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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > DWM Special 44 - On Location > CAPITAL GAINS SE1


Production of Doctor Who has long since moved from London to Cardiff. So why does the capital continue to play such a key role in the series’ narrative?
Alliiens on our doorstep – the Cybermen emerge in Episode Six of The Invasion (1968).

London has provided an integral backdrop to Doctor Who since the first episode, An Unearthly Child, in 1963.

There are obvious logistical and budgetary reasons for this, as the series was recorded in various London studios – principally Television Centre – until 1989. Consequently, location shoots in the capital were relatively easy to reach. However, the city’s wealth of instantly recognisable landmarks also allowed the production to stage iconic set-pieces, such as the Cybermen marching down the steps of Peter’s Hill for The Invasion (1968), Yeti rampaging through a deserted Covent Garden in The Web of Fear (1968) and a Dalek rising from the Thames in The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964).

A recognisable location provides Doctor Who with a degree of realism and a stronger dramatic impact.

This reliance upon site-specific set-pieces was fully exploited by the film director Alfred Hitchcock, who used recognisable symbols of architectural order as locations for his suspense films, with the British Museum, the Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Rushmore pointing up the subversion of this order by his characters and situations. Doctor Who uses its London locations in a similar manner.

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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.