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Doctor Who: Behind the scenes at Puzzlewood

Karen Gillan and Matt Smith at Puzzlewood
Karen Gillan and Matt Smith filmed at Puzzlewood in July 2009

Two episodes in the new series of Doctor Who have been filmed in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.

The episodes The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone, which will be shown on BBC1 on Saturday 24 April and Saturday 1 May 2010 were filmed on location at Puzzlewood near Coleford.

Matt Smith who plays The Doctor, and Karen Gillan who plays assistant Amy Pond, filmed there for nine nights in July, 2009.

The location chosen was right in the centre of Puzzlewood where there are deep gullies and dramatic rock formations known as scowles.

Every time Matt Smith entered the set he'd say hello to the kids and wave at them
Helen O'Kane

The 14-acre site has also been used for location filming for the BBC series Merlin since 2008.

The same forest is said to have inspired JRR Tolkien to write The Hobbit.

Manager of Puzzlewood, Helen O'Kane, told BBC Radio Gloucestershire how the Doctor Who filming came about:

"The production team spotted Merlin, and they saw the scenery and decided to come along and have a look. Originally the setting wasn't quite right for the script that they'd written but after seeing it and taking pictures back to Steven Moffat [the writer] they decided to film here.

Special effects

"They were here in the evening and filming through the night. I think it was the largest TV crew that you get for a television drama.

"There were about 90 people involved. They had prosthetics and special effects, as well as the normal crew."

Helen said she and her children were allowed to be on site during filming, and she got to meet the crew and cast:

"They're a friendly bunch, they're lovely, so they do allow the children to see what's going on, but obviously we're not allowed to say anything [about the storyline]. All I know is they arrive in a spaceship and it's some form of maze."

Weeping Angels

Most of the filming, featuring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and the monsters known as The Weeping Angels, took place at one of the Puzzlewood look-out points which was disguised.

Weeping Angel
The Weeping Angels return to Doctor Who on Saturday 24 April

The crew brought in lots of equipment including a huge smoke machine to give it a really spooky atmosphere.

So what does Helen think of the latest actor to play the legendary Timelord?

"Matt Smith is fantastic. He's brilliant with the kids. Very dedicated to his new role, works extremely hard, and is really good fun. He's just a normal, decent guy.

"Every time he entered the set he'd say hello to the kids and wave at them. He worked extremely hard. You can see his heart and soul is in the role.


"My little boys got an autograph from him. The youngest described his signature as a "scribble" so then he very quickly and kindly re-wrote his name and described it as a "non-scribbly" version!"

Helen O'Kane says the visit of the Doctor Who team to Puzzlewood is already proving to be good for business.

"Visitor numbers have increased because of it," she said.

"And more and more film location companies have spotted it as well - we have been approached recently by a very large film company - so fingers crossed [more filming will take place in Puzzlewood]."

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