When I was a kid, Doctor Who teetered on a line, the one between fear and exhilaration. It’s the line between your fingers as you peep, thrilled, through them; it’s the line of excitement that has you poised on the edge of your seat..
…it’s line of the crack that runs down the screen as the Doctor Who Experience opens.
But it’s not a crack, it’s part of the event. As it parts to reveal the Experience itself, it has parents laughing and kids open-mouthed – it’s your very own space-time doorway, opening to a mini-story that has you racing to save the Universe, with none other than the Doctor himself as your guide.
The Experience is sensational to the point of being overwhelming, enhanced by Matt Smith’s relentless, almost slapstick dialogue. You’re surrounded by props, yet your eyes are on the main event – you race through the tale almost too fast. Here is the inside of the TARDIS, a wonder to adults and kids alike. Here are the Daleks, right over you and bloody terrifying. Here are the Weeping Angels, lurking the darkness at the edges of your vision. Here is the Pandorica, opening before your eyes.
Walking the Experience with my son, seven, made me remember the thrill of ‘Who’ when I was that age – perhaps one of the secrets to the new Who’s success. He was absolutely testing his limits; other than exclamations of wonder, his only comment was that it was all too fast. I found the same thing – I wanted to linger, and remember, and renew.
Yet as the experience itself races to its 3D ending, you emerge into a hall of props and beasties and costumes and you can wander, and wonder, to yours heart’s content. Here the generations are spanned, and my son can see Who though my eyes, as well as the other way around. The evolution of the Daleks was particularly fine – and made me view the most modern incarnation with new eyes. We have an old one in the lift at FP Southampton… and the new ones are huge!
Of all the things, though, that we saw during the Experience – from driving the TARDIS to watching the invading Dalek spaceships blowing the snot out of everything – one thing has made today magical.
And that’s the expression on the face of my son.
*Pictures in this post are courtesy of The Doctor Who Experience, used with permission and thanks to Susannah Martin.