23 July 2012

Doctor Who Experience: Dalek Signpost Shows the Way

There are only a handful of science fiction shows in the world that can boast that their primary alien villain is embedded so much in to the national consciousness that its image can be placed on a signpost. That is certainly the case with Doctor Who, which has been on British TV screens for an amazing 49 years (with one hiatus). If you need to find the location of the brand new permanent Doctor Who Experience exhibition dedicated to the show in the docklands of the Welsh capital Cardiff all you have to do is follow the Dalek signs.

Late July 2012 saw the opening of the Doctor Who Experience in its new and everlasting home in Porth Teigr on Cardiff Bay.  The attraction drew thousands of fans as well as a few more alien presences. The exhibition had been situated in London’s Olympia for a year but now needed a home to call its own – at least until Gallifrey rises, ahem, again.

Hundreds of kids arrived dressed as their favorite Time Lord and his companion du jour, Amy Pond. Two were plucked from the crowd, chosen to officially open the exhibition. So it was that Little Amy and Little Eleven (with his sonic scissors) cut the red tape and allowed the fans entry.

Of course, such ripples in the timeline could not fail to attract a host of the show's villains. Among those who made it were a Silurian soldier, a Cyberman and The Silence. Of course there is no show without punch, so there was no surprise (but perhaps a little panic) when a new paradigm dalek showed up - perhaps to exterminate those without tickets for the exhibition.

The exhibition does not only cover the most recent, hugely successful incarnation of the show but also monsters, costumes and other props from throughout the show’s long and eventful history. There is a lot to fit in – the first episode was broadcast the day before the assassination of John F Kennedy. Most of the kids who watched the show on Saturday 23 November 1963 are now drawing their pension. With such a long history, a bespoke building to house everything is not only needed; it is necessary.

And sitting on the dock of the bay? Nothing other than the Tardis.

Cardiff councilors are over the moon to see the exhibition find its permanent home in Cardiff. Many scenes from the show have been filmed in and around the city and it is hoped that with the arrival of the exhibition the busy Welsh capital will become even more of a magnet for the show's multitude of fans.

New visitors will be important for the success of the exhibition. It has to be said that locals now simply jog on when they see something a little out of this world. After all, not only Doctor Who but Torchwood too has been filmed in the city over the last eight years and the denizens of Cardiff have become a little blasé about it all!

Does my dalekanium look big in this?
The financial risk of construction a new building to house the exhibition is a calculated one. Next year sees the shows fiftieth (golden) anniversary. A media frenzy is, of course, expected and encouraged by the show's makers (BBC Wales with occasional assistance from BBC America).

Yet what lies within? We don’t want to give away any spoilers but even if we did, once you have seen those guys above you wouldn't remember anyway. Tickets, however, are available from the Doctor Who Experience website.

All photographs (except the first) are by Flickr User Alan.Vega - please visit his Photostream for these and many other Doctor Who related photographs..