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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > DWM Special 44 - On Location > CLASSIC ROCK

CLASSIC ROCK

Quarries have long been Doctor Who’s default location for alien planets, but they have also played host to sinister events set on Earth...
Sophie Aldred (as Ace), Sylvester McCoy (as the Doctor) and Daniel Peacock (as Nord) in Warmwell for the recording of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy in May 1988.

It’s been the stuff of sarcastic journalism for decades. Doctor Who relies on a ‘BBC Quarry’ for its alien landscapes – ‘full of interestingly dull rocks and fascinatingly monotonous scenery’ according to the website TV Tropes. This not only misrepresents how many quarries Doctor Who has featured, but underestimates how imaginatively they’ve been put to use.

Quarries are usually self-contained and privately owned, removing the need for crew and cast to deal with spectators. Deep excavation provides sheer cliffs, pillars and rocky projections whose perpendicular angles help frame the action. Well-photographed, a quarry “looked like nowhere on Earth,” as Suzanne Danielle, nowhe ere on Earth,” as Suzanne e Danielle,playing Agella in Destiny of the Daleks, told the Daily Mirror of 30 June 1979.

A sequence for Episode 1 of The Savages is filmed on 29 April 1966.

The first use of a quarry in Doctor Who occurred in The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964). There, John’s Hole Quarry, at Stone in Kent, represented, aptly enough, a quarry; specifically, the site in Bedfordshire from which the Daleks are digging to the Earth’s core. This location had the advantage of a tunnel entrance and a railway track which could be shot from high angles to suggest the scale of the Daleks’ operation.

There are a number of other Doctor Who stories where quarries appear as just that – quarries on Earth. The quarry is a place of danger in itself. In The Ambassadors of Death (1970) Foley Brothers Gravel Pit, near Marlow in Buckinghamshire, became a place where murder victims could be dumped with no witnesses. In Terror of the Autons (1971), Tottenhoe Lime and Stone Quarry in Bedfordshire became an arena in which the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo Grant (Katy Manning) evaded capture by Auton policemen.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

In its early days, Doctor Who was recorded on cumbersome cameras tethered to claustrophobic and often inadequate studios. The show rarely escaped these confines in the 1960s, but as technology improved, producers and directors became more adventurous. Location shooting has helped to create some of the most memorable episodes in the series’ long history. In this unique publication, new features, exclusive interviews and rare images tell the story of those episodes and the people who made them happen.
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