This year saw the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular go on tour in the UK for the first time. Conducted by Ben Foster, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Chorus of Wales play a range of scores from the show, all composed by Doctor Who music legend, Murray Gold. The show, which lasts about 2 and a half hours, is hosted by the Fifth Doctor himself, Peter Davison, and features a number of monsters from the show.
Some of our writers attended the show, so we have pulled together their thoughts and opinions on the Symphonic Spectacular for a team review.
Ben (Assistant Editor)
The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular was, as the gloriously modest title suggests, simply spectacular. Hosted by the always brilliant Peter Davison, who kept the audience laughing with references to Colin Baker and David Tennant, and conducted by the Ben Foster and his sonic baton, who joined in with the ‘acting bits’ and bounced of Davison beautifully. The music itself was, of course, sublime. It’s one thing to hear it in the background on the show, but to watch the full orchestra belt out the Twelfth Doctor’s theme is so much more exciting. The show is not just an treat for the ears either, as the monsters from the show add that familiar fear, stalking the isles and scaring children. I say children… inches away from a Dalek pointing a gun in my direction, even I was scared! One small niggle I had was the Mummy’s choreography, as once the lights went down he walked off normally instead of the trademark limp.
Credit must go to everyone involved, including the people who sifted through years of footage from across the show’s history to create stunning visuals to match the music and the lighting people who brought the show to life. I was also surprised to learn that Murray Gold himself was in the audience among us. It must have been such an overwhelming experience for him to sit and watch thousands of fans in awe of his music. The audience was filled with all ages, from young children to pensioners, so it was nice to see something that appealed so widely to all generations. Overall, the show was a masterpiece that really showcased the high standard of music used in the show.
With this year marking a decade of Murray Gold’s consistently brilliant scores for Doctor Who, there was certainly no better way to celebrate than with a night at the Symphonic Spectacular!
Gold’s music for the series was very much at the forefront of the evening with a healthy mix of music from the most recent series and older fan favourites, all performed with superb technical precision and artistic flair by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and members of the BBC National Chorus of Wales. The gorgeous vocals of soprano Elin Manahan Thomas were a wonderful addition to several pieces and gave them a new flavour, as did the band which also served to enhance the live arena experience.
All of these performers excelled under the sonic baton of conductor and orchestrator Ben Foster, who luckily proved rather more gifted at leading his musicians through the programme than fighting off an impromptu Dalek invasion! Foster also had a naturally witty rapport with host Peter Davison, whose affable nature and clear enthusiasm shone through every time he made an appearance.
A whole host of monsters were on hand to terrify and thrill children and adults alike, and all credit to their performers for making me forget at times that they weren’t actually real! The stunning lighting effects and carefully chosen episode clips also deserve a mention, in both cases adding to rather than detracting from the story being told by the music.
Ultimately, the Symphonic Spectacular was a real triumph that made the music the star of the show whilst providing an exciting and wholly immersive experience for fans in the UK for the first time – but hopefully not the last!
I’m really bad for not noticing the music in Doctor Who. Luckily, we have fantastic shows like the Doctor Who: Symphonic Spectacular to make up for that. Live events always have a different atmosphere to watching something on TV, and while there isn’t the fast paced action you can achieve onscreen, shows like this always live up to their broadcast counterpart.
The opening plunges straight into the music, and then Peter Capaldi appears on the giant screens in all his Twelfth Doctor glory. From one Peter we move to another and Peter Davison takes his position on stage, making jokes about his son-in-law and regenerating into Colin Baker.
Sitting far away from the stage, as I was in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, it really was the screens that brought the show to life. That’s not to say the music by the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales wasn’t astounding, it was, but you really couldn’t see them from such a high vantage point. The interplay between Peter Davison and Ben Foster, and the appearance of the monsters, also make the show incredibly exciting and to know that following the performance many of the stars would be returning to film scenes for the TV show added an extra exhilaration.
After the show I realised that everyone must have something that sets them off, excited and unstoppable, for me that is Doctor Who and the music is truly a massive part of it. I strongly urge those in America, or anywhere else at the opportunity to see future performances, to go and see the show as it truly is a Symphonic Spectacular.
If you went to the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, why not tell us what you thought of the show in the comments box below. Meanwhile, here’s a quick preview of the Doctor Who theme played at the show to whet your appetite: