Woods kick up a storm for Dr Who

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It seemed as if the Met Office had slipped up recently when Gethin Woods near Merthyr Tydfil were covered in an unexpected blanket of snow.

Walkers out enjoying the Welsh Government woodland could have been forgiven for thinking they had stumbled into a mid-winter time warp – but this was no ordinary snow.

For the Forestry Commission Wales-managed woodland was transformed into a frozen landscape with artificial drifts for the Dr Who Christmas special.

Matt Smith, who plays the Doctor, and other stars of the hit BBC series descended on Gethin Woods along with a 50-plus production crew for three nights to capture key scenes for the eagerly-awaited special, which will be shown on Christmas Day.

But even the legendary time traveller had to keep one eye on his watch – or should that be calendar? – as filming had to be completed before essential forest operations and harvesting work began nearby.

Mike James, Dr Who fan and Forestry Commission Wales Community Ranger in the area, said, “Woodlands are great places for recreation and enjoyment, but they also support a thriving forest industry which even Dr Who has to work around!

“I’ve watched Dr Who since Tom Baker played the Doctor many years ago, so it’s been exciting to be involved in helping to set the scene, especially for the Christmas special.”

Mike and other district staff trawled the South Wales forests with the production team to find suitable sites for filming.

Two areas of Gethin Woods were identified as ideal for the storyline, one for its natural “magical” qualities and a second which had recently had a path cleared through it for harvesting work, which created more space in the trees.

Iwan Roberts, BBC Wales Location Manager for Dr Who, praised Forestry Commission Wales staff whose “enthusiasm and suggestions found us the perfect location”.

He said, “Finding this perfect location has been a very long process. We had several ‘recces’ with FC Wales staff to many woodlands around South Wales.

“In the end, we decided on Gethin Woods as it has the magical feel that we require for the Christmas episode of Doctor Who.”

Gethin Woods is the latest to feature in a long list of TV credits which Welsh Government woodlands have to their name, including another BBC Wales hit, Merlin.

Caption: A snowbound Gethin Woods was the perfect location for the Dr Who Christmas special.


A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Government.

Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.

For more information on Gethin Woods, contact Mike James on 0300 068 0225, mobile 07825843253, email

More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on

Visit News@FCWales for news, images, press office contact details and links to case studies.

Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email