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Published on April 7th, 2011 | by Rich Higton

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The Doctor Who Experience Reviewed

I sit here cross legged on my girlfriend’s bed, it is 7:15pm and it is the eve of one of the most exciting days I can ever think of. Yes, for in the morning I will be catching a train to most certain fun and incredible excitement, catching a train to the Doctor Who Experience at London’s Olympia.

I am a man of 30 years, too young to have been able to take in the near legendary Doctor Who exhibition of Longleat 1983, but really too old to be getting excited about such events (but I am anyway). I am of a generation of Whovians, for whom Doctor Who was but a lovely memory. The series ended when we were but 8 or 9 years old and all I have are vague memories of Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor battling giant Bertie Bassett creatures, unfortunately by the time we knew of its existence the show was dying a death.

Our generation has never really had an event of this kind for Doctor Who fans, and I am finding myself jealous of the youngsters who can appreciate it as only children can. The re-emergence of the show in 2005 has lead to our generation of fans finally getting our reward for surviving those long dark Who-free years.

So I am going to tuck myself in bed, stick on some Doctor Who (tonight it’s Genesis of the Daleks) and get ready for tomorrow.

BEWARE THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD

After a three hour train/tube ride from my native Nottingham, we arrive outside London’s Olympia. You board an elevator (I swear this was bigger on the inside) and as the doors open on your floor you are greeted by the familiar theme music. If you have a smartphone then you can log into the free Wi-Fi and claim extra goodies (unfortunately it wasn’t working when we arrived). The walk to the start of the “Experience” part of the exhibition is filled with sets and costumes from series 5 of the show (Van Gogh’s painting of the Krafayis, the operating table from Cold Blood and costumes and sets from Vampires of Venice). Depending on when you arrive, you have a short wait before being ushered in to the room to watch a short video of Series 5).

Now here comes the 1st impressive bit, the crack in time appears in the screen and opens to reveal the room beyond containing “Starship UK”. This is brilliantly done and you can’t see the… erm Cracks, and really makes the start of the show special. Once inside you are greeted by one of the info pods from Silence in the Library who regales the unfolding story. All the effects are really well done, and add yet more realism to the experience. Cue second impressive bit, the Doctor appears on the screen (trapped inside the second Pandorica!) and with a wave of the Sonic, makes the TARDIS materialise before your very eyes (again effectively done).

Boarding the TARDIS is a real thrill and the experience of “Flying” her, is spine tingling (even for a 30 year old man). Once you “land” you find yourself onboard a Dalek ship during a raging battle between the new Dalek Paradigm and the old style “Davros Daleks”. A small boy of around 4-5 had to be taken out at this point in a state of terror (much to the chagrin of his older brother) so probably not an experience for anyone under 8.

After a brief walk through the forest of the Weeping Angels, we come to impressive bit numero trois. The 3D bit is very impressive, especially the Weeping Angels reaching out to you, and you find yourself ducking to avoid there grasp. After this the “Experience” bit is over and you are lead out to the rest of the exhibition. The exhibition itself is really impressive, with two TARDIS sets from Fifth and Tenth Doctor eras and countless costumes and props from the entire history of Doctor Who.

The standout bits for me were the collection of the Doctor’s costumes as well as the great little green screen photography booth. In this booth you can have your photo taken in the Pandorica (the resulting photo is very impressive) as well in the Eleventh Doctor’s TARDIS and other backgrounds. The price for this is £12 per photo or two photos for £15, the results are great and in my opinion well worth shelling out for. As ever you exit through the gift shop, which has some nice merchandise available, some of it is decent value however I wouldn’t recommend purchasing DVD’s from here as they are RRP and I am never going to pay £4 for a Doctor Who sticker!.

All in all though the Doctor Who Experience is well worth a visit, at times I couldn’t help myself letting out a little scream of delight at certain moments. I am still hugely jealous that we didn’t have an attraction like this when I was younger and the kids that weren’t running in terror really enjoyed there time.

So hurry: get yourself down there… The Whole of Time and Space is Waiting!

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