Bernice Summerfield
Summer of Love

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84435 128 2
ISBN-10: 1 84435 128 9
Available 03 November 2006

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. It's the hottest summer on record and the last summer before the war. It's the one time Bernice Summerfield has a use for her otherwise useless boyfriend - but Jason Kane is away on the far side of the galaxy. The Braxiatel Collection has always been an odd place to live: a perfect replica of the Palace of Versailles, stuck on a smallish planetoid, hanging in a much-disputed area of space. The weather's all over the place, the neighbours are gathering armaments... and now everyone's shagging like rabbits. Everyone, that is, except Bernice...

Those of you who read the Bernice Summerfield books as well as listen to the audios will already be familiar with the characters of the pressure-suited gardener Hass and the scruffy scientist Doggles, both of whom were introduced by series co-producer Simon Guerrier in his short-story anthology Something Changed. In Summer of Love, which is penned by the same writer, the two characters make their audio debuts, portrayed by Paul Wolfe and Sam Stevens respectively. Both are good, though Stevens as Doggles sounds older than I expected him to. In Something Changed, Guerrier described Doggles as, "A young Cahlian". Maybe Cahlians sound older for their age than humans do.

Those of you who have read the latest Bernice anthology, Collected Works, will know that the events in this audio drama take place in between stories in that collection. Though you don't need to have read the book in order to follow this production, the writer throws in various subtle references to put things in context for those in the know. For example, Peter is said to have been having "adventures" again (following the events of the short story Key) and Bev Tarrant (Louise Faulkner) continues her difficult negotiations with the Draconian and Mim civilisations.

Negotiations that are not made any easier by the fact that, for some reason, Bev is spending all of her time in the nuddie and the staff and students on the Collection seem to have gone sex mad! I doubt many children listen to these CDs, but just in case, please note that this story's frank discussions of a sexual nature make it decidedly adult material, though it is written and played with a Carry On... style sense of fun.

It's all rather amusing, like The Worst Thing in the World before it. I infer from the reference in the synopsis to a forthcoming war that this is a light-hearted calm before the storm to come at the end of the current season.

What's not to love?

Richard McGinlay