Bernice Summerfield
The Oracle of Delphi

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84435 189 3
ISBN-10: 1 84435 189 0
Available 04 December 2006

It's 430 BCE, and Greece is in turmoil. Athens is at war with Sparta, Athenian women are being possessed by a horrifying cult... and then Bernice Summerfield strolls into town. She's on a mission to save the Braxiatel Collection, millennia in the future, but she's mislaid her husband, last seen skinny-dipping somewhere near Delphi. Benny needs help, and it comes in the shape of a talkative bloke called Socrates. Together they must find Jason, survive the fate awaiting Athens and ensure that the future is saved. But divine powers are at work in ancient Greece, powers the archaeological record neglected to mention...

If you're a fan of the Doctor Who story Four to Doomsday (there must be some of you out there), then this could be the Bernice Summerfield adventure for you! There aren't any Urbankans, but this audio drama boasts not only a bunch of Athenians but also Paul Shelley, who played Persuasion in that serial. And good fun he is too, as the slightly perplexed but nevertheless helpful philosopher Socrates.

Indeed, there's a great deal of fun to be had throughout this story. Writer Scott Handcock (his very name inviting schoolboy sniggers) throws in numerous examples of Up Pompeii!-style double entendres and sexual humour, such as a discussion of a woman's ever-expanding cult. And I nearly spilled my drink when I heard the alias that Bernice (Lisa Bowerman) adopts when she disguises herself as a man. Her poor grasp of Latin is also a source of some amusement, in an 'Allo 'Allo!/"Good moaning" kind of way.

However, Handcock reminds us of serious considerations too. Like Pompeii, Athens is soon to be devastated by a tragic catastrophe. Meanwhile, back home on the Collection, war is looming. This story picks up right where the previous one, Summer of Love left off, with Benny and Jason (Stephen Fewell) dispatched on a mission back in time, and it appears to lead directly into the next one, The Empire State.

It's worth being persuaded to purchase this CD. Persuaded, you see? Persuasion? Paul Shelley? Oh, please yourselves!

Richard McGinlay

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