The Fourth Dimension

The Vampires of Venice

To learn more about the history, culture and architecture of the 'City of Water' visit our Venice Page where you'll find information on all these things, plus links to a virual tour of the city, overviews, an online programme and much more.

 The read through for The Vampires of Venice took place on 23 November, 2009, exactly 46 years after the very first episode of Doctor Who was transmitted.

At one point the Doctor flashes a library card at the vampire-like females. The photo on it shows the First Doctor, played by William Hartnell.

The story is predominantly set in Venice in the sixteenth century but location filming actually took place in Trogir, a small medieval town in Croatia. City of Death was the first Doctor Who adventure which involved overseas filming as the team took to the streets of Paris. Subsequent stories that involved shooting abroad include Arc of Infinity, Planet of Fire, The Two Doctors, The Fires of Pompeii, Daleks in Manhattan and Doctor Who: The TV Movie.

This isn't the first time the Doctor has visited Italy. The TARDIS landed there in The Romans, The Masque of Mandragora, City of Death and The Fires of Pompeii.

At one point the Doctor name checks the famous escapologist, Harry Houdini. A degree of mystery surrounds the illusionist's early years but it's generally accepted he was born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest, 1874. After moving to the States Houdini became a professional magician and although a skilled all-round conjuror he grew renowned for tricks such as escaping from a vat of water and freeing himself from handcuffs, straitjackets and heavy chains. In The Planet of the Spiders the Doctor revealed he was trained in the art of escapology by Houdini, something he later confirms in Revenge of the Cybermen. He is also referenced by the Doctor in Dreamland. Houdini died in October, 1926.

The Doctor also mentions Casanova, the famously charismatic writer and traveller. Giacomo Girolamo Casanova de Seingalt (1725 - 1798) was abandoned by his actress mother and brought up by his maternal grandmother. As a young man he almost became a priest but realised that his vocation lay in a different direction, cutting a swathe across Europe with many adventures and several scandals. Numerous myths and legends have sprung up around Casanova and he has been depicted on screen many times. Perhaps the best portrayal was in Russell T Davies' BBC version of his life where he was played by an actor called David Tennant... You can find out more about the real Casanova here.

Rosanna is played by Helen McCrory who won the BAFTA Cymru Award for her role in Streetlife in 1995. She was Casanova's mother in Casanova (2007) and starred as the eponymous lead in Frankenstein, a modern update of Mary Shelly's famous story. Incidentally, this dramatisation also featured Julian Bleach as the 'Monster'. Shortly after he played Davros in The Stolen Earth and Journey's End.

Byron is another historical figure referenced by the Doctor after arriving in Venice. George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, (1788 - 1824), often known simply as Lord Byron, was a British poet, politician and social campaigner. His most famous works include She Walks in Beauty and Don Juan and he is recognised as being one of the most significant figures in Romanticism. He was at the famous get-together with Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley and John Polidori in the Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva in 1816. Here, Mary Shelley began work on the novel that became Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus and Polidori wrote The Vampyre which many critics believe established fictional vampiric lore. You can read more about Bryon's connections with vampires or access an overview of his life and work.

According to the Doctor, vampire stories exist on many planets and their legends derive from enemies of the Time Lords known as Great Vampires. The Fourth Doctor defeated the last of these in State of Decay but he has faced vampire-like creatures in The Curse of Fenric and Smith and Jones.

Although The Vampires of Venice is the first Doctor Who story title to contain the word 'vampires' the working title for the 1971 story The Claws of Axos was The Vampires from Space.

The accompanying Doctor Who Confidential is entitled Death in Venice, a reference to the Thomas Mann novel of that name. It was made into a BAFTA-winning film starring Dirk Bogarde in 1971.

This is the first episode of Doctor Who directed by Jonny Campbell and the first to be co-produced by Patrick Schweitzer. It's the second adventure written by Toby Whithouse who previously penned School Reunion.