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Audio Drama Review


Bernice Summerfield
Secret Origins


Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 423 8
Available 30 September 2009

Bernice Summerfield awakes in hospital in the ruined city of Buenos Aires. She is relieved to find her son Peter by her side. Frost, the man who kidnapped Peter and who has terrorised this city for centuries, has long been thought immortal, but now he’s dead. Everything is fine - or is it? As Benny tells Peter how she rescued him, she questions why Frost went to such lengths to kidnap him in the first place. Frost is one of two people she’s met here who claim to have known her for ages: he seemed to have a grudge against her, whilst the other, a young woman named Robyn, claims to have worked with her for years. As Bernice recuperates, memories of this time start to come back to her - but is she paying too heavy a price for remembering...?

The cliffhanger ending to the previous release is quickly resolved at the beginning of the Season 10 finale Secret Origins. Instead of starting off with Bernice (Lisa Bowerman) arriving on Earth and proceeding to ruthlessly track down the kidnapper of her son Peter (Thomas Grant), as I was expecting, we find our heroine waking up in a hospital bed having already freed Peter from his kidnapper, a supposedly old enemy known as Frost (Doug Bradley).

Writer Eddie Robson’s defiance of expectations then turns even weirder, as Robyn (Donna Berlin), who claims to be an old friend, reminisces with Benny about some of their previous escapades together. These flashbacks stretch back over many years, each one taking place further and further back in time. They echo the exploits of popular fictional characters with whom Bernice Summerfield bears comparison: Ellen Ripley in an Alien-style space adventure; Lara Croft exploring a dangerous cave system (the events even get reset, just like in a console game); and Indiana Jones battling Nazis. In these new adventures, Benny and Robyn have defeated Frost countless times before.

How can this be right? Are these memories real? The eventual explanation made my head hurt, but I think I just about get it!

You could argue that this is just Big Finish doing false memories again (having produced several Doctor Who stories in a similar vein) but it’s no secret that Secret Origins demonstrates the versatility of Professor Bernice Summerfield.


Richard McGinlay

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