So, Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 01. I’m sure theres been enough whining elsewhere about the Doctor being a woman (so was the other 13th Doctor, Joanna Lumley, and you weren’t moaning then), or having a Northern accent (McCoy and Capaldi used their Scottish accents, and Eccleston was Mancunian), so I won’t bother here. Plus I just don’t care.
There has, however, been criticsm of the accuracy of the rail services and vehicles depicted in the episode, and, well, you know where this is going…
So, we’re not looking at the whole episode, just the bits from 06:14 to 14:31. To sum up, what you are about to read is possibly the most pointless waste of several hours to overanalyse 8 minutes and 16 seconds of screentime that you will enocounter this week.
Let me make it clear that I am not an expert on the rail vehicles involved and I’ve been to the filming location once (co-incidentally while on a weekend away to visit the Doctor Who Experience), but I do like it when my interests intersect. Just like Queen’s “Breakthru” video.
06:14-06:17 The first appearance of the train
Not much to go on here, apart from a blurry night shot of what appears to be a three-car DMU (from the lack of visible OLE), but a very strange one.
The first car appears to have a front end with no passenger area, followed by a door, a seven-windowed passenger area and a door. The nose itself look very odd, but more of that later.
The seconds car appears to have a door, 12 windows, and another door.
The third car I can only assume is a reverse of the first.
Note the details of the doors and windows. The windows have cross-frames and the doors have two panes, possibly indicating folding doors.
This all looks wrong to me. It doesn’t conform to any DMU layout that I’m aware of, especially nothing running in the South Yorkshire area. So back to the nose. If we play around the brightness and contrast and whatnots, we get this poor image, which puts me in mind of a loco built by English Electric. Maybe a Class 37, or 40.
Sadly, both are too long to fit with the image. The overly bright headlight (which no British Locos have in that position) bothers me too, as does the lack of illumination from the drivers’s windows.
In the absence of any more evidence, I’m going to have to conclude that this train is a CGI knock-off. Something more or less backed up by the information gathered later.
06:18 – 06:38 Inside the carriage
Ok, now we are on more familiar ground. From this image (Warning: contains traces of Bradley Walsh, a multi-talented man who unfortunately will never better this moment of his career: The Fanny Chmelar Incident), it appeared at first to be a modernised, but not recently renovated, BR Mark 3 coach. Note the seat moquette, the grab handles, the shelving and the lighting.
Further checking revealed it to be a rebuilt BR Mark 2F, classified as Class 488. A Class only used on the Gatwick Express route.
In contrast, this is an East Midlands Trains renovated Mark 3, as currently in use in that part of the world. Similar, but not the same.
(Image from Wikipedia, by PeterSkuce – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link)
But what part of the world is it? Time to go to the dialogue. From the train announcement, which is very difficult to make out, the “next stop is Grindleford”. This is confirmed later (08:15) “The train’s stopped between Hathersage and Grindleford”. This puts us on the Hope Valley Line,
The Hope Valley line runs from Manchester Piccadilly to Sheffield, and this section is between the River Hope and Totley Tunnel, close to the Sheffield end. Trains that run along here are operated by Northern, and East Midlands Trains. We’ll discount Northern, as they mainly use the awful Pacers and not-much-better Sprinters. So EMT it is (but of course it isn’t).
06:39 – 06:43 Quick in cab shot
Back on dodgy ground again. This in-cab shot is clearly not a Class 43 (HST power car), which you would expect to be hauling a rake of Mark 3s for EMT, if they were Mark 3s, which of course they aren’t.
It is too flat-fronted. Back to this later.
06:43 – 07:14 Back in the carriage
Note the lack of cross-frames on the windows (see above). Also note the use of the standard “power fails, lights go out one by one” Trope so common in Doctor Who. All the light should have died at once if all power failed.
07:15 -11:30 Outside and inside the carriage
And immediatedly we have a problem.
These are drop-window, swing-door, outside-open-operated Mark 2Fs. In what appears to be an InterCity style livery (actually Gatwick Express). We are into Preservation/Heritage Line territory now.
“Don’t go ont’ track, it could be live!” Poppycock. The Hope Valley Line is not 3rd rail electrified, and has no OLE.
“Graham, t’doors just locked, we’re shut in” – dramatic buffery. In a power failure the door locking would lose power and unlock.
Theres plenty of Sci-Fi guff happens, which for the purposes of this we don’t really care about.
At 09:16 The Doctor appears to fall in through the roof.
And more guff happens.
10:56 “This is the last train back” – Ah we can have a look at some timetables now…
Assuming its set on a weekend (why else would they be piss-arsing around on a hilltop?), let us look at the last trains that run.
On a Saturday its the 21:37 Liverpool Lime Street to Nottingham servive (1L20), which calls at Hathersage at 23:14 and Grindleford at 23:18. On Sundays it would be the 21:16, stopping at 23:05 and 23:12. Both are pather as Sprinters though.
More uniportant guff and then we go straight from a Mark 2F coach sliding door into…
11:30 – 11:56 The cab
The cab of BR 68509 (Unit 9110). Not, as you would expect, a BR Class 68, but a BR Class 414 DMBS (later Class 489 DMLV) numbered 68059 in the carriage series and formerly part of 459110. The flat front profile fits the previous in-cab shot, so that ties that up nicely, but certainly does not match the first picture. So I’m still going with CGI on that count.
And where is this 1959 vintage item to be found these days? Well she’s out to pasture at the Barry Tourist Railway, which is not too far from Cardiff. Barry has been used by the Doctor Who production team before (“Flatline”), and just happens to have some Class 488 coaches laying about.
Click here for original and more info…
11:57 – 14:31 Back into the carriage
Nothing of interest. After this we’re off the train and it is time to compare our notebooks.
So what have we copped on this little trip?
A CGI train, a cab we can identify, and at least two Mark 2F (Class 488) coaches. So, can we identify the coaches?
Firstly, are they Standard or First Class? By the seat moquettes and spacing, I’d say Standard. With them being at Barry, I’d therefore say that some (if not all) of BR Class 488/3 unit 488311 (72620+72710+72621) were used.
So, set in Yorkshire on an East Midlands Trains service, but actually filmed at Barry on an old Gatwick Express set. Geeenniiiusssss.