Melanie Jane Bush, BSc (Hons) — or simply Mel or Melanie — was a computer programmer. She hailed from Pease Pottage,West Sussex, at the turn of the 21st century. (PROSE: Business Unusual, AUDIO: Catch-1782, AUDIO: The One Doctor, AUDIO:The Juggernauts) She traveled with the Doctor during his sixth and seventh incarnations. Although she was present for his 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 synchronized, 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.
Mel had a cheery personality. She greeted most situations with a warm smile and good humor. She was an optimist who generally believed the best of people’s natures, although she tempered this optimism with a realism and skepticism 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)
In 1959, she tried to befriend Delta, and could see that she was distressed. (TV: Delta and the Bannermen)
Mel prided herself on her innate honesty, (TV: The Ultimate Foe, AUDIO: Red) and disliked inventing stories to explain away the TARDIS’ materialization to those who witnessed it. (AUDIO: The Fires of Vulcan)
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)
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)
Despite the occasional scream, Mel rarely expressed genuine, lasting fear of anything. However, she did once admit to a fear of heights. (AUDIO: Red)
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:
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 judgment (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 Walesin 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)