Paradise Towers

Paradise Towers is the second serial of the 24th season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 5 to 26 October 1987.

145[1]Paradise Towers
Doctor Who serial
Directed byNicholas Mallett
Written byStephen Wyatt
Script editorAndrew Cartmel
Produced byJohn Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s)None
Incidental music composerKeff McCulloch
Production code7E
SeriesSeason 24
Running time4 episodes, 25 minutes each
First broadcast5 October 1987 (1987-10-05)
Last broadcast26 October 1987 (1987-10-26)
← Preceded by
Time and the Rani
Followed by →
Delta and the Bannermen
List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

In the serial, Kroagnon, the incorporeal architect of the giant residential building Paradise Towers, takes over the body of the Chief Caretaker (Richard Briers) so he can kill everyone in the Towers.


The Seventh Doctor and Mel, looking for a swimming pool, land in Paradise Towers, a luxurious 22nd-century high-rise apartment building now fallen into disrepair and chaos. It is divided between the Caretakers who maintain the building and roaming gangs of young girls called Kangs, grouped in colour theme; the Doctor and Mel encounter the Red Kangs.

The Chief sends a squad of Caretakers to arrest the Red Kangs and in the ensuing confusion the Doctor is split from Mel and captured by the Caretakers. Mel meanwhile heads off to an apartment in which two elderly residents ("rezzies") live. Tilda and Tabby explain that all the able-bodied residents left the Towers to fight a war, leaving behind only children and the elderly. The only other man still loose in the Towers is Pex, a would-be hero, who appoints himself Mel's guardian.

At the Caretaker control centre, the Doctor meets the Chief Caretaker, who greets him as the Great Architect Kroagnon, designer of Paradise Towers who tries to have him killed. The Doctor cites an imaginary rule from the Caretakers' manual, confusing them enough to make his escape. Mel and Pex meanwhile are captured by a party of Blue Kangs who reveal to Mel that Pex is a coward and only survived by fleeing and hiding.

The Doctor is reunited with the Red Kangs who explain that Kangs and Caretakers have been disappearing in ever greater numbers. Meanwhile Mel has visited Tilda and Tabby again and soon finds herself under threat when it emerges they are cannibals and plan to eat her. After escaping, both Tabby and Tilda are killed by a mechanical claw from their waste disposal unit.

The Chief Caretaker has been allowing the robotic cleaners to kill anybody they encounter, and after reading a sales brochure for the Towers The Doctor remembers that Kroagnon also designed "Miracle City" - cutting-edge development which used its automation to kill its occupants. The Doctor surmises that Kroagnon inhabits Paradise Towers in the basement, and thinks that inhabitants ruin his creations, so kills them off whenever possible.

Mel and Pex finally find the swimming pool. When Mel takes a dip in the pool, she is attacked by a robotic killer crab. Pex's cowardice prevents him from rescuing Mel, and she has to save herself which embarrasses Pex. Mel leaves him to find the Doctor, and he trails behind her.

The Blue and Red Kangs encounter and fight each other, but the Doctor persuades them that their game is over, and they must work together in order to defeat Kroagnon. As the Cleaners begin killing everybody, the surviving Rezzies and caretakers join forces with the Doctor and the Kangs to defeat Kroagnon. They plan to lure Kroagnon (now inhabiting the body of the Chief Caretaker) into a booby trapped room, but the plan fails. Pex sacrifices himself to drag the Chief into the trap.

After a period of reflection and Pex's funeral, the Doctor and Mel leave, trusting the remaining Kangs, Rezzies, and Caretakers to build a better society. As the TARDIS dematerialises, a new piece of Kang graffiti is revealed – "Pex Lives".


EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [2]
1"Part One"24:335 October 1987 (1987-10-05)4.5
2"Part Two"24:3912 October 1987 (1987-10-12)5.2
3"Part Three"24:3019 October 1987 (1987-10-19)5.0
4"Part Four"24:2126 October 1987 (1987-10-26)5.0

Working titles for this story included The Paradise Tower.[3] The 1975 J. G. Ballard novel High-Rise has been cited as an influence.[4]

The music track was originally meant to be provided by a member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, but producer John Nathan-Turner had decided that the incidental music no longer needed to be produced in-house. Instead, freelance composer David Snell was hired to provide the score, but Nathan-Turner terminated the commission very late in the production as he was unsatisfied with the way the score was done. Snell's original score was kept, albeit in lower quality, and is available on the DVD release of the story as an alternative soundtrack. Keff McCulloch provided the final score at short notice, originally only meant to score Time and the Rani and Delta and the Bannermen for Season 24, he composed the replacement score to Paradise Towers in a week.[5]

The swimming pool scene involving Mel and a pool-cleaning robot was filmed at Elmswell House near Chalfont St. Giles.

Cast notesEdit

Nisha Nayar, an uncredited extra playing one of the Red Kangs, later appeared in a more substantial speaking part as the Female Programmer in the 2005 two-part story "Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways". This made her the second performer to appear in both the classic and new series of Doctor Who.

Julie Brennon, who played Fire Escape, was married at the time to Mark Strickson,[6] who had been the Fifth Doctor's companion Vislor Turlough. Richard Briers – The Chief Caretaker – later appears in the Torchwood episode "A Day in the Death" as Henry Parker. See also Celebrity appearances in Doctor Who. Clive Merrison previously played Jim Callum in The Tomb of the Cybermen.


In a 2007 comedy article, Digital Spy named Paradise Towers Episode 4 as one of the reasons for swimming pool phobia.[7]

Richard Briers' performance has attracted considerable criticism. In the DVD special features, it is mentioned that both John Nathan-Turner and Andrew Cartmel were unhappy with his performance during the recording, and Briers admits he ignored directions to tone it down.[8] Patrick Mulkern, writing for Radio Times, described Briers' performance as a "career low", stating Briers is "shockingly bad in this story...there’s no escaping the fact that the Chief Caretaker, the key baddie in Paradise Towers, is just Richard Briers in a silly cap, silly moustache, putting on a silly voice. Mugging for England. Sending up Doctor Who in a horribly misjudged, self-indulgent performance, especially after the Caretaker has been 'zombified' by the Great Architect. Briers growls and clomps about like an embarrassing dad playing the Bogeyman. It plunges an already teetering production into the abyss."[9]

Commercial releasesEdit

In printEdit

Paradise Towers
AuthorStephen Wyatt
Cover artistAlister Pearson
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
1 December 1988

A novelisation of this serial, written by Wyatt, was published by Target Books in December 1988. It reveals that the Blue Kang Leader is named Drinking Fountain.

In April 2012, an audiobook of the novelisation was released, read by Bonnie Langford.

Home mediaEdit

Paradise Towers was released on VHS in October 1995. It was released on DVD 18 July 2011. This serial was also released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 106 on 23 January 2013.


  1. ^ From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the four segments of The Trial of a Time Lord as four separate stories and also counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this story as number 149. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  3. ^ Newman, Kim (2009). "Doctor Who: Paradise Towers (1987)". The Kim Newman Archive. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  4. ^ Newman, Kim (2009). "Doctor Who: Paradise Towers (1987)". The Kim Newman Archive. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  5. ^ Horror on the High Rise (DVD Documentary)
  6. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Paradise Towers - Details". BBC.
  7. ^ Ben Rawson-Jones (10 March 2007). "Cult Spy: Phobia Corner 1 – Swimming Pools – US TV News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  8. ^ "Richard Briers – Doctor Who Interview Archive".
  9. ^ Mulkern, Patrick. "Doctor Who: Paradise Towers". Radio Times. Retrieved 18 February 2013.

External linksEdit

Target novelisationEdit