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10 times Dundee contributions were referenced in TV and films

Dundee has created, invented, pioneered and contributed to so many iconic things which have made its way to the air lengths of television and films. Here are ten times things which Dundee contributed to that were referenced or featured in TV and films.

The Doctor reads The Beano

Doctor Who

In the 2013 series of Doctor Who, the Eleventh Doctor (portrayed by Matt Smith) was reading the Beano Summer Special 1981 whilst researching on one of his companions, Clara Oswald (portrayed by Jenna Coleman) in the episode "The Rings of Akhaten".

It would later appear again in a teaser for the eleventh series of the show, when the Thirteenth Doctor (portrayed by Jodie Whittaker) replaces Graham O'Brien's (portrayed by Bradley Walsh) newspaper with the Beano Summer Special 1981.

The Beano was, of course, first published in Dundee back in 1938 by DC Thomson, and is now the world's longest comic magazine and the best-selling comic magazine in the world outwith Japan.

ZX Spectrum used as a censor bar

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World tells the story of a young man fighting to win the girl from his dreams, he has to fight seven of her evil exes.

During a scene, one of the characters, Julie Powers (portrayed by Aubrey Plaza) swears at Scott Pilgrim (portrayed by Michael Cera), but it is censored with the sound effect of the ZX Spectrum's load-up screen. It is a running gag in the film.

The ZX Spectrum was built in Dundee, manufactured at Timex. Edgar Wright, the director of the film stated that he was a huge fan of the ZX Spectrum and had always waited for it loading up as a kid.

Creator of the Scott Pilgrim franchise, Bryan Lee O' Malley recently confirmed this by telling me that "Edgar was a Speccy kid".

The Horsehead Nebula features in an animated series

Widget the World Watcher

The children’s television series Widget the World Watcher featured the Horsehead Nebula where the main character, Widget, comes from a planet in the Horsehead Nebula and it features in the opening theme song.

The Horsehead Nebula was discovered in 1889 by Williamina Fleming, who was from Dundee.

Abbey Road crossing


One of the most famous photos ever came in the form of the cover of the 1969 album by the Beatles, Abbey Road, which features the fab four walk along the crossing of Abbey Road which would be the title of their penultimate album.

Abbey Road has been referenced in many upon many of times since it was captured by Dundee photographer Ian Macmillan.

The crossing has been referenced in many shows and films, ranging from The Simpsons, Sesame Street, Total Drama World Tour, Minions, and so much more!

It most recently was referenced quite recently in the 2024 episode of Doctor Who, "The Devil's Chord" where the Fifteenth Doctor (portrayed by Dundee Rep alumni Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (portrayed by Millie Gibson) danced on the crossing at the beginning and end of the episode.

Peter learns to drive by playing Grand Theft Auto

Family Guy

Grand Theft Auto has become a worldwide sensation, ever since it grew out of a small studio in Dundee back in the 1990s.

Family Guy referenced Grand Theft Auto during one of the show's gags when main characters Peter and Lois Griffin. Lois suggested to Peter that he play Grand Theft Auto for 8 hours before trying again.

The scene cuts to Peter hitting a woman with a baseball bat before stealing a man's car and driving off.

Of course, there's more than one GTA reference we got to mention...

Grand Theft Walrus!

 The Simpsons Movie

Another Grand Theft Auto reference! One of the most hilarious scenes out of the Simpsons Movie was when Homer Simpson played a fictitious version of the Dundee game entitled "Grand Theft Walrus" which depicted a walrus in a flashy red sports car shooting a penguin to death in a parody that mixed Grand Theft Auto and Happy Feet together.

Co-creator of GTA, Mike Dailly, jokingly said that it was one of the proudest moments of his career.

"As you can see by this graph"

SpongeBob SquarePants

22 years have past since the iconic SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Krusty Krab Training Video" where it guides SpongeBob on a journey to him making his first Krabby Patty. In the episode, the narrator explains to the viewer how popular the Krusty Krab is.

It then features a graph showing the popularity of the Krusty Krab, the restaurant where SpongeBob works at in the series.

William Playfair, born in Benvie, on the outskirts of Dundee, is widely credited with inventing several types of statistical graphs that are fundamental in data visualisation today.

Playfair was an economist, engineer, and a pioneer in the graphical representation of data. His contributions to the field are significant and varied, with the most notable being the invention of the line graph, bar chart, and pie chart.

"Hey! That's just my aspirin!"

The Simpsons

The iconic Simpsons episode: "Homer Simpson vs. New York" saw the Simpson family head to the Big Apple. When Bart, Lisa and Marge watch a Broadway musical called "Kickin' It", the main character has his aspirin taken away from him as he enters the Betty Ford Center.

Dundee has an interesting historical connection to the invention of aspirin, one of the world's most widely used medications. This link is primarily through Thomas John MacLagan, a physician who worked in Dundee who played a crucial role in the early development and understanding of the medicinal properties of salicylic acid, which is the active ingredient in aspirin.

Frankenstein's Monster!


Frankenstein is considered to be one of the best novels ever written and in the many upon many decades since it was published, Frankenstein has become one of the most featured references in pop culture, especially with the iconic line of "It's alive!".

The novel was first published in 1818 by a certain Dundee resident by the name of Mary Shelley.

Mary lived in Dundee from 1812 to 1814 in a cottage with the Baxter family, before writing the iconic novel a few years later.

Shelley cited Dundee as a major inspiration for the creation of the novel, having called it a place of freedom to have fun with "the creatures of her fancy".

Although Mary Shelley was born in London, she will always be an honorary Dundonian and she praised it for being a place that let her be free.

In the 1831 introduction to Frankenstein, she recalled:

I wrote then—but in a most common-place style. It was beneath the trees of the grounds belonging to our house, or on the bleak sides of the woodless mountains near Dundee, that my true compositions, the airy flights of my imagination, were born and fostered.

The site of the cottage is located on South Baffin Street and has been replaced by a staircase which has been dubbed "Frankenstein's Steps" in recent years.

"The M stands for machine"

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was the critically acclaimed sequel to Into the Spider-Verse. At the beginning of the film, we see our main character Miles Morales confront The Spot who is trying to steal from an ATM. He asks the Spot why people call it "ATMs" when the "M stands for machine".

Although the first ATM was opened in London by its inventor, John Shepherd-Barron, it was Dundee's participation in the early trials that helped refine and validate the technology, contributing to its successful implementation and widespread adoption.


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