Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bernice Summerfield - Braxiatel in Love

Later this year there will be a thrilling range of releases to mark two decades of Bernice Summerfield's audio adventures - including something by me. It's a delight to be back.

For those who might not know...

Benny, a passionate, waspish, brilliant space archaeologist, was created by Paul Cornell and made her debut in Doctor Who Magazine in September 1992, in a preview of Paul's original Doctor Who novel Love and War, published the following month. She accompanied the Doctor through most of the New Adventures books, largely overseen by editor Rebecca Levene. In 1997, the publishers' licence for Doctor Who was not renewed but the New Adventures, and Benny, continued without him, starting with Cornell's Oh No It Isn't!

On 25 and 26 June 1998, in the basement of Intergalactic Arts Studios, 31 Morecombe Street SE17, recording took place on an audio adaptation of Oh No It Isn't - not just the first Benny audio play but the first Big Finish production. Adapted by Jacqueline Rayner, directed by Nicholas Briggs and starring Lisa Bowerman as Benny, the cast included Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier from Doctor Who), Jo Castleton and Mark Gatiss.

A second adaptation, Beyond the Sun, was recorded in August - written by Matt Jones from his own novel and directed by Gary Russell, this time at Crosstown Studios in Fulham. Both Benny plays went on sale in September 1998, and more followed. The quality of them convinced the BBC to give Big Finish a licence to produce original Doctor Who plays, which began in 1999.

That same year, the New Adventures range of novels ended, and that might have been the end of Benny. But Big Finish stuck by her, and in 2000 began to produce original Benny plays - not adapations - and also their own range of Benny books.

You can skip the next bit because it's all about me...

I first wrote for Benny in Life During Wartime, a prose anthology edited by Cornell and published in 2003. In 2004, I edited the anthology A Life Worth Living and was commissioned for my first Benny play - The Lost Museum, released in 2005. In October 2005, Gary Russell appointed me script editor on the series, and in the summer of 2006, when he left Big Finish to be a script editor on TV Doctor Who, I became producer of Benny, overseeing the 12 plays and six books released between then and January 2008.

I also wrote Bernice Summerfield: The Inside Story - a history of Benny, and of Big Finish and the period that Doctor Who wasn't on TV - published in 2009. I wrote a story for 2010 anthology Present Danger, a single scene for the audio play Many Happy Returns from 2012, and continue to work with Lisa Bowerman regularly when she directs my other work for Big Finish. But it's been more than 10 years since I wrote a Benny play - until now.

Braxiatel in Love is directed by Scott Handcock and released in September as part of Bernice Summerfield: The Story So Far volume 1, alongside a new play about Bernice in her youth by range producer James Goss, and The Grel Invasion of Earth by Jacqueline Rayner. The blurb for my one goes like this:
"Irving Braxiatel likes to collect things, and when he gains a fiancee, Bernice Summerfield can't help but be suspicious. What are her mysterious employer's motives? It can't just be love, can it? Nothing on the Braxiatel Collection is ever that simple. Not even love."

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