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Business Unusual

A BBC novel by Gary Russell, featuring the sixth Doctor and Mel.

Publication Date: August 1997
ISBN: 0-563-40575-9

A security force with no official identity... a managing director with no name... a sinister creature on guard patrol resembling some kind of hellhound... SenéNet is no ordinary multinational company.

The Doctor arrives in Brighton, 1989, travelling alone. He soon discovers his old friend, the Brigadier, has gone missing investigating SenéNet, whose net interactive games console is soon to be released at an absurdly reasonable price. He was last seen at their headquarters - based in the picturesque Ashdown forest...

Investigating further, the Doctor becomes more and more entangled in a deadly web of intrigue. Together with Mel, a plucky computer programmer from Pease Pottage, the Doctor must overcome the conspiracy of silence, rescue the Brigadier and save the world once again - something that would be a lot easier if he just knew where to start.


At the beginning of the adventure, the Doctor has foiled a plan by the Master and a Usurian associate but requires someone with knowledge of the programming language ALGOL to remove the traces from the computer system.

Melanie Jane Bush at this time lives at 36 Downview Crescent, Pease Pottage. Her parents are Christine and Alan Bush. She is an only child. She has a summer job at Brighton Information Technologies in Kemp Town and is intending to take a job with ACL.

She also knows Trey Korte, an exchange student from Chicago who stays at their house, and Joe Hambidge. She meets Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart who tells her about the Doctor's ability to regenerate.

Mel had had dance lessons in Brighton with a Miss Fairs. She once invited anti-hunt protestors in for tea. Her birthday is the 22nd of July - she turned 25 a couple of days before this book starts. She had an encounter with a bat getting caught in her hair in Durham cathedral, and was spooked by "Babes in the Wood" when she was young. She screams for the first time when confronted by an Auton. She stows away in the TARDIS on July 26, 1989.

She left school with five A levels and ten O levels. Expecting this to be adequate, she travelled to France to pick apples and spent eight months exploring Europe. Following this, she gained employment at a nature reserve in Scotland, opting to run the office after taking a bite from an owl (Probably a reference to JW). She set about organising their computer system, eventually realising she'd be better off attending University. She had therefore enrolled at London University at age 22.


"'You must be Mum's bit on the side. I've heard all about you.'"

The sixth Doctor arrives in Pease Pottage, 1989, searching for a computer programmer in order to deal with a plan the Master has set in motion. He is teamed up with Melanie Bush, computer programmer. However they soon become embroiled in the mystery surrounding the SenéNet company.

Easily the best Mel novel since Millennial Rites, Mel's introductory story once again shows off her computer programming skills and also introduces the fitness sub-plot to good effect. Numerous mention is also made of C.P. Snow, who is firmly entrenched as Mel's favourite author. Much more biographical information also comes out, including Mel's adult life before University.

The sequel to this book is Instruments of Darkness.

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