We had a great time and it was a good excuse for me to take in a couple of Who activities, one in either county, that I would not normally get the chance to visit.
Before setting out, I had taken a look on doctorwholocations.net and put in the postcode of where we were staying in Devon, and found that Hound Tor was relatively not that far away.
Hound Tor had been the main location for the classic Tom Baker episode, The Sontaran Experiment. I remember seeing it when it was first screened, and always liked it for its short story approach to a Who tale. Little two-parters don’t come along often, and it was the first I had seen in my Who watching experience, besides, anything to see the original Sontaran actor, Kevin Lindsey giving the seminal performance is always worth a watch.
I had always pictured the location used as a distant, remote spot, high in the Dartmoor hills, and not easily accessed. Though it is true the approach is through winding narrow roads, if I had thought about it, the BBC would not have picked it for an outside broadcast, video-shot episode, if they could not get their equipment within easy reach. A look on GoogleMaps shows the Tor and how close it is to the nearest road, as well as a car park close by (see below © google).
I had also been in touch recently with a young lad, Guy, who lives in Devon and has a Baron’s Boutique Tennant suit. He had only recently bought his suit and had not as yet taken any good pictures. I was keen to see a Baron’s suit first-hand, so it seemed like a good idea to meet up with him at Hound Tor so he could get some pictures with a dramatic Who-related backdrop.
When we arrived at Hound Tor, we found the nearby car park, and the Tor only a short walk up the hillside on the opposite side of the road.
Before I had left home, I put a copy of the full episode on my iPhone, plus a photo library of screen-grab images I was looking to find and match to as closely as possible.
The first view you get of it is almost exactly the view Harry gets when he discovers it for the first time himself, though you can see that a couple of rocks are missing from the Tor’s skyline, which became mildly important later in my visit . . . .
We climbed up to the Tor, and within a few minutes were spotting where certain scenes had been shot, such as the landing site for Styre’s space ship . . . .
. . . . where Styre was experimenting on his un-named prisoner, and later Sarah . . . .
. . . . and where Harry hides from Styre.
It was around this time we noticed a couple of guys on the Tor looking around carrying a folder which seemed to contain screen shots of the episode! We realised we were not alone . . . .
I guess I was a bit conspicuous - wearing my coat - so it wasn’t long before they said hello and we were swapping sites we had spotted.
The leader of the three was Scott Frankton (seen above, Scott is in the middle), who it ended up had contributed many location finds and photos to doctorwholocations.net. (In fact many of the pictures he took the day we met there were later posted in the Hound Tor page.)
He showed me several places I had yet to find, including where Styre kept his communications station (see below). I was always amused to see how these apparently loosely stacked, random rocks had hardly moved in the intervening 25-plus years since filming.
The rock behind Styre’s head has not moved an inch!
Scott also showed me where the closing fight scene took place.
Around this time Guy arrived in his Tennant suit, and we chatted and compared notes. I also gave him the chance to try my Alcantara coat for size - though it was a bit big for him!
Once Scott & gang and Guy had left, we took the opportunity to take a few pictures of me in my complete outfit. Here is the best of the bunch.
First some ‘action pics’! (some partly inspired by Sarah Jane’s photo spread in the Radio Times 10th Anniversary special, see right)
Then it’s time for the obligatory ‘sonic action’ pics - and before you ask, no I still can’t find my new series sonic!!!
Embarrassing photos out of the way, it was back to location spotting.
I returned to the landing site, and matched up a few more angles with the screen-grabs I had on my iPhone, finding the following a good match. Again, I was amazed by how little seems to have changed.
One of the more elusive sites, which I am not sure Scott found, is the chasm that Harry climbs. We found it quite late in the day, having realised that it had become blocked since 1974 by a boulder that toppled from above (maybe one of the rocks missing from the Tor’s skyline right at the beginning of this entry).
The first of these two pictures should really be taken right where the bounder has landed!
We had been at Hound Tor for quite a while, but there was one last site I wanted to find, more out of curiosity than having found everything possible.
When The Doctor, Sarah and Harry take cover after sabotaging Styre’s ship, there is a weird looking pillow shaped rock with a cross through it. It just looks so unreal, and is more reminiscent of the fake styrofoam rocks you see in studio sets. It took us a while to find it, only then to realise that it had been filmed right where the landing site was, but was only visible through a gap in the surrounding rocks.
Satisfied I had found as much as I could, we called it a day and heading back to the farm where we were staying.
If you were wondering what the title of the posting refers to, it is the name of the mission Field-major Styre is on, when The Doctor stumbles across him.