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Doctor Who and the Dai-leks

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Q MY children are huge Dr Who fans. I'd love to take them to some of the places where the series is filmed. As it's made by BBC Wales, I presume the locations are Welsh. Can you offer some guidance? Teresa Cooper. Dewsbury

A OUR resident Dr Who expert, Gareth Huw Davies, was sent Wales on a special reconnaissance trip and has returned with these Time Lord tips:

TO cut down on intergalactic travel expenses, the BBC makes do with Penarth Pier and Fochriw Mountain, Barry Island and Bedlinog - the Tardis is landing all over South Wales in the second series just as it did in the first.

The BBC's own website is, or was, a great source for detecting where filming is taking place. Fans post their own sightings of the latest Doctor, David Tennant, and his decorative assistant. Billie Piper, as in 'Just seen David leaping on toe motorbike just down from my flat in Cardiff!'

But after the intergalactic censors heard about my trip, a polite BBC man rang me to confess they hadn't noticed their site gave away so many secrets. For a moment I feared a duffing-up by a demented wheelie but. Or a midnight call by the Slitheen.

But all they did was add to the site: 'For security reasons we're not putting dates to the sightings. We may a remove some specific location information.' Spoilsports. What would the last Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) have made of such nannying?

Fortunately, they couldn't gag the receptionist at my Cardiff hotel 'Dr Who? You see them filming all the time. They've been here, and here, here and, oh. Here,' said, planting big blue circles all over my map.

I set off up Womanby Street where a crew had been seen last month near the Millennium Stadium.

I crossed St Mary Street, where London buses on (very long) diversion are often seen. In the last series they hurtled here from the London Eye in one scene, for the manic mannequins breaking out of the windows of James Howells department store.

On to The Hayes, Cardiff's stab at Parisian cafe culture. This is another favourite location, around the homely old pea-green refreshments booth. Then up past the castle, the original Norman keep inside the Marquis of Bute's fairytale 19th Century battlements. In one 2005 episode they were going to demolish it to make way for a nuclear power station.

Next I went to Cardiff's Imperial Quarter where elegant Thirties edifices in white Portland stone mark the twilight of the Empire. One is the Temple of Peace. 'This place is famous,' I told the custodian. 'Used to be,' he said, presumably unaware that 10 million people would recognise it from the End Of The World episode - Eccleston and Piper walking on its polished wood under dove-grey marble walls to face some new threat.

My next call was down Bute Street. Once you ventured here only if you had a sea cargo to dispatch, or a Shirley Bassey to sign up from Tiger Bay. Today the rough and raunchy old thoroughfare is as tame as a neutered tom and leads you to the now-bright and gleaming Cardiff Boy.

The gigantic futuristic silver monolith in front of the Wales Millennium Centre, a continuous cascade of water running down its face, naturally lured the Doctor. A local cyclist reported on the website: 'I saw the Tardis. I took photographs to show the grandchildren.'

Until September, there is an entire galaxy of past Doctors next door in the Red Dragon Centre. The Dr Who Up Close exhibition celebrates the 4O-year old series from the days of William Hartnell and dear old Patrick Troughton, when space was still in black and white, through to all his later incarnations, with props, costumes and lots of scary models.

The location people do look beyond Cardiff from time to time. They used the Exchange Buildings in Swansea for scenes in The Unquiet Dead last year and, thanks to a photo a passer-by posted on the website, I know the Tardis puts down on Worms Head, that superb natural grandstand on the Gower Peninsula, in the present series.

Newport could claim the best locations in one 2006 episode. They've been seen filming at Tredegar House. This superb 17th Century mansion is open to the public, most of whom seem unaware of the architectural gem just half a mile from Junction 28 of the M4.

And full marks for setting last night battle with a werewolf around that glorious Gothic pile Craig y Nos below the Brecon Beacons.

Don't blame me if any of these locations ends up on the cutting-room floor - BBC publicity is as tight as an Auton's handshake - but the meanest pepper pots in the universe ride again.

They have been spotted loitering with malice. In St Athan, one of the cosy, tucked-away villages in the Vale of Glamorgan. A correspondent noted: "They had Cybermen and Daleks being filmed on the same day. Is there a battle ahead?'

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