‘THE ROMANCE OF CRIME’
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Crime with the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9
I was so excited by the news that Big Finish were going to ‘The Fourth Doctor by Gareth Roberts’ box set!
I couldn’t wait to listen to these new audio adaptations from two ‘Doctor Who’ books, since I wanted to have more Douglas Adams-styled adventures on audio from Big Finish. To hear more stories in the style of ‘The Pirate Planet’; ‘City of Death’ and ‘Shada’ was so tremendously delicious!
These are two four-part stories based on the original novels ‘The Romance of Crime’ and ‘The English Way of Death’ by Gareth Roberts. They were published in the 1990s by Virgin Publishing and they have been adapted by John Dorney, who has remained really true to the spirit of the original novels.
‘The Romance of Crime’ and ‘The English Way of Death’ star Tom Baker as the Doctor with Lalla Ward as Romana and John Leeson as K-9. These two stories are set during Season 17 of the classic TV series of ‘Doctor Who’, between the stories ‘The Creature from the Pit’ and ‘Nightmare of Eden’.
Gareth Roberts has written a number of TV episodes for the recent new series of ‘Doctor Who’ and he has also written the ‘Shada’ novelization which I really enjoyed reading/listening to. Gareth has the flavour of Douglas Adams in his stories and that makes this box-set extremely welcome for me!
Big Finish released standard individual releases and a limited special edition of the two stories in January 2015. I purchased the limited special edition box set, since that contains a behind-the-scenes disc; production notes and glossy, stunning cast photos, including Tom Baker and Lalla Ward.
I received the special edition box set of ‘The Fourth Doctor by Gareth Roberts’ in the post before going to ‘Big Finish Day 6’ in Slough, January 2015. I had my copy signed by Lalla Ward, who signed one of the photos, at ‘Big Finish Day 6’ and by adaptor John Dorney and producer David Richardson.
The first four-part story of ‘The Fourth Doctor by Gareth Roberts’ box set is called ‘The Romance of Crime’. Based on the original book, it is an enjoyable outer-space adventure on two discs. It is gripping to listen to and full of eccentricity; humour and intrigue.
The story is set on a prison called the Rock of Judgement in the Uva Beta Uva system. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 come to the Rock to find that a murder takes place, connected to an artist’s gallery.
The TARDIS trio have to find out what’s going on before everybody’s lives are in danger. It isn’t long before the terror of Xais begins again on the Rock of Judgement and the Ogrons eventually turn up.
I love the Douglas Adams-atmosphere and wit in these Gareth Roberts’ stories. I’m very pleased with how John Dorney has adapted this novel for audio, since it echoes the feel of Season 17 throughout.
To have a story set on a prison in outer space is not unoriginal, but it provides the action-packed drama required for the story. Also the criminal code featured in it has an interesting twist and edge.
Tom Baker is brilliant as the Doctor in this story. He obviously enjoyed doing this tale and his Doctor gets to do so much with being in the action and delivering the one-like jokes which he does so well.
My favourite scenes with Tom Baker’s Doctor are with the Ogrons. There’s a moment where he offers a jelly belly to an Ogron and it’s very funny, since he is trying to trick the Ogron to set him free.
Lalla Ward is excellent as Romana in this tale. I’ve chatted to Lalla at conventions about how much I’ve enjoyed the Douglas Adams-styled of stories that she was in, which pleased her so much indeed.
The Douglas Adams era of ‘Doctor Who’ was Lalla Ward’s favourite era. There’s a moment where Romana gets possessed and is evil for a while which was scary. But she turned out alright in the end.
John Leeson returns to voice K-9 in this adventure. I’ve met John a number of times at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions and I enjoy listening to him play K-9 with the funny, little voice he uses and does so well.
I liked it when K-9’s in the comic scenes of the story and when he’s wired up to a computer and being a know-all to everyone else. I enjoyed it when K-9 reveals the Ogron’s home planet in the tale.
Miranda Raison, who was in ‘Daleks in Manhattan’/’Evolution of the Daleks’ and later played Constance Clarke with the Sixth Doctor, guest stars as Margo. I enjoyed Miranda Raison in this story.
Margo is one of the security guards aboard the Rock of Judgement. She gets uptight and stressed out before she becomes the evil Xais, as she puts on her mask and does some pretty nasty things in this.
Graham Seed guest stars as Pyerpoint, the High Archon of the Rock of Judgement. Pyerpoint is a maverick law-man who is set on seeking justice served and he accepts no nonsense aboard the Rock.
Pyerpoint doesn’t like it when the Doctor and Romana turn up and they’re investigating the murders aboard the Rock. I was shocked when he hides a secret of his own and he is not clear-cut as it seems.
Michael Troughton, who is one of Patrick Troughton’s sons, guest stars Menlove Stokes, an artist aboard the Rock of Judgement. Stokes draws portraits of criminals and he’s also a highly-strung man.
Stokes did a mask for Xais once and he gets arrested when accused of murdering one of his assistants aboard the prison. I like Stokes’ character and Michael makes him his own during this tale.
Marcus Garvey guest stars as Frank Spiggot, a police officer investigating the murders aboard the Rock. Spiggot – or Spig, as the Doctor and Romana call him – is someone who prefers working alone.
Eventually Spiggot becomes a willing ally and he has his own catchphrase when thinking about ‘Angie and the kids’. I enjoyed some of the banter he shares with either the Doctor, Romana and K-9.
The story’s monsters are the Ogrons, who appeared in the Jon Pertwee stories ‘Day of the Daleks’ and ‘Frontier in Space’. I loved the Ogrons in this story as I found them really funny and very stupid.
The Ogrons are voiced by John Dorney who does them really well for this audio adventure. Katy Manning should have played an Ogron in this story too since they are her favourite monsters, ha, ha.
‘The Romance of Crime’ has been a brilliant audio adventure to listen to. I enjoyed the Douglas Adams-styled humour and the mystery elements. Also the Doctor, Romana and K-9 fare pretty well.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 2 of the limited special edition box set of ‘The Fourth Doctor by Gareth Roberts’, there is a suite of music from ‘The Romance of Crime’ to enjoy! At the end of Disc 2 of the standard edition of ‘The Romance of Crime’, there is a trailer for ‘The English Way of Death’ with the Doctor, Romana and K-9.
‘The Romance of Crime’ (Audio) rating – 9/10
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