Doctor Who Blog

The Companion Departures - #18 - Vislor Turlough

Turlough’s departure is perhaps underrated. It is not one that is talked about in fandom all that much in comparison to many of the others. And it is true that the departure isn’t exactly an emotional tear-jerker, for either the audience or the Doctor. In fact the Doctor spends much of the story being annoyed with Turlough and seems quite content for him to leave.

But departures shouldn’t always be about making the audience weep. Turlough’s exit feels very satisfying with respect to his character, not only in terms of being a believable motivation for the character, but especially in the way it solves the mystery for the character. Fans tend to forget that Turlough’s character was set up to be mysterious - why was this alien stuck on Earth in a public school of all places? Who was he? Where did he come from? Why did he want to leave Earth so much?

Planet of Fire very satisfyingly answers all of those questions and provides for a very fitting reason for Turlough to leave the Doctor and the TARDIS. He’s one of the surprisingly few companions who actually has (or at one point in the series had) siblings (if memory serves correctly, Martha and Adric are the only other two). It’s a shame that the Companions of Doctor Who Novel, Turlough and the Earthlink Dilemma, set after Turlough departs the TARDIS makes no mention of Malkon whatsoever even though that is the main motivation for Turlough leaving the Doctor (and the fact that he’s now allowed to go home with his exiled lifted). However, that’s a problem for that particular, largely long-forgotten book and not something that affects the on-screen canon. Planet of Fire is the last we see of Turlough (and for that matter, Kamelion, who I have not counted as a companion for the purposes of this countdown). Turlough’s departure is by no means spectacular, but still a fairly satisfying one, particularly with respect to answering all of the previously un-answered questions that had been posed in his first story. When Turlough leaves, his personal story feels complete.

(He’s the one on the right by the way.)

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