Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Bellotron Incident

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 84435 040 1, BFPCD16
Available now

The elliptical orbit of the primitive planet Bellotron carries it into the territories of two warring races - the Rutan and the Sontarans. When a Terran battle cruiser detects a strange energy signature on Bellotron's surface, regulations require the presence of an archaeological specialist...

Taking a leaf from the book of rival BBV, Big Finish have incorporated an old Doctor Who monster into this Professor Summerfield adventure, by negotiating the rights with the creature's creator. In this instance the monster in question is the shape-shifting Rutan gestalt from The Horror of Fang Rock, created by Terrance Dicks. Their opponents, the Sontarans, are also mentioned, but are never encountered directly. The opening to the story, with much superstitious talk of falling stars, leads the listener to expect a variation on the Sontaran tale The Time Warrior, but that is just a red herring on the part of writer Mike Tucker.

Another familiar element, but this time from the Big Finish realm, is the presence of Bev Tarrant, played by Louise Faulkner. When Tucker created her for the Doctor Who audio drama The Genocide Machine, the production team briefly considered replacing her with Bernice, since the two characters have so much in common: a spirit of adventure, an interest in ancient artefacts (though not for their academic value) and a glib tongue. Now you can compare and contrast for yourself by hearing the two ladies together - though you do have to wait a while. (I haven't given away any surprises here. Bev is mentioned on the CD's inner sleeve.)

The story zips along very nicely indeed, aided by some particularly crisp dialogue. And you don't need to be a Who expert to enjoy this adventure, as the essential natures of the Rutan and the Sontarans are clearly, but subtly, explained.

I, for one, will certainly be rootin' for another Bev/Benny team-up!

Richard McGinlay