Updated: Jun 13
Episode 6 - Day 29
When Rhys Jones first pitched Whovians to me, one thing he repeated over-and-over, was that we have no budget; not a penny. No wide shots with thousands of CGI extras, thanks. So, when myself, Rhys, and Terrance Edwards sat and read through the first drafts for series one, Rhys was a little surprised to find that my episode was set around a comic con, with dozens of extras, all dressed up. Thanks to our cast and crew, plus a load of amazing-looking extras, we did it, everyone putting in ridiculous amounts of time, passion and dedication for what was, back then, an unheard of web series.
You would have thought we would of have learnt, when writing this episode for the second series, to reign ourselves in, maybe set the whole thing in one room starring just one cast member? No. The three of us Exec. Producers wanted a TARDIS. So I wrote a TARDIS in a field, miles from anywhere, and I wanted the scene to look like it was straight off a tourist advert, coaxing English holidaymakers to spend their hard earned cash across the border. To give you an idea of how difficult this was to organise, we were thinking of abandoning the scene altogether. One company, whose name will be spared to protect the guilty, offered early on to let us use their TARDIS. Trouble was, this company failed to mention the T’s and C’s, the T’s and C’s being that they are based on the southern English coast (not the end of the world, but a day’s travelling to get there-and-back), the TARDIS is on a building site that looked more-or-less like Albert Steptoe’s scrapyard, and, if we wanted the TARDIS moving, it would cost us something like £300 on top of what we were already paying them. We politely said no.
With the proposed shoot getting closer, and still no TARDIS, it was looking more and more likely that the scene would have to be rewritten. This was when things took an unexpected, but very much welcome, turn. In the shape of Old Girl & Friends (@sexybluebox) who answered one of many of our online adverts looking for a Police Box! They are a company that hires out a (mighty splendid-looking) TARDIS replica. Rhys Jones introduced himself, explained a little bit about Whovians and what we plan to do with the TARDIS and after waiting for there overnight decision – we had ourselves a shiny blue box! I wanted the scene to be shot miles away from civilisation, somewhere where, if you fell and broke your leg, you’re in real trouble.Bedlinog was chosen as our location, which has been used a couple of times in Doctor Who: Tooth and Claw, as well as The Day of the Doctor. Whovians and the Welsh weather have rarely been the best of friends; the reason the first series took longer than expected to wrap was thanks to Cardiff’s infamous sideways rain. Today was one of the few times where Mother Nature gave us a break. It was beautiful weather; just a few clouds in the sky and unusually warm. With the hillside in the background, and filming on a Blackmagic camera, this is going to be one lavish way to end the second series. Handy considering the story takes place in the summer and was filmed at the start of October!
Sometimes, you forget just what a cultural icon Doctor Who is, what the series means to its fans. You’re soon reminded when you’re filming with a giant blue box, two cameras, a boom, plus cast, crew, and several cars and vans parked by the side of the road. With all of this going on, even filming miles from the nearest Nando’s, we got quite a bit of attention, with families, children, all wanting to see the TARDIS and have a photo taken with it. Everyone was obliging, though, Teddy Smith on security duty, asking folk to move out of shot, so we could get our work done (you’d move out the way, if Teddy told you to. He’s a big fella!). You had to admire one gentleman, who waited around for the entire shoot to get his photo with the TARDIS, getting out the way when we asked and staying quiet when we were filming. The eagle-eyed may have noticed a few comments on Twitter about filming for Doctor Who going on at Bedlinog. Nope, sorry. That was us.
Not giving too much away, but this is a massively important scene for the series, involving Rob Murphy and Andrew Machin. They gave it everything. It was like watching a lesson in how to tailor a performance, to do the scene justice without milking it, going over-the-top. A glance between them, a change in their expressions, not saying a word, and you instantly knew what was happening with the characters. It was something really special to watch. A special mention has to go to Craig Handley and Luke Walters, who knew what a big scene this was and really rose to the occasion. The shots the two of them came up with could easily be used for a primetime drama; it is beautiful stuff. Finally, a huge thank you has to go to Samuel Peter Rendell for bringing the Old Girl (TARDIS) all the way from Bristol. You saved our episode, there’s no two ways about it. Thank you so, so much.