Articles

Doctor Who Location Report : Florentia Street, 9th February, 2006
by John Campbell Rees

Today the crew was busy filming a Coronation Day street party in Florentia Street, for Mark Gatiss' episode for the upcoming series of Doctor Who, The Idiot's Lantern. It was a beautifully bright day today, which might have been a problem as I have told the Coronation Day was dull and overcast 52 years ago. As it turned out, the trestle tables that had been erected along the centre of the road were deep in shadow all afternoon and large lights were needed for filming. I suppose this will help give the appearance of a greyer day.

The sunshine was deceptive, as it was bitterly cold all afternoon. The extras were all dressed for a summers day in the 1950's, so were visibly shivering between takes, and they would quickly don thick padded coats to keep warm.

Filming in Florentia Street Cardiff

The fact that the door of 44, Florentia Street has a modern white uPVC plastic door. In later scenes on this was covered by a more authentic looking fake red wooden door. (Compare the door in the two photos).

Filming in Florentia Street Cardiff

On the road is a coating of gravel to hide the contemporary road markings. This was regularly damped down to prevent it slipping and to help it blend in with the existing tarmac surface of the road.

One photograph show the Block 4 director, Euros Lyn watching a shotbeing recorded on a bank of monitors.

The fourth photograph shows Billie Piper relaxing and chatting to one of the guest actors, (I didn't catch his name, but he had been present at the scenes I saw being recorded on Tuesday).

It shows how sedentary modern children have become by the fact that the young extras did not know how to play hopscoth on the grid drawn on the road. It also shows how busy our roads have become in the intervening six decades that children could play such games on a road and not have to worry about being run over.

To help the actors get into the party mood, Lonnie Donegan's hit "Rock Island Line" was played over the loudspeakers during takes. However, I hope that in post production, this anachronistic 1955 single will be replaced with something more contemporary.

Once again Billie Piper and David Tennant appear to be enjoying filming. At one point they spontaniously broke into a jive along the middle of Florentia Street.

The final thing to be recorded at the end of the week's filming at this location was what appeared to be a night-time establishing shot, showing what is meant to be Florizel Street in Muswell Hill, North London on a dark rainy night. This involved a camera on a crane, and a curious rig with six sprinklers on an arm suspended fifty feet above street level pumping out gallons and gallons of water to the ground below. Only in showbussiness is it neccessary to fake rain in a City that receives between 75 to 80 inches of the stuff naturarly throughouth the year.

© John Campbell Rees, 2006

 

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