The title may sound like an episode of The Man from UNCLE but in fact this is the cracking climax to the fourth season of Jago & Litefoot. And one of the things that becomes clear almost immediately is that this season has in fact been following on directly from the previous one, with the aftershocks of the time-meddling that featured so prominently there still being felt as the eponymous heroes join forces with Leela and Professor Dark for a final battle with the slippery duo of Kempston and Hardwick.
Juicy Jagoisms: “A deluge of duplicitous doubles”
The respective occupations of the eponymous heroes of this series – theatre manager and forensic scientists – provide the recipe for the tang and flavour of these ‘infernal investigations’, combining the showmanship and trickery of the Victorian stage with the nascent fascination with crime and mystery in the era of Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper. Each season of Jago & Litefoot has had its own distinctive overarching plot, one usually veering towards a specific genre by dint of the overall villain. If the first season’s Dr Tulp was a character reminiscent of Lovecraftian fantasy and the vampiric Gabriel Sanders of season two of more traditional horror, then the ‘Mr Payne’ that followed in the next was a time-traveler in the best science fiction tradition of Doctor Who. Which if course is fair enough given that this series is a spin-off from that venerable television (and audio) show. That season had made these links to its parent series even clearer by bringing back Leela, the Doctor’s companion from the Tom Baker era. So it is only logical and reasonable that this be now extended further into the current season as she has been retained as a regular cast member for a story that retains the earlier science fiction and time travel through-line. And indeed this season finale will appeal especially to fans (like myself) of Doctor Who, a cross-over story being pretty much what the doctor ordered (sic – sorry, I couldn’t resist) now that Jago and Litefoot are firmly established in their own distinctive series.
Having found an unexpected ally in Professor Dark, the time has come for Jago and Litefoot to face up to the threat posed by the Sandmen … which takes them first to the British Museum for a predictable but still very funny round of ‘shushing’ from disturbed readers and then to the works owned by Lord Ampthill in Bedfordshire. This sees the team split, with Jago and Ellie fairly hilariously passing themselves off as Leela and Professor Dark to distract Kempston and Hardwick, leading to some wonderfully ‘bad’ acting. Indeed, one of the highlights of the season sees Jago giving Ellie lessons on how to play the savage, though neither is particularly convincing when seen up close, as soon becomes clear – especially as it appears that there are also more than one Kempston and Hardwick …
“You will take us to the Red Tavern or I will cut out your liver and feed it to the horse!” – Leela (Louise Jameson)
In the previous season, one story had, via some time travel shenanigans, seen the appearance of two Jagos and throughout this episode we keep hearing the phrase ‘can’t be in two places at once’, which of course turns out to be exactly not the case. In the titular and very striking image, our heroes find Ampthill trapped inside a gigantic hourglass, put there by the creatures inside the crash-landed spaceship uncovered in the works nearby. But it turns out that this is in fact one giant trap by villains who seek to control time in the same way that they can manipulate matter to create the Sandpeople introduced briefly in the opening story. And it really does seem that Kempston and Hardwick can be in several places at once! Robert Holmes, creator of Jago and Litefoot, was renowned for his use of double acts in his scripts and perhaps the greatest single delight of a series full of them has been the contribution this season of Christopher Beeny and Mike Grady, late of Last of the Summer Wine on TV, as Mr Kempston and Mr Hardwick. Their urbane double act has been utterly superb and it is only right that in the conclusion their previously fleeting appearances should now become much more substantial. Justin Richards is the script editor of the series and hitherto has written the introductory story and left Andy Lane to write the season finale. But as Mr Lane is absent this time round (and indeed his last Big Finish appeared under a pseudonym so I hope this doesn’t mean he won’t ever be back), Richards himself is penning the finale. I’ve griped in the past that his scripts tended to be a bit weak on plot but for the finale his story proves more than meaty enough and also provides all the juicy character scenes that he is usually to be relied upon to deliver. On the whole, despite a slightly clunky underground climax a bit reminiscent from The Ruthven Inheritance, the finale from season two, and where it is a bit hard to understand quite how the villain is thwarted except through a walloping coincidence, this is a highly entertaining finish for a great season of the series and then provides a springboard for new adventures that should please all Doctor Who fans out there.
This may be the end of the current season, but Jago and Litefoot go on. They are scheduled to appear as companions opposite Doctor Who – in fact, two incarnations of the Time Lord as played Colin Baker for release this December and then opposite Tom Baker (and Mary Tamn as Romana) next year. Then there will be a fifth season of the series scheduled for release in March 2013 with a sixth promised after that – sounds wonderful to me.
The Hourglass Killers
Writer: Justin Richards
Director: Lisa Bowerman
Music & Sound Design: Howard Carter
Cover Art: Alex Mallinson
Running time: 61 minutes
Release date: March 2012
Main cast: Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago), Trevor Baxter (Professor George Litefoot), Lisa Bowerman (Ellie Higson), Louise Jameson (Leela), Conrad Asquith (Sergeant Quick), Colin Baker (Professor Claudius Dark), Terry Molloy (Lord Ampthill), Christopher Beeny (Mr Kempston), Mike Grady (Mr Hardwick)
To purchase the set from Big Finish, either as a download or as a beautifully designed CD box set, and you really, really should, visit the company’s website here: www.bigfinish.com/Jago-and-Litefoot
My dedicated Jago & Litefoot microsite is here.