Everybody knows that Doctor Who is the peoples show. It’s the programme that only, exclusively and completely belongs to me, and you, and him over there. It’s made only, exclusively and completely for me, and you, and, well, ok, him as well and, without a doubt, no one else on a Saturday night either watches it or, indeed, gets anything at all out of it. It’s mine. And your’s. And him other there’s.
So it was incredibly nice of the people at BBC Worldwide to create an interactive exhibition for me at their sunny (the sun was put on especially for me) and gorgeous Roath Lock facility.
As a grown up (sort of) who remembers the foreboding and wonderful TARDIS entrance to the Doctor Who Exhibition in Blackpool, this huge, glittery, shiny and very posh custom made place on the water is a spellbinding and tear jerkingly thrilling place. Off to the side, randomly, is an abandoned police box, signs perhaps that the King is in Residence, and the foyer is resplendent with Bessie, a lego Dalek and a very friendly triceratops as well as a few other little nuggets dotted around. Spend some time there, have a coffee, and look around.
The tour itself starts with a cut and pasted message from Matt, a force of nature as always, as he describes the Doctor to us, as if we need to know, and we enter, through the crack in reality, to the tour proper. A thrilling special effect causes the TARDIS to materialise right in front of us and, after a bumpy trip in the console room, a scary encounter with the Daleks and, creepily, a forest of Weeping Angels, takes us to the Pandorica Room where, apparently by shuffling along, we help to rescue the Doctor!
The interactive part of the Experience is great fun, and more than a little emotional for this long term fan as he joined punters dressed in fezzes and bowties (some of the NOT children!) who were thrilled at Matt’s on screen comic timing and energy. After seeing him do the same thing at Doctor Who Live, he really is a master at this. He pulls us along, makes us laugh, and even a little afraid (“Whatever you do. Do. Not. Blink!”) and punch the air at the very impressive 3D Pandorica Room as monsters reach other the screen to grab at us.
After saving the Doctor (as you do), we get a two floored, up close and personal, exhibition of the series props and costumes, and whilst we’re asked not to touch, there’s no glass to stop us having a very good look. The treat for me was the reproduced console rooms, and TARDIS props, including the War Doctor’s/Eighth Doctor’s war battered box, and the Daleks. They are HUGE. It has to be said that the “cybus” Cybermen are much more impressive in real life too. There’s a nice little workshop on how to walk like scarecrow which is great fun to join in and also one on the music and sound effects. The miniatures too are worth spending some time studying, as is the Black Archive’s UNIT notice board.
As a fan of the show on a whole I could bemoan the lack of classic series props and monsters, but there IS a K1, an old school Sontaran (nice to see how radically difference Strax and co actually are) and an Ice Warrior (again, with the Cold War prop available for a contract and compare), so I would really be a bit churlish to moan about it. My advice to you is to look up occasionally too. You may forget you’ve seen something.
For its money, the Doctor Who Experience is very, very good value. It’s jam packed with detail, worth studying, and a complete geek fest. There’s even a little shop. Who doesn’t love a little shop? Take your time to go round, study the exhibits though, because you may miss stuff. And take pictures. Lots of pictures.
Matt is the driving force behind the Experience for now, but it’s due a regeneration soon, so if you’re a fan of the Eleventh Doctor, I’d urge you to get to Cardiff now before he’s gone, but then, I’m absolutely definitely going back to see how Peter Capaldi’s Doctor changes the exhibit.
This is a 9/10 holiday excursion, and thrilled both me as an uber fan, and my group, who included someone who doesn’t watch the programme and a ten year old. We all came out of the Experience happy and excited.
That really doesn’t matter of course, because, as everyone knows, the Doctor Who Experience was made specifically for me. And you. And him over there.
Book up for your own personal Experience HERE