Bernice Summerfield

Poor Bernice. She's been written out of the continuity repeatedly, now. It's just not fair.

She was a hard drinking (possibly alcoholic), sarcastic, adventurous archaeologist from the future. It's fair to say that Daleks were responsible for her unsettled upbringing.

Her mum was killed when the Daleks invaded their home. Young Bernice dropped a treasured doll while they were running for safety. Her mother - probably shellshocked - ran back for it and a Dalek got her in that moment. Her dad was a spacefleet Admiral, but he disappeared and was branded a traitor and deserter.

Officially an orphan, she was drafted by the military but deserted. She faked a degree in archaeology and somehow ended up on a planet called Heaven, just before the Hoothi got turned up and spoiled things all over again. So now she's "Professor" Bernice Summerfield.

Bernice travelled with the Doctor throughout most of the Virgin New Adventures book range in the 1990s, and - despite never having appeared in a single TV episode - became the Doctor's longest serving companion. Then, after the film with Paul McGann (great Doctor - terrible film) the BBC kind of reset the continuity and started writing the books themselves.

After that, she was in a number of spin-off stories, despite having been written out of the continuity. Some of her Virgin New Adventures stories were slightly rewritten as Big Finish audio dramas, which definitely confuses the whole issue of her continuity. And she predates Lara Croft - just in case the superficial similarities intrigue anyone.

The vicar in League of Gentlemen is named after her. That's the incredibly dark British sitcom, by the way - not the comic written by Alan Moore, or the dire film version of Alan's comic.

Bernice must have been the Doctor's greatest ever companion. Better than Sarah Jane Smith, better than Ace, better than Leela. She's even better - and I had to stop and debate this for a while, in my head, before I committed myself to the comparison - than Donna Noble.

But the Virgin New Aventures were not part of the BBC New Aventures continuity. And then the BBC New Adventures were not part of the BBC's brand new continuity, as established in 2005. And her own spinoff stories have become a complicated mess of reboots, all on their own.

Personally, I have a strong suspicion that River Song is meant to be Bernice. I felt it from the first moment River turned up in the series.

It'll do.
TheNakedPoet TheNakedPoet
46-50, M
Jan 16, 2013