Doctor Who UK tour in Manchester, with Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, the TARDIS and a madman

The Doctor at last - I get a go in The TARDIS

The Doctor at last - I get a go in The TARDIS

IF SPOILERS are a bad thing, as the Doctor and River Song said in Silence in the Library, then you should stay away from me for the next few days.

Right now I am a nuclear-powered spoiler bomb after watching a special preview of The Eleventh Hour at the Doctor Who UK Tour when it stopped off in Manchester at The Lowry.

I also saw the new-look TARDIS up close, along with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan who promised they’d do the best they could as the Doctor and Amy, and witnessed the ragged edge of Who fandom as some nutter almost threw himself under their bus to get some memorabilia signed, but more of that later.

The day started promisingly despite the weather as the first thing I saw when I arrived in Manchester was the TARDIS. The actual freaking TARDIS, with its lovely new look and hardly anyone around.

Deciding against checking in with the BBC just yet, I went over and lucked out as the door was open and a kind BBC man let me step inside – not too far though as I didn’t want to get lost.

Before an adoring crowd of schoolchildren and fans, it wasn’t long before the Doctor Who big bus was pulling up and after a phalanx of BBC acolytes stepped out, there were Matt Smith and Karen Gillan – he resplendent in a Captain Jack-style greatcoat and she smiling shyly in a rock grrl style jumper and skirt.

A massive cheer went up as they posed for pictures – here are my snaps of them and the TARDIS.

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Then it was inside (too soon for the fans left outside in the cold) and on with the show, in front of an audience of 200 excited schoolchildren, a few journos and even Peter Salmon, the uber-big cheese in charge of the Beeb’s move north.

What was The Eleventh Hour like? In a word, geronimo!!

In a few more – a tremendously exciting first episode which introduces the new Doctor and his new companion in breathless and thrilling style, while several lovely grace notes ensure the show retains its links to everything that has gone before.

Both Matt Smith and Karen Gillen are fantastic, with Smith growing into the role before your eyes. Steven Moffat‘s writing is as good as you would expect – funny and bold – while the look of the episode includes a couple of new tricks which show the production team are determined to put their own stamp on Who. (but not for the sake of it – see if you think they work or not).

I think I spotted a couple of elements which will have greater significance as the series progresses too, and after it finished we enjoyed a massively extended trailer.

Anything else? Of course, but I don’t want to ruin it for you ;-D. (COUGH greatcameos COUGH) Oh, and the opening credits are still being finished, accordingto Matt.

In the post-screening Q and A with the youngsters, Matt and Karen were on good form, showing off the sonic screwdriver and only appearing stumped when one youngster asked how the Weeping Angels survive on their planet. “It’s a mystery,” was what he eventually settled on.

One kid asked if Matt was better than the last Doctor, which made him laugh before he said: “I will leave it to other people to decide how I do as the Doctor. I really like Patrick Troughton, but Chris Eccleston and David Tennant were great as well. I can promise you I will do my best to be as good as I can be, as will Karen. That’s for sure.”

Karen added the sheer scale of the new TARDIS blew her away, which Matt agreed with, before revealing he is a Blackburn Rovers fan and would hunt for the lost city of Atlantis if he could use the TARDIS in real life. Karen meanwhile would go into the future, to see what the human race turns out like.

All too soon, they were off in their tour bus for the next destination.

That’s where things got a bit mad as a man who somehow combined bald hair on top of his head with a ponytail at the back stopped the bus to get some memorabilia signed. When he was politely told they don’t do that and with a policeman now standing beside him, he got out of the way and wished them well by shouting TWATS at the top of his voice.

As a catchphrase, it has some way to go before it matches exterminate, geronimo or allonsy, but at least he can say he tried and provided a memorable end to what was a great day. Now roll on the weekend so I can watch it again!

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