March 2012 brought the return of Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter in Jago & Litefoot Series 4. Once again aided by Ellie Higson (Lisa Bowerman) and Sgt Quick this time they are faced with the malevolent machinations of Kempston and Hardwick. As if that wasn’t enough they also encounter the mysterious Professor Claudius Dark (Colin Baker)! Fortunately Leela (Louise Jameson) is still around to lend a hand! Enough meandering let’s get on with the show!
First stop is a trip to Brighton and Jago in Love by Nigel Fairs. The story starts with Claudius Dark luring J&L to a meeting that is quickly interrupted and we meet our first sandman – a creature of mud and soil held together (none too well) by surface tension. Fighting free our feisty heroes are persuaded by Leela to spend some time in Brighton. Here whilst Jago falls in love with Abigail Woburn who owns a mysterious mirror in which spirits may be seen. Litefoot becomes trapped and we are treated to Brighton in all its glory with piers and fairs on the level. All ends well and we learn that Ms Woburn was a trap set by Kempston and Hardwick!
Returning to the metropolis the fearless fighters of fiendish foes meet Oscar Wilde in John Dorney’s Beautiful Things. This story spends some time enjoying the presence of Mr Wilde and introducing us to Mr Gad who goes round collecting young men and leaving them drained of life. I found the first half to be fragmented listening with Litefoot adding little to proceedings.
Later the action moves to Gad’s house which is almost TARDIS like in that it contains an infinite (not measured) library and that (Dorian Gray like) there is an older and a younger Gad! With an evil soul devouring machine set to spell the final end for J&L it falls to Oscar Wilde to save the day and the second part of this story I found way more gripping than the first. As everyone escapes Jago & Litefoot take the tube and we learn that this is the start of another plot from Kempston and Hardwick!
Next stop (and possibly their last) as our heroes board the tube in Matthew Sweet’s The Lonely Clock. DocOho has a very good review over on his review site (see here) though for me I think I prefer this to the Beautiful People.
The story centres on burglar Winnie O’Connor who kills her husband and is given a clock by Kempston and Hardwick. This clock allows time to be fractured and we have an atmospheric tale of J&L trapped on the circle line as it loops endlessly and Ellie, Leela and Winnie ending up at Charing Cross where Claudius Dark has been lured. Having resisted the trap of Oscar Wilde being erased from time the removal of Jago & Litefoot proves too much and Claudius Dark is drawn into events.
Although this is an oddly balanced tale it is the setting of a magnificent performance from Louise Jameson and I do prefer this story (just) over the rest of the set.
All is revealed in the final story The Hourglass Killers by Justin Richards. We quickly find out that Claudius Dark is none other than the Sixth Doctor and the characters split into two sets – the Doctor, Leela and Litefoot head to the town of Kempston Hardwick and the clay pit of Lord Anthill. Jago and Ellie get to do some hammy impressions of the Doctor and Leela to throw Kempston & Hardwick off the scent.
The Doctor and co. find Lord Anthill trapped in an hourglass slowly filling with sand. They rescue him then are themselves trapped in a massive hourglass. Meanwhile in London Jago and Ellie find a tunnel under the Thames in which a multitude of Kempstons and Hardwicks are digging through the mud with the aid of their sandmen. They are in pursuit of the TARDIS.
After some messy manoeuvring all ends well and Leela is able to leave whilst the Doctor treats Jago & Litefoot to the quick trip that will lead (via Voyage to Venus – see Comfort and Joy in the Jungles of Venus) to series 5!
The Series as a Whole
For me this was not a classic series. The central concept has suffered from the injection of first Leela and then the Doctor – this is a shame as a one-off ‘meet the Doctor’ has plenty of legs as we have since learned from Justice of Jalxar though that story is a Fourth Doctor tale. Ellie has been marginalised and there was no sense of an over-arching arc from the POV of Jago & Litefoot.
A do wonder if the idea of the Sixth Doctor happened due to Colin being available and his presence is initially just a bolt-on until the final story which doesn’t know if it is a Doctor Who story or a J&L adventure.
That all said some great pieces particularly for Leela and Oscar Wilde. With my own audio time travel (listening out of sequence) I know that later stories remain superb so I am still a huge fan of this particular spin-off.
What do you think? Have I missed something or is this entirely fair? Let me know!