Companion’s Name: Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown
Traveled with: Fifth & Sixth Doctor
Best Known For: American, snarky, bickering with the Sixth Doctor, have the craziest ending in all of Doctor Who, only to be only to be immediately retconned, then given a proper ending in Big Finish
Perpugilliam Brown is an American college student who studied botany. Going by the name of Peri, the biggest disservice to the character came at the beginning of her tenure. She was thrown in tight, cleavage revealing outfits, swimsuits, and short shorts. Peri may have only had a few stories with the Fifth Doctor on the television show, there are many Big Finish audios which feature her travels with the Fifth Doctor.
When the Sixth Doctor regenerated, his regeneration sickness took on a unique form as megalomaniac derangement. He accused Peri of being an evil fairy and tried to strangle her. Despite this, Peri stuck around and continuously tried to remind the Doctor about manners, politeness and humility. This often took the form of “bickering” between the two of them, with sarcastic tones. It was during Peri’s time as companion that Doctor Who went on “hiatus” due to the BBC considering cancelling the show. However, after fan outcry and the show was brought back, the relationship between Peri and the Doctor was softened. While the two still argued, it was played more as caring older couple who were comfortable and honest with one another. This relationship is often the one portrayed in the Sixth Doctor and Peri books and audio plays.
It’s hard to talk about Peri’s exit from the TV show without giving away massive spoilers. Yeah, you shouldn’t worry about spoilers for an episode from 1980s. However, if you can watch Trial of a Time Lord: Mindwarp without knowing what is about to happen, it is the craziest ending for a Doctor Who companion… EVER! Of course, that same serial then walks back on the ending and gives audiences a choice on Peri’s fate.
From there Peri’s life has multiple endings, poorly constructed plot points involving abuse as a child and other odd fates in the books and comics. Big Finish attempts to align all these various pieces for Peri with a story that explains how her timeline is split into multiple lives. It also takes Peri’s problematic ending and the Doctor abandoning her to her fate in the television show, and has him go after her, which leads to more audio adventures. Also, in the comics, Peri and the Doctor travel with a talking penguin named Frobisher (but more on that in another post.)
Peri’s time on the television show may have been short, compared to others. However, her relationship with the Sixth Doctor became a familiar template for events that happen to another companion, in the modern era: Clara Oswald. From being the “carer” who reminds the Doctor about politeness to being split across time with many lives, there roles and stories that Peri handled first in the television show and other media.
What is it that you like about Peri Brown? Is there something about her that I left out? Please leave a comment! Plus, let me know who you would like to see featured on Weekend Companion.