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In December 2010, three intrepid reporters braved the ice and snow to visit the set of The Rebel Flesh. This record of their experiences reveals the challenges of shooting Doctor Who in an inhospitable location...
Lining up a complex shot for The Rebel Flesh in the undercroft at Neath Abbey on 11 December 2010.

What’s it like to visit location recording on Doctor Who? In 2010, I was working for the children’s magazine Doctor Who Adventures and was invited to join Nick Setchfield from SFX magazine and Kevin Harley from Total Film for an afternoon at Neath Abbey. It was Friday 10 December and production was underway on The Rebel Flesh.

The plan was to speak to the cast and crew, including stars Matt Smith (who played the Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) and Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), around their shooting commitments. These interviews could then be published when the new series aired in April 2011. I’d read the script of the episode and had a call sheet for the day, detailing the cast, crew and the recording schedule. And Elena Kemp from Premier PR was there to ensure that the cast – and I – didn’t reveal any spoilers.

Kevin and I left London Paddington on the 8.45 train, arriving in Neath just before midday. By the time we’d met up with Nick and Elena, and reached the set, it was close to one o’clock. We were quickly ushered into Matt Smith’s trailer for a 15-minute chat, preserved on tape.

“It’s so cold, I can’t tell you,” Matt begins. “It means two layers of thermals. Castles sort of retain the cold. We were at Caerphilly Castle last week, and when the team got there early in the morning it was minus 15. We were on set for eight and it was minus six. And then if the wind chill is up...”

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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.