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Dr Who Prom

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Albert Hall

Evening Standard rating Bruce Dessau's rating
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Proms play second fiddle to Dr Who

By Bruce Dessau, Evening Standard  28.07.08
Dr Who Prom

Orchestrate!: the musicians look on as Dalek creator Davros rises out of the audience during the Dr Who Prom

Dr Who Prom

Who's girl: Catherine Tate - aka the Doctor's assistant Donna - was a co-host

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Anyone for roast Dalek? On a scorching day the Royal Albert Hall was easily the hottest ticket in town. Cynics might dub it dumbing down but the Dr Who Prom certainly attracted Whovians of all ages.

Maybe it was the heat, but the only real disappointment was that these obsessives were mostly normally dressed, with not a DIY tin-foil monster in sight.

David Tennant was unable to appear due to his Hamlet commitments and Billie Piper was absent, but Freema Agyeman (alias Martha Jones) and Catherine Tate (alias Donna Noble) headed the cast introducing proceedings, with Agyeman excitably pointing out that, Tardis-like, the Albert Hall "didn't look this big from the outside".

As for the music, performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Choir, and conducted - condoctored? - by Ben Foster and Stephen Bell, this was a digestible mix of Who tunes plus series clips and classical works with a space/time theme.

Thus Holst's Jupiter and a premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's cacophonous siren-led The Torino Scale jostled for attention with arranger Murray Gold's symphonic telly soundtrack.

This was not merely a musical experience-During All The Strange, Strange Creatures three Cybermen stomped down the aisles, while assorted Sontarans and Oods - the ones with sausage tendrils for mouths - crept up on fans. And cheeky David Tennant did appear, albeit onscreen, in an exclusive interactive clip, Music Of The Spheres, that inevitably reached YouTube before you could say "sonic screwdriver".

After the interval, events turned darker as the orchestra played second fiddle to a Dalek and evil Davros, who rose out of the audience like a sci-fi Wurlitzer.

Fortunately there was no Dalek invasion. This was the non-step-climbing variety, so the stalls relaxed, then laughed as Catherine Tate introduced clips of Donna in action before things became serious. The haunting Doomsday, sung by Melanie Pappenheim, hoisted the emotional level to a peak unsurpassed even when the team saved Earth, accompanied by the soaring Song Of Freedom.

If there was a complaint it was the lack of attention to the work of the hugely influential BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The show closed with their legendary theme, yet it felt more like an afterthought than a climax. But this is a small quibble. Unashamedly crowdpleasing? Definitely, but no more than the f lag-waving Last Night of the Proms. Same time next year? Yes please, Time Lord.


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Here's a sample of the latest reviews published. You can click view all to read all reviews that readers have sent in.

Surely an event which uses such a popular icon to widen people and in particular children's knowledge about a different aspect of culture is the opposite of dumbing down...

- Jc, se1

I'm not a Dr Who fan but I was absolutely blown away by the Prom on Sunday. The way the event was put together, the music, the atmosphere, even the "monsters": it was simply fantastic. Let's make sure we have one of these events each year. The critics may call it dumbed down, but the excitement and joy in the faces of the huge number of kids told a different story.

- Susan De Sousa, London, England

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