Rather shockingly, Mel Bush, played by Bonnie Langford, wasn’t originally going to get a proper goodbye scene when she left Doctor Who — it was Sylvester McCoy who pushed for Melanie to bow out of the series properly.
Bonnie left the programme in Dragonfire, the same serial that introduced new companion, Ace (played by Sophie Aldred), and McCoy says:
“A little sad bit was when Bonnie left. When they said Bonnie was going to leave, it was just lucky for Sophie 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.’ And I said, ‘No you can’t let her leave without a scene! We need a scene!’ I was the Doctor… She was Colin [Baker]’s companion, she’s been with me, he and me are the same. You can’t just say goodbye and close the door.
“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.”
Mel joined the Sixth Doctor in The Trial of a Time Lord: Terror of the Vervoids and continued on with the Seventh Doctor in stories like Time and the Rani and Paradise Towers. And it would’ve been grossly unfair if she’d have been shuffled off-screen unceremoniously; as is, her final scene saw the Doctor acknowledge the confused timey-wimey way they met (we never actually saw them meeting in the first place!), before bidding her adieu. The scene, set in the TARDIS, was written by script editor, Andrew Cartmel.
Mind you, she wouldn’t have bee the first companion to have been unfairly dismissed — heck, Dodo (Jackie Lane) didn’t even get a proper goodbye!
But Dragonfire isn’t the last time we saw Mel in the series: she came back for a brief cameo in The Power of the Doctor and will star alongside Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor in the next series’ finale.
So we will see more of Mel, but for now, let’s be thankful that Sylvester stuck up for his friend and co-star (McCoy’s a lovely chap, so it comes as no surprise that he was such a gent).