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The Stunning Demise Of 'Doctor Who's Peri

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The Stunning Demise Of 'Doctor Who's Peri
The Doctor's companion is often the audience's entry point in the weird and wacky Whoniverse, so their departure often strikes an emotional blow on the viewers. Many empathised with the kind and plucky Perpugilliam Brown, played by Nicola Bryant between 1984 and 1986, especially when the vulnerable American came under attack from the mentally unstable Sixth Doctor following his turbulent regeneration. But just when it appeared she had found love (with Brian Blessed of all people!) in the stunning story 'Mindwarp', a shocking development led to the most dramatic and heart-stopping exit by a Doctor Who companion ever.

Here is a look at poor Peri's final moments in the show plus some fascinating recollections from actress Nicola Bryant, who spoke exclusively to Cult Spy during our
recent visit to the Big Finish studios. "Everybody who watched it at that time, they say it really is a haunting moment," the actress told us. Read on to find out why and watch the scene for yourself...

Nicola Bryant's Memories

"I was very excited about it because I wanted a really dramatic ending. I didn't want one of those weak 'well, bye then' endings. I was in the studio when Janet Fielding [Tegan] was leaving and filming her final episode. So I watched that and thought that was really rather weak. Of course, I hadn't even started but I was hoping that when I got to leave I would have something more exciting. When [producer] John Nathan Turner said to me 'how do you want to go?' I said 'dramatically, with a bang!'

"I was thrilled by what i was given. I thought it was an opportunity to do a different kind of acting - very still, very un-American. I got to use my own voice and I dropped it. Colin [Baker] said only recently that during recording everybody went really still and it was chilled because nobody had heard me use that voice. And it was my voice - I just really dropped it. I just really enjoyed doing it.

"But there was a frustration, as there always is with everything involving Doctor Who, which is that my bald cap had been put on and I was ready to film this - and it was supposed to be filmed before the supper break, between 5 to 6 o'clock. But the previous scenes had been running late, so we didn't start to film this until 7.30. Well, [the cap] then starts to rise a bit. By the time we got to film it, they said you can't raise your eyebrows! All these kind of movements that I planned in my mind I wasn't allowed to do! It was like 'don't move your eyebrows, don't do this...'

"So I was very frozen by it, which in a way possibly helped. It probably did. But I found it so frustrating that I was feeling contained by something or other, but often restrictions force you to be more imaginative."

The Context

After 18 months off air, Doctor Who returned in 1986 with the epic 14-part 'Trial Of A Time Lord' story. Given the accusations levelled at the show during the previous 22nd season, which critics lambasted for being too violent, many feared that the series would become lightweight pantomime - especially with the announced casting of Bonnie Langford. But the dark tone of 'Mindwarp', which comprised the fifth to eighth episodes of 'Trial', featured The Doctor being depicted committing various sadistic acts towards his companion Peri.

'Mindwarp' featured The Valeyard - who functioned as the prosecutor during the trial - displaying his second piece of evidence to demonstrate the accused Doctor's meddling. This entailed the courtroom being shown The Doctor and Peri's ill-fated adventure on Thoros Beta, in which they encountered old adversary Sil and his Mentor race as they tried to suppress a rebellion by their ravaged slaves. Peri struck up a romantic spark with the heroic King Yrcanos (played by the very loud Blessed), who was kidnapped by the Mentors, but The Doctor seemed to have defected to Sil's side along the way. At one stage he even interrogated a disbelieving Peri while she was strapped to the rocks beside the planet's sea.

Meanwhile, sinister scientist Crozier has been working to find a method of transporting dying Mentor leader Lord Kiv's consciousness into a fresh body. After Peri comes into his clutches and is deemed the perfect host body, surely The Doctor can arrive in the nick of time to reveal his true, altruistic colours and save the damsel in distress? Wrong...

The Moment

With the transplant imminent, The Doctor heads towards the laboratory but is removed from the action by the Time Lords, returned to his Tardis and taken to the Trial ship. Shortly after, King Yrcanos is held in a time bubble by the High Council of Time Lords so that his attack can be perfectly timed.

In the laboratory, Lord Kiv's mind awakens after the transference - now encased within Peri's body. The once beautiful young lady is now bald, with thunderous eyes and a scowl over her face. In a chilling voice removed of femininity or sincerity, Kiv/Peri starts to speak:

"Warm, not cold. The body is warm. Wonderful. Legs, toes... a head free of pain. Warm blood inside. Oh I like this! Now I am she, so alive within this oh so wonderful, wonderful frame."

Kiv turns to the body he used to inhabit and seethes: "That cold-blooded reptile thing - it must, must die!"

Moments later, Yrcanos bursts into the lab after being released from the time bubble. He opens fire on Sil, but is stunned when a familiar figure rises from the operating table.

"Protect me! I am your Lord and Master," booms Kiv from inside Peri. Yrcanos is aghast to see his friend and potential flame in such a state. He opens fire on everything in sight, screaming out "nooooooooooo!" repeatedly. Everybody dies.

The footage ends and the events return to the courtroom.

"You... killed Peri," stutters the bereaved Doctor after observing the chaotic scenes.

"We had to act," replied The Inquisitor. "With the discovery that Crozier had made, the whole course of natural evolution throughout the course of the universe would be affected."

"But Peri died, Doctor, because you abandoned her," states The Valeyard, scenting blood. "We had to kill her because your negligence made it impossible for her to live."

The Aftermath

As the 'Trial Of A Time Lord' season continued, it was revealed that the vicious Valeyard had been manipulating events in The Matrix on Gallifrey to depict The Doctor in a bad light. Certain events that were shown to the court never actually happened, including the demise of Peri. The Doctor was informed that she has found happiness alongside King Yrcanos, although it isn't mentioned whether she has gone deaf as a result of his decibel-busting voice.

Watch Peri's shocking exit:

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