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Sunday, 2 February 2014 - Reviewed by Tim Hunter

Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular
Music from the BBC Television Series
BBC Worldwide
Plenary Hall, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
1st February 2014, 7.30pm
Back in 2012, the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular proved immensely popular and successful at its first international outing with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. So popular that the following year it went to Sydney, and this year, it has returned to Melbourne, and will travel to Brisbane in Queensland and then across the ditch to Wellington in New Zealand. In each city, it will be collaborating with their respective symphony orchestras. In front of an enthusiastic crowd of 5,000 people – ranging in age from eight to 80, if not even younger – at the Plenary Hall in the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, the concert was nothing short of spectacular. Not only was it a wonderful celebration of Murray Gold’s original music for Doctor Who, it was also a fitting tribute to the TV show that turned 50 last year.

This year’s concert was largely based on the 50th anniversary Doctor Who at the Proms. The majority of the music came from the last four years of the show, covering Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor. Conductor Ben Foster, with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, kicked things off with the blood-racing theme for the Eleventh Doctor, ‘The Madman With a Box’, with vocals supplied by soprano Antoinette Halloran, and other recent themes soon followed, including a medley of the companions’ themes for Rose, Martha, Donna and Amy, ‘Abigail’s Song’ from the 2010 Christmas Special, A Christmas Carol, the song from The Rings of Akhaten, Clara’s theme, ‘The Impossible Girl’, and music from The Name of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor.

It wasn’t all about Matt Smith though. The Classic series was well represented too. Of course, hosting the concert was Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor, or Doctor 005 as he called himself. He was immediately charming, relaxed, funny and clearly enjoying himself. Throughout the evening, he slipped in witty asides about his time as the Doctor, and engaged in some cheeky repartee with Foster that at one stage involved a cricket bat, a bunch of celery, and a score for Earthshock – The Opera. Davison wasn’t the only Classic Doctor to have a presence. Via the marvels of pre-recorded video, the wonderfully barmy Tom Baker featured in two segments speaking directly to the audience, and there was also the nostalgic ‘Classic Doctor Who Medley’, with music from all seven Classic Doctors. Most memorable though were the groovy 60’s sounds of The Tomb of the Cybermen and the evocative score for City of Death.

Apart from the thrills and emotions of the live music, the other exciting element was – naturally – the presence of aliens and monsters roaming the auditorium and the stage. Like last time, this included Silurians, Cybermen, the Silence, the Ood, Vampire Girls, Judoon and of course the Daleks, playing it up with Foster as they took over the hall. But new and welcome additions included the new Cybermen from Nightmare in Silver, ther impressive presence of Ice Warrior Skaldak from Cold War, and the Whisper Men from The Name of the Doctor.

If there was one thing that didn’t quite live up to expectations, it was Gold’s new song, ‘Fifty’, a tribute to the 50th anniversary. While it’s a beautiful song, sung wonderfully by Halloran and tenor Paul McMahon, the lyrics weren’t particularly easy to make out. Just as well they’re printed in the glossy programmes! Overall though, it was a visual and aural triumph, a perfect tribute to Doctor Who and Gold’s music and received rapturously by the audience of fans and their families, many of whom came dressed for the occasion, despite the heat, with plenty of bow ties, fezes and a whole lot of Doctor Who t-shirts. The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular was an event that won’t be forgotten quickly.

FILTER: - Music - Event - Peter Davison