THE sixth Doctor was complaining about Swindon parking charges this week in 2002 – but not for his Tardis.

Colin Baker had traded the blue police box for more conventional transport when his incarnation of the Time Lord regenerated into Sylvester McCoy’s in 1986.

By 2002 he had moved on to other work, and was preparing to play Sarah the Cook in that year’s panto.

“The Wyvern Theatre,” we said, “is being blacklisted by actors because of its extortionate parking charges.

“Veteran theatre producer Charles Vance says he has been told by acting agents that they will no longer send actors to Swindon because of the cost.

“And it’s so bad that former Doctor Who Colin Baker, currently rehearsing for this Christmas’s panto, Dick Whittington, is having to park over at the County Ground and walk to avoid parking charges of £30 a day.”

The root of the problem was that unlike many other provincial theatres, Wyvern performers and staff alike were obliged to pay the same as the public for parking.

Actor Hugo Myatt, best known for 1980s and 1990s children’s game show Knightmare, was to play King Rat in the panto. He said: “Parking is a real problem and if it continues I would say that it would put off actors coming to perform here.”

Local star Pollyann Tanner had signed for the title role in Dick Whittington but suffered a horrific injury in a terrible disaster.

The actor, choreographer and instructor was at a county fair when a display parachutist collided with a bungee jumper. An air ambulance was called in, only to crash and shower hundreds of people with debris.

Pollyann was left with a chunk of rotor blade sticking out of her left leg – but in the best showbusiness tradition she was soon up and about.

That was because the county fair took place in Holby, the fictional and quite possibly cursed setting for Casualty, where gory calamity has never been more than a few episodes away.

Pollyann was among nearly 200 Swindon actors drafted in to help bring the latest disaster, filmed at Grittleton Manor, to the screen.

She said: “Fortunately I was picked out of the crowd to do a juicy scene. Part of a helicopter rotor blade is driven into my leg and I’m on the floor, screaming my head off in pain.

“It was all good fun and a bit of practice for the pantomime, which is approaching.

“But hopefully during Dick Whittington I will be slapping my thigh rather than screaming my head off in agony because something is embedded in there.

“I can’t wait to get on stage at the Wyvern – I haven’t had such a meaty role in ages.”

Another local celebrity in the news was explorer David Hempleman-Adams, who was about to embark on his latest perilous adventure.

We said: “Swindon-born David, 45, hopes to fly a wicker basket balloon solo 3,337 miles across the Atlantic from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the west coast of Ireland.

“And should he successfully complete this perilous flight he will be revered as the world’s greatest explorer.”

Such a crossing had never been made in a traditional basket.

The explorer said: “I will not get excited until I’m out there and it will only be a couple of hours before take-off that I’ll begin to worry.

“Of course, I think even harder about these challenges because of my wife and three children, but I never worry about dying.

“A couple of times I have been away and my sixth sense had told me not to do something.”

David attempted a flight later in the month, only to abort due to technical issues. The following summer he was thwarted again, this time by poor weather.

In September of 2003 he finally made the crossing in spite of, among other interesting moments, the balloon dropping several thousand feet when Concorde passed 30,000 feet overhead.

The week also saw the first anniversary of the terrorist outrage which changed the face of the new century.

RAF Fairford was among many American military bases across the world where the September 11 terrorist attacks were commemorated with solemn ceremonies and silences.

Among those taking part was AS Air Force Master Sergeant Greg McKinney from New Jersey, who lived in Swindon with his English wife.

He recalled watching the attacks with stunned comrades on a base TV set a year earlier: “I was trying to think who do I know in New York, who do I know who works at the World Trade Centre.

“I started to mentally account for everybody in my family – then things started happening here.

“We had a meeting of the department heads to figure out how we stood at the base – obviously it was an attack on the US mainland and they could attack Americans anywhere else.

“We had to secure the base and account for all our personnel.”

Back in Swindon, one of the town’s greatest landmarks attracted attention from the other side of the Channel.

“French officials,” we said, “came to Swindon to see if the Magic Roundabout could solve their traffic problems – and left with a souvenir photograph of their visit.”

The party from Brest City Council included community and urban department director Patrick Morlier, who said: “When we arrived we were a little surprised and we didn’t understand it, but now we can see it is working really well.,

“We are hoping to do something similar in Brest because we have a lot of traffic at a crossroads near a regional hospital.”

Satellite imagery shows a roundabout at the crossroads in question, but sadly it appears distinctly unmagical.