Who am I going? Or, the geography of Doctor Who

Doctor Who is set in London but is filmed in Wales. Don't they know what their psychopsychogeography is doing to me?

Evil mannequins

A favourite pastime of many a Cardiff citizen is to play ‘spot fake London’ on Doctor Who. We first met Jacqui Tyler under attack from mannequins in what was plainly Cardiff’s old St David’s Arcade done up with a couple of Underground signs. The Cybermen created the first Bluetooth network of busy Londoners in Cardiff’s Butetown. And just at the beginning of series three, Cardiff Queen Street suddenly turned a corner onto the UK Parliament, overwriting Wales’ own proudest landmark, TK Maxx.

I used to indulge in such larks as a Cardiff resident. It was harmless fun, pondering whether killer Santas would be browsing the Hayes, or ghosts appearing in the city’s estates. Now that’s all in the past – having moved to London, I now have to contend with working out where Cardiff ends and London begins.

Doctor Who has effectively broken my psychogeography and created the baffling Londiff, collapsing my recognised universe down to an M4-less mess of London landmarks amidst Welsh backdrop. Even Baudrillard would scratch his head at what they’ve created.

In The Lazarus Experiment the scientific labs were quite obviously where I once interned at the Welsh Assembly, yet characters were staring out the windows at Southwark Cathedral. Just to really stir up the Cardiff/London/Who mess, the cathedral was CGI’d over what would in reality be the centre of Cardiff Bay – which is supposedly the top of the Torchwood Institute. That is truly elaborate cloaking to blank out the intermediate 250 miles.

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Later in the episode, the Doctor and Martha are looking up at the cathedral from the bottom of Cardiff University’s Glamorgan building. What is now Southwark Cathedral was once where the Slaveen Mayor held office, and where I used to learn town planning (don’t ask). Why do I now walk through London Bridge and get nostalgic for building regulations? Damn you, Cardiff civic centre, and your cheap filming rates!

On the upside, they do appear to be running out of places to pull such tricks in Cardiff. Their appearances seem to be getting fewer and more obscure by the week. After a probable visit to the 18th century at Cardiff Castle, and an episode where a mutant orange Gavin Henson terrifies the tramps at the bus station, there will be no original sites left in Cardiff.

If I had techier know-how, this would be the point I would build the most awesomest Google Maps mod ever created. As it is, I’ll just continue to walk in circles around the Globe Theatre looking for the Millennium Stadium.