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Business Unusual was the fourth novel in the BBC Past Doctor Adventures series. It was written by Gary Russell, released 1 September 1997 and featured the Sixth Doctor, Melanie Bush and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

It was Gary Russell's attempt at depicting Mel's first adventure with the Sixth Doctor and also the Sixth Doctor's first meeting with Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.

Publisher's summary[]

A security force with no official identity... a managing director with no name... a sinister creature on guard patrol resembling some kind of hellhound... SenéNet is no ordinary multinational company.

The Doctor arrives in Brighton, 1989, travelling alone. He soon discovers his old friend, the Brigadier, has gone missing investigating SenéNet, whose new interactive games console is soon to be released at an absurdly reasonable price. He was last seen at their headquarters — based in the picturesque Ashdown Forest...

Investigating further, the Doctor becomes more and more entangled in a deadly web of intrigue. Together with Mel, a plucky computer programmer from Pease Pottage, the Doctor must overcome the conspiracy of silence, rescue the Brigadier and save the world once again — something that would be a lot easier if he just knew where to start...


to be added



Foods and beverages[]

  • The Doctor buys a Lochie burger from Nessie's in Brighton and devours it in a single mouthful.


Alternate cover

  • This novel was also known as The Chains of Commands.
  • This serves as the Brigadier's introduction to this incarnation of the Doctor and functioned as the middle chapter of a trilogy which included the Third Doctor novel, The Scales of Injustice, and Evelyn Smythe's print introduction, Instruments of Darkness.
  • The novel revolves around a "problem" depicted in The Ultimate Foe. There, the Doctor meets Mel for the first time. But that Mel is from the Doctor's personal future. Yet she departs the Time Lord trial room with him, despite the risk of meeting her younger self. The novel Time of Your Life had already explained that the Doctor took the Mel of The Ultimate Foe immediately back to her proper place in time (an event that is later chronicled in depth in the audio story The Wrong Doctors). In Business Unusual, writer Gary Russell gave us the obverse of The Ultimate Foe — namely the young Mel's first encounter with the Sixth Doctor. However, now it is the Doctor who's out of synch with Mel.
  • Much as Gary Russell's follow-up novel, Instruments of Darkness, contradicted the Big Finish audio history of Evelyn Smythe, this novel treads heavily over the Big Finish history of the Brigadier. Both this novel and the audio story The Spectre of Lanyon Moor chronicle the first encounter between the Sixth Doctor and the Brigadier. However, since Spectre sees the Sixth Doctor explicitly express his surprise that the Brigadier recognises him, it may be that the Brigadier in Spectre deduced that this was a younger version of the Sixth Doctor to the one he had encountered in the past, with the Brigadier in Spectre and the Sixth Doctor in Business each acting as though they have not met the other 'before' in this incarnation to preserve the timeline and/or avoid awkward discussions.
  • This novel incorporates elements of the backstory that John Nathan Turner wrote created for Mel which sees her meeting the Doctor by assisting him in thwarting an attempt by Master to disrupt the global stock market. This backstory ended up being ignored in Season 23 Mel doesn't recognize the Master when she sees him in The Ultimate Foe. In order to address this inconsistency, this version of their first meeting sees the Doctor meeting Mel after he disrupts the Master's plans (without he Master even being aware of it) and helping him in the aftermath of it by using her coding skills.


  • The Sixth Doctor is desperately trying to avoid contact with Mel, because he fears that if she meets him, she will somehow become his companion and he will be set on the path towards becoming the Valeyard. This would lead the Doctor to hide himself in the past in an attempt to settle down. (PROSE: The Spindle of Necessity)

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