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Doctor Who – A Global Phenomenon: Part 8: The Emerald Isle

Mark McCullough and guest contributor Tayla Fonseca take us over the rainbow.

It has never been more obvious that Doctor Who is most definitely a Global Phenomenon, and to celebrate we’ve pulled together yet another group or Whovians from different corners of the globe to show how Doctor Who is received in their own home country. Part Eight is…

Doctor Who in The Emerald Isle!

doctor-who-ireland

An Introduction to Ireland

agp-irelandSo the question is: When you think of Ireland, what comes to mind? You’d be forgiven for automatically drawing upon images of leprechauns, shamrocks, beer, potatoes and freckly red heads. You may also point out that the island shares its shape with a Teddy Bear. What important to realize too is that the island is split into two countries: Northern Ireland (represented by Mark) and the Republic of Ireland (represented by Tayla, in her first article for the site). It can be said of both countries that we are nations rich in culture, boasting a great night life which showcases the best of our food and festivities. We like to party and are more than capable of rivalling other countries in that department. Due to our past and politics, it’s not often that both nations stand together (we don’t want to say any more than that as here is not the place). Perhaps one of the few times we do however is in Rugby. But now, since 2005, we have a new reason to stand united and that reason comes inside a blue box.

What does Doctor Who mean to us here?

smith-greenWell that’s a rather tough question to answer as there are times you don’t see many Doctor Who fans at all. There are definitely times when it is easy to feel disconnected from our fellow 77 million fellow fans that span the globe. It’s a pity really that something that means so much to us is a minor part of overall life in our countries. Sometimes you have search strenuously to find fellow Whovians, you might just get lucky in finding a few. If not, we are both fortunate enough to have the fall back position of having a few friends who share our passion for the time travelling bow tie wearing Doctor. Perhaps that why we both love this site so much, because it is the perfect opportunity for us to discuss the show we love.

That is not to say that Doctor Who is unpopular in the island of Ireland. It’s practically unheard of that an episode of a television show will be shown in the cinema. Luckily in the Republic of Ireland, the episode was shown in a large selection of Odeon cinemas. Northern Ireland was not so lucky with only a handful of cinemas opting to take a gamble on the episode. Despite that, we have found that it is always humbling to know we are part of something as big as Doctor Who, especially in our countries where it’s not overly prominent. As with everywhere, there are Doctor Who fans out there. We can only hope more and more will spring up during the reign of the Peter Capaldi.

Part of the problem may be the lack of publicity for the show over here. For example, on March 17th 2013, Steven Moffat held a talk in Trinity College (Dublin), where he discussed his views for the show. Being honest, neither of us was aware the talk was on, thus was the extent of the publicity surrounding it. Had we have known, we would have made every effort to be there. This brings us to the next issue, for most Doctor Who conventions, we have the minor barrier of the Irish Sea, making it next to impossible to attend. The solution: more conventions in Ireland. Unfortunately that doesn’t make commercial sense right now given the small portion of the fan base located here. This means that for now we will have to make do with regular fixes of Doctor Who merchandise from our local news agents and shops such as Forbidden Planet.

What Can Ireland Offer Doctor Who?

emerald-isleThe obvious answer is that we would be an ideal location for filming. The poetic name for the island; The Emerald Isle is a testament to its beauty. Luscious green valleys, beautiful undulating landscapes, atmospheric forests and majestic mountains are sites you would come to expect in a tour of Ireland’s landscape. The beauty of this is that it would afford the producers the opportunity to film anywhere yet still have spectacular scenery.

There are many places within The Republic of Ireland which would be ideal for filming, these include: Dublin Castle, St John’s Castle (Limerick), or even Bunratty Castle (County Clare). We also have locations riddled in culture, including folk parks and many historical sites. I couldn’t talk about the beauty of Ireland without mentioning the Wicklow Mountains; they’re just bursting with filming potential.

Northern Ireland too has lots to offer in terms of filming locations. Some of this has already been utilized by the highly successful TV Show, Game of Thrones. Anywhere along the Northern Irish coastline will literally take your breath away. The Mourne Mountains and the surrounding area in particular have some of the best views in the country and find themselves a very popular area for filming. Other notable attractions include the Giant’s Causeway and the Marble Arch Caves, both of which could easily be edited in order to look very alien indeed.

agp-castAside from our scenery, we also have a very strong group of actors who call the island of Ireland home. Some of these have already graced the Doctor Who universe, these include: Colin Morgan, (Midnight), Michael Gambon (A Christmas Carol), Liam Cunningham (Cold War), Jonjo O’Neill (The Day of the Doctor), and Orla Brady (The Time of the Doctor). Perhaps more impressive is our list of actors which we hope will day have some sort of role within the show we love. Tayla’s choices include: Domhnall Gleeson (About Time), Katie McGrath (Merlin), and Robert Sheehan (Misfits). Mark’s pick of the bunch are: Liam Neeson (Taken), James Nesbitt (Murphy’s Law), and Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey).

The final thing we could offer is material for the historical type episodes. There have been lots of interesting events throughout the history of our countries. Some which spring to mind include the Battle of the Boyne, The Easter Rising, or even ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. We also have an interesting past shrouded in mythology and legend, any of which could be adopted into a very good story of Doctor Who.

Enough about what we could potentially give. It may surprise you that we have already had numerous references within the show. In fact the First, Second, Fifth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors have all visited our island… we certainly hope that Mr. Capaldi will follow! In the opening episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day which was shown back in 2011, It was mentioned that Ireland became bankrupt (Bloody Torchwood!). A popular joke which has been used several times within in the show is that humans sometimes mistakenly assume Gallifrey is a place in Ireland. We wish it was, but alas it isn’t, although we do like to think the Doctor would be happy to call this beautiful island home. Ireland has also featured in the expanded Doctor Who universe. We are represented by Molly; companion to the Eighth Doctor in the Big Finish audio series. Possibly the most iconic story set in Ireland is the Audio story: “The Book of Kells” which follows the hunt for the mysterious chronicle that can help to overthrow the throne of Dublin. An exciting, dramatic and utterly Irish tale! As per usual, Northern Ireland receives very little attention in the show. In fact all we are told is that is country is part of Starship UK (which is very good news indeed).

Conclusion

I hope that you have enjoyed this article as much as we did writing it. Today we’ve explored everything you need to know or learn about the fandom (or lack thereof) in Ireland and what Doctor Who means to us. We have also covered what Ireland could offer the Doctor should he decide to visit. The only thing we can’t guarantee is the weather! Until next time folks, Slan Go Foil! (Goodbye for now).

THE EMERALD ISLE
Reputation rating: 7.5/10
Prominence rating: 8/10

To read the first 7 articles in the series, simply click on the links below!

Step back in time...

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61 comments
Kathrin Lily Franke
Kathrin Lily Franke

Well, I live in Ireland... and I had my fingers crossed for Domhnall Gleeson to be the Doctor... I mean he's great, and Irish and... ginger - so we'd have that obsession over with... not to mention handsome. As for locations, there's plenty... Kylemore Abbey, or they could do a sporty one at Croke Park (All Ireland Final), Phoenix Park would be another great one. I think that while it's a small crowd here, there are more of us than you think, given how highly the 50th ranked last year with just one day on screen. It's just, well, you probably don't see us that much... because we're more cautious about showing it (because it's British?). So I think an Irish Doctor or episode could really do something nice for the show over here: get the fans out of their hidey-holes and maybe get a few more interesting guests to come to the conventions we have here (it's not that there aren't any, it's just the last one there was there was nothing and no one that interested me). O, and btw I'll be watching at Odeon Blanchardstown (quite possibly in my 10th Doctor coat) - so if anyone's nearby maybe we could meet up before/ after.

chrisrooke
chrisrooke

I organised the talk in Trinity College with Moffat that's referenced in the article above, and I think it's worth just noting a couple of things about Ireland that possibly haven't been taken into context.







Geek culture in Ireland hasn’t really taken off in the way that it has (at least, in my experience) in the UK. Sci-fi and fantasy communities, both video and tabletop gaming, and comic books and other stereotypical geek interests are still very much underground here. Compare the much wider audience at Forbidden Planet in London to the much more limited alternative at the (unrelated!) store in Dublin (granted, some of this is due to there being far fewer people in the city). But the Comic-Con culture is really only just beginning to come to Ireland - this year is the first that there have been Comic-Cons here. 






Secondly, while Ireland has a hugely rich and diverse history of arts and culture, TV drama has never been hugely recognised here. Books and films tend to take up a lot of the column inches in Irish media - mostly likely because there are more acclaimed Irish films and novelists than there are TV programmes. TV drama isn’t a huge industry here (apart from Fair City =P ), it’s difficult to get funding for and so can’t match the budgets of BBC shows, and so tends not to be able to match the talent / production scale of those shows. As such, there isn’t really a TV drama scene in Ireland to promote it.


(Also, Ireland seems to have a penchant for kitchen-sink dramas and soaps, so Corrie and Eastenders tend to be some of the top-watched shows in Ireland.)


Regarding the specific event in Trinity: the authors and commenters have been using it as an example of the lack of publicity around Who in Ireland. First, I think that feeds into the underground nature that I mentioned earlier. We did however contact a number of fansites to spread the news, but not all decided to post or share it (Blogtor Who was particularly good for tweeting and RTing about it!).


The venue was also limited, and as it was being run by a Trinity society, the audience members technically had to be Trinity students - as we knew we could fill the hall (approx 300 people) from Trinity, not a huge amount of advertising other than the fansites was done outside the college. 


(Happy to answer any questions or discuss anything about the visit or Irish arts culture if anyone is interested!)
















Manyname
Manyname

One of the many reasons I love Tom Baker - apart from him being the perfect embodiment of genuine Time Lord eccentricity - is the fact that he once took time out of his busy schedule to visit two Belfast schools that existed on either side of the sectarian divide. 

The fact that this visit was made during the height of the Troubles, and was entirely of his own volition, is even more commendable. He didn't have to go, he wasn't contractually obliged to in any way, no.....he simply wanted to go. He wanted to use his association with the character of the Doctor a means of spreading a little bit of much needed joy. Good for him. 

It's charming to see Tom, in full Doctor regalia, hurtling down a playground surrounded by hordes of delighted children. Apart from representing a rather touching personal gesture on the part of Mr Baker, it also serves as a rather timely reminder that some things are truly capable of transcending any geographical, political or religious divides. 

'Doctor Who' is surely one of 'em. 

DasManiac
DasManiac

Doctor Who has never filmed in Ireland? Really? I mean they come all the way here to America but have ignored their next door neighbors?

NewWho2012
NewWho2012

Great to see an article on Ireland, the home to the relatives on my mother's side. My grandparents (mother's side) come from Ireland and so I have visited a few times to see my other relatives and the tremendous and beautiful sites over there. I know the island is split religiously, but my family resides in the Republic of Ireland and so this is a place I would love to see Doctor Who come and visit to film in and so hopefully it will get some publicity and make Doctor Who a bigger thing over there, which should be deserving as it's a beautiful place to visit and live and the place I would call my second home because any chance I get to over there is a privilege and a novelty, one I will never take for granted.

The Finn
The Finn

"Top o' the mornin' to ya" both (although it's the afternoon already). Great article! I really wish for a TV dramatization of The Book of Kells, as it's one of my favourite audios out of the ones I've heard. Especially that end reveal....

SGMusic
SGMusic

"all we are told is that is country is part of Starship UK (which is very good news indeed)"

Risky sentence, guys. Risky.

PaddyB
PaddyB

I remember there was a Doctor Who convention in Belfast once and the biggest name they could get was the actress who played Margaret Slitheen!

sontaran17
sontaran17

As Executive Producer and Mastermind Creator of the Series (Yes I'm calling myself that now) - You'll know how serious I am when I say this is one of - if the not THE Highlight for the entire 9 Parts- Its exactly what the series is about- humor, education and culture! A Massive thanks to Mark for his great support not only for this article, but also helping me sift through the thousands of words of international contribution for the second part of the series -- And of course to Tayla for her deeply enjoyable and personal first contribution to the site- Now the 3rd Contributor to have a debut as part of this series -- Tomorrow we conclude the second series tomorrow with a Big Bang- Enjoy!

Americanwhovian
Americanwhovian

I've been to Ireland when I was a kid, its a beautiful country. Its were my ancestors come from 

WhoFanNo565
WhoFanNo565

I'm Irish and I couldn't agree more with this. Fantastic article!

MrGuymanwatch
MrGuymanwatch

I'm baffled as to why Doctor Who has yet to film here in Ireland; we're barely an hour's flight away and we possess some of the most spectacular natural scenery. It could stand in for an alien world, or even Ireland itself, seeing there hasn't been a single episode in the show's 50-year history set in Ireland. And yes, part of the reasoning is that I want to crash the filming and meet the cast, but that's entirely besides the point.

TARDlSkey
TARDlSkey

Another great edition to a wonderful article series, and congratulations on your first article, TT (tyla) :D It was a lovely read with a nice insight to Ireland... and its bear-shape! XD






TARDIS Blue
TARDIS Blue

This article finally made me sign up to comment on an article here. The section about how disconnected it can feel being an Irish Whovian hit me like a tonne of bricks, because it's just so true. I know a few people who watch it, but none would class themselves as Whovians or carry sonic screwdrivers into the cinema. Day of the Doctor was a revelation for me, because I saw it with about 500 other Whovians, and the atmosphere was amazing. I didn't feel alone for those 75 minutes. And like the authors, I'd no idea that Moffat was here in 2013, which brings me to another point. It concerns sci-fi fandom in general really, but I think it's valid. Dublin Comic-Con is on this weekend, but it gets no publicity outside of The Pale (Dublin to the rest of you!). Kevin Conway, the voice of Batman is there, and I'd love to meet him, but I only found out a few nights ago. This convention seems to be going from strength to strength, and that's good because it will show others that there is a strong appetite for this sort of thing in Ireland. So my hope would be that they could eventually encourage one of the previous Doctors over next time. But it's very possible that it'd get next-to-none publicity outside of Dublin, and it'd pass by the bulk of Irish Whovians who would never know. If there is any hope of the BBC ever bringing something Who here, we need to put on a more united front, because God knows we love the show and are dedicated to it. I'm in the fairly southern end of the Island, and I hauled myself up to Belfast in 2010 to see Doctor Who Live. But seriously, great article and well done to the two authors.



wizardgang
wizardgang

There should be a story set in Northern Ireland in new who. Every part of UK and Ireland (trying to phrase this correctly as I know what people are like) has been represented apart from Ireland. England is obvious. Cardiff was almost omnipresent in Christopher Eccleston's run and Tooth and Claw (2006) was set in Scotland. Northern Ireland? No. Too expensive? No, as they film abroad a lot and NI is quite close. Also, Cardiff could double up, as it always does. The problem with Ireland is there's a lot of controversy over religion and it would be difficult to write an episode that either omits this or tackles it in a good way.

Moxx
Moxx

Super feature, Mark and Tayla! It's shocking to read that fans in Ireland are so starved of all-round Who-ishness, despite the area having various roles in the show's history. I'm off to a wedding in Northern Ireland on the day of Deep Breath - my first time there - so your words don't bode well for my chances of sneaking off in the evening to see the episode!

supermoff
supermoff

Great article :) Went to Ireland last year; the most beautiful country I've seen. Doctor Who should definitely film there :)

Mark McCullough
Mark McCullough

Hope everyone enjoys the article. It was fun to write and Tayla was a pleasure to work with. 

TheElusiveWhovian
TheElusiveWhovian

Seeing that bear, I just want to hug Ireland, despite physical impossibilities.

PaddyB
PaddyB

I'm glad that the Mourne mountains got a plug. My family have a holiday home nearby (and just 40 minutes from my house- it's a small island!) and the scenery is very beautiful- it would make for a very cinematic episode of Doctor Who.

Daelf
Daelf

Mh. Interesting series of articles… Are you planning to do one about France? ;)


(still frustrated about nothing DW in cinemas here, it's… AAAGH)

Liana21
Liana21

I want go to Ireland, I hae a friend there.

Clara Laurinda
Clara Laurinda

Thank you Mark and Tayla for your lively look at Ireland, a place where my great great grandparents come from! A pleasure to read. I didn't realize the Irish Sea was such a barrier. Rough is it? Or wide? Both? Thanks again!

JohnPemberton
JohnPemberton

As a Scot, congratulations to Ireland on adopting the saltire.

TardisBoy
TardisBoy

I will never be able to unsee that bear...

Sam Davern
Sam Davern

The problem is that a quarter of the population live in Dublin and the other three quarters is spread out over the rest, with some higher concentrations in Limerick, Galway, Cork, Waterford cities etc. This means that there is most likely going to be more DW fans in Dublin so it is the logical place to open a Forbidden Planet and it is the only one in ROI. This does not help if you live in the south of Ireland, like myself, or indeed the west or north. This then discourages people from outside Leinster from going there meaning they do less business meaning they can't afford to open a shop elsewhere, which the discourages people from going to FP in Dublin and so on. There is however a very small shop in Galway called Sub City Comics but they are highly overpriced and I rarely go there. This is not helped by the outrageous prices both FP and FPI charge to ship items to Ireland(£8 to ship a Character Building micro-figure). On the matter of conventions, Ireland is starting to improve but it could be years before there is a dedicated DW convention here. Until then the cinema screenings will have to do. There is a sufficient number of fans in Ireland the only problem is they are too spread out across the country.

TardisBoy
TardisBoy

What a brilliant article Mark and Tayla, it was a really enjoyable read. It's a shame that Doctor Who isn't as big over there as other places. I do feel Ireland tends to get overlooked by the DW team as all major DW events seem to be situated around England, Wales and Scotland. This needs to change! I also agree that Ireland would be a perfect place to film some episodes, as you both say it's a very stunningly beautiful location; but I fear it wont happen in the distant future as it's just cheaper to use locations that are similar looking around Cardiff or other places around the UK which are closer. Still, I hope they do go in the future! Again, excellent from the pair of you! Well done! :D (and congrats Tayla aka TheTimeTraveller, on your first article for the site!)

Kathrin Lily Franke
Kathrin Lily Franke

@SGMusic Well, it isn't. It's England, Wales and Northern Ireland (not the Republic) - while Scotland has her own ship. But if it has been said, it's risky indeed.

sontaran17
sontaran17

Also that Clover Eyepatch for Kovarian and Green Matt Smith was the best fun to make! That is all

TheIdleIdol
TheIdleIdol

There are probably reasons behind it, be they a lack of tax incentives, the cost of transporation/travel, or whatever else (I'm no expert, I'm just speculating here), but it does seem odd that they're willing to film in Croatia, the United States, Spain, etc, and yet they've not capitalised on the tremendous scenery of Ireland. I'd sure as hell take it over another episode in Cardiff. I'd like to imagine that it's only a matter of time, and the real reason it's yet to happen is simply that they've yet to have a story that has both the budget for, and a setting conducive to, filming over there. Who doesn't film abroad often, and when they do it's usually so they can make use of a location that's unlike anything you'll find anywhere in England, be it sprawling snowy mountaintops, unusual foreign architecture or the landmarks of the Utah desert. Whilst Ireland is truly beautiful, it's mostly the countryside and castles that attract filming there - and unfortunately, it's probably easier and cheaper to substitute English countryside and castles for those purposes when called for. It's a shame, but it's understandable.

The_Eternal_Dalek
The_Eternal_Dalek

@MrGuymanwatch  Some would claim it is because people in Ireland can watch the BBC without paying the license fee, but that didn't stop them filming in Amsterdam...

TheElusiveWhovian
TheElusiveWhovian

The scenery could easily be the Eye of Orion, one of the most tranquil places in the universe...

Im His Carer
Im His Carer

@MrGuymanwatch I'm from Newfoundland, so my great-grandparents are from Ireland. I know for a fact that it's very beautiful there.

supermoff
supermoff

Plus I can no longer unsee the bear, so thanks for that XD

Mark McCullough
Mark McCullough

@Clara Laurinda It's not really, just rather expensive to cross meaning you're in for a long trip with high expenses if you're looking to go to one of the UK conventions. Would be difficult to do a return trip in one day too, so you'd have to stay overnight.

Mark McCullough
Mark McCullough

@JohnPemberton XD For certain reasons we couldn't use either the Flag of Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. So instead we used the lesser known St. Patrick's Saltire (albeit a greened up version of it) as it applies to both countries. :P

Liana21
Liana21

Once I see a map of Portugal looking like a Sea Devil

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

@TheIdleIdol The show is very much a Welsh production now, and  Wales has plenty of dramatic countryside of its own to use. Indeed they rarely film in England!

Clara Laurinda
Clara Laurinda

@Mark McCullough @Clara Laurinda Ahh, I see. Yes you do have apoint. I visited England some years ago and couldn't afford to crossover to vivsit my ancestral home! A bit frustrating, but I have to say, when I flew over it (in an airplane of course!) as I coming into to England in late Spring I was stunned by the fact it really IS an emerald isle--it was breathtakingly green! I will never forget that!