The Skeleton Quay (2013)

Jago and Litefoot are now in their six series which is an amazing achievement and one of the reasons why the series have managed to continue is that they haven’t sat on their laurels and just thought about doing the same thing over and over again but have instead tried to do something different. Series 5 saw them travel to the 1960’s and I really enjoyed that and at the end of the series they found them back in Victorian England but not in their usual surroundings. The first story of this series is written by Jonathan Morris who is a regular to the series. Sadly the story doesn’t start of great because we don’t get the sixties version of the tune but I suppose that is probably for the best considering they aren’t in the 60’s anymore. After reminding us of how the fifth series ended we are thrust immediately into the story and we find our favourite dynamic duo on a train going towards the Suffolk Coast.

I like how Jago has a moment where he reminds us of their previous adventures with the Sixth Doctor and in the last series. It’s a nice moment but it’s done for a reason as Jago seems to be a bit worse for wears on the train. When they eventually arrive in Suffolk the feel of the place seems to ring close to ‘The Horror of Fang Rock’ where there is some fear associated with the fog.

The supporting cast were all quite good. Geoffrey Whitehead sounded a lot like David Warner when he first appeared as the Colonel. Francesca Hunt was a good piece of casting from the moment she first appeared as Camilla Tevelyan. With no Lisa Bowerman here to play Ellie, she becomes Ellie version two and does it quite well (though she’ll never be as good as Bowerman). As the story progresses it becomes clear that there is something rather funny about her and not in a funny ha-ha kind of way. Another good performance was Keith Bartlett as Isaac Pawley. I cant figure out why but I thought that he was perfect for the story.

As for the central performances both Benjamin and Baxter are on their usual fine form. After enjoying ‘Benjamin and Baxter’ last month, my opinion of these two has improved and I think that these two are enjoying themselves and enjoy being in each others company which helps to create one of the nicest feelings that you could have during a Big Finish release. Christopher Benjamin can always be counted upon to be funny when the situation calls for it and Trevor Baxter leads the duo in his usual charismatic style. Both are fine performers and show us why they have lasted so long.

The story centres around a night which saw lots of people die and it was Camilla is the one who has to protect its secret. Even going to the extreme of killing anyone who tries to find it out. It makes the character even better as far as I am concerned because she wasn’t over the top and she wasn’t totally unlikeable but she was a good villainess. Her exit was perfect because she was killed by the ghosts that her father killed all those years ago and it was Litefoot who said it best about the sins of the father visiting the daughter.

It’s curious that we don’t get to meet Queen Victoria (and judging by the credits on the Big Finish website we won’t). We get a nice final scene where we get the impression that Queen Victoria is up to something but I suppose as the stories progress in the series that it will all be revealed. As an opening story it was a nice gentle one and it seems like there is a sense that we don’t need to have a killer opening story to get us hooked as anyone who has made it to series six will know what’s going on and they the writers can get on with just telling their story. Jonathan Morris is one of the strongest writers in Big Finish and he continues that fine form here. He’s written an entertaining story that has more ‘corks’ from Jago than I can remember in any story and it’s a good plot that doesn’t overstay its welcome with a nice limited number of characters to get to know. A solid opening.
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