Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio: Jago & Litefoot & Strax 1: The Haunting

JALSTRX01_thehaunting_1417Jago and Litefoot’s investigation into a spate of brainless corpses is helped… or is that hindered… by the Sontaran Strax…

It’s sometimes dangerous to forget that you’re in public if you listen to Big Finish audios while exercising or walking the dog. The depth of emotions can sometimes bring a tear to the eye – and other times bring a smile to your face. But this is the first time in nearly 20 years of listening to them that I have been reduced almost to hysteria by a comic element. You’ll know the scene when you get to it: it’s probably the funniest the company has ever recorded, with Dan Starkey, Trevor Baxter, Christopher Benjamin and Lisa Bowerman’s characters carrying out a post-mortem on events at the New Regency Theatre – and none of the actors succumbing to fits of laughter (even if you will).

That’s just one highlight in this excellent play, which puts its extended running time – for a Jago & Litefoot anyway – to good use. Justin Richards has sort of crossed the streams with the Victorian investigators before (there’s an Easter egg in one of his Great Detective novellas that implies a proximity to George Litefoot’s home), and he’s used to penning both Jago and Liteoot, and the Paternoster Gang. Sensibly, it mixes milieus – much of the story is set in Victorian London, where Strax is inevitably the outsider, but the ending is more SF-oriented, and, as with the Sixth Doctor crossover specials (and to an extent their 1960s stories), Henry Gordon and George are rather out of their depth but can still aid their companion who is more familiar with their surroundings.

Of course although this is the pair’s first crossover with a character from the new series, we’ve had guest stars from Who in their range before – Leela spent some time with them, as did the Sixth Doctor (and there’s more to come based on the tag scene of the most recent set). The strength of the characterisation of the odd couple, as well as the life breathed into them by Benjamin and Baxter, means that they’ve never felt overshadowed, and they don’t here. In fact, it’s going to seem rather odd listening to them coping without someone offering to obliterate, exterminate, destroy, explode [etc.] any obstacle in their path…

Verdict: If all Big Finish’s stories using new series characters live up to this, then we truly are in for a treat. A highlight of the year so far. 10/10

Paul Simpson

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