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The Elohim and Cherubs with the Sixth Doctor and Peri
This was a very gripping and engaging ‘Doctor Who’ story to listen to with the Sixth Doctor and Peri.
‘Paradise 5’ is an intriguing entry in the Lost Season 23 series of ‘Doctor Who’ audios by Big Finish. For one thing, this story wasn’t one of the original entries scheduled for Season 23 back in 1985. It was originally scheduled for ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ season. Yeah! It was incredibly amazing to discover.
The story was meant to fill in the slot that became ‘Terror of the Vervoids’. It was originally conceived by PJ Hammond (also known as Peter J Hammond). Script-editor Eric Saward liked the story but producer John Nathan-Turner didn’t. I don’t know why, as it’s clearly a very exciting romp.
Thankfully years later, when Big Finish decided to do ‘The Lost Stories’ range and prepared the stories for the Lost Season 23, they decided to include ‘Paradise 5’ into their slots. PJ Hammond happily agreed and the story was adapted by Andy Lane for audio. And for me, it was very well done.
This is a four-part adventure in the Lost Season 23 series. This is highly irregular, since most of the early Colin Baker ‘Doctor Who’ stories of his era were sometimes 2 x 45 or 3 x 45 stories. But of course, this was considered for ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ season, so clearly it had to be a four-parter.
PJ Hammond has written a lot of television over the years and has contributed to the ‘Doctor Who’ universe through ‘Torchwood’, including the two episodes ‘Small Worlds’ and ‘From Out of the Rain’. Andy Lane has also contributed to the ‘Doctor Who’ universe through many books and audios.
Naturally a lot of changes had to be made by Andy Lane from PJ Hammond’s original story treatment in order to accommodate for the Lost Season 23 series featuring the Sixth Doctor and Peri. For starters, the trial scenes featuring the Valeyard and the Inquisitor had to be removed. And rightly so!
The most significant change from PJ Hammond’s original story treatment into Andy Lane’s audio adaptation is the changing of Melanie Bush into Peri Brown. Mel would have been that companion had this story been made for the ‘Trial’ season. Thankfully Peri was given the material in this version.
The story has the Doctor and Peri visiting the planet Targos Delta. The Doctor wants to see an old friend of his – Professor Albrecht Thompson. But it turns out the Professor is missing and the Doctor becomes curious. It leads them to the holiday space station Paradise 5 where the Professor last was.
Peri and the Doctor have to go undercover in order to find out what’s going on and what happened to the Professor. Peri goes as one of the space station’s staff whilst the Doctor hides in the shadows. Can the Doctor and Peri stop the evil schemes of Gabriel and Michael as well as the creepy Elohim?!
I honestly found myself thoroughly engaged with the story as I listened to it all the way through. It did sort of have a slow build up in ‘Part One’, but the pace got better and it was getting more intriguing by the time the last three episodes went on. A lot to take in but it was so easy to listen to.
I think this story would’ve worked well as a crime investigation mystery compared to what ‘Terror of the Vervoids’ did in the ‘Trial’ season, although I still like that one. This is my kind of ‘Doctor Who’ tale, especially with its holiday space station setting. I did something similar in my ‘Space Hotel’ tale.
It was intriguing what was going on with the Elohim and the baby-like Cherubs featured in this tale. When the Doctor finds the Professor in ‘Part Three’, I was completely taken aback by the revelation. There is also a sense of the eighties attitude in this story, especially with Peri in a bikini-like uniform.
Apparently PJ Hammond was pleased with the finished script by Andy Lane and he sent a ‘thank you’ e-mail to producer David Richardson as well as to writer Andy Lane. I’m very glad PJ Hammond was pleased with the script for audio, since it would’ve been terrible if he didn’t the scripts by Big Finish.
Colin Baker delivers a superb performance as the Doctor in this adventure. I’m not entirely sure if Andy Lane wrote the Sixth Doctor in his post-Season 22 stages or in the Season 23 stage he would have been in ‘Terror of the Vervoids’. I am suspecting this is a melding of the two aspects of old Sixy.
In any case, Colin brings across the charisma and compassionate sides of the Doctor as well as that fiery energy he has in him. The Doctor is curious about what’s happened to one of his friends and when he discovers what’s become of the many guests on Paradise 5, he’s clearly not happy about it.
I enjoyed Colin’s interaction with lead Cherub and how he confides with Peri during their investigation aboard the Paradise 5 station. The confrontation scenes the Doctor has with Gabriel and Michael were spellbinding to listen to. His lament of the Professor at the end was very touching.
Nicola Bryant is wonderful to listen to as Peri in the audio adventure. I’m not sure how Peri would’ve have looked in her bikini-like uniform aboard Paradise 5, but I’m sure it’ll be reminiscent of her bikini scene in ‘Planet of Fire’. It would’ve also got a lot of boys excited with sexual fantasies about Peri. 😀
It’s interesting that the dialogue given to Peri was originally meant for Mel for the ‘Trial’ season. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, but Peri sounds pretty confident when she goes undercover in the story. She’s not so hesitant or squeamish as she can tend to be when she’s having adventures.
I enjoyed how Peri interacts with the other hotel staff including Stella and Bella and how she interacts with her boss Gabriel. It was great to hear Peri getting investigative and confiding with the Doctor. I liked when Peri had scenes with Mr. Gelter and wondered where he was when he vanished.
Alex Macqueen guest stars as Gabriel, the showman voice for Paradise 5 and one of the villains. After this audio, Alex Macqueen became well-known as the Master for the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve even met the man himself in real-life at ‘Big Finish Day 6’ in Slough, January 2015.
I did wonder whether Gabriel was the Master in disguise during this audio adventure. He could well have been since he sounds like the Master when playing Gabriel in ‘Paradise 5’. That would have been pretty awesome if the case were to be. Sadly Gabriel was never revealed as the Master in this.
I enjoyed how Gabriel welcomes Peri aboard Paradise 5 in ‘Part One’ as he makes her one of the hostesses with the other smiling women. He confides a lot in Michael in scenes set in the space station’s control room. I’m not sure if Gabriel and Michael are lovers in this story. They probably are.
James D’Arcy guest stars as Michael, the man behind-the-scenes aboard Paradise 5 and another one of the villains. Hearing James D’Arcy in this was delight for me. For me, he played a number of roles in a lot of classical drama productions such as ‘The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby’ in 2001.
To hear James D’Arcy in a Big Finish audio of ‘Doctor Who’ was a joy for me and to hear him play a villain was equally relishing. Michael is clearly not a nice character in this story. He’s focused on the job of being the ‘big brother’ watching everything that goes on board Paradise 5 in his control room.
Michael even mistreats Peri and Stella when interrogating them after capturing them in ‘Part Three’. I was shocked when Michael used a gun to shoot at Stella. It would’ve been interesting if Michael was the real big baddie in the story and Gabriel was just a pawn. But of course it couldn’t be that. 😀
The guest cast also includes Helen Goldwyn as Stella & Bella (honestly I couldn’t tell these two women apart 😀 ); Andrée Bernard as Lorelei; Richard Earl as Mr. Winterbourne, who was waiting for an interview; Teddy Kempner as Mr. Gelter and Claire Wyatt who voiced the Information Booth.
The Cherubs are interesting creatures in this story as they seem baby-like but happen to have more to them than they appear. The Elohim are equally interesting, although they don’t have much of an appearance when they come out at the end of a cliff-hanger and they have strange, distorted voices.
The CD extras are as follows. At the start of Disc 1, there’s a trailer for ‘Point of Entry’ with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant. At the end of Discs 1 and 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Alex Macqueen, James D’Arcy, etc.
‘Paradise 5’ has been an enjoyable and satisfying audio drama to listen to in the Lost Season 23 of ‘Doctor Who’ by Big Finish. Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant excel in their performances as the Doctor and Peri and the setting on this luxury holidaying space station was irresistible and engaging to hear.
‘Paradise 5’ rating – 9/10
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