Guest contributor Ryan Fleetwood takes us on a Whovian tour of London.
(with a few comments by your truly who has been 4 times now).
As the next series of Doctor Who begins to not feel quite so far away, how should a Whovian pass the summer waiting for it? What better than a trip to the city that has been so involved in Doctor Who through the years, London? In this article I’ll provide a quick run-through of most of the parts of London that have played their part in the last half decade of Who, but also suggest that, so steeped in Who-ology as the city is, perhaps our heroic Time Lord should start venturing further afield more often.
In fact a city in its own right, Westminster lies at the heart of London and is home to many of its most iconic landmarks. In it can be found much of the infrastructure of the British government, and it was here that the Slitheen ship crashed into the Thames in Aliens of London, not before colliding with what is now called the Elizabeth Tower of the Houses of Parliament (strictly speaking, ‘Big Ben’ is the nickname of the bell in the tower, and not the tower itself). The two parter also sees the Ninth Doctor and Rose trapped in 10 Downing Street, before fulfilling many people’s dreams by organising the launching of a missile at it. Judging by the glimpses of it in Rose, it was also where the two first met, with Rose seen lunching with Mickey at Trafalgar Square and apparently getting off the bus for work at Piccadilly Circus.
Buckingham Palace is situated in St James’s Park here as well, home of Queen Elizabeth II who not only tolerates the Doctor parking his TARDIS in the grounds but also owes the survival of the palace to him after it narrowly avoided destruction-by-Titanic in Voyage of the Damned. The Cabinet War Rooms lie just off Whitehall, used by Churchill during the Blitz and where the Daleks once did some temp work, as seen in Victory of the Daleks. At the top of Whitehall is Trafalgar Square, where the Twelfth Doctor landed his TARDIS to find the city, and indeed the planet, covered by forest in In the Forest of the Night.
At the north end of the square is the National Gallery, which was revealed in Day of the Doctor to have a secret annexe, the ‘Under-Gallery’, which includes in its collection 3D pictures and ‘Gallifrey Falls No More’. Just across the river (though technically therefore outside Westminster) is the London Eye, once used by the Nestene Consciousness as a transmitter for the activation and control of the Autons, in Rose. Further south stands Millbank Tower, the site of the World Energy Conference in Terror of the Zygons that saw the Skarasen, implied to be the Loch Ness Monster, swim up the Thames to it.
1/10 of all London Underground stations lie within the City of Westminster, and the transport system (of which only 45% is actually underground) was the site of battles between UNIT and robot Yeti in The Web of Fear.
City of London
The actual City of London itself covers just 1 square mile and has a population of just 7,000, though this soars by about 300,000 during weekdays when grumpy commuters journey in to work. As such, any Londoners not living in Westminster or the City of London (that’s approximately 97% of Greater London’s population) are not technically living in a city. Home to the financial centre of the capital, it also houses St Pauls Cathedral, the favourite spot for the Cybermen when they try to invade and where Missy based herself in Dark Water/Death in Heaven. Tucked behind the cathedral is where Paternoster Row once stood before being devastated in the Blitz, which in the Victorian era was home to a crime fighting ‘gang’. This area of London was also wrecked by the eponymous Great Fire in 1666, following the Doctor’s encounter with Terileptils in The Visitation. The starting point of the fire at Pudding Lane is commemorated nearby by a monument, known imaginatively as ‘The Monument’.
Underneath the city runs the River Fleet, which, along with its connected sewers, could be accessed in The Talons of Weng Chiang from underneath the Palace Theatre and was home to some giant rats, left over from the experiments of Magnus Greel.
Found this 1 block behind St. Pauls…
Paddington Station, your gateway to Cardiff