BBC National Orchestra of Wales has been involved with Doctor Who since the show's regeneration in 2005. Over these years, a great deal of affection and respect has built up between the show's musical team and the orchestra, and so, a Doctor Who Prom is a very special event for us.
While for fans of the show, these spectaculars are an opportunity to get up close to their favourite characters and monsters, and to enjoy a little glimpse into the Whosphere, for us it is an opportunity to celebrate our involvement in the show, and the hard work we put into Murray Gold and Ben Foster's scores.
Of course, this being the 50th anniversary of the 'madman in a box', the two Proms we were to perform promised to be extra special.
The Doctor and Clara - note the special sonic baton! (Photo: BBC/Chris Christodoulou)
So how does a show like this come together? While many elements of the Prom were undoubtedly months (actually, probably longer) in the making, we had only one rehearsal day with Ben in Cardiff to whip through the music. There was a lot of music. When rehearsal ended, we travelled to London in order to be ready for the following morning's technical rehearsal at the Royal Albert Hall.
Technical runs are generally a fairly stop-start affair. Every so often things just don't quite work. Click tracks (so we can line everything up with the visuals) are too loud in quiet passages, and not loud enough in the more bombastic sections of music. The click is too loud generally for the strings, but the brass and percussion can't hear it. Stand lights can be inexplicably dim and make the music impossible to read under the constantly changing stage lights. None of these things are actually bad, they're just what a technical rehearsal is for - ironing out practical issues, so that they do not happen come the show.
As the set had to be de-rigged so that the BBC Symphony Orchestra crew could rig for the first night of the Proms, we were finished by lunchtime and able to enjoy some of the London sunshine; an opportunity to relax as the next day we would do a full afternoon run of the show (last chance to get anything resolved that was still not working!), and also a show in the evening.
It would be difficult to describe the atmosphere in the RAH on Saturday night. Suffice to say the air of excitement and anticipation was immense. The heat in the auditorium was incredible - I felt very sorry for my male colleagues, suited and booted in tails and bow ties. It was not a good moment to remind them that bow ties are cool.
Ben Foster conducting the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Photo: BBC/Chris Christodoulou)
For me, the highlights of the show, musically speaking were the Final Chapter of Amelia Pond and the Classic Who Medley. My cousin Nick (possibly Northern Ireland's number one Whovian) had a massive geek-out over the inclusion of so much from the Classic series, so much so his wife Emily had to take him home for a little lie down after the show.
Teasing of my cousin aside, what came across so strongly during the shows was how close to people's hearts Doctor Who is. It is the stuff of childhood nostalgia, the dusty smell under the sofa you hid behind when the Cybermen came on screen, a little bit of escapism and at its heart a very human story of curiosity, love and friendship.
Incredibly, the next morning we were back at the RAH at 9.15am for sound check and technical check of the click tracks. Then it was quickly off stage for a breath of fresh air, back on stage for the second show, back on the coach to Cardiff, and the next morning, back into our studio for rehearsals for our next Prom!