A Sonic Experience

Take the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the National Chorus of Wales, one Doctor, a giant screen and a host of the scariest monsters in the universe – and you get the astounding Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular

After successful runs in Australia and New Zealand, this year the Symphonic Spectacular came back to the home of all things Whovian, and embarked on its first ever UK tour.

The SSE Hydro in Glasgow was the last venue on the tour, but as presenter Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor, himself said: they were keeping the best till last.

As he pointed out in his opening speech, Scotland has given the world three of the 12 Doctors in the forms of Sylvester McCoy, David Tennant and Peter Capaldi, with Glasgow being the home city of the latter two. The show’s Captain Jack Harkness, John Barrowman; latest Master (Mistress?), Michelle Gomez; and show runner, Steven Moffat also hail from Greater Glasgow.

At this point Davison pulled out an algorithm he’d been working on to show comparatively how many of the Glaswegian audience would go on to be involved with the show. The answer was pleasingly high, but too high to remember or scribble down in the darkened audience (sorry).

And with that, the show kicked off properly with the Twelfth Doctor’s theme A Good Man, played against screenings of Capaldi’s finest moments from the latest season.

Just as the audience were settling down and conductor, Ben Foster, picked up his sonic baton to lead the orchestra through the next piece – Daleks invaded.

The Daleks hijacked the orchestra

Despite protests from Davison (who reappeared from his dressing room clutching a cup of tea), the Daleks hijacked the orchestra and only conceded the spotlight once they had heard their theme music.

Other highlights included an emotional performance of the theme songs of all four main companions since the series was revived in 2005, backed by a screening of their greatest scenes.

The best part by far, though, was the Tenth Doctor’s action theme All The Strange, Strange Creatures, which heralded the arrival of every monster you could think of; Cybermen, Silurians, Judoon, the Ood, Whispermen and the Vigil stalked through the audience, but the Silence stayed on stage and beckoned to audience members – which was unnerving enough, to be honest!

It was a tad disappointing that Matt Smith’s theme and BBC Prom favourite I Am The Doctor, was not played in full, but it was electrifying to hear it briefly in the Pandorica Suite.

The grand finale…

The encore was a rousing performance of the theme music from the classic series, brought up to date by Murray Gold, the composer behind all the Whovian theme music since the revivial. The screen behind the orchestra showed clips from every regeneration, from Hartnell to Capaldi, and from first appearances to painful farewells.

This final performance gained more than a few audience members out of their seats to give a standing ovation, but it was nothing compared to the reaction when Murray Gold himself appeared to congratulate the orchestra. There wasn’t a soul left sitting as the entire Hydro stood up to salute him.

If Glaswegians were to take over Doctor Who as Davison predicts, I can’t imagine the show in safer hands.

The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular is heading to New York in October, with hopes of another UK tour next year.