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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great reading by Bonnie Langford, 10 April 2012
This review is from: Doctor Who: Paradise Towers (Audio CD)
Unlike later McCoy novelisations, Wyatt didn't hugely expand on the story but there's probably more to it than the average Terrance Dicks novelisation. Wyatt doesn't give any background or detail to the Doctor and Mel and assumes a familiarity. I do like the descriptions of Mel's visit to Tilda and Tabby with Tabby's "rat-like teeth" causing Mel concern. There's some nice details like the Kang brainquarters TV/videoplayer being part of a fire extinguisher. The Swimming pool sounds much better than the TV hoped to realise and the pool cleaner is only suggested first of all by the mention of bubbles.

Mel is never going to come high on favourite companion lists but in recent years I've really warmed to this gungho, mega enthusiastic companion. After seasons of companions who didn't seem to like the Doctor and certainly didn't enjoy travelling in the TARDIS, it was nice to go the opposite way with someone who maybe too enthusiastically lapped up the adventures (even if they did involve a lot of screaming). Poor Bonnie came with a lot of baggage and the production team did her no favours in conforming to her reputations. All the stuff about fitness fanatic and computer programmer was long gone come Paradise Towers so Mel's motivations on TV were rather naive and innocent. The book does go some way to adding something by saying that after everything they'd recently been through she just wanted to relax in a pool, it sort of doesn't matter how grand the pool is, just somewhere pleasant.

Bonnie Langford.

I didn't know what to expect with her reading of the novelisation. Intentional or not, she is very funny. I don't know whether she had seen the TV version in preparation or just had a good memory but some of her character impersonations are spot on. Her voicing of the Briers, Spriggs and Bruce characters (Chief caretaker, Tabby and Tilda respectively) are incredible. She's absolutely spot on with Spriggs especially. Her 7th Doctor made me laugh instantly, a sweet soft scottish accent making the character rather more fey than McCoy ever was. It's interesting hearing her do Mel's line all over again as so many of them are totally different. From the over-enunciation/declarations of the TV Mel she now presents us with a rather more laid back, calmer Mel (much like Big Finish really). Her Pex voice I'm not sure really works. She makes him American. I can understand her reasoning with him written as a Rambo character but it stood out rather awkwardly. Her Kangs are quite cocky teenagers like... Ace or Rose really. Her Kroagnon is like a deeper Kandyman.

It's a very pacey reading. There's a few bits that I would have changed personally as the end of a paragraph/scene can be quite abrupt at times and then you're onto the next scene without much sense of a change, though maybe that's to do with Wyatt writing. It's mostly quite a straight forward reading as she doesn't really add a sense of the dramatic to things that happen - that disappointed me a bit.

The sound design is very good, I like the sound for the cleaners and some of the music aside from the usual orchestral stamps, reminded me of Snakedance a few times. The video brochure moments are well handled (Bonnie's sales pitch voice is perfect). No complaints on any of that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Langford's engaging, entertainingly prodigious with impeccable professionalism., 23 July 2012
This review is from: Doctor Who: Paradise Towers (Audio CD)
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.

Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If paradise was half as nice..., 23 May 2012
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Paradise Towers (Audio CD)
Aside from a dodgy Scottish burr for her reading of The Doctor, and an inexplicable decision to give the character of Pex an insipid transatlantic accent, Bonnie Langford really brings this story to life, with her trademark stage-school enthusiasm reined-in and just the right mix of irony and playing it straight. This is yet another example of Eighties Doctor Who that works much better as an audio reading, and reminds us that poorly realised effects and dodgy costumes aside, Sylvester McCoy's tenure as the enigmatic Time Lord was overall a well-written and inspired one.
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Doctor Who: Paradise Towers
Doctor Who: Paradise Towers by Stephen Wyatt (Audio CD - 5 April 2012)
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