THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS
BBC Radio 5
The Paradise of Death

Episodes 5
Dates Aug. 27, 1993 - Sept. 24, 1993

With Jon Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen,
Nicolas Courtney, and Richard Pearce.
Written by Barry Letts. Produced and directed by Phil Clarke.

Synopsis: Spaceworld... Experienced Reality... what do these have to do with a certain planet's most violent past-time?


Reviews

A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 1/12/98

Given the lack of new Doctor Who at the time, The Paradise of Death must have seemed like a breath of fresh air. Radio seemed the obvious choice of medium as there was no television series, making this tale all the more memorable for it.

Featuring the Third Doctor, the Brigadier and Sarah Jane, this was recipe for success. The casting is good: Peter Miles as Tragen makes a great villain, the regulars faithfully recreate their roles, and although Jon Pertwee had obviously aged, it doesn`t make any great difference to the overall production. The inclusion of the character of Jeremy Fitzoliver, however, was a definite mistake; he is too reminiscent of Whizzkid from The Greatest Show In The Galaxy to be any one you care about.

The idea of using virtual reality as part of the plot actually works and isn`t lost on a ninties audience. The story moves along at a steady pace, reaching a satisfying conclusion, proving that there was hope for a new series after all, and that Doctor Who could still be a success today as it has been in the past.


A Review by Richard Radcliffe 16/10/01

Doctor Who's history with the audio medium was somewhat chequered before Big Finish. 4 official productions were made (Pescatons, Slipback, Paradise of Death, Ghosts of N-Space). Of the 4 it is The Paradise of Death which compares the most to the audios we know and love nowadays from Big Finish. It is arguably too, the only one that is any good.

Jon Pertwee is wonderful to hear as the Doctor. His TV performances established him as one of the most popular of the lot, and to have him recreate the role is great. He has aged and his voice shows that, but it is still most definitely the 3rd Doctor we are familiar with.

Sarah-Jane and The Brigadier join him on this adventure, and their inclusions are also welcome. They are also totally in character. Liz Sladen and Nick Courtney throw themselves into their familiar roles. 3 classic characters then – it should be the recipe for a great success.

The story is presented to us over 5 parts, and it just about maintains the interest throughout. For my money Episode 1 and 5 are much superior to the others, an episode in the middle could be trimmed off the story and you would barely notice. Barry Letts gives us a tale of Theme Parks, Alien planets, Virtual Reality and a strange substance by the name of Rapine. It is an okay story – but it will never top any charts of originality and imagination. The Virtual Reality parts work the best, it gives the Virtual Viewer the chance to describe to us what is going on – vital in audio.

The villains of the piece, Freeth and Tragan, are well played and effective, particularly Peter Miles. Maurice Denham gives us a very sympathetic President too, adding weight to the supporting cast. The opposite of these impressive performances is that of Jeremy. This irritating character should have been shot in Episode 1, every scene he is in brings the level right down – a pointless character.

The Paradise of the title of the story, is created well. My favourite scene was the Brigadier flying on top of the huge bat, leading the troops into battle. It would never work on screen, but it does on audio thanks to some fine Sound Effects and a good performance from Nick Courtney.

I have to say The Paradise of Death is a good addition to the Dr Who mythos. It showed how an environment can be effectively created on audio – something that Big Finish took to its limits. It is also another opportunity to hear 3 great actors, and significant contributors to the overall success of Who – entertain us again. And that is what I enjoyed most about it. 6/10


An incoherent rambling or a homage to the Pertwee era? by Tim Roll-Pickering 14/7/02

Before Big Finish came along, The Paradise of Death appeared as a 'missing adventure' for Jon Pertwee's Doctor, aided by his contemporary companions but clearly written for a modern audience. If someone listening to The Paradise of Death is hoping for a faithful resurrection of Jon Pertwee's original time in the series then they're going to be disappointed. The story instead strives to move forward with the times, with references to virtual reality (okay it now looks quaint but the obsession with this back in the early 1990s was intense) as well as to corrupt and destructive corporations, giant theme parks and the brutality of conflict and its aftermath all showing the story's more modern roots. Even the references to '?20 a head' make it hard to believe this story is fully authentically a part of the 1970s UNIT era no matter how far one stretches the dating given that prices all tended to stay low. There is nothing actually in the story or the audio tape packaging that states precisely when this adventure takes place in the series' continuity and if it is supposed to slot into a supposed 'non-gap' between The Time Warrior and Invasion of the Dinosaurs what does that matter now that numerous Missing and Past Doctor Adventures have now done exactly the same?

However what lets The Paradise of Death down is its lack of a coherent threat or constant location. The early episodes are set on Earth but ultimately serve as little more than filler material to drag the Doctor into the events ('how very like the archetypal long Pertwee story' the critics might cry), whilst once on Parakon the reasons for both the Doctor's party and Freeth trying to win over the President to their side don't become at all clear until towards the end of the story, considerably after the struggle of wills has happened. Even on Parakon the story is dragged out, with the subplot involving Waldo Rudley being ultimately redundant to the plot and serving as yet more padding. The final resolution of the story seems very coy as the Doctor persuades a brutal fighter not to kill him and then the President steps out and puts things right before the Doctor and companions depart for Earth in time for tea.

Jon Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen and Nicholas Courtney all revive their roles for this production and perform well, but even this is not enough to generate interest in the story. A new companion is created in the form of Jeremy Fitzoliver who seems so clich? that he defies belief, with a typical reverse clich?seeing him get his foot caught between two roots and panicking about it. Of the guest cast Peter Miles plays Tragen very much as he did Nyder in Genesis of the Daleks with a similar result, whilst Harold Innocent plays Freeth too humorously to take the character serious. Maurice Denham brings a strong sense of dignity as the President but otherwise the cast make little strong impact. The production is good though, with Peter Howell's music providing a strong tone for scenes whilst the sound effects are frequently highly successful in suggesting a Doctor Who story with an enormous budget. But unfortunately this is not enough to make The Paradise of Death really shine. Whilst it represented a new Doctor Who story at a time when it seemed as though no new Doctor Who at all would ever be made, it suffers from not being entirely sure of itself and as a result becomes an overlong ramble. But compared to Death to the Daleks and The Monster of Peladon it does seem an improvement and so maybe it does capture something of the spirit of Season 11 after all... 4/10


Bread, circuses and nostalgia by Luke Hewitt 16/8/12

The Paradise of Death and its direct sequel Ghosts of N Space always hold something of a special place in my recollections, since they marked the only occasions when I actually got to experience the live, weekly episode original broadcasting of a Doctor Who story. Indeed, they were the only newly broadcast Doctor Who I experienced at all, if you forget the TV movie (and you really should forget the TV movie).

This was the only occasion when, at the age of eleven, I got to tune in each week, listen to trailers and really experience cliffhangers. I actually remember my mum, after hearing a BBC trailer for episode 2 which started with the words "the Doctor's dead", joking that it'd be a pretty boring four more episodes without him, and partake in that weekly especial childhood experience that those born earlier than the 1980s took for granted.

Of course, this wasn't my first experience of Doctor Who; that happened when I was five and heard the audiobook versions of several stories, including The Three Doctors, but this was my first experience of actual, episodic Doctor Who.

I remember speculating endlessly about what would happen, hardly being able to wait until Saturday night, and bursting into tears when the BBC reran a second copy of episode four instead of episode five, which I missed since it was run a couple of weeks later. Fortunately, my parents bought me the whole thing on cassette for Christmas that year, and I spent a lovely morning hearing all the story again along with its conclusion while playing with my new train set.

So it's extremely difficult to be in any sense objective about either of Pertwee's audio adventures.

At the same time, however, my familiarity with the story also means that I have heard it countless times, and know its plot, characters and dialogue backwards, including all its good and bad points, which it has in roughly equal measure.

One of the absolute and primary strengths of the story, and one that I appreciated originally very much upon first broadcast is its scope. It seems that the "alien theme park" promises a rehash of Carnival of Monsters, but as Sarah discovers Experienced Reality, and the Brigadier unearths secret negotiations with the Un, there seems to be far more going on than just a freaky fairground. The Experienced Reality concept is also one worthy of mentioning, recording real experiences then having a person relive them, and also being able to transmit desires to a person and control their will.

Later in the story, new dimensions are added to this concept, the idea of altering memories, of using the control of others to create Orwell-like spies, and of having Experienced Reality serve to transmit violent images which are the real experiences of criminal executions.

Thus, just one concept serves a multitude of functions, as indeed does much of technology - and this imagined in days before our use of computers and the internet for everything from news and communication to recreation and business. Experienced Reality is a truly unique and well-realized field of technology, covering a multitude of ideas, and indeed not all its implications were explored during the plot. (I'd love to see Big Finish revisit it in a future story.)

Despite the central nature of Experienced Reality, however, this is also far more than just an in-depth exploration of future technology. The variety of different environments and atmospheres seen in this story is absolutely fantastic, from a crowded, very modern theme park that reminded me disturbingly of Alton Towers to alien war zones to the corridors of power. The planet Parakon was also nicely three dimensional as well, going from the familiar high-tech city to tribal gatherings in the wilderness to the story's climax in the coliseum. This gives the audio a very unique quality of space that even some of the later Big Finish stories haven't had, giving you the impression that it's been a far longer and more epic journey than it actually has been.

Unfortunately, plot throughout the story doesn't quite match up to the overall massive scope of the setting. To begin with, we have an investigation of some nastily dead bodies surrounding the idea of a space theme park that might not be quite as plastic as it sounds, while the Brigadier uncovers some disturbing links to the higher levels of the Un. This progresses through the first two episodes and indeed I expected the story to pretty much centre around it. Then, in episode 3, after a brief visit to a war zone, we're suddenly on an alien planet that is something like a cross between Huxley's Brave New World and The Running Man, yet Sarah is going out on the town with a handsome soldier (though why she went to Parakon for this when UNIT has plenty, I don't know), while the Doctor and the Brig sit around and discuss society with the planet's ruler over brandy and cigars. Then, once again, we have a massive change, a high-tech car chase leading to a resistance movement based around a tribal society living in a jungle and a full out, if rather short, seaming insurrection, which only stops off for the Doctor to fight a quick gladiatorial combat.

While the setting is extremely epic in scope, often the reasons for changes are rather too abrupt. As the story progresses, less and less time is spent on each change until by the final episode we have an extremely quick resolution that feels, to be honest, a bit too convenient. I do think perhaps Barry Letts spent a little too much time on the space theme park and not quite enough on the real space war. I know the Brigadier is good, but to instantly win a years-long conflict using only flying bats was a little too much, as was the idea that the Doctor could quickly trick his way into the records office and find a neat list of all the dastardly dealings, which on the one hand nobody seemed to know about, and on the other the entire planetary government seemed (as captain Rudly put it), "in it up to their necks" in a lot of ways. Two episodes on the insurrection would've helped the climax be far more believable and the final resolution feel less abrupt.

On the plus side, however, most of the characters and performances here are extremely good. Jon Pertwee's distinctive vocal tone makes the Doctor quite recognizable, despite the fact that in this story he seems far less at the forefront of events than usual. Of particular note is the Doctor's fight scene as a gladiator, told from several points of view as different Experienced Reality helmets are used. There's a mix of sound, dialogue and described action which, due to the use of the helmets, doesn't feel out of place and makes this one of the best physical combats in an audio drama I've heard even compared to Big Finish. Yet the interesting thing about the fight, and something totally in keeping with the story, is the fact that the Doctor's opponent is simply someone who fights because he has to and bears the Doctor no ill will at all. Though it seems a little arbitrary in its placement, this does make the Doctor's audio combat at least thematically match with the rest of the story.

Nicholas Courtney acquits himself well as usual, albeit he seems a far more forward thinking and less abrupt Brigadier than we've seen on some occasions. His role in the story hobnobbing with heads of state over brandy or commanding troops was a little disappointing. It would've been nice to see him doing something different on an alien planet, though he undoubtedly does it well.

For all I had quite the crush on her as a teenager, Sarah Jane's position here is a little less consistent, careering all over the road from tough, investigative journalist - they even give her an inept companion to show how competent she is - to over-emotional female. While her sorrow at the Doctor's apparent death and Captain Rudley's literal death are played wonderfully, and gives these events far more prominence than many deaths in Doctor Who have had, the repeat of these reactions means that Sarah's role for much of the story is constant crying, which was a little repetitive even if understandable. Similarly, her scenes of terror with the sadistic Tragan are wonderfully real, but totally unresolved. I believe the final meeting with Tragan in which she bites him and he handcuffs her while watching the Doctor's gladiatorial fight was supposed to be some sort of resolution for all the emotionality, but a bite is just, well, so girly!

In fairness, this rather polar opposite switch from stereotypical feminine emotionator to no-nonsense investigator is one that was never utterly resolved in the series either, so it fits with her character, but I do wish a little time had been spent balancing these out. Having Sarah for instance deck Tragan with a good solid punch instead of a rather ineffective bite would've been far more satisfying.

Then we come to the villains. Though people have called Peter Miles' performance here similar to his in Genesis of the Daleks, I disagree. While Nyder was the typical cold Nazi officer, Tragan is something far more interesting and in a lot of ways nastier. A suave, charming sadist who goes from a polite if cold demeanour to an absolutely repellent joy in others' pain to quite an irritable face of a worker put under far too much pressure by his boss.

His scene with Sarah I'd regard as one of the most deeply unpleasant audio scenes ever, and he does it with no death rays, shark pits or agony beams, just by tying Sarah up tightly and threatening her. Indeed, his changes from threats to a sort of cold politeness to an abrupt, get-the-business-done manner give him the wonderfully unpredictable air of someone who could be offering you a fine cup of tea one moment and stabbing you to see the colour of your blood the next, which only added to his reality since after all, most real-world sadists are not ranting villains all of the time.

Perhaps the only major criticism of Tragan is he works too well. Freeth, who we are expected to believe to be the corrupt politician who manipulated events for personal power, comes across as something of an anticlimax beside Tragan. He's also treated inconsistently, on the one hand wanting Tragan to not damage Sarah so that she can be used politically against the Doctor and the Brig when they arrive on paracon, and on the other delighting in the idea of Tragan's torture, though I never really got the sense of cold reality that I did with Tragan. In some ways, I'd have rather seen Tragan get thrown to the killer monster and Freeth carted off to jail, since it would've far better mirrored the two characters' level of menace.

Most of the supporting cast work well, though the scene at the party with Captain Rudley seemed a little too overdone, going from dance party to bloodfest rather too quickly. (I did also find myself wondering why, if he had so little self control about speaking out in public Rudly would even attend such functions.) However, one character does warrant a mention, that oft-maligned upper-class idiot, Jeremy Fitzoliver.

The initial idea of giving Sarah a foil in the first couple of episodes, an ineffective sidekick to play up to her strengths, was a good one. There is something of an ironic twist of fate as Jeremy fulfils the "what's that Sarah?" role, just as Sarah so often did for the Doctor. He's even given a touch of decency when he quite clumsily, but endearingly comforts Sarah after the Doctor's apparent death, not understanding exactly who the Doctor was or what he meant to Sarah, but understanding that she is grief-stricken. That, however, is where the character should have stopped. After the end of episode 2, he'd quite successfully done the job set for him in the story, and developed as far as he was going to get. Yet, for some reason Barry Letts has him tag along with the Doctor and the Brig to Parakon after the Doctor asked him to fetch a box of tools into the TARDIS. Here, he serves little to no function other than as pure comic relief; indeed, his age seems to dip from what I presume was 16-20, to somewhere around 10. For instance, when, after being confined overnight, a rescue attempt arrives in the shape of a fake food delivery, Jeremy seems more bothered about filling his stomach than escaping. In fairness, this is something Barry Letts obviously noticed, since in the direct sequel to Paradise, The Ghosts of N-Space, Jeremy does get far more plot and development, but here he seems most distinctly a fifth wheel.

Finally, one aspect that I love about Paradise is the fact that it's a slightly more adult story, but only slightly. Both Big Finish and Torchwood have had stories that rather abruptly say "Adult!" with a capital A. This means sex, violence, death, gore and soap-opera-like relationships.

All of those elements, however, are only elements of a story. Thus to have an entire story or series dedicated to them is rather wearing to say the least. Paradise of Death uses a few slight adult elements through the audio medium and yet does not stop the plot for them. For instance, the monster murder which opens the story is quick, brutal and gory, for all it is presented on audio. You get descriptions of bullets putting holes in people and blood-drenched shootings, the tight ropes, Sarah's fear, Tragan's offer to play a game in which she will beg him for a kiss and, though it was rather beyond me as a ten year old, the repellent scene with Sarah and Tragan has some pretty disturbing overtones.

All of these elements, however, are deeply understated and not rammed down your throat the way more recent Who has done. As a ten year old, albeit one who was a big fan of the Alien films, nothing in the story was inappropriate, yet hearing it a few years later I picked up many of the points that I missed.

Given the strict, indeed rather obsessive recent tendency to mark things as "children" and "adults" with no middle ground, I absolutely applaud Barry Letts' writing here. This is just what adult Who should be, where violence or other adult themes serve the story, rather than the other way around. In fairness, a few Big Finish episodes (Real Time for instance), have achieved this, but many have missed the mark as well.

So, The Paradise of Death. A beloved personal memory, weekly expectation, Christmas, train sets and, to be honest, quite a crush on Sarah Jane, yet far more than that. An epic journey of the Doctor and the Brig taking in diverse locations and fascinating concepts, albeit one with a few rough edges.

No, this isn't the Doctor Who audio classic that something like Spare Parts, Davros or The Cannibalists is. It is, however, a totally enjoyable, multifaceted story. Hearing it now, I feel extremely sorry that Jon Pertwee couldn't have lived a few more years. This was the Big Finish before there was Big Finish, and very much deserves its place alongside the later audios.


Radio Three by Matthew Kresal 24/8/14

Well, before Big Finish started doing new stories on audio with Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, let alone Tom Baker, BBC radio had paved the way with two stories of their own. Broadcast in 1993 and 1996, respectively, those two adventures reunited Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor with Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. The first of these was The Paradise of Death, first broadcast in August and September 1993 and written by Pertwee-era producer and sometime writer Barry Letts.

The Paradise of Death has the Pertwee era written all over it. Echoing Letts' own co-written stories like The Green Death and Planet of the Spiders, the story begins on Earth in London where UNIT is called in to investigate a mysterious death at the soon-to-be-opened Space World theme park located on Hampstead Heath. Space World, complete with a replica Apollo Saturn rocket as an equivalent to Cinderella's castle at a Disney theme park, is backed by the mysterious Parakon Corporation, whose chairman Freeth (Harold Innocent aka Gilbert M in The Happiness Patrol) and vice chairman Tragan (Peter Miles aka Nyder from Genesis of the Daleks) evoke deep suspicions in the Doctor. Also evoking suspicions are the mysterious ER (Experience Reality) machines. From Space World, and once again echoing Letts' co-written Who stories, the story crosses the galaxy midway through as the story shifts to Parakon itself where the Doctor and company discover that this paradise - and the Rapine plant at its heart - aren't all they appear to be.

All three of the returning cast members are superb to say the least. Pertwee, though at times sounding just a bit older, seems to be relishing the chance to play the Doctor again, be it action pieces or the scene in the Corporation archives in the final episode where he gets an appropriately Third Doctor moment of moralizing. Sladen and Courtney are superb as well, sounding like they had never been away from the roles. For those who complained that the Brigadier became a bit of a buffoon as the Pertwee era went on, Courtney proves them wrong as the final episode sees him leading a fighting force that for once isn't UNIT. It's a superb reunion of three actors who, for the most part, feel like they had never gone away.

The supporting cast also works well for the most part. Peter Miles is as sinister as ever as the sadistic Tragan and, given that Miles' performance as Nyder might well be the best henchman performance in all of Doctor Who, he nevertheless makes Tragan feel like a completely different character. Maurice Denham (Azmael in The Twin Dilemma) is given the chance to put his talents to use in a much better script and he perfectly suited to the role of "blind, old fool" who has let his son, Chairman Freeth, gain too much power. The supporting cast also features good performances from Jane Slavin, Jonathan Tafler as well as featuring Letts' son Dominic Letts and Trevor Martin (perhaps best known to Who fans for playing an alternate Fourth Doctor in the stage play of Seven Keys To Doomsday in 1974) voicing a number of different roles. Where the supporting cast is hurt is by the performances of Harold Innocent as Freeth and Richard Pearce as new companion Jeremy Fitzoliver. Innocent's performance as Freeth is over the top to put it mildly and he lacks any kind of sinister quality, though this perhaps heightens the performance of Miles. I'm not sure how much of Pearce's performance can be blamed on him or on the script as Jeremy comes across as the typical screaming female companion with a twist: it's a young man instead of a young woman. They hurt an otherwise strong supporting cast.

If Paradise has the feeling of the Pertwee era, it's down to the Barry Letts script. The story echoes the environmentalist tone and questioning attitudes towards corporations witnessed throughout the Pertwee era. Paradise at its heart is a story of corporate greed that is all-consuming as it takes over not only governments and planets but the very lives of average citizens or "shareholders" as they are preferably referred to. It is these elements that make the story perhaps more relevant nearly twenty years later than it was at the time of its original broadcast.

There's more to it than that of course. Letts is able in the early episodes to expand a bit on some of the background of the Pertwee era such as Sarah Jane's journalist job (indeed, we meet her editor on the Metropolitan magazine) as well as hints of political intrigue involving UNIT and the United Nations in episode two. Letts' script has the feeling of being a Pertwee era Who story done with twists for both the 1990s and the audio format. The Experienced Reality units that are used throughout the story echo the decade's interest in virtual reality while sequences like the flying herds of bats in the latter episodes are hard to imagine being accomplished on a Pertwee era budget. Letts also uses the Experienced Reality to make the otherwise clumsy audio cliche of characters describing events the listener can't see actually work, for the most part. The script isn't perfect though as witnessed by the characterization of Jeremy and the story occasional dips into melodrama (listen to the penultimate scene of the final episode for example).

For all those flaws though, the tale told here works and, despite a plethora of other Who audios from both the BBC and Big Finish Productions, The Paradise of Death remains a memorable addition to the audio adventures of the Doctor, if only for being one of only two audio Who stories to feature Pertwee as the Time Lord. Why it's worth a listen is down to the simple fact that it succeeds in being a faithful recreation of the Pertwee era and yet brings with it some twists for a new era and a new format. And, just like the best of Who, it has a story that continues to be relevant decades on.


The Paradise of Dread by Robert Smith? 5/2/16

Back in 1993, it was a simpler time for Doctor Who fandom, when the very notion of reuniting the original actors for a mostly original recording was a novelty unto itself. It was exciting when the BBC aired two original audio plays starring the third Doctor and caricatures of Sarah and the Brigadier. On the downside, though, these adventures were perpetrated by Barry Letts, the man who brought you such dizzying heights of drama as Planet of the Bad Actors and The Time Waster.

You can see the influences in The Paradise of Death as episode 1 starts very cosily, with the Brigadier by now so incompetent that he can't investigate anything more complicated than a simple murder mystery without the Doctor's help. It's all here: UNIT represented by no one at all aside from the regular cast and even wilder dating issues, with Experience Reality a more advanced form of Virtual Reality (although admittedly only the Doctor claims this). All this and a summary of The Time Monster.

Once it gets going, then story picks up the pace rather well, although there are frequent moments of outright loopiness that the script tries to cover by drawing our attention to and then doing nothing whatsoever about. Sorry Barry, but pointing out that you recognise your own plot holes doesn't excuse them in the slightest. The Doctor survives falling off a tower by the very scientific method of "bone relaxation". Surprisingly, Jeremy Fitzoliver isn't too bad when he's on Earth; it's only when he travels in the TARDIS that he really begins to grate, but then he becomes irritating in the extreme. It doesn't help that Richard Pearce plays up Jeremy's whining even in scenes where he doesn't need to.

It's odd hearing the Peter Howell theme, but given that he did the incidental music as well, that's probably not such a surprise. Some of the cliffhangers seem a bit arbitrary: Episode 2's cliffhanger is the shocking revelation that the TARDIS has landed on the wrong planet! This is amusingly followed up in episode 3 by the Brigadier asking "How could the TARDIS make a mistake?" Bless. No wonder the Doctor keeps him around. There are also no reprises to the cliffhangers, which also feels fundamentally wrong until you realise that the time saved on reprises over five episodes is exactly equal to another full episode. So we can at least by thankful for small mercies.

Three fifths of this story takes place on Parakon, which is actually fairly convincingly evoked. There's a sense of scale here, with vastly different areas and environments on the planet, pitched battles that actually sound like real battles and a surprisingly large cast. The major supporting cast here really helps, with luminaries such as Harold Innocent, Peter Miles and Maurice Denham giving it their all. There's a feeling that this story really wants to be a six-part late-Pertwee story in all its dubious glory and the lack of CSO simply isn't going to stop Barry Letts from inflicting it on us all.

By the end, Sarah is using expressions like "Blimey O'Reilly" and multiple characters spend a great deal of time eating while talking, which scores a few points for realism, but loses a great many more for the inability of the listener to understand what they're saying. It all ends rather abruptly, with the Doctor, Sarah, the Brigadier and Jeremy climbing aboard the TARDIS, which should be a natural starting point for the next adventure, The Ghosts of N-Space, except it isn't.

There are some oddities about The Paradise of Death, but it's surprisingly enjoyable. From the moment Jon Pertwee recognises a tiny hair, exclaiming "It's almost a whole millimetre long," there's a sense that the third Doctor is back. There's a polish to the production values that carry the weak script and the whole thing ends up being a mostly enjoyable romp.