Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Heart's Desire

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99
ISBN 1 84435 130 0
Available 20 June 2005

Christmas is not the time to be zipping across the galaxy with the wafer-thin hope that you can save your home from being destroyed by a previously uncharted pulsar - one that's pulsing a message in Morse code. The message leads Bernice to Marlowe's World, a place where death is irrelevant, even though it lies at every corner, and where you must be very careful what you wish for...

I wonder why the production team decided to make it Christmastime at the Braxiatel Collection? This audio adventure isn't particularly festive. Nor is it being released at an appropriate time of year. Quite the opposite in fact: it's the height of summer as I write this.

Big Finish's timing is also poor in another important respect. The notion of an illusory world where imagination can influence reality (I'm not giving much away here - the synopsis on the back of the CD hints towards as much, with its "be very careful what you wish for") was used in the previous Bernice Summerfield release, The Masquerade of Death.

Nevertheless, there's plenty to enjoy in this rather zany adventure. In addition to the ever-reliable Lisa Bowerman as Bernice, Lucy Beresford (who recently impressed me as an agoraphobic in the Doctor Who audio drama Three's A Crowd) gives a spirited performance as gangster's moll Topsy Turvé, while Steven Bugdale sounds like several different incarnations of Mark Gatiss in his role as the villainous Barron.

There's also a rather surprising treat for 1980s Doctor Who fans, but writers David Bailey and Neil Corry might be disheartened if I were to say any more on that subject...

Richard McGinlay

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