It’s a new era in Big Finish history, with UNIT: Extinction followed closely by Jago & Litefoot & Strax, Big Finish is finally dipping its toes into the world of ‘New Who’ (Anything since the revival of the show in 2005). With this release being a mix of old and new, will it work? Here’s what I thought…
“Strax, the Sontaran butler to Victorian investigator Vastra and her wife Jenny, suffers a disorienting attack and mistakes Jago & Litefoot for Jenny and Vastra and moves into Litefoot’s home. Together, they are on the trail of a creature that is stealing brains, which may or may not be linked to a haunted house in London…”
As I know that not everyone who will read this review will have had the opportunity to listen to this release, I intend to try and keep as far away from giving anything away in terms of plot, as I don’t want to spoil it for you, however as it will inevitably have to be talked about somewhat lightly, this review will contain mild to moderate spoilers.
Let’s start with the potential elephant in the room; I’m well aware that some people aren’t the biggest fans of Strax, the butler Sontaran. I can understand their reasoning, however to anyone who would only be deterred from purchasing this release due to the fact that Stax features, please reconsider. In this story, Strax isn’t ‘annoying’ like some would say he is in the TV show. Whilst his character is still humorous, he actually serves a purpose in moving the story as opposed to being there in darker Victorian episodes for comic relief for the children watching.
Whilst talking about the main cast of the story, for anyone who isn’t familiar with who Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot are, they first appeared in the Fourth Doctor story, The Talons of Weng-Chiang and have since had many audio adventures courtesy of Big Finish which you can look at here. The two Victorian gentleman bounce off each other and personally, I feel they have one of the best chemistries in the Whoniverse.
Even though this release is called Jago & Litefoot & Strax, they aren’t the only three main characters at all. There’s also the amazing Ellie, played by the lovely Lisa Bowerman, who I was lucky enough to meet at The Doctor Who Festival. Ellie, a barmaid not dissimilar from Clara in The Snowmen features as the role of the companion, and to magnificent effect. Not only is she there to ask questions, but she also helps Jago and Litefoot persuade Strax to work with them. In my opinion Ellie is very underestimated in this story, I think that she is more intelligent, understanding and compassionate than she let’s on and I would love to hear her in more releases.
The story itself, whilst not giving too much away, appears on the surface to be a somewhat light, comical romp, with Strax having a head injury and mistaking Jago and Litefoot for Madame Vastra and Jenny. The story is based around a haunted house, which nobody appears to dare go into and a series of bizarre murders that are all taking place nearby. The two hours listening to this flew by as there was the perfect mix of sci-fi, suspense and hilarity; a personal highlight was Professor Litefoot and Strax being summoned on stage with somewhat embarrassing consequences.
The main villain, who I won’t name here so you’re not spoiled is chilling and really intriguing, and it’s great that as an audience, we learn a lot about the character at the same time as the main cast as it means every revelation, and there are a fair few, is a genuine surprise and we can relate to Jago, Litefoot, Strax and Ellie as they too uncover the truth.
In my opinion, Big Finish took a risk adding a New-Who character into a well established world of classic Doctor Who, it would have been so easy for it to have failed by either changing Strax’s character too much, or making Jago and Litefoot into laughing stocks or idiots so that they would just accept a Sontaran running around London. What’s brilliant about this story however, is the fact that they haven’t changed the characters at all; Strax is still playing the straight-faced Sontaran who doesn’t do anything for comical effect yet achieves it, and Jago and Litefoot are still their brilliant, eccentric selves. By adding Strax into their world, Big Finish has opened countless possibilities for more Classic/New Who crossovers. I for one, would love to see Jago & Litefoot meet the rest of the Paternoster Gang in the near future, or even have them encounter Charles Dickens that we saw in The Unquiet Dead. With it also confirmed that David Tennant is reprising his role as the Tenth Doctor on Big Finish, it would be great for him to go back and say hello to these two astonishing characters.
The rating system on the Gallifrey Archive is achieved on a scale of 1-10.
For Jago & Litefoot & Strax, I will give a rating of: