BBC faces Lulworth ban after Doctor Who ‘deceit’ at Durdle Door

The BBC may be banned from filming at Lulworth Cove in Dorset in future after it was accused of acting irresponsibly by showing Doctor Who actor Jodie Whittaker regenerating on top of Durdle Door.

The landowner Lulworth Estate says it was approached for permission to film the latest episode of the TV programme Doctor Who but called the BBC ‘deceitful’ in not revealing that it would feature Jodie Whittaker, David Tennant and the Tardis perched on top of the iconic landmark.

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Durdle door on Lulworth Estate

Durdle Door on the Jurassic coastline is a world-famous attraction

Regeneration scene on top of Durdle Door

Every summer people risk their lives by climbing the rock and jumping off it into the sea despite the warnings and now the estate fears that the scene from Durdle Door will only encourage more visitors to put themselves in danger.

The limestone arch along the Jurassic Coast was unexpectedly thrust into the media limelight when one of the biggest scenes in the 59-year history of Doctor Who was broadcast on Sunday 23rd October 2022, featuring a surprise ending on top of Durdle Door.

In The Power of the Doctor, the last episode to feature 13th Doctor Jodie Whittaker, the character said she wanted to take in ‘one last sunrise’ before parking her Tardis on top of the iconic stone arch and regenerating into a former Doctor Who star, David Tennant.

BBC

Jodie Whittaker regenerates next to her Tardis on top of Durdle Door

BBC was ‘acting irresponsibly’ with image

But even as fans went wild about the twist in a series which has been criticised recently for poor storylines and a ‘woke’ agenda, the BBC was accused of acting irresponsibly for showing images of the two stars atop Durdle Door, which regularly sees accidents as thrill seekers jump off it.

Although neither Jodie Whittaker or David Tennant – or even the Tardis – was on the rock arch in person, many are questioning whether impressionable fans will realise that the powerful scene was largely created by computer-generated imagery, or whether they will care.

Lulworth Estate owner James Weld said that although permission had been given to the BBC for filming the finale to Jodie Whittaker’s four years as Doctor Who, he felt deceived about how the world famous landmark would be used.

BBC

David Tennant is revealed as the 14th Doctor during the scene at Durdle Door

May encourage visitors to act dangerously

James Weld said:

“We are aware of the Doctor Who episode where the final scene depicted the Doctor and the Tardis on top of Durdle Door.

“When consenting to the use of Durdle Door for an episode of Doctor Who, the BBC decided not to include a proper description of what they intended.

“If we had known, we would not have agreed, because of the encouragement this may give to some of our visitors to put themselves in a dangerous position, the consequences of which have been well documented.

“With any filming request we seek details of what is intended, and no mention was made by the BBC that they were seeking to portray the Tardis and the Doctor on top of Durdle Door, the consequences of which will have a potentially serious impact on our staff and the emergency services.

BBC

Dramatic CGI regeneration scenes in Doctor Who caused an internet meltdown

A ‘duplicitous and dishonest request to film’

James added:

“We are disappointed that the BBC chose not to be honest with us when seeking our permission and have written to the BBC requesting that they provide us with an explanation about what we regard as a duplicitous and dishonest request to film.

“We are considering whether the BBC should now be prevented from filming at Lulworth in the future.

“Neither the Tardis nor the Doctor were actually on the top of Durdle Door, but this would not necessarily be accepted by viewers and has now increased the difficulties we continue to have regarding the safety of visitors to Durdle Door.”

BBC

Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor in an earlier adventure

BBC denied deceit over secret scene

A BBC spokesperson denied that the corporation had been deceitful and said:

“Doctor Who’s centenary special regeneration scene was a tightly kept secret.

“Although we were granted permission to film with a drone we weren’t asked how the location would be portrayed on screen.

“We truly felt that this dramatic scene is one that the Doctor Who audience would come to expect from the show.”

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BBC

The shock reintroduction of David Tennant as the Doctor was watched by 4 million viewers

Watched by four million on television

The Power of the Doctor was watched by four million people when it was broadcast on the BBC, but the figure will rise hugely as the episode is streamed, watched on the BBC iPlayer and broadcast in at least 75 countries around the world.

Doctor Who fans, known as Whovians, are renowned for their pilgrimages to places where popular episodes of the series – which was first screened in 1963 – were filmed.

It is now feared that hordes of Whovians will descend on Durdle Door ahead of the new series starring David Tennant, expected to screen in November and December 2023.

Councillor Laura Beddow - a warning not to regenerate on Durdle Door

Dorset Councillor Laura Beddow for West Purbeck: Tongue in cheek warning

“It is not telly. It will end badly”

Dorset councillor Laura Beddow, who represents West Purbeck, tweeted:

“Please do not try to regenerate on top of Durdle Door. It is not telly, it will end badly.”

Casualty treated near the car park at Durdle Door
Lulworth Coastguard

Emergency services are frequently diverted to the remote spot

Popular location for Instagram influencers

Durdle Door has become an increasingly popular tourist attraction in the last few years as the natural beauty of the stone arch has become a must-take photo for Instagram, YouTube and TikTok influencers.

But videos of people jumping off the arch into the sea have been copied by dozens of thrill seekers, leading to serious injuries and an increasing number of incidents where emergency services have had to be diverted to the remote spot.

An infamous incident occured during the pandemic when two men on one day in 2020 had to be airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after jumping off the arch. A third was taken to hospital by ambulance.

People herded together on Durdle Door beach
Purbeck Police

The incident in 2020 hit the headlines as despite social distancing rules, beachgoers had to group together to make space for the air ambulance to land at Durdle Door

Huge interest amongst sci-fi fans

The Doctor Who episode has created such a huge interest amongst sci-fi fans because of the shock reveal that David Tennant, who played the 10th incarnation of the Doctor between 2005 and 2010, is returning as the official face of the 14th Doctor.

Previously, it had been hinted that Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa would be the 14th Doctor, but he will not be introduced to the series until Christmas 2023, and will instead be the 15th Doctor.

BBC

Sex Education actor Ncuti Gatwa will be the 15th Doctor Who – eventually

Durdle Door scene was tribute to Broadchurch

David Tennant had starred with Jodie Whittaker between 2013 and 2017 in the ITV crime drama Broadchurch, which was filmed in Bridport and West Bay among other locations.

Broadchurch creator and writer Chris Chibnall was Doctor Who showrunner for the whole of Jodie Whittaker’s tenure, and it is strongly believed that the final scene taking place at Durdle Door was a tribute to himself, Jodie and David, referencing their love of the Jurassic Coast.

BBC

Showrunner Russell T Davies has also returned to the Doctor Who fold

The appearance of David Tennant was a shock

Russell T Davies, who was the Doctor Who showrunner when David Tennant was originally cast, is now back in charge of the show again and said:

“If you thought the appearance of David Tennant was a shock, we’ve got plenty more surprises on the way.

“The path to Ncuti Gatwa’s 15th Doctor is laden with mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun!”

Watch Durdle Door in Doctor Who episode

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