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The series began in 1998 with audio adaptations of six Virgin New Adventures novels. After the first season's success, Big Finish began producing audio stories and prose stories simultaneously.
Initially, the ongoing narrative was spread evenly between the two media - for instance, Benny became pregnant in the novel Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Squire's Crystal and gave birth in the novel Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Glass Prison, with the audio stories making several minor references to her pregnancy. However, from the third series onward, the audio stories became the primary series, with novels and short story collections providing greater depth to the world and heavily expanding on the large cast of regular characters. Occasionally, however, prose stories would be integral to the overall narrative, such as the audio story Death and the Daleks continuing on directly from the anthology Life During Wartime, and the regular characters Hass and Doggles being introduced in the anthologies A Life Worth Living and Something Changed respectively. When Simon Guerrier took over as executive producer for Series 7, he made an effort to better combine the audio and prose stories, featuring hitherto prose-only characters in audio and incorporating prose-featured events, such as the death of semi-regular character Ms Jones in the anthology Parallel Lives, into the overall story arc.
Several authors who wrote for Benny at Virgin also contributed to the line. Writers like Matt Jones, Paul Cornell, Justin Richards, Lance Parkin, Dave Stone, Ben Aaronovitch, Daniel O'Mahony, Lawrence Miles, Mark Clapham and Gary Russell had at least one story produced.
Most of the stories cover Bernice's life following her departure from travelling with the Doctor. However, several prose releases have featured stories that portrayed Bernice's life long before she met the Doctor.
Beginning with series 2, Big Finish began to release original audio stories about Bernice Summerfield. They also began to publish short story anthologies that continued ongoing plotlines from the audios.
To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Bernice Summerfield series in 2018, Big Finish released several boxsets in the Bernice Summerfield range, including Treasury, a collection of narrated Bernice Summerfield short stories narrated by Lisa Bowerman and Andrew Cartmel; and The Story So Far: Volume One and Volume Two, a collection of six new audio stories set throughout Bernice's life.
↑The Dance of the Dead follows directly from The Plague Herds of Excelis.
↑The events Benny recounts in this story take place before The Lost Museum. However the framing narrative takes place sometime after The Crystal of Cantus. Despite being published before it, the anthology Parallel Lives follows from Benny's trip to Etheria recounted in The Goddess Quandary.
↑The main events of this story take place immediately after The Lost Museum. However the framing narrative takes place after the framing narratives for both Death and the Daleks and The Goddess Quandary.
↑Genius Loci is set not during series 6 or 7 but during Benny's earlier life.
↑The short story Mother's Ruin is set a few weeks after Summer of Love.
↑This story tales place contemporaneously with The End of the World and The Final Amendment.
↑Though this anthology was published between The Diet of Worms and Glory Days, there is no gap between those two stories.
↑ 8.08.1This tie-in novel is set between stories in the accompanying boxset.