Ancient History

Posted in Audio by - February 20, 2024
Ancient History

Released February 2024


Professor Bernice Surprise Summerfield’s latest archaeological excursion in ‘Ancient History’ by Matt Fitton seeks to uncover the mystery of the Korravin, a mighty warrior race that seemingly retreated and vanished at the height of its powers and conquests some two millennia ago. Although the expedition seems to be cursed, she is determined to uncover the secrets of the past, secrets that just may include a familiar acquaintance from her own past who travels in the all-too-familiar blue police box uncovered at the site.

Despite Big Finish’s reluctance to give the Ninth Doctor a long-term companion in this part of his life set prior to meeting Rose Tyler, The Ninth Doctor Adventures has continued to find success due to its incredible treatment of the titular hero that allows Christopher Eccleston to convey the complicated combination of grief, anger, fortitude, and even whimsy of this incarnation. However, while the inclusion of strong guest stars with one typically serving as a de facto companion for any particular story being told has found great success, the lack of a proper recurring companion by necessity has meant that the stories must focus on more character exposition with comparatively little time for a newcomer to the Doctor’s world to delve into who he truly is as a person given the immense wealth of experiences he has had.

Of course, this range has previously worked around this by bringing back the Brigadier as well as former companions Liv Chenka and Tania Bell to pass comment on who this particular Doctor is, but Bernice’s long history traveling with both Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor as well as David Warner’s Unbound Doctor on top of the incredibly prolific series of solo adventures she has fronted in print and on audio make her one of the most well-developed and genuinely capable characters in all of Doctor Who. Lisa Bowerman has been in this role for some twenty-five years and implicitly understands every nuance of the character, thus providing the perfect conduit through which to truly offer this version of the Ninth Doctor a sense of continuity and scope while he directly confronts who he was and who he now is due to his own wartime trauma as he must again attempt to stop a remorseless warmongering race from spreading across the universe with no lives spared.

Fittingly, the Doctor here initially acts under a pseudonym in an attempt to avoid the attention of Bernice so as to avoid any difficult discussions, an act that Bernice rightfully calls him out on when his actions are uncovered due to the pain incurred. Once all pretenses are dropped, however, the chemistry between Eccleston and Bowerman is superb and brilliantly conveys the incredible journeys these characters have been on through the years. The Doctor is immensely proud of the force of nature that Bernice continues to be even if he finds his warnings about leaving this world and the mystery of the Korravin unheeded, and as the Doctor becomes intimately involved in current affairs by trying to avert them so long ago, his own experiences since traveling with Bernice brilliantly come to the fore without ever distracting from the current dilemma of the Korravin looking to wreak havoc once more given the unique opportunity now within their grasp. With that threat becoming altogether more visceral in the present, though, matters are further complicated by the bureaucracy and hierarchy of Bernice’s dig with the prospects of fame and fortune with two races thought long gone proven to very much be alive now dictating events to a significant degree. The plot itself does end up being somewhat secondary to the stirring interactions between the Doctor and Bernice despite the clever temporal element in play that consequently provides a rather simple though elegant resolution, but Eliza Shea, Gary Jordan, Nabil Elouahabi, and Rosalyn Landor each give strong performances to bring the two very distinct dangers to life vividly. The end result is a very traditional Doctor Who story in the best sense of the word that maximizes its nostalgic potential, and this intermingling of past and modern eras with quite possibly the definitive Doctor Who companion proves to be a masterstroke that ends Buried Threats on an unequivocal high.

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