Take two years, over 150,000 construction hours, installation experts, animators, writers, designers, restoration specialists and actors. Add an army of monsters, some spectacular sets, cinema screens and smoke, then blend well and what do you get? The Doctor Who Experience. Well, not quite. Because it’s clear there’s another ingredient that’s not so easily definable.
Paula Al-Lach, Head of Exhibitions and Events at BBC Worldwide, the organisation responsible for the Experience, reflected, ‘Everything about this project has been a challenge, but a really enjoyable challenge.’ She comes close to defining that extra ingredient when she adds, ‘What has been so brilliant about it is that everybody involved just loves Doctor Who.’
And that’s it. The striking thing about all of the Experience, from the adventure visitors are immersed in, to the exhibits themselves, is the love, care and attention that’s been afforded the whole thing. Revisit our gallery of the TARDIS and see how faithfully the Doctor’s time machine has been recreated or spin back to our first gallery and check out how an old monster like the Zygons, from the Fourth Doctor story, Terror of the Zygons, has been so faithfully restored.
Mike Tucker of The Model Unit was behind the restoration of many aliens that have invaded Olympia. ‘What we’ve been asked to do for the Doctor Who Experience is take some of the classic show monsters that have been on display at various locations around the UK, assess what condition they’re in and put them back as close to how they would have looked when they were taken out on location.’
Mike’s name will be familiar to many fans. He’s been involved with Doctor Who for decades and as a veteran monster designer/creator was the perfect person to return enemies like K1, the Ice Warriors and early versions of the Cybermen to their former glory.
But aside from the exhibits, it’s the whole immersive, interactive experience which organisers hope will thrill visitors. Time will tell if they succeed, but it’s looking promising and already got the thumbs up from a man who knows a thing a two about Doctor Who… ‘I think we’ve got something really good and very special here,’ says the show’s Executive Producer and Lead Writer, Steven Moffat. He was just one member of the TV production team who came onboard to ensure the Experience remains true to the programme and as the doors get ready to open he’s in positive mood. ‘The thing that I most want to do is go and see it with my kids and see what they think of it and if it grabs them.’ He ponders for a moment, then smiles. ‘I think it will!’