If you could find it (the venue was nowhere near a Tube station and the tickets gave little help in locating it) the Doctor Who Experience was well worth a visit during it’s London residency before it moved to Cardiff. Comprising both an extensive static exhibition and an interactive `experience` there was something for everyone. The latter was the main attraction and a lot of work had gone into making it as close to being inside an adventure as possible. Even better, you don’t have to share it with throngs of people getting in the way as each trip was limited to a manageable number. This means you got to soak in the designs and lighting as well as the adventure itself though you have to retain it in your head as no photos or filming are allowed. The then current Doctor Matt Smith talked to us - “shoppers!” - to get our help in saving the Universe. In doing so, we were led through several sets each creating a different atmosphere.
It started in a rundown library that contains some extensive props littered about including the SS Bernice life buoy and a very impressive Node face. One side of this set then opens up into the TARDIS- and for children of any age it’s quite a thrill to walk through the blue doors and into the console room itself. Here, you could help fly the ship, though probably for safety reasons the nature of the journey is a gentle swell rather than anything as juddering as the TV version. From there you find yourself a prisoner of the Daleks and this was a chance to see the controversial new design up close. They did look more impressive in `real life` because they are enormous and combined with the staccato speech and the lighting their menace was palpable. This sequence ended with a battle played out on some screens before we had to travel through a spooky forest. It’s a pity this was a bit rushed as there’s barely enough time to sample the holographic Weeping Angels that flash into view. Mind you for younger visitors this is certainly the scariest part.
The finale included a dazzling 3D encounter with the title sequence tunnel through which monsters spun towards you. This was very impressive to the extent that the thrusting hands and gleaming metal seem so solid. The work that has gone into this experience yielded tremendous results and made you want to go back through it again only you can’t!
Having already recreated the series for you to walk through, the subsequent exhibition did not attempt to mount the displays within the context of thier original episodes as the old Blackpool and Longleat ones had. Instead it had the appearance of a museum with costumes and monsters arranged in sweeping semi circles or on plinths that accentuated their stature. The time I went there were costumes galore from Doctors to companions to Time Lords and all the major monsters were represented though there was a fair amount of changing exhibits over the time the display was resident. For a change too there was a good cross section of old series aliens including an Ice Warrior, Zygon, Sontarans and even the giant Robot. There’s Cyberheads in glass cases, a Dalek panorama from several eras, props and other paraphernalia plus a replica of the 70s console room. Most impressively is the coral TARDIS which still looks beautiful and enigmatic. While the Experience was clearly designed initially for children it worked for fans of any age.More photos in next post...