Did you know that Doctor Who has a long-running connection with Bristol and its surrounding areas dating back to the 1970s, when Hengrove Imperial Park and Wookey Hole Caves were featured? In this guide, we take a look back at some of The Doctor's other encounters with Bristol…

The Doctor and Christmas

In the 2012 Christmas special, the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) comes to Victorian London - or rather, the streets of Bristol doubling as London - to save the world from the icy clutches of The Snowmen.  Filming took place in a couple of snowy-looking Bristol locations including Portland Square, Corn Street and St Nicholas Market. Can you spot them?

In the 2015 Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song, starring Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor, Grade II* listed mansion house Leigh Court’s Great Hall was transformed into space hotel Harmony and Redemption. Its Library (decked out in floor-to-ceiling metallic shelving) became the starship baggage hold, where The Doctor and River Song arrive in the TARDIS.

Still from the 2012 Doctor Who Christmas special 'The Snowmen' - credit BBC
Image: 2012 Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Snowmen - credit BBC 

The Doctor and the University

In 2017's Series 10, The Doctor meets new companion Bill Potts at the fictional St Luke’s University in Bristol. While the city does have two universities (the University of Bristol and University of the West of England), St Luke’s isn’t one of them and the episode is filmed at Cardiff University instead. During the production of Series 10, Doctor Who also filmed at Bristol locations Kings Weston House, which was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, the very same architect behind Blenheim Palace. 

  • Fun fact: Series 10 features Matt Lucas, who studied Drama at the real University of Bristol (though he didn’t complete the course, he did receive an honorary degree from the University in 2017).

Exterior of Kingsweston House in North Bristol
Image: Exterior of Kingsweston House

The Doctor and Street Art

In the 2014 episode Flatline, the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and companion Clara Oswald land in Bristol, where she befriends local graffiti artist, Rigsy - a take on the famed Bristol-born street artist Banksy, whose works can be found all over the city. In real life, filming for the episode didn’t really take place in the city at all, but we still appreciate that even the TARDIS team know that Bristol is the best place for street art.

Banksy mural with teddy bear throwing molotov cocktail - credit Paul Box
Image: Banksy's Mild Mild West, Stokes Croft

The Doctor and Tyntesfield

Almost all of the 2013 episode Hide (Series 7) takes place in the National Trust’s Tyntesfield House and Gardens, just a short distance from Bristol in the village of Wraxall. In the episode, the Eleventh Doctor meets Alec Palmer and Emma Grayling, played by Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine, both of whom are no strangers to Bristol. Jessica not only studied Drama at the University of the West of England, but in her spare time worked for the Visit Bristol team at the Bristol Tourist Information Centre!

Dougray Scott starred in the 2005 romantic comedy The Truth About Love, which features an array of locations across the city, including Clifton Suspension BridgeSt Mary Redcliffe, The Grove, Park Place in Clifton, Merchants Quay and Redcliffe Wharf, Harbour House (where Jennifer Love Hewitt dines) and The Paragon in Clifton.

Series 7 also used Tyndall Avenue and Royal Fort House in central Bristol as filming locations.

Gothic mansion house with spring flowers
Image: Tyntesfield House 

The Doctor and Brunel

In the 1985 serial The Two Doctors, the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) finds Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s business card in his address book of geniuses (which also includes Archimedes, Christopher Columbus, Dante and Da Vinci).

Brunel designed the iconic Bristol landmarks of Clifton Suspension Bridge and the SS Great Britain, as well as Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station. He’s also famous for making significant contributions to the Great Western Railway, designing the Thames Tunnel, Tamar Bridge and London's Paddington Station.

In the 2018 Big Finish audio episode Iron Bright, The Doctor picks up Brunel’s business card when he encounters Brunel and his father, Marc Brunel, masterminding the digging of the ‘haunted’ Thames Tunnel. 

Exterior of the SS Great Britain at the Great Western Dockyard in Bristol - credit Brunel's SS Great Britain
Image: Brunel's SS Great Britain

The Doctor and Caves

The 2016 Doctor Who spin-off drama Class featured the TARDIS, the Twelfth Doctor and Matt Lucas as Nardole in Bristol’s Redcliffe Caves. The Triassic red sandstone caves are a labyrinth of man-made tunnels that were dug into in the Middle Ages for glass and pottery production. Legend has it that the pirate Blackbeard (who was born in one of the houses above) stowed goods in the caverns. The eerie caves are often used by Bristol Film Festival for their spooky ‘Horror in the Caves’ series around Halloween.

Interior of the Redcliffe Caves in the Redcliffe area of Bristol - credit Bristol Film Office
Image: Redcliffe Caves, image courtesy of Bristol Film Office

Located just a few miles outside Bristol in the Somerset countryside, Wookey Hole Caves has been used as a location in both the classic and revived series of Doctor Who. It made its first appearance doubling as the mines of the fictional planet 'Voga' in 1975 serial The Revenge of the Cybermen, returning 34 years later as the Council of the Ood's chamber in the 2009 episode The End of Time: Part One.

The Doctor in South Bristol

Social housing tower block Waring House in Redcliffe took centre stage in the 2011 episode Night Terrors from Series 6, which featured Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor alongside companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill).

The Doctor and Anniversaries

Doctor Who returned to Bristol in June 2022, with the Old City serving as a key filming location for one of the show's 60th anniversary specials, which aired on the BBC and Disney+ in December 2023. The specials see the return of stars David Tennant and Catherine Tate to the series playing the Fourteenth Doctor and fan-favourite companion Donna Noble respectively, alongside Hollywood star Neil Patrick Harris as the villainous Toymaker.

The show then returned to the Clifton area of the city in early 2023 to shoot scenes for that year's Christmas special, featuring new cast members Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor and Millie Gibson as companion Ruby Sunday.  

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 & Catherine Tate filming in Bristol's Old City, June 2022, credit Logan Walker

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