Click here to return to the main site.

Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The High Price of Parking


Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 803 5
Release Date: 31 July 2017

The planet Dashrah is a world of exceptional beauty. Historical ruins; colourful skies; swirling sunsets… Unsurprisingly, it’s also a major tourist trap. So if you want to visit Dashrah, first you’ll have to visit Parking, the artificial planetoid that Galactic Heritage built next door. Parking, as its name implies, is a spaceship park. A huge spaceship park. A huge, enormous spaceship park. When the TARDIS materialises in Parking’s Northern Hemisphere, the Doctor, Ace and Mel envisage a quick shuttle trip to the surface of Dashrah. But they’ve reckoned without the superzealous Wardens… their robotic servitors… the sect of the Free Parkers, who wage war against the Wardens… the spontaneously combusting spaceships… and the terrifying secret that lies at the lowest of Parking’s lower levels…

This audio drama reminds me a lot of Paradise Towers – in a good way, I hasten to add. Though the 1987 season of Doctor Who (Sylvester McCoy’s first, when he was still finding his feet in the role) is one of the least highly regarded periods of the show for many fans, Paradise Towers showed good potential.

Stephen Wyatt’s television script presented a satirical situation, in a way that only science fiction can. Its futuristic setting reflected some of the mundanities and difficulties of present-day existence: high-rise flats, gangs, graffiti, alienation between young and old people, jobsworths. John Dorney’s audio play does much the same thing but with different specifics in the subject matter, giving us space-age versions of satnavs, park and ride, self-driving vehicles, traffic wardens (including jobsworth equivalents of the Caretakers in Paradise Towers) and the National Trust (in the form of the militaristic Galactic Heritage).

On screen, Paradise Towers was let down by its often ropey production values and some over-the-top acting (in particular, from Richard Briers as Kroagnon). The High Price of Parking is not affected in this way. The visuals are in the listener’s head, of course – though our imaginations are aided by Anthony Lamb’s impressive cover art, showing the cuboid Robowardens. Daniel Burnett’s sound design and Jamie Robertson’s music also help to set the scene and ramp up the excitement – the latter often sounding like the percussive Keff McCulloch with a few more modern flourishes.

The performances are all on the right side of comical (as Clive Merrison was as the Deputy Chief Caretaker). Hywel Morgan as the nasal, obsequious Kempton is reminiscent of Hugh Walters as Vogel in Revelation of the Daleks or Alan Thompson as the Steward in Slipback, from a slightly earlier era of Doctor Who. Kate Duchene is entertainingly gormless as Regina, Queen of the Tribe of the Lost. Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred continue to revive their earlier, more upbeat characterisations of the Doctor and Ace, while Bonnie Langford gives us an older, more cynical Mel, who has picked up a few less ethical approaches to computing during her time with Sabalom Glitz. Meanwhile, Gabrielle Glaister (alias ‘Bob’ in Blackadder) plays it straight as the harassed Parking Warden Cowley.

The female-led Tribe of the Lost recall another Colin Baker story: The Trial of a Time Lord’s Tribe of the Free, people who have been similarly let down by advanced technology and forced to eke out a more primitive existence. This is not the only touchstone from Trial, as there is also talk of “animal-kind” (no, it isn’t the return of the Vervoids). Reaching back further into Who history, The Face of Evil is also brought to mind – and I’m not just referring to the Sevateem…

So there are lots of elements at play here, but basically The High Price of Parking is very much a Paradise Towers kind of tale, but done right. If that sounds like your kind of thing (it certainly is mine), then park yourself in front of the speakers and give this audio drama a listen.


Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.