Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Kingdom of the Blind

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99
ISBN 1 84435 131 9
Available 20 July 2005

Jason Kane had thought things were going well with his ex-wife Bernice. Until she went sleepwalking, stole Brax's shuttle (causing Jason GBH in the process), and then abandoned him to the mercy of mute and unfriendly aliens. However, Benny - waking to find herself marooned on a strange planet dressed only in her nightie, with strange voices in her head and a bunch of one-eyed monsters threatening to cut out her tongue - would probably argue that her day was even worse...

The Eternals, the Galyari, the giant robot, the Grel... Now the Monoids, the one-time one-eyed monsters from the William Hartnell serial The Ark, join the growing ranks of obscure Doctor Who monsters and villains that have made guest appearances in the Professor Bernice Summerfield range. Why can't such creatures appear in Big Finish's Who series, though?

Stop sniggering at the back. There's nothing remotely amusing about the term "one-eyed monster". Oh, all right, maybe there is. A bit.

Actually, I've always had a soft spot for the Monoids, ever since I was intrigued by a photograph of them in an early 1980s Blue Peter annual. Jacqueline Rayner makes good use of the creatures in a story that forms a convincing prequel to events in The Ark - though personally I would have preferred it if this had been a time-travel story, so its events could have taken place closer to the far-future dateline of the original story.

Meanwhile, Simon Robinson's music echoes Tristram Cary's musique concrète soundtrack to The Ark, which was itself lifted from his score for The Daleks.

Those of you who are familiar with the phrase, "In the kingdom of the blind..." may be able to guess the nature of the social order that exists on the alien planet. This hierarchy is also cleverly tied in with the proverbial Three Wise Monkeys: See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil. The Three Wise Monkeys were also referenced in the original Planet of the Apes movie, and accordingly The Kingdom of the Blind uses similar themes of humans being treated like animals and of slaves becoming the enslavers.

All in all, this CD is a blinder, and it's well worth keeping an eye out for.

You can start sniggering at the back now. If you like. Anybody?

Richard McGinlay

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