INTERVIEW: ‘Doctor Who’ star Sophie Aldred at L.I. Who

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The charming Sophie Aldred fields some questions from me. (The potted plant had no comment.) [Photo by Adrienne Wise]

Depending on how you count them, there were something like two dozen companions in the original run of Doctor Who from 1963 to 1989. Ace – as played by Sophie Aldred – was the final, and some would say best, companion.

During the era of the seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), writers gave Ace a pretty extensive backstory – something that previous companions rarely had. She also was strong and feisty, questioning the Doctor’s authority and blowing stuff up. Memorably, she also fought a Dalek with a baseball bat – and won.

When the show returned in 2005, Ace proved to be an inspiration for Rose and the other companions who followed.

Since 1989, Sophie has been involved not only in fan conventions but also 18 years of stories (and counting) with Big Finish Productions. It was cool to talk with her about some of her experiences last November at the L.I. Who convention. Even she seems surprised at how much influence her two years on Doctor Who has had on her life.

As Ace herself would say: WICKED!

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Ace and the Professor … er, the Doctor discuss the conditions of her joining his adventures in 1987’s “Dragonfire.” [BBC Photo]

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INTERVIEW: ‘Doctor Who’ star Colin Baker at L.I. Who

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The Doctor is in: Colin Baker chats with me at L.I. Who in November 2016. [Photo by Adrienne Wise]

In the last post, I talked about how I discovered Doctor Who in the mid-1980s just as Tom Baker morphed into Peter Davison. I knew nothing about the concept of regeneration at the time, so it was (to say the least) a big surprise.

The next time around, I was ready. It suffices to say that Colin Baker‘s take on the Doctor was quite different from either of the others I’d seen. Brash, arrogant, unpredictable and sometimes downright unlikable, he took a lot of getting used to – but I did grow to like him, even if his Technicolor outfit seemed a bit of overkill.

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The Rainbow Doctor. [Photo by BBC]

Not even aware of fandom at the time, I had no idea how threatened Doctor Who was during Colin Baker’s era, from the infamous 18-month hiatus between his two seasons to him being unfairly fired by BBC bosses.

Luckily, the sixth Doctor has received a second life – and a sense of redemption – thanks to audios from Big Finish Productions. His many stories (stretching back to 1999 and still ongoing) show that Colin was not the problem, but rather some subpar scripts and distain for the show in general from the BBC. In the audios, his Doctor has been shown to be compassionate, charismatic and more than a match for whatever challenges the universe throws his way.

In person, Colin strikes me as clever, outgoing, personable and very knowledgeable about the show he still clearly loves. I was thrilled to get the chance to talk with him at November’s L.I. Who convention and discuss his final season (“The Trial of a Time Lord”), which turned 30 years old in 2016. We also chatted about Big Finish and whether he’d consider writing a memoir like Peter Davison just published. (The answer: Probably.)