In A Life of Crime, the TARDIS is tracking down Mel, who’s gotten herself into a spot of bother after the titular life of crime with Glitz.
But because this is Doctor Who, where the timey is wimey, the situation is quickly flipped so that Mel’s trying to find the Doctor and Ace. Or has she already found them? And who’s that wearing the Doctor’s hat?!
Whilst Bonnie Langford is no stranger to Big Finish, this is the first time we’ve met Mel after leaving the Doctor (in audio, at least). The story really challenges Mel’s character and shakes up her relationship with the Doctor, which leads to some excellent moments between Langford and Sylvester McCoy.
Writer Matt Fitton has done a superb job developing Mel as a character without totally rewriting her personality and Langford plays the more confident and scheming Mel with flair. Her dynamic with Ace is also great to listen to, with them seeming to develop something of a competitive sibling relationship. Given how much he’s referenced, it’s a real shame we couldn’t have had Tony Selby join the party as Sabalom Glitz.
Des McAleer and Stephen Hagan give good turns in supporting roles, though their similar Irish brogues made it tricky to differentiate them sometimes. There’s a logical reason behind this but it still led to the occasional confusion.
Big Finish veteran John Banks plays a handful of roles and has tailored a distinctive voice for each character, which is helped by the villains having very clear personalities. But it’s Ginny Holder, making her Doctor Who debut as the wily Gloria, who shines here with perhaps the most challenging role of the story and seeming to waltz through the script effortlessly.
Matt Fitton has hit on a really interesting idea for the monsters for this story in the Sperovores – a race of space bankers who just happen to also have a taste for human flesh.
The story is perfectly paced with both the threat and the character development getting an even amount of escalation with each passing episode. The two aspects complement each other well and at no point does it feel like the story has halted for obligatory character moments.
The music is absolutely sublime. A charismatic, swaggering Ocean’s Eleven/Time Heist inspired montage-theme that director Ken Bentley deftly intercuts.
Ultimately, A Life of Crime is a fun, imaginative, exciting adventure. The script is wonderfully paced with the action and the character moments woven together seamlessly. The dynamic between the three leads is excellent and sets up for many more adventures with this superb TARDIS trio.
Blogtor Rating – 9/10
Come to Ricosta! Tropical climate, untouched beaches, fabulous cuisine… and no extradition treaties. The perfect retirement planet for a certain type of ‘business person’ – such as Ms Melanie Bush, formerly the co-owner of the Iceworld emporium, now on the run from her former criminal associate’s criminal associates…
Some other former associates of Ms Bush are abroad in this space Costa del Crime, however. Not long ago, the time and space traveller known as the Doctor arrived here, alongside his sometimes-criminal associate, the reformed juvenile offender Ace. But now the Doctor’s gone missing – and Melanie Bush is about to learn that on the planet Ricosta, the wages of sin… are death.
Written By: Matt Fitton
Directed By: Ken Bentley
Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Sophie Aldred (Ace),Ginny Holder (Gloria/Secretary), Des McAleer (Lefty Lonnigan), Stephen Hagan(Nathan Later), Harry Myers (Atomon/Sperovore Banker/Steward), John Banks(Mayor/Sperovore Auditor/Sperovore Financer). Other parts portrayed by the cast.
A Life of Crime is available in full from the Big Finish website