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A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes.png This a Useful Notes page. A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes.png
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"I've been to many planets in the solar system, and you'd be surprised how many of them look like quarries in Wales."
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"Ooh look! Rocks!"
The Fourth Doctor, Destiny of the Daleks
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The ISO Standard alien planet set, as used endlessly in Blake's 7, Doctor Who and even The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy TV series. It was a disused or rented quarry, full of interestingly dull rocks and fascinatingly monotonous scenery, the perfect alien-landscape-on-a-budget—the British equivalent of Kirk's Rock. So common was the quarry usage by these series that according to Gareth Thomas, who played Blake in Blake's 7, there was one occasion when they heard noises at the other side of the quarry, and discovered Doctor Who was filming there at the same time (though evidence of filming dates shows this may be apocryphal).

The quarries were usually not owned by The BBC, but rented for filming from businesses like Lime Works.

Many of the quarries are no longer quarries. Its legacy lives on, however, in Smallville, Battlestar Galactica and other shows, except now it is bigger, full of trees, and in British Columbia.

The direct American equivalent is Bronson Canyon. See also Kirk's Rock.

Examples of BBC Quarry include:

Film


Live Action TV

  • Betchworth Quarry, near Reigate
  • Wookey Hole was a bunch of caves the BBC also liked to use. Parodied in "Stump Hole Caverns" in a one-shot sketch on The League of Gentlemen:
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Tour Guide: Back then you couldn't move down here for Cybermen. In fact, I remember one incident where Tom Baker sprained his ankle on that rock there. Which just goes to show how easily accidents happen...

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  • A list of Blake's 7 locations—note several different quarries: http://www.hermit.org/Blakes7/whatswhat/Locations.html
    • Radio sketch show The Burkiss Way had a Blake's 7 parody entitled "Blake's Film Shot in Old Gravel Pits".
    • The Blake's 7 radio play "The Sevenfold Crown" contains a line where a disgusted sounding Tarrant complains that the planet they've just teleported down to "looks like a quarry".
  • Too many alien planets to count in Doctor Who.
    • Justified for Skaro in Genesis of the Daleks, as the planet is a war-blasted wasteland when the Doctor and his companions arrive.
    • Subverted in "The Hand of Fear", in which the TARDIS arrives in what turns out to be an actual quarry.
      • Likewise for "Terror of the Zygons", where the Doctor escapes the Zygon ship after it lands in what is described as "a disused quarry".
    • Lampshaded in the Missing Adventures novel The Shadow of Weng-Chiang: the Doctor is taken to a quarry, and compares it to the landscapes of Gallifrey and Skaro.
      • In the New Adventures novel Return of the Living Dad, the Doctor comments that Earth is special because he has been to countless other planets, and most of them look like gravel pits.
    • The BBC Quarry is rare in the new series, which especially in its first three series has more of an emphasis on Earthbound stories (and when they do appear, it's accentuated by CGI backgrounds). It shows up for the first time in the Series 2 episode "The Impossible Planet".
    • Spoofed in the Doctor Who parody The Curse of Fatal Death:
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Doctor: But now I have grown weary of all the evil in the cosmos. All the suffering. All the torment. All those endless gravel quarries...

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    • Tom Baker's lampshading on "Destiny Of The Daleks" provides (one of the) page quotes.
    • In the The Sarah Jane Adventures story Death of the Doctor, the Doctor is trapped on a planet that was also filmed in a rock quarry.
    • Defictionalization: The European Space Agency is now testing its Mars lander in, yes, quarries in southern England...
  • Stargate SG-1's all-purpose valley, forest, and village. Lampshaded in at least one episode.
    • From the a behind-the-scenes preview:
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Tony Amendola (Bra'Tac): I think we've shot in every pit in Vancouver; Stokes pit, [Jackson] pit...

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    • Similarly, the endless forest planets of Stargate Atlantis. (It may well be the same forest.) With 90% of the episode set in the same identical middle ages backwater set.
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McKay: Couldn't we have met these people on a tropical beach planet populated by tall blonde women?

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  • Japanese Toku action series—including every Super Sentai series, and Power Rangers by extension—set many of their more pyrotechnic fights in a quarry.
    • Due to the blending of Super Sentai footage and original footage, Power Rangers actually has three such quarries: the Sentai quarry, an American quarry (from seasons one through ten), and a New Zealand quarry (season eleven and onward, after the move to NZ.) Other Saban productions in the same vein also had many a battle taking place in these quarries (most notably VR Troopers, in which all battles are taken back to the Virtual World at some point, in an area that is always the quarry.) In Power Rangers Ninja Storm, it was common for bad guys to call the Rangers out by going to this quarry and waiting. They were always quickly detected, as if the Rangers realized its popularity with villains and kept it monitored.
      • Lampshaded in at least one episode:
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Shane / Red Ranger: Not another rock quarry!

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    • In a rare instance of the BBC Quarry actually mattering, one is the site of the Rider War depicted in the opening of Kamen Rider Decade, where ever Kamen Rider from 2000-2008 tries to take down Decade all at once - and loses. It was All Just a Dream that female lead Natsumi was having. So you can imagine the "Oh Crap" moment she had when, in the final episode, she realized that they were in that very same quarry. The Rider War starts about two minutes later.
  • Red Dwarf filmed a scene on a deserted planet in a quarry for "Thanks For The Memory". The fact they filmed it at night made it slightly less obvious.
    • A quarry also pops up as the planetoid Kryten and Rimmer play golf on in a flashback scene in "Blue". And as the deserted planet that becomes "Rimmerworld.
    • In one of Red Dwarf's tie-in books, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor talk about how when they were trying to get the show off the ground, they were informed one of the reasons people who commisioned TV shows at the time hated sci-fi was that 'you always end up chasing people wrapped in foil through a quarry, pretending it's the planet Qxxyzzzyx."
  • Smallville used the same forest setting in two Season Premiers. With the same props (they flipped the order said props were interacted with.). In another episode, they used a dam that was the back drop for a pivotal episode in X-Files.
  • Magrathea in the TV version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was one of these. Said quarry in Cornwall is particularly noteworthy, as it is now home to The Eden Project a collection of artificial biomes housed in the world's largest sealed greenhouse. Rather apt, since Magrathea was home to a species of world-builders.
  • This trope is still in use today, though CGI enhancement makes it more subtle. Quarry in Northern Ireland + CGI = The Wall from Game of Thrones.


Radio

  • Referenced in BBC Radio 4's sci-fi comedy Nebulous:
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Nebulous: The Withered Zone itself poses no threat, sir. It is merely a sterile wasteland. To the untrained eye, it might as well be a quarry.

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Tabletop Games

  • UNISON, the Freedom City Expy of UNIT dealt with alien invaders operating from a base they had constructed in a gravel quarry in central England in 1969.


Web Comics

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