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Doctor Who: Paradise Towers by Stephen Wyatt

01/05/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: Paradise Towers in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: Paradise Towers in the UK

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pub: Audio Go/BBC. 4 CDs 280 minute story. Price: CD: GBP13.25 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-44588-614-5. Download: GBP 6.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-44589-175-0). read by: Bonnie Langford.

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‘Paradise Towers’ passed me by when it was televised in 1987. I was too busy working stupid hours, had no video recorder and who knew where on the schedules Controller Michael Grade had buried it. I didn’t like the Doctor much or the companion – I was still recovering from Bonnie Langford as Violet Bott in ‘Just William’ a few years before.

I’m glad I missed it as the audio is a more pleasant experience. There are no issues with budget and wobbly scenery and no accusations of camping the whole thing up.

The Seventh Doctor and Mel arrive in Paradise Towers. Mel has read about this wonderful place there the streets are clean and white and there is a swimming pool that sounds just perfect for a break. The reality is just like ‘Broken Britain’. The sleek new building is a high rise series of slums where the lifts don’t work, the cleaners are lethal and opposing gangs called Kangs roam the corridors. Not only that but some of the residents or Rezzies as they are known have development some curious eating habits. The Caretakers who have been tasked to look after the glorious Towers are trapped by a huge rulebook that stipulates what they absolutely must do and the Head Caretaker has a secret pet in the basement that is very, very hungry.

Even on paper, the plot is waver thin. The additional characters are cardboard cuts-outs and the whole thing a bit daft. There are massive holes in the concept. Why do the Kangs never seem to stop for food? Where are their parents? How can society have broken down so rapidly? What income do people have? Do supplies arrive and if not, how do the Rezzies make those cream cakes they keep giving to Mel?

‘Paradise Towers’ is like one of the Rezzies cream cakes, a glorious concoction of gloopy nonsense. But it is rescued, at least partially, by an interesting novelisation and a good quality presentation by the erstwhile Mel, Bonnie Langford. Ever the professional, she keeps the scorn about the plot out of her voice soldiers through it and picks up the cheque at the end.

It is surprisingly good. The plot-holes, while not papered over, are forgiven if not forgotten. So basically, it’s all a bit nuts but its heart is in the right place and I loved it.

Sue Davies

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This book has 41 votes in the sci-fi charts

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