Ah, the Short Trip series, it’s been a while hasn’t it? The reason I’ve decided to review this particular Short Trip should be pretty obvious; Big Finish are doing something new. A two-part Short Trip told over two consecutive months is one thing, but having Jago and Litefoot narrate a tale featuring the Tenth Doctor should be considered special indeed. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
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.
Even though I’m not the biggest fan of Jago & Litefoot as a series, I can’t deny that both Trevor Baxter and Christopher Benjamin don’t have two of the most powerful and recognisable voices within the Whoniverse; I’d go as far as to say that they’re up there for me alongside Tom Baker and the late John Hurt for gravitas.
George Litefoot is about to give a presentation to the Club For Curious Scientific Men about some fantastical goings on when all of a sudden, his good pal and partner in crime investigation, Henry Gordon Jago appears, criticising Litefoot that he’s not going to do the story justice. I personally love the idea that these two friends would be of different minds of how to tell a tale; whereas Litefoot intends to give the cold, hard facts, Jago, forever the theatrical gentleman, wishes to inject some razzmatazz into proceedings. It’s brilliant, that having a Short Trip that lasts over two months, means you can easily have a six minute pre-title sequence, which is what happens here. What’s even more brilliant is the kick-ass variation of the Tenth Doctor’s theme that Big Finish uses; it really gives you the impression that you’re in for a Tenth Doctor story.
I must confess that the rapport between Jago and Litefoot is so well written and executed in performance that you’re instantly drawn into what they’re saying; it’s evident almost immediately that Jonathan Barnes knows these two characters exceptionally well, and that both Trevor Baxter and Christopher Benjamin are both good friends outside of their work.
The first have of this Short Trip seems to establishing the events that lead up to the meat of the story, with Litefoot going on somewhat of a holiday, doing some archeology and enjoying the sights, whilst Jago and Ellie (you’ll know her if you’re into the Jago & Litefoot series; if you’re not, she’s essentially a barmaid that the pair can confide in) are sat in a pub wondering whether they’ve run out of luck due to lack of adventures.
It’s at the halfway mark that Litefoot gets his first glimpse of the Tenth Doctor, and just as he’s about to reveal the Doctor’s identity we’re taken back to the theatre, allowing Jago to tell us what he was up to. I can’t help but feel that this was done to evoke somewhat of a pantomime feel; the audience knows what’s going on, but the characters in the story (in this case Jago) is oblivious, whilst we’re desperate to shout out “It’s the Doctor!”
When Litefoot realises that he’s met and that he’s conversing with the Doctor, he gives a beautifully rousing speech about what he believes the Doctor signifies and stands for; it’s made all the more poignant by the swelling score provided by Steve Foxon, which has been subtle yet profound throughout.
I talk a lot about cliffhangers when reviewing Big Finish, and I think that this may actually be one of the best cliffhangers I’ve heard; sure, there’s danger for both Jago and Litefoot, and sure the Tenth Doctor is involved but the real cliffhanger involves having a spot of Port. Thank you very much indeed.
I’ve tried my upmost best in this review to not disclose anything that could be considered a major spoiler, but if you’re looking for a story that features Jago and Litefoot, and/or the Tenth Doctor, and/or a Victorian setting and/or an extremely cheap story, and/ora strangely sinister harmonica, then I can’t recommend this story enough; and I myself can’t wait to see what happens in Act Two in April.
Should you want to purchase The Jago & Litefoot Revival: Act One, it’s currently available as a download from Big Finish for £2.99 which you can purchase here.