Sunday, 22 May 2011

My Doctor Who Experience

Do not read on if you don't like spoilers! 

Doctor Who has been on our screens since 1963 and the Doctor Who Experience proudly marks how successful the show has been. The closest many of us will come to the Doctor and his TARDIS is by watching the television show. That was until now. The Doctor Who Experience is a place where all fans of Doctor Who can enjoy the thrill of the show and even help the Doctor escape from the bad guys once more. Steven Moffat, writer and Executive Producer of the show says, The Doctor Who Experience is a fan’s dream come true - a fully interactive adventure that will allow viewers of the show to get as close as possible to some of the scariest monsters from the series. And I was one of first people fortunate enough to go to its opening week.

The Doctor Who Experience was two years in the making with exhibits including monsters ranging from the Absorbalof to the Zygon; costumes of every Doctor and each recent companion; and sets from the whole 50 years of the show and most amazingly the authentic interiors of the TARDIS. However, its main attraction is the 20 minute interactive walk-through with the Doctor guiding you through a whole new Doctor Who adventure; with you as his trusted companion.

But before you read on, remember Sweeties: Spoilers!

Upon arriving at London’s Olympia Two, where the Experience is being held, you are greeted and directed to an elevator. Now, this was all very exciting for me especially as I did not know what to expect; I had been purposefully avoiding any reviews as I did not want it to spoil any of the surprises.  The elevator doors open and the sound of the iconic Doctor Who theme tune surrounds you; instantly you know it is going to be good. After your ticket has been checked you then have your photo taken in front of the time vortex, but do not worry you won’t get sucked in!

Inside the first section of the exhibit are a few costumes and sets from the latest series with Matt Smith, with focus on the Vampires of Venice and Vincent and the Doctor episodes. Again the Doctor Who music plays loudly in the background; it is timed well with a countdown to the next walk-through experience. While queuing up I felt just as excited as any of the little children around me, although I was disappointed that I did not dress up like they had. Around the Experience there were many mini Doctors; all with bowties and sonic screwdrivers, and some even with fezzes! I want to wear a fez now, fezzes are cool!

Once the countdown reaches zero the doors open and you are sent into a small room with a screen and some benches. I have to admit that I was a tiny bit upset; I thought it would be more than this, and I did not even get a place on the benches, which were taken up by all the young children. But still I got goose bumps as the Doctor Who theme played again and the Doctor appeared on the screen in a trailer of the most epic scenes from the first series. You can imagine my surprise and thrill when the screen then cracked in two – much like the crack in Amy’s wall – and parted revealing a huge set of a futuristic museum. For a moment I thought this room was a work of 3D but there was an actual room behind the screen; it was like real science fiction!

Here another video was playing on big screen and a Node (an information drone from the Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead episodes) with a very realistic face starts talking about the artefacts in the museum; items from previous episodes. These artefacts include the giant telescope from Tooth and Claw, Van Gogh’s painting of the TARDIS exploding from The Pandorica Opens, and one of The Beast Below’s creepy Smilers. The use of projection of the Node’s face is very clever and just shows how much effort people have gone through for the Experience. However, the video is interrupted and suddenly the Doctor is on the screen! He has been locked in the Pandorica once more and he needs help; he had been looking for Amy Pond he says but decides that ‘shoppers’, as he calls us, will have to do. He then uses his sonic screwdriver to make the TARDIS appear; and its appearance is truly amazing. A wall disappears and out of the smoke the TARDIS materialises. It’s accomplishments like this that show how much effort and technology has been used in the making of this experience. Creative Director, Simon Clarke, spent three months creating these breath-taking scenes; ‘”Our goal was to achieve a seamless integration of the animated elements with the set design, painted backdrops and the glass screens that would house our graphics and VFX sequences, we wanted to create, in the same way an illusionist would, an indistinguishable line between what's reality and make believe.”’

The TARDIS doors swing open and it is definitely bigger on the inside! Everyone hurries inside - I’m practically running - and we are all delighted as we gather around the TARDIS console. It looks exactly like it does in the show, except this one has rails around it with a range of control sticks on them. The Doctor appears yet again on another screen and says we have to drive the TARDIS using the control sticks. He says that the younger you are the better, as adults aren’t very fun. There were no children near the control stick I was closest to so I did instead. This experience really brings out the nine-year-old in you whether you are nineteen or ninety. The Doctor tells each person when to pull their control stick and the floor rises and falls like we’re really moving; I couldn’t believe it, I was actually flying the TARDIS!

After we land the Doctor says we are in enemy territory and that we need to take the back door despite there not really being one, but you never know what you could find inside the TARDIS. You walk down a corridor, something that hasn’t been seen in the TARDIS for many, many years until The Doctor’s Wife, wondering what’s going on, when you hear the scariest thing possible in the Doctor Who universe: EXTERMINATE! At this point my heart’s beating with trepidation and I am little bit scared, though I know I’m old enough not to be. But I can hear all the little children give yelps of fright; I don’t think there has been a generation since the beginning of Doctor Who that isn’t scared of the Daleks.  Terrifyingly, we have ended up in the cockpit of the Dalek’s spaceship and the Supreme Dalek declares that you must be EXTERMINATED! A Dalek chorus begins: EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! But before they can they become distracted as another Dalek ship attacks as part of a civil war. Once the Daleks are distracted by gunfire the Doctor comes on the screen and tells you to run. Word of advice: if you’re not up for running do not become the Doctor’s companion.

This time you’re in a spooky graveyard and I can’t help but think of the Weeping Angels from Blink, The Time of Angels, and Flesh and Stone. This eerie graveyard is the perfect hiding place for them. I keep my eyes open the whole time, never daring to blink just in case the Angels take advantage and send me back to the past; letting me live to death.

Luckily, you make it out unscratched and there are people handing out 3D glasses, which does somewhat ruin the spooky atmosphere. Again we’re in a room with a large screen, and as I put my 3D glasses on I’m eager about what I’m going to see. The Doctor has managed to escape and is now safely in his TARDIS but the Pandorica explodes and all the evil creatures are out in the vortex, which is on the big 3D screen. First the Cybermen, fatal and precise, fly out at you, shooting lasers, more horrifying than ever in 3D.  Then the Daleks back again, ready to EXTERMINATE for the last time; it is impossible not to move out of the way of their deadly plungers despite knowing it is only 3D. Then lastly, but the most terrifying, the Weeping Angels leap out at you. You strain to keep your eyes open, but it doesn’t matter, the lights start to flash on and off. With every flash they get closer and closer until they’re about to grab you; this time I’m not the only one ducking and diving, I can hear the girl next to me letting out startled screams and the children whimpering.  Fortunately, the Doctor presses buttons, pulls leavers, twists knob, and uses his sonic screwdriver to finish the whole thing off and the Cybermen, Daleks, and Weeping Angels are all sucked back into the vortex once more. You can breathe a sigh of relief; the Doctor has saved the day yet again.

In an interview Simon Clarke said that this was the best bit of the Experience; ‘"This was an opportunity for us to have fun and an example was when we maximised the 3D effect for the 'Vortex sequence' in the Pandorica chamber. Of course, the ultimate test of our work is to see and hear the reaction from the audience as the images appear to pop out of the screen and grab you."’ And believe me; I think this was very effective!

That’s the end of the walk-through, but the Doctor Who Experience is by no means finished. Once you leave the room there is an opportunity to have a photo taken with Matt Smith’s Doctor; it’s only a picture on the wall but people were still queuing for it, and I was one of them. From here on there are rooms filled with extraordinary Doctor Who things; anything you could wish to see, touch, learn, wear, hear, do, and know about Doctor Who is under this one roof. Olympia Two is surely like the TARDIS; much bigger on the inside and filled with wondrous stuff!

One of the best things to do is to have your photo taken using a green screen. This means that you can have your photo taken with a range of backgrounds. I had mine taken with the TARDIS, but there are other possibilities to have it inside the TARDIS, or even being trapped inside the Pandorica. While these photos may be expensive at £12 a photo, they are well worth buying; how many times will you be flying in the TARDIS?

Another great opportunity is learning how to walk like a monster. This is exactly what it sounds like and a great amount of fun; even as an adult I couldn’t resist learning how to walk like a Scarecrow, a Cyberman, or a Clockwork Person. This was brilliant fun; I didn’t even feel embarrassed when people stood around to watch, they even applauded us at the end!

The Doctor Who Experience is always adding new and relevant things to its exhibition, keeping it up to date. Only this makes me want to go back again and again! Since the opening date they have added the Vashta Nerada, who live in shadows; the Sycorax, the aliens who attacked on Christmas Day in David Tennant’s first episode; and the Silence… Sorry, what was I saying? I’ve forgotten.
After all these exciting things there is even a little shop; the Doctor would love it! This shop sells everything Doctor Who, from the old series and the new. It also sells things exclusive to the Doctor Who Experience, so buy it while you’re there or you’ll regret it later!

Overall, I would say if you were a fan of Doctor Who you should visit this exhibition; no matter what age you are, this will transform you into an excited child. And if you’re not a fan you should visit it anyway; I guarantee you’ll be a fan by the end. And a little tip: definitely dress up!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

For I Will Consider My Dog J.D.

This is a poem inspired by Christopher Smart's 'For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry'. This was a quick task we had to do in class and I did my own version based on my dog J.D.

 For I Will Consider My Dog J.D.

For I will consider my dog J.D.
For he is the pest that destroys our house
For he can chew anything to pieces in minutes
For nothing is safe from his tiny jaws
For he has eaten the last puzzle piece
For he licked a hole in the expensive cardigan
For he chewed through many electrical cables
For his hunger is never satisfied
For he is small but his appetite huge
For he stands low but his bark is high
For his ears are large yet he never listens
For he is J.D. and that’s just who he is.

Monday, 16 May 2011

The Act of Love: Part 7

Eleanor read the National Enquirer with a heavy heart. Aiden Riddley’s and Vivianne Westlake’s broken engagement had hit the front of practically every gossip magazine in the world. It had been only five days since the disastrous party and Eleanor had barely left her bed since. Her phone was flashing red with missed calls and the post was piling up by her door. The only time she had left the warm comfort of her bed was to buy all the magazines she could find with Aiden and Vivianne on the front cover.

Every article had said the same thing; their engagement was broken off last night at the famous La Nourriture restaurant because of Vivianne’s affair with a mysterious lover. Aiden was apparently seen storming from the restaurant in anger, leaving Vivianne alone and crying to pay the bill. The identity of this mysterious lover was the question on everybody’s lips and Eleanor dreaded the day they all found out.

Sadly, that moment came two days later. This time, according to People Magazine, Vivianne was seen with co-star Russell Sterling at the very same restaurant that she had broken off her engagement only two days previously. Eleanor could not help but find this horrendously tacky of Vivianne and almost pitied the poor girl for her lack of class. The magazines were spilt on their views of Russell Sterling, the mysterious lover. Some said that it was unfair of him to break up the ‘It Couple’ of the decade, whilst others claimed that this was an even better couple than before. Eleanor still felt her heart wrench whenever she saw a photo of them together, her eyes would fill with tears at the sight of their names and her lips trembled whenever she heard them mentioned on the radio. She could not live her life like this. She could not stand to feel sad whenever she saw Russell and Vivianne together. She had to forget about him! Eleanor eventually concluded that it was about time to stop buying the stupid gossip magazines and move on with her life. 

She had to forget all about Russell for good.

So, with a growing sense of purpose, Eleanor threw out all the magazines, answered all her missed calls, read through her post and got along with her life without Russell Sterling.


Eleanor had managed to go a whole month without hearing a single word about Vivianne and Russell and she was incredibly pleased with herself. She had even signed up for a fresh film written by a new, up and coming script writer, who was said to be the new Richard Curtis. Her life could not be any better. It was with only a small amount of trepidation that she got ready for Avalon’s Knights premiere. She had been shopping a few weeks earlier for a new dress and ended up choosing a blue satin number, which she thought she did not look half bad in. She had pushed back any thoughts or daydreams about Russell commenting on how beautiful she looked and continued making her hair and makeup look astounding.

As her limo pulled up at the premiere, Eleanor took a deep breath. This would be the first time she would see any of the cast and crew members since the end of film party, she had to be strong. Journalists and fans screamed at her as she excited her limo, shoving film posters and photos at her, asking her to sign them. She signed the first couple but then gave up as it was getting harder as the crowd surged at her. It was then that the camera’s started flashing. Eleanor was practically blinded by the bright lights, but smiled none the less.

Eventually, she was left alone as more famous people arrived on the carpet. She ran her hand over her hair and smoothed down her dress.  It was only then that she allowed herself to look for Russell. Her eyes found him almost immediately, drawn to him like she always had been. He stood a couple inches taller than everyone else looking incredibly handsome in his tux. Just like the first time she had ever seen him, his skin gleamed and his dark hair caught the light perfectly, and considering he had never been to a red carpet event before, he handled it like a professional.

Eleanor smiled; she had been truly blessed the day she had seen Russell Sterling walk out of that grotty theatre. Unconsciously, she took one step towards him before faltering. A beautiful blond wearing a striking scarlet dress that flattered her figure, had materialised at his arm with a dazzling white smile and a twinkling green eyes. Vivianne Westlake. Eleanor’s heart plummeted and she felt like she was going to be sick. Vivianne put her arms around Russell and they posed for some photos. Eleanor could not take any more of it; seeing their smiling faces just made her feel worse. Who was she kidding anyway? She wasn’t happy; she had never felt lonelier before in her life! Without a chance to change her mind, Eleanor picked up her skirts and ran through the crowds, ignoring all the people calling her name. She looked up and down the teeming streets before choosing a random limo and clambering in.

“Please, take me home.” She begged the limo driver, tears streaming down her face. The limo driver took one look at her and started his engine. Eleanor thanked him but did not think he really understood what she was saying because her crying was making her hiccup and choke. She did not care that her makeup was probably smeared across her face, or that her hair was coming out of its neat chignon that took her hours to do; she just wanted to be home and away from all this heart break forever. It was time to make the most important decision of her life.

She was leaving this city, and she was never coming back.


Russell stepped out of his limo, his insides tying themselves up in knots. He had never been more nervous in his life! He walked onto the red carpet, and was instantly knocked back by the screams of crazed fan girls and the flashes of the paparazzi’s cameras. If there was one thing he hated in his new life of fame, it was the paparazzi. They followed him everywhere.

Russell had decided that that was one of the main reasons he and Vivianne had not lasted very long after their secret affair had gone public. Vivianne had thrived under the paparazzi’s cameras, whereas Russell just wanted to be left alone. They had had arguments regularly about whether they should go out and be followed or just stay at home and have a quiet night in. Of course, Vivianne always wanted to go out and threw a tantrum until she got her own way. Russell had quickly grown sick of her childish ways and suddenly could not stand the spoilt brat. They had only broken up a week ago and Russell could not have been happier. Sure, he was not completely free of the paparazzi, but most of them had left him alone after realising he was not having any more forbidden affairs. 

Although, for now, Russell smiled cheerfully at the camera’s and posed whatever way the fans asked him to. He may have looked at ease to outsiders but his body was still wracked with nerves. He was gradually getting into it, when a photographer from Us magazine asked him for a photo with his co-star, and now ex, Vivianne Westlake. Russell nodded and smiled pleasantly, but really he was cursing the tabloids for not caring what kind of stress they put actors and celebrities under. Russell felt even worse when Vivianne wrapped her arms around him and smiled brightly, acting like she was still in love with him, when they all knew she was probably off with a new lover. He returned the smile, but inside he was screaming at her to leave him alone.

Fortunately, the paparazzi were distracted by a commotion going on behind them. Russell turned around just in time to see Eleanor Astolat in a stunning blue dress, pushing her way through the crowds, with tears streaming down her face. His mouth worked quicker than his brain, and he called out to her before he had time to even think.

“Eleanor! Eleanor, wait!” He yelled loudly, but she either did not notice or she ignored him. He quickly untangled himself from Vivianne’s arms and raced after the crying woman.


The crowd had closed around her and everyone was shoving to get a closer look at what the hubbub was. He had not realised it until now, but he had been feeling oddly friendless since the filming had ended and he had broken up with Vivianne. He had found himself strangely drawn to his old work place, The Golden Treasure Theatre, as if he might see Eleanor drive by again. He never did though. Now that he had seen her again all the fun times he had had with her at the studio came rushing back, the times at the buffet table, the articles, the jokey flirting. Only now they were tainted with the events of the end of filming party. He could not escape her broken expression as he told her that he loved Vivianne, even though at the bottom of his heart he knew that he did not. He wished he could turn back the clock and tell her that he loved her too, and that he thought she was the most perfect woman in the world.

Russell finally burst from the crowd only to find the streets empty of people; it was like she had vanished into thin air. He looked down the road, but he could only see limos arriving and leaving. He searched around the crowds of people just in case she was still there. He looked all around the surrounding areas; he even missed the film because he was determined to find her.

But it was hopeless.

He had missed his chance.

She was gone forever.


Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Act of Love: Part 6

Regrettably, Eleanor was unable to talk to either of the two as they both seemed to be avoiding her more than normal. It was as if they suspected that she knew about them. Eleanor did not mind, just as long as they stopped doing anything behind Aiden’s back. They were also lucky enough to finish filming smoothly with no major mishaps. Everyone had carried on as normal and Eleanor did not see Aiden, Vivianne or Russell for a couple of weeks as she was helping out with the editing. Even though the film was nearly finished and Aiden and Vivianne were still engaged, Eleanor could not help but feel depressed. The man she felt helplessly in love with was not only ignoring her but was having a secret affair with the leading lady.

 It was too cliché for words.

The Vivianne and Russell situation took up so much of her thoughts that she had even forgotten to care about people calling her ‘Ms Astolat’ and giving her more respect than she wanted. As a matter of fact, she had forgotten about most things, like her mother’s birthday, her laundry and most of the time she even forgot to eat. The pain of her heartbreak and the pain of keeping this secret ate her up inside and most of the time she felt sick with worry and nerves. In a way, she could not wait for this film to be over and done with.


It was not until the end of film party that Eleanor finally saw Aiden, Vivianne and Russell again. Aiden gave her a handshake and a large bouquet of light red carnations with a card saying ‘Thank you Ms Astolat, you have been an inspiration to us all.’ Eleanor felt so bad for him about the affair that she did not even feel a tiny bit put out by the fact that he still called her ‘Ms Astolat’ after nearly half a year of working together. However, unlike Aiden, Vivianne had just given her a forced smile and congratulated her on a film well done. Eleanor returned an equally forced smile and Aiden and Vivianne had walked off leaving Eleanor alone with Russell. He looked even more handsome than he had ever done before; Eleanor decided that tuxes definitely suited him.

“Ms Astolat, you truly are the best director of your time,” he complimented her with a shy smile. Eleanor smiled back shyly and out of sheer habit said, “Please, call me -”

“Eleanor.” Russell finished for her.

Like a million times before, her heart skipped a beat and her cheeks reddened. She looked up into his eyes and saw what she had missed very dearly, his friendship. Before she could stop herself she blurted out her secret.

“I know about you and Vivianne.”

The look in Russell’s eyes changed from friendship to horror and his skin paled. Eleanor knew instantly that she had made a mistake. She covered her face with hands, as if to block Russell’s stricken face from her memory. She wished that she had said nothing at all; she wished that she could have kept her stupid mouth shut.

“What...What did you just say?” He asked, his hands reaching up to grab her bare shoulders. Her skin burned, but this time she could not appreciate its tingly sensation as his fingers stabbed into her painfully.

“I...I heard you talking about it...” Eleanor did not know how she could explain without giving herself away as the vilest sort of eavesdropper. “It was a while ago, in the spare room, you two had a fight about, well, about me,” she confessed while hanging her head in shame. Russell let go of her arms looking slightly abashed and let out a shaky breath.

“I guess you haven’t told anyone then. That’s good.”

“Of course I haven’t told anyone!” Eleanor cried out indignantly, “I was waiting for you to do it. I mean, you can’t honestly think this will work?”

“Why couldn’t it work? We love each other,” he argued, but his brows furrowed and his voice wavered. Eleanor looked at him sceptically.

“Oh, really? Then why is Vivianne still hanging off of Aiden like a love sick puppy? Why haven’t you told him yet? Filming has been done for two weeks; you’ve had plenty of time.”

“She’s just pretending to still love him. We’re waiting for the right time.” Russell countered feebly. Eleanor felt a pang of guilt for him; maybe she should not have brought it up now. Most likely, she had probably just ruined the whole party for him.  She rested her hand on his arm consolingly; all the feelings she had for him before returned to her in a rush as she looked up into his uncertain face. His woeful eyes brought out hundreds of emotions in her and once again she could not control what her mouth was saying.

“I love you.”

The three words slipped out before she could stop them. Eleanor did not think it was possible but Russell went even paler and his mouth fell open.


“I love you,” she said again and mentally cringed. What was she doing She could not stop it; the words kept spilling out of her mouth one by one. It was as if all the emotions she had kept bottled up for so long were finally pouring out of her in one hugely embarrassing confession. “Please, Vivianne isn’t meant for you. It wouldn’t work out between you. I know I can make you happy if you just let me try.”

Russell stood completely still for a few moments before he shrugged Eleanor’s hand off. His face looked like it was contorted in pain.

“I – I don’t know what to say. You love me?” He asked her cautiously; Eleanor nodded from the bottom of her heart, her eyes beseeching him to understand her true feelings. “But, you barely know me.”

“I want to get to know you! If only you would give me a chance.” She said, very nearly close to begging him and equally close to tears.

“I’m so sorry, I love Vivianne.” He apologised with sincerity, and Eleanor knew that this time he really did mean it. She nodded weakly and gave him a watery smile. She had been foolish to think anything would happen between them.

“Of course you do. I mean, why wouldn’t you? She’s gorgeous, funny, winner of Sexiest Woman for the past three years running; everything a guy could want.” Suddenly, all the jealousy and insecurities she had felt concerning Vivianne flooded her mind and tears burned her eyes, “I – I just wish you a world of happiness.” Though, as she said it she realised that she really did mean it. If she could not make Russell happy at least Vivianne could try. She only wanted Russell’s happiness even if it did not include her. She wiped her hand across her burning eyes and bit her lip.

“I have to go now, but enjoy the party and I’ll see you at the premiere next month...maybe.” She muttered, blinking back her tears. Russell dipped his head in farewell, and after giving her a sympathetic look, walked off. Eleanor did not look back as she ran from the hall, hailed a taxi and faded into the night.