Opera review: Dr Who Symphonic Spectacular, Glasgow

Peter Davidson aka the fifth Doctor looked not to be replaced by Colin Baker. Picture: PA
Peter Davidson aka the fifth Doctor looked not to be replaced by Colin Baker. Picture: PA
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SPECTACULAR Doctor Who still thrilling fans of all ages

Dr Who Symphonic Spectacular

SSE Hydro, Glasgow

****

Speaking as a decrepit Doctor Who fan, there are few sights more uplifting than a stadium full of people united in their love of your favourite show.

I remember the dark days when declaring a fondness for Doctor Who would invite a kind of pity. These days, everybody loves it. Quite right too.

I can’t think of another TV phenomenon capable of attracting thousands of fans to a live recital of its incidental score. But the music of composer Murray Gold has become a much-loved part of the revived series; many of its themes and motifs are as familiar as the adventures they help bring to life.

Speaking of which, no Doctor Who spectacular would be complete without its army of monsters. Even with the best will in the world, Doctor Who’s most important fans – children – wouldn’t be thrilled by two hours of sumptuous orchestral cacophony.

The Hydro’s aisles were frequently invaded by marauding hordes of Daleks, Cybermen, Ood and Silents. Three huge screens hosted scenes from the show, deftly edited to accompany the music. Adults grinned at the spectacle. Children pointed and stared agog, commenting sincerely, inquisitively, critically.

Special mention must go to the fans of all ages who dressed for the occasion. Matt Smith’s bow-tie/fez combo was second only to Tom Baker’s scarf in terms of visibility, but straw hats off to the gent clad in full Sylvester McCoy garb. That’s dedication.

Meanwhile, avuncular emcee Peter Davison, alias the Fifth Doctor, linked proceedings with endearingly self-deprecating patter laced with running in-jokes, e.g. “My job depends on this. If I get it wrong, they replace me with Colin Baker.”

Despite these fun diversions, Gold’s stirring music was the star. Performed by the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, and conducted – with “sonic baton” - by Ben Foster, the selection was largely drawn from the increasingly cinematic Steven Moffat era.

The highlight was The Pandorica Suite; that deathless theme tune aside, this gloriously bombastic fanfare is the greatest piece of music in Doctor Who history.

It triggered the evening’s first ovation. The second was in praise of Gold himself, who was dragged out on stage during the encore. One of many back-room heroes in an epic half-century journey through time and space, he looked befuddled yet honoured. A very British, very Doctor Who response.

PAUL WHITELAW