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first_imgHoards of people stared up toward the sky on Monday near London’s Parliament Square.But unlike millions in America, they weren’t wearing paper glasses or carrying cardboard boxes to protect their retinas from burning.Instead, they were mourning the temporary lull of Big Ben, which fell silent as work on a $37 million bell tower restoration project begins.A final set of bongs (that seems to be the popular media’s onomatopoeia of choice) rang out at noon, and won’t be heard again during the four-year construction process. (Except, of course, during special events like New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday.)The 1.5-ounce bell (and the clock that goes with it)—a British cultural icon and one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom—has made numerous appearances in another British cultural icon: Doctor Who.“The Sensorites” (1964)And you thought a muted Big Ben was bad: In this First Doctor serial, the original Team TARDIS (with companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright) travel more than a century into the future, where they learn the Great Bell no longer exists.IAN: Barbara and I, we come from London. Tell me, is Big Ben still on time?CAPTAIN MAITLAND: What century do you come from? The 21st, perhaps?BARBARA: No, the 20th.MAITLAND: I see.CAROL RICHMOND: What’s Big Ben?BARBARA: Well, it’s a clock. Near Westminster Abbey.MAITLAND: Yes, you see, the whole lower half of England is called Central City now. There hasn’t been a London for 400 years. We come from the 28th century.“The Dalek Invasion of Earth” (1964)Exterminate! (via BBC)The Doctor’s first real interaction with the clock tower occurs in 2164, when the Daleks, well, invade Earth. Among other distinguished landmarks, the robots cross Westminster Bridge—a moment recreated for Mark Gatiss’s 2013 TV movie An Adventure in Space and Time.“Rose” (2005)Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) (via BBC)The show’s new-millennium reboot similarly snuck in a reference to the famous foes as the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler, having only just met, race across Westminster Bridge in pursuit of the Nestene Consciousness, which has possessed shop-window dummies.“Aliens of London” (2005)Rose is still trying to understand her new alien friend when a spaceship tears through Big Ben and crashes into the Thames, causing a worldwide crisis.“The Empty Child” (2005)Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) (via BBC)It’s 1941, and a dashing Time Agent has just tended to Rose’s wounds and invited her for a drink on the “balcony.” Stepping out onto the invisible hull of Captain Jack’s ship, the pair dance cheek to cheek to Glenn Miller’s ultimate romantic lullaby—to the backdrop of Big Ben’s clock face.“The Christmas Invasion” (2005)Total eclipse of the Parliament (via BBC)Construction support beams around the Clock Tower of Big Ben (below a hovering Sycorax ship) suggest continued repair work following the Space Pig crash in “Aliens of London.”“Rise of the Cybermen” (2006)The Tenth Doctor, Rose, and Mickey crash land in a parallel London, where Zeppelins fly overhead, Pete Tyler is still alive, and Big Ben continues to chime.“Army of Ghosts” (2006)Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) (via BBC)The Tenth Doctor watches a local news broadcast about “ghosts” regularly gathering around Westminster Bridge, with the Clock Tower in the background.“The Eleventh Hour” (2010)Look out below (via BBC)Each new Doctor comes with a new flying style. In this case, though, an out-of-control TARDIS is the one doing the piloting. Luckily for the Eleventh Doctor (and any hopes he may have had of fathering children), his sonic screwdriver manages to divert the ship just enough to miss the tower’s sharp spire.“Victory of the Daleks” (2010)Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) (via BBC)At the request of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the Eleventh Doctor, and Amy Pond travel back to 1941’s war-torn London, where they watch as a squadron of Stukas come into view over the burning city, Big Ben still proudly standing as the centerpiece.“The Snowmen” (2012)Winter, 1892, Victorian England: Governess Clara spins yarns for the children for whom she cares.FRANCESCA: Is it one of your stories? Your definitely true ones?CLARA: Ha! All my stories are true.DIGBY: Like how you were born behind the clock face of Big Ben?CLARA: Accounting for my acute sense of time.FRANCESCA: And you invented fish.CLARA: Because I dislike swimming alone.“The Day of the Doctor” (2013)Don’t blink: Big Ben makes a brief appearance in the 50th Anniversary Special trailer (about 28 seconds in), and again as the Eleventh Doctor, and Clara fly the TARDIS over London during the opening scene of the episode.“Deep Breath” (2014)(via BBC)Grappling with a fresh face and a confused companion, the Twelfth Doctor makes his grand entrance with Big Ben as the backdrop. The London-based episode is one of Doctor Who‘s most Clock Tower-heavy; the iconic landmark bookends to the hour-long story, which ends with the Half-Face Man impaled on its spire.“In the Forest of the Night” (2014)(via BBC)The Doctor returns to London, only to find the city (and the world) overrun with vegetation. A swooping shot of the capital shows Big Ben in the distance.“Last Christmas” (2014)Ho ho ho (via BBC)Who let this guy drive? The Doctor takes the reigns of Santa’s sleigh, navigating high above the London skyline, and nearly sideswiping Big Ben.“The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith” (2008)I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore (via CBBC)England’s famed Clock Tower even made an appearance in DW spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures: Sarah finds herself in an alternate timeline, where a ruined Big Ben brings to mind the final scene of Planet of the Apes. Stream all of Doctor Who now for free with your Amazon Prime membership.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img read more