Cardiff’s ‘Doctor Who’ Experience Brings The TARDIS Home
The Doctor visited some dangerous places throughout the wastelands of time and space, so the pleasant surroundings of Cardiff Bay must've seemed like a nice place to land the TARDIS for a while.
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, the BBC set up the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff – just a Cybermat's toss from the sound stages where the show is currently produced. Including an adventure with The Doctor and a two-story museum exhibit of props, costumes and sets from the current series and the previous version of the longest-running sci-fi show in television history, the exhibition is a tourist hotspot in Wales.
As 2013 arrived, current Doctor Who Producer Steven Moffatt announced that the show's 50th anniversary would be a massive, year-long celebration. The event has lived up to that promise so far with special televised looks back at the show's history, a 50th birthday special featuring outgoing Doctor Matt Smith and predecessor David Tennant sharing an adventure and real-world events honoring the fixture of British TV and UK popular culture.
The Cardiff-based Doctor Who Experience is ground zero for fans looking to get in personal touch with the show's unique world. When Crave Online visited the attraction during a press tour of Wales, crowds were goods — despite a stretch of the best weather Cardiff has seen for years.
Eager Who fans are allowed into the exhibit at the top of every hour. For about 30 minutes, the first half of the show is participatory. Without giving too much away, The Doctor contacts guests on video screens while in long distance jeopardy — asking for their help in saving him.
Through theatrical trickery, the Tardis appears on the scene and visitors enter — discovering the "bigger on the inside" control room waiting for human pilots. Younger fans are recruited front and center to fly the TARDIS to The Doctor's rescue.
Suffice to say, everything ends up just fine — despite attacks by some of The Doctor's deadliest enemies such as The Daleks and The Weeping Angels.
Once fans save their greatest hero, they're rewarded with a museum collection of Doctor Who history. The costumes of all 11 Doctors are on hand, as well as multiple Tardis exteriors, two complete TARDIS control room sets, countless props, behind the scenes videos and costumes of the show's most popular monsters. Classic baddies like Cybermen, Sontarans, Ice Warriors and Daleks join more recent foes like Scarecrows, Snowmen and The Weeping Angeles.
The exhibit is extensive, but (if it can stand a minor quibble) it could've used a few more monsters and props from the show's pre-2000s existence. There are some on hand — such as Sonic Screwdrivers and the robotic K9 – but there's a heavy reliance on the most recent episodes. I supposed that makes sense as Doctor Who is a kid's show at its core, and today's young fans only know the beasties that attacked during the show's rebirth.
The exhibition has proved so popular that those in the know around Cardiff report plans to keep it in place and operating beyond the 50th anniversary year — keeping it as a top Welsh tourist destination.
That could present a problem as the 51st year of Doctor Who will bring a new actor in the lead role. With the current live action segment of the attraction built around Matt Smith, it'll be interesting to see if the minds behind the show and the exhibition rewrite or reshoot Smith's scenes with the next Doctor.
Since you seem to have some time now to get over to Cardiff and enjoy the exhibition, Crave Online presents some of our own photos from the scene at the gallery below.