When Nicola Bryant left Doctor Who in the mid ‘80s, like a lot of things in Doctor Who circa the mid ‘80s, it was kind of weird. One minute she’s the sixth Doctor’s companion, the next her head’s shaved and a weird ugly green slug man’s gone and implanted his brain in her body. Rude! But now, three and a half decades later, the show’s trying to explain what really happened.
Bryant ended her time on Doctor Who as Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown—a companion of both the fifth and sixth Doctors—during “Mindwarp,” the second story in the season-long “Trial of a Time Lord” plot line that made up classic Doctor Who’s 23rd season. It rather grimly suggested that, with the alien Mentor Kiv having put her through horrifying brain surgery, the Peri we knew was forever lost, her memories and personality overwritten, and then her body seemingly killed by the warrior king Yrcanos—played by Brian Blessed—in a fit of rage.
Like I said, it was the mid ‘80s. It was weird.
Anyway, several Doctor Who audios and books would go on to retroactively create a new ending for Peri, some suggesting that her memories could be restored after all, and that having been left behind by the Doctor—believing her to be dead—she travelled the galaxy with Yrcanos, falling in love with him. Some saw her pulled from time by the Time Lords themselves, put back on Earth with all the memories of her time with the Doctor, save their very first adventure together, erased. But now, 36 years after she left the screen, Nicola Bryant has returned to show what really happened... and to actually promote a Blu-ray release of the season before her exit.
Written and directed by Peter McTighe—who wrote the Amazon-poking “Kerblam!” for Jodie Whittaker’s debut season—“The Eternal Mystery” posits that Peri did indeed survived the events of her apparent death, and ultimately did spend part of her life with Yrcanos. But after he died, she vanished into the galaxy even reunited with the Sixth Doctor, but still returns to pay tribute to her husband every year.
This isn’t the first time Doctor Who has brought back classic companions for these Blu-ray sets, and not the first time the show’s used the opportunity to catch up with what’s happening in the present of a past companion’s life. But even if it’s a little weird this is being done for the “wrong” season, it’s still nice to see Bryant bring a little closure to her peculiar exit from the show.
Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 22, collecting the six serials from the show’s 1985 series, “Attack of the Cybermen,” “Vengeance on Varos,” “The Mark of the Rani,” “The Two Doctors,” “Timelash,” and “Revelation of the Daleks,” is due for release sometime this year.
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