Which cities have appeared the most in Doctor Who?

The new cast of Doctor Who. Image: BBC.

This Sunday sees Sheffield join an elite club.

That’s right: along with Aberdeen, Bristol, Cardiff, Hull, Liverpool, Leeds, and London, Sheffield will become “a real UK city that has been featured in BBC TV’s Doctor Who”, which is clearly way more important than being a City of Culture or hosting an Olympics or whatever.

To celebrate this achievement, we’ve decided to count every appearance of a city on BBC TV’s Doctor Who to find out once and for all which city is the best at appearing in BBC TV’s Doctor Who.

(Excluding fictional space cities. For arbitrary reasons, in the old series we’ve counted appearances per story, in the new one we’ve counted by episode. And we’ve counted by the supposed setting, not filming location. Sorry, Cardiff.)

In reverse order:

8th equal – 1 appearance

Aberdeen – well, just about. Thirty years after the fact, an episode of the new series revealed that this was where Doctor Who had left companion Sarah Jane Smith at the end of The Hand Of Fear (1976).

Amsterdam – appeared, for spurious reasons, as itself in Arc of Infinity (1983).

Arles – was where Doctor Who met Vincent Van Gogh in the episode ‘Doctor Who meets Vincent Van Gogh’ (2010).

Beijing – Doctor Who won some elephants playing backgammon with the Chinese emperor that one time (Marco Polo, 1964).

Berlin – Let’s Kill Hitler! (2011)

Cambridge – or almost, because production of the story in question (Shada, 1979) was abandoned.

Florence – Doctor Who went to Leonardo Da Vinci’s house to hide the message ‘THIS IS A FAKE’ under six copies of the Mona Lisa in City of Death (1979). Blame Douglas Adams.

Hull – as represented by a generic bit of countryside in Blink (2007). Idea for future episode: Doctor Who goes to Hull and the TARDIS turns into a white telephone box.

Jaffa – The Crusade (1965).

Leeds – In a dark alternate timeline, in which Doctor Who died, companion Donna Noble was forced to move to Leeds. Chilling stuff. (Turn Left, 2008)

Liverpool – was apparently where Doctor Who confused some policemen in a lost Christmas-themed episode called The Feast of Steven (1966).

Pompeii – In The Fires of Pompeii (2008).

Rome – In The Romans (1965).

San Francisco – Setting of the American-made 1996 Doctor Who TV movie. San Francisco was mostly played by Vancouver.

Seville – Appeared as itself in The Two Doctors (1985), in no way so the production team could have a free holiday.

Sydney – The Doctor and Bill make a very brief stop somewhere with a good view of the opera house in, The Pilot (2017).

Tenochtitlan/Mexico City – The Aztecs (1964).

Tokyo – In a slightly questionable scene in The Return of Doctor Mysterio (2016) involving Pokemon Go.

Troy – In The Myth Makers (1965).

Venice - In Vampires of Venice (2010).


7th – Los Angeles – 2 appearances

Both in Christmas specials! The aforementioned lost 1965 episode The Feast of Steven features a sequence on a film set presumably intended to be in Hollywood. Doctor Who meets Bing Crosby and tells him he has a stupid name.

Just 45 Christmases later, A Christmas Carol sees Doctor Who stop off at (again, presumably) a Hollywood party, where he accidentally gets married to Marilyn Monroe. As you do.

6th – Washington D.C. – 3 appearances

The Impossible Astronaut, The Day of the Moon (both 2011) and Extremis (2017) all feature scenes set in The White House. Albeit that the last one turns out to be a simulation of the White House, but still. It counts.

5th – Paris – 5 appearances

In your face, Brexit – Doctor Who’s been making trips to the French capital since the first season, which ended with a trip to the revolution in The Reign of Terror (1964). He returned a couple of years later in The Massacre (1966).

And then, after a gap of ten years, Doctor Who went back to Paris – for real, in City of Death (1979). Tom Baker threatened to fly off the Eiffel Tower and everything!

3rd equal – Cardiff – 6 appearances

Chiefly in The Unquiet Dead and Boomtown (both 2005). The other four amount to Torchwood cameos, so are probably best forgotten, but that’s still lower than you’d expect given that almost all of it’s been filmed there since 2005.

(There is actually a canonical explanation, which amounts to “Doctor Who avoids going to Cardiff because looking at John Barrowman gives him a headache”.)

3rd equal – New York – 6 appearances

Doctor Who went once in The Chase in 1965, ran into Peter Purves doing an excruciatingly poor American accent on the top of the Empire State Building and avoided the place for the next 40 years.

Since then, though, it’s been the setting for four new series episodes and appeared briefly in another. The Angels Take Manhattan (2011) even features the real, actual Central Park. Other appearances: both episodes of “Rubbish Daleks in New York” (2007), The Return of Doctor Mysterio (2016) and the very end of Day of the Moon (2011).

We are definitely not counting New New York, home of space cat Father Dougal and a big face.

2nd – Bristol – 9 appearances

Doctor Who must have got a thing about Bristol after accidentally landing there in Flatline (2014) - because he spent much of the 2017 series teaching at a fictional Bristol University, St Luke’s. Hence Bristol’s unlikely position as ‘the second city of Doctor Who’.

1st – London – 80+ appearances

In a way it makes sense – perhaps the TARDIS, embarrassed that it got stuck as a London police box in 1963, is always attempting to steer back to the one place in the world where its appearance is at least slightly plausible.

What maybe makes less sense is that the series ramped up the number of London-based stories when it came back in 2005 – even though it was no longer made in London, necessitating the wanging of London Underground logos onto Cardiff shopping centres and so on. In fact, while Russell T Davies was running the show, over half the stories were set in the capital. Here’s a graph, in case you like graphs:

The propostion of Doctor Who stories set in London in each season, from 1963 to the present day.

This is partly due to a shift in the nature of the show – In 21st century Doctor Who the companions’ Earthly lives play a more important part than in the old series; and since companions have tended to be from London that necessarily means more stories set there. Note that in seasons 5, 6, and 7, featuring Amy & Rory, the percentage drops – because they’re from the made-up village of Leadworth, so we get scenes set there instead.

So maybe the debut of Sheffield heralds an end to the series’ recent London-centric ways – Doctor Who In An Exciting With The Northern Powerhouse, anyone?

Is this the terrifying new incarnation of Doctor Who’s nemesis, the Master?

The new series of Doctor Who, the first with new star Jodie Whittaker, begins on Sunday with ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’.

Ed Jefferson works for the internet and tweets as @edjeff.

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Covid-19 is highlighting cities' unequal access to green space

In the UK, Londoners are most likely to rely on their local park for green space, and have the best access to parks. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

As coronavirus lockdowns ease, people are flooding back to parks – but not everyone has easy access to green space in their city.

Statistics from Google show that park attendance in countries across the globe has shot up as people have been allowed to move around their cities again.

This is especially true in urban areas, where densely populated neighbourhoods limit the size of private green space – meaning residents have to go to the park to get in touch with nature. Readers from England can use our interactive tool below to find out how much green space people have access to in their area, and how it compares to the rest of the country.

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement Monday that people are allowed to mingle in parks and gardens with groups of up to six people was partially following what people were doing already.

Data from mobile phones show people have been returning to parks across the UK, and also across Europe, as weather improves and lockdown eases.

People have been returning to parks across the world

Stay-at-home requirements were eased in Italy on 4 May, which led to a flood of people returning to parks.

France eased restrictions on 1 May, and the UK eased up slightly on 13 May, allowing people to sit down in public places so long as they remain socially distanced.

Other countries have seen park attendance rise without major easing of lockdown – including Canada, Spain, and the US (although states there have individual rules and some have eased restrictions).

In some countries, people never really stopped going to parks.

Authorities in the Netherlands and Germany were not as strict as other countries about their citizens visiting local parks during lockdown, while Sweden has famously been avoiding placing many restrictions on people’s daily lives.


There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that access to green space has major benefits for public health.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Exeter found that spending time in the garden is linked to similar benefits for health and wellbeing as living in wealthy areas.

People with access to a private garden also had higher psychological wellbeing, and those with an outdoor space such as a yard were more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than those without access to outdoor space. 

Separate UK research has found that living with a regular view of a green space provides health benefits worth £300 per person per year.

Access is not shared equally, however, which has important implications for equality under lockdown, and the spread of disease.

Statistics from the UK show that one in eight households has no garden, making access to parks more important.

There is a geographic inequality here. Londoners, who have the least access to private gardens, are most likely to rely on their local park for green space, and have the best access to parks. 

However the high population in the capital means that on the whole, green space per person is lower – an issue for people living in densely populated cities everywhere.

There is also an occupational inequality.

Those on low pay – including in what are statistically classed as “semi-skilled” and “unskilled” manual occupations, casual workers and those who are unemployed – are almost three times as likely as those in managerial, administrative, professional occupations to be without a garden, meaning they rely more heavily on their local park.

Britain’s parks and fields are also at significant risk of development, according to new research by the Fields in Trust charity, which shows the number of people living further than a 10-minute walk from a public park rising by 5% over the next five years. That loss of green spaces is likely to impact disadvantaged communities the most, the researchers say.

This is borne out by looking at the parts of the country that have private gardens.

The least deprived areas have the largest gardens

Though the relationship is not crystal clear, it shows at the top end: Those living in the least deprived areas have the largest private green space.

Although the risk of catching coronavirus is lower outdoors, spending time in parks among other people is undoubtedly more risky when it comes to transmitting or catching the virus than spending time in your own outdoor space. 

Access to green space is therefore another example – along with the ability to work from home and death rates – of how the burden of the pandemic has not been equally shouldered by all.

Michael Goodier is a data reporter at New Statesman Media Group, and Josh Rayman is a graphics and data visualisation developer at New Statesman Media Group.