I have to admit that I’ve only really dabbled in Jago and Litefoot twice before; once in The Worlds of Doctor Who and again in Jago & Litefoot & Strax. With the release of the eleventh series of Jago & Litefoot here, I couldn’t resist the chance to review them. So, over the next four days, we’ll be reviewing each story from the box set; the first story is Jago & Son so naturally, that’s where we’ll begin the reviews!
With missing persons, dead bodies and a Satanist cult to deal with, both Litefoot and Jago need help. Professor Litefoot finds himself working with Jean Bazemore, an old archaeologist friend. Jago, however, finds he is assisted by someone he never even knew existed – his own son. Or is he? Can Jago be sure of anything?
But there is more to events than the detectives know. An alien menace is stirring underground. Once again, Jago and Litefoot find themselves fighting for their lives…
Ah, the Victorian era; it seems the perfect place for a Doctor Who related story doesn’t it? We’re back with the investigators who first appeared in The Talons of Weng-Chiang back in 1977. Who would have thought that 39 years later we’d be having even more adventures with Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot? I’m not complaining in the slightest; this is one of the reasons I adore Big Finish, because they’re able to spend more and more time with these characters who we’ve learnt to hold so dear to us; and it’s fantastic.
There’s nothing quite like a pre-title sequence is there? That little snippet of a story that acts as the worm on a fishing line, tempting you to take that bite. That’s exactly what happens in Jago & Son; there’s the toll of a bell, a mysterious chant, a death and a performance in the theatre of Henry Gordon Jago. Oh yeah, and as the title suggests, Henry’s supposed son.
After the wonderfully Victorian sounding titles, that always remind me for some reason of The Sarah Jane Adventures opening theme, we’re thrown right back into the action, with George and the cockney barmaid, Ellie investigating the scene of a crime. Now, I confess I haven’t heard much Jago & Litefoot (something which I fully intend to remedy when my finances see fit), but this sounds like it’s fairly standard procedure.
When we’re reunited with Henry Gordon Jago and Henry Gordon Jago Jr., we’re given a bit of backstory on Jr’s part as to why he’d never sought after his father before; apparently his mother told him that his dad was trampled to death by an elephant. Even though that’s evidently not the case, it’s not really a pretty way to go. One part of this scene that I really enjoyed was that how Jago (not to be confused with Jago Jr.) thinks that women are typically irrational and unexplainable in their actions; it’s the exact sort of attitude that I’m sure most Victorian gentleman had towards the opposite sex.
One of my favourite characters from this story has to be Jean Bazemore; a woman who seemingly is rather friendly with Professor Litefoot. We learn that she disguised herself as a man to gain an education and has been on archeological digs in Egypt (I wonder if she bumped into a Professor Song?) but now she’s back in London as she wants to dig where they’re planning an underground station; with talks of all manner of things lurking beneath the surface; I have to confess that this reminds me of The Web Of Fear a bit with the London Underground connection.
With Jago and Jago Jr. on the hunt for Jago Jr’s kidnapped mother, Ruby Valentine we get some more beautiful small moments between this father and son team. I have to admit that Jago Jr. does seem to talk about a lot of things that seem purely expositional; but I have to admit that for once I didn’t mind it at all. In fact, it’s made me want to know more about Jago Jr’s life growing up, travelling around Europe.
The scenes between Professor Litefoot and Jean are so well crafted by Nigel Fairs that you’ll instantly believe that these two have history with one another; the performances by Trevor Baxter and Rowena Cooper (who, coincidentally played Queen Victoria in Torchwood’s The Victorian Age) are beautifully done and played as if the two are genuinely old friends who’ve stumbled into each others lives once again. Jean’s wicked sense of humour and her persistent determination makes her feel right at home in the role of Litefoot’s companion (and maybe in more ways than one) in this story; and I dare say I think she’d even give the Doctor a run for his money.
Jago Jr’s admiration for his father, who has seemingly had the most heroic and adventurous life of any gentleman to date is very close to becoming idolisation and infatuation; which is all the more bittersweet when you realise that most of these amazing feats that Jago had supposedly conquered were just fabrications from his mother. Whilst listening to Jago Jr (played wonderfully by James Joyce), one saying sprung to mind; ‘Never meet your heroes’. When they first met, Jago was more than happy to accept the praise that Jago Jr gave him; however, as the story develops, you begin to notice that Jago becomes less and less comfortable admitting that all of these tall tales were true.
When Jago and Jago Jr stumble across a trapdoor; they seemingly discover a crypt belonging to a Satanist cult, with animal skulls scattered around and a human sacrifice…
It’s not until just after the twenty minute mark that we finally hear Jago and Litefoot together (albeit with Jago Jr. present too). The sense of mystery only thickens though, when it transpires that Jago has absolutely no recollection of the woman who was supposedly the mother to his supposed son. Litefoot is there to listen to Jago’s ongoing problem and offers a rather Victorian way of consoling his dear friend.
We’re then taken back to the crypt, known as ‘The Holiest of Holies’ where a holy vessel is seemingly missing; all because three brothers didn’t obey the instructions of the Abbot. Now, I have to admit, I don’t know a great deal about Satanist cults, but I was totally unaware that they placed so much value on things being holy. Big Finish: There for when you want a brief education on Satanism. Somehow, I don’t think that will be quoted on their website.
I must say that Henry Gordon Jago and myself seem to have something in common; in that when we’ve had a frightful or testing ordeal, the only way to properly deal with it is through our stomachs; luckily for Jago, he had Mrs. Hudson cook him up a meal, for me on the other hand, I have nobody really; the perks of being a student.
When it transpires that the cause of the sacrifices death was seemingly aided by something otherworldly, Jago and Litefoot start to come into their own.
It’s not long until Jago Jr. is kidnapped by cloaked figures in a similar fashion to his mother, and it’s up to Jago and Litefoot to try and get him back.
One thing I admire about Jago Jr. is that he seems to have inherited the bravery that his father supposedly had in the fantasies of his mother; especially when faced with a Satanist cult. Not only does he not appeared intimidated by them, but he openly mocks them to their faces; a move that I can’t say I would do myself should I be in that situation.
Like most Big Finish releases, there is a twist in this tale; however, unlike most Big Finish twists, this one gave me a surprise that I definitely didn’t see coming. What makes it all the better is the fact that the story doesn’t linger on the revelation at all, instead it’s played as if it’s commonplace and before you know it, the story has moved on.
Jago Jr. has a character arc in Jago & Son that is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before on Big Finish; it’s not often you find yourself constantly changing your opinion on a single character, however Nigel Fairs manages to make you do just that with Henry Gordon Jago Jr.; I have to admit that he’s bloody good actor though.
Jean is quite possibly the most headstrong female character that I’ve heard in a Victorian setting in a very long time; she’s incredibly honest, owning up to mistakes that she’s made, isn’t afraid to challenge Litefoot and knows how to handle dynamite. What more could anyone want in a woman? I’d love a story featuring Jean Bazemore and River Song. Big Finish; pretty please?
One thing I have to salute Nigel Fairs for, is not being afraid to remind the listener that what they’re listening to is downright ridiculous; no more is this apparent than in the conversation that Litefoot has with Satan. And that’s not a sentence I ever thought that I would type.
It’s not a cracking Big Finish story if it doesn’t make you want to weep either with happiness or despair; this is a cracking Big Finish story. Even though this is my only my third outing with Jago and Litefoot; there’s a moment in which Jago’s mortality is brought to the fore and I may have shed a tear, even if, deep down, you know that of course he’s going to live, as there’s another three stories in this series and another whole series already announced.
There’s a final twist at the end of this amazing tale which I feel will set up the rest of the series; Inspector Quick will seemingly play a rather large part in the near future.
Overall, Jago & Son is the perfect way to start a series; it was dark, funny, poignant, emotional and enjoyable. The next three releases are going to have to do a lot to live up to the incredibly high standards this story has set.
The rating system on the GallifreyArchive is achieved on a scale of 1-10.
For Jago & Son, I will give a rating of:
Should you want to purchase Jago & Litefoot Series 11, it’s currently available both physically for £30.00 as a download for £25.00, which you can purchase by clicking here!