UK TOUR DAY TWO (LONDON): At the end of my first full day in England, I found myself outside the BBC. They opened their brand new headquarters here just last year — on Portland Place a few blocks north of Soho and Piccadilly Circus — at the exact same spot where their original headquarters are still standing. Broadcasting House first opened in the very early 1930s as a home for BBC Radio. It's a gorgeous Art Deco building. The new Broadcasting House was built as an extension to the original — they call the new bit "The John Peel Wing" in honour of the legendary BBC DJ. It's made of beautiful curving glass and at night it's lit up with colour. After sitting across the street for a while, soaking it all in, I casually wandered over to the courtyard entrance, trying to avoid getting noticed by the security guards or the smokers by the doors, and left my dream for Sydney Newman taped to the side of a bollard.Newman — as I wrote in a big post last year — was the creator of one of the most popular television shows the BBC has ever aired: Doctor Who. He was born and raised in Toronto; he spent most of his life in Canada working for the CBC, the NFB and the CRTC. But for a few years in the 1960s, his career took him to London, where he soon became the Head of Drama for the BBC. He was the driving force behind the new science-fiction show, and he assembled a groundbreaking team to make it.
That didn't happen here at Broadcasting House, though. Up until last year, BBC Television was headquartered a few kilometers away at the appropriately-named BBC Television Centre. I wrote a little post about it, too. And on my very last night in England, I made sure to stop by and leave a copy of the dream for Newman there as well.
I also left the dream at a couple of other spots in London. One was on Westminster Bridge. It was the site of one of the most iconic shots from the early years of Doctor Who — back in the days when Newman was still overseeing the show. When the Daleks invaded the Earth, they rolled across that very same bridge.
The other was on Earls Court Road, where a TARDIS — with a fresh coat of paint — stands outside the tube station. You can even go inside the time machine on Google Maps.
But most of the dreams I left for Newman during the UK Tour were left in a whole different country. Today, Doctor Who is filmed in Wales. So I left a few dreams for him there, in Cardiff, in locations that would be familiar to any current fan of the show, including Clara Oswald's house, Cardiff Bay, and even on the TARDIS itself. You can read a post about all of that right here.
And if you're a fan of the show, I'll be writing lots about it over at The Little Red Umbrella as it returns to our screens on Saturday.
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39 The Martian-Canadians
Sydney Newman, 1956