Bernice Summerfield

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Doctor Who universe character
Bernice Summerfield.jpg
Official image of Bernice Summerfield, as used on the Bernice Summerfield Inside Story book, published October 2007
Bernice Summerfield
Affiliated Seventh Doctor
Eighth Doctor
St. Oscar's University, Dellah
The Braxiatel Collection
Species Human
Home planet Beta Caprisis
Home era 26th century
First appearance Love and War
Last appearance Ongoing
Portrayed by Lisa Bowerman (voice)

Bernice Surprise Summerfield (later Professor Bernice Summerfield or just Benny) is a fictional character created by author Paul Cornell as a new companion of the Seventh Doctor in Virgin Publishing's range of original full-length Doctor Who novels, the New Adventures. The New Adventures were authorized novels carrying on from where the Doctor Who television series had left off,[citation needed] and Summerfield was introduced in Cornell's novel Love and War in 1992.

Bernice Summerfield history[edit]

A 26th century archeologist, Summerfield became a hugely popular character amongst fans of the books, and was present right up until their end in 1997. She officially stopped travelling with the Doctor in Happy Endings but returned a few times thereafter, including the last Virgin New Adventure, The Dying Days. That year, Virgin had lost the licence to publish Doctor Who fiction, which was not renewed by the BBC. However, range editors Peter Darvill-Evans and Rebecca Levene decided to continue the series with Summerfield as the new lead and without the Doctor Who name, the Doctor or any other BBC copyright characters featuring.

These New Adventures starring Bernice continued until 1999, when the Virgin fiction department closed down. The previous year, however, audio production company Big Finish Productions began issuing full-cast, officially licensed professional audio dramas starring the character on CD, and they continue to do so. The character is played in all Big Finish's productions by actress Lisa Bowerman. After they gained the license to produce Doctor Who audio dramas in 1999, Big Finish thrice featured Bernice in Doctor Who stories set during and after the run of the New Adventures novels.

Big Finish are still regularly producing Bernice Summerfield audio dramas and the company has also published various novels and short story collections featuring the character.

Bernice also appeared in several comic strips in Doctor Who Magazine, with Virgin and the magazine co-operating on her visual depiction. This depiction, which was also applied to novel cover art, was of a slim, statuesque build, with short dark hair, usually shown wearing a catsuit or some similar outfit. Over time, the character's appearance has been modified and among recent changes include a longer hairstyle.

Bernice Summerfield books[edit]

Doctor Who - The New Adventures[edit]

The Doctor first meets Benny in Love and War - she is a 30-year-old archaeologist. She was born in 2540 and is the daughter of Admiral Isaac Douglas Summerfield - a high ranking Spacefleet officer. Her mother, Claire Summerfield, died when Daleks attacked their homeworld of Beta Caprisis, an Earth colony. She has not seen her father for many years and has spent much of her life searching for him.

At times she falsely claims to have a degree from Heidelberg University. She published an archaeological book called Down Among the Dead Men in the year 2566.

Theatre of War features the first encounter between Bernice and Irving Braxiatel (from her perspective). He later becomes a regular character in the Bernice Summerfield-only New Adventures.

In Sanctuary Bernice falls in love with Guy de Carnac, a former Knight Templar. Unfortunately he is killed later in the novel.

In Death and Diplomacy she meets her future husband Jason Kane, who she marries in the very next novel, Happy Endings. Happy Endings is set on the occasion of Bernice's wedding to Jason Kane. Bernice leaves the TARDIS after this novel having been given Time Rings by the Doctor, but she appears in certain subsequent Doctor Who novels.

In Return of the Living Dad, Bernice finally resolves the mystery of what happened to her father.

Virgin had long considered a non-Doctor Who spin-off series, but plans were moved forwards when they lost the license from the BBC. A number of preparations were made for the transition to Bernice-led New Adventures (see below). As Virgin felt Bernice would make a better lead as a single woman, her marriage to Jason Kane was split up. Thus, she appears again in Eternity Weeps, a novel which describes the breakdown of her marriage and is also focused on her more than the Doctor as a prototype for the Doctor-free novels to come. Likewise, the last New Adventure, The Dying Days, is again focused on Bernice more than the Doctor, with the Doctor absent from a substantial portion of the book. The Dying Days also features an ambiguous epilogue which can be taken to imply that the Doctor and Bernice have sex.

This same epilogue also has the Doctor indicating that Benny is his longest-serving companion, although exactly how long she travelled with the Doctor has never been firmly established.

The New Adventures[edit]

Originally published monthly, the New Adventures went bimonthly after The Sword of Forever.

The New Adventures continued with Bernice generally in the leading role. Oh No It Isn't! provides the set-up for subsequent stories, with Bernice becoming Professor of Archaeology at St Oscar's University on the planet Dellah. She has now put her failed marriage to Jason Kane behind her. Oh No It Isn't! also re-introduces the People, a highly advanced alien race from the Doctor Who New Adventures. In Ghost Devices, we meet Clarence (named after the angel in It's a Wonderful Life). Clarence appears in the form of an angel, but is an artificial intelligence from the People who is eventually (in Tears of the Oracle) revealed to be a character from The Also People. In Dragons' Wrath, Bernice meets Irving Braxiatel for the first time (from his perspective). Beyond the Sun introduces another recurring character, Emile Mars-Smith. Emile, Clarence and the People appear in a number of subsequent New Adventures, while Braxiatel appears in both further New Adventures and Benny stories from Big Finish.

Where Angels Fear starts the Gods arc, a loose overarching story that finishes in Twilight of the Gods. Along the way, Dellah is destroyed and Bernice is uprooted and loses her memory. Twilight of the Gods finishes with a new set-up for subsequent stories involving Bernice, Emile and others, but this was not used as Virgin stopped publishing the series.

As well as continuing the New Adventures after losing the Doctor Who license, Virgin also continued with their Decalog series. These had been Doctor Who short story anthologies, but Decalog 5: Wonders featured a Benny short story ("The Judgement of Solomon") by Lawrence Miles alongside other shorts not set in the New Adventures continuity.

Big Finish paperback novels[edit]

Big Finish licensed the character of Bernice Summerfield from Paul Cornell, Irving Braxiatel from Justin Richards and Jason Kane from Dave Stone, but other elements of the Virgin New Adventures' fictional universe were not obtained. Instead, Gary Russell, Jacqueline Rayner and Cornell developed a new background and character ensemble, introduced in the anthology The Dead Men Diaries and developed in the initial run of paperbacks.

The most notable development in Big Finish's paperback novels was Bernice's pregnancy and the birth of her son in The Glass Prison.

The paperback novels proved uneconomic and Big Finish stopped publishing them, subsequently re-launching their Benny books in hardback with the anthology A Life of Surprises.

Big Finish hardcover novels[edit]

Big Finish novellas[edit]

Each volume comprises a collection of three novellas.

Big Finish anthologies[edit]

Short Trips[edit]

Bernice also appears in a number of Doctor Who short stories, mostly set during her travels with the Doctor.

Bernice Summerfield audio plays[edit]

Season 1[edit]

# Title Author Adapted by Director Released
1.1 Oh No It Isn't! Paul Cornell Jacqueline Rayner Nicholas Briggs September 1998
1.2 Beyond the Sun Matt Jones Matt Jones Gary Russell September 1998
1.3 Walking to Babylon Kate Orman Jacqueline Rayner Gary Russell November 1998
1.4 Birthright Nigel Robinson Jacqueline Rayner Nicholas Briggs February 1999
1.5 Just War Lance Parkin Jacqueline Rayner Nicholas Briggs August 1999
1.6 Dragons' Wrath Justin Richards Jacqueline Rayner Ed Salt September 2000

The first season of Bernice Summerfield audio plays are all adaptations of New Adventures novels originally published by Virgin Publishing. Each of the plays spans two CDs, except for Dragon's Wrath, which was issued on a single CD.

The plays deviate from the original novels, in terms of plot and characters, to varying degrees. This is particularly evident with the productions of Birthright and Just War, both of which were originally Doctor Who novels. These changes were necessary because, at the time of their production, Big Finish Productions weren't licensed to produce Doctor Who audio plays.

Actor and photographer Lisa Bowerman was cast in the role of Bernice Summerfield. Bowerman had previously appeared in the Doctor Who story Survival (1989). The first series also co-starred Stephen Fewell as Jason Kane. A variety of actors familiar to Doctor Who fans played guest roles in many of the plays, including Colin Baker, Sophie Aldred, Nicholas Courtney, Elisabeth Sladen, Anneke Wills and Richard Franklin.

Season 2[edit]

# Title Author Director Released
2.1 The Secret of Cassandra David Bailey Gary Russell 18 December 2000
2.2 The Stone's Lament Mike Tucker Ed Salt 8 May 2001
2.3 The Extinction Event Lance Parkin Gary Russell 9 July 2001
2.4 The Skymines of Karthos David Bailey Ed Salt 3 September 2001

For the second season of Bernice Summerfield audio plays, Big Finish Productions experimented by developing ongoing character arcs that alternated between two different mediums — the audio plays and novels. Fans who did not collect the novels were initially confused to discover that Benny was pregnant during the final audio play of the season, The Skymines of Karthos. The pregnancy was explained in the novel The Squire's Crystal by Jacqueline Rayner.

The run of plays from the second season onwards take part in what has become known as the Collection continuity, as they are set primarily on the Braxiatel Collection, a combined museum and university located on the planetoid KS-159. A number of regular characters are introduced, most notably Irving Braxiatel. First referenced in the 1979 Doctor Who story City of Death (written by Douglas Adams and Graham Williams), Braxiatel first appeared in person in the New Adventures novel Theatre of War.

Season 3[edit]

# Title Author Director Released
3.1 The Greatest Shop in the Galaxy Paul Ebbs Alistair Lock 25 February 2002
3.2 The Green-Eyed Monsters Dave Stone Gary Russell 20 June 2002
3.3 The Dance of the Dead Stephen Cole Ed Salt 24 October 2002
3.4 The Mirror Effect Stewart Sheargold Gary Russell March 2003

Whereas the previous seasons had focused primarily on the character of Bernice Summerfield, Big Finish used the third season as an opportunity to introduce an ensemble feel to the productions. This is most evident in The Green-Eyed Monsters and The Mirror Effect where the characters Jason Kane, Adrian Wall and Irving Braxiatel are significantly developed. The latter, in particular, suggests that Braxiatel has a darker, more mysterious past than the audience has previously been led to believe.

The other two plays that comprise the third season focus more specifically on Bernice. The Greatest Shop in the Galaxy remains the most light-hearted play of the season, while The Dance of the Dead reintroduces the Ice Warriors from Doctor Who.

While not officially part of the third season (at least as far as the numbering is concerned), the Bernice Summerfield audio play The Plague Herds of Excelis (the fourth play in Big Finish's Excelis series; the first three plays fall under the Doctor Who umbrella) takes place between The Green-Eyed Monsters and The Dance of the Dead. Chronologically, the short story anthology A Life of Surprises also falls within this gap.

Season 4[edit]

# Title Author Director Released
4.1 The Bellotron Incident Mike Tucker Gary Russell April 2003
4.2 The Draconian Rage Trevor Baxendale Gary Russell August 2003
4.3 The Poison Seas David Bailey Ed Salt September 2003
4.4 Death and the Daleks Paul Cornell Gary Russell January 2004

The fourth season was unofficially dubbed the "classic Who monsters" season, with each play featuring an alien adversary that previously appeared in the Doctor Who television series. The Bellotron Incident predominantly features the Rutan Host (their major enemies, the Sontarans, are also referred to but don't actually appear), The Draconian Rage features the Draconians, The Poison Seas casts a more sympathetic light on the Sea Devils, while Death and the Daleks (the first double CD release in the series since Just War) sees the first appearance of the Daleks within the Bernice Summerfield series. Prior to its release, Death and the Daleks was entitled The Axis of Evil to keep the appearance of the Daleks a secret.

Big Finish also published an anthology of short stories, entitled Life During Wartime, that was specially written as a prelude to the Death and the Daleks audio play. Paul Cornell, the anthology's editor, described Life During Wartime as "a novel written by multiple authors". Each of the collection's stories are told in chronological order, detailing events that occur when the Collection is occupied by a powerful alien force. The anthology ends on a cliff-hanger that is resolved in Death and the Daleks.

Season 5[edit]

# Title Author Director Released
5.1 The Grel Escape Jacqueline Rayner Gary Russell July 2004
5.2 The Bone of Contention Simon A. Forward Ed Salt August 2004
5.3 The Relics of Jegg-Sau Stephen Cole Ed Salt November 2004
5.4 The Masquerade of Death Stewart Sheargold John Ainsworth March 2005

The previous season's tradition of using classic monsters continues into the fifth season, with the Grel (previously heard in Oh No It Isn't!) returning in The Grel Escape, a knowing pastiche of The Chase. The Bone of Contention features the Galyari, who appeared in the Doctor Who audio play The Sandman, while the title and plot of The Relics of Jegg-Sau was inspired by a 1970s Doctor Who licensed jigsaw puzzle that depicted a scene with giant robots identical to the one that appeared in Robot.

The Masquerade of Death brings the fifth season to a close in a suitably dark and surreal fashion.

Season 6[edit]

# Title Author Released
6.1 The Heart's Desire David Bailey & Neil Corry June 2005
6.2 The Kingdom of the Blind Jacqueline Rayner July 2005
6.3 The Lost Museum Simon Guerrier September 2005
6.4 The Goddess Quandary Andy Russell February 2006
6.5 The Crystal of Cantus Joseph Lidster June 2006

By the end of The Crystal of Cantus, the true dark and manipulative nature of Braxiatel was revealed and he left the Collection. Its future is now uncertain, with the Draconians claiming they own the planetoid it is based on. The entire series was directed by Gary Russell.

Season 7[edit]

# Title Author Director Released
7.1 The Tartarus Gate Stewart Sheargold Gary Russell July 2006
7.2 Timeless Passages Daniel O'Mahony Gary Russell August 2006
7.3 The Worst Thing in the World Dave Stone Ed Salt September 2006
7.4 Summer of Love Simon Guerrier Ed Salt October 2006
7.5 The Oracle of Delphi Scott Handcock Ed Salt November 2006
7.6 The Empire State Eddie Robson Ed Salt December 2006

The seventh season follows the staff of the Collection as they attempt to keep things running smoothly in Braxiatel's absence. Collected Works and Old Friends, two books published during this season's run, also develop the running plots that planetoid KS-159 is under threat from the Draconians and Mim, and that the Collection itself is falling apart literally as well as figuratively without Braxiatel at its helm.

Season 8[edit]

# Title Author Director Released
8.1 The Tub Full of Cats Daniel O'Mahony Ed Salt February 2007
8.2 The Judas Gift Nick Wallace Ed Salt April 2007
8.3 Freedom of Information Eddie Robson Ed Salt June 2007
8.4 The End of the World Dave Stone Lisa Bowerman September 2007
8.5 The Final Amendment Joseph Lidster Gary Russell October 2007
8.6 The Wake Simon Guerrier Gary Russell January 2008

In the eighth season, Braxiatel returns to the Collection, which is threatened by crossfire and politics in the war between the Draconians and Mim. The war comes to an unexpected conclusion shortly after his return, and several regular characters pay a heavy price for realising too late that Braxiatel himself is the real threat. The season ends with Benny cutting her ties to the Collection and Braxiatel, and going on the run with her son Peter. The books The Two Jasons and Nobody's Children also fit into this season's arc.

Season 9[edit]

# Title Author Director Released
9.1 Beyond the Sea Eddie Robson Toby Longworth June 2008
9.2 The Adolescence of Time Lawrence Miles Lisa Bowerman July 2008
9.3 The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel Jim Smith Nigel Fairs August 2008
9.4 The Diet of Worms Matthew Sweet Toby Longworth September 2008

The ninth season is a much looser collection of stories, following Bernice and her son Peter as Benny searches for work away from the Collection.

Season 10[edit]

# Title Author Released
10.1 Glory Days Nick Wallace June 2009
10.2 Absence Daniel O'Mahony July 2009
10.3 Venus Mantrap Mark Clapham & Lance Parkin August 2009
10.4 Secret Origins Eddie Robson September 2009

The entire series was directed by John Ainsworth.

Season 11[edit]

# Title Author Released
11.1 Resurrecting the Past Eddie Robson September 2010
11.2 Escaping the Future Eddie Robson October 2010
11.3 Year Zero Jonathan Clements November 2010
11.4 Dead Man's Switch John Dorney & Richard Dinnick December 2010

The entire series was again directed by John Ainsworth.

Epoch[edit]

# Title Author Released
1.1 The Kraken's Lament Mark Wright September 2011
1.2 The Temple of Questions Jacqueline Rayner September 2011
1.3 Private Enemy No. 1 Tony Lee September 2011
1.4 Judgement Day Scott Handcock September 2011

The box-set was directed by Gary Russell.

Road Trip[edit]

# Title Author Director Released
2.1 Brand Management Christopher Cooper Gary Russell February 2012
2.2 Bad Habits Simon Barnard and Paul Morris Gary Russell February 2012
2.3 Paradise Frost David Llewellyn Scott Handcock February 2012

Legion[edit]

# Title Author Director Released
3.1 Vesuvius Falling Tony Lee Gary Russell September 2012
3.2 Shades of Gray Scott Handcock Scott Handcock September 2012
3.3 Everybody Loves Irving Miles Richardson Gary Russell September 2012

New Frontiers[edit]

# Title Author Released
4.1 A Handful of Dust Xanna Eve Chown April 2013
4.2 HMS Surprise Alexander Vlahos April 2013
4.3 The Curse of Fenman Gary Russell April 2013

Missing Persons[edit]

# Title Author Released
5.1 Big Dig Hamish Steele December 2013
5.2 The Revenant's Carnival Martin Day December 2013
5.3 The Brimstone Kid David Llewellyn December 2013
5.4 The Winning Side James Goss December 2013
5.5 In Living Memory Gary Russell & Scott Handcock December 2013

Miscellaneous[edit]

Title Author Released
Buried Treasures[disambiguation needed] Jacqueline Rayner & Paul Cornell August 1999
The Shadow of the Scourge Paul Cornell October 2000
The Plague Herds of Excelis Stephen Cole 1 July 2002
The Dark Flame Trevor Baxendale March 2003
Silver Lining Colin Brake December 2004
The Company of Friends ("Benny's Story") Lance Parkin July 2009
Bernice Summerfield and the Criminal Code Eddie Robson January 2010
Dead and Buried Eddie Robson, John Ainsworth & Alex Mallinson 31 August 2010
Love and War (audio adaptation) adapted by Jacqueline Rayner October 2012
Many Happy Returns (Download Only) Multiple authors November 2012

Buried Treasures was a free CD released to early subscribers of the first season of Bernice Summerfield audio plays. The Shadow of the Scourge, The Dark Flame and The Company of Friends were part of Big Finish's ongoing Doctor Who line. The first two are based in the continuity of the Virgin New Adventures and feature Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor and Sophie Aldred as Ace. The latter is a set of four one episode stories starring Paul McGann's Doctor. In Benny's Story he encounters her sometime after having met her in the novels. The Plague Herds of Excelis was the epilogue to the three part Excelis cycle of Doctor Who audios, and features Iris Wildthyme, a recurring character in the Doctor Who BBC novels and Big Finish audio plays. Silver Lining was an exclusive audio drama featuring the Cybermen that came free with Doctor Who Magazine issue 351, and Bernice Summerfield and the Criminal Code is a Companion Chronicle.

Bernice Summerfield animated mini-film[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Benny Book Details - News". Big Finish. 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 

External links[edit]