Review: Bernice Summerfield: Big Finish Audio: Box Set 4: New Frontiers

New Frontiers coverNew threats and old enemies face Benny and her friends as answers are slowly revealed…

It’s a shame that it’s been announced that the current Benny production team are handing over the reins after the sequel box set to this one, as we’ve had some fine adventures courtesy of Big Finish Cardiff over the past few months. But Benny’s history has been one of varying creative teams, and this is turning into one of its stronger periods.

The set begins with Xanna Eve Chown’s A Handful of Dust, the title of which instantly made me think of the T.S. Eliot poem that uses the phrase so memorably. I’m not sure of the physics of the final solution, but it certainly is a fascinating story, as Benny, Ruth and Jack become caught up in the mystery of a lost civilisation, and a pair of beings who are almost overly eager to learn. There’s almost a side-discussion about the role of religion and religious practices that adds some substance to an intriguing tale.  7/10

Alexander Vlahos’ debut script HMS Surprise is a very effective ghost story which made me jump even when walking along listening to it in broad daylight. Vlahos gets the relationship between the characters – Peter brings his mother along because he needs an archaeologist, but gets all huffy when she actually starts acting like one – and the cast revel in a chance to play with their characters. 8/10

The best is left for last. Gary Russell’s The Curse of Fenman ties together a hell of a lot of threads that have been running through the series for the past few years – right back, in fact, to the early days of Big Finish’s Benny range. There are shocks regarding all the characters – from the Legion version of Brax to Ruth and Jack – but it’s Peter who is put through the wringer the most. Thomas Grant excels in both the flashback and contemporary scenes and if you’ve come to care about these characters, you may find yourself choking a little over the last few scenes. 9/10

Verdict: Mysteries, ghost stories and lots of answers – what more could you want? 8/10 (overall)

Paul Simpson

Click here to order New Frontiers from Big Finish

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