Amy reports on what could just be the most exciting (and geeky) moment of her life…
When booking my trip to Cardiff this summer a friend gave me the most exciting piece of information I could have wished for, the brand new Doctor Who Experience was due to open just days before my trip to the city that is the new home of the legendary series, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was considering only weeks before I was saving the world from the Weeping Angels during ‘The Crash of the Elysium’ show, I was automatically beyond excited and booked my ticket right away!
I have seen pretty much every episode of Doctor Who, from the very first releases in 1963 to the modern day continuation which started in 2005, my Dad being such an avid Doctor Who fan I saw my first episode at just 4 years old, so for me the stories of the Doctor travelling through time and space are practically written into my DNA, so knowing I was going to get the chance to see original costumes and props filled me with such anticipation and expectation, and thankfully it did not disappoint.
Walking to the experience you are welcomed with the Tardis parked, rather wonkily parked overlooking the bay, as you enter the building you are greeted by Bessie, the yellow roadster acquired by the Brigadier for the 3rd Doctor during his exile to earth, which proved to be instrumental in several major episodes and was used by the 4th, 5th and 7th reincarnations of the Doctor. You are then shown into a room with a screen that has a rather familiar shaped crack through it, as the video starts Matt Smith as the Doctor fills the screen, he has been trapped in the Pandorica 2 (which is exactly the same colour, the Daleks are not known for their creativity) and needs your help to escape. The crack opens and as you step through you find yourself aboard the Starship UK museum with an information Node, originally seen in ‘Silence in the Library’ showing you around the treasures held from historical episodes of the show, including Rosanna Calvierri’s throne and Picasso’s painting of the exploding Tardis. The Doctor soon interrupts as the Tardis materializes in front of your eyes, and as you step through the legendary blue doors you are faced with the Tardis console used by Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant, everyone in the room is set up in front of a separate console which allows you to fly the Tardis, the floor starts to move as the renowned Tardis hum starts to sound, you are transported through time and space, but end up having to use the back door to get out, onto what unfortunately turns out to be a Dalek warship.
As you end up on the bridge of the Dalek ship you are met with 3 members of the new Dalek paradigm created in the ‘Victory of the Daleks’ episode in Series 4, as they threaten to exterminate you due to the time energy you have been doused in during your trip in the Tardis, the Doctor once again swoops in to save you by antagonising the Daleks in his usual way, but soon enough the Daleks have more to worry about as another Dalek ship approaches with the aim of wiping them out to eradicate their impurity as there can only be one true Dalek race, this distraction allows you to escape into the next room where, armed with 3D glasses you reach the final stage of your adventure with a spectacular 3D show that sees the Doctors enemies fly at you from the screen, everything from the Cybermen to the Weeping Angels, but as they get pulled through the crack in time the Doctor sonics himself safely into the Tardis and escapes, you have saved him and the world.
Time for your reward…
As the exhilaration of the show starts to sink in you walk through into the museum and the butterflies start again, the first thing you see is all 10 Doctors, although its only pictures accompanied by their original costumes (the 5th Doctor’s costume has the celery!) there is also a life size wax figure of Matt Smith as the current Doctor, the affect of all this is instantaneous, as a self confessed Whovian I know the the only thing you can do is smile in astonishment as you walk further in to see the Tardis standing proud next to the original 10th Doctors Tardis console, complete with the mallet used by Donna Noble in ‘The Poison Sky’ episode to take out a Sontaran, there is also the console created in ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ episode, along with the costume worn by Idris as she inhabits the Tardis’ matrix and amazingly there’s also 2 of the consoles used in the 70’s for Doctors 4-7. In glass cases you get to see all the Sonic Screwdrivers used throughout all series, from the very first in the 60’s including the sonic cane used by the 11th Doctor in ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ as well as the Tardis keys given to assistants throughout the show. This is all just on the first floor, and when you head up the stairs to the second things get even more thrilling.
The first thing you see as you reach the top of the stairs is the control console used by the Silence in ‘Day of the Moon’ including 2 members of the Silence, who are as creepy in real life as they are on the show, luckily I was able to remember them, next to you is ‘The Face of Boe’ which is incredible in size but the excitement is just beginning! There are the original costumes of the Master, Time Lord President (before the Time War) Billie Piper, Sarah Jane Smith, Captain Jack Harkness, Donna Noble, Astrid, Amy Pond, Rory and River Song. There is a huge array of the Doctors enemies gathered in this room, and if they weren’t all made of plastic, plaster and silicone there would be a war of epic proportions, they range from the Ice Warriors from 1974 (which will be returning to Doctor Who in the 7th series) to all the versions of the Sontarans, the Slitheen and the very sinister dolls from ‘Night Terrors’ complete with the doll’s house. There is a mask of each version of the Cybermen throughout the shows history, from the first appearance in 1966 to the modern day conversion unit used in ‘Closing Time’ in which the Cybermen tried to convert Craig Owens to be their new leader. On top of those used in the live show there are also all versions of the Daleks, from their creation on Skaro in 1963 to all the different versions used throughout their 41 appearances in the show. On top of these you also have the Robot from 1974 who attacks as the 3rd Doctor makes the transition to the 4th, the terrifying Smilers used on Starship UK, the Hath from the planet Messaline, the Abzorbaloff which was designed by 9 year old William Grantham as part of a Blue Peter competition in 2005, the Judoon, who are the rhino faced out of space police who make it rain on the moon, the shape shifting Zygons for the original 4th series, the deadly anti bodies that roam in the Tesalecta, the Silurians who live below us, the scarecrows who came to life in ‘The Family of Blood’ the King & Queen of the Trees from the 2011 Christmas special, the brave Ood who were vital to the 2nd and 3rd series, including a half mask showing how they’re made, also the most current remake of one of the most famous faces of the show, Davros himself, and finally my personal favourite, K9, the little robot dog who is constantly loyal and totally adorable.
There are also walls of photos of never before seen behind the scenes pictures, original drawings of proposed monsters, sets and tardis consoles. There is a special area where you can learn all about the soundtrack behind the show, you can learn to walk like a monster with a televised instructor and step inside a Dalek to control one of the most powerful weapons in the show.
Props from all series, including the carpet from the Richard Nixons oval office, the drawing of the Empire State building used in ‘Daleks in Manhattan’ the Mona Lisa portrait used in the Doctor Who spin off ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ the partially naked painting of Matt Smith we see being painted in ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ the stunning portrait of Katherine Jenkins as Abby in ‘The Christmas Carol’ as well as the painting of Kazran Sardick’s father used above the fireplace the Doctor jumps down in the same episode, there’s a part of the marble circuit board used in the ‘Fires of Pompeii’ and my personal favourite the Doctors cot used in ‘A Good Man goes to War’ complete with the Doctors first stars.
Overall, this was one of the most exhilarating, absorbing and awe-inspiring things I have even been to in my life, I felt like I was a child again, the museum filled me with memories of watching Doctor Who with my dad, and for anyone who loves the show this is one of the most amazing things you will ever experience. I literally could not stop smiling all the way around and honestly never wanted to leave, it is a day that will forever be one of the greatest things I’ve done. And don’t forget just as the Doctor would want, there’s a little shop for you to buy souvenirs, including a life size cut out of Amy Pond, now who wouldn’t want that. If at any time you find yourself in Cardiff, then definitely go and experience this because you will never regret it, it is an adventure and honestly amazing!
Review by Amy Webb aka Pond