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Audio Drama Review
A new phase in the never-dull life of Bernice Summerfield opens as she arrives on the human colony world of Maximediras, with her son Peter in tow, to begin work on a much-needed freelance assignment. Relics from a hitherto unknown civilisation have been discovered on the sea bed, and Bernice has been hired by the planet’s tourist board to travel out on one of their cruises and undertake a survey. Bernice is suspicious of her employers’ motives from the beginning, and becomes more uneasy as time goes on. Is she being taken advantage of? More seriously, she starts to realise that she’s travelling on a cruise ship with an unusually high suicide rate. What is causing this - or who...?
When I first saw the front cover of this audio drama, the first release in Season 9 of Professor Summerfield’s adventures, I momentarily forgot what had transpired during the previous season and thought that the cover showed Jason Kane and Bev Tarrant. In fact, the individuals pictured with Benny (Lisa Bowerman) are guest characters, PR consultant Kerry Lyle (Alice Barclay) and ex-mining surveyor (Doctor Who fans, listen out for a reference to the Interplanetary Mining Corporation) Rick Hertz (Jeremy James).
In a major change of direction for the series, Benny has embarked upon a freelance career far away from the Braxiatel Collection, the only recurring character to accompany her being her son Peter (Thomas Grant). You might think that this would make for an episode that is relatively free of series-continuity baggage, but Bernice and Peter are still dealing with the psychological impact of the boy’s unwitting and tragic actions in Season 8. However, by the end of the story, our heroes have started to put the events behind them and move on, and future releases promise some time-travelling derring-do.
For now, writer Eddie Robson has offered up a diverting ocean-based escapade involving mysterious deaths and evidence of an ancient alien civilisation (though the latter owes a debt to previous science fiction yarns, such as Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Home Soil and Big Finish’s own Seventh Doctor Who adventure, The Genocide Machine).
Still, Beyond the Sea is worth dipping your toes into.