The Trial of a Mel Lover

The atmosphere in the living room come courtroom is tense. Major events will be decided here today, once and for all, and it’s been a long time coming. Present in the court are arch enemies, Joe “The Doctor” Siegler – a man with little sartorial taste, which marks him out as a follower of the Sixth Doctor and Jake “Valeyard” Simpson – a man of sharp wit, decisive mind and no hair, so it’s obvious he has evil tendencies and therefore is firmly in the Valeyard camp.

The Trial of a Time Lord 15

Presiding over the events of the day is Sagacity Cathy – an impartial observer and judge, so impartial as to give them impression she simply doesn’t care and wonders what all this is about and why she needs to be there at all. But deep down, it’s understood that today’s events will forever change everything, for at least the next hour. The subject to be decided: Judgment on the inclusion of child singer Bonnie Langford, in the annuals of The Companions of Doctor Who.

Was it a JNT stroke of genius, to bring Singer/Dancer Bonnie Langford into Doctor Who, giving it a much needed injection of spirit and freshness, or was it desperate stunt casting from a man who simply didn’t know any better? This weighty debate – having gone on for years in the living rooms of every true Doctor Who fan, would be decided here and now. Once and for all. There is a breathless-ness of the moment, as felt in the Supreme Court whenever they hear a life changing argument.

Joe and Jake eye each other across the courtroom, shuffle their papers and marshal their arguments.

Sagacity Cathy clears her throat. “Why am I doing this again?” She asks, to start the process.

“Because we need someone impartial.” Answers Jake, stating eloquently and simply the deep and meaningful reason as to why she has been assigned such a weighty task.

“This is stupid. I have better things to do. No one cares about this.” She intones, meaningfully – so meaningfully as to give the impression that she really doesn’t care, even though obviously she does.

“Your honor – yes, I know you like being called that -, this is an important case and one that needs to be decided. Or this will go on and on forever, between Joe and me, and fans of Doctor Who everywhere. We can’t let that happen. We have the opportunity to resolve this, once and for all – and you get to do it! That and I’ll buy you dinner at the Outback if you do this” retorts Jake, outlining the high stakes for all.

Judge Cathy rolls her eyes, signifying her acceptance and understanding of how important this case really is.

“Ok, Let’s get started.” says Jake, gathering up his papers.

“Wait a second. I object!” Says Joe, rising to his feet.

“To what? I haven’t started yet?” says Jake, puzzled.

“Well, for a start, I object to the fact that the judge happens to be your wife.” Joe retorts. “Perhaps she might not be the most impartial judge?”

“Joe, I think you needn’t worry,” says Cathy, directing her gaze towards Joe. “For a start, I have to live with this guy. Anyone who can prove him wrong gets a gold star from me. And secondly, I think both of you are completely insane and ridiculous and frankly I could care less either way. You have nothing to fear from me being his wife. Quite the opposite in fact.”

Joe wrinkles his brow, clearly conflicted about some of her statements about Doctor Who in general, but also bolstered by her obvious swaying of his wise words, and sits down.

“Can I start now?” says Jake. Sagacity Cathy waves at him, looking at her watch so as to remember the time at which such an important case was weighed.

“Oh hell”, says Joe.  “I’m going first – this isn’t a real court of law – you’re not even from this country!  Why should I just not bloody walk out?  We both already know that Bonnie Langford kicks all ass.  Even Kate O’Mara couldn’t hold a candle to the greatness that was Mel!”

“Look Matey. Let’s be extremely clear here,” Jake says, “Kate O’Mara has more talent in her little finger than the red headed child has been that is Bonnie Langford. When you think of aging models, you do NOT think of our Bonnie, do you? No, you think of women with no hips or boobs. If you need a pantomime dame, Bonnie is your girl. Doctor Who assistant? I think not. And by the way, The Doctor is British and so am I. That makes me more of an expert than you!”‘

Jake brushes his nails on his lapels and sits down.

Bonnie Langford in Hotel Babylon

“Talent, Schmalent!  Who imitated who?  I don’t see Bonnie Langford imitating Kate O’Mara – hell, she doesn’t have to.  Have you SEEN Kate O’Mara lately?  Talk about “aging” – Good lord.  I see it the other way around.  Kate imitated Bonnie.  What more do you need?  Do I really need to call up visual evidence of this?  That big screen sitting way above us has to be used for something.  Might as well put up some pics of Bonnie.  Hey Cathy…  Call up that hallway makeout video with Bonnie in that episode of “Hotel Babylon”.  If I’m gonna be subjected to this, I might as well have something hot to look at, and not the heat rising from the insane bald guy across the way here.”

Jake smiles smugly, understanding he’d needled Joe in just the right way.

“If you want something HOT To look at, I think we can find some Nyssa footage….” Jake fiddles with his keyboard and suddenly a slide show of Sarah Sutton appears on the screen. Jake sits back, staring at it.

Sagacity Cathy coughs, rather meaningfully.  Jake doesn’t even look away. “Nasty cough you have there. You should take something for that.”

There is a second cough and a four letter stare and Jake slowly looks over.

“Oh indeed. Mr Siegler, do you have any actual evidence to offer? I have a manicure at 5.”

“Evidence?  I would like to point to how much better looking Bonnie is 30 years on after Doctor Who.  Can’t say the same for Sarah Sutton.  Was cute in the show.  Not so much now.   Unlike The BaldYard over there, I chose my women in a more well-rounded look than a stuck-in-the-mind shot from 30+ years previous. Bonnie in 2012 gets more of a rise than Sarah does in 2012.  My evidence is that my choice has looked good longer. As for how they looked in the 80’s?  Excuse me for a minute.  Whenever I think about Bonnie in the 80’s, I need to pause and ‘reflect’ “.


“If you need time to adjourn…? Perhaps a bathroom visit? I’m sure we will all just wait right here Mr. Siegler?” said Judge Cathy, in scathing tones.

There is an embarrassed silence.

“Look, much as I am enjoying a trip down memory lane, I think we need to get back to the point. Doctor Who doesn’t need stunt casting! We haven’t had a stunt cast for the Doctor in, well, ever. Why do we need that with companions? We do still call them that, don’t we? Or does that have too much ‘He and his companion were found dead in a hotel room’ connotations now? I admit that sometimes stunt casting does work – Billie Piper was a surprise and so, honestly, was Catherine Tate. But most of the time it goes awry. Look at Brian Blessed, Alexi Sayle, Paul Darrow, Joan Sims or Ken Dodd. When it’s a companion, it’s even worse. Bonnie just never fit in – she was supposed to be a computer programmer, yet we never saw any evidence of that ability. She was a character that just didn’t fit,” smiled Jake, smelling blood.

“Stunt casting?   Need I mention the Fifth Doctor?   Anyway, getting back to the REAL point here, and that’s Bonnie. I submit that your constant attempts to change the subject are an indicator that you have no real defense. That you really harbor some secret desire for Bonnie and you just wanted to use this setting to think about her and talk about her without having to worry about offending anyone not the least of which is the woman sitting in the middle there.  I believe I will call your bluff on that. And I’m going to call my first witness, Bonnie Langford herself.  This button here on my desk will allow me to pluck her from any time in her timestream. Which do you prefer? The pinkish version from the 80s? Or the more modern version where she’s dressed from stage shows like Chicago?  So which is it?”

The Doctor and Two Mels in Time and the Rani

But before Jake could answer, a stunned silence came across both his and Joe’s faces.  Apparently Sagacity Cathy had reached across the aisle and just randomly pushed a button on Joe’s wrist, exclaiming, “Oh for chrissake. Can we get this thing over with – I have something else I want to do than listening to you two pissing about over Bonnie Langford. Why the hell did I agree to this?”

In the meantime, Bonnie having appeared silently in the corner hasn’t said anything but has started winking at Joe.

Jake turns to Judge Cathy and said “Madam. I do protest. This is unseemly and uncalled for…”

While he is speaking, a familiar grinding noise interrupts the proceedings, and both Jake and Sagacity Cathy turn to look towards Joe. Joe’s Desk is slowly fading away, and the sound of faint giggles can be heard.

Both Cathy and Jake turn their heads to look at where Bonnie was standing, only to find an empty space. Jake looks at Cathy, open mouthed, and while about to say something, his phone rings.

He looks down at it and sags into his chair.

“Oh god,” he murmurs, “how am I going to explain this?”

“Who is it?” asks Judge Cathy.

“It’s Joe’s wife. She’ll never believe this…”

(Co-writer Joe Siegler)


Jake Simpson has been a Doctor Who fan for more years that he cares to remember, or will admit. He was first exposed to the Green Death and is now vaguely uncomfortable eating apples past their sell by date for fear of a large maggot bursting out. He lives in Arizona along with his family and The Dalek Army(tm), but hails from the UK - you can take the boy out of Kent, but you can't take the Kent out of the boy, expect with lots of very painful and expensive surgery. Jake writes video games for a living, and writes books on Kindle for a hobby. Look - here they are: Myndware and Myndset. Go buy a copy so he can feed his kids.

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