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Bonnie Langford: "I'm very grateful to be able to bring Mel back"

Ahead of her return in 'The Legend of Ruby Sunday', star of stage and screen Bonnie Langford discusses Classic companion Mel Bush's place in the modern Whoniverse...

As the Doctor and Ruby search for answers in The Legend Of Ruby Sunday, they'll be seeking the help of a few familiar faces - including the Doctor's former companion Mel Bush, played by Bonnie Langford. Originally travelling with the Sixth and Seventh Doctors in the 80s, we last saw Mel in The Giggle, working as a member of the new and improved UNIT.

We spoke to Bonnie about Mel's return to Doctor Who, what's in store for her in the epic 2-part finale, and working with several different Doctors...

Watch THE LEGEND OF RUBY SUNDAY on BBC iPlayer from Saturday 15th June and on Disney+ from Friday 14th June where available.

Bonnie Langford Q&A

How is it being back in the Doctor Who world?

It’s fantastic. I’ve loved every minute of it. To revisit a character that I played so long ago with a fresh perspective, but old understanding, is very exciting. I’m very grateful to be able to bring Mel back. I was so excited when Russell sent me the scripts. It’s funny because I’ve got to work with several Doctors over the years in various ways. It’s a really wonderful thing to be a part of. 

How has Mel changed since returning?

She’s definitely grown up. Mel is a lot calmer now and not quite as earnest. She’s more aware of her surroundings and she’s able to use her technical abilities to support UNIT and the Doctor in all of their endeavours. 

How did you react to being asked back?

It was a huge surprise. It wasn’t something I expected. Although I had been involved with the Big Finish for quite some time, you never expect them to bring back an old character. I’m really thrilled. She’s been able to come back as a more fully formed character, which is great. She’s able to really contribute and use her skills. 

How did you react when you read the scripts for the two-part finale?

I couldn’t believe it. I was very excited. I was taken aback by the fact my approach to it was very different to how it would have been thirty years before. There are things in it that I may have shied away from before. But nowadays, I’m absolutely embracing it with both arms. It’s full of so many twists and a lot of unexpected surprises. It’s written so beautifully. 

Bonnie Q&A

Can you give us a tease on how Mel is involved?

Mel is still working for UNIT and is on a mission to find out more information about an enterprise they’re a little concerned about. Mel is trying to infiltrate and do a bit of spying. She tries to get all the intel and report back to UNIT and the Doctor. It’s very layered. I was so excited to read the scripts. We also have Ruby’s story unfolding. As we know, she is so desperate to find those missing pieces of the puzzle when it comes to her birth mother. The Doctor is trying to stay away from it because he doesn’t want to mess things up. So there’s a lot happening and a lot of twists and turns for the viewers. 

You’ve worked with several Doctors over the years. How is it working with Ncuti? 

Working with Ncuti is fantastic. He has this great energy. He has such presence and charisma. He’s also a very generous actor. You really do feel you’re able to invest in the characters with him. It’s interesting because having worked with various Doctors over such a long period of time, you have to remember your interacting with the same person but also not the same person. It’s quite a complex thing to think about. It’s not just a recast. It’s someone who is still intrinsically the Doctor, but has a whole different new approach. It was great to work with Ncuti on that. He’s very instinctive and a real joy to work with. 

Can you sum up what fans can expect from the finale?

Let’s just say mystery, adventure, vulnerability, emotion and heartbreak. 

If you could travel anywhere in time and space, where would it be?

I think we all want to know the future, but that’s probably not a good thing. I’d like to go back to the Golden Age of Hollywood when they were making all of these big movies. Not necessarily to be there, but to observe how they used technology and film, and to be in the background while they made all of those big Hollywood movies. It would fun to be around that era. Although I expect it’s not all as glamorous as it appeared. But it would be fun to see how it all really worked. 

Watch THE LEGEND OF RUBY SUNDAY on BBC iPlayer from Saturday 15th June and on Disney+ from Friday 14th June where available.

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