Glasgow in Doctor Who

Happy Doctor Who 60th Anniversary from Glasgow 2024! Nicholas Whyte, an avid Whovian and member of the Glasgow 2024 convention committee, scoured hours and hours of Doctor Who (and spinoffs) footage and found many mentions of Glasgow throughout Time and Space.

From Classic Who to New Who, Sarah Jane Adventures, and Torchwood even, we have included for you some stills and transcripts of the references to Glasgow.

When you come for our convention next autumn, be sure to check out the TARDIS collection on the streets of Glasgow as well! There will be a number of photo opportunities any Doctor Who fan would love to have. ❤️❤️

Alissa Wales, Blog Team, Glasgow 2024

Hey! It’s Nicholas Whyte here. I am happy to share with you some of the moments of Glaswegian excellence in the history of Doctor Who.

“The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his companion Polly (Anneke Wills) standing next to each other.”

Like all good things (and like Doctor Who itself), it starts in the sixties with a story called The Moonbase, broadcast in February 1967. The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his companion Polly (Anneke Wills) are investigating a mysterious plague affecting the staff of an international moonbase in roughly the year 2070. 

POLLY: Listen, are you really a medical doctor?

DOCTOR: Yes, I think I was once, Polly. I think I took a degree once in Glasgow. 1888, I think. Lister. 

“Polly (Anneke Wills) looks unconvinced as she stands next to The Doctor (Patrick Troughton).”

Polly is not convinced (possibly she knows that Joseph Lister only worked in Glasgow from 1860 to 1869, and had been in London for over a decade by 1888) and comes back to the subject.

POLLY: Doctor, it wouldn’t, I mean it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with Lister, could it?

DOCTOR: Lister?

POLLY: Well, I mean, you did say that you took your degree in Glasgow in 1888. It does seem an awful long time from now, 2070 or whatever it is.

DOCTOR: Polly, are you suggesting that I’m not competent to carry out these tests?

POLLY: Oh, no. No, no, no, no. I was just wondering if there was anything that Joseph Lister didn’t know in 1888 that might possibly help you now.

She has a point; in fact, the moonbase staff are not victims of disease, but are being poisoned by the Cybermen!

“Louis Mahoney wears a purple shirt with a logo on his chest.”

Six years later, in February 1973, a future news reader (Louis Mahoney, who also appeared in New Who, in the Tenth Doctor episode Blink), makes an exciting announcement with an indirect reference to Clydeside.

NEWSREADER: And the Bureau of Population Control announced today that the recently reclaimed Arctic areas are now ready for habitation. As a special inducement for those willing to live in New Glasgow and New Montreal, the first two totally enclosed cities to be opened, the family allowance will be increased to two children per couple.

For the next reference to Glasgow we have to wait until the first series of New Who.

“News producer Cathica (Christine Adams) and The Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) focus on a TV”

In the 2005 episode The Long Game, news producer Cathica (Christine Adams) tells the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) that the ‘Glasgow water riots [are] into their third day’. The screen she is looking at refers to ‘Water riots on Caledonia Prime’, so it looks like this is a settlement called Glasgow on a newly settled planet, rather than the Scottish original.

The next year, we indirectly return to Glasgow proper in one of the Doctor Who spinoffs.

“Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), wearing a brown jacket, is engaged in conversation with Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles)”

In Everything Changes, the very first episode of the infamous spinoff show Torchwood, shown in 2006, Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) tells Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) about the Torchwood network. He reveals that ‘Torchwood Two is an office in Glasgow. A very strange man’. Sadly we never hear anything more about it.

The other well-known Doctor Who spinoff, The Sarah Jane Adventures, also has a passing reference to the real Glasgow. At the end of the second to last story, The Curse of Clyde Langer, shown in October 2011, Rani (Anjli Mohindra), Clyde (Daniel Anthony), and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) listen while Max (Ewart Jones) explains that the girl he has befriended has probably got a lorry ride to ‘Glasgow, Dublin, France, Germany’. 

“Rani (Anjli Mohindra), Clyde (Daniel Anthony), and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) are on a street, captivated by an unseen object, engrossed in their observation.”

This episode was first shown six months after the death of Elizabeth Sladen, who starred as Sarah Jane Smith from 1974 onwards. 

The Name of the Doctor, the last episode of the seventh series of New Who in 2013, includes a scene actually set in Glasgow where the Sontaran Strax (Dan Starkey) is having a therapeutic fight with a local (Rab Affleck).

“Sontaran Strax (Dan Starkey) dons formal attire while brandishing a colossal shovel.”

A nice slide establishes the context. Those are clearly the spires of the Kelvingrove Art Museum on the left and in the middle (behind the ‘GOW’ in ‘GLASGOW’), though I think that the factory chimney is artistic licence (probably as are the trees).

“An orange cloudy sky set above the spires of the Kelvingrove Art Museum and foliage. White text displays the word 'Glasgow'.”

The Twelfth Doctor was played by Glaswegian Peter Capaldi, and the producer of the show was Steven Moffat from nearby Paisley, so it’s not very surprising that the show featured another scene set in Glasgow at the end of Capaldi’s very first episode in 2014, Deep Breath.

“The Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) stand next to a blue police box.”

The Doctor’s companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) is still adjusting to her friend’s new body and personality.

CLARA: Where are we?

DOCTOR: Glasgow, I think.

CLARA: Ah. You’ll fit right in. [she puts on an accent] Scottish.

DOCTOR: Right. Shall we, er. Do you want to go and get some coffee, or chips, or something? Or chips and coffee?

CLARA: Coffee. Coffee would be great. You’re buying.

DOCTOR: I don’t have any money.

CLARA: You’re fetching, then.

DOCTOR: I’m not sure that I’m the fetching sort.

The shops in the street are kept cunningly out of focus, because (of course) although the scene is set in Buchanan Street in downtown Glasgow, it was actually filmed in Queen Street in downtown Cardiff.

At the start of the next episode, Into the Dalek, the Doctor turns up with the coffee in a stationery cupboard at the school where Clara works.

Clara (Jenna Coleman) holds two cups of take-out coffee.”

CLARA: Where the hell have you been?

DOCTOR: You sent me for coffee.

CLARA: Three weeks ago. In Glasgow.

DOCTOR: Three weeks, that’s a long time.

CLARA: In Glasgow. That’s dead in a ditch.

DOCTOR: It’s not my fault, I got distracted.

CLARA: By what?

DOCTOR: You can always find something.

And the most recent reference to Glasgow in Doctor Who is in the 2014 season finale, Death in Heaven, when Clara attempts to convince the Cybermen (voiced by Nicholas Briggs) that she is, in fact, the Doctor herself.

Clara (Jenna Coleman) faces three Cybermen in a hallway. Another Cyberman stands behind her.”

CLARA: Well, my name isn’t Doctor, is it? I don’t even really have a doctorate. Well, Glasgow University, but then I accidentally graduated in the wrong century, so technically . . .

It’s a nice shout back to The Moonbase forty-seven years earlier, a story that also featured the Cybermen, when Patrick Troughton, born 103 years ago, attempted to convince us that he had been taught by Lister.

The Doctor can go everywhere in time and space, so it’s not very surprising that he has been to Glasgow a few times. Hopefully we’ll see you there too.

Alissa Wales is a devoted Whovian. She’s a final year Master’s student who will often craft to audiobooks and academic papers. After being talked into going to Worldcon back in 2008, she was addicted but unable to attend again until Renovation in 2011, where she met many people by volunteering to help work at the con. Life has never been the same since. She is a four-time Hugo finalist, and won this one amazing and memorable time! She is grateful for the wonderful people in her life who she has the opportunity to know and the privilege to call friends.

Nicholas Whyte is originally from Belfast, but has lived in Belgium since 1999. He was the Guest of Honour for Reclamation, the 2022 Eastercon, and previously the DH for Promotions at Loncon 3 in 2014, and then Hugo Administrator in 2017 and 2019, deputy Hugo administrator in 2020 and 2022 and WSFS DH at DisCon III in 2021 and Glasgow 2024, as well as being an Arthur C. Clarke Award judge in 2015 and 2023. He is a particular fan of Doctor Who, and is briefly visible in Peter Davison’s ‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot’. In his day job, he is a political consultant in Brussels, and advised the last three counties to become independent (Montenegro, Kosovo and South Sudan). Having failed as a political candidate in Northern Ireland, he compensates by doing election night commentaries for the BBC in Belfast. He blogs at

The 82nd Worldcon will take place in Glasgow, August 8–12, 2024. We can’t wait to welcome you to Glasgow and the SEC/Armadillo for a Worldcon for Our Futures.