Paradise Towers: Part Two

First Broadcast October 12th, 1987 @ 6.35pm (5.2m viewers)

Season 24, Sylvester McCoy’s first as the Doctor, is often dismissed and ignored. Given the sudden and tumultuous departure of Colin Baker and Script Editor Eric Saward, it is no wonder that their replacements took time to adjust. ‘Paradise Towers’ is only the second story and it would take several more before McCoy and new Script Editor Andrew Cartmel fully grasped the direction they intended for Doctor Who. However ,as Season 24 progressed things started to come together.

Doctor Who Paradise Towers: (c) BBC
Doctor Who Paradise Towers: (c) BBC

‘Paradise Towers’ is probably most remembered by fans for the Adolf Hitler-style look of the Chief Caretaker. But the performance by Richard Briers is a lot more measured than people give it credit. Until he becomes Kroagnon of course. This perhaps summarises the reason why many fans don’t rate ‘Paradise Towers’ very highly. Poor execution. For instance, the robotic cleaner machines look impressive when static but were completely incapable of actually grabbing hold of the person they intended to capture. Similarly, the Kangs are childish groups trying to entertain themselves and survive in the environment. Unfortunately, although their dialogue is really well done, the brightly coloured denominations overshadow their scenes. But the ideas are excellent.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

Doctor Who Paradise Towers: (c) BBC
Doctor Who Paradise Towers: (c) BBC

The most memorable thing about ‘Paradise Towers’ should be the ideas presented, rather than the visuals, although granted they are not entirely original. The novel ‘High Rise’ by J.G. Ballard had been published in 1975 and centred around the residents of a tower block. Very recently it was made into a film starring Tom Hiddleston and directed by Ben Wheatley, who also helmed Doctor Who episodes ‘Deep Breath’ and ‘Into the Dalek’. The dystopian vision and commentary on social class are blunted somewhat in ‘Paradise Towers’ but other elements do remain. For example, residents turning to cannibalism to survive which neatly provides the cliffhanger for this episode.

Doctor Who - Paradise Towers (c) BBC
Doctor Who – Paradise Towers (c) BBC

Over the years Doctor Who has developed a consistent ability to make the normal terrifying. From shop window dummies, arm chairs and dolls to stone statues. Following that tradition, the stereotype of the sweet, little old lady is subverted. Trapped inside ‘Paradise Towers’ they have become violent, brandishing kitchen knives (not sure how that wasn’t censored out) and turning to cannibalism. Although not a classic cliffhanger, like the rest of ‘Paradise Towers’ the concepts offered to the viewer are however worth much greater consideration. If only Ben Wheatley could direct a remake of ‘Paradise Towers’!

Cast:

The Doctor – Sylvester McCoy
Melanie – Bonnie Langford
Chief Caretaker / Kroagnon – Richard Briers
Tilda – Brenda Bruce
Tabby – Elizabeth Spriggs
Maddy – Judy Cornwell
Deputy Chief Caretaker – Clive Merrison
Pex – Howard Cooke
Fire Escape – Julie Brennon
Bin Liner – Annabel Yuresha
Blue Kang Leader – Catherine Cusack

Crew:

Director – Nicholas Mallett
Producer – John Nathan-Turner
Writer – Stephen Wyatt

Also First Aired On This Day…
  • The Mind Robber: Episode 5
  • Remembrance of the Daleks: Part Two
  • Sarah Jane Adventures: The Nightmare Man: Episode Two

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