Back in 2004, Big Finish released Silving Lining, on the same disk as The Coup. Like that other story, it was a free gift for readers of Doctor Who Magazine, and now it’s available for free on the Big Finish website. Unlike a lot of these stories, it didn’t feature anyone who has ever appeared on television, but rather a character who originated in print–Bernice “Benny” Summerfield.
(Daily Doctor Who #187)
Bernice Summerfield was created by Paul Cornell for Virgin’s New Adventures line of novels, which were one of the primary sourcse for new Doctor Who material after the original series was cancelled. She was an archeologist from the future who became a companion of the 7th Doctor over many novels, and eventually graduated in her own books after Virgin lost their Doctor Who license. She’s also appeared in a bunch of comics as well as books and audios from Big Finish, where she is voiced by Lisa Bowerman.
In Silver Lining, she is invited to explore some underground ruins of a long-dead planet. It turns out, however, that the planet is not so dead after all–it is actually a trap set by the Cybermen to infect humanity with a deadly plague. Even worse, the guy who asked Benny to check the place out new this, and simply wanted to use her to get into the ruins so he could get the bottled plague to use it for his own nefarious purposes (locking Benny inside as he leaves). And even worser then worse, it turns out the plague is not in the bottle but on the bottle, so that guy is already infected. And so Benny finds herself in the strange position of having to work with a Cyberman to get out of the trap that they have been caught in.
It’s a cute drama that doesn’t outstay its welcome (it’s only 37 minutes long). LIsa Bowerman is perfectly fine as the lead character, as is Nicholas Briggs as both of the other two players (the Cyberman, and the guy who hires Benny in the first place). It’s a story that hangs on its interesting dilemma, but doesn’t worry too much on creating much of a substantial plot to go along with it. But for a little one-act story, that works perfectly fine.