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Sophie Aldred – Getting back into Ace’s Jacket!

Sophie Aldred was first introduced into Doctor Who back in 1987, when her character ‘Ace’ first met the 7th incarnation of The Doctor (portrayed by Sylvestor McCoy) in Season 24: Episode 14 ‘Dragonfire’. Her final appearance was in the final episode of the classic run of the show, which made her the final classic companion.

However, since the classic run – the show has changed with the most obvious change being the first female Doctor – Jodie Whittaker. With Ace being one of the many strong female characters in the show – it was only right for my first question to be about this.

What was your initial reaction to the first female Doctor being announced?

Hurrah, about time. It took a long time, didn’t it? I was delighted when Jodie was announced as the first female Doctor back in 2017 and what it has led to is this great big growth in the Doctor Who fandom. For women, all women it has opened up the fandom – and that’s something to be celebrated I think. For Girls, Young women, and older women (who may not have been interested in Doctor Who before) to suddenly feel represented is a great thing.

Recently in the BBC Centenary Special of the show ‘Power of the Doctor’ – Aldred gets back into Ace’s jacket to reprise her role and battle the Daleks (amongst other famous villains) one more time.

Aldred as ‘Ace’ In ‘Power of the Doctor’

Aldred was shown to be reprising her role back in Easter 2020, making a surprise appearance In the next time trailer following the Easer Special ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’. Fans were left ecstatic – but were probably not as excited about Ace coming back – as Aldred was about bringing Ace back!

What was it like receiving the call to come back?

When I got the call from my agent to say that Andy Pryor the casting director had been in touch I was so excited. I came off the call and I burst into tears. My husband said “what’s wrong with you” and I replied, “Nothing’s wrong I’m going to be in Doctor Who again Andy Pryor’s been in touch.”

It was the call that I didn’t know I had been waiting for all these years. It was so exciting to think that Ace was going to make a reappearance. I felt all sorts of emotions – I was excited and just very, very happy to be asked back.

Even though there have been all sorts of fantastic stories for Ace over the years, where I’ve been given all sorts of exciting things to do by the inventive writers and doing spinoffs with Big Finish which I’ve absolutely loved – somehow to be on the telly again was very exciting. I love television and I love the medium of television. I’ve always really enjoyed filming so for me it was perfect!

How hard was it to keep secret?

It was very hard! of course, my Husband knew – otherwise he’d have been really worried about why I was crying, and where I was going as well – going off to Cardiff.

I told my Agent of course she knew, and a friend of mine who guessed what had happened – but nobody else knew, not EVEN my sons! Although, they kind of guessed. My older one was saying “You’re going to Cardiff for filming, I wonder what they film in Cardiff.”

I never actually said I was going to do Doctor Who, he actually didn’t want to know. And then my youngest looked in the cupboard one day and gave me a ring and he said “Mum, why’s your Ace Jacket disappeared from the cupboard?” So I think he kind of knew too.

It was hard keeping it a secret, but when fans were asking and speculating I never actually told a lie. I had to hold back because I knew it would spoil things for everybody if I said anything!

And what a great job she did at keeping it a secret. I for one didn’t suspect a thing!

With it being almost 35 years since her first appearance, presumably her character Ace would be at a completely different point in her life in the Whoniverse. We’ve had glimpses of how her life’s changed throughout big finish, books and box set trailers – One being that Ace has set up her own foundation ‘A Charitable Earth’.

Sophie Aldred as ‘Ace’

How was it to get back into Aces jacket – now she is in a different point of her life?

It was wonderful to get back into Aces jacket, that jackets been waiting, all this time. It really was the jacket from the original because I kept the jacket. I took it down to the costumes department and they said “Oh can we keep it to copy it?” And I replied “Why do you need to copy it? We’ll just use this one.” So that’s what we did.

I wanted to be as much like Ace as possible, but be more grown up and mature since she’s had her years of experience.

Once she starts running, jumping and being cheeky I wanted all that in it and Chris gave me all that which was lovely.

Throughout the special episode, Aldred wasn’t the only reprising her role. We had Janet Fielding back as Tegan Jovanka from the 5th Doctors run. We also had cameos from David Bradley as the 1st Doctor, Peter Davidson as the 5th, Colin Baker as the 6th, Sylvestor McCoy as the 7th and Paul McGann as the 8th.

One of the most memorable scenes throughout the episode featured a conversation between a hologram of The 7th Doctor and Ace – which seemed to give Ace some closure. The on screen chemistry was still there for McCoy and Aldred, showing us how well they work together. The Student and her Professor.

What was it like to work with Sylvestor McCoy on screen again?

It was a dream, as ever. Very emotional as well. Obviously we’ve worked together a lot on Big Finish – we record in the booths next to one another and we see each other a lot at conventions. However, there was something about standing opposite him in the studio, when he was doing his lines in his costume – that was just very moving and very lovely.

I kind of wished we were setting off on another adventure together, and that we had more scenes together. It was just wonderful

McCoy and Aldred – on screen together again.

With this scene being one of my favourites of the episode, I wondered if Sophie thought the same.

What was your favourite scene to film?

That one definitely!

I loved filming the beating up the Dalek with the baseball bat. I tried to choreograph it pretty much the same as it was in the original. It was hard to do – we did it many times, but I loved it – it was so fun.

I loved the scene with Graham, the sort of cheeky scene where she’s teasing him and she’s definitely got him on the back foot – I thought that was great. I loved filming with Bradley as well, he’s so nice and so funny.

I loved it all. I loved the scenes with Jodie and Mandip, Gemma and Janet. Then Sacha watching him was like watching a masterclass in acting, he’s such a brilliant actor.

The Cybermen of course, shooting the Cybermen. Janet had to show me how to hold the gun because I didn’t know. I loved all of it – it was great.

If the episode wasn’t jam packed with enough surprises, we saw the return of a familiar face – as Jodie’s Doctor regenerated on a cliff side into the new 14th Doctor. I wondered if Sophie had any idea it was going to happen.

David Tennant is the 14th Doctor

How do you feel about David Tennant being back as a whole new Doctor? Did you know about the surprise?

I don’t know if it was a complete surprise, because we had heard he’d been filming with Catherine Tate so I thought yes that’s probably going to happen.

The surprise is that he is a whole new Doctor , he is the 14th Doctor. It’ll be brilliant to see how that turns out.

My guess is that because of the forced regeneration, something has happened and the Doctors not quite stable – but we shall see! That’s my theory.

Can we expect anything more from Ace in the future?

I wish there was something planned. I haven’t heard anything and it would be lovely.

I don’t know if this is the “swan song” for Ace, but I’d love to think she’s got a future. I love playing Ace, she’s the best character in the world.

I’ve still got plenty of running and jumping left in me. We haven’t really seen Nitro 999 in full operational mode yet. So yes I’m ready for anything.

I’m ready for that call.

Would you like to see Ace return in the future? I know I would! What a great performance by Aldred, who did a great job at bringing her character back to life one more time.

See Ace in action here…

“We’re ACE!”

One response to “Sophie Aldred – Getting back into Ace’s Jacket!”

  1. The Impossible Blog avatar
    The Impossible Blog

    Great interview – particularly the bits about being asked back and being on screen with McCoy again.

    Liked by 2 people

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