‘THE COMPANY OF FRIENDS: BENNY’S STORY’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Eighth Doctor’s Audio Adventure with Benny
‘The Company of Friends’ is one of the most invigorating ‘Doctor Who’ CD releases from Big Finish!
This CD anthology stars Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and it follows the same line of four single-episode story CDs like ‘Circular Time’. But instead of pairing him with one companion, the Eighth Doctor has four different companions in each of the four episodes. This has got to be pretty exciting!
Before 2013, the Eighth Doctor had only appeared in one TV story – ‘The TV Movie’. Since then, he’s had many adventures in comics, books and audio. The four episodes in ‘The Company of Friends’ take place during various parts of the Eighth Doctor’s life where he had many travelling companions.
The four companions have their own story in this CD release. They are Bernice Summerfield in ‘Benny’s Story’, Fitz Kreiner in ‘Fitz’s Story’, Izzy Sinclair in ‘Izzy’s Story’ and Mary Shelley in ‘Mary’s Story’. These four episodes are set before the Eighth Doctor meets Charley Pollard and Lucie Miller.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘The Company of Friends’ signed by Paul McGann at the ‘Dimensions 2013’ convention in Newcastle, October 2013 and by the lovely Lisa Bowerman at the ‘Project Motor Mouth 2’ convention in Slough, August 2013. I’ve shared how much I’ve enjoyed this CD release with them.
In each of the four episodes of ‘The Company of Friends’, they start with a monologue by each of the four companions. This helps us in getting to know them and how they met the Doctor without too much information. I like this approach and hope there’ll be more Big Finish audios with these companions.
The first story of ‘The Company of Friends’ is ‘Benny’s Story’ by Lance Parkin. It stars Lisa Bowerman as Bernice Summerfield, or ‘Benny’ for short, with Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. I liked Benny’s reunion with the Eighth Doctor in this story, although I feel most of the story was complex to follow.
Benny was a former companion of the Seventh Doctor from the Virgin ‘New Adventures’ series of ‘Doctor Who’ books from the early 1990s. She made her first appearance in the ‘Doctor Who’ book, ‘Love and War’, which is now an audio drama. Benny would later have her own spin-off audio series.
In the ‘Doctor Who’ books, Benny met the Eighth Doctor in the novel called ‘The Dying Days’, which is also by Lance Parkin. This was after her travels with the Doctor ended. I like how Benny introduces herself in her opening monologue and she gives references to ‘Love and War’ and ‘The Dying Days’.
In this story, Benny reunites with the Eighth Doctor whilst on a mining expedition on the planet Epsilon Minima. A TARDIS key is discovered and it happens to belong to the Doctor. The story’s cast also includes Richard Earl as Klarner and Su Douglas as Venhella, who gets obsessed with the TARDIS.
Lisa Bowermen is a lovely person too and I’ve enjoyed meeting her at conventions. ‘Benny’s Story’ in ‘The Company of Friends’ was my first encounter with her. It was nice to hear her in an adventure with Paul McGann’s Doctor. Who knows? Perhaps they’ll be more adventures with them at the end.
‘The Company of Friends: Benny’s Story’ – 7/10
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