The weekend before last, a teenage dream became a reality, as I embarked on an alternative type of travel through time and space. For years I have been a bit a of a Doctor Who fan, so when I learnt about the dedicated ‘experience’ by the studios themselves, I was immediately a keen bean. Years came and went and the trip always got put back for one reason or another. Earlier this year it was announced that the ‘experience’ would be closing, as the building’s lease was up *cue panic*. Time wound on and without a TARDIS I was set for disappointment…
Luckily, to my saving grace, I managed to persuade my partner to make the trip over Bank Holiday Weekend, but it wasn’t without it’s hiccups! I planned to pre-book tickets, but in the end we made the trip without. Big Mistake! We parked up in Cardiff and followed the daleks sign-posting the way, only to find that the day was SOLD OUT. We wandered into the crowed entrance hall and challenged the guy on reception. He refused to budge. Downcast I asked about booking an alternative date, but Sunday was full up too. However, Monday was a slim possibility. I refused to give up and rushed outside to purchase the tickets online. Success! This whovian had a chance yet…
The trip to Cardiff wasn’t wasted, as we explored the bay side. Milling around we came across a fairground by the Millennium Centre and wandered on towards Mermaid Quay, where we dined with a view. Then we drove out of the city and round the coast to neighbouring Penarth (much closer than I predicted) literally next door. Here we took stroll along the shoreline and acted like gentry, promenading on the pier. As the sun went down, I gazed out over the Bristol Channel and envisioned scenes from Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, which filmed on the pier. The evening was topped off with an obligatory ice-cream, which we purchase from a kiosk on the esplanade. It’s worth noting that there is also the most adorable retro sweet store here, which sells fresh coconuts of all things!
Monday came round and I was geared up for take 2. Tickets freshly printed, we took our place in the queue, only to find that our ticket wouldn’t scan. Not again. Several tense minutes passed, I was doomed! Our tickets re-printed they still wouldn’t scan, puzzled the guides gave up and allowed us to resume entry regardless. Phew. We were led through to the Gallifrey Museum where we were emersed into a rapidly paced interactive adventure through time and space. Hopping aboard Capaldi’s TARDIS, we fought off the daleks and survived the weeping angels, saving 1960s London was alien invasion.
Having defeating our foes we said farewell to The Doctor and took to the exhibition floor, here I revelled in explaining the varied memorabilia to my less knowledgeable other half (who quite honestly I must have bored to tears). From K-9 to Bessie, I oogled over the props and sets, before reaching the holy grail, the pivotal jewel in the whovian crown – David Tennant’s TARDIS. The renaissance of Doctor Who was where my initial viewing experience began and would go on to open my mind to a wider Whoniverse of different doctors, stories, monsters and companions. Ten was The Doctor of my time and so stepping on to this particular TARDIS was special, I felt right at home.
There was just enough time to indulge in a green screen experience and so I dawned Tom Baker’s infamous scarf, armed with my sonic screwdriver and posed for the camera. Childish it might have been to some, but I relished the chance, I always have harboured secret ambitions of becoming an actress (maybe I’ll write for them instead).
The exhibition continued upstairs, where rows of fiendish latex creatures lay in wait. From cybermen to the silurians, ice warriors and zygons, there were many villainous species on display. Then there were the iconic costumes of every doctor, accompanied by a range of clothing worn by the various companions (though not many were original I’m sure, if they were they looked pristine).
They had a corner dedicated to the 50th Anniversary film, even a small space focused on Torchwood (another spin-off series) as well. The collection ended with a rich display of props and costumes from the recent 12th series. There was also a gallery and shop, but as you didn’t require a tickets for entry, I managed to visit on prior to the tour, which was just as well, as the last tour of the day we were being rushed out!
So against the odds I made it, and brought a teenage dream to life! Next goal, to get myself on the show 😉
Are you a Doctor Who fan? Maybe you’ve met the cast. Keen to hear of any other Whovian stories too.