Plantasia, Swansea

Filming schedule

The Doctor's Daughter: filmed 21 December 2007
Cold Blood: filmed 13 November 2009

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The Doctor's Daughter: Plantasia, Cardiff

Clip taken from The Doctor's Daughter featuring David Tennant as The Doctor, part of which was filmed in the Plantasia in Parc Tawe, Swansea.

The Doctor's Daughter

Original BBC One broadcast: Saturday 10 May 2008
Director: Alice Troughton
Starring: David Tennant as the Doctor

The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood

Original BBC One broadcast: Saturday 22 and Saturday 29 May 2010
Director: Ashley Way
Starring: Matt Smith as the Doctor

The location of the Source - the goal for both warring human and Hath colonists on the planet Messaline - required an exotic backdrop for the Doctor Who production team. Following the tone meeting in which the style of the episode The Doctor's Daughter was planned, producer Phil Collinson suggested the setting of a greenhouse full of lush and vivid fauna as a suitable location for this sequence.

Plantasia was an ideal venue for the Doctor Who crew in realising the source. Opened in 1990, it was a popular tourist attraction for the city, adjacent to a major shopping and leisure centre.

The premises at Parc Tawe in the middle of Swansea offered a vast greenhouse which contained three climate zones, home to 8,000 different species of plant life from across the world and many breeds of animals. These included tarantula spiders... one of which was introduced to David Tennant and Catherine Tate when they arrived at the establishment for recording.

The scenes at the Source were recorded on Friday 21 December 2007, the final day before the Doctor Who cast and crew went their separate ways for the Christmas holiday. With the venue a major tourist attraction during the day, an overnight recording was arranged in the glasshouse when Plantasia was closed, running through to 2am in the morning.

This also meant that the night sky would be visible outside the glass, and as such an ideal setting for the alien world of Messaline. "It was a fantastic location and perfect for this episode," director Alice Troughton told the crew of Doctor Who Confidential, "It gave us that feeling of another dimension."

The night visit by the BBC saw the climactic scenes of the episode being recorded, as Hath and humans discovered what they had been fighting for aboard the colony ship, and the heartbreaking crux of the episode saw Jenny - the young woman soldier partially cloned from the Doctor's own DNA - taking a fatal bullet to save the life of the Time Lord. With both sides in the generational war reconciled, the Doctor bid a tearful goodbye to what he believed was his dead 'daughter'.

A couple of years later, Plantasia closed its doors to the public early on Friday 13 November 2009 so that it could appear as a location which was not on an alien world, but in fact deep inside our own. The episode in question was titled Cold Blood.

The lush vegetation of the jungle walkway leading into the subterranean city of the Silurians was again that of the glasshouse for the night shoot with Matt Smith as the Doctor - and the camera angles of director Ashley Way carefully selected so that the car park and street lights in Cardiff outside were not visible beyond the rich fauna cultivated by the homo reptilia who had originally dominated the Earth before mankind.

Episode synopsis: The Doctor's Daughter

The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Martha Jones and Donna Noble to the planet Messaline. The Doctor's DNA is extracted in order to create a new soldier to fight in a generations-old war, the result being "his daughter": Jenny.

The Doctor and his friends have to locate "the Source" which both humans and Hath seek before the conflict can be resolved.

Episode synopses: The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood

The tiny Welsh village of Cwmtaff is the latest destination for the TARDIS, materialising 10 years into Amy Pond and Rory Williams' own future around 2020 AD. But the drilling of the nearby DDR facility to a depth of 21km has been taken as an attack by the subterranean homo reptilia who ruled Earth aeons ago when mankind were merely apes...

Return to the Doctor Who in Wales map.

  • Region : South west Wales

How to get here

Plantasia is an exotic world of plants and animals situated in the heart of the city on the Parc Tawe retail park.

By car: leave the M4 motorway at Junction 42, and follow the A483 into Swansea. As you enter Swansea follow the signs for Parc Tawe.

By bus/train: The nearest bus and railway stations are in Swansea, and Plantasia is less than a 10 minute walk from both.

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