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Themed Attractions: BBC Worldwide’s Doctor Who Experience Crashes into London

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The first ever immersive Doctor Who attraction opens its doors to the public on Sunday 20th February 2011 and invites mere mortals to step through a crack in time and become part of their very own Doctor Who adventure. The Doctor Who Experience, a ground-breaking BBC Worldwide visitor attraction at London’s Olympia, was conceived and constructed by leading International creative design and AV installation company, Sarner, and features powerful production sequences and spectacular set design, combined with the latest AV technology and special effects 

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The attraction comprises two elements – an immersive timed dark walk show and a freeflow exhibition.  The immersive show puts the visitor at the heart of the action in their very own Doctor Who episode where they encounter some of the best-loved and scariest monsters from the BBC TV series, with a spectacular 3D sequence finale. 

The show design by the Sarner creative team was devised with input from Steven Moffat, the TV show’s head writer and executive producer.  Following the show, visitors enter a freeflow exhibition which will feature interactive areas, static displays and some never seen before memorabilia from the TV show including two iconic TARDIS sets from the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison).

Philip Murphy, Managing Director, BBC Worldwide Live Events, comments on what fans should expect from the Doctor Who Experience, “Our research with fans told us the thing they wanted most of all was the chance to step inside the TARDIS and experience the thrill of the TV show for themselves.  Sarner took all of the fans’ comments on board and promised us an amazing visitor attraction.  The final build has far exceeded our expectations”.  Murphy adds, “If the fans think they’re coming to see a traditional exhibition they’re in for a surprise.  We believe that this will be the journey of a lifetime for children of all ages who have always dreamt of being a part of the Doctor Who adventure”.

Visitors are batched in groups up to a maximum of 55 and travel through five spectacular sets, including Starship UK, a full scale TARDIS, Dalek spaceship and forest of Weeping Angels, where they become fully immersed in the story.  Each individual element of the visitor attraction is synchronised and, for this, the Doctor Who Experience has its own brain – a sophisticated multiprocessor computer that takes cares of everything to microsecond accuracy – ensuring a seamless and reliable show every time.

An out of this world experience

Commenting on the technology, Ross Magri, Sarner’s Managing Director says, “Time travel may be as simple as stepping into the TARDIS for the Doctor but, sadly, it’s still beyond Sarner’s engineering capability…for now!  However, that didn’t stop us from using some of the very latest technology to bring the Doctor Who series to life and allow visitors, for just half an hour*, to travel through space and time as the Doctor’s companions.”  From high definition video and 3D rear projection technology to computer controlled hydraulic motion floor and realistic CGI animation, the Doctor Who Experience has got the full package to make it an out of this world experience for visitors.  Magri adds, “The biggest challenge for us is applying the technical requirements required yet still delivering on the creative vision and hiding the technology from the visitor so we create a flawless show and a truly immersive experience.”

The man behind the project, Sarner’s Creative Director, Michael Bennett, has always been a fan of Doctor Who and has fond memories of watching it with his family when he was a child.  This became his inspiration and he strove to capture and recreate the magic and mystery of the TV series for fans of all ages to engage with and experience for themselves.  The idea of visitors stepping through the crack in time came from the movies where characters are often seen walking in to a magical story and, although film makers and authors have done it time and time again, it hasn’t been done before in a live attraction.   Bennett comments, “There are so many magical moments in the show element of the attraction that have never been seen, or experienced, at any of the Doctor Who exhibitions in the past – from actually walking through the doors of the infamous blue police box, experiencing a TARDIS take off complete with special effects, witnessing a Dalek battle in space, walking through the dank, dark forest of the Weeping Angels and seeing the best loved monsters of Doctor Who past and present in 3D – that Doctor Who fans will remember this experience for years to come”.  He adds, “This has been one of the most exciting projects I’ve been privileged to work on and it’s so rewarding to see my drawings and ideas come to life to entertain others and capture the imaginations of Doctor Who fans, young and old”.

Breathtaking 3D finale

Highlights of the attraction include the opening crack sequence; magical appearance of the full scale TARDIS police box, which appears behind a transition gauze; the flight of the TARDIS; live radar scanning of visitors with a Dalek eye; a projected 7 metre CGI rebel Dalek battle scene on a 24 metre painted backdrop, and, the culmination of the ‘show’, a breathtaking 3D finale alongside brand new filmed footage of Matt Smith which is exclusive to the Doctor Who Experience. 

But the excitement doesn’t end there.  Following their adventure, visitors enter the exhibition element of the Doctor Who Experience which charts the success of the show from the first series in 1963 to the most recent episodes starring Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.  On display will be items never seen before including original costumes of the Doctor and his companions, the Tom Baker TARDIS police box and two authentic TARDIS sets, one from the era of David Tennant and another used by Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy in their tenures in the role of the Doctor. The public will also be able to get up close and personal with sets and props from the recent series, including the Pandorica Box and Chair, and confront numerous monsters including several generations of the Daleks and Cybermen as well as Silurians, an Ice Warrior and a Zygon.  Younger fans will enjoy the interactive areas that include ‘Walk like a Monster’, a choreography video guide on how to move like some of the scary Doctor Who monsters, and ‘The Sounds of Doctor Who’, an interactive sound effects studio featuring the iconic sounds of the TV series and an opportunity to hear their own voice transformed in to a Dalek or Cyberman. 

Sarner – Charlotte Myer         BBC Worldwide – Emma Finlay
Direct line: 020 8481 0614        Direct line: 020 8433 2536   
Mobile: 07515 984474        Email: emma.finlay@bbc.com
Main office: 020 8481 0600        Web: www.doctorwhoexperience.com
Email: cmyer@sarner.com          
Web: www.sarner.com       

Fascinating Facts

•    The floor of the TARDIS weighs 7 tons and had to be craned in to the exhibition
•    The whole install from arriving on site to completion was done in just 3 months
•    The Doctor Who Experience visitor attraction will be the longest ever continuous tenancy at Olympia
•     Each piece of the set had to be no bigger than 2m x 5m to fit in the largest lift available at Olympia
•    The system is capable of playing a total of 116 audio channels
•    The combined amplifier power totals over 16, 000 watts
•    22km of cables was used to connect all the equipment together, that’s equivalent to the length of over 2000 London buses!
 
About The Doctor Who Experience

The Doctor Who Experience is at London Olympia Two (2nd Floor), Hammersmith Road, London W14 8UX, and will be open from 10am to 6pm daily.

The Doctor Who Experience is a family show and is suitable for children from 5 years+.  Tickets are priced from £15.50 for adults, £12.50 for children and £46 for a family ticket.  See www.doctorwhoexperience.com for more details.

*The ‘show’ element of the attraction is 30 minutes, but the whole exhibition is designed with a total visit time of 90 minutes.

About BBC Worldwide

BBC Worldwide Limited is the main commercial arm and a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The company exists to maximise the value of the BBC’s assets for the benefit of the licence fee payer and invest in public service programming in return for rights.
For more information please visit www.bbcworldwide.com 

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