It’s a very sad time for Doctor Who fans, as the Doctor Who Experience, which housed all manner of props and costumes throughout much of Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s eras as the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors respectively, is being dismantled.
The original Experience, which combined an interactive story with an extensive museum featuring items from all eras of the show, opened in London in 2011, but moved to Cardiff the following year, opening on 20th July 2012. The initial story featured the Eleventh Doctor trapped inside the second Pandorica; the second version, with the Twelfth Doctor, included an attack on the TARDIS. Both versions allowed fans to fly the Doctor’s incredible Space-Time Ship.
The building was specifically constructed for the Doctor Who Experience, right next to the BBC Wales studios (meaning some lucky individuals could visit the actual TARDIS set too). Philip Fleming, then-Head of Communications at BBC Worldwide, said in 2012:
“[It’s been] three years since, I think, the first specific conversation started about this venue; three years of hunting for the right property. And at times, it seemed like it simply wasn’t going to happen. In fact, the only reason it has happened is because we didn’t find a property: we created a brand-new facility. And that was only possible through the hard work and very close co-operation that took place between Cardiff Council; the Welsh Assembly government; property developers; and the BBC, of course.”
The venue briefly housed gigs, but has otherwise been empty since its closure in September 2017.
So what’s next for the Experience building? The property is going into storage and will apparently be rebuilt in Llanrumney, to be used by new owners, House of Sport (founded by Cardiff City FC Director, Steve Borley), as a football academy and centre of excellence.
A number of Doctor Who stars visited the Experience, including Matt Smith on 12th October 2012. In our exclusive interview, he told us:
“I think it’s fantastic! To have all these monsters – all these Doctor Who-related things – under one roof is an absolute joy. It’s fantastic.
“And I’m very proud to be part of a show that can put on an event like this.”
I’ve lots of wonderful memories, so it seemed fitting (but very sad) to bid farewell to the exhibition:
“The first time I went to the Experience, I entered through the exit. I was allowed, don’t worry. It was in October 2012, a special invitation to meet My Doctor, Matt Smith. I was very fortunate. I’ve experienced it all as few actually have: open only to the press, all eager to interview the Doctor, and snap photos of the newly-unveiled Series 7 exhibits, which included props from Asylum of the Daleks to The Angels Taken Manhattan. Matt was great, very giving of his time, and very friendly too – a real ambassador for the show.
“Subsequent visits, the exhibition changed. It highlighted the most recent stuff: a Day of the Doctor section; Handles and the children’s drawings from The Time of the Doctor; Series 8 and 9 props, like the Teller, Davros, and (my favourite) the genuinely massive and imposing Fisher King; and – the most recent addition – a lovely space for Series 10.”
Of course, the land the Doctor Who Experience occupied is owned by the Welsh government, leased by Cardiff Council, so we’ll see what happens to it…
But I guess that’s really it – the absolute end of an era. Goodbye, old friend.