The much anticipated new series of Doctor Who starring Jodie Whittaker as the nation’s favourite time travelling Doctor, is set to hit our screens on Sunday 7 October. But did you know, The Time Lord/Lady has a long-running connection with Bristol dating back to 1977, when Hengrove Imperial Park was featured? In December the city will also be the first place in the country to offer fans a Doctor Who Escape Room experience! Here we take a look back at some of Doctor Who’s other encounters in Bristol…

Doctor Who filming locations Bristol

Image - Doctor Who series 10, credit BBC1

The Doctor and the Christmas Specials

In the 2012 Christmas special, the 11th 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 a later Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song, starring Peter Capaldi, Grade II* listed mansion house Leigh Court’s Great Hall was transformed into space hotel Harmony and Redemption, its Library (all decked out in floor-to-ceiling metallic shelving) became the star ship baggage hold, where The Doctor and River Song arrive in the TARDIS.

Doctor Who Filming locations in Bristol - The Snowmen

Image - Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Snowmen

The Doctor and the University

In series 10, The Doctor meets 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 series 10, Doctor Who also filmed at Bristol locations Kings Weston House (designed by Sir John Vanbrugh – the architect for Blenheim Palace).

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

Doctor Who Filming locations in Bristol - Kings Weston House Bristol

Image - Kings Weston House Bristol

The Doctor and Bristol Street Art

In Flatline, the 12th Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara go to Bristol, where she befriends graffiti artist, Rigsy - a take on famous Bristol-born street artist Banksy, whose works can be found all over the city. In real life, the filming of the episode didn’t really take place in Bristol at all, but we still love the fact that even the Time Lord and his companion know that Bristol is the best place for street art.

Doctor Who filming locations in Bristol - Banksy

Image - Banksy's Mild Mild West, Stokes Croft

The Doctor and the Historic House

Pretty much the entire episode of Hide (series seven) takes place in the National Trust’s Tyntesfield House and Gardens, just a short distance from Bristol in Wraxall. In the episode, the 11th 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 romcom, The Truth About Love featuring an array of locations across the city including Clifton Suspension BridgeSt Mary Redcliffe, The Grove, Park Place in Clifton, Merchants Quay and Redcliffe Wharf, Severnshed (where Jennifer Love Hewitt dines) and The Paragon in Clifton.

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

Doctor Who Filming locations in Bristol - Tyntesfield

Image - Tyntesfield, credit Andrew Butler

When The Doctor met Brunel

In the episode The Two Doctors, the 6th 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.

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

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

SS Great Britain - Doctor Who filming locations in Bristol

Image - Brunel's SS Great Britain, credit David Norton

The Doctor and the caves

The 12th Doctor shot spin-off drama Class featuring the Tardis in Bristol’s Redcliffe Caves with Matt Lucas starring alongside as Nardole. 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 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.

Redcliffe Caves - Doctor Who filming locations in Bristol

Image - Redcliffe Caves, image courtesy of Bristol Film Office

The Doctor in South Bristol

Social housing zone, Waring House in Bedminster took centre stage in Night Terrors in series six of Doctor Who, which featured Karen Gillan and Matt Smith.

Where to watch the new series of Doctor Who

To celebrate Jodie taking over Sunday nights as the 13th Doctor, Bristol Spirit will be screening the first episode so you can tuck into a tipple or two of their home-made gins while watching The Doctor in her weird and wonderful universe. Entrance is free but you do need to book your seats via email here.

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