As a devoted fan of this magnificent programme, and as a lover of history too, I have decided to take you on a spin in the TARDIS to poke around the collection of castles that have graced the show through the years. I will name the episodes and show some clips in which they appear, so you can keep an eye out for repeats in 2013 - the show's 50th Anniversary year.
|The studio-bound nature of the early seasons
meant that often painted backdrops were used.
Here is a fairytale castle in a fantasy land.
By the time location filming had become more affordable and therefore more frequent, it coincided with a shift in thinking about what the programme should contain, and historical stories were phased out in favour of visits to the future or thrillers set on contemporary Earth.
When the TARDIS finally made a trip to a fictional medieval castle, it was actually filmed at a Victorian mansion! The second real castle to appear in the show was used to represent a suspiciously retro alien world, and it was only the third occasion that a structure from the Middle Ages was used for filming a historical location. The final castle used in the show was seen during a visit to the present day. In the entire original 26-year run of Doctor Who, only four castles were featured in the series, and on only one occasion was it for the purposes of dropping in on a famous king or queen.
Dover Castle - "The Mind of Evil"
You can see some great shots of Dover Castle during the first couple of minutes of episode one in this video of The Mind of Evil.
Peckforton Castle - "The Time Warrior"
Peckforton was commissioned by the wealthy estate manager John Tollemache and designed by Anthony Salvin in the Gothic style. Its authentic-looking exterior and modern facilities made for an ideal building to film the scenes which were supposed to take place in the 13th century. It doesn't belong on this list, but is included because it's the first of only two fictional visits to such a setting.
Episode two of The Time Warrior features Peckforton Castle in its opening and it can be seen in the first minute of this video clip along with the first ever appearance of a Sontaran - a monster which continues to be popular today. There is more good footage of the location in this clip here.
Leeds Castle - "The Androids of Tara"
When the TARDIS lands on an alien planet called Tara, its similarity to medieval England allows for a retelling of The Prisoner of Zenda but, as this is Doctor Who, it is done so using androids.
Here in this video clip there are some good shots of the castle and in this clip from episode four the castle is illuminated at night as the Count dives into the moat.
The Doctor Who team would not call upon another castle for five years - but there was a cameo by Powis Castle at the end of Warriors Gate. Still images were used as backdrops with the characters added using blue-screen. The slides were seen only in greyscale to emphasise the mysterious "mirror world" in which the characters arrived.
Bodiam Castle - "The King's Demons"
A medieval castle was actually used to portray a medieval castle on only one occasion, and it came in the Peter Davison story The King's Demons. Purely historical adventures were long since extinct by this stage and the plot deals with the Master's attempt to change history at the court of King John with the help of an android.
Ironically, the story is set in 1215 but the location chosen for this chivalric tale was Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge.
Some beautiful establishing shots of the Castle from episode one can be seen here along with the jousting which then takes place in the grounds - and the TARDIS landing interrupting it. You can click here to see the TARDIS being carted inside the castle.
Arundel Castle - "Silver Nemesis"
The final castle to feature in the new series appeared for the location-only story Silver Nemesis, and was recorded in June 1988. The adventure takes place in Windsor Castle but the production team could not secure permission to record in the real location and so Arundel Castle was selected as a suitable substitute.
The crowd of tourists featured a number of celebrity extras to mark the 25th anniversary of the programme. Included in these people was Nicholas Courtney in his first appearance in the show for five years, although not specifically playing the Brigadier.
Half way through episode two this sequence represents most of the footage shot at Arundel.
The New Series - Welsh Castles from 2005 Onwards
Doctor Who in its reborn form not only had a more generous budget but greater ambitions and more time to prepare, and so location work in some of Wales's finest historic buildings became commonplace.
And yet, as with the previous incarnation of the show, the Doctor still rarely shows us any iconic moments from British history, and therefore the nation's great stone fortifications have been used instead to depict a variety of weird and wonderful places.
Penllyn Castle - "Tooth and Claw"
Fonmon Castle - "The Next Doctor"
During shooting in April 2008, several rooms and the stairs and landing were used as the Cybermen chased the Doctor through Reverend Fairchild's house. The impressive rooms can be seen in this clip from the episode.
Castell Coch - "Journeys End" and "Vampires of Venice"
Much of this house was built in the 1870s but it is founded on the remains of a 13th century castle. The site is at least authentic, even if the current architecture is not. The location work was completed in March 2008, but the production team returned in January 2010 when its distinctive courtyard was used as the Calvierri residence in the Vampires of Venice.
Caerphilly Castle - "The Rebel Flesh" and others
The next time the production team arrived, the castle was to play the somewhat unlikely role of Venice. On 9th February 2010, the castle moat was used during a night shoot in order to record a scene in which Doctor and Rory arrive at the Calvierri palace for The Vampires of Venice. The Great Hall was featured when a doorway to the palace was needed, and the castle's tunnels were used for when characters made their way in and out.
Ten months later, Doctor Who was back in the very same tunnels for The Rebel Flesh to shoot scenes with Rory, and the crew returned again in April 2012 to shoot scenes for The Power of Three.
Cardiff Castle - "The Snowmen" and "The Rebel Flesh"
In mid-September 2012, the interiors were used for recording the Christmas special called The Snowmen.
Skenfrith Castle - "Amy's Choice"
The first parts of the defences were built shortly after 1066 and the castle was still in use in the 15th century. By 1538 the castle was abandoned and ruinous and is now an open site in the midst of the town.
Much is seen of the ruin as the episode centres around Amy Pond's home of Leadworth. She and and her time-travelling friends wander about the village, chat in the castle grounds, and ultimately meet a group of alien-possessed pensioners on the green.
This excellent location can be seen here in this video clip from the episode.
Chepstow Castle - "The Rebel Flesh"
Chepstow Castle in Monmouthshire featured as the Monastery for this retro-futuristic outpost and is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain. It was in regular use until 1685 whereafter it was partly dismantled and fell into disrepair.
And so ends our tour of England and Wales. Almost all these sites are accessible to the public and present a great opportunity to engage children with the past. Next time you're planning a holiday - especially anywhere near South Wales - why not look in on a few of these sites which are now part of our televisual history as well as our military one.