The Experience comes in two parts. The first part is a sort of guided virtual interactive...thingy. First we're taken into a screening room where we sit (if we're lucky) or stand to watch a sequence of clips with some voiceovers, all (as far as I can tell) taken from series 5. Or series 31. Or series Matt Smith 1. Or whatever you call it. Throughout this, I couldn't help noticing a vertical crack running down the screen. Sure enough, this turned out to be The Crack, and once the video was over the screen separated along the crack (drawing much admiration from the crowd) and we were led through into the next room, which took as its basis The Beast Below and a bit of Silence in the Library, with one the Nodes introducing us to the exhibits (including a telescope from Victorian England - i.e. from Tooth and Claw). This was interrupted by the Doctor, as played by Lord Matt of Smith, making an emergency transmission, hoping for Amy and Rory to help him, but instead having to make to with us - "shoppers!". The TARDIS, he told us, must be near by.
And indeed it was. This 42 year old turned into a little child again as by some neat little live visual effects, the TARDIS appeared to materialise into the room with us. And we were then led through the TARDIS doors into the TARDIS control room itself. Okay, in your head, you know it's an exhibition in London, but in your heart, it's a dream come true, walking into the TARDIS itself. Wow. Just wow.
After the TARDIS had to be controlled in flight by some of the children present (guided as to which of the control panels to operate by the Doctor, still communicating via a display screen), we had to leave by the back doors ("there aren't any...there are now!"). As they opened, to my delight, I recognised the sound effects that could be heard in the Dalek city on Skaro way back in the very second serial. And sure enough...the Daleks were up next. I have to admit that the sequence as they arrived to menace us seemed a little too scary for some of the younger children in our party to handle, judging by the reactions, but as an inter-Dalek war started up "outside" the Dalek ship, conveyed by some impressive visuals, I was greatly impressed. This was followed by a lovely bit where we had to wear "anti-radiation glasses," also known as 3D glasses, for a sequence set in the title sequence time vortex where various alien nasties were projected towards us. Oh, and there was an Underhenge Dalek in there with us too.
Eventually the creatures were all sucked back into the vortex and we emerged into the second half of the Experience, an exhibition taking in the full 48 years (so far) of Doctor Who. Centrepiece was the TARDIS, outside of which stood a quite convincing model of the eleventh Doctor; surrounding this were the costumes of the first ten Doctors. Some were (I suspect) replicas, some were "from private collections," and the last two were pretty definitely the originals from the recent years of the TV series. One of the members of staff regaled us with the wonderful story of how Georgia Moffat at one point wore the tenth Doctor's coat, stood up, and tore the inner lining.
Also present was the 9th/10th Doctors' TARDIS interior, the 1983+ TARDIS console with a mocked-up control room, the '80s TARDIS, Cyber heads spanning the history of the original series (albeit some of them replicas), a slew of Daleks, and a whole host of monsters and companions' costumes, including Captain Jack's and Sarah Jane Smith's. There was also a section where we could have photos of ourselves taken (one for £12:00, two for £15:00) and digitally manipulated into various settings (outside the TARDIS, inside the TARDIS, and the Pandorica, at least). I'll scan mine up later. Bringing things right up to date were the wooden king and queen from the recent The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.
After the exhibition, there's a shop where one can stock up on all manner of Doctor Who goodies, including some exclusive items.
I've been to a few Doctor Who exhibitions, but I think of them all this is absolutely the best for the sheer variety of items on display, ranging from the very start of the series up to the present day. The "interactive" element is inspired (and works better than the similar section in the recent Doctor Who Live arena show), and demonstrates why Matt Smith is such perfect casting as the Doctor. The exhibition staff are friendly and helpful and informative.
Sadly the Experience only runs for another month or so in London, but later this year it's re-opening in Wales (Newport, according to one of the staff members), where with any luck it'll still be by the time the series reaches its 50th Anniversary, which I suspect will be marked by the Experience in some way. If you can go, I thoroughly recommend it - it's great fun and a great way to celebrate the programme. It's also lovely to see so many families with enthusiastic young children. Remember when Doctor Who was a cult programme? Not any more!
Following the Experience, I popped over to Earls Court for a Nando's. Strangely, the police box outside the station didn't seem as impressive any more!!!
Sadly, it wasn't possible to take photos in the Experience section, but in the Exhibition it was allowed. So here are my snaps.
Me with the Eleventh Doctor outside the TARDIS. Thanks to the staff member who took this.
Cosplay research. (Eight's costume.)
Original Dalek and later (circa Troughton) Dalek. Probably replicas.
The one on the right is the Special Weapons Dalek from Remembrance of the Daleks. The other one looks like it's from Resurrection, but don't quote me on that...
NuWho Dalek and iCandy Dalek.
Sorry looking Sontarans. Well, the one in the middle (The Two Doctors) looks okay, but the one on the left (classic look) looks a bit bedraggled and the one on the right is so short. I know they're meant to be short, but even so, there's no menace there to me.
Apparently the original Giant Robot costume worn by Michael Kilgariff (sp?). I thought it was supposed to be in a terrible state of disrepair a few years back (something about only the upper half of it being at the recent Blackpool exhibition..?) but it's looking pretty shiny now.
A Cybershade from The Next Doctor.
You wooden believe this...
Not sure why I took a picture of an empty display stand.*
Control console from the Nine/Ten years. Clips from the Ten/Eleven regeneration were playing in the background.
I love K9...
Eighties TARDIS console. Man, I'd have loved to have stood at it and pretended to operate it. What you can't see is the barrier preventing us from doing so. :-(
*That joke never gets new.