Doctor Who’s seventh season: cowboys, space dinosaurs and scarier-than-usual Daleks. (Photo courtesy of the BBC.)
Doctor Who spins back to Earth this week with five webisodes before the September 1 season premiere. But he's easy to find beyond BBC America. Step through a crack in time — or space, at least — and explore some of the hero's haunts, as the world's longest running sci-fi series approaches its 50th anniversary in 2013.
Like many fans — or "Whovians" — visiting Britain for the first time, Ed Matuskey headed straight for the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, Wales (£15). "The interactive experience was fun, but the artifacts were the highlights. Especially the classic TARDIS console rooms — places I've often pictured myself madly flipping switches and yanking levers!" said the metadata specialist from Seattle who favors the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker.
The exhibit itself takes just a few hours to explore, but the Cardiff area contains hundreds of "Doctor Who" locations, from its bay waterfront to the Millennium Stadium and picturesque Llandaff Village (also the birthplace of children's author Roald Dahl). Unofficial bus tours loop through landmarks (£18). But intrepid travelers often prefer to plot their own courses using the impressively comprehensive Locations Guide, a fan-crafted database.
For Mark Scales, this urge materialized in the form of a blog detailing the Gloucester musical director's attempts to visit every backdrop from 2005, when the show regenerated after a 16-year hiatus. He devoted an entire week to Cardiff, which just happened to overlap with his favorite doctor — the current, 11th one, played by Matt Smith — carrying the Olympic Torch.
As the show's icon would say, never ignore coincidence. Scales certainly didn't. "I got up at 4 a.m. and made sure I was at the front of the queue."
The blogger — who recently renewed his wedding vows in a Who-themed ceremony — found his favorite destination so far in Skenfrith, Wales, the setting for "Amy's Choice" episode from 2010. It's "basically two streets but has a village green with a castle on it. It's absolutely gorgeous," he said. "A short train ride takes you to Newport, which features several locations from what is considered the best episode: 'Blink'."
Skenfrith’s 13th-century church with squat tower. (Photo: VisitBritain/Britain on View)
Doctor without borders