The ever-popular exhibition The Doctor Who Experience announced earlier this year that it will closing its doors after 5 successful years. But, as a curly-haired loon in an extraordinarily-long scarf once said, “it’s the end… but the moment has been prepared for” – as the Experience have been putting on a series of special events. The last one of these was the Cosplay Celebration, on Saturday August 5th, where fans were encouraged to attend the exhibition in costume as their favourite characters or monsters from the show.
Being a fan of Doctor Who isn’t just about the time-travel, or the alien planets, or even the TARDIS. For many, it’s all about the various imaginative costume and make-up design, created by those talented wardrobe staff at the BBC, over the 54 years of programme-making. During the Cosplay Celebration, such fandom was in abundance, packed as it was with everything from impressively accurate representations of various incarnations of the Doctor, to home-made tinfoil cyberman outfits, mixing with the genuine costumes from across the history of the show (including additions from the most recent season, which only ended last month!)
Absolutely a must-see for dedicated hardcore fans, the Doctor Who Experience does admittedly have a considerable amount of costumes and monsters on display that the more casual viewers may not recognise. Although some effort has been made – with a small amount of text for every display – perhaps the addition of stills from the show, along with information on the Doctor they fought and the year of original broadcast, might be more helpful in assisting visitors understand the display. Of course, ideally the Gallifreyan Achivist (from the fun-but-really-just-for-kids opening interactive adventure with the 12th Doctor) would take groups of visitors around the exhibits, discussing each of the monsters or characters on display. However, that said, the three TARDIS sets (as featured in the 1960s, 1970s and 2000s) were very good, and ideal photo opportunities for cosplayers. Indeed, additional smaller backdrops of other popular locations (such as a Dalek spacecraft, or the Doctor’s homeworld of Gallifrey) would have been similarly useful for fans, as well as providing context for less dedicated viewers.
In addition to the standard exhibition of sets, costumes and props, plus green-screen fun to see yourself in different locations that weren’t on display at the exhibition, visitors to the Cosplay Celebration were also invited to an hour-long talk and audience-led Q&A session with former members of the Doctor Who production costume-making team. Explaining the process of creating the look for the Gallifreyan Time War military (as featured in the 50th Anniversary special), it was enlightening to all those interested in costume-making, an essential – and often overlooked – part of television production.
A final highlight were the Daleks patrolling the exhibition, threatening to exterminate visitors who got in their way. This even continued outside the venue, as the daleks headed up the road, instructing people at the bus stop to “make way for the supreme beings of the universe!”
If you love Doctor Who and want to be part of the adventure, there’s still time (just!) to head to Cardiff, and get as close to being in the show as is possible. And, although there is nothing further officially announced, you might find on that Last Day – Saturday September 9th – there’ll be more than a few surprises!