Doctor Who's Guide to London Landmarks
Created | Updated Feb 28, 2021
What? There's like, a secret base hidden underneath a major London landmark?
- Donna Noble, 'The Runaway Bride'
Ever since Doctor Who started, although the TARDIS is capable of travelling through time and space to any destination throughout the universe at any time, the Doctor has spent a surprisingly large amount of time in present day London. Indeed, the very first episode, 'An Unearthly Child', was set in contemporary London. Even in the 21st Century the scariest place imaginable is still Europe's largest city. No alien invasion plan is convincingly cunning or complete unless it involves a famous London landmark or two.
London Landmarks Located
Please note, places in italics are fictional locations seen only in the television series.
During the Blitz in early 1941, Dr Constantine was the one of the chief doctors at this fictional hospital. The hospital suffered from an outbreak of a strange, highly contagious disease which caused the sufferers to grow gas masks that covered their faces and question their parentage ('The Empty Child'/'The Doctor Dances' 2005). In the early 21st Century, a space pig was brought to the hospital to be looked at by Doctor Sato of Torchwood, only for it to be shot when scared. ('Aliens of London/World War Three', 2005, mentioned in Torchwood 'Exit Wounds').
In 1953 during the Queen's Coronation, the electrical television-based entity known as the Wire attempted to use the BBC transmitter at Alexandra Palace to consume the souls of everyone watching. ('The Idiot's Lantern', 2006).
The road where Sarah-Jane and Luke Smith live at number 13. Number 36 was the home of Maria and Alan Jackson, though they later sold the house to Gita, Haresh and Rani Chandra. The Tenth Doctor saved Luke Smith's life here shortly before regenerating. (The Sarah-Jane Adventures 2007-11, 'The End of Time', 2009).
Battersea Power Station
By 2164, when the Daleks had conquered Earth, Battersea Power Station had lost two of its chimneys and a nuclear power station had been constructed next door. ('The Dalek Invasion of Earth', 1964).
In a parallel universe, Battersea Power Station was the site of Cybus Industries' Cyber-Conversion Centre, where humans were 'upgraded' into Cybermen. ('Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel', 2007).
Also known as Bethlem Hospital or Bedlam, this was where those in London considered to be mad were sent. In 1599 Globe Theatre architect Peter Streete, who had been controlled by three witches, was imprisoned here. ('The Shakespeare Code', 2007).
Home of the Royal Family, and for much of the 20th Century and early 21st Century, Queen Elizabeth II in particular. In the early 21st Century, the Queen was temporarily turned into a goldfish. ('Bad Night', 2011). In 'The Christmas Invasion' (2005) it was reported that the Royal Family, under the influence of Blood Control, were 'on the roof', presumably the roof of Buckingham Palace. Two years later, the Starship Titanic almost crashed into the Palace. ('Voyage of the Damned', 2007).
In an alternate timeline where the Doctor had not met Donna and died, the Starship Titanic not only crashed into Buckingham Palace but unleashed a nuclear explosion destroying all of the south of England. ('Turn Left', 2008). In another alternate timeline in which all human history happened at once, Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill ruled from Buckingham Senate, where he had a pet mammoth. ('The Wedding of River Song', 2011).
Cabinet War Rooms
During the Blitz, Winston Churchill invited the Eleventh Doctor here to see new intelligent weapons known as 'Ironsides' designed by Professor Bracewell. These were secretly Daleks in disguise, plotting to wear khaki and make tea until the Doctor appeared... ('Victory of the Daleks', 2010).
Canary Wharf is a key banking district in London. The tower officially known as 'One Canada Square', commonly called Canary Wharf, was Europe's largest building when built and is now Britain's second largest. Construction began when the Torchwood One branch of the Torchwood Institute discovered a mysterious power source above London and built the tower to reach and study it, hoping to generate limitless clean energy. In 2007 it was learnt that the energy was caused by Daleks escaping from the Void1, emerging above 21st Century London. This weakened the barrier between universes, allowing Cybermen from a parallel universe to cross over and led to a Dalek/Cyberman/Torchwood confrontation known as the Battle of Canary Wharf. This resulted in the destruction of Torchwood One and Rose becoming trapped in a parallel universe. ('Army of Ghosts/Doomsday' & Torchwood 2006).
Coal Hill School
This school was attended by the Doctor's granddaughter Susan in early 1963, with Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright as two of her teachers. ('An Unearthly Child', 1963). In November 1963, the school was the battleground in a Dalek civil war. The Imperial Daleks controlled the headmaster, set up a transmat station in the cellar and landed a shuttle in the playground, while the Renegade Dalek faction converted a schoolgirl into a battle computer. ('Remembrance of the Daleks', 1988). When the Doctor was investigating, the headmaster enquired whether the Doctor was visiting to apply for the post of caretaker. It was also the first location where a Dalek ascended a staircase.
In the early 21st Century, Coal Hill School was where teachers Clara Oswald and Danny Pink taught. The Doctor even briefly became the school's caretaker. ('The Caretaker', 2014).
An area where the First Doctor encountered a War Machine. ('The War Machines', 1966). This area's tube station was later visited by the Second Doctor, although it took him a while to realise where he was, before being attacked by the Yeti. ('The Web of Fear', 1968).
Among the Prime Ministers to have held office at 10 Downing Street are Winston Churchill, Harriet Jones and The Master disguised as Mister Saxon. ('The Sound of Drums').
The Slitheen infiltrated Number 10 Downing Street, killing off the Prime Minister and other political figures in their plan to destroy the Earth and make a fortune selling off its irradiated remains. Mickey Smith foiled this scheme by launching a missile from a British submarine at Downing Street. ('Aliens of London'/'World War Three', 2005).
Earl's Court Police Box
The Earl's Court Police Box was once embarrassingly mistaken for the TARDIS. ('The Bells of St John', 2013).
Though not in London itself, this is one of the main airports to service the city. In 1967, Chameleon Tours Holidays, secretly run by aliens known as Chameleons, were kidnapping humans on their flights and assuming their identities. ('The Faceless Ones', 1967).
A distinctive tower block located at 30 St Mary Axe which was completed in 2003. The building's windows were completely shattered by the arrival of the Sycorax spaceship over London. ('The Christmas Invasion', 2005). Sycorax rock!
Globe Theatre, The
The Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones visited the Globe Theatre in 1599, where they met William Shakespeare. They learned that the theatre's architect, Peter Streete, designed the theatre to be tetradecagal while controlled by Carrionites, witch-like women who use words as the basis of their science. If the words The light of Shadmock's hollow moon doth shine onto a point in space betwixt Dravidian shores linear five nine three o one six and strikes the fulsome grove of Rexel Four, co-radiating crystal, activate! are spoken on the Globe's stage, the theatre's shape will act as an energy converter to open a wormhole portal that will allow the Carrionite race to cross to the Earth and conquer the world.
Shortly afterwards, an elderly Queen Elizabeth I angrily chased after the Tenth Doctor in here. ('The Shakespeare Code', 2007).
Ice Warriors attempted to grow poisonous seed pods here in the late 21st Century. ('The Seeds of Death', 1969).
The Fifth Doctor's companion Tegan was obsessed with getting to Heathrow Airport, where she was due to work as an Air Stewardess. When the Doctor finally arrived in Heathrow, he discovered that a Concorde had disappeared. ('Time Flight', 1982).
Houses of Parliament
The Palace of Westminster, with the distinctive Elizabeth Tower popularly known as 'Big Ben' after the famous bell inside the clock, has appeared on numerous occasions. In 1893, the Half-Face Man clockwork robot was impaled on the tower's spire ('Deep Breath', 2014). During the Blitz, Rose Tyler dangled from a barrage balloon in front of the clock face while wearing a Union Jack top ('The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances', 2005). In the early 21st Century, a Slitheen spaceship crashed into the clock face before sinking beneath the Thames. 'Aliens of London' (2005).
Shortly after regenerating, the Eleventh Doctor nearly crashed into the Houses of Parliament whilst dangling from the TARDIS, almost colliding with the clock tower. ('The Eleventh Hour', 2010).
Fictional museum which held the Cup of Athelstan until it was stolen by art thief Lady Christina de Souza ('Planet of the Dead', 2009). It also temporarily displayed the work of Clyde Langer at the same time that Leonardo Da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa painting was on display. The Mona Lisa escaped her painting and trapped people inside other paintings. (The Sarah-Jane Adventures: 'Mona Lisa's Revenge' 2009).
The giant circular ferris wheel also known as the Millennium Wheel was used by the Nestene Consciousness as a transmitter antennae with which to control the Autons. ('Rose', 2005)
London Zoological Museum
A fictional museum visited by pupils from Coal Hill School, inspired by the Natural History Museum. ('In The Forest of the Night', 2014)
A waxworks museum. When the Third Doctor visited, the newest exhibits were made out of plastic. Instead of the usual celebrities (pop stars, sports personalities, well-known actors, etc), these new mannequins were of politicians and military leaders – the sort of people it would beneficial to replace were someone spearheading an invasion. ('Spearhead From Space', 1970)
A busy commuter railway station through which a politician named Masters2, infected by a highly contagious Silurian disease intended to wipe out humanity, passes. ('Doctor Who and the Silurians', 1970).
A railway and Underground station. The Third Doctor drove up to Moorgate Station when London was evacuated in his 'Whomobile'3, only to encounter a pterodactyl lurking inside. ('Invasion of the Dinosaurs', 1974).
Located adjacent to Trafalgar Square, this is free for the public to visit. In Doctor Who, there is an Under-Gallery built on the orders of Elizabeth I, hidden behind a painting of the Tenth Doctor, where dangerous art is housed. This includes the work of Gallifreyan art titled either No More or Gallifrey Falls. The gallery is looked after by the Curator. The Zygons infiltrated paintings in the National Gallery in 1562, emerging in the early 21st Century. ('Day of the Doctor', 2013).
A fictional museum in an alternative timeline. In 1996 the museum is visited by a young Amelia Pond. On display in the National Museum are the Pandorica, a stone Dalek and a fez. Although the museum is guarded by the Lone Centurion, the Eleventh Doctor is still exterminated by a Dalek. ('The Big Bang', 2010).
In late Victorian London, the Palace Theatre was managed by Henry Gordon Jago and the star attraction was stage magician Li H'Sen Chang. Chang secretly kidnapped young women to drain their life-force and had a giant rat, while his ventriloquist's doll, Mr Sin, was not what it appeared to be. ('The Talons of Weng-Chiang', 1977)
In the 1890s, Paternoster Row was the home of the Paternoster Gang; Madame Vastra, her wife Jenny and their butler, the Sontaran nurse Strax.
A district in London where Ace and her friends lived. A noteworthy building was Gabriel Chase, which a young Ace destroyed in 1983. Later, Ace and the Seventh Doctor visited the house in 1883, when it was revealed to have a sinister past and a spaceship hidden underneath ('Ghost Light', 1989). In 1987 a timestorm transported Ace from Perivale to Iceworld, where she met the Seventh Doctor ('Dragonfire', 1987). The Doctor returned her home in 1989, when she learned that many of her friends had vanished from Perivale, transported to Cheetah World by kitlings and turned into Cat People. ('Survival', 1989).
Pedestrianised area leading to St Paul's Cathedral that is often invaded by Cybermen. Originally called St Peter's Steps, in the 1990s the steps were removed as the area was redeveloped and renamed to make it more wheelchair (and Dalek) accessible. ('The Invasion', 1968, 'Dark Water/Death in Heaven', 2014)
Post Office Tower
The First Doctor arrived in London in 1966, shortly after the new Post Office Tower was built. This, the tallest building in London at the time, housed a revolutionary new computer called WOTAN (Will Operating Thought ANalogue) which was so advanced, it was even linked to other computers around the world. WOTAN plotted to take over the world by hypnotising people and using mobile computerised tanks called War Machines ('The War Machines', 1966). The tower was later renamed Telecom Tower.
The Fifth Doctor, trying to take Tegan back to 1980s Heathrow Airport, ended up in England in 1666. Some escaped alien prisoners, based in Pudding Lane, London, intended to wipe out all human life on Earth with a plague, having created a trial run the year before. Fortunately a fire conveniently prevented mankind's extinction... ('Visitation', 1982). The Fourth Doctor had previously been accused of starting the Great Fire of London.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
The Tenth Doctor travelled to London in 2012 just before the Olympic Torchbearer4 was about to run along Dame Kelly Holmes Close on the final approach to the Olympic Stadium. He was initially unaware that a lonely alien called an Isolus had recently crashed on the road and had befriended a girl named Chloe. Wanting companionship, the Isolus began trapping people within Chloe's drawings. As only positive emotion could provide the alien's spacecraft with power, the Doctor carried the Olympic Torch5 into the stadium to light the Olympic Beacon. The warm emotions from the Opening Ceremony's spectators gave the Isolus sufficient power to travel home. ('Fear Her', 2006).
Royal Albert Hall
London's premier classical music venue. Since 2008, Doctor Who has had promenade concerts in the Royal Albert Hall roughly every two years. In 2008 the Tenth Doctor appeared on screen here, having composed Music of the Spheres for the occasion, but in 2010 the Eleventh Doctor ran into the hall and recruited a young audience member to help him avert the destruction of the hall.
Royal Hope Hospital
The hospital where Martha Jones studied for her doctorate is normally located in London. When a pasmavore6 hid in the hospital after having criminally drunk the blood of an alien princess, a Judoon platoon moved the building to the Moon. After the Doctor and Martha helped them find the criminal, it was returned back to London. ('Smith and Jones', 2008).
St Paul's Cathedral
This distinctive domed cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings in London. In the 1890s, a gas balloon made out of human skin floated over the cathedral. In the 1960s, Cybermen emerged from sewers outside St Paul's and marched down the steps towards the river in 'The Invasion' (1968). In the early 21st Century, St Paul's Cathedral was the headquarters of 3W, an organisation headed by Missy that downloaded the dead and dying into Cybermen. Hidden beneath the Cathedral's dome until it was time to be deployed, a force of 91 flying Cybermen launched from inside the dome, with one headed to every major population centre in the UK. ('Dark Water/Death in Heaven', 2014).
In Victorian London, the sewers were home to a giant mutated rat. ('The Talons of Weng-Chiang', 1977). Cybermen lurked in London's sewers between the 1960s and 80s, in 'The Invasion' (1968) and 'Attack of the Cybermen' (1985).
The Daleks established a time-corridor between Shad Thames, an area close to Tower Bridge in London in the 1980s, and a vessel attacking a prison station in the far future where their creator, Davros, was being held. In London, canisters containing a poisonous gas fatal to Daleks were hidden, guarded by brainwashed human replicas for no apparent reason. ('Resurrection of the Daleks', 1984).
The tallest building in London when constructed in 2012. In 2013 it was the headquarters for a company that trapped people's souls within Wi-Fi for the Great Intelligence. The Doctor destroyed the plot by using a 'Spoonhead' base station to drive an anti-gravity motorbike up the side of the building. ('The Bells of St John', 2013).
When Professor Lazarus' anti-ageing experiment resulted in his being transformation into a monster in 2008, he fled to the cathedral's crypts having earlier revealed he remembered using it as an air raid shelter as a child during the Second World War. There he was defeated by the cathedral's organ. ('The Lazarus Experiment', 2007).
The main river through the heart of London. In 1851 the Cybermen enslave workhouse children to build a giant CyberKing beneath the Thames. In 1893, a Tyrannosaurus Rex was inadvertently brought to the banks of the Thames when it tried to swallow the TARDIS, only to appear to spontaneously combust soon after. ('Deep Breath', 2009).
In 'Terror of the Zygons' (1975), the Loch Ness Monster, controlled by the Zygons, swam up the Thames before it was freed and returned home in the 1970s/80s. In the early 21st Century, the Slitheen crash their spaceship in the Thames after it destroyed the clock nicknamed 'Big Ben' in 'Aliens of London/World War Three' (2005).
In 2007 the Thames was diverted down a pit where hibernating Racnoss were awaking to consume the human race, drowning them. ('The Runaway Bride', 2007).
When in 2009 the Sontarans used ATMOS, a combined clean-emission exhaust and GPS device fitted to vehicles worldwide, to poison the Earth's atmosphere, they killed those threatening their plans by driving their cars into rivers, including the Thames. ('The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky', 2008). A little later, the Doctor caught a number 200 bus whose route passed through a tunnel beneath the Thames, only for a wormhole to appear in the tunnel and transport the bus to a different planet. ('Planet of the Dead', 2009).
In circa 2164, a time in which posters reminded Londoners that they were forbidden from dumping bodies into the river, a Dalek appeared out of the Thames to threaten the First Doctor and his companions. ('The Dalek Invasion of Earth', 1964).
Thames Flood Barrier
The hidden lair containing the offspring of the Empress of the Racnoss was beneath the Thames Flood Barrier, in a base originally constructed by Torchwood. ('The Runaway Bride', 2007).
The scariest part of London in which to find a Yeti on the toilet, according to Third Doctor Jon Pertwee7.
A road near Coal Hill School. Number 76 was the location of I M Foreman's junkyard. The TARDIS materialised in this junkyard in early 1963 and was where the First Doctor met Susan's teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. ('An Unearthly Child', 1963). In November 1963 the junkyard's sign had been repainted 'I M Forman' when a Dalek was encountered by troops under the command of Group Captain 'Chunky' Gilmore, assisted by the Seventh Doctor, and destroyed by explosives designed by Ace. ('Remembrance of the Daleks', 1988).
The Sixth Doctor returned to the junkyard, now renamed 'I M Foreman', in 1985 when the chameleon circuit disguised the TARDIS as a dresser. ('Attack of the Cybermen', 1985). In 2013, a policeman near Coal Hill School passed a poster advertising the junkyard. ('The Day of the Doctor', 2013).
Tower of London
In 1562 someone the Tenth, Eleventh and War Doctors believed to be a Zygon impersonating Queen Elizabeth I ordered the Doctors to be imprisoned inside the Tower. They scratched a message into their cell wall for Clara to find in the early 21st Century. ('The Day of the Doctor', 2013). They planned to use their sonic screwdrivers to shift the door molecules and disintegrate the door to the cell, only to be told by the Queen that the door wasn't locked. In fact who they believed to be the impostor was the real Queen Elizabeth, impersonating the Zygon to learn their cunning plan to invade the future. Shortly after, the Doctor and Elizabeth were married there.
By the early 21st Century, the Tower of London's secret basement was actually the top-secret headquarters of UNIT, the United Nations (later UNified) Intelligence Taskforce, an organisation that defended the Earth from extra-terrestrial threats. Many of UNIT's staff with A+ blood stood on the top of the Tower, as if planning to jump off, following the Sycorax's use of Blood Control. ('The Christmas Invasion', 2005). This was where UNIT under the leadership of Kate Stewart later stored several strange cubes. ('The Power of Three', 2012).
UNIT's Black Archive was located in the Tower, along with a nuclear weapon that could destroy all of London. Electronic ravens guarded the Tower, possibly because of the legend that if there were no ravens at the Tower, England would fall. Another defence was memory modifier devices that wipe the memory of all visitors to the Black Archive. ('The Day of the Doctor').
A square in London, perhaps most famous for Nelson's Column located adjacent to the National Gallery. In 1965, after returning back to Earth after many journeys through all time and space, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright celebrated by chasing and/or being chased by pigeons and climbing on top of the Nelson's Column lions. ('The Chase', 1965).
In the early 21st Century, Rose and Mickey Smith had lunch together in Trafalgar Square, sitting next to the fountain. It is implied that Henrik's, the shop that Rose worked at before it was infiltrated by Autons, was located nearby. ('Rose', 2005).
A short while later, the Eleventh Doctor's TARDIS was helicoptered to Trafalgar Square by UNIT, who were unaware that he was dangling from the outside. ('The Day of the Doctor', 2013). In 2016, a forest grew overnight, completely engulfing Trafalgar Square and causing the collapse of Nelson's Column. ('In The Forest of the Night', 2014).
By the late 21st Century, a T-Mat station was installed at Trafalgar Square. ('The Seeds of Death', 1969). The Daleks conquered London and patrolled Trafalgar Square circa 2164. ('The Dalek Invasion of Earth', 1964).
By the year 16087 the Earth has been ravaged by solar storms. London no longer exists and Trafalgar Square is now the site of a desolate moor. ('The Sontaran Experiment', 1975).
In 1889, workers constructing the London Underground inadvertently kill hibernating Homo Reptilians, with Madame Vastra the sole survivor. The Doctor rescued her, for which she is eternally thankful. Madame Vastra begins solving crime from her home in Paternoster Row, occasionally assisted by her lover, later wife, Jenny.
At Christmas 1892, the Eleventh Doctor casually showed the Great Intelligence a 1967 map of the London Underground. ('The Snowmen', 2012). In the mid-20th Century the London Underground network was infiltrated by a strange web-like substance spread by Yeti. These Yeti were robots controlled by the Great Intelligence who planned to drain the Second Doctor's knowledge and take over the world. ('The Web of Fear', 1968).
In the far future the Doctor, when visiting the surprisingly Earth-like planet Ravolox, discovered the remains of Marble Arch Underground station. This was proof of a Time Lord conspiracy to hide the Earth by moving it to the other side of the galaxy. ('Trial of a Time Lord: The Mysterious Planet', 1986).
When filming 'Remembrance of the Daleks', a key scene filmed next to Waterloo Station was the pivotal battle between the rival Dalek factions. The Imperial Daleks and Renegade Daleks fought for control of the Time Lord weapon, the Hand of Omega, that had been hidden in a London cemetery by the Doctor. When the Special Weapons Dalek tipped the battle in the Imperial Daleks' favour, the BBC filmed a massive explosion to symbolise how powerful it was. However, the explosion was filmed on the anniversary of the Dublin Uprising, causing the police and London Fire Brigade to assume that the effect was an IRA attack on Waterloo Station, only to find Daleks, and not terrorists, emerging from the smoke.
Weather Control Station
In the late 21st Century, this facility controlled Britain's weather. The Ice Warriors sabotaged the station to ensure Britain had the right environment to enable their fatally-poisonous Seed Pods to grow. Fortunately the Second Doctor repaired the controls and by creating rain, destroyed the pods. ('The Seeds of Death', 1969).
One of the earliest iconic Doctor Who moments was when a line of Daleks cross the bridge in 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth' (1964). This has been frequently recreated, such as for the documentary More than 30 Years in the TARDIS (1993) and in several posters and Radio Times covers in the 21st Century.
The Doctor and Rose ran across this bridge to get to the London Eye, seeing iconic London buses. ('Rose', 2005).
The First Doctor dropped Steven Taylor off at Wimbledon Common in 1966, where he met Dorothea 'Dodo' Chaplet who mistook the TARDIS for a real police box. ('The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve', 1966). The Third Doctor was later chased around Wimbledon Common to pad out an episode in 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs', 1974.
Turning Cardiff into London
When Doctor Who returned in the 21st Century it was made in Cardiff rather than London. In order to subliminally suggest 'London' to viewers seeing scenes filmed in Cardiff, a London colour-scheme was introduced:
In London you see lots of buses, pillar boxes, telephone boxes, a very red influence. And so we made London red... it's a little visual shortcut so, even when we shoot scenes in Cardiff, rubbish bags are red, which subliminally helps to tell the viewer where we are all the time.