The launch of Dr Who UpClose in Manchester on march 31st was another historic entry to the world of Dr Who Exhibition's which stretches all the way back to the 1960's.

Many sites have hosted Dr Who Exhibitions across the United Kingdom and even a specially commissioned 'touring' exhibition truck journeyed around America in the 1980's. With the incredible popularity of the New Dr Who series grabbing children's imagination, seeing actual props and costumes from the show has been a must.So how did The Daleks, Cybermen and the Empress of Racnoss first begin their journey to the Museum Of Science & Industry in Manchester ?

We spoke to Jill Flynn at the Museum and began by asking when did the idea of hosting the exhibition first materialise ?

It was first discussed about a year ago, around March 2006, and then we set up a matrix that looked at implementation and research with a team of around 8 people representing different departments within the Museum. We did an E-Shot to about 1000 people on our database to canvass their thoughts on types of exhibitions and price ranges. Dr Who came across as the most popular, rivalling interest in our previous Titanic Exhibition. How long did it take for everything to come together ? About 3 or 4 months. We spoke to Experience Design very early in April 2006 who have been excellent to deal with and very professional in their approach. We always had in our minds that we wanted the Exhibition ready for the start of the 3rd series. Have many people been involved in the project at The Museum ? Apart from our established team of 8 people in the working group we involved our Tech Services department who created 4 Police Boxes for our promotional use. A further 20 others have also been involved along with specially recruited guides chosen for their customer service skills and love of Dr Who. Was there a lot of interest when you announced Dr Who was coming ? Right from the beginning we had a positive response and a great deal of excitement. We've had press calls with The Cybermen and a fabulous Dalek plus lots of coverage on the internet and on BBC Northwest. We also had the best ever advance ticket sales for a Special Exhibition - over 3000 which includes Family tickets that cover up to 4 people! What will Dr Who bring to the Museum ? It brings appeal across all family generations who enjoy both the new and the classic series. Having a something which attracts the whole family is a marvellous and rare thing. It's a great promotion tool for the Museum too because its free to enjoy our other Exhibition areas where you can see the huge machinery in the Power Hall or the reconstructed Sewer tunnels. We also have costume interpretations too throughout the year to bring history to life! We would like to thank Jill Flynn and all the staff at the Museum Of Science & Industry in Manchester for supporting this feature. Dr Who UpClose continues in Manchester until November 5th.

We also caught up with Martin Wilkie - son the the BBC's pioneer in Special Effects Bernard Wilkie - of Experience Design & Management Ltd, to ask him a few questions about his work.

What was your first event involved in Dr Who ? It was when I was 12, I attended the BBC Club Festival Event and helped my dad with the set up. It was a Dr Who event and we'd got used to him bringing monsters and stuff home from work to test out on us. So when did you get involved with Experience ? It was back in 1986, myself and Lorne Martin - who'd I'd known for quite a time - started the business. Like many brilliant plans it was all concieved in a pub where we had our first business meeting! There was a great deal of competition to hold the large UpClose Exhibition for 2007, why did you choose Manchester ? We found that other venues were not as enthusiastic or as passionate as the Manchester team. The museum also has a great location, excellent space for what we needed to display and they were very nice people to deal with. What's been the most challenging about the Manchester Exhibition? The Empress Of Racnoss. When it came to deciding to exhibit the prop nobody realised exactly how big it actually was. They had filmed the scenes with the prop and then just packed it away. Neill (Gorton) guessed the size and we added a further 11/2 metres all around. How Much does it cost to set up ? Shed loads ! Seriously, you have to invest a large amount of money to do the brand justice. We go through a process to ensure that the visuals and display is up to the quality visitors and the BBC expect. How long does it take to put together ? Roughly around 4 weeks, beginning with support frames and structures, followed by the lighting and audio visual presentation. The Exhibition opened with a Judoon from the first episode of series 3. Will there by further additions to Manchester ? New items from the third series are also going to be added. We will feature a number of them as the series continues, plus there is the opportunity for the public to try a Dalek for size to get the operators viewpoint. Why do you think these Exhibitions are so popular ? It gives the public chance to see behind the scenes of the show and literally get 'UpClose' with Cybermen and other characters. Children will love seeing the monsters while other visitors will appreciate the design and costume elements that go into creating many of them. It is also true to say that the show's appeal stretches through the generations from those who watched the Classic series to their children watching its brilliant reinvention by Russell T Davies.

With thanks to Martin Wilkie and the team at Experience - Lorne, Stuart & Sacha.

A report on the Exhibition will be appearing soon on this website!
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