Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Greatest Shop in the Galaxy

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
ISBN 1 903654 66 1, BFPCD11
Available now

Benny is using an archaeological expedition to the famed Latrines of Baladroon as a pretext for a crafty bit of retail therapy at the local Gigamarket. She hadn't anticipated running into monsters and time anomalies, though. But then, running would be quite out of the question in the shoes she has set her sights on...

Following the tension and trauma of the complicated birth of her son in The Glass Prison, this audio adventure is intentionally frivolous and comical. The voice of the Gigamarket's shopping software and Benny's insatiable desire for new shoes are both reminiscent of the second radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, while a drooling alien (Toby Longworth) brings to mind the slobbering Spitting Image puppet of Roy Hattersley.

David Benson's portrayal of the administrator Keelor, a licentious coward with the hots for Benny, hits the right mark. Steven Allen hams up his performance as a time-displaced soldier, Tarband - one presumes deliberately - but unfortunately he does not ham it up enough for Tarband to truly work as a comic character. Steven Wickham brings Benny's electronic porter Joseph to life for (I believe) the first time on audio, but, since the device is affected by temporal disruption in this story, he spends most of the time just saying "Boing!"

Another effect of the time anomaly is that Lisa Bowerman's voice briefly sounds like that of Karra the Cheetah Person, the role she played in the Doctor Who serial Survival back in 1989. Truly a blast from the past!

This CD is good fun for the most part, though it is rather lightweight.

Richard McGinlay