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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
Paradise Towers (Doctor Who), 1987.png
The Chief Caretaker, alongside one of his robotic cleaners.
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
Length4 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
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 roaming gangs of young girls called Kangs, grouped in colour theme, and the Doctor and Mel encounter the Red Kangs. They have just discovered the death of the last Yellow Kang and are plotting how to attack the Blue Kangs. Elsewhere one of the Caretakers is hunted down and killed by a robotic cleaner, which appeals to the sadistic Chief Caretaker when he overhears the death.

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 men 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, designer of Paradise Towers, and then promptly calls for him to be killed. The Doctor cites an imaginary rule from the Caretakers' manual, confusing them enough to make his escape. Mel and Pex meanwhile have headed to the top of the building, and are captured by a party of Blue Kangs. Before the pair are freed the Kangs reveal to Mel that Pex survived by fleeing from the war.

The Doctor finds the Great Architect is named Kroagnon, and is reunited with the Red Kangs. They explain that Kangs and Caretakers have been disappearing in ever greater numbers. While the Doctor is being interrogated, the Caretakers track him down to the Red Kang headquarters and attempt to break down the door. Elsewhere Mel has visited Tilda and Tabby again and soon finds herself under threat when it emerges they are cannibals and plan to eat her.

The Doctor succeeds in holding off the Caretakers long enough for the Kangs to flee. Meanwhile, Tabby and Tilda are disturbed by a noise in the waste disposal. It turns out to be a metal claw, which drags Tabby to her death in the disposal system, and then Tilda. Pex arrives and succeeds in saving Mel. Mel and Pex find a map of the Towers and decide to venture to the roof, where the luxury swimming pool is located.

The Doctor is taken to the Caretakers HQ again, where he realises that the Chief Caretaker has been allowing the Cleaners to kill people in the Towers, but this has got out of hand and the Chief Caretaker is no longer in control. The creature the Chief keeps in the basement is demanding more sustenance and making its own hunting arrangements. When the Chief heads off to investigate the deaths of Tabby and Tilda, the Red Kangs attack the HQ and rescue the Doctor. He returns with them to their base, taking with him the Illustrated Prospectus for the Tower, which they all watch. It reminds the Doctor that Kroagnon, the Great Architect of Paradise Towers, also designed Miracle City, a cutting-edge development which killed its occupants. It seems Kroagnon had an aversion to people actually populating his buildings. The Blue Kangs arrive suddenly, overpowering the Red ones, but it soon becomes clear their game is over and they must now work together.

Mel and Pex finally find the swimming pool. When Mel takes a dip in the pool, she is attacked by a robotic killer crab.

The Red Kangs know of the monstrosity in the basement, and guess it must be linked to the terror in the Towers. The Doctor heads off to investigate and finds the Chief has been herded by the Cleaners toward the mysterious intelligence, which turns out to be Kroagnon himself. The Doctor is soon spotted by the Cleaners too, and the robots start to attack.

The Kangs rescue the Doctor in the nick of time while on the roof Pex fails to rescue Mel, who has to destroy the crab herself. When the Doctor and the Kangs arrive, the latter taunt Pex for his cowardice. The Doctor explains that Kroagnon felt human beings would ruin his creation and so placed multiple deathtraps throughout the Towers before he was killed and trapped in the machine in the basement. The remaining rezzies, led by a woman named Maddy, join them all at the swimming pool and pledge to work together with the Kangs to defeat the menace in the building. Pex pledges to help too. The Deputy Chief Caretaker and the surviving Caretakers, who have become convinced of the peril in the basement, soon join them.

The Chief Caretaker has now been killed and his corpse animated by the artificial intelligence of Kroagnon. He now intends to use the Cleaners to kill everyone in the Towers and repair the damage the "filthy human parasites" have caused. However, the combined human forces are now fighting back. The Doctor and Pex devise a ruse to lure the Chief into a booby trapped room and thereby destroy Kroagnon, but when the plan goes wrong Pex sacrifices himself to drag the Chief into the trap. They are both killed, but the terror is over.

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.[citation needed][3]

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. Keff McCulloch provided the final score at short notice.[citation needed]

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,[4] 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.[5]

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.[6] Patrick Mulkern, writing for the Radio Times, has described Briers' performance as a "career-low", claiming 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."[7]

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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Paradise Towers - Details".
  5. ^ Ben Rawson-Jones (10 March 2007). "Cult Spy: Phobia Corner 1 – Swimming Pools – US TV News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Richard Briers – Doctor Who Interview Archive".
  7. ^ "Doctor Who: Paradise Towers". Radio Times. Retrieved 18 February 2013.

External linksEdit

Target novelisationEdit