Jago and Litefoot visit the Doctor Who Experience

I’m more than happy to admit that I love Jago and Litefoot with all of my little geek heart. For the uninitiated, Mr Henry Gordon Jago, a theatre impresario, and Professor George Litefoot, a police pathologist, are the eponymous Victorian heroes of an audio drama series from Big Finish. They started life as characters in the Talons of Weng-Chiang, a Tom Baker Doctor Who story, and were revived by Big Finish 30 years later.

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“Mammy, why you taking photos of a dress when you could be feeding me my hams?”

I like to literally wear my fandoms but how are you supposed to do this when no appropriate merchandise exists? You just have to make your own, don’t you?

I spent some time mulling over the idea of getting some custom-printed Jago and Litefoot fabric but I couldn’t come up with an appropriate design. Mainly because I can’t actually draw or design. Luckily I came across some fantastic artwork on Instagram by Johanna Jetsonen, a talented artist and a fellow lover of those two intrepid investigators of infernal incidents.I got in touch with Johanna who kindly gave me permission to use one of her creations as the basis for my fabric.

I uploaded the image to Contrado, played with the settings and ordered my fabric. I didn’t find Contrado particularly user-friendly and ended up with less fabric than I’d intended. Next time I think I’ll try another company.

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Jago and Litefoot’s fabric counterparts meet the Ood!

One plus point for Contrado is the huge range of fabric options available. I ordered a bundle of swatches and they’re so much fun to paw through. The colour has faded slightly on the fabric but it has stood up pretty well to quite a few tumbles in the washing machine.

As the fabric was much more expensive than I would normally go for, I had to pair it with Simplicity 2444. I wasn’t going to trust an untried or awkward pattern with my precious! As I ended up with less than 2m of fabric, I also had to get creative. Which is my way of explaining why the back bodice, the binding on the armholes and the random band on the skirt are all in a plain blue fabric.

I think it matches fairly well. It was the best match I could find in my local fabric shop and I was far too impatient to look for something online.

My only complaints with this dress are that, even with the blue band, it’s shorter than I would like and the bodice is also a bit tight. Not sure how I managed that one but I suspect it may have shrunk a tiny bit when washed. I did prewash it but maybe I should have washed a couple of times before cutting.

I made the dress months ago and have wanted to blog about it for ages…I just had my usual problem of needing photographs of it. An opportunity arose last week when my baby brother visited and, as is our yearly tradition, we went to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay? Where better to get photographs of my Jago and Litefoot dress?

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Jago and Litefoot encounter the TARDIS, not for the first time

One of the excellent things about living in Cardiff is having the Doctor Who Experience practically on your doorstep. Well, not my doorstep. It’s more like a 30-minute walk and a 5-minute train journey from my doorstep. Still counts though. They ask you not to ruin the Experience part for others with spoilers so I won’t say much about it except to say that anything involving Peter Capaldi rocks.

As baby brother insists on going to the Doctor Who Experience when he visits every year, I like that they always update the exhibition part with props, costumes and monsters from the latest series. My favourites of these newest exhibits include the painted TARDIS tribute to Clara, Paternoster Gang costumes, and the Doctor’s punk rock outfit.

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Fabulous steampunk details on Jenny’s costume

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If only recreating this wasn’t completely beyond my skills

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Still swooning at this stunning River Song outfit

 

I’m still waiting for the day when a stranger recognises Jago and Litefoot on my dress. It didn’t happen at the Doctor Who Experience so it may never happen. Oh well. The important thing is that I can leave the house liberally covered in Victorian gentlemen and some Ood. And not many people can claim that. One day my brother will claim it though. He’s now demanded a Jago and Litefoot shirt and I can’t exactly refuse given that he’s the one who introduced me to the gentlemen in the first place.

Supreme sewist of stylish sartorial specimens, that’s me.

Don’t leave me hanging

I’m one of life’s cranks. Sooner or later everything annoys me and it’s only getting worse as I get older. I’m blatantly going to be spending my twilight years yelling at damn kids to get off my lawn.

For now I’m content to just braindump on here. It feels more civilised, if somewhat self-indulgent, and is less likely to get me beaten up by indignant kids.

So, Jess, what’s bothering you today?

Excellent question, Jess, and I’m glad you’ve asked. Today I am mostly bothered by cliffhangers.

I completely understand why, following the success of Dallas’ Who Shot JR, TV shows moved towards ending seasons with big cliffhangers – they get your audience talking and give them a hell of a reason to come back for the new season. It’s what storytelling is all about, after all. Get someone invested enough in your story that they want to know what happens next.

But I still don’t like cliffhangers. They’re a difficult trick to pull off and can sometimes just feel a bit, well, cheap.

You can get your audience invested in your characters, you can have them wanting to know what comes next..but you don’t need to leave them dangling over a precipice for months.

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How cliffhangers make me feel

When I get attached to a show, it’s usually because the characters are interesting enough to keep drawing me back. Yes, the plots are important but, if I like the characters and the show, I’ll tune in for the new season regardless of how the old one ended. Case in point: the final episode of the latest Jago & Litefoot set ended on a cliffhanger with massive repercussions for a character I’ve taken to thinking of as “my precious.” I need to wait until October for any hint of resolution and it’s infuriating. I’d have been happy for the set to end with Jago & Litefoot having a pint and a nice chat at the Red Tavern. This kind of less-than-dramatic denouement wouldn’t stop me listening to the next series but it would have given me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Let’s look at it from the other side. I don’t like The Walking Dead. Yet I continue to watch it because the one thing it’s really good at is delivering endings, whether to episodes or seasons, that make me sit up and demand to know what happens next. I didn’t particularly enjoy any of the most recent season but I know I’ll definitely watch the next season just so I can find out who’s been beheaded. And if it turns out to be that one guy in the circle who isn’t a major character, the one from Alexandria whose name I can’t even remember, then I’ll be incredibly pissed off. But I’ll keep watching because those manipulative bastards will probably end that episode on a cliffhanger too.

That’s the thing with cliffhangers. If you leave your audience hanging for months (or longer – feeling your pain, Sherlock fandom), then you’d damn well better deliver a satisfying resolution. If Dallas established the cliffhanger tradition, its ‘it was all a dream’ explanation has to be the ultimate example of how not to deliver a conclusion.

And there’s always the chance that a show won’t get picked up again and the audience won’t get any kind of ending or answers.

Stand up and take a bow, Twin Peaks. I still feel like I’ll never fully get over the final scene of the final episode. After I’d finished just staring at the screen in shock, all I could think was “but..but…no, you can’t leave it like that!”. But the show had been cancelled so was indeed left like that.

This is probably all playing on my mind because I’m very quickly approaching the end of season 11 of Supernatural and when I reach the season finale, it’ll be the first time that I haven’t had the next season lined up and ready to start immediately. I do this a lot. I arrive late to things and then get used to being able to blast through multiple seasons until I eventually catch up to broadcasts and find myself having to wait between episodes and seasons. Like an animal. It’s disgusting.

And my word does Supernatural like to end with cliffhangers. We’ve had Dean dragged to Hell, Sam throwing himself into the pit with Lucifer, Castiel declaring himself God, demon Dean and those black eyes…and lots of other stuff I’ve forgotten. Come on, there are 11 seasons. It’s hard to keep track. The point is that this season is bound to end on a dramatic cliffhanger…and then I’ll just have to wait for season 12.

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Basically every season of Supernatural

Patience has never been one of my strong points. I like my endings to still leave me wondering where the characters will go next, but without having to then spend months in a state of “ARGH WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?”

So I’m bracing myself for the strains of ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’ this week because I know the Supernatural finale is about to put me through the latter…

Jago & Litefoot Series 11: The Woman in White

After weeks of waiting impatiently, Jago & Litefoot series 11 was finally released last Thursday.

While I was in France.

Away from my wi-fi.

But that’s in the past. I’m back in Cardiff now, reunited with my beloved technologies, and making my way through the four episodes that make up the series.

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The first two – Jago & Son and Maurice – were enjoyable but I listened to them whilst tired and trying to do other things. That combined with doppelganger plots meant I didn’t take them in very well so I probably owe them a second listen.

What I’ve mainly taken from Maurice, the second of the series, is my intense hope that the writers decided to introduce real-world composer Maurice Ravel as a character purely to allow Jago to announce “I’ve unRavelled you!”

#JagopunsFTW

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Ah ’tis himself

I listened to The Woman in White, the third episode, last night and you’d better believe I paid full attention to it. Anything involving my Gothic literature boy toy Bram Stoker is always going to demand my focus.

The plot, which I don’t want to go into details on, sees oul Bram visit his theatre buddy Jago to discuss concerns about mysterious goings-on at his theatre and with actor Sir Henry Irving. They investigate. Litefoot helps. Gothic shenanigans ensue.

Along the way the writers get in decent references to Arthur Machen, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (brilliantly mis-referred to by Jago as “the Hermaphrodite Order of the Golden Whatsits”), and Pepper’s Ghost. Our intrepid investigators get to hang out in a graveyard to spy on Irving, and Stoker is given plenty of inspiration for Dracula.

It’s literally the ultimate combination of my interests. So thank you to writers Simon Barnard and Paul Morris for somehow getting inside my head and writing this episode for me. Now get out of there. There isn’t much more in there for you, not unless you want to write an episode about Dean Winchester gifs.

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Actually, please write an episode about Dean Winchester gifs. I would like to see an overly-flustered Litefoot respond to this.

I’m very grabby when it comes to Stoker. I spent a good six months of my life researching and writing my MA dissertation on Bram Stoker, Dracula, and the idealization of the past in Irish culture and politics so, as a result, I always think I know best and I give major side eye to anyone else trying to talk or write about him.

I once got extremely angry during a visit to Whitby Abbey over some misrepresentated fact or other and spent the rest of my time there snarling “STOP GETTING STOKER WRONG!”.

My point being that I didn’t get snarly when listening to The Woman in White. That, in my book, is the sign of a job well done. I enjoyed the characterisation and there were a number of nice little touches. It’s even made me want to dig out all my old Stoker books again.

I still haven’t listened to the final episode, Masterpiece. In spite of the fact that this was my brother‘s response to it…

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Little bit scared to listen to it. I’m trying to pretend the world is all sweetness and light at the moment so not sure I want a cliffhanger that leaves Jago, Litefoot or Ellie in peril. But I’m also an impatient little so-and-so so I’m going to start any minute now…

I’ll never get a spin-off at this rate

I love when TV shows start having fun with musical moments and episodes. Buffy’s Once More With Feeling, Andy’s kickass tribute to Lil Sebastian in Parks & Rec,  Charlie’s The Nightman Cometh musical from It’s Always Sunny, that musical episode of Supernatural I dreamed about the other week.

Even my one true lady love Peggy Carter got in on the song and dance action recently. Swoon.

Community in particular has many stand-out numbers threaded throughout its seasons. The opening to season 2, Jeff making the Dean’s dreams come true by joining him in a Kiss from a Rose duet, everything from Regional Holiday Music…

There’s just something about shows suddenly breaking into song, whether it’s a plot device or a bit of fun, that I bloody love.

So, now that I’ve run out of new episodes of Jago & Litefoot, I decided to re-visit some old ones and it took me about a nano-second to choose Encore of the Scorchies from season eight. Naturally it’s a musical episode. I was on season five when I learned of its existence and it took all my willpower not to skip ahead to it immediately.

Jago is riding high on the success of puppet troupe the Scorchies, the latest headline act at the New Regency Theatre. They’re pulling in the punters but sinister intentions are soon revealed. Luckily Litefoot senses something is amiss with his bosom buddy and sets out to investigate.

It’s an uncomplicated plot but that’s fine, the plot here is really just a backdrop (I’m sorry) to the main action, the show-stopping show tunes. It sets the stage (oh god, I hate myself sometimes) nicely for some memorable musical moments provided by composer Howard Carter and the very able cast.

Jago’s linguistic athleticism translates nicely to song, guest actress Sarah Lark excels as Cockney siren Nancy, the Scorchies are as melodically malevolent as you would expect from evil space puppets and even Litefoot (clearly the Alyson Hannigan of the cast when it comes to singing) does rather a nice line in chanting.

As wonderful as all those moments are, my absolute favourite is when Miss Ellie Higson finally gets her dues. Ellie is such a great character – funny, sarcastic, smarter than she’s given credit for, genuine – but often under-appreciated. The beauty of musical episodes is that characters lose their inhibitions and get to express the thoughts and feelings that are normally kept simmering under the surface.

Here things turn meta when Lisa Bowerman starts to belt out Ellie’s frustrations at being overlooked – “I’m Ellie the barmaid, I’m sick of being forgot, I may not make the titles but I’m vital to the plot, I’m more than just a bit part, I’m integral and I’m great, I’ll never get a spin-off at this rate.”

Some other highlights from the episode:

  • Litefoot as action hero. More of this please.
  • “You’re enslaving hundreds of people just so a handful of you can be happy?” “Yes, I believe it’s called an Empire.”
  • Litefoot’s utterly indifferent response when the Scorchies expect him to be impressed/shocked by the reveal of their otherworldy nature
  • For an audio drama, the Jago & Litefoot team are adept at creating visual images that linger look after the audio ends. Encore of the Scorchies is no exception to this, I can’t shake the moment when the reason for Nancy’s shoulder pain is revealed…

Three hours until the void

Three hours. That’s how much time I have left.

And by ‘time’, I obviously mean ‘Jago and Litefoot’.

I finished listening to The Mourning After, the third episode of series ten, today so I’m now down to the final episode of that series and the two-hour Jago & Litefoot & Strax.

Admittedly my timing could be a lot worse. Big Finish will be releasing series eleven next month but those additional four hours are really just a stay of execution. It’ll be a long, cold wait until series twelve in October.

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This series apparently involves Bram Stoker. THIS IS RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS.

(Fun fact: Chris just walked into the room, read this post title and said: “Three hours until the void? That sounds ominous, should I be worried?…Oh wait, are you just running out of either Supernatural or Jago & Litefoot?”)

So what’s a girl supposed to do once she runs out of new infernal incidents to investigate? Make a tiny Jago outfit and a me-sized Litefoot outfit and force my cat to cosplay with me? That’s insane. There’s definitely no way I’d consider that. And I certainly haven’t been thinking about what patterns I could adapt.

I could re-visit earlier episodes, finally catch up on all the podcasts I’ve been neglecting, try some new audio dramas…but it just won’t be the same. Nothing ever is in the void at the end of the world…um, the end of the available new episodes.

Dick move, void.

I suppose I’ll just have to get working on a long-term plan to get Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter to adopt me. They’ll go for that, right? I’m house-trained and really good at making tea. Bit rubbish at tidying up though.

It’s that or win the lottery  and throw all the proceeds at Big Finish until they promise to make endless new episodes.

Anyway, if you’ve stumbled on this because you’re also staring into the void, you could do worse than check out Curse of the Pharaoh, my brother’s ten-part Jago & Litefoot fanfic (not slash, promise).

Learning to love auditory adventures

Ah bless 2014 Jess and her admirable intentions of starting a sewing blog. Shame she was too busy drooling over pretty fabrics to realise that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Still, it was worth a shot and at least there’s a reasonable chance of running into Dean Winchester on the way to the fiery pit.

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Fast forward to 2016. I’m still sewing, still not blogging about it, and always keeping a keen eye out for a handsome demon hunter.

Am I going to resurrect this blog? Yes, for a little while anyway.

Will it be a sewing blog? Hopefully I’ll conquer my hatred of having photos taken and start writing about sewing again but I don’t want to write exclusively about that. I’m not entirely sure what I do want to write about – everything and nothing probably.

Who’s asking these questions anyway? Nobody. Nobody cares. I’m writing for myself at the moment, not for an audience.

So what’s with this post title? I’m getting myself back in the swing of things by just sitting down and writing. So I figured I might as well write about my latest obsession: Professor George Litefoot and Mr Henry Gordon Jago. A pathologist and a theatre impresario respectively, they’re the eponymous heroes of a series of audio dramas from the good folks at Big Finish.

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They started life as characters in an old episode of Doctor Who set in Victorian London and have now been given a chance to shine in their own adventures.

Less than three months ago I would have sworn that I just don’t have the time or patience for audio dramas. I’ve never understood their popularity and always maintained that I couldn’t follow a narrative based on audio alone. I’m a visual gal, I like the printed word or moving images. And then Jago & Litefoot happened.

The series came recommended to me by my baby brother. I was reluctant but he was insistent and, as always in these fights, the elder sibling accedes to the younger one simply to get them to be quiet for a bit.

As it happens, the little bugger was right to insist I listen to Jago & Litefoot. I fell hard and fast for the series. I’m a sucker for a bit of Victorian gothic (the legacy of a misspent youth studying for an MA in gothic lit) so the setting and the supernatural elements appealed instantly. But the characters are what really sold the series to me. The titular characters are fully-realised, entertaining, linguistically-athletic, idiosyncratic delights.

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Look at their little faces!

I don’t think I can describe them in a way that will actually do them justice but I do know that it only took a handful of episodes for them to cement themselves firmly in my pantheon of beloved characters.

And they have kitty doppelgangers!

I want to highlight one episode in particular: The Night of 1000 Stars from series 7. It revolves entirely around Jago, Litefoot, Ellie (their friend & barmaid at their favoured drinking establishment, The Red Tavern), and Leela (as in ‘from Doctor Who’) who are all trapped in a room, unable to escape from the monster at the door. It’s a simple setting that soon turns unbearably claustrophobic as the foursome begin swapping tales of past regrets.

I never thought I could listen to audio dramas. Podcasts, yes, but only when walking to and from work so have nothing else competing for my attention. And even then I tend to zone in and out. But this episode really showed me how wrong I was by perfectly illustrating how powerful storytelling can transcend its medium. Regardless of the format, it’s the underlying narrative that grabs you by the feelings and demands your undivided attention.

I listened to the full episode while lying on my bed. And that’s all I did: listened. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have something tangible to hold or watch. My attention didn’t drift and I wasn’t thinking about the dozens of other things I could have been doing. I was just listening to characters that I love and care about telling stories and examining their deepest secrets.

The whole episode is basically a masterclass in acting and scriptwriting. By the end of it I felt like I’d been kickpunched in the emotions but I loved every second of it.

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Can’t be bothered to write a conclusion so here’s a photo of my cat under a knitted blanket