By Matthew Jordan
New details have emerged regarding the upcoming closure of the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay. It was originally reported in November 2016, that the attraction would be closing in the Summer of 2017 following the end of its original sub-lease.
The Doctor Who Experience began a planned 5-year run in Cardiff in July 2012, previously being based in Olympia, London. The land used is owned by the Welsh Government and development partner Igloo Regeneration but was leased to the City of Cardiff Council for use as a base for the temporary attraction. It is situated near Roath Lock Studios, where Doctor Who, its current spin-off ‘Class’ and many other shows in BBC Cymru Wales’s drama output are produced.
The original announcement of the site’s closure said the following:
“It has always been the intention for the site to be developed as part of the ongoing Porth Teigr regeneration project. The agreement was always intended to be for five years only, reflecting the nature of the attraction. The decision to close the Experience at the end of the lease next summer has been mutually agreed by all parties involved, including the operators BBC Worldwide.”
Last week, a City of Cardiff Council spokesperson made it clear that the Council had done “all that we can to relocate [the Doctor Who Experience]” and that they hope it will remain in some way, although it is “highly unlikely” that it would keep its current format.
The attraction is home to many props, sets and costumes from the sci-fi series and has continued to be updated since its construction, even being fully renovated with a new interactive story in September 2014 as Peter Capaldi’s first series in the role of the Time Lord began. Over its 5-year lifespan, the Doctor Who Experience has attracted millions in tourism to Cardiff and has become something of a holy site to fans around the world, many of whom are hoping to visit before it is shut down.
While the Experience is the main attraction for whovians visiting Cardiff, many other places in the city have been used for location-filming both in Doctor Who and in other popular BBC shows such as Sherlock and Torchwood. Perhaps the most well-known of these is in Mermaid Quay, where a Torchwood filming site has been immortalised as a shrine to Ianto Jones, a lead character who died in the 2009 miniseries ‘Children of Earth’.
Cardiff was previously home to ‘Doctor Who Exhibition Cardiff’, a similar museum, which lacked the interactive elements seen in the current Cardiff Bay attraction. While it is likely that something similar may be launched in a new location, the future of the Doctor Who Experience beyond its closure remains unknown for now.