‘THE PARADISE OF DEATH’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Paradise with the Third Doctor, Sarah Jane and the Brigadier
Before the Big Finish audios, there were the BBC Radio Episodes of ‘Doctor Who’!
In the summer of 2011, I was on holiday with my parents in York. Whilst shopping in the city centre one day, I purchased a ‘Doctor Who’ CD box set of audio adventures from Waterstones. This was ‘The BBC Radio Episodes’ box set, featuring original full-cast audio dramas that were heard on radio.
I was intrigued by this special box set of ‘Doctor Who’ audios as there were re-releases of stories not produced by Big Finish but by the BBC itself. I wondered what these tales of ‘Doctor Who’ were like and whether they would match the superb quality of the Big Finish audios as I was about to find out.
The six stories in the collection are as follows. They are ‘The Paradise of Death’ and ‘The Ghosts of N-Space’ with Jon Pertwee; ‘Doctor Who and the Pescatons’ and ‘Exploration Earth: The Time Machine’ with Tom Baker; the ‘Whatever Happened To…Susan’ radio sketch; and ‘Slipback’ with Colin Baker.
‘The Paradise of Death’ is the first of two radio dramas starring Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor. This is a five-part adventure by Barry Letts, who was producer of ‘Doctor Who’ during Jon Pertwee’s era.
I enjoyed ‘The Paradise of Death’ very much. It’s such a shame Jon Pertwee died in 1996 before the Big Finish audio dramas came along. But it’s good to have these two radio dramas with him in them.
The two radio dramas with Jon Pertwee were made in the early 1990s and they feel like proper Third Doctor adventures. My only complaint about these radio dramas is they use the wrong theme music.
The theme music used for these two radio dramas is the 1980s Peter Howell theme music. Why they used that theme music I don’t know as that is more for the Peter Davison era than for Jon Pertwee.
‘The Paradise of Death’ is a story that reunites Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor with Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier. Hearing these three together was superb!
The story has the Doctor, Sarah Jane and the Brigadier investigating a strange mystery at the Space World theme park on Hampstead Heath. The park includes the ‘Experience Reality’ attractions there.
Very soon, the Doctor, Sarah Jane and the Brigadier find themselves journeying in the TARDIS from Earth to the planet Parakon. Will our heroes be able to stop the evil schemes of Freeth and Tragan?!
In terms of when this story takes place in the Third Doctor’s timeline, it’s claimed that it takes place between ‘The Time Warrior’ and ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’. An interesting and unusual placement!
Jon Pertwee is brilliant as the Doctor in this radio adventure. Jon sounds older than he was in the TV series, but he’s still maintained the elegant grandeur of his character and he can still be very heroic.
Elisabeth Sladen is wonderful to listen to as Sarah Jane. This is the early Sarah Jane from her first meeting with the Doctor. She’s still learning about this time-travel lark, but she copes with it so well.
Nicholas Courtney is equally a joy to listen to as the Brigadier. This is the Brig’s first meeting with Sarah Jane in ‘Doctor Who’ and he gets to travel in the TARDIS with the Doctor, which is so amazing.
Harold Innocent guest stars as the villainous Freeth, who seems to be running Space World on Earth and is the President’s son of Parakon. Freeth is pretty determined to see his own evil plans succeed.
Peter Miles guest stars as the equally villainous Tragan, Freeth’s right-hand man in the story. Peter Miles has appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before and he’s well-known as Nyder in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’.
Maurice Denham guest stars as the President of Parakon. Maurice also played Azmael in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘The Twin Dilemma’ and it was so great to hear him in this Third Doctor radio adventure.
Richard Pearce guest stars as Jeremy Fitzoliver, fellow photographer of Sarah Jane’s and a new companion of sorts. I found Jeremy rather annoying as he tended to be clumsy and silly all the time.
Jane Slavin guest stars as Onya, the Parakon’s President’s housekeeper in the story. Jane would go on to appear in some Big Finish audios with Tom Baker. Onya is more than a housekeeper in the tale.
I have a complaint about the CD of ‘The Paradise of Death’. The third episode is split across the 2-disc set with Part A on Disc 1 and Part B on Disc 2, making it a disjointed listening experience for me.
‘The Paradise of Death’ has been a very enjoyable radio drama with Jon Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen and Nicholas Courtney. I wouldn’t say it was the best, but it has been juicily entertaining throughout.
‘The Paradise of Death’ rating – 8/10
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