I’ve been determined to take in as many Doctor Who filming locations as I can recently following my successful trip to the village of Charlton, used in Terror of the Zygons. This time around, I’ve visited three different locations, Brighton Beach, Lakeside North Harbour – formally the IBM building and then Fraser Gunnery Range.
The Leisure Hive
Used in the opening scenes of The Leisure Hive where we see the Doctor relaxing in a deck chair in what looks like freezing weather, while Romana and K9 are taking a stroll. You might be worried that it would be a tough location to spot, but actually it’s pretty easy.
If you leave the train station and head down the main road to the beach, turn left and walk along until you reach The Queen’s Hotel. There, you’ll notice you’re pretty much wedged between the two piers, one still working, one just the metal shell, left to fall apart out at sea. When you find The Queen’s Hotel, then go straight down on the seafront and everything is pretty easy to spot.
The TARDIS would have been on the left-hand side, while the Doctor relaxes on a deck chair.
Romana and K9 walk along the water’s edge with the ruined pier behind them. When Romana gets bored and throws the beach ball into the water for K9 to get, without thinking, she is seen walking up the shingle in front of The Queen’s Hotel. Of course, the shingle has shifted and changed over time but you can match up where she then legged it back down along the beach thanks to some strategically placed chimney pots on the left hand side of the hotel. There is also some curved windows on the left hand side which you can see behind her, when she rushes to help K9.
Assuming everything was filmed in front of the hotel, then the patch of water where K9 explodes would be directly in line with the hotel; however, one patch of water looks very much alike another so I can’t be 100% certain. Again, assuming all the filming took place in virtually the same place, the scenes of the Doctor sitting on the sea front would now be on the promenade pathway; there are a number of shops and galleries with rounded entrances which are behind both the Doctor and Romana, but look out for ones with slats that go diagonally and not vertically because these are the ones behind the pair.
Brighton Beach was also used in The Sound of Drums when Martha rings her brother to warn him about the Master. I couldn’t actually work out where this was filmed but I have a feeling it was further right, more in line with the shops than the hotels on the front. There isn’t a lot of Brighton in The Leisure Hive, but it’s still fun to stop and have a look around — you never know, you might stumble across a man in a long scarf and a woman in a sailor’s costume carrying a robot dog!
Revelation of the Daleks
There were a few locations used to film Revelation of the Daleks. The forest scenes were filmed in Queen Elizabeth Country Park, while the wall that the Sixth Doctor, and Peri walk along looking for a way into Tranquil Repose, is the back of the Goodwood Estate. But I think finding that might have to be a summer-time stroll!
However, the most iconic location for this story is the IBM building in Cosham. Now, it’s called Lakeside North Harbour. If you’re like me and you have to take public transport, the two best places to stop are Donaldson Road opposite the dodgy St. George Playing Fields or Hilsea Lido. I would recommend the Hilsea stop because Google Maps doesn’t seem to understand how underpasses work to get you from one side of a giant roundabout to another… Also, if you are at Hilsea, turn to the right and follow that pavement all the way along and you’ll quickly come across the left-hand side of Lakeside. I went a bit around the town first, thanks to Google Maps, so I came out in the gigantic car park!
Once you reach Lakeside, if you walk all the way along the front of the building, the iconic location is pretty easy to spot — it’s as far right as the public are allowed to walk, though you might need to be careful as you can only enter the buildings with a lanyard (and I did think a couple of times people or security were possibly keeping an eye on me).
The first thing you’ll spot is the great big glass structure, minus the pyramids on top which the building sported in the serial. The pond in the front is home to a couple of swans and ducks that you might not want to get too close to either! Looking at this section of the building on the left, you can see where the statue of the Doctor was that the Doctor and Peri inspect before it collapses down on the Doctor.
It goes to show how good director Graeme Harper is because it’s only a small part of the building they used to film but, thanks to the close ups and mid shots, it makes it feel like the whole building was used. A good example is a close of up of Nicola Bryant as Peri, which you can match up, thanks to the reflection of the right hand side building. Nowadays, it has a tree planted pretty much where Peri would have once stood.
I would have taken some more photos are the right-hand side as this is where Clive Swift as Jobel would walk to try and ‘comfort’ Peri when the statue of the Doctor falls on the Doctor. However, as I felt like people were watching me, and I wasn’t too sure of what was inside the building (that might end up in my photos), I didn’t want to push my luck. I may give it a few months and then make my way back to get some more photos with screenshots to help me…
One final picture I took was from Peri calling out to the Doctor about the toppling statue — this is where you might meet the slightly aggressive swans and ducks, so be prepared! But the path is the same as it was in the 1980s with the odd bit of set pieces around, possibly strategically placed to hide signage and steps and doorways. Peri would have been stood almost in line with the ducks in this photo, while the Doctor is in the distance in front of the steps.
The old IBM building, now Lakeside, is a great place to visit and I think it is open-ish to the public; there is a massive car park and lots of people going around taking photos holding keys to homes. The building has tax offices as well as being home to head office of the company I work for, something I didn’t know about until talking about my visit later! Obviously I don’t want anyone to go round there and get arrested taking photographs but if you get a chance to visit then definitely visit this iconic location.
The Sea Devils
Following my trip to Lakeside, on the same day I wanted to visit Fraser Gunnery Range which was famously the navy base in the Third Doctor adventure, The Sea Devils. If you want to walk, then it’s an hour and half away from the Lakeside Building but if you’re like me and your feet are tired, then you need to walk back to Hilsea Lido and then use Bus stop M. It’s a First bus — take it to Bransbury Park in Copnor. You’ll know you’re on the right bus because it should take you past Portsmouth Football Club and Stadium.
Getting off at Bransbury Park, you’ll need to walk almost the entire length of Bransbury Road, then cross and walk the entirety of Henderson Road. It’s a walk that’ll take about 20 minutes but the back of the Gunnery is pretty easy to spot once you’re about halfway there. Once you get there, there is a large green park, but if you take a right turn by a children’s playground, you’ll actually be walking up the road that the Master and Colonel Trenchard would have taken to get into HMS Seaspite. You’ll notice the big gates at the back which once upon a time would have just been a barrier.
If you’re feeling particularly brave, you could even risk getting closer to see some of the interior locations including the area that Trenchard’s cart pulls up at, and where the Master salutes the navy personal walking past. Signs warning of guard dogs and trespassers put me off getting too close, and I advise you against going near too.
I was also a little dismayed at what a state the building was in. Each of the buildings just seemed to be the four walls and the ceiling; there are no doors or windows left, and graffiti is everywhere. It’s a shame to see such a great location that many people don’t know about having fallen into such disrepair.
Following the path to the right, it’ll bring you out onto Eastney Beach itself, and walking along the line of the property, you’ll find two big metal gates. I don’t know if they are the same ones from the serial, but here, it’s easy to spot all the other locations. There is a porch area outside of which the Third Doctor, Jo, and Captain Hart exit and spot the Sea Devils. The main gates are also open for the final episode thanks to the big fight between the Navy and the Sea Devils.
Looking down along the beach, you can spot where the Sea Devils would have come running, when Hart is in the giant gun firing on them, sending them sprawling with a series of explosions and then on the other side, there is a distant building which sees the Master running from it.
Of course, the beach has changed a lot since filming took place in the early 1970s and what I was walking along was actually sea defences — so be careful because it’s a bit of a drop down, should you fall. Also be careful because where the Gunnery is, it’s now, to my shock and horror, a nudist beach! I was walking around this section of the beach taking photos and happened to look down, trying to match up where the hovercraft dropped off Jo and some more military personal: it also happened to be right where a man was lying stark naked in eight-degree weather! So this is perhaps not a location to take the kids, but if you ignore the naked people, then it’s another great filming location on the South Coast. And as not many stories were filmed near me, it’s nice to find these little places that not many people either know about or bother with.
Other locations used for The Sea Devils were No Man’s Land fort, now a hotel in the Solent; and elsewhere on the Isle of Wight, somewhere I might try and visit in the summer.
So that’s three more locations ticked off my list. I think my next trip will be Arundel Castle where Silver Nemesis was filmed. I’ve been there loads of times and know where filming took place but strangely, I’ve never taken pictures around there. Honestly though, I don’t know what’s scarier, Cybermen or naturists? Had they been there when the Sea Devils came ashore, it certainly would’ve been memorable…