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1/23/2005 10:36:00 pm - Reported by Shaun Lyon


January 23, 2005  •  Posted By Shaun Lyon
Another report, this one from location photography on January 19 and 20 which appears to be additional on-location shots for episodes 4 and 5, the "Aliens of London" storyline. Click on the spoiler tag to read. (Thanks to Matt Hills)
I'm just back from watching part of tonight's filming in the restaurant Bistro 10 down at Cardiff Bay. I'm not sure what episode the filming was for, but Christopher Eccleston was present, and sporting the burgundy T-shirt previously seen, if I remember rightly, in the London filming for 'Aliens of London'.

The scene I saw being filmed involved a fairly lengthy exchange of dialogue between Eccleston and a blonde actress (I'm not sure who this was) who were sat facing each other across a swanky restaurant table -- Chris seeming to be doing most of the talking. Since he was pretty much stationed in the centre of the restaurant, and since it is entirely glass-fronted, passers-by -- and the few fans in attendance -- had a perfect view as takes were rehearsed. A number of extras had filled out the restaurant, while further extras were cued to walk past the exterior, study a menu, and thereby provide background colour/movement. A separated-off section was occupied by production personnel, though this was still visible to the public thanks to yet more contemporary stylings in the way of glass-frontage.

I was also fortunate enough to catch some of the raw footage on the monitor which was clearly visible from public space outside the restaurant.

What I saw was a tight close-up of Eccleston shot in exact profile, and positioned towards the right-hand side of the frame facing inwards (i.e. a classic shot for the purposes of continuity editing, likely to create the impression of two people, Doctor and A.N.Other, very starkly and directly facing one another).

The camera stayed on Chris as he spoke, and then very slowly (this was one take, approximately a minute or so long) moved further away and started to circle the table. Eccleston then became more clearly animated and began to gesture as if to emphasize points in an argument or exposition -- a classic monologue or haranguing from the Doctor, perhaps? In any case, seeing the ninth Doctor in close-up on-screen was *amazing*.

Oh, and I was told that there are 9 weeks of filming left, although as with other on-location mutterings, feel free to take this with as many -- or as few -- pinches of salt as you like!

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Well, it transpires that my decision to leave tonight's filming relatively early was quite a mistake. I've just heard the following from friends -- Martin and Tim -- who stayed on for the duration. I shall report *exactly what I've been told*, however odd it may seem.

Firstly, the director on location was Joe Ahearne. Phil Collinson was also present. I didn't spot these people myself, despite recently having seen pictures of them in various Who-related magazines. No word on whether Phil was dressed in homage to the ninth Doctor's costume.

And now here's where the plot coagulates. The actress dining with Eccleston was apparently Annette Badland, previously confirmed as appearing in 'Aliens of London' (which also seems to chime with Eccleston's colour of T-shirt). I must admit, I did initially think this myself, but as it didn't fit with what I assumed they'd be shooting, I promptly dismissed the notion. So -- pick-up shots directed by a different director? Seems highly unlikely, I would have thought. Another possibility: 'Aliens of London' somehow bridges directly into the Joe-Ahearne-directed ep 6, meaning that there is an overlap in characters? (And that the Dalek story may begin, at least, in a contemporary setting...). Or was this from Paul Cornell's story, while again there is a previously unannounced overlap in characters... Of course, we already know that there are going to be some recurring or semi-regular dramatis personae, and even recurring locations such as the hospital from 'Aliens of London'/'The Empty Child'... It is beginning to seem as though this season's stories, though distinct, may jigsaw together in extremely crafty ways to create far more than the sum of their parts.

(Note added later: Although if pick-ups are being done by the current block's director -- and come to think of it, I have indeed read that before on OG, my apologies for not picking up on it earlier -- then Annette's presence would be less odd.)

Anyway, rampant speculation aside, I'm told that tonight's filming concluded with the most complicated special effects set-ups (as is customary). All the restaurant's occupants were seen to gaze upwards in terror, and a hefty window pane was exploded shortly afterwards, this being followed by the reaction shots of assorted diners -- yet more terror for this contemporary-Gothic Who.

--Matt Hills