Are you sitting comfortably? The premiere of “Deep Breath” is just round the corner (only three days are now left!) and the emotions are flying high. It’s been already two weeks since we have attended the red carpet event but it feels like it was only yesterday! If you have been scuba diving in Spain, living under a rock or traveling in another dimension and you have missed our three part review, this is a good time to familiarize yourself with everything what has been happening in Whoniverse. Click on the links below and you will be taken back in time to 7th of August!
Doctor Who Cardiff Premiere Part 1: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/doctor-who-season-8-premiere-in-cardiff-part-one/
Doctor Who Cardiff Premiere Part 2: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/doctor-who-season-8-premiere-in-cardiff-part-two/
Doctor Who Cardiff Premiere Part 3: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/doctor-who-season-8-premiere-in-cardiff-part-three/
That was a fantastic day and we will remember it for a very long time. Don’t worry, we still haven’t run out of Doctor Who related material and we will dedicate the entire month to the beloved Time Lord. Let’s make the countdown to Peter Capaldi’s debut a memorable one! Ladies and gentleman, humans, humanoids, aliens and other sentient forms of life – welcome kindly to the one and only Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff!
In May 2014, Rita and Mal arrived in Cardiff for the first time. It is one of those magical places we have always wanted to see. It took us maybe half an hour to absolutely and utterly fell in love with this beautiful city. We spent an entire day walking around the Cardiff Bay and afterwards, we even published a small tour guide listing many local attractions on our blog. However, we didn’t come to the Welsh capitol for beautiful views or good food. Our main goal was to visit the famous Doctor Who Experience to finally discover what the hype was all about. Was it worth the praise? Read on!
Doctor Who Experience is located a short walk away from the BBC studios, Millennium Centre and the Ronald Dhal Plass that has been featured both on “Torchwood” and “Doctor Who” TV series as the Cardiff Rift. It is impossible to miss it – the building is huge, futuristic looking and there are Dalek signs all over the place to show you the right way. If you are arriving to Cardiff by car as we did, take a look at your sat nav. You will notice that TARDIS Walk is also located nearby! Whovians will be delighted!
We approached the museum from the back, a little bit different that other visitors. There is a straight road that goes from the car park into the building, but since we wanted to see the city centre and the Cardiff Bay first, we had to use the waterfront promenade. It wasn’t a bad idea as we had a chance to discover a small exhibition called “The World of Boats” located right behind the Doctor Who building, in a former boat yard. The exhibition has a famous blue box attached to the gate – a really nice tribute to the neighbours. Sadly, during the May Bank Holiday everything else except The Experience was closed so we were forced to take pictures from a distance. A bit of shame but we will be certainly back to see it very soon.
Word of advice before you enter the building. If you are claustrophobic, the Experience might not be for you. The tour is nearly 30 minutes long and you will be moving with a large group of people through dark and narrow corridors. The fire exits are well lit but concealed by decorations and we felt really uncomfortable. Luckily, you are not visiting on your own – there are always two tour guides with each group and they are ready to let you out in a flash. It is worth suffering through the tour – museum at the end is an real gem. The other thing you need to know is the tour starts at certain times (every hour) and when you book your ticket, the time of your visit will be displayed on it. If you are late, the tour will leave without you so make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes before. On busy days tickets are selling out fast – booking online is always a safer option. Admission prices vary: 15 pounds for an adult and 10 pounds for a child. Discounts are offered to families and organized groups.
Experience official website: http://www.doctorwho.tv/events/doctor-who-experience/
Experience on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DW_Experience
Experience on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoctorWhoExperience
More information about tickets: http://www.doctorwho.tv/events/doctor-who-experience/tickets/general-admission-tickets
Our Experience movie still had the 11th Doctor in it. You have to hurry up if you still want to see it – the Raggedy Man Era will end on September 1st and the museum will be closed for several weeks. In May, Steven Moffat admitted that they are working on a new Experience with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, but he failed to say exactly when it will be filmed. We don’t want to spoil anything for those who have not seen it yet, but you can expect Daleks, Weeping Angels and a crazy interactive TARDIS flight. It was almost bittersweet to see Matt Smith on the big screen again, knowing he will no longer be playing The Doctor. Kids cheered enthusiastically when he appeared and at the end somebody shouted “Please don’t go!” Matt would be very touched indeed.
Once you emerge from the darkness, you will find yourself inside the museum. Two big exhibition floors are filled top to bottom with costumes, monsters figures, robots, strange devices, character uniforms and other Doctor Who goodies. The first floor is dedicated to the Doctor, his previous incarnations and his companions. The upper floor is a home to enemies and monsters the Doctor has encountered in his travels. We have noticed that older visitors (Classic Who fans) tent to spend more time on the first floor while the younger audience (especially the kids) prefer to run straight to the second floor to encounter Dalkes and Cybermen. We have tried to dedicate equal amount of time to each part of the museum to provide you with an in-depth review. The costumes are beautifully done and we will describe them in detail a bit later, but there was something else that grounded us on the first floor for more than an hour. If you ever dreamt of touching the TARDIS console, pushing the buttons, seeing the machine work and move – this is your chance. The museum gives the visitors an unique opportunity to see the entire interior of two TARDIS’es: the first one stolen by The Doctor and Susan at the beginning of the TV series in 1963 and the one that belonged to David Tennant.
It feels like being on a movie set! The original TARDIS interior is extremely bright. White walls (with famous “round things”) look sterile clean and a bit cold. Buttons and levers are white, green, black and transparent, there is also one single big red button. Various cables and machinery parts are perfectly visible inside the time rotor (a glass tube in the middle of the console) as they move around, go up and down. The design is futuristic yet old by today’s standards: computer screens are too large, the console has hexagonal shape and is segregated into six geometrical sections with straight rows of buttons (even numbers on each side), gauges, compartments and something that looks like a glove boxes. This is a typical s-f production design from early 1960’s and we got teary-eyed just looking at the beautiful piece of equipment. You don’t see anything like that on the telly anymore. Standing next to the console, you have this eerie feeling that the unforgettable William Hartwell will come out of his dressing room any second to discuss what’s happening in the next scene. There was one gentleman from our group that nearly jumped out of his shoes from excitement when he saw the first TARDIS right before him. He explained (a bit ashamed) that he watched Doctor Who since its premiere and now his great grand children are playing with Dalek toys and couldn’t wait for the new Doctor to arrive!
The other TARDIS located on the left hand side of the museum that belonged to the 10th incarnation of the beloved Time Lord (played by fan favourite Shakespearean actor David Tennant) is nothing like the original one. It is dark, wild, and mysterious. It reminded us of some exotic rain forest plant that could be highly toxic. This time machine comes in different shades and hues of yellow, green and grey. Several pillars “growing” next to the giant time rotor, looks more like trees or some strange vines that a normal structural support. As you probably know, the 10th Doctor is so popular among younger audience that we had to stand in line to take few photographs! It was worth waiting those 15 minutes – the Coral TARDIS (as it is commonly known) is beautiful and you almost feel like an official companion!
You can find more information about TARDIS interiors using the links below:
If you cannot get enough of TARDIS, there is a collection of blue boxes used in production of The Classic series of Doctor Who near the western side of the museum. Four machines are proudly standing next to each other and you can even open the door. We don’t know which series they were used in, but other visitors informed us that they served as galactic transport for the 4th, 10th and 8th Doctors.
All right Whovians! It’s time to go for now but please return quickly!
Next time, we will show you some beautiful costumes for the Doctor and his companions.
Rita and Malcia Dabrowicz