If you were in central Bristol during the summer of 2022, you might have caught a glimpse of explosions, tanks, camera crews, a certain blue police box, and a few famous faces. 

All of the above are telltale signs of Doctor Who, the world’s longest-running science fiction TV show, which celebrated its 60th anniversary with three special episodes, aired in November and December 2023. The episodes were led by returning showrunner Russell T. Davies, and featured the Fourteenth Doctor played by David Tennant, who previously starred on the show as the hugely popular Tenth Doctor between 2005 and 2010. 

The episodes see The Doctor reunite with fan-favourite former companion Donna Noble, played by Catherine Tate, who reprises her role for the first time since the 2010 New Year special 'The End of Time.' Together, the two face new foes, including the mysterious Toymaker, played by Hollywood and Broadway star Neil Patrick Harris. 

Bristol Film Office assisted the Doctor Who production team in filming one of the show's anniversary specials on location in Bristol’s Old City in June 2022, as well as scenes for the 2023 Christmas Special starring new lead actors Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson in Clifton in January 2023. Here, we’ll take you through each of the locations featured, so that you can follow in the footsteps of everyone's favourite Time Lord: 

Clare Street

Based in the heart of the Old City, Clare Street is a vibrant confluence of buzzing restaurants, bars, and street food vendors, situated close to the immensely popular St Nicholas Market and bisecting multiple winding back streets lined with even more eateries.

You’ll be spoilt for choice on where to eat and drink, but some of our highlights include tasty pan-Asian cuisine at Four Wise Monkeys and Vietnamese restaurant Pho, deliciously innovative liquid nitrogen-frozen cocktails at Brozen Bar, or more traditional cocktails in the unique steampunk-themed setting of The Clockwork Rose

A view of Clare Street in Bristol's Old City, with a hand holding a photograph of actors David Tennant & Neil Patrick Harris filming one of the 2023 Doctor Who specials in the same spot - credit Logan Walker

Image: Neil Patrick Harris (left) and David Tennant (right) filming on Clare Street in June 2022, credit Logan Walker 

Scenes featuring a huge action sequence were filmed at Clare Street’s junction with St Stephen’s Avenue and Marsh Street, instantly recognisable thanks to the distinctive flower pattern on the road surface. The elaborate shoot featured Tennant, Patrick Harris, UNIT soldiers and extras in character, as well as staged explosions, destroyed aircraft parts, military vehicles, and wrecked vehicles. Tennant and Tate also filmed scenes in and around the nearby churchyard at the historic St Stephens Church. 

A view of St Stephen's Church in Bristol's Old City, with a hand holding a photograph of actor David Tennant filming one of the 2023 Doctor Who specials in the same spot - credit Logan Walker

Image: David Tennant filming at St Stephen's Church in June 2022, credit Logan Walker 

Broad Street

Just north of Clare Street is the more tranquil Broad Street. Here, you'll find a section of Bristol’s ancient city wall, as well as several trendy bars, coffee shops and luxury hotels tucked away from the bustling St Nicholas Market and Corn Street nearby.

During filming, creperie Chez Marcel was redressed to portray the exterior of the ominous 'Mr Emporium,' while the TARDIS was spotted parked in a nearby alleyway connecting Broad Street to the neighbouring Small Street, as scenes featuring Tennant, Tate, and extras were shot. 

A view of Chez Marcel in Bristol's Old City, with a hand holding a photograph of an actor filming one of the 2023 Doctor Who specials in the same spot - credit Logan Walker

Image: Chez Marcel dressed as the 'Mr Emporium' during filming in June 2022, credit Logan Walker 

Be sure to take a break with one of Chez Marcel's appetising sweet or savoury authentic French crepes, choose from a range of over 70 of the most revered Belgian and UK craft beers at independent bar The Strawberry Thief, or lounge over a meal crafted from the finest British produce at the beautifully restored Hort's Townhouse.

And where better to stay during your Doctor Who-themed trip to Bristol than steps away from where the action took place? Take a look at Broad Street's two luxurious, Grade II listed hotels - the Clayton, a contemporary hotel housed within the stunning former Everards Print Works building, and the Mercure Grand, a recently refurbished 19th-century hotel which has played host to various celebrities over the years including native Bristolian Cary Grant and The Beatles. For an alternative but equally opulent experience, try one of Mint Stays' seven beautiful, individually-decorated Bank Apartments, based inside a former Bank of England building opposite the Grand. 

Actors David Tennant & Catherine Tate filming one of the 2023 Doctor Who specials on Broad Street in Bristol's Old City - credit Logan Walker

Image: David Tennant (left) and Catherine Tate (right) filming on Broad Street in June 2022, credit Logan Walker

Clifton

Following the completion of work on the 60th anniversary specials, production returned to Bristol in early 2023 for upcoming episodes featuring new cast members Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor and Millie Gibson as companion Ruby Sunday. This time, filming centred on the leafy suburb of Clifton, to the north of the city centre, which doubled as London's Notting Hill.

Gatwa and Gibson filmed various scenes alongside guest stars Anita Dobson and Michelle Greenidge on Park Place, Bruton Place and Frederick Place, all based close to the lively Clifton VillageWhiteladies Road and Park Street shopping districts.

Road signs were replaced with prop London street signs displaying fictional addresses including 'Minto Road, W.11,' while two nearby business premises were redressed as the fictional 'Hawkins & Co. Estate Agents' and 'First Steps Architects.' A red London double decker bus and black taxi cab were also spotted on set. 

A view down Regent Street in Clifton Village, West Bristol - credit Visit Bristol
Image: Shops in Clifton Village

Once you've taken a look around these locations theorising about potential plotlines, check out some of the many fantastic attractions and eateries nearby.

Enjoy world-class modern art exhibitions at the Royal West of England Academy, or fascinating collections of classical art, archaeology, geology and natural history at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. There's also the chance to tour the magnificent Wills Memorial Building's Tower every Saturday at 11am and 1pm, or catch a concert at St George's

Exterior of RWA Bristol - credit RWA Bristol

Image: The Royal West of England Academy exterior, credit RWA Bristol

Exercise your taste buds at one of the many mouth-watering restaurants in the local area. Wander westwards into the picturesque narrow streets of Clifton Village, where you'll find several acclaimed restaurants offering cuisines from across the world.

Travel to Japan with KIBOU's signature sushi rolls, enjoy seasonal European dishes at Coppa Club or The Ivy, and tuck in to classic Spanish food with a twist at Bar 44. For a spot of indulgent comfort food, head to Racks for a burger and cocktail, or The Clifton Sausage for everything from sausage, mash and gravy to steamed mussels in cider. 

The outdoor terrace at the Racks restaurant in Clifton, West Bristol - credit Racks Bristol

Image: The terrace at Racks Bar & Kitchen, credit Racks

There's even more variety to be found along Whiteladies Road, including exciting takes on pub classics at The Whitmore Tap, innovative dishes utilising prime cuts of meat at The Cow + Sow, tasty tapas at Bravas, and French bistro-inspired cuisine at The Aqua Grand Cafe

Find crowd-pleasing options down on Park Street, including artisan pizza at Pizza on the Park, followed by mouth-watering Italian gelato at Swoon

Gelato in cones at Swoon - credit Swoon
Image: Award-winning gelato at Swoon

The brand new series of Doctor Who, consisting of eight episodes, will air weekly from 11 May 2024. For all the latest news on the show, visit the official website.

View the Doctor Who in Bristol Movie Map from Bristol Film Office

Watch the official trailer for the specials here: 

Watch the official trailer for the 2023 Christmas special here: 

Watch the official trailer for the 2024 series here: 

 

Read more: