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Audio Drama Review


Bernice Summerfield
The Adolescence of Time


Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 327 9
Available 31 August 2008

Earth is still suffering the after-effects of the asteroid (or something) that collided with the planet many years ago: the dust cloud that blots out the sun shows no sign of settling and the dinosaurs are doomed. Above the cloud, colonies of winged reptiles - more intelligent than any we know of - are fighting to survive. A strange creature calling itself Summerfield appears in their midst. Are archaeologist-for-hire Bernice Summerfield and her son Peter destined to save them...?

Bernice has already been back to the time of the dinosaurs, in the New Adventures novel The Sword of Forever, in which she met some other intelligent reptiles. Of course, in the Doctor Who universe, intelligent reptiles usually mean the Silurians or the Sea Devils (creatures Benny has encountered on numerous occasions), and writer Lawrence Miles subtly reveals that the flying reptiles in his story are their airborne cousins.

Meanwhile, Miles’s non-specific references to the asteroid (or something) that collided with the Earth neatly sidesteps the issue of whether you think it was an asteroid or a space freighter (Earthshock) - or even the arrival of the moon (Doctor Who and the Silurians) - that wiped out the dinosaurs. In other words, you can enjoy this audio without ever having heard of Doctor Who, though Who fans will get an added thrill from these hints of a familiar mythology.

However, the writer’s greatest sleight of hand is the fact that “the Summerfield” who initially arrives in Earth’s prehistoric past is not Bernice (Lisa Bowerman). Because the flying reptiles (played by Tim Block, Lois Baxter and Emily Pithon) tend to refer to the humanoid in gender-neutral terms, it is only when “it” speaks that we realise “the Summerfield” is actually Bernice’s son Peter (Thomas Grant). The young actor takes the lead - very effectively - through most of the rest of the story.

Bowerman doesn’t get to have a break, though, as she directs the play, having previously directed several Tomorrow People and Sapphire & Steel releases for Big Finish. She discusses her work in an interview at the end of the CD.

As is often the case, I found Miles’s writing something of a challenge to penetrate. The exact nature and origins of the worm-like entity that Peter encounters are not specified, and I’m not entirely sure what happens to Benny and Peter at the end of the story, though presumably this will become clear in the next adventure, in which the Professor’s travels take her to Victorian London...

On balance, though, The Adolescence of Time is time well spent.


Richard McGinlay

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