Doctor Who brings back two characters who have not been on the show since the 1980s.
Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding) will both appear in the next episode of the sci-fi drama, which will mark Jodie Whittaker’s last appearance as the Doctor and will air as part of the centenary celebrations of the BBC.
Both characters’ reappearance was confirmed in a trailer for the special that aired after the final Legend of the Sea Devils episode on Easter Sunday (April 17).
Chris Chibnall, showrunner of Doctor Who, said: “Jodie’s latest feature contains a plethora of treats and surprises for audiences and fans alike, including the return of two of the most beloved companions in the series’ history. They will help the Doctor fight on three fronts, against his deadliest enemies: the Master, the Daleks and the Cybermen, in one huge story!
“For the BBC’s centenary, we will celebrate the past, present and future of Doctor Who, in an exciting, epic and moving send-off for the Thirteenth Doctor.”
Janet Fielding added: “In some ways it was a very different experience from what it was when I finished recording in 1983, but in many ways it was very similar. It was so nice to be an active member of the Doctor Who family again. .”
Sophie Aldred said: “It’s been quite a challenge to have such a big secret to keep, even from my family, and I couldn’t be more delighted and excited to have been invited back. I hope everyone the world will enjoy it as much as I loved being part of the TARDIS team again.
Tegan first appeared in the classic Doctor Who series in 1981, stumbling aboard the TARDIS as she headed to Heathrow Airport to start her new job as a flight attendant.
The character remained on the show until 1984, appearing in 64 episodes opposite first the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and later the Fifth (Peter Davison), before departing in the Resurrection of the Daleks story, tired of live a dangerous life.
26 years later, she was referenced in Death of the Doctor, an episode of the Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures written by Russell T Davies, with Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) mentioning that Tegan had started campaigning for the rights of Indigenous Australians. .
Ace joined the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) as a companion in 1987, the fiery teenager having been transported to the planet Svartos by a mysterious temporal storm. She remained aboard the TARDIS until the classic Doctor Who run ended in 1989 and did not appear in the show’s next outing, a TV movie aired in 1996, with the character’s fate unexplained.
Since ending their stint on the TV series, Sophie Aldred and Janet Fielding have reprized their roles on Big Finish’s Doctor Who audio play series, as well as other DVD/Blu-ray sketches and bonus features, but the upcoming Doctor Who special will mark their first appearance on the show proper for over three decades.
In 2020, Aldred told RadioTimes.com that she would “love” to return to the TV show. “I hope the door is open,” she said. “I’ve never met Chris Chibnall, but I would love to meet him and talk to him about this possibility, because I think it’s something that… you know, forget me, it’s the fans.
“I’ve always been a real advocate for the fans of the show, as well as new people. What could Ace bring to new viewers of the show, new viewers of the show? And certainly , the fans would be absolutely thrilled, I think.”
The next Doctor Who special – written by Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone – will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer later this year and bring the current era of the series to an end, starring Whittaker, costars Mandip Gill ( Yaz) and John Bishop (Dan Lewis) are all set to depart alongside showrunner Chris Chibnall.
Chibnall recently said Radio schedules that the episode would include “treats” for fans, including “Easter eggs and kisses to the past”, and it certainly seems to deliver with the return of these two characters, alongside Vinder (Jacob Anderson) and Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), who last appeared in the latest Doctor Who series in late 2021 and can also be seen in the new trailer.
What brings these characters back into the Doctor’s orbit? Will they be the only characters to return? Could we see more returning companions, or even – whisper it – returning medics? Time, as always, will tell…
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