Its late at night in the Premier Inn, Cardiff and Rosie, who works on the front desk is giving my Whovian son a list of places he might like to check out the next morning. Under her purple Premier outfit, she is wearing a secret Dr Who t-shirt. They pour over a large map – ‘That’s the car park where the 10th Doctor ran away from the truck in ‘Partners in Crime’, that’s the corner shop which Clara paused outside, there’s the cornerstone that Matt Smith slipped on’ etc etc. My son is in seventh Whovian heaven. The best news of all is that the very Premier Inn we are standing in was a location itself. Its the Adipose Industries – the breakfast room which we visit the next morning to tuck into porridge and bacon was once full of people screaming and running away from bouncing balls of fat – please see ‘Partners in Crime’!
Our trip to Cardiff is a much delayed birthday treat. We are here not just to trudge around the back streets looking for locations to tick off, but to go to the Doctor Who Experience, recently reopened and regenerated in response to a change of Doctor. Every second person in Cardiff Bay, where its situated is wearing a Tardis bobble hat or a Dalek backpack. Its a lovely walk from the train station around the wide front of the Bay itself past the very point where the time vortex opened in front of the Welsh Assembly Rooms – my son is now skipping, his hair on end with excitement. He’s wearing his ‘Doctor Who Apprentice’ t-shirt on top of all his jumpers and can’t move his arms much.
The Experience building resemble a large metallic slug and does not add much to the beauty of the Bay,. We walk inside and join a large queue, are given our own crystals and enter the realm of Time Lord wizardry. Its brilliant, I can’t deny it. I was there initially as an indulgent, uninterested mum, but by the end I was wrestling the controls and glaring down Weeping Angels with the best of them. Not to give too many Spoilers away, you become part of a Doctor Who adventure and travel with him to a series of amazingly realized locations. It was scary, it was exciting, the sets were magnificent, Peter Capaldi loomed out of tv screens to abuse you – it was great. The exhibition at the end wasn’t too shabby either – all the best props from fifty years of the show – Tom Baker’s scarf, Jon Pertwee’s car, slightly tarnished K9s, life sized Daleks and Cybermen. We emerged thoroughly impressed, new Taridis bobble hats on, Dalek rucksacks slung over our backs.
If you have your own Doctor Who apprentices then I’d really recommend it, they even do fishfingers and custard in the cafe. Oh and as you leave, go down the path to your right to the Boat Museum, which is marvellous in its own right – go and have lunch in their lovely cafe and you can look right out over the water and a Tardis that appears to have crash landed in the Bay.