Tuesday, 6 June 2017

B is for... Brown, Peri

Young American botany student who was companion to the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. Peri - short for Perpugilliam - was on holiday with her step-father Howard when she first met the Time Lord. Howard was engaged on an archaeological dive off the coast of Lanzarote. Peri was bored, and had an offer to go travelling with friends. Her step-father tricked her into getting stranded on his boat so that she would miss the flight. She attempted to swim ashore but got into difficulties, and had to be rescued by the Doctor's companion Turlough. He put her to bed in the TARDIS, but soon afterwards the android Kamelion fell under the malign influence of the Master, and took the ship to the planet Sarn. Peri saw the robot appear in the likeness of Howard, and then as the Master, as well as an intermediate stage where it looked like her step-father but with metallic skin. Peri helped the Doctor and Turlough fight against the Master and Kamelion. It was she who discovered that the evil Time Lord had been shrunk in height, which was why he had taken over Kamelion and brought them here.
Once the Master had been defeated, and Kamelion destroyed, Peri informed the Doctor that she was not in any rush to get back home. As Turlough was leaving to return to his own people, the Doctor agreed to let her travel with him.
At their first new destination, however, she was to see the Doctor sacrifice himself for her and be forced to regenerate. They had arrived on the planet Androzani Minor, where both became infected with a terminal disease - Spectrox Toxaemia. Peri came close to being killed by a firing squad, accused of being a gun-runner, but she was saved by Sharaz Jek and his androids. Jek was determined that Peri would remain with him. The Doctor was able to secure an antidote but there was only enough for Peri. She woke in the TARDIS in time to see him regenerate.

Whilst she liked the Fifth Doctor, she found his new incarnation to be vain, pompous and arrogant. His regeneration proved unstable, and at one point he tried to throttle her - suspecting she was an alien spy. He then decided that she must live with him as his acolyte on an uninhabited planetoid. Fortunately there was an alien presence nearby, and the Doctor decided to investigate. After defeating the Gastropod Mestor, Peri travelled with the Doctor to present day Earth, where they encountered the Cybermen, hiding in the London sewer network. The Cyber-Leader used Peri to force the Doctor to take them to Telos, where Peri met the indigenous Cryons.
Soon afterwards, the TARDIS broke down in space. The Doctor was prepared to sit out eternity, but Peri decided to dig out the ship's manual and insist that something could be done to repair it. This took them to the planet Varos. Here Peri met the slug-like Mentor Sil, who found her appearance revolting. Peri found herself being experimented upon, as a transmogrification beam started to transform her into the animal that she most identified with subconsciously - in her case a bird.

Luckily the process was reversible, but she soon found herself about to be killed by a cellular disintegrator when held captive with the Governor of the colony. Both were saved by one of the guards. During a visit to England during the Industrial Revolution, Peri got to use her botanical skills - helping find plants to prepare a drug to calm the workers who had been left in an agitated state by the Rani's experiments. On her plant-finding expedition, she was almost turned into a plant herself but was saved by Luke Ward, who had been turned into a tree.
Her next journey took her eventually to present day Spain, and an encounter with the Second Doctor and his companion Jamie. The sadistic Androgum, Shockeye, at one point intended to eat her.
The TARDIS found itself on the planet Karfelon after coming into contact with a time tunnel. Peri was left behind whilst the Doctor set off to rescue a young Karfelon who had fallen into the tunnel with an important piece of equipment. As soon as the Doctor had gone, Peri found herself threatened by the guards. She sought refuge in a cave system where she encountered a group of rebels. They spared her as she was able to identify a photograph of Jo Grant in a locket - Jo and the Third Doctor having previously visited the planet. The Borad, mutated leader of the planet, decided that Peri would become his consort - after first being subjected to the same mutation. She was chained up with a cannister of mutagenic gas, about to be savaged by a Morlox reptile. The Doctor rescued her, and her revulsion at the Borad's appearance later caused him to be overcome and thrown into the time tunnel.

On the planet Necros, Peri met the DJ who played music and news to the people in hibernation in the funeral complex. She had heard his American accent but was disappointed to learn that it was faked. Peri was then captured by Davros and the Daleks.
Determined to go somewhere fun for a change, the Doctor was going to take her to Blackpool, but they next visited the planet Ravolox, which intrigued the Doctor. Peri realised that it was really the Earth, blasted by a fireball and then moved across space millions of years in her future. This was when she saw that a tunnel was really part of Marble Arch Underground station. Peri found herself welcome to join the Tribe of the Free, on the understanding that she would take on multiple husbands. Much of Peri's time on the TARDIS seemed to involve someone wanting to mate with her.
Her final journey led to another encounter with the alien Sil, this time on his home planet. The Doctor had his mind scrambled, which caused him to treat Peri in a cruel fashion - at one point chaining her to rocks as the tide came in. The Krontep King Yrcanos found himself enamoured of Peri, due to her bravery and ability to stand up to his bluster.
Scientist Crozier, needing to save the life of the Mentor ruler Kiv, decided to transplant his mind rather than his brain, and Peri was chosen as the host. As the Doctor raced to save her, the Time Lords removed him in order that he could face his trial. Yrcanos was going to be used as an assassin to destroy Crozier and his work. In the trial room, the Doctor saw Peri killed on the Matrix screen. Her head had been shaved, and her mind was gone - replaced with that of Kiv.

Later, it transpired that the Matrix had been tampered with, as the Doctor had suspected. The Inquisitor revealed that Peri had survived, and was living with Yrcanos as his queen.

Played by: Nicola Bryant. Appearances: Planet of Fire (1984) to Trial of a Time Lord (1986).

  • Bryant did not know that her character had been saved until later on. When she came to do the commentaries for the DVD box set of the Trial season she saw the new end sequence for the first time. She hated the idea, preferring that the character had been killed off.
  • The novelisation of her final story has a postscript in which Peri is acting as manager to Yrcanos, who is a celebrated WWF-style wrestler.
  • Bryant, who is from Guildford, got her accent from an American room-mate, and during the early part of her tenure on the programme had to keep up a pretence of being American for the press.

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