Bernice Summerfield
Freedom of Information

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 274 6
Available 23 June 2007

They're saying it isn't a war. The Draconians have taken over the Braxiatel Collection, but they claim they come in peace. Insurrectionary acts are being quelled, but the Draconian ambassador is troubled by a missing academic. Is Bernice one of the revolutionaries, undermining their campaign? Where is she hiding? Who is protecting her? And if she's nowhere to be found, why does he keep hearing her voice? Meanwhile, an unlikely peace-broker struggles to cut a deal on the Mim Sphere. But how can Hass the gardener convince the Mim to back down when they think he's one of the enemy...?

A little and a lot happens during this instalment. What do I mean? Well, I'll explain...

When I first started listening to this CD, I thought that perhaps I'd missed an episode. A lot seems to have transpired since the previous one, The Judas Gift, such as acts of resistance against the Draconian occupation by individuals including Adrian Wall (Harry Myers). In fact, much of this story, written by Eddie Robson, is told in a non-linear fashion via flashbacks as Jarith Kothar (Michael Fenner), the Draconians' new head of state on the Braxiatel Collection (who, as a recurring character, now has his image represented on the "story so far" part of the CD inlay), interviews residents as he attempts to track down the missing Bernice (Lisa Bowerman).

Meanwhile, Hass (Paul Wolfe) is talking to the Mim. At first, I thought Harry Myers was doubling up as the gardener, because Wolfe sounds unfortunately similar to Myers. Perhaps Wolfe is a pseudonym of Myers. (I'm sure I heard Doggles actor Sam Stevens doubling up as an uncredited Draconian at one point.)

As in Last of the Time Lords, the most recent televised episode of Doctor Who, words and ideas are shown to be just as threatening to an oppressive regime as tangible weapons or deeds.

So, lots of talking about stuff that's happened, but not much happens in the "here and now"... until one particular incident that seems to bring the Draconian/Mim war (even though they're saying it isn't a war) to a sooner and more abrupt end that I had expected. And we learn of yet more devious plans and alliances crafted by Irving Braxiatel (Miles Richardson).

The story runs a little short, so the CD concludes with a suite of music by Matthew Cochrane and David Darlington.

Freedom of Information has some interesting ideas, but I freely inform you that I was rather unmoved by the events of this story.

Richard McGinlay

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