National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthne

Filming schedule

The Waters Of Mars: filmed 25-26 February 2009

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The Waters Of Mars: National Botanic Garden of Wales

Clip taken from The Waters Of Mars, featuring Sharon Duncan Brewster as Maggie Cain and Alan Ruscoe as Andy Stone.

The Waters Of Mars

Original BBC One broadcast: Sunday 15 November 2009
Director: Graeme Harper
Starring: David Tennant as the Doctor

Situated in the Towy Valley, the National Botanic Garden of Wales is a £43 million project, conceived by painter William Wilkins in the mid-1980s and erected on the site of the former Middleton Hall, the estate of which had been purchased by Carmarthenshire County Council in the 1930s after the house burnt down in 1931. Spanning 568 acres, the centrepiece of the garden is the Great Glasshouse which was fully opened on 24 May 2000.

Designed by Norman Foster and Partners, it conserves many rare and endangered species of plants from six Mediterranean climate areas across the world: Australia, California, the Canary Islands, Chile, the Mediterranean Basin and South Africa.

Executive producer Russell T Davies had the National Botanical Gardens in mind when co-writing The Waters Of Mars, the autumn 2009 Doctor Who special. Set on the planet Mars in the year 2059, the story unfolded in a human research base which included a vast bio-dome full of flora being used by Captain Adelaide Brooke and her team.

The Great Glasshouse was perfect for the bio-dome, and its segmented roof influenced the design for other aspects of Bowie Base One where the story was set. Under strict instructions about what they could and could not do in the Great Glasshouse, the BBC Wales crew spent two freezing nights working beneath the glass dome with the starry sky above them.

As temperatures fell drastically on Wednesday 25 February 2009, recording got underway for scenes such as the Doctor and Adelaide searching for one of the base crew, Tarak, and of Tarak himself finding Andy, a fellow colonist who had already been infected by the Flood. The Doctor Who team had not bargained for the noise of the birds which lived in the Great Glasshouse and who were stimulated by the television lights. As such, Russell T Davies was contacted at 3am to quickly write additional dialogue for the characters which explained this background noise!

The following night, one of the set pieces for the story was recorded; the desperate chase back to the airlock as the Doctor and Adelaide fought to keep ahead of the possessed, water-gushing Tarak and Andy.

Episode synopsis: The Waters Of Mars

The TARDIS brings the Doctor to Mars in 2059, and while investigating the Time Lord is captured by Gadget, a robot belonging to the survey team running Bowie Base One.

At the base, the Doctor quickly realises that the team led by Captain Adelaide Brooke were famous historical figures as Martian colony pioneers... pioneers destined to die under unknown circumstances in a few hours' time.

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  • Region : South west Wales

How to get here

The National Botanic Garden of Wales is a centre of world significance dedicated to horticulture, conservation, science, education, leisure and the arts.

The Garden of Wales is a £43.3 million project that has attracted a £21.7 million investment from the Millennium Commission. The 568-acre Garden and its centrepiece, the Great Glasshouse, opened fully on May 24th 2000.

By public transport: The 166 bus runs from Carmarthen train station to National Botanic Gardens and drops off within the Gardens car park. See the website for further details.

By car: The National Botanic Garden of Wales is situated 10 mins from the M4 and ¼ mile from the A48 in Carmarthenshire, South West Wales, midway between Cross Hands and Carmarthen.

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