on 10th April 1974 and ending an incredible ELEVEN years later in October
1985, visitors entered through an enlarged police box, which led down a
flight of stairs, In turn leading you through a maze of corridors and
rooms lined with display cases and props from the series, admission was
(circa 1983) 60p for adults and 30p for children.
Mobile Daleks guarded a TARDIS console at the end of it while on a nearby
T.V. screen guests could observe a looped videotape of the Doctors various
The exhibition was opened by the then Doctor -
Jon Perwee on April 5th 1974, with massive crowds on hand to catch a
glimpse of the star, just before he announced his retirement from the
role. But it was Tom Baker beginning the next year, who would make the
most impact with Blackpool.
1975, his first year on the series, would see his success with the role
rewarded with an invitation to switch on the resorts traditional annual
Lights display. A great honour… and a humbling one, as he would tell the
weekly Reveille newspaper: -
‘At last the day came to go to Blackpool for the great annual switch-on
of the illuminations. They told me I was only the 43rd person to be
invited to do the switch on; so l felt part of a very select group. Knees
shaking, and with nervous jokes Ian Márter, Liz Sladen and I arrived in
Talbot Square for the event!
There was a crowd — 20,000 strong! I’ve sometimes played to full
The Mayor came out to address the people — and suddenly he was
surrounded by Daleks. They told him to sit down or be exterminated. They
went on about only Daleks being allowed to switch on illuminations and
threatened to destroy the Blackpool Tower and blow up Woolworth's.
Just then two Cybermen arrived. By a stroke of good fortune, I had my
sonic screwdriver with me and we managed to put the Cybermen out of
action. This caused great uproar among the children, screams of happy
terror. Then the Daleks attacked. Luckily there were some very large ‘Kiss
Me Quick’ hats on the dais and Liz and Ian popped them over the Daleks.
As you know, if there’s one thing Daleks can’t stand. it’s being
covered up. They spun around, and screamed and finally retired in sulky
silence to the wings.
Then the switch-on. The crowd was hushed, I pressed the handle - and six
miles of lights went on. We then toured the lights in Bessie. It was a
Four years later in August of 1979 the illuminations would feature a large
display of Tom Bakers Doctor with K9 & Daleks among others… again
Tom was on hand to mark the occasion.
Less well known though, seems to be the fact that Tom, Two years
previously, had completed a tour of hospitals through the north-west
visiting children’s wards in Preston, Blackpool, Liverpool and
Blackburn; comforting and amusing those ill children.
Considering Doctor Who’s popularity and influence with children it is
somewhat sad that few, if any, of his successors in the role were so
inclined, and a testament to Tom’s character that such visits were not
The end of the Blackpool exhibition in 1985 was
somewhat a parallel to the programmes fall from favour on television at
that time. Though there are claims that the exhibition ended largely due
to the lease on the building that housed it expiring.
Somewhat plausible when you consider that today there are still TWO
large-scale exhibitions in the UK. One at Longleat house - the estate of
the Marquess of Bath in London and the other in Llangollen, Wales and
listed in many of Wales’ top attraction brochures.