My favorite companion in the history of Doctor Who is Vislor Turlough, despite his penchant for what can only be described as moral turpitude. Perhaps that’s why he is my favorite. He’s different from the other companions, and therefore a little more interesting.
Of course, he is different from the other companions in a great deal of other ways too. Not the least of which is that he is, by far, the most tortured of the companions.
What do I mean by this? Well, Turlough is from an advanced culture that is on the verge of time travel, and is exiled to England in the 1980s. To make it worse, his cover is being a school boy. It’s a pretty safe bet to imagine that Turlough, pre-Doctor, is one of the most miserable of all the companions. Frankly, I’m actually surprised we weren’t introduced to him like this:“The Cure is the only thing that understands me.”
So, imagine you’re Vislor Turlough. You’re stuck on Earth, which is light years behind you technology-wise, and a heck of a lot colder than you’re used to. If you’re given a chance to go traveling on a ship that can go through time and space, you would jump at the chance, right? Turlough certainly did. And yes, I’m ignoring that little bit where he first jumped at the chance to get off of Earth by agreeing to kill the Doctor for a villain whose hairstyle rivaled Russell Brand’s in sheer inanity.Russell was up for the part, but was rejected in favor of someone who wasn’t nine-years-old at the time.
The Doctor offers Turlough a chance to finally be away from Earth, which Turlough gladly takes even though leaving his exile assures him death if his former government ever finds him. That’s right. He’s risking death to leave. That’s just how much Turlough hates Earth.
So, what wonderful places does the Doctor take Turlough then?
In “The King’s Demons”, he is taken to medieval England, which I’m fairly certain is the only place he’d probably hate more than ’80s England. And if he didn’t before, being trapped down in a dungeon for the better part of two episodes certainly sealed the deal.
The next episode does not fair much better. In “Warriors of the Deep”, he’s taken to an Earthen Aquatic Base in 2084, where he has to fight a giant pantomime sea monster.
So far, that’s two for two. Sadly, “The Awakening” doesn’t fair him much better. There, he gets to split his time between two parts of Earth, 1984 (which is exactly the year he was trying to escape, mind you) and then the English Civil War. Naturally, also not a place he would like to be.
That’s three for three now. Then onto “Frontios”, which may not be Earth, but it’s still the last colony mankind has and I imagine it was not a place he particularly wanted to go to either. He also probably didn’t want to fight people of with a hat stand, but that’s the way it goes when you roll with the Doctor, I suppose. In any case, I’ll leave that 3.5 for 4, since it’s not exactly Earth.
He seems unable to avoid 1984, though, because he goes back to it in “Resurrection of the Daleks”, and then “Planet of Fire”. “Planet of Fire” is his last episode, I fancy it’s because he decided to throw in the towel and just go back to his home planet, Trion, which thankfully is no longer interested in killing him for abandoning his exile. Though, even if that weren’t the case, I’m not so sure he wouldn’t have thrown in the towel anyway.
In the ten episodes Turlough appears in, he goes to something related to Earth eight times.
Really, this scene in “Warriors of the Deep” says it all.
It’s like Turlough was the victim of the longest Punk’d ever imagined.
But the trauma doesn’t end there. No. Even the extended canon suffers from Turlough never leaving Earth. The radio plays have him fighting werewolves in Brazil in “Loups-Garoux”, freezing to death in Moscow in “Singularity” (one of the best Big Finish radio dramas, by the way), paling around with London criminals from 1702 in “Phantasmagoria”, and then wandering around a freak show in Arizona in the aptly named “Freakshow”.
And let’s not forget his standalone novel, Turlough and the Earthlink Dilemma, also involves him going back to Earth… and nearly getting killed while he’s at it.The above suggested cover was rejected.
So let’s recap:
Turlough hates Earth, and wants to go home. Sadly, because he’s an exile, he can’t. The Doctor, completely unaware of Turlough’s fairly obvious feelings about the planet, takes him on the TARDIS to journey… back to Earth… at least eight times… and remember, this is not including all of the novels he appears in.
All I can think about is how all the other companions get to see all the wonders of the universe, and Turlough gets to see Earth… again…
He may be, indeed, the longest suffering of all the companions, and I say that keeping Rory ever in mind.