The Paradise of Death
Doctor Who radio play
CD release cover
Directed byPhil Clarke
Written byBarry Letts
Running time5 episodes, 30 mins each
First broadcast27 August – 24 September 1993
← Preceded by
Followed by →
The Ghosts of N-Space

The Paradise of Death is a 5-part BBC radio drama, based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who, and starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor.

Production and broadcast history

This was the second radio serial made by the BBC based on the Doctor Who television series. In 1985, the Sixth Doctor, played by Colin Baker, had starred in a 6-part radio serial entitled Slipback, during the hiatus between seasons whilst he was starring as the Doctor on television. Prior to this, there was also an audio drama made in 1976 called Doctor Who and the Pescatons, starring Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen.

The scriptwriter for Paradise of Death, Barry Letts, was a former BBC Producer and Director who had (amongst his other credits) produced Doctor Who on television from 1969 to 1974 (in other words, for almost the entire time Jon Pertwee had played the Third Doctor). Letts had also co-written (together with playwright Robert Sloman) several of the Doctor Who television serials in which Pertwee had appeared, and had gone on later in the 1970s to novelise some of the television serials he had produced, which were published in hardback and paperback by WH Allen. He would also novelise his own scripts for this radio serial, for publication by WH Allen in 1994.

Because of Letts' familiarity with the Doctor Who series from the five years that he had produced the show, it was an obvious decision that his script would feature that period: namely Pertwee's Doctor, and some of the regulars (in the event, the Brigadier and Sarah Jane) whom Pertwee knew from his time on the show. In effect, this radio production was a reunion of the main cast who had worked on Pertwee's final season on television in 1973–74.

The serial The Paradise of Death was first broadcast in five episodes on BBC Radio 5 (a station which, at the time, was heard solely on AM in the UK) from 27 August to 24 September 1993.[1] It was subsequently repeated, between 12 April and 10 May 1994, by BBC Radio 2 on FM.[2]

The serial was released as part of the BBC Radio Collection on audio-cassette (ZBBC 1494), and in March 2000 was re-released on double CD (ISBN 0 563 55323 5). The Radio Collection releases included several "bonus" scenes which (due to some scripts proving too long for the 29 minute timeslot) had not been included in the radio broadcasts.

During the repeat of the serial on Radio 2, by mistake the episodes were aired out of order. This error generated so many complaints to the BBC's Duty Office that the Corporation realised they had under-estimated the size of the listening audience, a realisation which led them to decide to commission a sequel.

Accordingly, a second radio serial featuring the Third Doctor, The Ghosts of N-Space, was broadcast on Radio 2 in 1996. More might have followed, but Pertwee died in 1996, bringing the Third Doctor's era to a close. Letts was thereupon commissioned, instead, to develop an idea for a radio play based upon the 1970s BBC science fiction series Blake's 7, which would ultimately lead to his writing two productions featuring cast members from that show, which were broadcast in 1998.


Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart of UNIT asks the Doctor to investigate a particularly gruesome murder at a new theme park on London's Hampstead Heath, called Space World. Together with journalist Sarah Jane Smith and her photographer Jeremy Fitzoliver, they take in the incongruous exhibits, including virtual reality machines, and even seemingly living alien monstrosities – which the Brigadier immediately suspects of the killing.

The owners of the theme park are a gang of alien carpetbaggers from outer space, who are ostensibly trying to persuade the Government to begin talks on allowing interplanetary trade. Although their real motives are unclear, they have a sophisticated form of mind-control which they employ to kill anyone who threatens their plans.

When Sarah is kidnapped by the sinister Mr Tragan, and transported to the aliens' home planet, Parakon, the Doctor and the Brigadier must race to her rescue in the Tardis. On Parakon, they learn the truth about the proposed trade deal, which will mean the destruction of all life on Earth. The rapine plant is a parasite which will turn the planet into a wasteland.

Freeth and Tragan are secretly conspiring to overthrow the President and democratic government on Parakon, and fear what the visitors from Earth may accidentally disclose which might reveal their plans to Captain Rudley, the commander of the Presidential Guard. The Doctor hopes to persuade the President that rapine will harm the Earth, but Freeth and Tragan hope to have the Doctor executed before he can do so.

On their first broadcast, the episodes were summarised as follows –

1: The Doctor is called in to investigate a murder at Space World.

2: The Doctor is dead, and the Brigadier discovers that the Parakon Corporation has friends in high places.

3: Can the Tardis escape from war-torn Blestinu in time to save Sarah Jane from Tragan?

4: Freeth holds the Doctor captive, while Captain Rudley is to be executed for treason.

5: The Gargan monster has Sarah and Jeremy cornered in its den.



Cast and crew notes


In 1994, Science Fiction Chronicle's Don D'Ammassa reviewed the novelisation as "Unlike most of the recent original novels, this has much more of the feel of the series, perhaps because Letts also wrote several original scripts."[13]

In print

The Paradise of Death
AuthorBarry Letts
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
Preceded byThe Evil of the Daleks 
Followed bynone 

The Paradise of Death was novelised by Barry Letts for WH Allen's Target Books imprint, and published in 1994 (ISBN 0-426-20413-1); it was the 156th and final novelisation to be published by Target, ending a series of books which began in 1964 (and had been published under the Target label since 1973).

The subsequent serial, The Ghosts of N-Space, would be novelised as part of the Virgin Missing Adventures series.


  1. ^ "Search - BBC Programme Index".
  2. ^ "Search - BBC Programme Index".
  3. ^ Originally titled 'The Vampire from Space'
  4. ^ "The Doctor Who Transcripts - the Paradise of Death".
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "The Doctor Who Transcripts - the Paradise of Death".
  11. ^ "The Doctor Who Transcripts - the Paradise of Death".
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ D'Ammassa, Don (October 1994). "Review: Paradise of Death by Barry Letts". Science Fiction Chronicle. New York, NY: Algol Press.

Target novelisation