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Bristol takes center stage in explosive Doctor Who Anniversary Special

'Last Summer's shoot in the busy central streets of Bristol's Old City was by far the biggest and most ambitious Doctor Who shoot we have ever hosted.'

By Arron Kennon, Film & TV Editor

Bristol's iconic locations will be thrust into the limelight in the highly anticipated Doctor Who: The Giggle, set to premiere tonight (9 December) on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. The thrilling episode is the third in a trilogy of Anniversary Specials produced to celebrate 60 years of the beloved sci-fi series. Filmed on location in Bristol's Old City with the support of the city's Film Office, The Giggle promises an explosive conclusion to the trilogy.

Bristol Film Office has marked the occasion by releasing a Doctor Who in Bristol Movie Map, detailing every filming location in Bristol featured in Doctor Who over the past six decades.

The trilogy kicked off on 25 November with The Star Beast, where The Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) reunite after many years. The second episode, Wild Blue Yonder, aired on 2 December, taking the TARDIS to the furthest edge of adventure. The final installment, The Giggle, presents a mysterious puppet's laughter driving the human race insane, leading The Doctor to face the return of the terrifying Toymaker (Neil Patrick Harris).

Wild Blue Yonder // Courtesy of IMDb

The episode, previewed by the BBC, showcases major action scenes filmed on and around Clare Street in Bristol's Old City in June 2022. The cityscape is transformed into a chaotic world with explosions, tanks, soldiers and colliding vehicles.

Facilitated by Bristol Film Office, the extensive shoot featured numerous stunts, a large supporting cast, and crew, generating excitement from the Bristol public. The unique floral design on the road at the intersection of Clare Street, St Stephen’s Avenue, and Marsh Street is easily identifiable in both ground-level shots and aerial drone footage. Tennant and Tate shot scenes at the historic St Stephens Church, including its churchyard, and utilized nearby Broad Street for filming. The Creperie Chez Marcel underwent a transformation to portray a toyshop named 'Mr Emporium'. Additionally, filming occurred in a nearby alleyway linking Broad Street to the adjacent Small Street, where the TARDIS was stationed.

Laura Aviles, Head of Film at Bristol City Council, commended the Film Office team for their outstanding work during the ambitious shoot. She emphasized that last summer's shoot in Bristol's Old City marked the largest and most ambitious Doctor Who shoot the city has ever hosted.

Filming location near Clare Street // Courtesy of James Pardon

Aviles says: "As an iconic production that has been successfully made in Wales since its reboot 20 years ago, Bristol's neighbouring locations are easily accessible, appealing and convenient to Doctor Who's production team. Bristol Film Office has been proud to assist with locations support on many occasions over the years - but last Summer's shoot in the busy central streets of Bristol's Old City was by far the biggest and most ambitious Doctor Who shoot we have ever hosted.'

The Giggle will air at 6:30 pm , concluding the trilogy of anniversary specials. Following the episode, a special edition of Doctor Who Unleashed will go behind the scenes of The Giggle and feature an interview with Neil Patrick Harris.

The city will also feature in the Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Church on Ruby Road, airing on BBC One at 5:55 pm on Christmas Day.

Featured Image: The Giggle // Courtesy of BBC

Will you be tuning in tonight to catch a glimpse of the city?