Portmeirion, Gwynedd

Filming schedule

The Masque Of Mandragora: filmed 3-6 May 1976

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The Masque Of Mandragora: Portmeirion

Clip taken from part two of Doctor Who: The Masque Of Mandragora, starring Tom Baker as the Doctor.

The Masque Of Mandragora (four parts)

Original BBC One broadcast: Saturday 4 to Saturday 25 September 1976
Director: Rodney Bennett
Starring: Tom Baker as the Doctor

On the coast of Snowdonia near the village of Penrhyndeudraeth stands an Italianate settlement of amazing architecture: Portmeirion.

The hotel and tourist attraction was the creation of architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who, between 1925 and 1975, crafted and salvaged buildings on his private peninsula, creating a small village reminiscent of the Mediterranean atmosphere which he admired. The beautiful hamlet had become well known after its appearance as 'the Village' in the cult adventure series The Prisoner, first screened by ITV in 1967.

When the 1976/77 series of Doctor Who was set to open with the Doctor's visit to a 15th century province of Italy, Portmeirion offered a UK venue in which the Renaissance setting could be replicated easily for various exterior sequences in a story then entitled Secret of the Labyrinth.

Having travelled up from London the previous day, the BBC team spent their first day of filming - Monday 3 May 1976 - in the fields and woodlands on the north side of the main village. They worked on sequences of the cruel Count Federico harassing the peasants and of the TARDIS' arrival on the scene bearing the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith, played by Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen.

The cliff-hanger of part one of The Masque Of Mandragora was the focus of work on Tuesday 4 May, with the Doctor facing the fate of beheading while on the central piazza before the balcony of the Gloriette. The team then moved up towards Bridge House which featured as the entrance to San Martino, seen when Federico - and later a ball of Mandragora energy - entered the city gates.

The Doctor was also seen to flee past a couple of guards discussing a strange corpse, descending from the Pantheon and running past a well conceived golden Buddha statue.

Wednesday 5 May found the BBC crew out in the woodlands again with scenes set at the ruins of a temple, a polystyrene structure erected in one of the picturesque clearings. The Doctor, Sarah and their local compatriot Guiliano then came under attack from Federico's men, and a swordfight ensued.

Thursday 6 May was then scheduled to complete the sequences requiring the backdrop of Portmeirion's Italianate buildings; the Doctor escaped the pikemen by going down the steps from Prior's Lodging, descended from the town with Guiliano and Sarah via the cascade below the Hercules statue, fled from the guards by Neptune, dismounted from his borrowed horse by the Hercules Hall and evaded the soldiers in a market place erected in Battery Square.

Other sequences saw Federico and his entourage heading for the dome Pantheon, and Guiliano leading the Doctor and Sarah through the columns of the Bristol Colonnade.

The morning of Friday 7 May was available to pick up any remaining shots before the cast and crew returned to London that afternoon, and a few days later the serial was given a new name: The Masque of Mandragora.

Episode synopsis: The Masque Of Mandragora

The TARDIS is sucked down into the centre of the mysterious Mandragora Helix, but the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith manage to escape, unaware that some helix energy has entered the ship.

The pair soon arrive in the Italian dukedom of San Martino in the 15th century, in a community of superstition and danger where Count Federico is planning to seize power via murder and the helix energy possesses the court astrologer to drag mankind back to the Dark Ages.

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  • Region : North west Wales

How to get here

Portmeirion is an Italianate resort village in Gwynedd, located in the community of Penrhyndeudraeth.

Full directions can be found on the official Portmeirion site: portmeirion-village.com/

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