JOY AND SQUEENESS ABUNDANT, BUT “YOU AIN’T HEARD NOTHIN’ YET!”
On the 26th of February, 1977, the first part of one of the most celebrated Doctor Who stories of all time, Robert Holmes’ The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, began airing on British television. In the gloriously gothic and superlatively supernatural send off to Sherlock Holmes, we saw rambunctious giant rodents, murderous mobsters and time-meddling miscreants of the most malevolent muse known to reality. And amongst all that were two wonderful chaps who we, the fans, have taken to heart over the last forty years, those magnificent maestros and investigators of infernal incidents, Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot.
However, it wouldn’t be for another thirty-two years after their first appearance on the show till we would hear from them again. Now, in 2017, they are more popular than ever, with twelve series of their own audio drama spin-off, plus a dozen or so extra appearances in various areas, with the Fourth Doctor, the Sixth Doctor, and even Strax, the Sontaran butler of Paternoster Row.
But this is perhaps the most unique entry of their vast repertoire of tantalising tales yet, as not only are we greeted with a two-part Short Trip, and it being narrated by two readers, both Jago and Litefoot (both aspects have never been done in a Short Trip before, to this reviewer’s knowledge), but also, our dynamic duo meet a new incarnation of their good friend, and maybe another familiar face….
….to The Club For Curious Scientific Men, where those of an inquisitive mind and a burning dedication and desire, can help to bring the advancement of science forward in new leaps and bounds. You join us tonight, for something a little different. Our founder and colleague, noted pathologist Professor George Litefoot, will be giving an account of a recent escapade of his, in tandem with the experience that befell his investigative partner, theatre impresario Henry Gordon Jago, and their meeting with an old friend of theirs that will help to shed light on these bizarre and fantastical events, but also give an understanding of things beyond our realm of knowledge.
There will, of course, be an interval, and refreshments in the exterior foyer, when this occasion arises…
Just a Thin Gap
With the arrival of the New Series licence in 2015, Big Finish have looked for new and inventive ways to not only create amazing stories with the new series properties, but also to further thin the dividing gap between classic Who and nu-Who, and whilst this had already been accomplished for our investigative duo with Strax, this takes that concept one step further and has our middle-aged miscreants meet a new Doctor, in the form of the fan loved Tenth incarnation, normally played by the irreplaceable David Tennant. But as this is a short trip, David is sadly nowhere to be found. But in a way, he still is…
Still a Short Trip
As this is a short trip, actors are kept to a minimum, but as this is a bold new step in a big direction, the acting roster has been doubled so that both Benjamin and Baxter can perform this fantastical tale, crafted by the brilliant Jonathan Barnes, which sees our investigators separated on business and still finding their way into all manner of scrapes and trouble, thanks to the arrival of their old friend, The Doctor. As this is only the first of two parts, the story can suffer a bit from the fact that this is merely the set up for part two, but Barnes crafts it in such a way that it is still engaging enough to see where it leads, and then, when it hits the final ten minutes or so, Barnes presents the listener with a fantastical revelation filled cliffhanger that, as Jago would say, will certainly leave the punters wanting more.
Small But Beautifully Formed
And for bringing the fantastical story to life we have a small few, but amazingly talented number of people to thank. Firstly, the acting qualities of Benjamin and Baxter, who, as always, complement each other in terms of narration duties and succeed in making the story still flow naturally during transition from one narrator to the other, not to mention nailing the tones and mannerisms of the other characters they had to play, especially The Doctor in his Tenth incarnation.
Then, there are the wonderful directorial duties of the glorious Lisa Bowerman. Well, of course, they would be wonderful, she has practically directed and nearly appeared in all of their audio adventures. There are only about four people who know Jago and Litefoot better than her, and one of them is sadly no longer with us. In short, her skills are as well-honed and formidable as that of the great Nicholas Briggs.
And finally, the muchly appreciated talents of musician and sound designer, Steve Foxon, and it is in this department that transcends the Short Trips from miniature audiobooks to unique audio drama experiences. The music and sound design are used sparingly, but that’s what makes them so good when they are used. Foxon waits for the right moments and the right occasions to use the music to heighten the mood and drama and to keep us enthralled by the world created in our ears. A small crew, yes, but a highly talented and formidable one at that!
Roll on Part 2
As this is only part one, only time will tell if the second half of the Jago and Litefoot Revival is as interesting and as thrilling as what we were left with. However, after more careful listening, it may transpire that we, the audience, have not been told the whole truth.
BLOGOTR RATING: 8/10 Slightly slow but understandable build-up, but a cracking third act to boot! Bring on part two!
Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.
Release #27 is a Tenth Doctor and Jago & Litefoot story.
Tonight’s lecture to the Club For Curious Scientific Men will be given by Professor George Litefoot, pathologist – assisted by his esteemed colleague Mr Henry Gordon Jago, theatrical impressario – who will recount a sequence of outlandish events in London and Greece, ruminate upon the nature of good fortune (or rather its absence), and provide a surprising account of a mercurial old friend. The lecture starts at 7:30 and will include an interval.
Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Written By: Jonathan Barnes
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Christopher Benjamin (Narrator), Trevor Baxter (Narrator)