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Review: The Crooked Man (Doctor Who) / Author: John Dorney / Publisher: Big Finish / Starring: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Neil Stuke, Sarah Smart, Robin Pearce, Richard Earl, Lizzie Roper / Release Date: Out Now

The Crooked Man is the latest release in the third series of Fourth Doctor Adventures from Big Finish. Written by John Dorney, it tells the story of a supernatural evil stalking the streets of a typical English seaside town.

The Doctor and Leela are investigating a series of gruesome murders and quickly realise that local policeman, Ellis Andrews (Earl), is out of his depth. The latest murder leads to the home of Laura Corbett (Smart), who is happily married to the perfect Simon Corbett (Pearce). All would be idyllic except that their home appears to be haunted. A supernatural threat has come to take away their baby!

The murders are all rather awful and the performance of Neil Stuke as the crooked man of the title could very easily have made this a nasty horror story. Fortunately the mood is lifted by Tom Baker’s slightly amused delivery and some wonderful one-liners for Louise Jameson. The story is another take on a familiar though not overused concept and the resolution is satisfactory if less of a surprise than it might have been. Extra points should also be awarded for the romantic subplot which is played perfectly. There is also a wealth of other roles for the whole cast to bring to life.

From the first few moments when the Fourth Doctor appears whistling I Do Love To Be Beside the Seaside to the simple use of seagulls, this story immediately conjures up an atmosphere which builds nicely to the dramatic tension of the second part.

This is a neat telling of a very dark story with enough frivolity to round the whole piece out into a decent listen that ends well, while leaving you caring about what happens next to the main characters.

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