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When it came to finding a suitable setting for the futuristic city in Smile, the production team looked further afield than sets and CGI…
A CGI shot of the colony world Gliese 581 D in Smile (2017).

It’s doubtful that many viewers realised that the colony world Gliese 581 D, as imagined in Smile, came courtesy of a Spanish location shoot. Smile’s key location recording took place in Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city (after Madrid and Barcelona), near the east coast of the country. On the south-east outskirts of the city, stands the Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias – the City of Arts and Sciences, a cluster of futuristic buildings of bright white, ceramic-covered concrete and steel, surrounded by shallow lakes of water.

Smile director Lawrence Gough and Doctor Who producer Peter Bennett conducted a reconnaissance of the area in February 2016. In issue 512 of Doctor Who Magazine Gough recalled why he was drawn to the City. “I just thought it looked incredible, so me and Pete flew out there and had a look and it was just an instant ‘yes’ really. In every way it was perfect. It was almost like it was purpose built for Doctor Who. It was just a matter of time before someone discovered it.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

At the end of 2017 a remarkable chapter in the history of Doctor Who drew to a close. Two incarnations of the Time Lord overcame an existential threat... before the arrival of the Thirteenth Doctor heralded a bold new era for the programme. The latest Special Edition of Doctor Who Magazine is a unique souvenir of the Twelfth Doctor’s final adventures, from The Return of Doctor Mysterio through to Twice Upon a Time. Packed full of all-new features and previously unseen images, this is the essential guide to the year in Doctor Who.