This major exhibition from the BBC has been running at Olympia since February, but recently got a fresh wave of publicity thanks to the start of the new TV series. Meanwhile, a clever PR stunt saw latest baddies the Silence making impromptu appearances throughout London (brave actors, given that Episode 2 primed us to attack these creatures on sight). We went along to Olympia at the weekend to see what all the fuss is about.
The Doctor Who Experience is an exhibition of two halves. The first section puts the visitor in the middle of a live adventure, moving from room to room at the instruction of a telepresent 11th Doctor (Matt Smith). The pace then eases, with a more traditional exhibition of props and costumes from the series’ 48-year history.
The walk-through adventure draws heavily from the recent series with cameos from the Weeping Angels, the Pandorica, Starship UK and, inevitably, the Daleks. Along the way, you can help pilot the TARDIS, pass through a crack in the wall and recoil as various monsters leap out from a 3-D screen. The plot is a hammy cauldron of holes and MacGuffins, with more wrinkles than the Face of Boe. But if you switch off your scruples, the overall execution is pretty impressive. Even a cynic would grin as the TARDIS materialises and beckons you inside. Small children will grin all the way through.
The second half of the experience has fewer bells and whistles, but will be more satisfying to older visitors. Costumes from all 11 incarnations offer a sartorial walk down memory lane, while the actual set from the Ecclestone/Tennant TARDIS control room makes a cracking set-piece. The rest of the experience offers more costumes, gadgets, props, and a couple of interactives for the kids.
With nearly half a century of heritage to draw on, the Doctor Who Experience really will appeal to all ages. While the kiddies were crowding round the Weeping Angels, those of us of older vintage gathered next to the Davidson-era TARDIS console and felt a shiver down the spine.
The Doctor Who Experience runs at Olympia 2 until 4 September 2011. Ticket prices vary.
Disclaimer: Our visit was under invitation from the Doctor Who Experience, but the content of the review is our own opinion.