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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > DWM Special 44 - On Location > I STILL HAVEN’T FOUND WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR

I STILL HAVEN’T FOUND WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR

Why are we so fascinated by some of the otherwise mundane places that have featured in episodes of Doctor Who? And is there something of the location hunter in all of us?

Land’s End, Cornwall, late one afternoon in August 2013. I couldn’t have been further west, not on the English mainland, but my plan had just gone south.

Having taken the family on a trip to a tin mine, the idea had been to ‘break the journey’ to our holiday cottage by oh-so-casually ‘dropping in on’ Nanzijal Bay, filming location for the First Doctor’s penultimate adventure, The Smugglers (1966). “Breath of fresh. Stretch our legs,” I’d told my wife and children, cheerily. Some stretch – I’d neglected to mention that the bay can only be accessed by walking a mile or so along the cliff path from Land’s End. It’d be all right once we got there, I’d convinced myself…

Nick Griffiths, the author of Who Goes There.

By the time we did get there, however, with the sun visibly dipping, all three children were complaining that they were tired and hungry (unsurprisingly, since they’d spent the hottest day of the year down a tin mine). Mrs Barnes didn’t look terribly enthusiastic, either. Peering along the headland, I realised that I’d failed to consider the tide, which I could see was very much in at that moment; in as far as the cave that the TARDIS landed in, probably.

Nanzijal Bay lay just a mile or so away, but there and then I could as soon have got to Mars. So I bought us all ice creams instead. And as we drove away, back along the A30, I found myself wondering, not for the first time: “Why?”

"I wanted to create a more accurate record of where stories were filmed, and - importantly for me - howthey've changed over time." Nick Griffiths

Why do we do it? Why this compulsion to visit places that Doctor Who happened to be filmed in, however briefly, up to 50 years before?

I think my own obsession began when I learned that one of the old sea forts visible from the beach a few hundred yards from my grandmother’s house in Southsea had featured in The Sea Devils (1972) – only a short way out in the Solent, but tantalisingly out of reach. Nick Griffiths, whose book Who Goes There is a first-person account of his attempt to visit as many Doctor Who locations as possible in just a few short months, was initially inspired by The Android Invasion (1975). “It’s one of my favourite Doctor Who stories,” he says, “awash with that thing they had in Doctor Who in the 1970s, of absolute Englishness – the cross monument, the old village pub. I remember saying to various people I’ve made watch it with me, ‘I really want to go there…’” There, in this case, being the village of East Hagbourne in Oxfordshire, standing in for the Kraals’ recreation of the picturesque Devesham.

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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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