Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Draconian Rage

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 84435 067 3, BFPCD17
Available now

On the fringes of the Draconian Empire, an entire planet's population has committed suicide. Bernice is surprised when the Empire calls upon her services as an archaeologist, because Draconians don't usually care for humans, and they value females even less...

What with this being Doctor Who's anniversary year, the Bernice Summerfield series seems to have gone old monster mad. Benny's previous adventure, The Bellotron Incident, featured the Rutans. This one showcases the Draconians, while the next one, The Poison Seas, will have the Sea Devils in it. Perhaps Big Finish acquired the rights to the Draconians and the Sea Devils in some sort of reptilian job lot from the estate of their creator Malcolm Hulke!

Although they appeared in only one television story, Frontier in Space, the noble Draconians have remained fan favourites, and have featured in several comic strips, novels and spin-off videos. Miles Richardson, alias Irving Braxiatel, portrayed an excellent Draconian in those very videos, Mindgame and Mindgame: Trilogy, so Big Finish has missed a bit of an opportunity by not having the actor play a dual role in this story! Writer Trevor Baxendale captures the uneasy cultural differences that exist between the reptilian race and the human race by means of some witty dialogue and situations.

Things turn nasty when an adversary from Doctor Who's more recent past is brought into play (though it is not, as I mistakenly believed when a skull was mentioned, the Fendahl). Like The Bellotron Incident, this tale involves elements from both a TV story and a previous Big Finish audio drama, though sadly not one of the greatest ones.

The CD runs to about ten minutes longer than its stated 65 minutes, but unfortunately this does not mean that you get more plot for your money. The conclusion is let down badly by an excess of discussion, most of which revolves around a single subject, just when the drama doesn't need a prolonged talky bit.

I had my reservations about Baxendale's previous effort for Big Finish, the Doctor Who audio adventure The Dark Flame, which also featured Bernice. I'm afraid I'm even less impressed with this one.

Richard McGinlay