornby wrote the screenplay, the rest of the cast was made up of British wonders: Emma Thompson, Olivia Williams, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike among others, and an American with a peculiar English accent and a handsome face – Peter Sarsgaard – played the male lead. It should have been so good. And yet, it really wasn’t.

How much the script was hindered by the original novel, Lynn Barber’s memoir of the same name, I am not sure, but it fell so flat that the cast couldn’t begin to scrape it off the floor. Not that they tried particularly. Alfred Molina blustered. Olivia Williams needs to remember that drab is not an emotion. And Emma Thompson just wasn’t bothered. She was dry and generally unpleasant, but beyond that, there wasn’t much to be said of her character. Using her name in trailers and then giving her a cameo is a cheap trick. Having said that Rosamund Pike was lovely as the ditsy, glamorous Helen, and the times when she was onscreen were easily the high points.

On the plus side, quite early on in the design process, someone gave the Costume Department a Dorling Kindersley book about 1960s fashion, so they all looked suitably quaint.

The evening gowns were beautiful, and over all what little characterization there was in the film was fleshed out by the costumes. Again Rosamund Pike’s character stood out here, as her carousel of outfits compounded her vapidity, seemingly saying that she is an object of beauty and charm, and blithely asking what’s the harm in that.

While they don’t appear onscreen together, Olivia Williams and Rosamund Pike’s costumes, dressed as the dreary teacher and the gorgeous socialite respectively, added weight to their portrayal as the two opposing female role models in Jenny’s life.

As for Jenny, those who can’t help but hope for a montage, or at the very least some sort of revelatory moment, if a character is made over, will be disappointed. Glamourpuss Jenny’s unveiling was pretty inconsequential, Sarsgaard gasped and off they went. Mulligan did manage to fill her new clothes with teenage arrogance and then shrink within them as her bravado faded at various points throughout the film, but a lot of emphasis was placed on the fact that if you did her eyeliner just so, she looked a bit like Audrey Hepburn.