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Dr Who Experience is closing

if it's about Cardiff.. Sport, Entertainment, Transportation, Business, Development Projects, Leisure, Eating, Drinking, Nightlife, Shopping, Train Spotting! etc.. then we want it here!
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Bishop84

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Re: Dr Who Experience is closing

PostFri Feb 23, 2018 2:38 am

I got the impression that it had been closed as WAG, being the landowner, wanted to start a permanent redevelopment of that area and wouldn't extend the council's lease. If the council are hoping to attract another exhibition then I guess that this was incorrect?
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RandomComment

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Re: Dr Who Experience is closing

PostFri Feb 23, 2018 11:22 am

Bishop84 wrote:I got the impression that it had been closed as WAG, being the landowner, wanted to start a permanent redevelopment of that area and wouldn't extend the council's lease. If the council are hoping to attract another exhibition then I guess that this was incorrect?


I think the council and BBC Worldwide just wanted to save face and the talk about "this being a 5 year deal" and "the plan was always to bring forward the site for development" was just to avoid admitting that the attraction was going because it wasn't economically viable.

Update: I've sent FOI requests to both BBC and the Council asking about visitor numbers.
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Simon__200

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Re: Dr Who Experience is closing

PostFri Feb 23, 2018 2:17 pm

RandomComment wrote:I think we have a bit more info as to why Doctor Who closed at the end of its 5 year lease:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-sout ... s-43159603

Cardiff council paid £2 million to construct the building it was housed in; the aim was to make the money back by a share of ticket sales; but it looks like that share amounted to just £1 million-ish.

Now I don't think we can say that means ticket sales were half what was expected: the sharing arrangement mightn't have been a fixed proportion of sales, but instead an increasing proportion (non-linear). But it does suggest that ticket sales and visitor numbers likely came in significantly lower (and perhaps 50% lower) than was originally forecast.

So maybe it closed because it just wasn't making as much money as they thought it would. And they think they can get more money by an attraction back in London or somewhere else? Cardiff might be too far off the beaten track for international visitors and not centrally located enough for much of the UK. And I'll say there is still a large part of the English population thats quite snobby about Wales - Cardiff having a bit of a reputation as a bit drunken/rough.


I originally smelled a rat on the original "the lease has run out, so we're closing" excuse, and this seems to confirm that this was indeed an excuse. How many times do failing businesses use "the lease has expired" as an excuse? In this specific case the land is still derelect and nothing seems planned there, so it was inconceivable that the council wouldn't extend its lease. Now we know that they were taking a cut from ticket sales, and this revenue would have helped offset their losses, it's even more unlikely that a lease extension wasn't offered.
My understanding was always that the council paid for the building and accepted a relatively small loss, for the added value in tourism. I never realised they had a deal on ticket sales.

What I can't understand is the teflon nature of BBC Worldwide, and how they have managed to proloferate the "nasty Cardiff council are evicting us" message. I know some of the Wales online aticles have made some monumental misunderstanding of statements that perpetuated this myth, but it's sad that nobody ever challanged them. I never beleived this line, and it would certainly be good to get to the bottom of what exactly happened.
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Ben In London

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Re: Dr Who Experience is closing

PostFri Feb 23, 2018 2:30 pm

In my experience, English people don't generally think Cardiff is drunken and rough. Certainly no more than any other major city across the UK.
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Simon__200

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Re: Dr Who Experience is closing

PostFri Feb 23, 2018 2:44 pm

RandomComment wrote:
Bishop84 wrote:I got the impression that it had been closed as WAG, being the landowner, wanted to start a permanent redevelopment of that area and wouldn't extend the council's lease. If the council are hoping to attract another exhibition then I guess that this was incorrect?


I think the council and BBC Worldwide just wanted to save face and the talk about "this being a 5 year deal" and "the plan was always to bring forward the site for development" was just to avoid admitting that the attraction was going because it wasn't economically viable.

Update: I've sent FOI requests to both BBC and the Council asking about visitor numbers.


That's good news, let's hope you don't face the "commercial sensitivity excuse" .

Thinking about this, when The Doctor Who Experience was first touted, the series was planned to run year on year for 13 weeks in Spring. However since then production has been patchy at best. I remember an article in Private Eye Magazine that spoke about how BBC Worldwide were exasperated with the production office for not producing a series in 2013 (the 50th Anniversary year), and that their merchandise sales plummetted every time they had large gaps in production. Since then there have been further long gaps in production, and only one occasion where a series has not had an at least 18 month gap.

It's not diicult to envisage why BBC Worldwide would be exasperated and how visitors to The Doctor Who Experience will have fallen if the show isn't actually being made and broadcast on TV. It's also not difficult to imagine that Autumn scheduling isn't going to bring as many tourists in as Spring scheduling. The Series airing in Spring, and attracting visitors all Summer would have presumably been BBC Worldwide's initial assumption.

When The Experience finally opened in July 2012, the series was being broadcast in September rather than Spring, so already missing out on hype generated by the series, and it was only 4 episodes plus a Christmas Special long instead of a full 13 episodes and Special.

It then returned again in Spring 2013 at last - but this time for only 5 episodes.

The next series wasn't until 18 months in Autumn 2014. It was a full series - but again the Autumn schedule probably not great for helping visitor numbers

The next series was in Autumn 2015. FInally a series only 12 months behind, but still in Autumn.

The next series wasn't until Spring 2017 - back to Spring at last, but a huge gap - and, as I understand it, The Experience had now cut its opening times

With no new series in Spring 2018, and the earliest it could return being presumably Autumn this year, plus the fact that a new lead meant they'd have to re-shoot for the main attraction, it's not difficult to imagine that they might have decided that it was too much of a risk and decided to call time.
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RandomComment

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Re: Dr Who Experience is closing

PostMon Mar 26, 2018 6:08 pm

I eventually got a response from the council (but not the BBC) on my FOI:

Attendance:
2012/13 92,268
2013/14 131,932
2014/15 113,477
2015/16 114,971
2016/17 95,261
2017/18 85,231
Total 633,140

I think they were hoping for 250,000 a year, whereas they averaged around half of that over the 5 years (which covered part of 6 fiscal years). So it looks like my back of the envelope calculations on why Cardiff council were losing out was about right!

Was 250,000 obviously too optimistic? Was it based on what had been achieved in London?
Or were the flaws in the marketing either by the BBC or government which meant it didn't fulfill its potential?

I think they were a bit lazy when it came to special events/exhibitions. So they didn't do enough to get repeat visitors.
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