A SciFi Fan’s Dream: Dr Who and the Temple of Peace on Screen

Reproduced from Chris Olsen’s Blog.

On the beautiful campus of Cardiff University sits one of the most recognisable buildings in the city, the Temple of Peace. The Temple’s iconic, art deco, neoclassical architecture has been used for the filming of many popular fantasy adaptations for stage and screen, from Doctor Who and Sherlock to more recent series like His Dark Materials.

Wales’ Temple Of Peace survives to witness the ‘End of the World’ in the Year 5 Billion – Dr Who, 2005

Doctor Who

In 2005, the best science fiction television series ever made returned to our screens. Head writer and producer Russell T Davies decided to base Doctor Who‘s production in Cardiff, where it has remained ever since. In the second episode of the revived version of Doctor Who, the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) took his new companion Rose (Billie Piper) to the far future to witness The End of the World (2005). The Doctor and Rose met a convention of aliens on ‘Platform One’, built to watch the Earth be destroyed by the expansion of the Sun. This was a highly technical episode with incredible production values. Filming for Platform One largely took place at the Temple of Peace in October 2004.

The beautiful, ‘art deco’ architecture of the Temple has been reused multiple times since for the production of subsequent episodes set in the Doctor Who universe. These include: Gridlock (2007)The Fires of Pompeii (2008)The Sarah Jane Adventures: Mona Lisa’s Revenge (2009)Cold Blood (2010)Let’s Kill Hitler (2011) and Nightmare in Silver (2013).

It is possible that production of Doctor Who (1963-present) may return to the Temple of Peace in the future, as the programme becomes a co-production between the BBC and Bad Wolf.

Wales’ Temple of Peace as Sherlock’s National Antiquities Museum

Sherlock

The hugely popular crime drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman featured an episode called The Blind Banker (2010), involving a secret Chinese crime syndicate called the Black Lotus. The Temple formed the backdrop of this story, posing as the National Antiquities Museum, where Chinese Pottery expert Soo Lin Yao (Gemma Chan) demonstrates a tea ceremony to a group of visitors in the first scene of the episode. Sherlock (2010-2017) achieved global success, attracting Sherlock Holmes fans from all over the world to the Temple of Peace filming location.

His Dark Materials

One of the more recent television productions to use the Temple was His Dark Materials (2019-present). The BAFTA-winning BBC and HBO co-production, based on Philip Pullman’s acclaimed trilogy of novels of the same name, is produced by Bad Wolf. The expensive, steampunk series starred James McAvoy and Ruth Wilson.

Wilson’s character Marisa Coulter’s apartment was filmed at the art deco Temple of Peace in Cardiff. In this fantasy world, every human is born with a daemon companion, which is the soul living outside of the body taking a corporeal animal form. The Temple of Peace also appeared in the series as the grand entrance of the partially CGI, towering skyscraper (added in post production) where lead protagonist Lyra and Mrs Coulter have dinner: the Royal Arctic Institute – featuring a striking snow globe and dinosaur bones the scale of the Hall of Nations itself.

Lyra and Mrs Coulter dine in the Temple’s Hall of Nations, masquerading as the Royal Artctic Institute for His Dark Materials (2019)
Wales’ Temple of Peace, extended a few floors upwards with the aid of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) for His Dark Materials

Reproduced from Chris Olsen’s Blog, written in a voluntary capacity for WCIA – with many thanks.

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