Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Doctor Who Live, Wembley Arena, London

Who can fill Wembley without turning up?

There are times when the die-hard, in-it-for-life, didn't-stop-watching-even-during-the-Bonnie-Langford-years Doctor Who fan has to pinch him or herself and ask whether the programme's current glory isn't some cruel perceptual trick.

A psychic projection from the Gallifreyan Matrix. A dream woven by the Morpho of Morphoton. A delicious snare devised by the gestalt beings of Xeriphas.

Doctor Who Live will produce a lot of small bruises on the arms of a lot of fortysomething men. It has a script, though it's not a play. It has music, though it's not a gig. It's more like a rally to celebrate the new cultural primacy of the series that inspires it. Fireworks explode, lasers sparkle, the band strikes up Murray Gold, a spaghetti-faced Ood countertenor sings and an audience of thousands yells its allegiance as if drilled by Leni Riefenstahl. The current Doctor, Matt Smith, issues prerecorded encouragement from a giant telescreen – and the cheers confirm him as the only performer in the country capable of filling Wembley without turning up.

The corporeal star of the show is a smirking Nigel Planer, who appears as an alien showman called Vorgenson. Vorgenson owns a menagerie of creatures that escape into the auditorium, species by deadly species. Silurians pop up from a hole in the stage. A Dalek levitates. Cybermen kill a member of the audience.

And between the walk-downs and the clips, a plot asserts itself. It's a sequel to "Carnival of Monsters" – a 1973 story in which Leslie Dwyer, the Punch and Judy Man from Hi-de-Hi!, causes chaos with a similar electronic zoo full of Ogrons, Drashigs and a bunch of 1920s humans obliged by a time loop to conduct an unending discussion about the dramaturgy of Lady Be Good.

Unlike the TV original, the arena spectacular is resolved by audience participation. Which makes it closer, I suppose, to a Doctor Who-themed episode of Seaside Special than the stage version of a television drama. If Norman Barrett and his performing budgies had come on to do a turn halfway through the second act, I would have applauded them as loudly as I applauded the dance of the Weeping Angels. And, entre nous, I think it all really happened. I think it really is touring the country. I think, frankly, that Xeraphin bioplasm had nothing at all to do with it. But if you discover anything to the contrary, don't wake me up.

Touring (0844 277 4321) until 7 Nov