Friday 6 April 2012

Putting Doctor Who on the map

Just thought I’d share a little something with you. It’s by no means costume related, and only just Fifth Doctor related, but this doesn’t happen often, so worth a mention.

The town where I live, Borehamwood, has a near century long history of film production. For many years it had the largest number of functioning film studios in close proximity, rivalling Hollywood.

I don’t say that lightly. If you look down the list of films made here you will see some BIG names: in the 1920s Alfred Hitchcock had his first directing credits at the AIP studios; the 1950s saw a raft of swashbuckling epics from Ivanhoe to Robin Hood plus Moby Dick; the 1960s found Stanley Kubrick filming 2001: A Space Odyssey and later A Clockwork Orange and The Shining.

The 1970s brought the new Hollywood directors to make Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Who Framed Roger Rabbit; the 1980s saw The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

In 1988 a Doctor Who story was shot here, when the circus tent for The Greatest Show In The Galaxy was erected in the BBC (formerly ATV) Studios car park.

The studios featured in the Gerry Anderson series UFO as the Harlington-Straker studios; this was where The Muppet Show and Sapphire And Steel were shot; and when it was acquired by the BBC in the 1980s it became the home of Eastenders.

Latterly television has dominated, with the UK version of Big Brother have its home here as well as Eastenders, Who Wants To Be A Millionare and Dancing On Ice, and more recently The Kings Speech occupied studio space.

Sadly a decline at the start of the 1970s saw several of the studios combine and then close, leaving large areas of vacant land.

By the 1980s these were redeveloped as housing estates and as a nod to their film heritage the roads were named after many leading stars.

If you take a closer look at the map (left) you’ll see with Margaret Ruthford Close, Gary Cooper Cresent, Peter Sellers Close, David Niven Close, Ivor Novello Way. Studios memorialised include Pinewood Close, Denham Way, Danziger Way, Ealing Close, Gate Close and Shepperton Close.

Sadly none of these names appeared in Doctor Who, that is until this year when a new development has been built on what was a local college.

TODD CLOSE is named as a tribute to Richard Todd, star of The Dam Busters, but also the star of Kinda, the 1982 Peter Davison story.
Obviously the local link is to the 1950s film rather the the 1980s tv episode, but either way it is a Doctor Who actor.

Richard Todd, we salute you!

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