Today Patrick and I got to walk around the actual TARDIS set in Cardiff, and I am still giddy with delight!
Here’s how it happened:
A few weeks ago, I booked a trip to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff (which we’d never visited before) as a belated birthday treat for Patrick. (It is one of the great joys of my life that I married a man for whom this would be a great gift…because OMG do I love Doctor Who! So I was really excited about getting to go with him!) The Doctor Who Experience is a museum of props, costumes, and old Doctor Who sets, and it also includes a fun half-hour interactive experience where you have a mini-Doctor Who adventure.
If we’d just gone to the Doctor Who Experience, on its own, we would have had a great day. It was so much fun to get to see all those monsters and props and sets in person, the adventure was silly and awesome, the whole thing was creatively inspiring, and I would have been thrilled just to do that…
But a few days after I originally booked the tickets, I got an email from the booking agency, saying: “The BBC has just opened up the TARDIS set for tours from February 20 through March 6. Would you like to upgrade your tickets?”
OH. MY. GOD.
It was incredible.
Honestly, I expected the TARDIS to feel like…well, a set! I figured it would look right on one side, but be all plywood on the other sides.
I was so wrong.
When you step inside, it really, genuinely feels as if you’re stepping into the TARDIS. It feels utterly real all around you, in every direction! Apparently, it took them 6 months to build this set, and it shows. Everything about it feels like you could just move in.
The books that fill the bookshelves above the main control center are real books (selected by Peter Capaldi). Nothing looks fake.
We were standing in the TARDIS.
And it was incredible.
Today, as we ate lunch at the museum cafe after the Doctor Who Experience, before the set tour began, I found myself remembering that one night, about 32 years ago, when my family stopped at a motel somewhere in the American southwest, in the middle of a week-long roadtrip. We turned on the TV…and I saw a show I’d never seen before.
I’d never seen anything LIKE it before.
It was Doctor Who. (The Tom Baker regeneration.)
It was AMAZING.
We watched two episodes in a row. By the end of the second episode, I was in love. My best friend and I watched every episode we could. She had a Doctor Who board game and a trivia book that we pored over.
Today, not only did I get to see one of the costumes Tom Baker wore in that very first episode that I ever watched, but I got to stand in the current TARDIS set and actually feel like I was standing in the TARDIS.
It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done.
And while Patrick and I didn’t get any of our own writing done today, despite looming deadlines for both of us…we both agreed that this was one of the best things that we’ve ever done for our writing. Because: oh, wow, was everything about that trip a potent reminder of the power of stories and storytelling! For about 50 years now, groups of amazing, talented people have been working together to create this fabulous imaginary world and character that millions of people want to be true.
We got to stand in the room where it happens…
And oh was that inspirational.
I’m still giddy. :)
(And you can see even more pictures from today in this photo album.)