Doctor Who Exhibition – Centre For Life – Newcastle

Top of the list of things to do this summer, for my 6 year old was to check out the new Doctor Who exhibition at The Centre For Life. Very, very clever these BBC types… see they tempt their new audience, with CBBC’s Sarah Jane Adventures. They introduce them (gently) to Sontarans, Judoon and Slitheen. They even drop the Doctor in, on the odd special… which whets the appetite and gets them curious… and before you know it, bam, they’re on the hard stuff every Saturday night. An insatiable yearning for Daleks, Cybermen and Sonic Screwdrivers. The bastards! How do they sleep at night?

The new Doctor (Matt Smith) has been heralded like the second coming in our house and the icing on the cake has been Amy Pond (Karen Gillan). The 11th Doctor Who series has been a phenomenal hit. The opening episode must rank as one of the strongest episodes ever. (Our daughter actually hounds us to make her fish fingers and custard!) Then there were the GTI Daleks and those terrifying Weeping Angels and the glassy eyed Vincent Van Gogh episode (we even believed his bloody Scottish accent!!!!) and then finishing off with the destruction of the universe in a finale with every Who-Villain imaginable. Cracking stuff. No wonder we were beating the doors down at the Centre for Life on a wet Tuesday.

But… and there is a “but”, though it’s quite good… after those 12 or so jaw dropping episodes from series 5, we were actually expecting a bit more for our 16 quid. We most certainly were expecting Amy Pond. My daughter was actually expecting the real Amy Pond to be there… (I was secretly hoping for the police uniform, but the less said about that, the better probably!) So the first disappointment was the lack of Pond-ness. Also no GTI Daleks, no Pandorica, no Bernard Cribbins, no Catherine Tate. There was a steaming Tardis set though… which was pretty impressive and a raft of life size characters, Slitheens, Silurians, Cybermen, Autons, Ood, K9 and the “cup of tea” Dalek from the last series, the centre piece to the main ground floor exhibition is the huge Empress of Racnoss spider thingy… which I was blissfully unaware of, having never had the pleasure. All set in a suitably dark and steamy set. Upstairs however was the Dalek room… and Daleks always deliver. Not sure what it is about these cumbersome, hulking, monocular, plunger wielding robo-alien fiends, but they can certainly still terrify a 6 year old. …and then… it was all over. As if by magic an usher appeared (Mr Benn-like) and escorted us into the open doors of a Tardis and we were suddenly thrust back into the main hall and found ourselves being pulled by some unknown alien force in the direction of the gift shop.

A gift shop, again, (annoyingly for us) devoid of anything related to Miss Pond (or indeed any companions) and noticeably heavily biased towards all things Tennanty; figurines, books, pencil cases, air fresheners, dog biscuits, shopping trolleys… you name it, (some of those are actually made up… but not many!!!) Plenty pre-GTI Daleks – and no Sonic Screwdrivers… (apparently there had a been a rush on!)

So… in summary. We’d give it a chin scratching 7out of 10… it is good, bits are brilliant, but it was over far too quickly. The fact it’s been running since the 60’s did make me wonder where the rest of it was. Personally I would have gutted the entire building for a few weeks and rammed it to the rafters with a full history of the programme and then had the characters in full costume mingling round, scaring the life out of kids and posing in there skimpy police uniforms for photos with the dads. Still can’t have it all… go and see it though… it’s worth it for the Daleks.

Tickets for the Doctor Who exhibition can be pre-bought via the website,, or by calling 08444 815 880. However we just turned up, no queues, no problems, its on until the 31st October.

By Dave on August 10, 2010

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2 Comments » RSS Comment Feed

  1. Thanks for your kind comments on the Doctor Who exhibition.We would have LOVED to have had more Amy Pond and I really wanted to include the GTI Daleks and the Pandorica,but as virtually all the material is the actual props and costumes from the show, we’ve been at the mercy of what the BBC is willing to release, and they wouldn’t let us have those as they needed them for other things, presumably the proms/stage show/Xmas special filming. We did have Amy’s police uniform at the start, but they asked for that back and we now have a different Amy costume. They also explicitly limited the scope of the show to the rebooted Who, although it would have been great to have the whole history, but I suspect getting the original props going that far back might have been difficult. We would also have liked to do more with live characters too – but the BBC has stipulated that we can only use one organisation that supplies live Who characters, and they charge over 1000 pounds per character per day, so we had to leave that out too. I too remain baffled by the paucity of Pond merchandise that is available,we have pretty much everything that is made, including some great life-size cut-outs.

    Science Communication Director

    Comment by Ian Simmons — August 12, 2010 @ 10:48 am

  2. Bloody BBC!!! But I Suppose nothing squawks Christmas like a Dalek. By the way, we bought the last AP life-size cut-out, the fully assembled one, out on display. Hope you got some more. ;0)

    Comment by Dave — August 12, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

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