I’ve written about the Doctor Who Experience before, but that was back in 2012, and it’s changed a fair bit since then. The Experience is actually closing in September, with no word on what will happen to the contents (most of it is actually owned by private collectors, but hopefully a lot of it will still be able to be seen by the general public). We went along for one last visit to the Doctor Who Experience before it closes in a couple of months.
The Experience starts with an ‘Adventure’. There is no photography or video allowed in this part of the Experience, to help keep it a surprise for first time visitors, so in respect of that, I’ll keep my review brief. You start being led by a tour guide into the Museum of Gallifrey, but of course, all is not what it seems and you soon find yourself on an adventure with the Doctor. Led by video messages from Capaldi’s Doctor, you search time and space for time crystals, flee from some of Doctor Who’s most iconic monsters, go inside the TARDIS and are eventually dropped off at the beginning of the Exhibition portion of the tour, in 1963. The Adventure part is always excellent; I’ve been through both versions more than once, with both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi themed adventures. It’s perfect for littles, as it’s not too scary, but there’s enough peril to keep adult fans entertained too. The Experience’s staff really throw themselves into it, and I’ve never yet had a bad guide. It’s worth noting too, that if you have someone in the party who’s not a Who superfan, there’s fun to be had for them too. Dave has only ever watched odd episodes of the show, and he enjoyed the Adventure, and found the Exhibition really interesting. It’s also prompted him to go back and starting watching the start of Eccleston’s series, so maybe it’s way to convert someone into a superfan…
The Exhibition starts in 1963, the year Doctor Who first aired. The first displays are full of bits of set, script notes and office sets from 1960s BBC, and those early episodes. You then progress through the early Doctors, with different versions of the TARDIS exterior, and control panel. I was pleased to find K9 and Bessie, the third Doctor’s car. I’m less familiar with the original Doctors, being largely a fan of the reboot, but it’s lovely to see these iconic pieces.
Next, you come a huge set piece, of the Tenth Doctors’ TARDIS. Tennant’s last moments as the Doctor play on a loop as you move around the console and see the open TARDIS door, inviting you to run out into the next adventure. This is always my favourite part. David Tennant is my favourite Doctor, so I remember this version of the TARDIS very fondly.
Upstairs, you start finding some of those classic monsters again. The Daleks, Davros and Cybermen have reappeared so often throughout Doctor Who, and these bad guys are lined up with examples from every era. It’s really interesting to see the evolution of how these monsters have changed. The Daleks look pretty consistent, but they do seem to have become absolutely enormous in recent years. Davros too, hasn’t changed. Cybermen, however, have changed a lot, from the original version with cloth masks to an extremely shiny 80s looking robot, to the first version in the reboots, which was bulky and muscular. The most recent version, pictured above, has been slimmed down considerably, and to me, looks almost like an Iron Man type armour, with the slimmer fit, and light in the chest.
There’s also plenty of modern Doctor Who monsters to terrify you. These displays seem to change about quite a bit, which is really cool. There’s a lot of the classic 60s monsters on display now too, and apparently over this year there’s a lot of work being done to restore a lot of those early monster costumes. This makes me hopeful that there must be plans to do something with these pieces, even after the Experience closes. The items in the Exhibition are largely on loan from private collectors, with the rest coming from the BBC archives.
Next, there are currently rows and rows of costumes worn by companions. Apparently I only photographed the modern ones, but there are costume examples from Ace and Sarah Jane too. All the modern companions are here, including Astrid, young Amy Pond and Amy Pond’s kissogram uniform. With my cosplay head on, it’s really great to see these costumes up close and get a look at the details.
And then of course…the man himself. From the first doctor to the current, these costumes are laid out in a timeline, which gives a very cool insight into how the Doctor has changed over the years. I love the era shown above, where the costumes were truly madcap and colourful. They’re just fun.
The shop, it’s worth saying, is excellent too, and you can access it without going through the Experience if you don’t want to. Both my Sonic Screwdrivers were bought here, and they have some great replicas of iconic costume pieces, which is of course great for cosplayers! Make sure you check it out while it’s still there.
We attended the Doctor Who Experience as a family, and paid in full. All opinions are honest and my own. They didn’t know I was a blogger.