Which One : Briers rules the tower block.
Cast : The Doctor : Sylvester McCoy
Mel : Bonnie Langford
Chief Caretaker/Great Architect : Richard Briers
Deputy Chief Caretaker : Clive Merrison
Tabby : Elizabeth Spriggs
Tilda : Brenda Bruce
Maddy : Judy Cornwell
Pex : Howard Cooke
Fire Escape : Julie Brennon
Bin Liner : Annabel Yuresha
Blue Kang Leader : Catherine Cusack
Yellow Kang : Astra Sheridan
Young Caretaker : Joseph Young
Video Commentator : Simon Coady
Written By : Stephen Wyatt
Produced By : JNT
First UK Broadcast : 5 – 26 October 1987.
Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Doctor and Mel who are looking for a swimming pool, visit Paradise Towers. A supposed luxury tower block in the 22nd Century. Only to find it in a shocking state of disrepair and ruled over by an insane Chief Caretaker and warring gangs.
Whats good : Richard Briers.
Whats bad : Richard Briers.
Paradise Towers has a message about the class system and the hopeful optimism of a futuristic new shiny tower block development, ruined by years of fabric and social neglect. In many ways, it parodies what was happening in 80’s Britain – at the time.
The social decay is punctuated with low-class warring gangs; called “Kangs”, who are aligned by different colours. The middle class residents of Paradise Towers, are not beyond satire either; with the cannabilistic “Rezzies”. Finally, the controlling class; the Chief Caretaker and his army of deadly robotic cleaners and the original long-dead architect; Kroagnon. Whose being still survives, in a central computer mainframe.
In his starchy grey uniform, with clipboard and little black ‘tasche. The Chief Caretaker (Richard Briers) cuts a swathe, as a familiar despotic ruler from the 1940’s Germany.
Briers is the best thing about Paradise Towers – and also the worst. At best, playing the jumped up sub-official to Kroagnon, he excels as the clipboard toting facist.
“I will conduct a full investigation on the matter and in due course a report will be issued to all residents. And you may rest assured there’ll be no cover up. No cover up whatsoever. On the other hand, I would urge you for the moment to keep the matter quiet. We don’t want to alarm people unduly, do we?” Chief Caretaker
At worst, he overacts as a bizarre Great Architect possessed zombie/cadavar; after the Chief Caretaker is killed by Kroagnon. It is this turn, which allows the last piece of credibility to finally walk out the door in Paradise Towers.
Briers always blamed the lack of direction by the director and producer JNT for his weird take on the zombie role. In many ways, he was a casualty of a regime which should have had more quality control on the studio floor – but didn’t.
It wasn’t just Briers turn in this which caused controversy. Mel was highly annoying, especially her high pitched sonic boom scream; such as when she went swimming with an robotic alien crab, or when she was attacked by the Rezzies. The scene of Mel being attacked by the Rezzies with knives, received so many complaints. It was vowed it would be cut from any future showing.
But still, Briers turn (in the first half) as the (still alive) Chief Caretaker is a joy and without Briers, Paradise Towers would just be another horrible Who memory, like Happiness Patrol.
In another Who era – such as Tom Baker’s, this story would have been executed in a much different way and could have been a classic story.