Doctor Who thing: Freedom of Information documents about the Trafalgar Square shoot

Remember this past spring, when the Doctor Who people dangled the TARDIS from a crane over Trafalgar Square, and then dangled Matt Smith from the dangling TARDIS?


Yeah, that. A fan wanted to know more about this shoot, so s/he submitted a Freedom of Information request to City Hall, and got a big chunky PDF in response.

MayorWatch, through which I discovered this, suggests that there are minor spoilers to be found among these documents. But there really aren’t. I mean, if you already know about this shoot, then the fact that the TARDIS is going to be hovering over Trafalgar Square has already been spoiled for you. The PDF also “reveals” that UNIT soldiers will be present in the square, but we already knew that, too, from the photos of the shoot widely distributed by fans at the time.

You probably need to be a big ol’ production dork like me to find this stuff interesting. If you want an idea of how much work and organizing goes into producing a complex show like Doctor Who, this will give you a good idea. As you read all the back and forth here, remember that this is for a mere few hours of shooting for a single episode. Then multiply it by every scene shot outside a studio, and then by every episode.

Fascinating things: the production office had to supply images of the weapons and uniforms UNIT actors would be decked out in. I suppose so that they were not mistaken for real officers:



And there’s this:


Note the mention of “do[ing] battle with the M4.” These folks were going to drive for four hours from Cardiff to London to have a look round the square and finalize their battle plan. The full schedule of the actual shoot itself wasn’t much longer than their round-trip driving time.

Anyone who tells you that making TV is glamorous is deluded.

(If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)

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Mon, Sep 09, 2013 1:45pm

But of course there were absolutely no additional costs to moving BBC TV production out of London. The BBC said so.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  RogerBW
Mon, Sep 09, 2013 5:19pm

Well, if you take that kind of info at face value, I have a bridge to sell you.

But seriously, there probably isn’t any net increase is costs to run the shows out of places like Cardiff. Location shooting in a major city like London is expensive no matter where your studio is. But shooting outside of London would see a significant cost savings when you don’t have to travel from London.

reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Mon, Sep 09, 2013 5:22pm

Yes, their main problem has been that since 1/10 of the population of the UK is in London, and a rather higher proportion of the things the BBC wants to cover, they spend a fortune on trains and taxis to haul people in from Salford and Cardiff and then out again each day.