Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Extinction Event

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
ISBN 1 903654 12 2, BFPCD9
Available now

An auction house is offering the only known artefact to have survived the destruction of the planet Halstad. Braxiatel is keen to add this object to his collection, but he and Bernice find their dealings are interrupted by an attempted murder...

When Big Finish produced Professor Summerfield's first audio adventure back in 1998, they pulled off a master stroke with their casting of Lisa Bowerman. Now they've done it again with the voice of Benny's employer-cum-mentor Irving Braxiatel being heard for the first time, as performed by Miles Richardson. The actor, who portrayed a splendid Draconian in Reeltime's Mindgame videos amongst several other roles in Doctor Who spin-offs, imbues the character with a degree of solemnity and aloofness that feels just right. As the plot unfolds and business negotiations are overshadowed by harsh accusations both from and about the vendors, Richardson conveys aspects of acquisitiveness and amorality that give Benny an entirely convincing reason to take issue with his apparent coldness. It is certainly not a cosy companionship that these two characters enjoy.

Lance Parkin's script conjures up some of the auction room intrigue of Property of a Lady, one of Ian Fleming's short stories featuring James Bond. He also includes a far from pleasant alien being whose role is similar to that of Ambassador Arcturus in the Doctor Who serial The Curse of Peladon.

The small cast is optimised by providing Bowerman with a dual role. This is made into a plot point when a murder suspect (Daniel Brennan) briefly believes that he recognises Benny because she sounds uncannily like his deceased lover, who is heard in the opening moments of the production.

Parkin's plot runs out of steam shortly before it reaches its resolution, but the strength of the drama lies in its showcasing of the relationship between Benny and Braxiatel.

Richard McGinlay