Doctor Who season 14’s returning classic companion actor Bonnie Langford explains how Mel Bush has changed following her departure from the TARDIS since her last major appearance in 1987. First introduced during Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor era in “Terror of the Vervoids”, computer programmer Melanie Bush traveled alongside Baker’s Doctor briefly, but was more prevalent in the earlier seasons of Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy’s tenure. Langford did reprise her role for a cameo in 2022’s “The Power of the Doctor” a part of the newly assembled companion support group.
With Langford joining the cast of Doctor Who season 14, the returning classic era star opened up to The Telegraph about how time has treated her companion since she left the Doctor on Iceworld in 1987’s “Dragonfire”. While Langford joked about how Mel’s profession didn’t align with her own tech experience and wasn’t utilized on-screen in the classic era, the actor teased that time hadn’t been kind to her character, but despite being tested, she never lost sight of the lessons the Time Lord taught her. Check out Langford’s full explanation below:
She’s supposed to be a computer programmer, but in the 1980s, she never went anywhere near a computer. I didn’t even touch the TARDIS console. She now really knows her tech – which is a major acting job for me, because I can find it hard to text!
What I can say is that Mel has gone through a tough time. Something dreadful happened to her and her family, and there’s a darkness she has had to deal with. But she valued her time with the Doctor, and still has that immense connection with him in all his forms.
How Many Classic Companions Have Appeared In Doctor Who‘s Revived Era?
While his initial Doctor Who seasons didn’t focus on connecting to the classic series, showrunner Russell T Davies helped bring a handful of companions to the modern era. In “School Reunion”, Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen) reunites with the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and reveals that she had waited for years to meet him again, though the pair were able to make amends. The spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures saw two other classic companions, as a retired Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) assisted the companion in battling the Bane, while Katy Manning’s humanitarian campaigning companion Jo Grant attended a fake funeral for the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith).
While other classic companions didn’t make their full return across Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who showrunning tenure save for small cameos, following showrunner Chris Chibnall’s final story, “The Power of the Doctor” would see three classic companions return in pivotal roles. Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) assisted the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) against The Master (Sacha Dhawan) while receiving the opportunity to make amends with their own Doctors for their rough departures. Tegan and Ace would join Mel and Jo as part of the companion support group alongside original companion Ian Chesterton (William Russell).
While Davies’ new Doctor Who era already kicked off with classic era reunions in Tales of the TARDIS, viewers are excited to see Mel reunite with Gatwa’s Doctor. With Langford poking fun at Mel’s lack of tech expertise moments in the classic era, it can be expected her return will allow her to actually utilize her skills. However, the star’s tease of a tragic past may leave audiences intrigued about how this could affect her mind going into her TARDIS return.
Mel’s adventures alongside the Sixth and Seventh Doctors can be seen on Britbox, while her return in “The Power of the Doctor” can be seen on Max. Ncuti Gatwa’s first Doctor Who season will be available on Disney+ in 2024 for international audiences, and on BBC One and BBC iPlayer for UK viewers.