Surprisingly, Bonnie Langford's reading of Stephen Wyatt's novelisation of DOCTOR WHO - PARADISE TOWERS, impresses me.
Yes, you read that correctly; `impresses'. Delightfully so.
Certainly, like me, you may have been sanitised by the performance of Langford as Melanie Bush (Mel) from the McCoy era, driven to distraction by the over ebullient characterisation of the Earth-based computer programmer with a penchant for exercise and vegetable drinks. Naturally, whilst Langford cannot be singled out to carry the complete blame, it seems that a lack of due diligence on the part of Producer and Directors had created a monster that was, and forgive me if you actually liked the character, universally loathed.
However, you will be overwhelmingly surprised for this new audio presentation from AUDIOGO offers Langford to shine as the consummate professional actress that, perhaps, we all knew was lying beneath the stereotypical lines of "What is it, Doctor?" unceremoniously given to a companion within the series.
Skilful and deft that will garner a new legion of fans.
Like a swallow dipping and weaving through warm mid-summer skies as it executes swift justice to hapless and unaware insects with effortless nonchalant, Bonnie Langford captures the dystopian, disjointed world of Paradise Towers whilst handling a myriad of `inhabitants' with equal casualness.
Drawing upon her considerable acting skills, Langford accurately delineates each character without parody or patronisation, and here lies the success of the audio novelisation. Clarity of character as written by Wyatt.
The soft Scottish lilt of McCoy's Seventh Doctor is precision itself whilst she had toned down her own realisation of Mel leaving it restrained, reticent and softer the broadcast version. The chilling desperation of the main `Rezzies' protagonists is less comical and "she's'behind'you" pantomime whilst the anti-hero-hero, Pex, is given a more rounded persona (replete with a feasible, better explained backstory that was errant from the televised version) with which Langford fleshes-out allowing the bicep-flexing "Conscientious Objector" - as opposed to being castigated as a `cowardly cutlet' by the `Kangs' - to be harnessed with believability.
The realisation of the re-embodied Great Architect Kroagnon is Langford's triumph. Banished is Richard Brier's haemorrhoid afflicted PLAYAWAY (ask your parents about PLAYAWAY television show) stylised "mad evil genius" in a `jobs worth' Traffic Warden peaked cap version with Langford injecting a true gut-wrenching menace that DOCTOR WHO critics (far better than my humble self) would measure equally against the maniacal, slighted Morbius (see DOCTOR WHO - THE BRAIN OF MORBIUS). Superb.
Such is the subtly of Langford's performance mixed with Wyatt's text that you become overly sympathetic with character that deserves nothing but summary justice. One such character is the (probably) self-appointed, nasally challenged Deputy Chief who, initially, is so odious that he makes an infection of Treponema pallidum look more welcoming, however like an excessive course of antibiotics his character is more sympathetically (servile and bullied rather than wantonly vicious).
Supporting Langford's reading punctuated with an eloquent and intelligent music score that acts as a warning undercurrent to the unravelling drama, never promiscuous or objectionable, Simon Power (MEON SOUND) is consistent and appropriate in enhancing (never eclipsing) the vocal talent. In other words, it gave her `breathing-space'
However, just perhaps, the depressive and claustrophobic environment of Paradise Towers may have affected Power in this singular instance; the `Kangs' arrows deflected from credibility with their THE GOON SHOW "twang" as they embedded within walls & doors. A "crack-rip" may have been less of a comic book sound effect?
AUDIOGO's DOCTOR WHO - PARADISE TOWERS is thoroughly enjoyable and, quite frankly, a revelation in premiering (I cannot recall another Bonnie Langford read novelisation) Langford's engaging, entertainingly (measured not excessive) prodigious with impeccable professionalism.