It�s 9.30 am on July 30th 2004 and I�m on my way to see my GP. Arriving at the surgery I discover it�s become a Chinese Take Away and there, in front of the shop, is a large white sheet covering a large blue box. The new series of Doctor Who has come to town.
A rather friendly security guard is keeping watch over one of TV�s most famous icons. He has little cause for concern, the local residents are friendly and bemused that their little corner of South London has become the setting for the long awaited return of Doctor Who.
Kids and adults alike want to see the box and have a picture taken in front of it. The guard tells me that the builders off a local site have been back and forth all day with their mates to get pictures taken. Everyone�s excited and more than a few say they�ll return for tonight�s shooting.
Oh, the Tardis looks fab by the way. Solidly built and every inch the part � she�s a beauty. The �Public Notice� is engraved onto a silver metal panel. This is an expensive prop � more on this later.
Preperations for shooting start a little before 8pm and the series leads, Chris Eccleston and Billie Piper appear around 8.30pm. A crowd has gathered and pictures are being taken. Both leads seem very friendly. Eccleston�s heard to say �I can still do funny� to Piper.
Filming starts and the crowd are happy to quieten down and allow the crew to work uninterrupted. A crew member comes and chats to me and a mate, he tells us we�re �in for a real treat� next year and that filming is scheduled to last till February. He�s curious to know how we knew filming was taking place and I explain my odd discovery outside the GPs. Pretty much everyone else there is a resident of the Estate, renamed for the series but actually the oft filmed Brandon Estate in Southwark.
The conversation�s going well until I ask what his role on the production is, �I�m the producer� he says. Oops! I�ve just failed to recognise Phil Collinson and � feeling a right wally � apologise. Several times. He laughs it off with a �no reason to be sorry � just enjoy yourselves�. Mr Phil�s a nice man, relishing his role and clearly determined to make the best show he can. The whole crew seem relaxed and appear to be enjoying themselves. The impression is of a well prepared team for whom everything is going to plan.
Collinson dismisses criticisms of the Tardis prop, it seems he/they are looking at some boards and (possibly) newsgroups. His comment that it�s �the best and most expensive one built, she�s beautiful� is accompanied with a grin of genuine enthusiasm. Who can blame him?
Only one scene�s being filmed tonight, the main action sequences were done last night involving what local residents describe as a �military invasion�.
Several rehearsals later and they film the shot. Eccleston seem’s to pass Billie the Tardis key and utters something about heading �into mortal danger� before exiting the balconey, leaving Billie/Rose behind. They�re filming several stories above ground level so it�s hard to hear but the acting looks superb.
Crew members mingle with the crowds, Eccleston�s chauffer tells us what a �great guy� Chris is. He seems relaxed and unfazed with the attention as he sits in the middle of a circus while camera angles are changed for the reverse shots.
The reverse shots are recorded, the set dressing is removed and the Tardis dismantled. The crew pack up and Eccleston is hurried away from the crowd. It�s 22.30 and the crew are heading straight back to Cardiff.
Walking back home we discover the production base is just past the flat. Temptation gets the better of me and I �liberate� the BBC Wales sign.
A lifelong dream has been fulfilled. I�ve seen and touched the real Tardis and I�ve seen Doctor Who be made right in front of my very eyes. Christmas came early this year :-)