Today marks the 20th anniversary of the first recording session of a Big Finish audio – EVER! In 1998, 20 years ago, we recorded our first release, Oh No It Isn’t! And now we have some great news about the future of the first lady of Big Finish, Bernice Summerfield…
What could possibly go wrong on Professor Bernice Summerfield's investigation into the lost civilisation of Perfecton? Nothing, it seems – until they leave the planet and spot a dirty great missile heading towards their ship. But instead of oblivion, Benny finds herself plunged into the strange world of – panto.
And we are delighted to announce that Big Finish has extended the licence for Bernice Summerfield for another five years.
Benny herself, Lisa Bowerman, let us know how she felt about 20 years of playing Benny: “Date: 25th June 1998. Scene: a damp cellar in Elephant and Castle. Arrive to find a couple of hippies, a cast of panto characters, Gary Russell, Nicholas Briggs on a stool, a man in a corner with a DAT machine, Nicholas Courtney, one microphone – and a moth eaten cat. Not the most auspicious start to a job; which frankly I thought would last a couple of days.
“Cut to: 25th June 2018. Email is now a thing – and I get a message from Big Finish’s marketing guru, Paddy Freeland, to tell me Benny’s licence has been extended to 2023!
“Never in a month of Sundays could I have imagined on that day 20 years ago that the Adventures of Professor Bernice Summerfield would still be going. It’s been two decades of danger and excitement (and that was just some of the studios we recorded in!) – brilliant writing, great adventures, wonderful casts, directors and producers – and the beginnings of what would be an astonishingly successful audio production company.
“Hooray for Benny, and hooray for Big Finish. I’ve a lot to be grateful for!”
Creator of Bernice Summerfield, Paul Cornell, told us: “Big Finish has been the best possible home for Bernice Summerfield, as played by the awesome Lisa Bowerman, and in her anniversary year with the company, I’m delighted that relationship is set to continue, long into the future.”
Executive Producer and chairman of Big Finish, Jason Haigh-Ellery: “Twenty years of Bernice Summerfield – it’s gone so fast! And now we have another five years to look forward to. There is always so much to do with Benny and that is undoubtedly down to her wonderful creator Paul Cornell. He fashioned not only a brave and clever character but long before everyone was doing it, he made his heroine fallible and approachable. Casting Lisa Bowerman was the icing on the cake, and I look back on Big Finish’s first production, “Oh No It Isn’t!” with immense pride. Cheers Benny!”
Executive Producer, Nicholas Briggs: “Having provided the venue for Lisa Bowerman’s audition for the part of Benny (the living room in my flat, with a microphone unceremoniously taped to an upright vacuum cleaner!) and directed the first ever Bernice Summerfield audio drama, I have a big emotional connection to the range. It’s fantastic that we’ve recently seen new life breathed into her adventures, and I look forward to the many more exciting exploits in store for this much-loved character.”
We’re delighted to have a whole host of Benny releases this year to celebrate. Bernice Summerfield: Treasury features classic short stories previously only available on paper from notable writers that many Doctor Who viewers and listeners will recognise.
Bernice Summerfield: Treasury will be available in August priced at £20 on CD or £15 on download. All these adventures are read by Benny herself, Lisa Bowerman, with Andrew Cartmel.
Following in September are six tales from the whole of Benny’s life in Bernice Summerfield: The Story So Far – volumes one and two.
We’ll meet a young version of Benny (played by actress Emily Laing), the return of the Grel and Jason Kane (Benny’s former beau), a reunion with Braxiatel in the Braxiatel Collection, the Drahvins return (originally from Doctor Who story Galaxy 4), we’ll meet a professor played by Unbound Doctor David Warner and an incarnation of the Doctor played by Michael Jayston.
From a rocky start at military academy to her sudden immersion in an alternative universe via a variety of jobs and adventures on Dellah, at the Braxiatel Collection, and in the murky world of Legion – Bernice Summerfield is a woman who can be said to have lived more than one life. But one thing's for certain: wherever she is, Benny can always be counted on to right wrongs, get the job done and, sometimes, even have a good time along the way!
Each of the brand-new stories in this collection focuses on a different time in Bernice's life. There's an adventure at St Oscar's, a mystery at the White Rabbit, and even a surprising glimpse into the far future. Will Benny still be digging for artefacts at 80? You bet she will!
Bernice Summerfield: In Time will be available on ebook at £12.99, hardback at £16.99 and as a digital audiobook read by Lisa Bowerman at £9.99. The writers include James Goss, Mark Clapham, Dave Stone, Victoria Simpson, Antonio Rastelli, Simon Guerrier, Peter Anghelides and a new writer found in our recent Benny short story competition, Doris V Sutherland.