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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > DWM Special 44 - On Location > THE FRENCH CONNECTION

THE FRENCH CONNECTION

Every year a group of dedicated French fans retrace the steps of the BBC crew that shot City of Death in 1979.
Lalla Ward (as Romana) and Tom Baker (as the Doctor) in a publicity shot from the Paris location filming of City of Death (1979).

French Doctor Who fans know City of Death, one of the series’ best-loved stories, as Paris va mourir. Translated into English, this title becomes Paris is going to die. That isn’t the only curious aspect of what has long been regarded as the most famous foreign excursion in Doctor Who’s history. The title of the story reflects the prestige of this relatively ambitious location shoot, which was undertaken at a time when the series’ budget was being squeezed as a result of wider economic problems. Predictably, the footage captured by the unit that visited Paris in April and May 1979 portrayed a romantic, somewhat idealised version of the French capital.

The small crew, headed by director Michael Hayes, included only three English cast members: Tom Baker (as the Doctor), Lalla Ward (as Romana) and Tom Chadbon (as hapless private detective Duggan). They flew into Charles de Gaulle Airport on Monday 30 April 1979 with the aim of filming exterior shots over an intense, four-day period. All the interiors would be recorded on videotape at Television Centre in London. The Paris crew achieved all its aims, returning to the UK on 3 May. Which is not to say that everything went entirely as planned...

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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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