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.

Want more of this stuff? Follow CityMetric on Twitter or Facebook.

 
 
 
 

How US planners experimented with “the iron hand of power” over colonial Manila

Manila in ruins, 1945. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

In 1904, Manila must have appeared to its new overlords a despairing prospect. Racked with poverty and disease, it was still recovering from years of war, epidemic and a fire that had left 8,000 homeless.

For architect Daniel Burnham, it was an opportunity to put to work the radical ideas he had dreamed of in America.

He was among those asking how America’s unprecedented wealth at the turn of the century could be reconciled with the lives of the country’s poorest. Like many, he admired the ideas of harmonised city-planning articulated in Edward Bellamy’s bestselling science-fiction Looking Backward (1888).

At the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Burnham constructed the “White City”. Built across 686 acres of parkland, boulevards, gardens and neoclassical structures rendered a spray-painted plaster vision of the future – all laid out to one comprehensive plan.

It was impressive – but implementing grand designs where people actually lived meant laborious negotiations with citizens, businessmen and politicians.

Instead, opportunity lay in America’s new overseas territories. As Daniel Immerwahr describes in How to Hide an Empire: A Short History of the Greater United States, “They functioned as laboratories, spaces for bold experimentation where ideas could be tried with practically no resistance, oversight, or consequences.”

An architect’s dream

The US had gone to war with Spain in 1898, taking advantage of an empire-wide insurrection. It ended up controlling the entire Philippines, along with Guam and Puerto Rico.

As a “territory”, the Philippines existed outside the protections of the constitution. Congress could impose any law, proclaimed the attorney general in 1901, “without asking the consent of the inhabitants, even against their consent and against their protest, as it has frequently done.”

Which is how Burnham, upon invitation by the Philippine’s new rulers, came to wield what the Architectural Record called “the iron hand of power” over Manila.

 Burnham’s plan for Manila. Click to expand.

Where Burnham’s Chicago plan was complex, took years and entailed collaboration with hundreds of citizens, Burnham spent six months on the Manila plan, and just six weeks in the Philippines. And with no voters to persuade, there seemed little reason to register Filipino input in his designs.

In 1905 Burnham submitted his Report on Improvement of Manila. It described filling the toxic moat of the Spanish fortress Intramuros and developing a rectangular street system modelled on Washington D.C., with diagonal arteries which even Chicago lacked.


Central to his plan was the city’s beautification through monumental buildings, waterfront improvements, and parks – “wholesome resorts” to “give proper means of recreation to every quarter of the city”

Burnham charged William E. Parsons as the omnipotent “Consultant Architect” to interpret his plan, who relished its authority over all public building as an “architect’s dream”. When concerned with the extent of his purview, he also chose to standardise a number of public buildings.

“I doubt if this method would bear fruit in our own city improvement plans, in which everything depends on slow moving legislative bodies,” reported the Architectural Record’s correspondent.

Despite Burnham’s colonial sentiments his biographer concluded his plan was “remarkable in its simplicity and its cognizance of Philippine conditions and traditions.”

His plans did not shy from asserting the colonial government’s authority, however. The Luneta, a favourite park, was to become the nuclei of government. The city’s avenues would converge there, for “every section of the Capitol City should look with deference toward the symbol of the Nation’s power.”

Unusual monumental possibilities

Burnham also worked on a summer palace for US administrators at Baguio, 150 miles north in the mountains. On land inhabited by Igorot people, Burnham saw an opening “to formulate my plans untrammelled by any but natural conditions”.

Baguio’s “unusual monumental possibilities” were facilitated by a road whose construction employed thousands, risking death from disease and falling off cliffs. Civic buildings would “dominate everything in sight” and a golf course would rival those of Scotland.

“Stingy towards the people and lavish towards itself,” griped La Vanguardia, the government “has no scruples nor remorse about wasting money which is not its own.”

As enthusiasm for US empire soured in the States, local power was relinquished to Filipinos. Parsons resigned in protest in 1914. He was replaced by Manila-born Juan Arellano, whose rebuke to imperialists was the mighty, neoclassical Legislative Building which hosted the elected Philippine Legislature. Arellano upheld Burnham’s plan, producing a beautified city bearing resemblance to Burnham’s White City.

But the Legislative Building, along with Burnham’s great edifices and almost everything else in Manila, was levelled as US troops recaptured it in 1945, this time ousting the Japanese in a brutal battle. “Block after bloody block was slowly mashed into an unrecognizable pulp”, recorded the 37th Infantry Division as they exercised their own “iron hand” over Manila.

American artillery had transformed Manila into ruins. “It was by far the most destructive event ever to take place on US soil,” writes Immerwahr, even if few soldiers realised they were liberating US nationals at the time. Burnham’s expansive vision was lost in the debris, and though some buildings were rebuilt a majority were replaced. Today, Manila’s pre-war architecture is remembered with fondness and nostalgia.