The Doctor Who Experience - Exterminate or Regenerate?

Posted on: 01 April 2011 by Alexander Hay

A morning appointment with the Doctor provides some serious fun

Who he? Matt Smith still regrets not being ginger

With trepidation, we entered the Doctor Who Experience. It was a nice morning, in the middle of March, but what was inside looked mysterious and threatening. What awaited us?

Once inside, there was a wait – I found myself face to face with a Dalek painted Olive Drab and festooned with WW2 webbing: A cast member from last year's Victory of the Daleks episode.

I got the impression that it's easy for performers to act scared around a Dalek. There is something vaguely threatening about them close up, alarmingly phallic and hiding something vile and hateful inside.

In we went. It didn't start out impressively. We were bade to sit down and watch an extended clip montage from previous episodes of Who 11's present series, all in close up just in case you're not feeling you've seen it all before...

Then, suddenly, what you thought was a screen comes apart and slides open – and the interactive adventure begins. This is much better, with a scripted performance care of current Doc Matt Smith, now comfortably in control of his role. He's trapped in the Pandorica again, hence why he's babbling on at you on various screens, and he needs your help to escape.

This doesn't stop him rambling and ranting much like his predecessor David Tennant, of course, albeit without the latter's haunted old man vibe. This Doctor is instead plainly having a good time as he casually abuses his audience with references to them being mere 'shoppers' and comparing one poor soul to a chicken.

We are then lead from a museum in the far future into the Tardis, concealed behind a fake wall with some remarkable stage magic, and from there, into the control centre itself.

Now at this point, it's time to face facts – the current interior of the Tardis looks like it was thrown together in a hurry, whereas the previous design (2005-2009) looked far more mannered, organic and decrepit – more believable, in fact.

Still, there's plenty of fun to be had as it vibrates and shakes and booms as the Doctor tells us off for not piloting it properly. We then find ourselves on a Dalek ship, menaced by the killer pepperpots and only narrowly avoiding a bit of the ol' extermination via the Doctor's interference and an attack by a rival Dalek faction.

Then finally, there was a surprisingly well done 3D session as we were plunged into the time vortex and menaced by Daleks, Cybermen and the (ever so slightly overrated) Weeping Angels. Suffice to say, the Doctor escaped with our help, and we didn't get killed.

It was primarily 'for the kids' but there is no reason for adults to not enjoy it. The 'experience' was well written, well executed and, put simply, fun.

The rest of the show was a decently sized museum of artefacts from the show past and present, and fun little diversions like a design-your-own-monster contest, a screening room and a hall of mirrors. (So you really can walk like an alien.) Again, this was well laid out and entertaining, with lots to look at, and it's all well-explained and sign posted too.

As ever, the elephant (or Ice Warrior) in the room is that Nu Who is indebted to its past incarnations, much as the Doctor himself is. So there are a lot of props and artefacts from the old show too, including costumes for all 11 Doctors and some exhibits you may recognise if you've ever been to the Blackpool Doctor Who exhibition, sadly no longer with us.

Fittingly, there's also a section that celebrates THAT THEME TUNE which also gives proper credit to the criminally overlooked Delia Derbyshire, who made the theme what it was with only the primitive resources of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop at her disposal. (She also invented dance music.)

All in all, then, a good day out for those with children, grandchildren or arrested development. The staff were all friendly and helpful too, including a very determined barrista. But what next after all that adventure? Naturally, we then went to the shop – the Doctor was right about us after all.

The DOCTOR WHO EXPERIENCE is on at London Olympia 2 until 4th September 2011. Open 7 days a week, from 10.00 to 18.00. Tickets cost £20.00 for an adult, £15.50 for a child and £62.00 for a family of four. Discounts available if you pre-book. Go HERE for more details

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Alexander Hay

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