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Reviewed: Short Trips – This Sporting Life

You couldn’t make it up… and to be fair to those still tickled by the pleasingly random events that go together to tell the story of the stolen Jules Rimet trophy, they aren’t wrong either.
From our vantage point here in the distant future, it’s a delightfully British tale of chancer crims and coppers – complete with names like ‘McPhee’, ‘Jackson’ and ‘The Pole’. However, if events had gone to plan before its final rediscovery, we might not remember the story of how, on the eve of what would become England’s Footballing triumph at 1966 World Cup, the trophy was stolen from Westminster Central Hall, with quite the same reverence as we do now.
No, if the drop had gone the way the Metropolitan Police had planned it to, we would still have a pretty spectacular story, but not a spectacular story where the macguffin gets discovered by a dog called Pickles.
And lo, a pub quiz perennial was born.
Reverence is very much at the heart of this Big Finish Short Trip, the title, while also alluding to the film adaptation of David Storey’s 1963 novel of the same name – a film that put a certain actor called William Hartnell on the map – also alludes to a very British sense of fair play. Something that, as the plot unfolds, wasn’t always as prevalent in 60’s society off the pitch as it was on it.
Speaking of the Sixties setting, this is something of a contemporary tale for the TARDIS crew of the First Doctor, Dodo, and Steven – with Dodo very much serving as our guide through the streets of London for both the bewildered Steven and us, the listener. The balance between the trio is just right with Dodo feeling very much at home as the defacto leader.

Una McCormack paints a vivid picture of the setting with the deftest of touches – along with some excellent, sparing sound design too – while Peter Purvis does a grand job of capturing the irascible First Doctor. Using the odd ‘hmm’ and ‘my boy’ there’s a wonderful sense of frustration to his interpretation of the Doctor. There’s an interrogation scene in a jewellery store which plays out like an anti-Sherlock Holmes deduction, where, in the place of verbosity and showmanship, the First Doctor just seems to get more and more frustrated that his guilty party won’t just admit that they know what he means.
It’s also nice to see the Doctor singing the praises of something other than cricket – although we never learn of the origins of his love for the beautiful game.
There are credible motives behind the theft and a real ethical debate at the heart of the mystery which, thanks to the TARDIS crew, we now know how it came to be, and, for such a reasonable price and short running time, it’s another trip very much worth taking.
Doctor Who – Short Trips: This Sporting Life is available to download now exclusively from Big Finish.

Andrew Reynolds

Reviewed: Short Trips – This Sporting Life

by Andrew Reynolds time to read: 2 min
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