Played by Mark Strickson
Tenure 1 February 1983-2 March 1984
First appearanceMawdryn Undead (regular)
Last appearance Planet of Fire (regular)
Last appearance The Caves of Androzani (guest)
Number of series 1 1/2
Appearances 11 stories
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source TARDIS Wikia
Turlough was known in his youth as “Vis”. (Kiss of Death)
Turlough rarely talked about his life on Trion before and during the civil war, although his desperation to destroy a distress beacon he recognised as being from Trion and his reluctance to contact his people to save the inhabitants of Sarn indicated there were severe penalties for defiance of his exile. Before the war, Turlough’s family was wealthy, and owned a planet. In the military, he held the rank and serial number of “Junior Ensign Commander Vislor Turlough, VTEC9/12/44”. (Planet of Fire)
In his teenage years, before he became a member of the military, he fell in love with a girl named Deela. Her father was on the opposite side during the civil war. Kiss of Death)
Turlough’s mother was killed during the civil war and his younger brother Malkon and his father were exiled to the abandoned colony planet of Sarn. Turlough himself was exiled to Earth. (Planet of Fire)
Turlough spent half-term with his schoolmate Hippo Ibbotson and his family in Weston-super-Mare. (The Memory Bank)
Turlough and Charlie Gibbs once climbed the wall of the girls’ school. When the girls saw them, their screams were so loud that Gibbs fell back over the wall and fractured his collarbone. (The Memory Bank) Turlough did not learn until 2013 that Gibbs was also from Trion and that his family supported the opposing faction in the civil war. (Eldrad Must Die!)
On another occasion, he and Peter Smythe took the trophies from the sports cabinet and dumped them in the school pond. (The Memory Bank)
The interesting thing is it wasn’t. Turlough – played by Mark Strickson – appeared to have some knowledge of the ship and what it could do, and on a technical level beyond that of the Brigadier’s understanding. And for the first time there appeared to be a TARDIS traveller who had a hidden agenda. We found out there was something going on between Turlough and the Black Guardian, something to do with an offer of a return home (somewhere beyond the grounds of his former school) in exchange for killing the Doctor. In the meantime, he cuckooed his way in, and loftily prepared to betray his host at the first opportunity.
Travelling with just the Doctor
A trip to 2144 Reykjavik resulted in Turlough and the Doctor almost being arrested for the crimes of the Bratanian Shroud. Turlough managed to escape the crime scene only to be possessed by the Shroud. The Shroud forced Turlough to return to the Doctor and try to kill him, but the Doctor purged the Shroud from Turlough’s mind with a wave disruptor. (Repeat Offender)
Attempting to examine himself during a trip to the Moon and a meeting with the British Imperial Spacefleet, Turlough found himself uncomfortable with the view of his personality presented by his reading of Richard Haliwell’s diary, feeling uncomfortably selfish after contrasting his actions with Haliwell’s Victorian nobility. He briefly fell in love with Lytalia, apparently a Phiadoran prisoner on the Moon, but she was soon revealed to actually be possessed by a Vrall (PROSE: Imperial Moon).
His other solo adventures with the Doctor involved taking down Nikolas Valentine in 1702 (Phantasmagoria), meeting werewolves in Brazil (Loups-Garoux) and defeating the Somnus Foundation in Russia (Singularity). He and the Doctor also visited the Memory Bank, Vadhoc, and the Pandana system (The Memory Bank and Other Stories).
Turlough was a companion of the Fifth Doctor. He travelled principally alongside Tegan, but also had a few adventures with Nyssa and Kamelion. He briefly met and saved the life of Peri in Lanzarot eon 8 May1984 before leaving the Doctor’s company. He also had significant interaction with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, the First Doctor and Susan. He encountered but did not speak with the Second and Third Doctors and Sarah Jane Smith.
After leaving the TARDIS, he also met the Tenth Doctor and Emily Winter.
Turlough was a complex individual. His motivations were often unclear to those around him. He was for a time willingly under the influence of the Black Guardian. During this period, he tried to kill the Doctor. After overcoming the Black Guardian, he was a mostly-trusted member of the TARDIS crew, but there were still moments where his actions were questioned. It was only at the end of his time on the TARDIS that the Doctor finally discovered the truth about how Turlough ended up on Earth and why he was susceptible to the Black Guardian in the first place.
The Doctor once indicated that what made Turlough such an interesting travelling companion was that he never knew what Turlough was thinking.
When Turlough first appears in the serial Mawdryn Undead, he is a student of retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (himself a former companion of the Doctor) at the Brendon Public School, but it becomes apparent that he is not what he seems. He is contacted by the malevolent Black Guardian, who offers to take him home if he kills the Doctor. He also appears familiar with concepts of time travel and matter transmission. At the end of the serial, Turlough asks to accompany the Doctor. Despite Tegan and Nyssa’s suspicions, the Doctor accepts Turlough as part of the TARDIS crew.
During the course of the next two serials, Terminus and Enlightenment (collectively known, together with Mawdryn Undead, as the Black Guardian Trilogy), Turlough finds himself unable to decide whether or not to carry out his assignment from the Black Guardian, but eventually rejects him in favour of loyalty to the Doctor. Although always slightly cowardly, with excellent instincts of self-preservation and a streak of ruthlessness, his relationship with the Doctor and Tegan improves with time (Nyssa having departed at the end of Terminus). He is one of the few companions capable of operating many of the TARDIS’s systems, being able to run a diagnostic in The Five Doctors and program the TARDIS to retrieve the Doctor in Planet of Fire. Initially expressing a desire to return home, he continues travelling with the Doctor and Tegan until Tegan leaves at the end of Resurrection of the Daleks.
In the very next serial, Planet of Fire, it is revealed that Turlough is a junior ensign commander from the planet Trion. Following a civil war on his home planet, in which his mother was killed, Turlough’s family were branded political prisoners. His father and younger brother Malkon were exiled to the planet Sarn whilst Turlough himself become a political exile to Earth watched over by an eccentric Trion agent disguised as a solicitor in Chancery Lane. Also revealed for the first time in this serial is Turlough’s first name, Vislor. At the end of the serial, Turlough discovers that political prisoners are no longer mistreated on Trion and decides it is time to return home.
Strickson has humorously commented that, not knowing what to do with him, the writers of the television series would often have the villains capture or lock him up, leading to Turlough ending up in various “states of bondage”.
Little is known about Turlough’s life on Trion before and during the civil war, although his desperation to destroy a distress beacon he recognised as being from Trion and his reluctance to contact his people to save the inhabitants of Sarn indicate there were severe penalties for defiance of his exile. Before the war, Turlough’s family was wealthy, and owned a planet. It can be assumed he was an active member of the military; he held the rank and serial number of “Junior Ensign Commander Vislor Turlough, VTEC9/12/44”. In his teenage years, before he became a member of the military, in love with Deela. Deela’s father was on the opposite side during the civil war. His mother was killed during the civil war and his younger brother Malkon and his father were exiled to the abandoned colony planet of Sarn. Turlough himself was exiled to Earth. (Planet of Fire)
MEETING THE DOCTOR
On Earth, he hid his alien origins and lived as a human schoolboy, attending Brendon Public School, where Brigadier taught. Turlough was supervised by a custodian masquerading as a solicitor in Chancery Lane. He was contacted by the Black Guardian, who offered him his freedom in exchange for the death of the Fifth Doctor. Turlough ingratiated himself with the Doctor and his companions Nyssa and Tegan. He helped resolve a time paradox, after which he was invited to join the Doctor in his travels. (Mawdryn Undead)
WITH THE DOCTOR
In subsequent adventures, Turlough received several messages from the Black Guardian, reminding him of his obligation to kill the Doctor – an act he became loath to do as he grew fonder of the Time Lord. Finally, he destroyed a prize that would have guaranteed his freedom and his pact with the Black Guardian rather than kill the Doctor, ending his association with the villain and becoming a loyal member of the Doctor’s team. (Enlightenment)
The Doctor, Turlough, Tegan and Nyssa then arrived on Cherdor in the 28th century, where they found a society which was obsessed with cleanliness, and lived under the menace of the Takers, for which Turlough was mistaken. After discovering the truth behind the origins to the corrupt society, the TARDIS crew returned to the TARDIS, but discovered that Tegan was still possessed by the Mara. (The Whispering Forest)
While traveling with the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan, Turlough reunited with his old love Deela. They had a special place that they’d spent time together and Turlough recalled that they’d last been there together “three years, nine months, and seventeen days” ago. (The Kiss of Death)
It was after breaking away from the Black Guardian that Turlough’s outlook changed from self-preservation to wanting to help others. This led him to actions such as deliberately putting his own life at risk to save the Doctor and Tegan, (Warriors of the Deep). Gradually it was revealed that Turlough was an alien, marooned on Earth after a civil war on his own planet, facing the demons of his own people (Frontios) and finally accepting personal responsibility and trading his freedom for the lives of the population of Sarn. (Planet of Fire) Trion, which had claimed the life of his mother. His father and brother had been sent to the prison planet Sarn, where Turlough eventually decided to leave the Doctor.
Although he initially expressed a desire to return to his homeworld and at one point asked the Doctor to take him home, (Enlightenment) after he had spent more time travelling with the Doctor he grew reluctant to return. He destroyed a distress beacon from a Trion ship, attempted to disable Kamelion whom he believed was reacting to the beacon and was reluctant to contact his people. (Planet of Fire)
After discovering that his younger brother was still alive and the persecution of political prisoners had long been abandoned on Trion, Turlough finally left the TARDIS to return home, after effectively putting the Doctor (“who gets into the most terrible trouble”) in the hands of new companion Peri Brown. (Planet of Fire) Later, as he regenerated, the Doctor had visions of several of his past companions, including Turlough. (The Caves of Androzani)
LIFE AFTER THE DOCTOR
Not much is known of Turlough’s life after he left the Doctor. It is known that soon after his return to Trion, he became involved in an adventure to save his homeworld and Earth. (Turlough and the Earthlink Dilemma)
At one point an enemy of the Doctor’s tenth incarnation produced a diary purporting to be Turlough’s, though the Doctor had no recollection of Turlough keeping one. (Tesseract,Don’t Step on the Grass) The Doctor and Emily Winter then travelled to Trion, where they met with Turlough to confirm that the diary was not his. (Final Sacrifice)
Turlough was selfish, always shielding himself from blame. (Mawdryn Undead) He could lie convincingly to most; some, such as Tegan and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, were not taken in by him. (Mawdryn Undead,Terminus)
Although usually quick to retreat, Turlough was not so much a coward as a survivalist, preferring to avoid danger and situations he felt he couldn’t change. (Warriors of the Deep,Resurrection of the Daleks)
Tegan did not like Turlough at first, finding him untrustworthy. She did not approve of the Doctor letting Turlough consider the Black Guardian’s offer, believing Turlough would choose the crystal. However, the Doctor was confident in Turlough’s morals. Nevertheless, Tegan often tried to persuade him to banish Turlough from the TARDIS. (Terminus,Enlightenment Cobwebs)
Despite the Black Guardian’s attempts to vilify the Doctor, he recognised the Doctor’s good intentions. On numerous occasions, he tried to make the Black Guardian reconsider his order to kill the Time Lord. (Terminus,Enlightenment) Turlough used the tranquility felt at the Eye of Orion to draw. (The Five Doctors) He understood the TARDIS systems well enough to run a diagnostic (The Five Doctors) and programmed the TARDIS to rescue the Doctor and Peri. (Planet of Fire)
Further Adventures with the Doctor, Tegan and an older Nyssa
Two days later, Turlough, Tegan and the Doctor arrived on Helheim, where they were reunited with Nyssa (although it had been fifty years for her). (Cobwebs)
The Doctor, Turlough, Tegan and Nyssa then arrived on Cherdor in the 28th century, where they found a society which was obsessed with cleanliness, and lived under the menace of the Takers, for which Turlough was mistaken. After discovering the truth behind the origins of the corrupt society, the TARDIS crew returned to the TARDIS, but discovered that Tegan was still possessed by the Mara. (The Whispering Forest)
They then arrived on Manussa during the Manussan Empire where they fought against the Mara. (The Cradle of the Snake)
While travelling with the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan, Turlough reunited with his old love Deela. They had a special place that they’d spent time together and Turlough recalled that they’d last been there together “three years, nine months, and seventeen days” ago. (The Kiss of Death)
At one point Huxley, a novelisor from Verbatim Six, had latched on to Turlough and started to novelise his life, and had been doing this for the last three weeks before he came to the Ringpull. When he heard that there was a race sealed off in a pocket universe in the Ringpull he decided to free them which was a mistake as they were a warlike race. Whilst stuck in a prison cell he asket Huxley to tell him the future in order to find a way out. (Ringpullworld)
Soon after his return to Trion, Turlough helped save his homeworld and Earth from Rehctaht and the Gardsormr. (Turlough and the Earthlink Dilemma)
An image of Turlough appears during the Fifth Doctor’s regeneration scene in The Caves of Androzani.
The Doctor once compared Turlough and Tegan to bickering siblings. (Freakshow)
At some point, Turlough was taken to the Black Archive by UNIT to have his record as a companion of the Doctor taken. His memories of the visit were subsequently erased and he was sent on his way. (The Day of the Doctor)
Life after the Doctor
Soon after his return to Trion, Turlough helped save his homeworld and Earth from Rehctaht and the Gardsormr. (Turlough and the Earthlink Dilemma)
At one point an enemy of the Doctor’s tenth incarnation produced a diary purporting to be Turlough’s, though the Doctor had no recollection of Turlough keeping one. (Tesseract, Don’t Step on the Grass) The Doctor and Emily Winter then travelled to Trion, where they met with Turlough to confirm that the diary was not his. (Final Sacrifice)
He saved a Phiadoran female to whom he was attracted from a large drop. He appeared to fall in love with Lytalia, but this was later revealed to be a complex deception on the part of the Phiadorans, as the species were currently serving as ‘hosts’ to the ruthless Vrall and had manipulated men to do their bidding even on their own. Despite this, his experience during this encounter encouraged him to take a closer look at himself and determine who he wanted to be compared to his past actions (Imperial Moon).
List of appearances
The King’s Demons
20th anniversary special
The Five Doctors
Warriors of the Deep
Resurrection of the Daleks
Planet of Fire
The Caves of Androzani (cameo in episode 4)
The Light at the End
The Whispering Forest
The Cradle of the Snake
Heroes of Sontar
Kiss of Death
The Emerald Tiger
The Jupiter Conjunction
The Butcher of Brisbane
Eldrad Must Die!
The Lady of Mercia
Prisoners of Fate
Make Your Own Adventure
Crisis in Space by Michael Holt
The Companions of Doctor Who
Turlough and the Earthlink Dilemma by Tony Attwood
Virgin Missing Adventures
The Crystal Bucephalus by Craig Hinton
Lords of the Storm by David A. McIntee
Past Doctor Adventures
Deep Blue by Mark Morris
Imperial Moon by Christopher Bulis
The King of Terror by Keith Topping
“Birth of a Renegade” by Eric Saward (Radio Times Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special)
“Zeitgeist” by Craig Hinton (Decalog 3: Consequences)
“Qualia” by Stephen Fewell (Short Trips: Companions)
“Rome” by Marcus Flavin (Short Trips: The History of Christmas)
“Comforts of Home” by Pete Kempshall (Short Trips: The History of Christmas)
“One Wednesday Afternoon” by Alison Jacobs (Short Trips: A Day in the Life)
“The Assassin’s Story” by Andrew Collins (Short Trips: Repercussions)
“Observation” by Ian Farrington (Short Trips: Life Science)
“Lant Land” by Jonathan Morris (Short Trips: Life Science)
“White Man’s Burden” by John Binns (Short Trips: Past Tense)
“Last Minute Shopping” by Neil Perryman (Short Trips: A Christmas Treasury)
“The Misadventure of Mark Thorne” by Andy Frankham (Short Trips: Snapshots)
“Piecemeal” by James Swallow (Short Trips: Snapshots)
“Do You Believe in the Krampus?” by Xanna Eve Chown (Short Trips: The Ghosts of Christmas)
“One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” by Chris Thomas (Short Trips: Defining Patterns)
“Gudok” by Mags L Halliday (Short Trips: Transmissions)
“The Darkest Corner” by Adrian Middleton (Shelf Life)
“Fair Exchange” by Mike Morgan (Shelf Life)
“The Lunar Strangers” by Gareth Roberts and Martin Geraghty (Doctor Who Magazine 215–217)
BEHIND THE SCENES
- Turlough was the last male companion to travel with the Doctor on-screen until Adam Mitchell, who joined in Dalek in 2005.
- Turlough was the last in a seven-year run of non-human televised companions who inhabited the TARDIS, beginning in 1977 with K9 Mark I. Others included K9 Mark II,Romana I,Romana II,Adric,Nyssa and, nominally,Kamelion.
- When he was introduced in 1983, Turlough became the first companion since Jo Grant not to have travelled with the Fourth Doctor.
- Mark Strickson himself did not have red hair. He dyed his hair for the role.
- When Mark dived in to save Nicola Bryant, he stripped down to bikini bottoms, but left his shirt on.
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