Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
As part of the celebrations of Bernice Summerfield turning 20, Big Finish kick off the festivities with a short story collection of 8 new stories from 8 writers; a lot of whom are legendary in the Big Finish, Benny and Doctor Who worlds. We are talking Terrance Dicks, Steven Moffat, Andrew Cartmel, Ben Aaronovitch, Robert Shearman, Kate Orman and Benny’s creator Paul Cornell. Quite a list!
And when you think about what the character has done over the years! Not only a fan favourite of the new characters created for the Virgin novels, our main source of new Who stories during the wilderness years as a new companion for the Seventh Doctor that redefined what a companion could be, but also the range that launched a Big Finish before they had the rights to Who proper.
When Lisa Bowerman took over the role she was instantly clearly born to play it and in this set you can see how much she has only grown with the role even further. The stellar list of authors above each find different sides of the character to explore and we are treated to an insight to lots of times within Benny’s life. From an origin story of how a young, orphaned girl started her journey to become the woman we’ve come to know; to Benny becoming someone’s imaginary friend. We have stories of love and loss for Benny and moments when she opens up a bit more and the price she might pay for that. And the final story by Terrance Dicks is short but one of my favourites bringing us a chance meeting that you didn’t know you always needed to hear.
It feels somewhat strange when Andrew Cartmel pops up to read the story he penned. He does a good job, but as the rest of the stories are all read by Bowerman herself, it’s just a bit unusual. But when listening to the credits I noticed no mention of Cartmel as a narrator, just Bowerman, so likely a late and welcome addition to the stories
There is no behind the scenes which I would have like to have heard. I understand there isn’t a cast on this one, just for the most part the one narrator, but I would have like to have heard Bowerman doing a sit down to talk about the set, ideally with a writer or 2 involved. However with 2 more Benny sets on the way, I’m sure we will get a look back at Benny through that.
Mostly I just want to congratulate Lisa Bowerman, Paul Cornell, Virgin Books and of course Big Finish on such a great and enduring character that continues to entertain. This set does that legacy justice and is well worth your time.
Buy it on CD or download now https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/bernice-summerfield-treasury-1839
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