by Ann Morris, http://www.airlockalpha.com/node/7593
The suitcases are unpacked, the passport put safely away, and the jetlag is fading.
It was not my intention to have a Doctor Who vacation. To tell the truth, I only started to think of it in that way when I began to write this column. As many of Airlock Alpha readers are also “Doctor Who,” viewers, it seems appropriate.
You see a lot of London in the background as The Doctor and his companions try to save the world. Many episodes are set specifically in the city.
The London Eye figures prominently in “Rose,” the first episode of the new "Who" series. It’s used by the Nestene Consciousness as a communication device. I and my family took a turn on the Eye, or “the wheel” as locals sometimes call it.
Fortunately, we did not have any run-ins with plastic that was controlled by the Nestene Consciousness.
Even though you are 450 feet in the air at the top of the Eye, it’s not the least bit frightening. I say this as a person who is a total wuss about amusement rides.
The pods in which you ride are quite stable and the whole assembly moves very slowly, so there is no feeling of being spun around.
You get a fantastic -- and I mean that in the true sense of the word -- view of London. From high up on “the wheel,” you might as well be an alien looking down on the city.
After our Eye experience, we took a stroll across the Thames via the Millennium Bridge. Then we ambled along the riverside to Shakespeare‘s Globe Theater.
This is not the original Globe Theater. That one burned down in 1613, only 14 years after it was built. The fire was caused by an accident with a cannon during a performance of “Henry VIII.“ There were 3,000 people in the theater and, amazingly, there was only one casualty. One man’s trousers caught fire. He was saved from harm by his best mate who poured his beer on the man to extinguish the flaming britches.
There was a second Globe built in 1614, but the theater-hating Puritans caused it to be shut it down in 1642.
In 1644, it was demolished.
The current Globe was a pet project of American actor Sam Wanamaker, who died before the project was finished.
When The Doctor (see, I did get back to him) met Shakespeare, the scenes were filmed at the new Globe. I was unaware of this until I did a little research after returning home. Why, I might have walked in the Doctor’s footsteps without knowing it. The Globe is a working theater, with two performances every day except Christmas.
Other London landmarks that appear in The Doctor's London are Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column and the red phone boxes.
Of course, London is not all of England and there are instances of other English settings from time to time.
In “Turn Left,” Donna Noble’s family is evacuated to Leeds when London was destroyed. She’s not too happy about it.
I was in Leeds and it’s not so bad. It’s got a large university. It’s alive with lots of students. Among them are many who are fond of “fancy dress.” In the evenings, I’m told, you see a grand parade of Goth, anime and other costumes if you are out on the streets.
Leeds is in Yorkshire where you can find some other delightful places to spend your time.
The surreal nature of York, a town with a lot of history as well as a mall in 17th century buildings, would be a grand place for The Doctor and a companion to have an adventure.
York Minster is a medieval church with spires, gargoyles and grand windows. It’s dark and ghostly inside. Weeping angels might well reside within.
Bolton Abbey is in an area of Yorkshire called “the Dales.” What remains of the abbey is actually only part of a wall, but what is left is impressive. Perhaps the Daleks are responsible for the destruction of the remainder of the abbey?
Back in East Croydon, the suburb of London where we stayed with a friend, I found some wonderful Doctor Who souvenirs. At Whitgif, an outdoor mall, there is a branch of the famous science-fiction and fantasy shop Forbidden Planet, which has Who stuff galore.
Can you imagine that a science-fiction and fantasy store is so successful that it’s a chain? I’d never have dreamed that was possible, but it is in Doctor Who land after all.
If you get the chance to visit England, take it: especially if you can go to London. It's teeming hordes of people and maze-like streets make for a thrilling chaos.
Perhaps that's why The Doctor fits in so well there. He is a bit chaotic, isn't he?
It’s unlikely that I’ll be back in the United Kingdom any time soon. But as long as I have The Doctor on the telly, I’ll have reminders of my 2010 summer vacation.