‘A LIFE OF CRIME’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Mel reunites with the Seventh Doctor and Ace
I’ve heard ‘A Life of Crime’ at last! 🙂
This ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure by Big Finish is the first of a trilogy featuring Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor, Sophie Aldred as Ace and Bonnie Langford as Mel. The story was released in July 2016. I received my copy of this via post as part of a 12-CD subscription from Big Finish in June 2016.
‘A Life of Crime’ is a ‘Doctor Who’ story that means a lot to me. But I must admit; I never heard this story all the way through when it came out in 2016. I just fast-forwarded to the end to hear myself getting mentioned by Sophie Aldred in the CD extras. (Pause) And so did you! Come on, admit it! 😀
I’ll get back to that part later. Despite that, I couldn’t review ‘A Life of Crime’ without actually hearing the story itself. Thus after all these years in 2019, I decided to tackle ‘A Life of Crime’. Was this a pretty good audio adventure compared to how great it was to get a mention in the CD extras?
Well, that’s what I hoped to find out. ‘A Life of Crime’ is a four-part adventure by Matt Fitton. Over the years, Matt Fitton has contributed so many ‘Doctor Who’ stories for various Doctors and has become a pretty good pair of hands in terms of being a writer. So I hoped that I’d have a great time.
The story itself is rather the beginning of a new chapter in the Seventh Doctor’s life. For you see, this story features the return of Bonnie Langford as Melanie Bush, who rejoins the Doctor and Ace on their travels in time and space. Her reintroduction into the TARDIS brings some criminal proportions.
In this adventure, the Doctor and Ace visit Ricosta. Mel also visits the planet too. Ricosta is a planet that has a tropical climate and untouched beaches. Wow! This sounds like a great place for seaside beach resort. A pity about the ‘untouched’ beaches! Do they have ‘no entry’ signs for tourists there? 😀
Anyway, Mel comes to Ricosta as she seems to be on the run from former business associates. And by business, I mean criminal associates. I’ll get back to this later. Mel hopes to meet someone called Lefty Lonnigan, but hears that he’s dead. She very soon meets a woman who first calls herself Gloria.
As the story progresses, Gloria gradually reveals to Mel that she’s in actual fact – the Doctor! What?! So…Sylvester McCoy…regenerated into Jodie Whittaker?! 😀 No, no, no! They don’t do that! Mind you, considering the story’s CD release, this was all a year before Jodie got announced as the Doctor.
It actually turns out that Gloria is a con-woman who was once a friend of Sabalom Glitz. Yes! Remember him? He was the sleazy crook that Mel went off with at the end of ‘Dragonfire’. I’m so surprised Tony Selby didn’t reprise his role for Glitz for this audio adventure. He’s still alive, isn’t he?
Anyway, Gloria tries to make Mel help her to get into a vault and open it with her computer skills whilst she puts on the guise of the Doctor. Thankfully, Mel gets to team up with Ace and the Doctor later on as the trio band together to thwart Gloria’s schemes and defeat the monstrous Sperovores.
It was pretty exciting and enjoyable to hear Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Bonnie Langford reunite with each other in this first audio adventure as a trio. They only did one adventure on TV as a threesome which was ‘Dragonfire’. That was Mel’s exit tale as well as Ace’s introduction in the show.
I like how Matt Fitton tackles the Doctor, Ace and Mel reuniting with each other in this story. He keeps the atmosphere of the Seventh Doctor era by making it fun as well as full of suspense when the Doctor, Ace and Mel work together to solve a mystery regarding Gloria and the odd Sperovores.
Bonnie Langford is superb as Mel in this audio adventure. It was interesting to hear how Mel comes back into the series to reunite with the Doctor and to find out how much she’s changed since the last time she saw her friends. It seems Mel’s become harder and not go-lucky as she used to before.
Her experience with Sabalom Glitz and his criminal activities has likely caused her to go bad. But in actual fact, she hasn’t. It turns out Mel has maintained her moral compass since leaving the Doctor. She has undone criminal wrongs done by Glitz by changing bad situations into good for many worlds.
Sylvester McCoy is equally good as the Doctor in this adventure. Early on, he does seem to be trapped in the vault with the Sperovores about to devour him or something. Eventually he comes out of the vault and turns out to be really disappointed with Mel when he reunites with her and Ace.
In the latter half of the story, Sylvester’s Doctor isn’t sure whether to trust Mel. He’s not sure how much she’s changed since the last time he saw her when she left. But when he witnesses Mel’s about to make a noble sacrifice, the Doctor realises that she is the same good person he once knew.
Sophie Aldred is lovely as Ace in this adventure. I’ve had my CD cover of ‘A Life of Crime’ signed by Sophie at the ‘Film & Comic Con Glasgow’ in August 2019. I’ve become good friends with Sophie at conventions just as I’ve become good friends with Sarah Sutton. I enjoyed Sophie as Ace in this story.
I enjoyed how Ace reacts to seeing Mel again and she’s absolutely delighted. She calls her ‘donut’ which was the nickname Ace gave to Mel in ‘Dragonfire’. It’s interesting how much experience Ace has had travelling in the TARDIS since she last saw Mel and how she reacts to Mel in this audio story.
The guest cast includes Ginny Holder as Gloria, who poses herself as the Doctor for a bit, wearing the Doctor’s panama hat and such. I like how Mel sussed it out that Gloria wasn’t the Doctor half-way in the story. Gloria is this dodgy character who liked to get her way when it comes to criminal activities.
The story also features Des McAleer as Lefty Lonnigan and Stephen Hagan as Nathan Later. Lefty happens to be a cyborg who also knows Sabalom Glitz very well. Nathan Later is an undercover cop that Ace meets. There’s this interesting connection between Lefty and Nathan that got me surprised.
There’s also Harry Myers as Atomon, who is like the leader of the Sperovore monsters in the tale. The Sperovores are interesting as monsters. They’re quantum reality-devouring characters with an insatiable appetite. They’re like parasites that are money-lending, rather slimy and have many limbs.
The other Sperovores featured in the story include bankers, auditors and financers. They talk in such business-like terms when having a conversation with the Doctor and others. Many of these Sperovores are voiced by Harry Myers and John Banks in the tale. They are quite complex creatures.
John Banks also plays the Mayor of Ricosta in the story. Apparently Ricostans are like humanoid racoons. I got that impression from seeing the racoon who’s dressed up in a shirt and trousers with braces according to the CD’s front cover. So the Mayor is like Rocket from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.
Rocket: “Don’t call me a raccoon!”
(to Rocket) Shut up, Rocket! 😀
The story ends with Mel now seeming to be back with the Doctor and Ace in their travels in time and space. Mel is delighted, though Ace doesn’t seem to be pleased. Wait! I thought Ace was pleased to see Mel again. Oh well, it’s no big deal. They do have more exciting adventures after doing this one!
‘A Life of Crime’ has indeed been a fun and enjoyable ride. I’m glad I’ve heard it at last. It was exciting to hear how Mel reunited with the Doctor and Ace and Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Bonnie Langford clearly get on well with each other. Who knows what’ll be next for this TARDIS trio?
The CD extras are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. On Disc 2, there’s a trailer for the next story with the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Mel called ‘Fiesta of the Damned’. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Bonnie Langford, Ginny Holder, Des McAleer, writer Matt Fitton, director Ken Bentley, etc.
Of course, the highlight of the ‘A Life of Crime’ CD for me was when Sophie Aldred mentioned me in the CD extras. Whilst being interviewed with Bonnie Langford, Sophie shared how impressed she was by a ‘Doctor Who’ timeline of Ace I’d given her at the ‘Science of the Time Lords’ event in 2016.
I was gobsmacked and thrilled to hear my name and my ‘Doctor Who Timelines’ mentioned by Sophie in a Big Finish audio CD. It made my day! I was very pleased to hear that Sophie had found my timeline for Ace helpful and useful and she was impressed by the amount of detail I’d put into it.
I didn’t expect to get a mention by Sophie about Ace’s timeline in a Big Finish CD interview. I was like WOW when I heard from people I knew via my blog and ‘The Divergent Universe’ forum who told me the news. I was glad to have made my mark and that Sophie made me famous! Thanks Sophie! 🙂
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘A Life of Crime’ via a 6 or 12 CD/Download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras for ‘A Life of Crime’.
‘A Life of Crime’ rating – 9/10
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For the Seventh Doctor was
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For Mel was
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And much deserved was your mention Tim, your dedication to the timelines is incredible & it’s obviously been a big help to Sophie & no doubt others over the years i know it’s helped me.
Great review, i thoroughly enjoyed this one there’s a zest of energy to it & i like that there’s a little distrust with The Doctor & Mel which adds to the drama, Matt Fitton is a great writer & this is a fantastic audio drama deserving of your 9/10.
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I’m very pleased Sophie mentioned me in a Big Finish audio CD interview and I’m happy to have reviewed ‘A Life of Crime’ after all these years. I’m pleased my ‘Doctor Who Timelines’ have been helpful to many people over the years including yourself as well as Sophie, those on ‘The Divergent Universe’ forum and those who come onto my blog and often leave comments to make suggestions on how to improve a certain timeline, which I always appreciate.
I enjoyed this audio adventure with Mel returning to join the Doctor and Ace for more travels in time and space in the TARDIS. I like how Mel was reintroduced and that there was suspense featured throughout, especially when the Doctor wasn’t sure that Mel had gone bad and that there might be a black female Doctor for a change. Matt Fitton is very good in his writing and I’m glad this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure has a good feel to it with the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Mel. This is a very fitting story for Sophie Aldred to mention me in the CD extras. 😀
Many thanks for your comments, Simon.