Did you know that the filming and production of Dr. Who is based in Wales? Before coming to Cardiff I certainly didn’t. The BBC studios are located in Cardiff Bay and with all of those props just hanging about getting dusty, the BBC decided to create a permanent exhibition, much along the lines of the Harry Potter exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Basically: fill a warehouse with all the bits and bobs, add some informative placards and open the doors to a steady stream of crazed nerds.

So, obviously, Lyndsay and I went. To be perfectly truthful, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an entire series. I’ve caught a few episodes here and there, especially some of the older ones with my Dad. I have also somehow managed to entirely miss the last several series. I felt like a bit of a fraud entering the sanctuary but luckily there was no entry questionnaire. The “Doctor Who Experience” combines several decades worth of sonic screw-drivers, various incarnations of the Tardis, costumes of previous doctors and of course, models of all of the creepy aliens and villains. There’s even an interactive walk-through component which sees you flying the Tardis and escaping the clutches of the daleks. All in all it was quite good fun.

An early version of the Tardis inner console used between 1983 and 1989 by the fifth, sixth and seventh doctors,.
Dad’s doppleganger: the fourth doctor. Look at that hair! And the impressive scarf!

Clearly, after visiting the Dr. Who nerdatorium and being intimately aware of one’s own limited Dr. Who knowledge, the best place to go next was a local monthly Dr. Who pub quiz. What could go wrong? Thus the evening of the 3rd of June found Lyndsay and I ensconced in the Buffalo Bar, nonchalantly nursing a delicious local dragon cider. As the bar filled with people in their mid-twenties to thirties (and beyond!) with a good smattering of Tardis-themed T-shirts, we began to wonder what we’d gotten ourselves into. I mean, Dr. Who is no Harry Potter – I’m a die-hard HP fan with plenty of obscure wizarding knowledge, but I can only claim to dabble in Dr. Who. It was too late now. We’d been identified as trivia participants and given pen and paper.

As the rounds passed and the questions became more and more detailed, we knew the best we could hope for was a respectably low score. Our team name, the apt “ReTardis”, elegantly summed up the situation. The mid-twenties-something guy running the trivia popped over at the end of each round  to pep us up as we were not part of the regular group and to be honest, probably quite clearly floundering. He pointed out all the veterans in the other teams, including a guy who had actually published a Dr. Who compendium. This was a whole new level of fandom. We were definitely out of our league but had a fun time racking our brains for the names of fictional planets and villains. I am still astounded at the level of knowledge in that bar that evening. Although we we came complete last (but not too far behind the next stragglers), it was a great atmosphere and we won a rad Dr. Who pity prize. The other teams warmly invited us back for the next month. We promised to do our best. Who knows? There may be hope for us yet.

And that’s how you get your Dr. Who on in Cardiff. I hope Matt Smith would be proud.

So many doctors. So many series.So much trivia. Image courtesy of http://www.thelass.co.uk

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