Tuesday, 6 July 2010

All the strange, strange creatures...


Last month Helen and I went to the Doctor Who exhibition at the Life Centre in Newcastle. We're both big fans (admittedly, I'm the far geekier of the two of us) and it was a great afternoon. The exhibit is packed with props and, monsters and costumes from series 1-4 and also the recently aired and superior series 5, meaning you can get up close to a Silurian, stare into the face of a Weeping Angel, and gaze in awe at a certain companion's kissogram police uniform. There are plenty of facts and clips from the shows playing as you go around too, meaning something to interest you at every turn. Disappointingly there's very little Time Lord-iness to see, with no Ninth Doctor costume of Tenth Doctor coat, or anything from 'The End of Time' episode, but that's only a very, very small quibble, and it's more than made up for by the excellent Dalek Room, where you're surrounded by moving Daleks and threatened with extermination in a neat three minute scene. I took a ton of pictures, and I won't bore you with them all, but here are some of the more interesting ones:
K9, and a hideous alien

"Smile!" A Smiler

A Sontaran

Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor costume, and on the right, his predecessor's raggedy outfit.

The TARDIS, crashed into a shed, as in 'The Eleventh Hour'.


The very cool 'Ironside' Dalek.

"Don't blink!" A Weeping Angel.

I'll admit that the Weeping Angel was by far my favourite piece of the exhibit. Yep, even more than the Dalek (and Daleks are smaller in real life than I expected). The thing sent a chill down my spine, especially as it's set in a strobing section of Byzantium hull, just as in the episode 'Flesh and Stone'. Some of the exhibits are push-button interactive, the most dazzling (in every sense of the word) being the Cybermen display, while other exhibits will move and jerk when you don't expect them to, recreating the classic shocks of the show. I was taken off-guard by an Auton and nearly jumped out of my skin. I won't tell you everything that's in the exhibition as that would ruin the surprise and child-like wonder that wandering around the place elicits, but there's barely an alien from recent years that isn't included (there is a notable and popular one, and I'm not sure why it isn't present...). Other highlights include River Song's dress, a display on how an Ood is made, and the chilling Vashta Nerada 'skeleton in a spacesuit'. In fact, the sheer amount of stuff there made me realise just how skilled the designers, concept artists and production crew of the show are in creating vivid and memorable aliens over the course of each series. Stop and think about it for a moment and you really appreciate their diligence.

If you're in Newcastle and you have a couple of hours spare then I'd urge you to pay the exhibit a visit. It's on until October so there's still plenty of time to get down (or up, depending on your global orientation relative to 'tha Toon'). Helen and I really enjoyed it and it's very likely that I'll be going back again, especially as they're continually adding to it (would it be too much to hope they install the Pandorica?). Admission is a tenner, and for that you also get access to the other exhibits, rides and planetarium. If you're a fan, casual viewer, or just someone who appreciates the time, effort and detail that goes into making a TV show, then it's definitely worth the money.