The Doctor and Peri visit the planet Targos Delta to check in on old friend Professor Albrecht Thompson, only to discover that he has vanished. He was last sighted taking a shuttle to the holiday resort of Paradise 5, then never seen again.
The Doctor’s curiosity is piqued. They must investigate, but they must do so steathily…Peri will go undercover on Paradise 5, while the Doctor hides in the shadows. Because paradise holds a terrible secret beneath the white marble and golden trimmings. The mute Cherubs have a story to tell. And the Elohim are coming.
Paradise 5 is a bit of a unique entry into this series of ‘Lost Stories’, being a four-part story originally intended for Season 23, meaning that hits required an almost entirely original first part written by Andy Lane in order to get the Doctor and Peri (rather than the Doctor and Mel) to Paradise 5.
Given the above, it is difficult to assign credit to the writers individually – it is hard to say what was part of Hammond’s original idea and what Lane added to the story. At it’s core, however, the fact that this story feels narratively coherent is to the credit of Lane’s adaptation for audio and Hammond’s story which feels like a perfectly paced mystery. It even has a staple of 1980s era Doctor Who in having a reference to the previous story, something that Eric Saward seems to have been keen to crowbar in as some form of continuity between neighbouring stories. Having just reviewed Mawdryn Undead with its scene referencing Snakedance, this one works a bit better. Here, it refers back to the previous Lost Story, The Hollows of Time as the premises of the stories are quite similar: the Doctor and Peri go somewhere (England/a different planet) to see an old friend of the Doctor. The central mystery of the Doctor’s friend’s disappearance is well paced and adds supplemental mysteries. such as the Cherubs, disappearing guests and the Elohim, at the right times to keep the audience engaged and wanting to know what is going to happen next. The twists the story takes feel well thought out, especially when it comes to the reveal of the nature of the Elohim and what Gabriel and Michael are doing to the guests of Paradise 5, the true horror behind the white and gold trim of the seemingly luxurious resort. The truth behind the Paradise Machine and the Cherubs is truly horrific – Michael and Gabriel are providing the Elohim, higher beings fighting a war on a higher plain, with their foot soldiers, taking desirable souls to fight and leaving the remains of the people as slaves with little trace of their original personalities or skills. Barnaby Edwards’ direction is really good and makes sure that the world of the story sounds visually distinct, from the sounds of the Elohim and the Cherubs or the sounds of the space station, whilst the music really feels of its era.
There is no dirt in Paradise.Gabriel
Alexander MacQueen and James D’Arcy really steal the show here as the couple at the heart of Paradise 5’s machinations. I knew that MacQueen would go on to play the Master, having listened to Dark Eyes, so Iistening to this I could see why Big Finish chose to make him the Master. He oozes with sinister charm, becoming increasingly suspicious of Peri and the Doctor, and wraps his tongue around some fantastic dialogue. His partner, Michael, is sidelined for a lot of the early stages, however, when he becomes more involved, James D’Arcy ensures that he makes the sadistic character feel like a real threat, especially when he kills the Cherub who is Professor Albrecht. These two together are a real delight, down to their final moments, trapped on a space station in a decaying orbit to land on a lava planet, embracing their end with a Gin and Tonic. Arguably, they are the true villains of the piece as we don’t really spend very much time at all with the Elohim, although they are creepy when they do appear. Helen Goldwyn does well here too, playing the twin roles of Bella and Stella who come to the side of the Doctor and Peri to save the former passengers and Cherubs stuck on the base, and the two do have enough to distinguish each other, even though the story stipulates that they are supposed to look and sound similar enough for Peri to confuse them. There are an array of guests onboard the station, although we don’t really spend very much time with any of them, and Winterbourne, who has been kept in storage after coming to the station for a job interview three weeks ago, is an amusing concept but feels largely superfluous.
When we arrive, I’ll stand out like a panda at an ecclesiastical convention!
In that outfit, you always do!The Sixth Doctor and Peri
The central duo of Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are particularly strong here. Baker’s enjoyment of performing these stories seems to increase with each one I hear and his enthusiasm just seems to grow, especially as the majority of these stories he did not know about during his time as the incumbent Time Lord. I’ve mentioned before how unlucky Colin Baker was with some of the internal politics going on in the show’s production, particularly the deteriorating relationship between producer John Nathan-Turner and script editor Eric Saward, and he most likely did not know about some of the proposed storylines – or in fact that P J Hammond had even had a outline in contention. What both leads seem to enjoy the most about these Lost Stories is the opportunity to play a softening relationship between the Sixth Doctor and Peri, which had a rocky start to say the least, and the fondness between the two is clear here and their good natured ribbing works really well in this story. This is a really strong story for Peri, as she carries the opening two parts whilst the Sixth Doctor lurks in the shadows – is there a worse Doctor to hide in the shadows? The Doctor sings Gilbert and Sullivan whilst walking around “backstage”, hardly incognito! The Doctor gets quieter moments too, though, and Baker is particularly good when he reflects on the loss of his friend at the end of the story and how they will never However, Peri spends a lot of time in the early parts driving the story forward with her investigations, which feels like more of a modern companion thing to do than the classic era. She also spends very little time captured in this story, which is a refreshing change! Bryant does particularly well when she is talking about how she’s got herself into this situation and how none of the decisions seem to have been really made by her, and the moment at the end when she wants to take the Doctor to Manhattan is a lovely idea – she wants to go somewhere where she will know more than the Doctor.
Verdict: Paradise 5 is one of the best stories of this batch of Lost Stories. Alexander Macqueen and James D’Arcy are fantastic villains, with an interesting if horrific storyline and Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are on their usual good form here too. 9/10
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown), Alex Macqueen (Gabriel), James D’Arcy (Michael), Helen Goldwyn (Stella/Bella), Andree Bernard (Lorelei), Teddy Kempner (Mr Gelter/Mr Bliss/Elohim), Claire Wyatt (Mrs Aht) & Richard Earl (Mr Tapp/Mr Winterbourne).
Writer: P J Hammond and Andy Lane
Director: Barnaby Edwards
Behind the Scenes
- Paradise 5 was originally intended to be the first story featuring Melanie Bush, taking the position of Terror of the Vervoids.
- Alex Macqueen would go on to play an incarnation of the Master for Big Finish, debuting in Dominion.
- Helen Goldwyn is a Big Finish actor, writer and director, most recently directing the second Ninth Doctor audio series, Respond to All Calls.
- Andrée Bernard played Dolly Bernard in The Shakespeare Code, as well as appearing in numerous Big Finish plays, including Blue Forgotten Planet, The Entropy Composition and The Feast of Axos.
- Teddy Kempner has appeared in a number of Big Finish plays, including Castle of Fear, 1001 Nights and My Brother’s Keeper
- Claire Wyatt has also appeared in various Big Finish plays, including Exotron and The Boy That Time Forgot.
A gift from a grateful employee?
Or a loving spouse?
I’m not married!
Or a close friend perhaps?
I don’t have any friends!Gabriel and the Sixth Doctor
Paradise 5 is available to buy from the Big Finish website or stream on Spotify.
Previous Sixth Doctor story: The Hollows of Time