Jago & Litefoot 3.2: The Man at the End of the Garden

“Old ladies need much armour”

The plot: Strange things are happening in the Naismith household. Eleanor Naismith has vanished, and her daughter Clara is found in odd circumstances… What is the link to Eleanor’s book, ‘The Man At The End of the Garden’?

Juicy Jagoisms: “Oh lummy, that sounds a tad terminal …”

THE MAN AT THE END OF THE GARDEN
Writer: Matthew Sweet
Director: Lisa Bowerman
Music & Sound Design: Howard Carter
Cover Art: Alex Mallinson
Release date: June 2011
Main cast: Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago), Trevor Baxter (Professor George Litefoot), Lisa Bowerman (Ellie Higson), Louise Jameson (Leela), Conrad Asquith (Sergeant Quick)

After the distinctly ‘soft’ opening of Dead Men’s Tales this new series of Jago & Litefoot really gets going with this highly engaging fantasy tale by Matthew Sweet. It begins in what appears to be the modern-day with a mother and daughter reading a story and then slips back into the past as Leela continues in her quest to find the ‘time breaks’ that threaten Victorian England.

Through the (very) long arm of coincidence, Leela’s investigation takes her to the same house in Brixton where Jago is hoping to get celebrated author Eleanor Naismith to adapt one of her books for him to stage at his New Regency Theatre. It’s a shame that the two plot strands couldn’t have been glued together a little more artfully but in the end it is a pretty minor point as soon we discover a house where things are definitely and marvelously askew – the mistress has gone missing from inside a locked room and there is something not quite right with her daughter either.

Trevor Baxter and Christopher Banjamin (Big Finish / David Richardon)

Sweet is probably better known as a historian and a broadcaster but he also written a few plays for Big Finish, most notably perhaps the generally excellent Seventh Doctor adventure The Magic Mousetrap, which successfully combined Music Hall, the works of German novelist Thomas Mann and The Celestial Toymaker. This story takes a character closely modeled on the popular late Victorian children’s writer Edith Nesbitt and crosses a plot that might have worked in one of her fantasies like Five Children and It or The Phoenix and the Carpet with Daphne Du Maurier’s (and most definitely Alfred Hitchcock’s film version of) The Birds as our intrepid trio soon find themselves trapped inside the author’s house which is under avian attack.

While this latest series of Jago and Litefoot adventures has turned conspicuously to science fiction with its overarching time travel plot, this story is definitely fantasy as characters and events from Naismith’s books really do seem to come to life and no particularly scientific rational is even attempted. In addition to this the atmosphere is a lot closer to Sapphire and Steel and even the Faustian pact at its centre is redolent of that show. But this is very much to its benefit as the weird lopsided feel to the story’s internal logic helps distract from the fact Sweet has a particularly craftily plot twist up his sleeve and provides plenty of opportunities for creative sound design and bags of atmosphere in the creepy house – and the even creepier ash pile at the bottom of the garden. On the other hand the bit with the suit of armour is pretty silly and Lousie Jameson’s Leela still isn’t being given enough to do, though of course she is here as a supporting character and the two leads are as splendid as ever,

This is a story that certainly paddles its own canoe in terms of the overall series, but does so superbly – it’s one of my favourites thus far in the range.

***** (4.5 stars out of 5)

This entry was posted in Big Finish, Doctor Who, Jago & Litefoot, Louise Jameson, Matthew Sweet. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Jago & Litefoot 3.2: The Man at the End of the Garden

  1. puzzledoctor says:

    Told you things picked up. I’m not entirely convinced by Season Three as a whole – as you said, Dead Men’s Tales is a bit underwhelming and also the overarching plot is a bit disjointed, but as stand-alone stories, The Man At The End Of The Garden and Swan Song are magical.

  2. I haven’t got to the finale yet but so far I couldn’t agree more – just finished SWAN SONG and really liked it, though I probably won’t get round to blogging about it for a few days – weird similarity to the Gaiman episode of the latest WHO series which amused me. John Dorney is certainly one of the best writers at BF these days, isn’t he? I haven’t heard his ECHOES OF GREY yet – is that any good do you know?

    • puzzledoctor says:

      Definitely worth a listen – especially as it sort of continues a story concerning Zoe, regarding the fact that she’s too intelligent to not notice losing a couple of years of her life. I completely agree, John Dorney is the best and most consistent writer working for Big Finish. Why he hasn’t written a full story for the main range yet escapes me…

      • Thanks for that – I shall definitely seek it out. And it is a bit weird that he hasn’t been ‘promoted’ to the full range, isn’t it? He seems to have written for virtually everything else they out out but that! Let’s hope this changes soon. EARTH AID downloading as I speak …

  3. puzzledoctor says:

    Come to think of it, has he written that much? We’ve got THE DEVIL’S WHISPER from The Demons of Red Lodge anthology, the amazing REMEMBER ME from Sapphire and Steel, the above-mentioned Companion Chronicle and Jago and Litefoot… what else? Oh, SOLITAIRE, of course, and if you haven’t heard that, you’re really missing out. What am I forgetting?

    • SOLITAIRE and DEVIL’S WHISPER were both superb in their totally different ways. There are two Bernice Summerfield audios and a Dalek spin-off from last year which I have not listened to as I have only dabbled in those ranges, the excellent short trip ‘Lepidoptery for Beginners’ which I thought was given a superb audio rendering and that’s pretty much it as the rest have not been released yet – there is the Companion Chronicle THE ROCKET MEN next month and a couple of ‘Lost Stories’ also due out in the next few months including the ‘Foe from the Future’ which was replaced by TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG of course … but that’s all I know about … Of course he’s a fairly busy actor too

  4. puzzledoctor says:

    Oh, didn’t realise he wrote that. That and the First Doctor set are about the only BF Doctor Who stuff that I didn’t get last year. Seemed like quite a lot of money for The Prison in Space and that. Was it any good?

    • I’m afraid that I didn’t get it either for exactly the same reason – haven’t got the DALEK EMPIRE series either. I remember Briggs and Dorney talking about it during a podcast and it sounded quite interesting but I had to economise somewhere and that turned out to be my limit – if I could I’d get all the main range and all the Companion Chronicles but I’ve only just started subscribing properly this year (hence the blog …)

  5. Pingback: Jago & Litefoot 3.3: Swan Song | Audio Aficionado

  6. Pingback: Jago & Litefoot 3.4: Chronoclasm | Audio Aficionado

  7. Pingback: THE LONELY CLOCK by Matthew Sweet | Tipping My Fedora

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