The latest set of Virgin adaptations jumps towards the end of the Missing Adventures range, with the first of Gareth Roberts’ trilogy of novels which neatly wraps up the Graham Williams era of the show – or indeed the whole series, depending on how you interpret The Well-Mannered War! It’s also a major step forward for the audio adventures, with Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and John Leeson all appearing together in the same story.
John Dorney’s adaptation of Roberts’ novel keeps most of the best-remembered moments and a great deal of the dialogue from the original, which introduced the unusual painter Menelove Stokes to the Doctor Who (and later Bernice Summerfield) universe with a great performance here from Michael Troughton. There are plenty of opportunities for Baker to shine, and director Nick Briggs ensures that the quickfire repartee between Baker and Ward rattles out at the listener.
Marcus Garvey’s Frank Spiggot captures the annoying pathos of the character while Graham Seed and Miranda Raison make a very well-matched pair. Joshua Silver and John Dorney make the Nisbett brothers work much better on audio than they did on the page! Howard Carter’s sound design and music add nicely to proceedings although in common with others, I had a bit of a problem hearing exactly what had happened to the poor unfortunate in the first scene.
The Romance of Crime is one of those stories at the time that I wished had been a televised adventure (I’ll take it over The Nightmare of Eden or The Horns of Nimon any time), and this is a terrific re-enactment.
Verdict: Wit, humour, tension, and Ogrons being Ogrons – what’s not to love about this encapsulation of an era brought to life with style? 9/10