Bernice Summerfield
The Final Amendment

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 276 0
Available 30 October 2007

Forget all about the war and death and boring stuff like that with another exciting trip to the Braxiatel Collection! Joined by friends old and new, Jason Kane returns for his 15th series! Adventure is his game, and he wants to play it with you! Will Benny find out about him and Bev? Or about him and Adrian? What is the mysterious connection between Joseph and Doggles? Will Brax ever reveal his sinister plans? And just who the hell is Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart...?

Though originally scheduled to be released ahead of The End of the World (that’s the audio drama The End of the World, naturally, not the actual end of the world!), The Final Amendment has finally come out afterwards. The release order doesn’t actually matter all that much, though, because the events of this audio drama are concurrent with those of The End. While Jason Kane (Stephen Fewell) is off having his own adventure, Bernice (Lisa Bowerman) visits Earth. Along the way, we discover just why she was so angry when we heard her on the other end of Jason’s communicator.

I dare say Big Finish decided to change the running order because, had listeners heard this story before The End, they might have been led to believe that Jason’s adventure wasn’t really happening. This is because, in The Final Amendment, Benny discovers that the fictionalised and televised exploits of Jason Kane (and his sidekick, Bernice Summerfield) are all the rage at the heart of the Earth Empire. These exploits are performed by clones (leading to some unfortunate thematic repetition of The Two Jasons).

Writer Joseph Lidster doesn’t spend much of his story having frivolous fun with this fictionalised environment, which is a good thing, since listeners are still reeling from the very serious conclusion of The End. (Instead, the creation of the clones proves to have a major impact on life in the Empire.) However, there is plenty of opportunity for nostalgia, as various Bernice titles are dropped into dialogue and director Gary Russell provides an uncredited cameo performance as a barman. New Adventures fans will also relish mentions of former fellow TARDIS travellers Roz Forrester and Chris Cwej, and the return of Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart, played here by Sara Carver.

However, as the blurb so eloquently puts it, just who the hell is Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart? That’s a good question. The adopted daughter of one of Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart’s descendants, she appeared in several New Adventures novels, not all of which I have read. Therefore, I did feel a little confusion as Kadiatu and Benny discuss their past experiences together. Fortunately, all you really need to know about Kadiatu is that she is an old friend of Benny and “him” (strangely, Big Finish remains reluctant to use the D-word in its Bernice Summerfield stories, despite having the rights to publish Doctor Who fiction) and that she once went a little crazy. On the strength of Carver’s performance, I hope that we won’t have to wait another ten years to hear from Kadiatu again.

My final assessment is that, though I would have preferred the series to press right on with the consequences of The End of the World, The Final Amendment is an entertaining way to keep us listeners dangling on the edges of our seats for another couple of months.

Richard McGinlay

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