Just like the real thing....

A review of the Doctor Who Experience currently open in London.
SPOILERS AHOY if you click to read more....

If you can find it (the Olympia is nowhere near a Tube station and you’ll get little help from your ticket), the Doctor Who Experience is well worth a visit. It’s very much an event of two halves- there’s an extensive static exhibition and there’s the actual interactive `experience` part.
The latter is the main attraction and a lot of work has 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 is limited to a manageable number. This means you get 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.  As in last year’s Proms and Doctor Who Live Matt Smith’s Doctor is once again talking to us- “shoppers!” - to get our help in saving the Universe. In doing so, we are led through several sets, each creating their own atmosphere.

 It starts in a rundown library that contains some extensive props littered about (including the SS Bernice life belt) 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 can help fly the ship, though probably for safety reasons the nature of the journey is a gentle swell rather than the rickety TV version. From here, you find yourself a prisoner of the Daleks; the new look ones do impress far more up close because they are enormous and combined with the staccato speech and the lighting their menace lives once more. This sequence ends with a battle played out on some screens before we have to travel through a spooky forest. It’s a pity you are rushed through this bit 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 includes a dazzling 3D encounter with the title sequence tunnel through which monsters spin towards you. This is very impressive to the extent where the thrusting hands and gleaming metal seem to solid. The work that has gone into this experience yields tremendous results and makes 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 does not attempt to do that, in the way that the old Blackpool and Longleat ones did. Rather it takes on the appearance of a museum, with costumes and monsters arranged in sweeping semi circles, or on plinths that accentuate their stature. There are costumes galore from Doctors to companions to Time Lord and all the major monsters are represented. For a change too we get a cross section of old series aliens such- there’s 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.   

Its is designed for children mainly and they will love it, but for fans of any age the chance to walk into the TARDIS or stare up at a menacing monster, is one not to be missed.

More pix from the Experience exhibition:

"Design a monster, mmm? How about a sort of potato?"

"Tickets please"

"I should've been in Waters of Mars. I was only next door"

The big D

The even bigger, aptly named Giant Robot

"This way out, thank you..."

1 comment:

  1. I trailed you around the exhibition by about 2 days, and you give a very fair summary. I can recommend you take young kids around it to share their excitement, though at the risk of missing some of the more geeky items. That said, i was encouraged by how much attention they paid to classic Who exhibits, even being asked to show them more old stuff. (Aside: I've got to say that worries me a little; compared to modern DW and the SJA, classic Who is slow, largely because of the multi-episode, multi-week format it was designed for; would it be heretical to consider some serious cut-down edits as a 'gateway' for younger viewers?)
    If I were to find fault with the 'show' part of the tour, it is with the pacing. Perhaps our tour was more crowded than most - it was the first on a Sunday morning - but we only just managed to fit around the Tardis console. This meant that moving from point to point was very rushed, and also the sight-lines were not great, especially if you are a small 7-year old. 3-D may be a tiresome gimmick for cinema, but I have to say it works well in the small doses we get here.
    And of course, there has to be a little shop. Personally, I was suckered in by the post-modern brilliance of a sonic screwdriver that this a screwdriver, and was disappointed the Weeping Angel T-shirt was not available in my size. And the less said about the idea of a T-shirt proclaiming 'Hello Sweetie', but only readable by those versed in Old High Gallifreyan, the better!