Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Doctor Who Experience

On April 5th I was lucky enough to pay a visit to the marvellous Doctor Who Experience (DWE) at Olympia in London. DWE begins with an interactive adventure in which you and your fellow... shoppers... are compelled to help the dear old Doctor who appears to have got himself into a bit of a scrape. Some rather excellent stage management later and you are inside the TARDIS, where adults are rather charmingly asked not to intervene. Thankfully there were no children around when I was there, so I got to have a go. After a run through a very familiar corridor, a nice touch that is not pointed out but is there purely for people who know to notice, you are led into an encounter with SPOILERS and then MORE SPOILERS and finally I’M NOT SAYING WHAT IT IS, SO THERE!

Once the day is well and truly saved, you enter the exhibition side of the DWE, which is pleasingly stuffed with monsters, props, costumes and, is it TARDISes? TARDIII? More than one TARDIS. There are kiddy friendly elements, walk like a Cyberman, etc. And a change to spend huge amounts of money with a bluescreened photo – I passed on that one.

Along with Daleks, Cyberman, Sontarans et al, tucked away in a corner is the front half of a Time War Dalek, it allows you to get inside and move around the exterminator gun and plunger. I confess that wielding the Dalek’s weapon of choice filled me with a rather disturbing sense of power. You can also feast your eyes on a peculiar waxwork of Matt Smith, which makes him look at least 70 years old. And a rather odd exhibit of TARDIS keys, amongst which is someone’s old back door key doubling as the current Yale variety. For keen eyed folk there is also a reproduction of the BBC Wales design office. This has also been known to conceal upcoming products, such as the new Genesis of the Daleks figure set.

Once you’ve seen all there is to see you find yourself in the shop. Collectables and toys are reasonably priced, but the amount they want for DVDs is simply absurd. £18 for The Three Doctors? I think not.

The DWE is a must for any fan of Doctor Who, it is thoughtful, comprehensive and well worth the ticket price. Any tiny imperfections here is dwarfed by this monument to fan service. Once its run is over in London it will be moving to Cardiff, where it is expected to be regularly updated thanks to being close to the production offices. This will also mean it is only one hour away from me. I will not, at this point, gloat in the slightest.

If you haven’t already been, why not? I mean, there are Daleks. And Karen Gillan’s short shorts.

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