If you’re only familiar with the modern Doctor Who then you might be unfamiliar with Jago and Litefoot.
Theatre owner Henry Gordon Jago and pathologist Professor George Litefoot were first introduced in 1977’s ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’. They worked together with the Fourth Doctor and quickly formed a friendship.
In 2009, they shared a ‘Companion Chronicles’ episode, with Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter reprising their respective roles. The first of their solo adventure box set came out the following year and is now on its twelfth series. Backed by their encounter with the Doctor, the duo are regularly called in to investigate strange events in 1890s London. Think Madame Vastra if there were two of her and both were stuffy Victorian gentlemen.
After eleven outings in Big Finish’s series, you might think that the well would start to run dry of new places to take the characters. With a thirteenth series confirmed, we happily report the twelfth runs with an energy that shows no hints of slowing.
12.1 Picture This by Justin Richards
The box set opens with a quirky adventure involving stolen paintings and mysterious deaths. With Jago and Litefoot going about their everyday business in the first half, this makes an easy jumping-on point. The mystery is established early and slowly encroaches on their day until they’re forced to investigate.
For new listeners, understanding why two men who are not professional detectives are pulled in to investigate, and why they do so as a duo, is an important part of understanding Jago and Litefoot as characters. The opener has a lot of setup to do in terms of the series’ overall arc, so the plot of this entry is a little thin. But that’s easily forgiven considering the density of story threads that it needs to set up.
12.2 The Flickermen by Paul Morris and Simon Barnard
With the series established, a full-blooded horror story was a terrific move. The story has all the ingredients: folklore coming alive, a creepy fairground attraction and a dark past returning to haunt you.
The writing is exquisite, giving Christopher Benjamin a moment to shine as Jago bristles over technology which might put him under. Inevitably, the trope of the naysayer being proven right shows itself and delicately offsets horror with dark humour.
12.3 School of Blood by Paul Morris
The third entry takes on a more light-hearted tone as the pair investigate a school and find themselves accidentally hired. The story progresses like a murder mystery as the teachers are being picked off one-by-one. Jago and Litefoot must get to the bottom of it before they become the victims while also refereeing double hockey.
It goes a bit moustache-twirling-villain and damsel-tied-to-rail-track towards the end, but it works in the context of the story. Themes of friendship, sacrifice and revenge are explored and make it an excellent precursor to the finale.
12.4 Warm Blood by Justin Richards
The concluding chapter of the series is the weakest. The writer does a good job to clue new listeners in on Ellie’s backstory. Lisa Bowerman’s character has been a fixture of the ‘Jago & Litefoot’ series from the beginning, so there’s a lot to cover.
Those steeped in the history of these three characters will undoubtedly find this fractious confrontation an absolute treat. Especially with its excellent dialogue and dramatic conclusion.
It’s a terrific box set that makes full use of its setting to play with stories in the murky border between sci-fi and horror. The dynamic between Jago and Litefoot is a wonderful listen and the history they share helps reinforce the strength of their friendship. That said, it may have benefited from a series arc that wasn’t so dependent on back story for its emotional core. Each story packs more variety than an evening of vaudeville, ideal for anyone who enjoys Big Finish’s horror stories.
Blogtor Rating – 8/10
Written By: Justin Richards, Paul Morris, Simon Barnard
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago), Trevor Baxter (Professor George Litefoot), Lisa Bowerman (Ellie Higson), Conrad Asquith (Inspector Quick), Ronald Pickup (The Old One), Forbes Masson (Kindred), Ronan Vibert (Mr Ravener),Robbie Stevens (Melchester), David John (Sir James Royston/Pete Stepney), Nigel Whitmey (Robert W Paul/Hardwick), David John (Sir James Royston), Jacqueline King (Old Ma Hambley/Miss Broodie), Charlie Hayes (Nellie/Lucilla Fredericks),Niky Wardley (Hannah Bennet). Other roles played by the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Justin Richards
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Series twelve of ‘Jago & Litefoot’ is available to buy now from the Big Finish website.