Phone Box Thursday: The Wrong Phone Box #2: Doctor Who, ‘The War Machines’ (1966)

This is the first of three classic phone boxes from the 1966 Doctor Who serial ‘The War Machines’. This was the first serial that was set entirely on contemporary Earth (and in Doctor Who, particularly in the classic series, ‘contemporary Earth’ means ‘contemporary London’). As such, there are lots of scenes shot outdoors on London streets, meaning it was inevitable that we would bump into the odd non-police telephone box along the way.

The first example in the serial, however, was not found on the streets – it appears in studio footage (filmed either at Ealing Studios or Riverside Studios according to Doctor Who Locations) and was thus presumably a prop.

When the characters first emerge from the swinging ‘Inferno’ nightclub, their attention is caught by some strange happenings at the entrance of a nearby warehouse. My attention, meanwhile, was caught by the phone box that appears tucked under the arch next to the warehouse. How very handy for the warehouse employees!

Doctor Who 'The War Machines'
Some very suspicious-looking characters next to this phone box!
Doctor Who 'The War Machines'
One of the suspicious-looking men uses the phone box at one point.
Doctor Who 'The War Machines'
It’s very efficient use of the space under this arch.

Next week we’ll have a look at one of the ‘real’ phone boxes that features in the location filming for this story.

Phone Box Thursday: The Wrong Phone Box #1: Doctor Who, ‘The Chase’ (1965)

A new subseries of Phone Box Thursday today. This one could go on (intermittently) for some time!

Everyone knows about the famous police-box-shaped TARDIS in Doctor Who, but – as a frequent visitor to 20th century Britain – the Doctor has often encountered the red type of phone box too. I’ll be taking a look at these instances while I wait to be allowed outside again to track down more extant examples…

We start off with the first example of a classic red phone box in the programme, at the end of the 1965 serial ‘The Chase’, when the Doctor’s companions Ian and Barbara return to their home era (well, give or take a couple of years) and home city of London.

Doctor Who: The Chase
The police box is a regular sight in Doctor Who… but what’s that lurking in the background?

Spending the day doing some celebratory sightseeing, they find a police box (not the TARDIS), which is flanked on one side by a couple of red examples. The first red phone boxes (shown in black and white, but let’s ignore that) seen in Doctor Who!

The filming location, on Bayswater Road (coincidentally just around the corner from where I photographed my last two London phone boxes in November 2019!) was very easy to track down, as the Doctor Who community is a world of wonderfully in-depth geekery and so the useful site Doctor Who Locations is a thing that exists. Someone on there has taken a photo showing that both the police box and phone boxes were removed at some point and replaced with a more modern KX+ phone kiosk, presumably in the late 1990s when that design was in use.

Here’s the most up-to-date Street View image: 51°51’02.3″N, 0°18’80.6″W.

Make sure you click on the little clock dropdown in the top left corner on Street View, because the really interesting thing here is the story of the telegraph pole that you can see in the still from the programme. At the start of the 2010s, it still looked exactly as it did in the mid-1960s. However, over the course of the last decade, it has become gradually overgrown with ivy, to the point that by the time of the most recent image from July 2019, it was so completely disguised that you really have to know it was there in order to identify it among the trees! Given that it’s slap bang in the middle of London, I am absolutely flummoxed as to whether this was a deliberate attempt by the council to hide it, or just nature taking its course (and the council just went with it, due to the pole no longer being in use).

Anyway, this is not Telegraph Pole Thursday, so let’s move on.

I noticed when I was doing my rounds of central Edinburgh to photograph phone boxes in January 2016 that many of the red phone boxes were standing next to police boxes (Edinburgh and Glasgow have both largely maintained their collections of police boxes; the large rectangular police boxes that are particular to Edinburgh are so sizeable that most of them were turned into coffee kiosks in the 2000s, and have seemingly been doing a roaring trade ever since). Here’s an example in the Grassmarket. It seems this setup may have been common in London, too, when police boxes were still standing there.

Next time the Doctor visits Earth: we find a few more London examples. Tune in next week! (Presuming I don’t find another box for the main collection in the meantime.)

Saturday ’80s Photo: January Snow

I was born in a snow-laden January, so I should be used to putting up with winter weather at this time of year. Mind you, as a newborn I wasn’t worrying about trying to run in it!

January 1985
Snowy paths, January 1985.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘Five Years’
Thought Beings – ‘Shakedown’
5 Seconds Of Summer – ‘Youngblood’
John Taylor – ‘I Do What I Do’
Cee Lo Green – ‘Forget You’
Ariana Grande – ‘Thank U Next’
Ollie Wride – ‘Back To Life’

Phone Box Thursday: A849, Ardtun

One extra week for logging the collection, as Jen sent in this phone box from the Isle of Mull!

Red phone box
Red phone box, A849, Ardtun, 23rd September 2020.

(Coordinates 56°32’88.2″N, 6°22’70.2″W.)

An isolated and slightly decrepit, but essential, example – the phone is still intact and reportedly still very much in use due to the bad phone signal on the island!

Here’s hoping they fix that door soon.

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’
Sinead O’Connor – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’

Phone Box Thursday: Unknown road, Huntly

Here’s another Scottish phone box that Bill sent in earlier this year.

Red phone box
Red phone box, unknown road, Huntly, 3rd October 2020.

No coordinates for this one as I’ve not been able to track it down on Google Street View. It is somewhere in the vicinity of Huntly, Aberdeenshire.

It’s a bit of a bashed-up example and the building beside it appears to be in even more derelict condition. A bit of a forgotten location in general, perhaps!

That’s the last phone box of 2020, and the last of my phone box collection for now! Until I (or readers) find some more, I’ll be looking at phone boxes in film and TV on Thursdays for the foreseeable future.

Christmas presents, 2007

Today’s picture shows the haul under Mum and Dad’s tree on Christmas Eve, 2007. As a family we are very lucky and are able to give each other lots of nice things to open on Christmas morning. It’s a really special time and I’m already looking forward to next year.

Christmas presents, 2007

Today’s earworm playlist:

Traditional – ‘I Saw Three Ships’
Black – ‘Wonderful Life’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Traditional – ‘On Christmas Night All Christians Sing’

Hogmanay pizza, 1995

Dad always makes homemade pizza on Hogmanay. I eat a lot of pizza, but Dad’s recipe is my favourite, and it’s super special because it only gets made once a year. This year, I’ll be spending New Year away from Scotland for the first time in my life due to the pandemic, and so I’ll be attempting to make the recipe myself.

Here’s a photo of Hogmanay (aka pizza night) from 1995.

Hogmanay pizza, 1995

Today’s earworm playlist:

Robbie Williams – ‘Soul Transmission’