DOCTOR WHO: THE PARADISE OF DEATH AND THE GHOSTS OF N-SPACE / LABEL: DEMON RECORDS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
When The Paradise of Death began airing on BBC radio in late August of 1993, it was only the second-ever radio serial based on the long-running series, and the first since 1986's Colin Baker-starring Slipback. Taking place during the show's eleventh season, which starred Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor, the five-part radio drama also featured that series' companion, Sarah Jane Smith, as played by Elisabeth Sladen and Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
While a follow-up, The Ghosts of N-Space, was recorded the following year in 1994, it didn't air until January of 1996. Given that Pertwee passed away on in May of '96, plans for more episodes featuring the Third Doctor were brought to a close. Thus, it stands to reason that Demon Records has collected the two series as a six-LP box set, the better to appreciate both back-to-back.
Writer Barry Letts has crafted two series which are definite throwbacks. Given that both series were recorded during a period wherein the only appearance of the Doctor on-screen was to be Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor in the 1996 TV film and that many of the actor who had portrayed past incarnations of the Doctor, any number of actors could've been tapped for the audio series. Given that Letts was the writer for the duration of Pertwee's run, however, it only made sense for the two to once again pair up.
Long-time Doctor Who character actor Peter Miles shines as Vice-Chairman Tragan of the Parakon Corporation in The Paradise of Death, really coming across as quite sinister. Not quite as sinister as the alien beasts kept as part of the Space World theme park, who get a little chompy, nor the planet of Parakon, where there's a series of games to the death. It's quite an adventure.
Less world-spanning, and more of a trip through time is The Ghosts of N-Space, which sees the Doctor going to both 16th and 19th century Italy in an attempt to keep a mad alchemist from fracturing N-Space and overtaking the world with monstrous ghosts. Again, a real joy to listen to, even if Pertwee's not quite as robust as he was in his first audio outing.
The set of six vinyl LPs comes in a limited edition of 500 copies, with The Paradise of Death on ‘Space World’ pink splatter and The Ghosts of N-Space on ‘Spectral’ clear with green splatter vinyl. Side B of the first LP features an etched image of the Doctor's hand holding a sonic screwdriver as well.
Each series is spread over three LPs, and the artwork on the jacket for each forms a panoramic image, with the entrance to Space World and the Sicilian castello pictured on each, respectively. Oink Collective has once again outdone themselves, resulting in a collection that's as much fun to look at as it is to listen to.
And it's a right solid listen, as well. The audio is crisp and clean, and the 180-gram vinyl pressings haven't a trace of hiss or crackle. These are the last two productions before the audio drama task was taken on by a different company in 2005, and they represent a very different link to the past than those particular works. For those looking to dig into some lesser-known adventures of the Doctor, this is a wonderful place to start.