- You may be looking for Mel from an alternate timeline.
She hailed from Pease Pottage, West Sussex, at the turn of the 21st century. (PROSE: Business Unusual; AUDIO: Catch-1782, The One Doctor, The Juggernauts) Although she was present for the Doctor's sixth regeneration, she did not witness it, as she was unconscious at the time after being exposed to a latent radiation which only knocked her out, but was fatal to Time Lords. As a result, the presence of a new incarnation of the Doctor confused her and made it hard to adjust to the differences in his appearance and personality.
She had a temporally complex relationship with the Doctor. She met the Doctor in an order different than he met her, as Charley Pollard and River Song later would. Eventually, however, their timelines synchronised, and she had a more-or-less linear relationship to the Doctor, starting in the later period of his sixth incarnation. Her temporal relationship to the Seventh Doctor was considerably more straightforward and linear.
Because Mel's timeline was confused with respect to the Doctor, it was difficult to state with authority the order in which events happened to her.
Before the Doctor
Melanie Bush was born to Alan and Christine Bush on 22 July 1964. She had an older sister named Anabel, whose death she accidentally caused when Anabel was three years old. Mel's original home was at 8 Gosling Street in Croxdale. After her sister Anabel's death, her parents moved south to separate themselves from the tragedy. (PROSE: Spiral Scratch)
At the age of eight, Mel committed the names of 150 different species of dinosaur to memory (AUDIO: The Wrong Doctors) and had read the entire canon of Sherlock Holmes by the age of nine. (AUDIO: Unregenerate!)
While at primary school, she made a replica of Mount Vesuvius out of papier mâché. She would later witness its eruption on 24 August 79 and the consequent destruction of the Roman city of Pompeii. (AUDIO: The Fires of Vulcan)
Melanie had a keen interest in science from a very young age. Her uncle, Dr John Hallam, was deeply influential to this childhood obsession, and she credited him with her later academic success at a London university. In 2003, Hallam told his colleague, Professor David Munro, that Mel was "very gifted" with computers. (AUDIO: Catch-1782) As a consequence of her education, she was adept in the human computer languages of BASIC, COBOL and FORTRAN. (AUDIO: The Juggernauts)
Her home address as an adult was 36 Downview Crescent in Pease Pottage. (PROSE: Business Unusual) She regularly used this address as a backdoor when writing code. For instance, she used it to override programming on the Juggernauts. (AUDIO: The Juggernauts)
Mel dated Stuart Dale for more than two years in university. After they graduated, he got a job as an engineer in the Middle East. They had a long-distance relationship for some time before they broke up. (AUDIO: The Blood Furnace)
A confused timeline
Meeting the Sixth Doctor
According to some accounts, Mel first met the Sixth Doctor in Brighton, 1989 at the age of twenty-five. However, as a consequence of the Doctor's trial prosecuted by the Valeyard, he already knew her. To him, their first meeting was when she was pulled from her timestream by the Master and made to testify on the Doctor's behalf. For an indeterminate time — from the moment she met him in Brighton until the younger Sixth Doctor returned her to the side of an older Sixth Doctor on the planet Oxyveguramosa — he had to pretend that he had originally met her in Brighton. (PROSE: Business Unusual, Time of Your Life) Others, however, indicated that their first encounter had been in 1986. (PROSE: Head Games, AUDIO: We Are The Daleks) At the time, the younger Doctor considered her to be invisible and ineffectual. (AUDIO: The Wrong Doctors) It was only after she was returned to his future self that their timelines synchronised, and he could speak with her in a more open way.
Although the Doctor had initially attempted to avoid meeting Mel out of "fear" that travelling with her would be a sign that he was on the path to becoming the Valeyard, travelling instead with such diverse companions as Angela Jennings, Grant Markham, Frobisher and Evelyn Smythe in order to avoid his destiny, by the time his travels with Evelyn had ended, he was eager to prolong the inevitable no longer. (AUDIO: The Wrong Doctors) By the time circumstances led him to Pease Pottage, he was once again afraid of the results of beginning his travels with Mel, but after she helped him defeat a Usurian plot and a new Nestene invasion, he bowed to destiny and accepted her as his companion. (PROSE: Business Unusual)
With respect to companions
Mel's chronological placement with respect to other companions was also unusual: technically, she both pre-dated and post-dated the vast majority of the Sixth Doctor's companions. During their first encounter, Evelyn Smythe – or as she was then, Rossiter — referred to Bush as her "replacement". (AUDIO: Thicker Than Water) Though it disagreed on many aspects of Mel and Evelyn's first meeting, another account also agreed that the bulk of Mel's travels with the Doctor were after Evelyn's. (PROSE: Instruments of Darkness) The view that Mel was simply the Sixth Doctor's final companion is, however, a rather simple one. From the Doctor's viewpoint, he first learned of Mel during his trial, met her for the first time at its conclusion, took her back to the point in her travels with his future self she had reached, met for the first time and travelled with several other companions including Evelyn, Charlotte Pollard, Philippa Jackson and Constance Clarke, as well as others who he re-encountered such as Frobisher and Peri Brown, reunited with Mel in Brighton and began travelling with her, and reunited with Evelyn alongside Mel on Világ and/or Earth.
Mel's placement with respect to Frobisher, however, is even murkier than that of the Sixth Doctor's other multi-period companions. The Doctor first met Frobisher during his early adventures with Peri, while was on hiatus back in the United States, although she later resumed her travels whilst Frobisher was onboard (COMIC: Kane's Story) and continued to travel with the Doctor after his first departure. (TV: The Mysterious Planet) Equally clearly was the fact that Frobisher later travelled with the Doctor after his trial by the Time Lords; he knew, for instance, of Peri's marriage to Yrcanos, (COMIC: The Age of Chaos) and his first encounter with Sabalom Glitz was the Doctor's second. (PROSE: Impractical) However, Frobisher also briefly continued his journeys with the Seventh Doctor, (COMIC: A Cold Day in Hell!) indicating he travelled with the Doctor twice before Mel started travelling with him, and had a trip after her.
Travelling with the Sixth Doctor
Mel and the Sixth Doctor's timelines were not, however, asynchronous merely due to the unusual way in which they met. Even after their respective timelines seemed to come into harmony, Mel was often parted from the Sixth Doctor. At least twice, she was stranded for months away from him, even though very little time passed for him. When carried back in time to 1781 by a freak accident, the Doctor was unable to retrieve her until six months later in 1782. (AUDIO: Catch-1782) Later, she was accidentally left on Lethe and the Doctor was delayed for an additional three months. (AUDIO: The Juggernauts) On both occasions, she became fully a resident of the era in which she found herself while waiting for the Doctor's uncertain return.
When the Doctor was at a loose end about where to visit, he found some tickets in a storage box for a visit the tower of Kalsos. Soon after arriving, she was almost killed when one of the tower's floors collapsed. She was rescued by Barlow Teveler who informed her that the tower was to be demolished. She was partially trapped when the tower fully collapsed but was healed by the time they got to Ridius IV. She was annoyed that Trellak had imprisoned the Doctor. She was upset when one of the soldiers shot an innocent man. Seeing how the populace of Riduius was emaciated, she wanted to help. Remembering a poem from Earth, Mel helped Helgert Teveler to remember the seed banks on Earth. She kept making promises on the Doctor's behalf for which the Doctor chastised her. She noticed that the Doctor wasn't acting like his usual self. Upon landing on Earth, she became concerned when he disappeared. She was then accosted by CRT-JCE-006 because she didn't have an immigration visa. She worked out that the robot was sent by the Doctor to inform her of his plans. (AUDIO: The Seeds of War)
In 1957, the Doctor and Mel investigated UFO sightings in the proximity of Hammerston, Louisiana and became involved in the production of the film Swamp of Horrors after attacking an actor in a rubber alien suit whom they mistook for a genuine alien. The Doctor, who used his pseudonym "Dr. John Smith", and Mel were assumed to be uncredited actors playing fictional characters by film critics. (PROSE: Swamp of Horrors (1957) - Viewing Notes)
The Doctor avoided the Lakertyan System and took her to Zastros 9. Soon after escaping the rebels on that planet, they journeyed on, but the TARDIS console started to smoke, and the Doctor was replaced by the Valeyard but she didn't notice. The Valeyard took her to Plestinious as he had an errand to run. She met with Lorelas who told her that she doesn't know the Doctor properly. Genesta pointed out the Doctor to her and said she didn't know who he was. She noticed that the Valeyard was placing something into the TARDIS console.
Upon encountering the Valeyard one last time, the Sixth Doctor gave up his own life to reverse the damage he caused to the Time Lord species after the Valeyard implanted Nathemus into his mind to modify the course of history. He altered his personal future by leading his past self unwittingly into the path of a deadly radiation source near the Lakertyan System to break loose of the Nathemus with which the Valeyard had infected him. The radiation was emanating from the laser fire issued out of the Rani's TARDIS. This radiation did nothing more than cause Mel to lose consciousness because it was harmless to humans, but it was deadly to Time Lords, causing the Doctor to regenerate into his seventh incarnation and throwing off the Nathemus' influence on the Doctor before the Valeyard could take his mind. (AUDIO: The Brink of Death, TV: Time and the Rani)
Travelling with the Seventh Doctor
Mel's timeline with respect to the Seventh Doctor was, by contrast, far more orderly than that with respect to the Doctor's previous incarnation — though it, too, was heavily affected by a variety of temporal anomalies.
At the very start of the Seventh Doctor's life, when the TARDIS was forced to land on Lakertya, the Rani abducted him and induced amnesia by injecting a drug in him, using this opportunity to pose as Mel and trick him into helping to produce a Time Manipulator. After waking, Mel who was left behind, was jarred and frightened. She encountered the monstrous Tetraps and also the Rani's traps set on the planet's surface. Finally, she reunited with the familiar yet unrecognisable man who was now in her Doctor's place. She was informed of how he had regenerated and realised it was really the Doctor.
With Mel's help, the Doctor overcame his amnesia and left the Rani's plans in ruins, liberating the Lakertyans from hers and the Tetraps' oppression. Assured by the new Doctor that he would grow on her, they continued travelling together. (TV: Time and the Rani)
The Doctor left her in 2007 for a bit, where Mel became annoyed at the celebrity culture before the TARDIS came to pick her up. She found the TARDIS empty save for a message to follow Louis to try and find where the Doctor was being kept. Having located Louis, she followed him to an old mental hospital, only to find it a fake building. With the help of her Cabbie, they managed to get inside but discovered that the interior of the building was in fact located in the asteroid belt. She met with the Doctor again but he was acting unusual, having had a TARDIS consciousness placed inside his mind. She was later interrogated by Rigan to discover what she knew about the Celestial Intervention Agency plans. Using her compassion she showed the error of the plans to the newly regenerated Louis who helped her to stop the CIA's work. She then suggested that the TARDIS mind that was placed in Shokhra be placed in the mainframe of the building. (AUDIO: Unregenerate!)
In search of Leptonite Crystals, Mel and the Doctor travelled to Puxatornee landing in a slum. Soon after they were captured as terrorist by a local Slithergee patrol. She was then interrogated by Professor Capra before being saved by Reed and Stuart. When Reed and Stuart wanted to go back in time to rewrite history she was used as a hostage to get the Doctor to do it. She was appalled at Stuart murdering Bailey. When visiting the new timeline she was intrigued that they already knew who she was when she was captured by Potter. After being freed by Reed and Stuart, they forced the Doctor and Mel to take them back to before they initially left. They then went back in time and got captured to maintain the timeline saying they were Slithergee spies and escaped before this timeline's Mel and the Doctor turned up. This version Mel and the Doctor landed here for Leptonite crystals and were immediately captured by Lt. Reed and Lt. Stuart for being spies and interrogated. They were then rescued by the original timelines Stuart and Reed and decided to visit professor Capra's time machine. She was caught in the time field of the machine and taken back in time. She was with Stuart when he stopped the assassination of Bailey. This created the timeline that the original Mel and the Doctor were from, and which Lt. Stuart and Lt. Bailey didn't like so forced the Doctor and Mel to take them back to where they started to stop Capra's experiment. Back on the day they arrived, the Doctor maintained the timeline into saying they were terrorist. They then left before the original Mel and the Doctor arrived. (AUDIO: Flip-Flop)
They managed to escape an exploding ship, landing on Dark Space 8 just before the Intergalactic Song Contest. She was mistaken for a pilot. When exploring the space station she met Nicky Newman, who was pleased that she didn't know who he was. There was a series of murders and she and the Doctor decided to investigate. She started accusing people of murder left, right and centre, from Angvia, Golos, to the Scientific Officer Ivor Fassbinder even the neutral arbiter Geri, who Mel attacked. After the Doctor revealed the murderer she realised that the solution was too easy, which led them to find the bomb that Loozly had planted in Newman. She stopped him just in time for the Doctor to win the contest. (AUDIO: Bang-Bang-a-Boom!)
Mel and the Doctor landed in Pompeii 79 AD, the day before Vesuvius erupted. She went to get some clothes with Aglae and realised she was a prostitute. When the Doctor told her that the TARDIS would be buried in the ash until 1980 she was determined to find a way to stop it. Eumachia had her arrested for theft but the Doctor helped her to escape. She left the city but was caught. She eventually found the TARDIS and allowed the Doctor to realise a way to both escape Pompeii and for the TARDIS to be found buried in the future. (AUDIO: The Fires of Vulcan)
She got annoyed with the Doctor after he went off after he was acting strangely when they landed on the Needle. She was trapped outside shortly after arriving and fell into Draun's hover car. In the underworld, she was given the drug Slow by Draun and experienced the being that was causing harm. She later visited Vi Yulquen who found it exciting that Mel was unchipped. The Doctor then used her programming skills to reprogram Whitenoise and stop the Red infection. (AUDIO: Red)
Mel chose to leave the Doctor at a place and time radically different from her origin, without being enticed by a romantic relationship. Unlike most companions, she left the Doctor, but remained an adventurer, although according to one account she told the Doctor she wasn't a traveller and needed somewhere she could belong. (PROSE: Dragonfire) Trading one travelling companion for another, she departed the Doctor's side on Iceworld, in search of new adventures with the galactic confidence trickster Sabalom Glitz, intending to keep in away from anymore "dodgy deals," and pausing only to hint to the Doctor that their newfound friend Ace would appreciate his intervention. (TV: Dragonfire)
During their travels together, Mel and Glitz encountered a Galactic Heritage fleet. The experience led Mel to describe the organisation as "a militarised, spacefaring National Trust". (AUDIO: The High Price of Parking)
Travels with the Doctor and Ace
According to one account, Mel travelled with Glitz for about six months before deciding to try to go home. On her way she detoured to the planet Avalone, where she worked at a holiday camp owned by Avalonian Resorts, Inc. Her progress towards Earth stalled and she succumbed to life on Avalone. After two years she chanced another run at Earth. She hacked into computer systems to send a message to Glitz to pick her up. Instead, she was "rescued" by Dr. Who and Jason, who imprisoned her in the Galactic Prison in the Land of Fiction. There, she met another prisoner, the Seventh Doctor. He, however, was a changed and considerably darker man than she had known. He revealed to her that he had manipulated her into leaving him on Iceworld because he knew what was coming (as Time's Champion) and couldn't have her as a companion. Incensed, she avoided his company and refused to travel with him in the TARDIS ever again. Ace, who was also much changed from the person that she had left behind on Iceworld, tried to calm her and explain the reasons why she and the Doctor were so much "harder" than the people she had known. Although the explanation did little to dispel her disillusionment, Mel accepted a ride from Ace. Mel thus returned to Pease Pottage in the 1990s thanks to Ace's time hopper. (PROSE: Head Games)
Another account of her return to Pease Pottage existed, but it was unclear whether it described events that followed the angry final encounter with the Seventh Doctor or an entirely different return journey. (PROSE: Missing, Part One: Business as Usual) This second account seemed to indicate her return was not affected by the Doctor's TARDIS. Whatever the truth of her return, she flung a message in a bottle into the universe at a moment near the end of her travels, hoping the Doctor would one day find it. (PROSE: Missing, Part Two: Message in a Bottle)
At some point, Mel was taken to the Black Archive by UNIT to have her record as a companion of the Doctor taken. Her memories of the visit were subsequently erased and she was sent on her way. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)
At another point, Mel was abducted by Adam Mitchell as part his plan to get revenge on the Doctor, in collaboration with the Master. She was placed in stasis alongside the Doctors' multiple other companions, before being released by the Doctors first eleven numbered incarnations with the help of Frobisher. (COMIC: The Choice, Endgame)
While her return to Earth and possible death were the most obvious signs that the various accounts probably described different Melanies, there were other signs. She knew of at least one other version of herself in an adventure on the planet Puxatornee. (AUDIO: Flip-Flop) Likewise, she could not ignore the potential of thousands of other versions of herself when the Sixth Doctor took her to Library of Carsus to explore the disappearance of parallel universes, which included a Mel who was a slave in a world where the Roman Empire never fell and a world where Mel was a human/Silurian hybrid named Melina Baal. (PROSE: Spiral Scratch) There was an alternate reality in which Mel became the Prime Minister who led the United Kingdom against an invasion of the Cybermen, only to be betrayed by an alternative version of the Third Doctor whose exile on Earth had never ended. (PROSE: The Quantum Archangel)
At some times she may not have been aware of other realities, but neutral observers could not rectify conflicting information about her life. Mel's relationship with another of the Doctor's companions, Evelyn Smythe, also indicated alternative realities. It was particularly murky whether the Mel who bade farewell to Evelyn Smythe on Világ (AUDIO: Thicker Than Water) was the same Mel who met her on Earth. (PROSE: Instruments of Darkness) As Mel's trip to Carsus made clear, it was possible that neither of these Mels travelled with the Sixth Doctor in the primary universe. (PROSE: Spiral Scratch)
A timeline existed in which Mel never returned home. She got married to Ben Heyworth and lived on the planet Heritage in the 61st century. They tried to conceive a child but she was unable since she had gone through menopause. They went to a local geneticist, Wakeling, for help. Instead of doing so normally, he created a clone of Mel. Furious when she found out, she argued with Wakeling, who accidentally killed her. (PROSE: Heritage) These events turned out to be the doing of the Council of Eight. The Council had eliminated the Doctor's companions from the timeline by causing their deaths. This was corrected when the Doctor's eighth incarnation defeated the Council. (PROSE: Sometime Never...)
In one history, on the day Mel was supposed to meet the Doctor, she was distracted by Ellie Martin and she never encountered the Doctor. In 2012, Mel was killed by a brain tumour brought on by radiation from a mobile phone. (AUDIO: He Jests at Scars...)
Mel had a cheery personality. She greeted most situations with a warm smile and good humour. She was an optimist who generally believed the best of people's natures, although she tempered this optimism with a realism and scepticism borne of her scientific education. Her generally perky personality could cool quite quickly if she detected a threat to herself, the Doctor or any friend. (TV: Terror of the Vervoids, AUDIO: The Fires of Vulcan, The Wishing Beast, The Juggernauts) Though she usually went by the informal "Mel", she sometimes insisted on being introduced as "Melanie" to those whom she didn't quite trust. (AUDIO: The Fires of Vulcan)
Mel prided herself on her innate honesty, (TV: The Ultimate Foe, AUDIO: Red) and disliked inventing stories to explain away the TARDIS' materialisation to those who witnessed it. (AUDIO: The Fires of Vulcan)
Ace gave Mel the nickname "Donut". (TV: Dragonfire; AUDIO: A Life of Crime, Fiesta of the Damned, The Blood Furnace) On another occasion, Ace referred to her as "the squeaky one". (PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Witch Mark)
An extraordinary mind
Mel had at least a couple of outstanding skills. First, she possessed — like Zoe Heriot — an eidetic memory. (TV: Terror of the Vervoids, The Ultimate Foe, AUDIO: Unregenerate!) It was not, however, an absolute photographic memory, as it failed her when her mind was clouded by emotion. (AUDIO: The Wishing Beast) She also wasn't merely qualified in computer science; she was a veritable genius. Perhaps aided by her extraordinary memory, she could quickly assimilate new computer languages, even those in use in the distant future. (AUDIO: The Juggernauts, Red)
A screamer with a steely resolve
Mel's reaction to fear was variable. She sometimes met danger with a loud scream. (TV: Terror of the Vervoids, Time and the Rani, Paradise Towers) She was also possessed of an almost steely resolve. She might have cowered in fear upon first meeting the Vervoids and the Tetraps, but she composed herself quickly afterwards. On other occasions, she displayed little fear at all. She showed a relatively even temperament when defeating the Valeyard (TV: The Ultimate Foe) and facing down the Bannermen. (TV: Delta and the Bannerman)
On still other occasions she allowed her logic to guide her swift and efficient action, as when she almost single-handedly defeated Davros and then derided the Doctor for not having killed the Daleks and him when given the chance. (AUDIO: The Juggernauts) She displayed extraordinary calm when she had to navigate Pompeii on foot during the eruption of Vesuvius in search of the Doctor's TARDIS — when he believed it lost and his life near its end. She could also fight against more internal threats, as when she fought off the effects of having been slowly drugged for six months with laudanum. (AUDIO: The Fires of Vulcan, Catch-1782)
The logic of healthy living
Mel was a health enthusiast and a vegetarian, often encouraging the slightly portly Sixth Doctor to exercise more. (TV: Terror of the Vervoids) Though she remained staunchly vegetarian throughout her travels with the Doctor, (AUDIO: The Fires of Vulcan) her attempts to be the Doctor's de facto nutritionist almost vanished after that incarnation regenerated.
Her enthusiasm for healthy living, born of the hard-nosed logic of basic science, manifested itself in other ways. She was flatly dismissive of the supernatural — like ghosts — as scientifically ludicrous. (AUDIO: Catch-1782, Unregenerate!) Neither did she believe in fate. (AUDIO: The Juggernauts)
Relationship with the Doctor
In her dealings with both of "her" Doctors, Mel was warmly affectionate. She sometimes found herself separated from him for months on end and always extremely glad to see him return. (AUDIO: The Juggernauts, Catch-1782) She was an especially enthusiastic travelling companion. Once, when asked what she would wish for, if she had the opportunity, she replied:
I was going to wish that things could go on just as they are — for as long as we could manage. I love all this, our lives, racketing about the galaxy.
The manner of her departure from the Doctor was also gently affectionate (TV: Dragonfire) and her emotional reaction and tears were genuine when she thought him dead. (AUDIO: The Wishing Beast, The Vanity Box)
However, her proactive lifestyle led her to be bossy to both her Doctors. Not only did she try to reform the Sixth Doctor's health standards, she also demanded and apparently got him to abandon his motley outfit for a time. (AUDIO: Catch-1782) Likewise, she often spurred the Doctor to adventure, as when she insisted they stay on the Hyperion III to explore, against his better judgement, (TV: Terror of the Vervoids) or when she insisted on staying in Pompeii knowing Vesuvius was about to erupt. Her at times boundless optimism could prove the buoy the Doctor needed to survive, as when she insisted that there must be a solution to a temporal paradox that the Doctor believed doomed them to death under the volcanic ash of Vesuvius. (AUDIO: The Fires of Vulcan)
Perhaps because of her highly adventurous nature, she sometimes found it difficult to cope with the mundane. She displayed reluctance at the sight of the rather ordinary Shangri-La holiday camp in Wales in 1959. (TV: Delta and the Bannermen) In his investigation of reports of a series of agent provocateurs known as "the Doctor" who had been involved in numerous unusual incidents, the journalist James Stevens found evidence of the Doctor and Mel's presence in Shangri-La during this incident. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
When she began to travel with the Doctor and Ace, (AUDIO: A Life of Crime) Ace speculated that the Doctor kept Mel around because she provided someone who genuinely believed that he was doing the right thing, in contrast to Ace's greater scepticism. (AUDIO: The Silurian Candidate)
Behind the scenes
- Mel's last name is never spoken in any televised appearance and the closing credits identify her only by her first name. Her surname is, however, regularly used in novels, Big Finish Productions' audios, and various other stories.
- According to his book The Companions, John Nathan-Turner planned to begin Season 24 with a storyline explaining how the Sixth Doctor met Mel. This story was never produced due to Colin Baker's removal from the role. An audio story of this nature, The Wrong Doctors, was eventually written by Matt Fitton and released in 2013.
- Mel was the only character in the original series to be depicted on television as having an asynchronous relationship with the Doctor (aside from himself), as the production team opted to ignore the implications of The Five Doctors.
- Mel also appeared in the gag-comic strip How Much For Just The Planet?
- She and Susan remain the only televised companions without a televised story on how they met the Doctor, aside from Handles.