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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield
Volume Five
Buried Memories


Starring: Lisa Bowerman and David Warner
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £29.99 (CD), £24.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 83868 028 2 (CD),
978 1 83868 029 9 (download)
Release Date: 31 October 2019

Professor Bernice Summerfield is back in four new adventures with a Time Lord you could bring home to meet your universe…

It’s been two years since the fourth volume of Bernice’s (Lisa Bowerman) adventures with a Doctor (David Warner) from another dimension, but it seems that only a few days have passed for them since they escaped from the Time Lord’s alternate universe into Bernice’s own. I find it rather peculiar that, upon her return, Professor Summerfield doesn’t immediately set about trying to reconnect with her friends and family, who don’t even get a mention until the third of the four tales in this back-to-basics box set. Instead, we find the Doctor and Bernice casually taking in the sights and sounds of the latter’s universe.

The stories in this four-disc collection are all written by new writers, all of whom happen to be female. The first is Pride of the Lampian by Alyson Leeds…

Bernice Summerfield finds the last relic of a lost civilisation – one that the Doctor is worried may never actually have existed…

Despite her being an archaeologist, all too often Bernice’s profession merely provides window dressing or a springboard for the main action and is thereafter quickly forgotten about. Refreshingly, three of the four adventures in Buried Memories buck that trend, particularly the opening one. In Pride of the Lampian, the process of archaeological discovery is central to the plot and continues throughout it, and there is a real sense of the joy of such research. The writer works with historical documents in her day job, as she explains during the 11 minutes of interviews at the end of the disc (unlike previous volumes, there isn’t a bonus disc just for behind-the-scenes stuff), and she places herself in the thick of the narrative in the form of archivist Drolla (Jessica Hayles).

All of the stories in this volume also involve the theme of dredging up submerged memories. Here the twist is that the ancient race summoned into being by the power of suggestion (rather like the process of ‘remembering’ that takes place in the Doctor Who novel Interference and the episode The Big Bang) shouldn’t ever have existed, according to the Doctor.

Pride of the Lampian begins very effectively, with intellectual excitement surrounding Bernice’s findings and drama generated by the way in which these revelations influence reality on a galactic scale. However, it goes on for a bit too long and by the end of it a lot of the intrigue is history.



The people of Civitas-G have retreated into an idyllic re-creation of their homeworld – and they refuse to believe it is now breaking down…

In Clear History, as the title suggests, memories have been buried by means of reprogramming. In a computer-generated environment, it is frighteningly easy to be deleted or to have your recollections edited to suit the whims of the powers that be. Everything you believe to be true could be a lie. Writer Doris V Sutherland lends a deadly new significance to computing terms such as “Administrator”, “updates” and “bugs in the system”.

Virtual reality has been done so often in science fiction that it is hard to come up with a truly original take on it. Sutherland’s contribution has its moments, but it isn’t tremendously memorable. A further problem is that the voices of the two male guest stars, Heider Ali as Lloyd and Gavin Swift as the Administrator, sound rather similar to each other, which makes for confusing listening at times.



Bernice and the Doctor are trapped on a planet where people who are unusual have a nasty habit of dying. They’re in big trouble…

A regime with strict rules about conformity; the Doctor and Bernice masquerading as a married couple; a bionic war veteran in charge of a B&B; an archaeological dig that yields surprisingly few finds – could it be that there are too many ideas at play in April McCaffrey’s Dead and Breakfast? I did think that for quite a time while listening to this episode, but ultimately the writer ties things together very nicely, and elements such as the TARDIS crew’s deception and the cyborg landlady Flor (an excellent performance by Jacqueline King, alias Donna Noble’s mum Sylvia) provide many entertaining scenes. McCaffrey has taken the concept of staying in a B&B and having to put up with its bizarre rules, and expanded it to a planetary scale.

The time travellers move rather too swiftly from being accused of a crime to becoming investigators of it. The writer could have got more mileage out of their interrogation by the authorities (represented by Zaraah Abrahams as Daphne) and the threat of punishment.

Otherwise, there is little that can be faulted about this production. Sam Hallion as Rylan demonstrates a dramatic vocal range. Even the eight minutes of interviews are fun, with Bowerman and King swapping stories about some of the dreadful digs they have inhabited in their time.



Centuries ago the Byrinthians were wiped out – apart from one underground train that still travels the tunnels, with a passenger on board…

In the previous episode, Bernice mentioned her son Peter, and the story ended with her determined to pay him a visit. However, Burrowed Time begins with the TARDIS crew following a distress signal. Perhaps the family reunion took place between the two adventures.

This tale could have been called The Last Train, but that’s already been done. Much as Doris V Sutherland messed about with IT terminology in Clear History, here writer Lani Woodward plays upon the insincerity of those “We are sorry…” announcements and other messages that you hear while travelling by rail, using them to sinister effect. I was reminded of the unfortunate passengers of Trans-Stellar Space Lines in the Secondary Phase of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, who are kept in suspended animation for centuries “for their comfort and convenience.” Woodward and actor Richard Lumsden also have fun with the character of Professor Landren, an archaeologist with a passion for ancient transport systems, including their serial numbers – in other words, he’s a trainspotting historian!

Unlike her fellow writers, we don’t get to hear from Woodward during the 11 minutes of interviews on this disc. Instead, senior staff members Lisa Bowerman, producer James Goss and director Scott Handcock talk generally about the box set – which has been a very enjoyable one.


Richard McGinlay

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