Doctor Who Star Explains Companion’s Controversial Exit From Series

By Charlene Badasie | Published

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Sylvester McCoy says he had to fight for his friend and fellow actor Bonnie Langford to receive a proper exit scene when she left Doctor Who. Langford, known for her role as companion Mel Bush, initially joined the show alongside Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor and later continued alongside McCoy’s Seventh Doctor. In 1987, she bid farewell to the show, making way for Sophie Aldred to take on the role of Ace.

“A little sad bit was when Bonnie left,” McCoy told Radio Times about his time on Doctor Who. “When they said Bonnie was going to leave, it was just lucky for Sophie [Aldred] because it was in that episode, and for some reason [Bonnie] decided she couldn’t take it anymore – you’ll have to ask Bonnie. She decided to leave. And they were going, ‘That was it.'”

Bonnie Langford, who played Mel Bush, left Doctor Who In 1987

Although McCoy refrained from delving into the specifics behind Langford’s decision, he explained how he persuaded those responsible to create an exit scene for his Doctor Who co-star. This led to the inclusion of Mel’s departure, as depicted in the season 24 finale, “Dragonfire,” where she set off on new adventures alongside Glitz.

Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford

“‘I said, ‘No, you can’t let her leave without a scene! We need a scene!'” McCoy continued. “‘ I was the Doctor… She was Colin’s companion; she’s been with me, he and I are the same. You can’t just say goodbye and close the door,'” McCoy recalled. “They went and found a scene that I’d done a screen test for, and they took that scene, and they wrote it up to do.”

“I remember that being an emotional moment, and I was so pleased I argued to get that in so that I could say goodbye,” McCoy said. The Doctor Who star also noted that Langford’s character didn’t receive the level of utilization she deserved during the show’s run. This lack was somewhat addressed through the Big Finish audio dramas, which explored Mel’s adventures alongside the Sixth and Seventh Doctors.

Sylvester McCoy said that Bonnie Langford’s character didn’t receive the level of utilization she deserved during the Doctor Who’s run

When news emerged about Langford’s exciting return to Doctor Who, McCoy was very happy for his former co-star. He expressed enthusiasm, noting that it would be truly fantastic to witness the full brilliance of Bonnie’s talents in the Doctor Who context since her performance in East Enders had been “bloody marvelous.”

Meanwhile, Doctor Who is set to debut its 14th season in 2024. Showrunner Russell T Davies confirmed that production on the upcoming season had wrapped in July with a photo on Instagram. This season marks Davies’ return to the series after a prolonged absence. Production for Season 14 commenced in December 2022.

Davies assumed the role of showrunner when Doctor Who made its comeback in 2005. Davies concluded his tenure in 2009, succeeded by Chris Chibnall. In 2021, it was announced that Davies was returning to the show for Season 14, which will be the first installment featuring Ncuti Gatwa as the 15th Doctor.

Gatwa will be joined by Millie Gibson, who takes on the character of Ruby Sunday, the Doctor’s new companion. The cast also welcomes a range of fresh faces, including Aneurin Barnard, Jinkx Monsoon, Indira Varma, Jonathan Groff, Lenny Rush, Anita Dobson, and Michelle Greenidge. Jemma Redgrave and Bonnie Langford also return, reprising their roles as Kate Stewart and Mel Bush, respectively.

The 14th season of Doctor Who will be preceded by a trio of specials that commemorate the franchise’s 60th anniversary.

The 14th season of Doctor Who will be preceded by a trio of specials that commemorate the franchise’s 60th anniversary. Ncuti Gatwa’s debut as the Doctor will take place in the 2023 Christmas special. Former franchise leads David Tennant and Catherine Tate will also be making a return as part of the Doctor Who celebration.

All three Doctor Who specials are expected to be released this November, with plans to air on BBC and Disney+. While fans are excited to see some of their favorite characters return, others have wondered if the anniversary specials are leaning too far into Davies’ first era as showrunner.