Before there was Professor River Song, there was Professor Bernice Summerfield. The adventure-loving archaeologist from the 26th century travelled with both the Seventh and Eighth Doctors… in just about every medium except television.
Fans immediately loved the Paul Cornell-created character, and “Benny” spun off to star in dozens of audio adventures and novels of her own. Of course, actress Lisa Bowerman has pretty much become synonymous with the character and has been the basis for her look and sound for the better part of 20 years.
Big Finish Productions is now releasing a brand new audio box set with Bowerman reprising the role. Due this month, The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield includes five CDs, four of which contain new one-hour stories. The fifth disc was not described, but most likely contains behind-the-scenes or bonus material. The fabulous list of guest stars includes Sylvester McCoy (the Seventh Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Nicholas Briggs (The Daleks), Terry Molloy (Davros), and Nicola Bryant (but as “Professor Geller”, not companion Peri Brown). All four adventures were directed by Scott Handcock.
As per the Big Finish website, here are the titles and descriptions of the new stories:
- The Revolution by Nev Fountain: On the planet of Arviem 2, Bernice Summerfield has a lot of problems. Pursued by robots, maniacs and miracles, she has another issue to contend with. The Doctor’s come looking for her – and he’s not feeling himself.
- Good Night, Sweet Ladies by Una McCormack: Bernice has come to the Moon of Adolin on a desperate mission. Instead, she finds an abandoned labyrinth, two confused survivors, and something ancient that needs her help.
- Random Ghosts by Guy Adams: Welcome to the Forbidden World. This world has a secret. The problem is that no-one can remember what it is. Time is broken here. Those trapped here must live the same day over and over – forming alliances, lying to each other, trying to escape. Welcome to the Forbidden World.
- The Lights of Skaro by James Goss: Bernice Summerfield is on Skaro, and she’s very much on her own. The Doctor can’t get to her, not this time. All Benny can do is stay alive for as long as possible. And, in a city full of Daleks, that’s not going to be very long.
Big Finish has posted at least three teaser trailers for the set on YouTube and on the Big Finish website. The trailers feature up-close pictures of the box art and several dramatic audio clips, highlighting Bowerman, McCoy, Aldred, and er, The Daleks. So far, the teasers all run about a minute long each, and one of them can be enjoyed above.
The total running time of the set is approximately 300 minutes. The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield is available for digital download ($30) or as an actual physical set of CDs that you can amazingly hold in your hands ($60)!
Now seems like the perfect time to catch up with Benny, and hey, visits from the Seventh Doctor, Ace, and the Daleks couldn’t hurt, either! (Well, maybe the Daleks could hurt…)
Kasterborites, where does Benny rank among your favorite companions? And do you feel that she should have been included in the TV show instead of the quite similar (on the surface, at least) River Song?