|Bernice Surprise Summerfield|
|Also known as:||Benny Summerfield
Professor Bernice Summerfield
|Home Planet:||Beta Caprisis|
|Home Era:||26th century|
|Appearances:||Full List of Appearances|
An adventurer in her own right, both before and after her years in the TARDIS, Bernice was destined to make choices that would decide the fate of the universe and to become worshipped, in some cultures, as a minor goddess of inebriation.
The dating of Bernice's early life is problematic. Some dates given for her birth would place it a century too early for her to have lived through her formative events (NA: Falls the Shadow) and others would mean that she was only three years old by the point at which she has been depicted as being seven. (NA: Return of the Living Dad). Irving Braxiatel's manipulations of her timeline might have something to do with this. (BFBS: The End of the World)
Bernice Surprise Summerfield, the only child of Claire and Isaac Summerfield, was born on the Earth colony Beta Caprisis on 21 June 2540. (BFBS: Just War) Benny's ancestors were partly or mostly of British descent.
A child of the Alliance's Second Dalek War (NA: Love and War), Benny moved from school to school too regularly to settle in anywhere, and appears to have acquired a reputation as a disciplinary problem from an early age. It was at a boarding school on Mal Oreille that she experienced her first recorded adventure, when she discovered that the Matron there was a giant toad feeding on the pupils. She was duly expelled (BFBS: Missing Adventures: Biology Lesson on Mal Oreille).
By the time she was seven years old (NA: Return of the Living Dad), Bernice and her parents were living in the town of Vandor Prime on the planet Beta Caprisis. Despite her father's time-consuming job (as an Admiral in Spacefleet during a time of war), she saw him regularly, and he filled her head with pearls of military wisdom (BFBS: Missing Adventures: The Evacuation of...) as well as taking her fishing and reading her fairy stories (NA: The Pit). Bernice had already begun to keep a diary (BNA:Oh No It Isn't!)--she would continue to keep diaries her entire life. She evinced some interest in archaeology by this point, too, as she had sent off for a badge that read "I Dig Archaeology". (BNA:Oh No It Isn't!)
Bernice recalls waving goodbye to her father's battleship (NA: Shadowmind), the Tisiphone, as it departed to fight the Daleks in a battle near Bellatrix (NA: Return of the Living Dad). The ship went missing and Bernice's father was thought dead (NA: Love and War). Worse yet, the reports of the Tisiphone's final minutes made it appear that it was fleeing the battle. Admiral Summerfield was deemed a deserter. Benny never gave up hope that she would discover what had become of her father; the search for him was at least a partial reason for her early wanderings around the galaxy.
Within six months of Admiral Summerfield's disappearance (BFBS: Missing Adventures: The Evacuation of...), and some time after Benny's eighth birthday (BFBS:The Extinction Event), the Daleks attacked Beta Caprisis. During the havoc of the attack, Claire Summerfield managed to get Bernice to the safety of a shelter--but she was exterminated by a Dalek ray when she attempted to retrieve her daughter's favourite doll (NA: Love and War, Return of the Living Dad). This at least is how Bernice recalls it, but it is possible that Claire in fact met her end simply stumbling around dazed from the first wave of plasma fire (NA: Lucifer Rising). If the story of the favourite doll originated mostly from Bernice's survivor guilt, then that may explain her later inconsistency as to whether the doll was called 'Rebecca' or 'Molly' (NA: Love and War, Parasite).
She declined the hospitality of her foster parents, however, by running away (NA: Parasite); and by thirteen (BFBS: Missing Adventures: The Tunnels to Heaven) found herself placed in a Spacefleet military academy (NA: Love and War). She showed much aptitude for soldiering, but treated the whole ethos with disdain. She was considered for Section Leader among the cadets, but her disciplinary record prohibited this (BFBS: Missing Adventures: The Tunnels to Heaven). She was fairly well involved with extracurriculars during her time at the Academy: she was one of its better tennis players (BFBS: Missing Adventures: Thirty Love), and she sang in its production of "Carousel" (NA: No Future).
By sixteen, Bernice had run away from the Academy and was living in the nearby woods. She had become something of a guru figure to the girls who came to her for advice (NA: Love and War). It was they who first gave her the nickname "Professor" (NA: Blood Harvest). Benny was not alone in the woods, however, as fellow student runaway Simon Kyle had constructed a shelter there for his illicitly reconstituted Galapagos tortoises. He became her first lover, but betrayed her to the Academy when they were discovered by a patrol. (NA: Love and War, Return of the Living Dad)
At some point afterwards (possibly immediately afterwards, as punishment, as she mentions being the youngest private in the corps (BNA: Dry Pilgrimage)), Benny left the Academy and was conscripted into Spacefleet. There was, at this point, a draft in effect. (BNA: Oh No It Isn't!) She managed to escape, via escape pod, from a troop ship en route to the planet Capella.
Not quite 22, Bernice faked her archaeological qualifications enough to bluff her way onto various digs, and doctored her passport (with the notation TMF, Too Mad to Fight) in order to avoid being drafted. (BNA: Beyond the Sun, BFBS: Genius Loci) She was exposed as a fraud by the leader of a dig on the planet Jaiwan, but was offered genuine academic credentials (an MA in archaeology) in exchange for her help on the dig. (BFBS:Genius Loci) On one particular dig in her early career, she was taught that there was only a subtle difference between a knife used for cutting and a spear or hunting knife. (NA: Just War)
Still aged 24 (therefore, presumably, not long after parting ways with Louise), Benny excavated a Martian site, Mare Silenium. This dig established Benny's reputation as an archaeologist, and formed the basis for her bestselling book Down Among the Dead Men, published when she was 26.
Bernice celebrated her 30th birthday on the planet Heaven, where she was doing work on the Heavenite arch located there. Whilst she was there the Hoothi attacked Heaven, and she met the Doctor and Ace. When Ace decided to leave the Doctor's company, Benny agreed to join--but only after he promised not to play games with her life. (NA: Love and War)
Benny travelled with the Doctor for at least five years (she was 30 in NA: Love and War, and 35 in NA: Return of the Living Dad)--exactly how long is not known, though during a reunion soon after the start of his eighth incarnation, he stated that she was his longest-serving companion. (NA: The Dying Days)
It was towards the end of Benny's travels with the Doctor that she met her future husband, Jason Kane. The two sparred instantly, and their relationship continued to be antagonistic until Shug, a mutual acquaintance, pointed out that they had fallen in love. According to Shug, Jason's bad childhood meant that he equated love with violence, and therefore only sought encounters (mainly sexual ones) with no emotional involvement. Benny, on the other hand, had given her absent father god-like attributes to which no person could measure up; and manoeuvred men into betraying her (re-enacting her father's perceived betrayal of her). They fell in love because they were both trying to sabotage their relationship. (NA: Death and Diplomacy)
Not long after, Benny finally found her father, who had been pulled backwards through time and was running a bookshop/coffee shop/safe house for aliens and the temporally stranded, in Little Caldwell, England, in 1983. (NA: Return of the Living Dad) She believed herself to be about thirty-five at this time. Shortly after the adventure with her father--which interrupted her dissertational research--she finally completed her doctorate in archaeology.
Shortly after her divorce, Bernice received an invitation to take up the Edward Watkinson Chair of Archaeology at St. Oscar's University on the planet Dellah, at a time some years in her own future. She accepted, and was transported to Dellah by the Doctor, who also gave her Wolsey. (NA: The Dying Days)
Whilst at St Oscar's, she met Irving Braxiatel, who was then head of St Oscar's theatre department. It appeared that this meeting was their first from Braxiatel's perspective, but subsequent to their earlier encounters from Bernice's. Later revelations regarding Braxiatel's long-term manipulation of Bernice (NA: The Dying Days, BFBS: The Wake) suggest he was either lying on this point or that he was continuing to receive and make use of information from his future selves (BFG: The Inquiry) as whether he had met her before or not, she was certainly known to him.
Bernice decided to take up Irving Braxiatel's offer to come to the Braxiatel Collection following Dellah's destruction/removal from normal space. (BNA: Twilight of the Gods) She became the newly-formed Collection's staff archaeologist; she took up her post as the year 2600 dawned, at which point she was still in her thirties (having regressed in age at one point in her travels). (BFBS: The Doomsday Manuscript)
Benny fell pregnant after an alien sorceress possessed her body and seduced Killoran Adrian Wall. (BFBS: The Squire's Crystal) The result was Peter Summerfield, a half-human half-Killoran child, who was born (via c-section, since he was too large to be delivered normally) on the planet Deirbhile while Benny was imprisoned there by the Fifth Axis. (BFBS: The Glass Prison) Benny was adamant that she raise her son by herself, as a single mother, despite Jason and Adrian both wanting to play a role. (BFBS: The Green-Eyed Monsters) She later softened her stance, though, and both men remained involved in Peter's upbringing.
Following Jason's death and the revelation that Braxiatel had manipulated events towards that end, Benny left the Braxiatel Collection permanently. (BFBS: The Wake, Beyond the Sea) With Peter--who, though still a child, was already stronger than all but the most augmented humans--in tow, Benny roamed the galaxy chasing various freelance jobs and searching for a place to settle down.
Beta Caprisis was evidently a prosperous society, its citizens healthy and usually tall--Benny, at approximately 5'9", was of average height. (BFBS: Just War (audio drama)) Benny's society did not attach any stigma or shame to nudity (NA: Just War (audio drama)), and was apparently quite tolerant of cross-species mating--in contrast to some other contemporary societies, such as the Fifth Axis. (BFBS: Life During Wartime) Benny prided herself on her tolerance and open-mindedness (NA:Dry Pilgrimage), so it is likely that those were virtues in her culture.
Beta Caprisis seems to have been a secular culture: celebrating, for example, a "midwinter festival" rather than Christmas. (BFBS: Missing Adventures:The Evacuation of...) Though her mother was Catholic (NA: Love and War), Bernice herself was a lifelong atheist. (BNA: Oh No It Isn't!, Dry Pilgrimage)
Animal-derived foods might be enjoyed by the wealthy as a decadent luxury (BNA: Ship of Fools), but, in the 26th century, most food was artificially created: vat-grown meat, for instance, was common. (BFBS: Missing Adventures:The Evacuation of...) Benny viewed food derived from an actual animal with a vague distaste, and was a vegetarian (vat-grown animal products presumably excepted) for most of her travels. (BNA: Ship of Fools)
Benny was intelligent and observant, with a (well-deserved) reputation for being able to think on her feet. (BNA: Ship of Fools) Her intellectual gifts had less to do with straightforward logical intelligence (for instance, she does not enjoy logic puzzles (BFBS: The Infernal Nexus)) and more to do with seeing disparate parts of a problem and correctly inferring the connections between them--and therefore, the solution.
She tended to eschew the detached, purely analytical approach to academia (BNA: Dragons' Wrath) in favour of reconstructing history from primary sources. Though she loved getting her hands dirty and the thrill of discovery, she appreciated creature comforts (particularly baths) and didn't particularly enjoy the tedious day-to-day grind of archaeological fieldwork. (BFBS: The Dead Men Diaries, The Extinction Event)
Bernice's living quarters were perpetually disorganised. She had several organizers, but rarely used them except to reset her watch to the current local time. She was also habitually tardy (BNA: Dragons' Wrath) and absent-minded, frequently mislaying her Braxiatel Collection identity card. (BFBS: The Dead Men Diaries)
Bernice kept a diary since she was a child. (BNA: Oh No It Isn't!) She wrote, longhand, in a notebook that she kept with her at all times--if she forgot, she would often attempt to go back for it. (NA:Falls the Shadow) Benny frequently "corrected" diary entries (via sticky notes, correcting fluid, or crossing out the old entry) after they were written. (NA: Human Nature) She published at least one compilation of her diary entries. (BFBS: The Doomsday Manuscript)
Benny was an expert in Martian language and culture, particularly that of the Ice Warriors. It was her excavation, at age 24, of a Martian site that cemented her reputation as an archaeologist. (NA: The Dying Days, Transit, Legacy) She was also an expert on 20th century Earth history, especially the period she calls the "early Space Age" (1963-1989) (NA: The Dying Days), but admitted that her knowledge was a bit hazy on Earth history before about 1900. (BNA: Walking to Babylon)
Benny seemed to enjoy inventing impressive-sounding titles to append to her name. Some common ones include
Partly due to her involvement with the constantly paradox-beset Eighth Doctor (CP: Fishy Business (Perfect Timing 2)) and partly due to Irving Braxiatel's attempts to edit her timeline for his own sinister purposes (BFBS: The End of the World) Bernice's personal history contains some ambiguity.
Both contradictory accounts of her visit to Guernsey (NA: Just War, BFBS: Just War) appear to have taken place (CP: Fishy Business, Iris Explains (Missing Pieces), BFBS: A Life of Surprises: Paydirt) and Bernice is able to recall them both (BFBS: A Life of Surprises: Dear Friend...).
Furthermore, a timeline exists in which Bernice married the Doctor in his eighth incarnation and bore him thirteen 'half-immortal' children (CP: Fishy Business, CP: Iris Explains, BFBS: A Life of Surprises: Paydirt).
In general though, Bernice's timeline is not fundamentally unknowable or non-linear such as Iris Wildthyme's, but has rather been repeatedly diverted from what it should have been. Bernice and Jason's divorce was never meant to occur and by the time of the Mim-Draconian War, itself an alteration to history, they should have had two children together.
Paul Cornell created the personality and biography of Bernice Summerfield with assistance of the then-editor of the Virgin New Adventures range of novels, Peter Darvill-Evans, with artist Lee Sullivan "designing" her visually. Initially, Cornell had visualized her as resembling a short-haired version of actress Emma Thompson.
Bernice first appeared in the Virgin New Adventures series, heralded by an illustrated two page introduction in Doctor Who Magazine. Later, she crossed over into comics in Doctor Who Magazine. Since her creation, she had a a series of books of her own, and would later appeared in audio dramas and new novels and short fiction from Big Finish. Records regarding the unproduced 30th anniversary special, The Dark Dimension, suggest that a character called Summerfield would have appeared, though it's not known whether this would have been the same character. Lisa Bowerman acts as both Benny's voice in audio plays as well as having posed for publicity photos as Bernice.
In terms of continuity, early novels placed Bernice Summerfield as living in the 25th century when she first met the Doctor. Later books changed this to the 26th century, to better fit in with previous continuity established in the Doctor Who television story Frontier in Space, which took place in the year 2540.
|Companions of the Seventh Doctor|
Melanie Bush • Ace
Frobisher • Olla • Ly-Chee • Bernice Summerfield • Chris Cwej • Roz Forrester • Wolsey • Antimony • Catherine Broome • Hex • Elizabeth Klein (announced)
|Companions of the Eighth Doctor|
Bernice Summerfield • Stacy Townsend • Ssard • Samantha Jones • Fitz Kreiner • Compassion • Anji Kapoor • Trix MacMillan • Izzy Sinclair • Fey Truscott-Sade • Kroton • Destrii • Gemma and Samson Griffin • Charley Pollard • C'rizz • Lucie Miller