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The wonderful unseen images of Doctor Who filming in Wales in the 1970s

15 Jan 2023 4 minute read
Julian Roberts’ father and brother with Jon Pertwee and filming at the Ogilvie Pit in Deri (Credit: Julian Roberts)

Images from one of the most famous Doctor Who episodes have been unearthed after half a century.

When Julian Roberts digitised pictures of the iconic sci-fi series filming at Ogilvie Pit in Deri – and posted them into the public realm in a local Facebook group the response was huge.

The photographs prompted many memories for locals who witnessed the filming of the famous Doctor Who episodes ‘The Green Death’ – routinely voted in the top 10 of favourite episodes of the original incarnation of the Timelord.

The images show Julian’s father and brother on the set with the third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, and his assistant Jo Grant, played by actress Katy Manning, in between takes at the pit.

Julian said that he unfortunately has no memory of the visit has he was just a baby and neither does his older brother!

“I don’t really have a lot of info, I was just a baby at the time. My brother was too young to remember as well. My father was working there at the time.”

In the episodes, broadcast in 1973, the Doctor and the organisation UNIT investigate a South Wales mine where waste from an oil plant has killed miners and made maggots grow to giant size.

SEE ALL THE IMAGES FROM DOCTOR WHO FILMING IN WALES IN 1973

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The Green Death is the fifth and final serial of the tenth season of the much loved television series , which was first broadcast in six weekly parts on BBC1 from 19 May to 23 June 1973.

It was also notable for being the last regular appearance of Katy Manning as companion Jo Grant.

In the book ‘Doctor Who: The Episode Guide’, Mark Campbell awarded ‘The Green Death’ ten out of ten, describing it as “one of the very best UNIT stories, offering terrifying maggots, horrible green slime and some very scary cliffhangers. There is also real character development and an attempt to address adult themes in an adult way.”

He also noted that Jo’s departure was “one of the series’ saddest moments.”

Ironically of course, ever since modern era Doctor Who returned to our screens in 2005 it has been filmed in and around Cardiff and South Wales.

We are now well used to the iconic sci-fi series being spotted around the Welsh capital, but not back in the 1970s, with the show attracting huge interest from locals.

When the photos were posted in the ‘Photos of the Rhymney Valley and surrounding areas’ Facebook Group it attracted lots of responses with people posting their memories of the show being filmed.

Joannie Powell wrote: ‘What fab times I remember my sister sat in his car with Doctor Who and Jo. The Green Death episode, brilliant days. We lived in Groesfaen Terrace.’

Clare Hawker said: ‘Me Mam and Sister were on the lower Ystrad Mynach bridge and they drove past. Big thing to see Doctor Who back then.’

Gerald Padfield posted: ‘My dad was electrical engineer there and took us to watch the filming. I had Jon Pertwee and Katie Manning’s autographs.’

Lyn Martin wrote: ‘My gran lived in Bailey Street I remember the car was in the garage on Bailey Street and Doctor Who giving us sweets.’

Dilwyn Harris added: ‘My dad worked in that colliery at the time of filming and he took me over.’

Katty Manning posing for a photograph (Credit: Julian Roberts)

In a lovely twist to the story, the photographs were brought to the attention of Katy Manning who posted the images on her Twitter and Facebook.

The actress recalled filming and spoke fondly of her time in Wales.

Manning, now 76, said: “Thank you so much. I remember the faces. We came back years later to do a documentary about The Green Death. It was so touching and moving to meet some of the miners, and children now adults. Although the pit is long closed, it’s my most favourite location, ever beautiful people.”


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David Harking
David Harking
11 days ago

Awful British Sci-fi. Why does it get dumped on Wales?

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