Thursday, 29 May 2008

Doctor Who Exhibition - Earls Court, London

You should have heard the screaming.
While an angel stood poised to attack, Santa Claus waited patiently for the right moment, a shop window dummy inconspicuously flexed its fingers, tin men stood on sentry, waiting for their orders from a crippled robot, and further along, pepper pot shaped soldiers sprang to life and launched their assault.
The Tardis had landed in Earls Court, London, and where the Doctor travels, death follows.
The Doctor Who exhibition had arrived at the Exhibition Centre, bringing with it the Autons, Slitheen, Cybermen and the Daleks.
Yet while many of the exhibits were various enemies the Doctor has faced over the last four series, he is not alone in his fight to eliminate them.
Some of Billie Piper’s outfits were on display, I especially liked the pink shoes she wore in “The Idiot’s Lantern”, as well as those worn by the Doctor, Captain Jack Harkness, and the Master.
The Face of Boe also made an appearance. He wasn’t as big as he looks on television. K-9, on the other hand, was bigger than I imagined.
Indeed, some of the props were huge. The scale model of the Empress of the Racnoss in “The Runaway Bride” and the telescope in “Tooth and Claw” just about managed to fit in under the ceiling.
Others were comparatively tiny. The Big Ben model which was damaged in “Aliens of London”, and a tower block of flats in particular looked like a doll’s house.
However the villains in the show are the most exciting. Roger Lloyd Pack’s Cyberman, perpetually seated in its life-supporting wheelchair, looked very impressive despite its disability.
While there are no Daleks roaming free in the building exterminating the troublemakers, they still manage to terrorise, and are undoubtedly the stars of the show.
The first Dalek is the rather humane creature we met in series one’s “Dalek”. Its armour is open, revealing the small alien being inside. It looks rather pathetic, one almost feels sorry for it.
Then comes the exciting part. Further on, a solitary Dalek stands silent and still with its back to the curious audience. Curiosity turns to fright when it suddenly moves and turns, headlights flashing, egg-whisk and plunger flailing as it screams out its death to humans policy.
Two more join it out of nowhere, and the familiar cries of “EXTERMINATE!” ring through the room. The first Dalek elevates itself as flashing lights imitate the ray beams that emanate from their egg-whisks.
In that brief moment, the Daleks quickly stole the title of Highest Decibel Scream Generator from the Weeping Angel statue. It was like having two dozen Maria Sharapovas in the room.
While the setting for the Daleks was very complex so as to hide any wires or other equipment, it was far from having a technician pushing a cardboard cut-out around. Their fluid, elegant, unaided movements were a joy to see in person, and there is a small tinge of fear mixed with excitement as its eyestalk scans the room and seems to settle on you.
There is a lot to see and do for the younger children, despite some exhibits being rather scary. Providing a voice to a Dalek proved very popular, although the girls simply sounded like Baby Daleks.
For the kid in every adult, it is interesting to see how aspects of the television show are made and the props used to film it, although the inside of the Tardis may shatter the magic.
However for any Doctor Who fan, it is well worth seeing. Get there before the Tardis disappears again to hurtle through time and space, and carry our Time Lord far away from London so that he can once again save the universe.

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