Bonnie Langford is returning to Doctor Who, reprising her role of legendary companion Melanie Bush.
We first met Mel in 1986, going on time-travelling adventures first with the sixth Doctor, Colin Baker, and then his successor Sylvester McCoy in 1987. During six stories spanning 20 episodes, she encountered villains and monsters aplenty, including the plant-based slave race the Vervoids, genocidal humanoids called the Bannermen, and the infamous renegade Time Lady The Rani.
Now Bonnie Langford is bringing Mel back for an epic adventure with the fifteenth Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa:
And, as showrunner Russell T Davies is keen to point out, it “isn’t just a cameo: Bonnie is right in the thick of the action, battling monsters and chaos and cliffhangers, right at the Doctor’s side, just like the old days.”
This isn’t the first time Mel has returned. Not only did she appear all-too briefly last year at the end of Jodie Whittaker’s final episode ‘The Power of The Doctor’, joining a support group of former companions alongside Yaz, Graham, Dan, she also returned for the 1993 Children in Need special Dimensions in Time.
This famously so-bad-it’s-good story, told over two mini episodes, featured a crossover with beloved BBC soap EastEnders, and saw Mel team up with Ace and Tegan to fight the Rani once again, alongside five iterations of the Doctor, from Pertwee to McCoy.
Coincidentally, Langford returned to Albert Square in the altogether more serious role of Carmel Kazemi in 2015, becoming an EastEnders regular for three years and winning Best Newcomer at the British Soap Awards.
Langford started as a child actor, appearing on London’s West End aged just seven years old in a production of Gone With The Wind, and then beginning her on-screen career as pompous showgirl Lena Marelli in Bugsy Malone. Over the years she’s had TV roles in the comedy Goodnight Sweetheart and dramas Hotel Babylon and Marple.
More recently, she made the final of The Masked Dancer as Squirrel:
Her time as Mel Bush was marred by complexity. With Colin Baker, this complexity was of the timey-wimey nature: she met him in an order different than he met her, much like RIver Song, although their timelines later synchronised. With Sylvester McCoy, it was more emotional, as she struggled to adapt to his new appearance, and eventually became alienated from him and decided to leave to travel with the lovable rogue Glitz, an occasional ally to The Doctor.
How she’ll adapt to travelling with a third Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa – and how long for – remains to be seen. As soon as we hear more, we’ll let you know.
Doctor Who returns to BBC One and iPlayer in November in the UK, and comes to Disney+ everywhere else.