Doctor Who: The Power of the Doctor — what Ace and Tegan get up to

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Sophie Aldred and Janet Fielding appear to spend a lot of screen time together as Ace (Dorothy McShane) and Tegan Jovanka, respectively, in the Doctor Who BBC centenary special The Power of the Doctor.

In an interview in Doctor Who Magazine 582, Aldred discovered that her role would be bigger than she anticipated.

“I went down to Cardiff for a costume fitting with Ray Holman, and I said, ‘Yeah, but I’ll only be in a couple of scenes.’ And Ray said, ‘Not from the script I’ve read…’”

It is rumoured that a concern arises about the defacement of “history’s most iconic paintings” in the special.

Aldred told DWM that they did film part of the special in a museum.

“For my first scene, I was in Bristol, filming in a museum, and I’d been sort of hurried in with a golf umbrella over me. And as I walked on set, the first AD [assistant director] said, ‘Welcome back, Sophie Aldred!’ And everyone burst into applause. And I was going, ‘Oh, no pressure…’ But Jamie [Magnus Stone, director] was there, and he’s just absolutely brilliant, and everyone was so nice and lovely. And it came back, you know… I suddenly remembered how much I adore the process of filming.”

Ace was a companion to the seventh Doctor played by Sylvester McCoy. Aldred noted to DWM some similarities between McCoy’s Doctor and Jodie Whittaker’s thirteenth Doctor. She also revealed that lines needed to be learned quickly because some scripts came in shortly before performances.

“Jodie has a very similar energy to Sylvester – she has that kind of curiosity about everything and everyone. And she’s phenomenally professional. We were getting scenes quite late, and she was learning her lines – all this really big stuff she has to learn – sometimes just before we recorded. But she walks through it once and she gets it. She’s so clever, so quick, the way she gets it all in her brain. It was astonishing, watching her work.”

Aldred also told both DWM and SFX magazine 358 that she’s keen to do stunts.

“I told Chris [Chibnall, showrunner] I’d like to ride a motorbike – like I was cast for in the first place,” Aldred revealed to DWM. But I said, ‘You’re probably not allowed to do that with a – cough – year-old woman, are you?’ And Chris said, ‘No, not really.’”

“Put it this way: there was a moment where I was telling somebody else on-set, ‘What I said to Chris Chibnall was I’d love to do all the running and jumping, the stunts, just as much as I ever did.’”, Aldred said in her SFX interview. “And Janet, who was standing next to me, went [she does an Australian accent] ‘Oh, thanks a bunch! So that’s why we’re having to do this and do that?’”

“When I saw there was a stunt person, I was a bit disappointed,” Aldred told DWM. “Then, after a day or two, I noticed ‘stunt person Ace’ was suddenly off the menu. They’d obviously thought, ‘Oh yeah, she’s mad enough to do all her own stunts.’ The first one we did was the sequence with the guns you see in the trailer, and even though we only had to run a really short distance, they really looked after us, padding up our elbows and knees. I thought, it wasn’t like this in the old days, when I was covered in bruises from going: ‘Yeah, I’ll just jump out of a window, no problem…’”

“I wanted to show that women of a certain age are visible,” Aldred told SFX, “That actually we’ve still got it. I wanted to show that women of my age can be still as feisty and fit and gung-ho as ever.”

“I do like the idea of being an action hero, if you want – some people don’t want to be like that. But definitely Ace does, I know that.”

One of the most exciting things revealed in SFX is that Ace’s bomber jacket with the patches is back.

“Back in the day, [producer] John Nathan-Turner, at the end of filming, said to Sylvester and me, ‘You might as well take your costumes home with you, because you’re probably going to be asked to do personal appearances before the next season’ I kind of wonder whether he knew it wasn’t going to happen and wanted us to be the guardians of those costumes. So I took my jacket, and it’s sat in my wardrobe for all these years.

“When I had that initial meeting with Chris, I said, ‘I’ve still got my jacket…’. He said [gasps], ‘Have you? We’d love to see your jacket!’ So the first costume fitting, I took the jacket down to Cardiff. Ray Holman said, ‘Can we borrow this to copy?’ and I said, ‘Why copy it? We’ll just use the jacket. You might have to sew the badges on again, though.’ Because the badges notoriously always fell off.”

“We Super Glued them on – I had sticking plasters on the back of the jacket, they put them on with nylon see-through thread, and they’d still fall off. Anyway, that’s what he did. I don’t think there’s any way you could spruce it up, really, because you can’t wash it or anything. It must be a bit smelly!”

Janet Fielding told SFX that she filmed scenes for The Power of the Doctor for over a month.

“I wasn’t by any means filming every day, but it was over a period of six weeks.”

Fielding told DWM that there is “way more action than there was in my day. I blame Sophie Aldred for that. Chris phoned and chatted to us about our characters, and what we thought might have happened to them after the TARDIS. And Sophie said, ‘You know, whatever else happens, I wanna be an action hero.’ Right, thanks Soph. Nice one. So there I am, running endlessly up and down stairs, dodging Cybermen.”

“Big, big, big, big, big!” Fielding says of the scale of the special to SFX. “There’s a lot crammed into that 90 minutes, there really is – it’s full-on action for 90 minutes. Very exciting.”

“The first scene I did was me having a conversation with Sophie on a mobile phone,” Fielding told DWM. “I had someone reading in Sophie’s lines for me, which was quite disconcerting. Plus, I could see myself in the phone and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I look a hundred!’ I had to get them to put tape over the phone so I couldn’t see myself!”

“And it was lovely having Jemma Redgrave [as UNIT boss Kate Stewart] there. She, Sophie and I spent a lot of time together.”

“I think fans would have been really disappointed if [Tegan had mellowed].” Fielding told SFX. “Nobody wants a chilled-out Tegan! She’s there to kick against the pricks, as the biblical quote has it.”

The Power of the Doctor is 90 minutes long and will likely air Sunday, October 23 as part of a BBC week-long celebration of the centenary of their charter.

The cover of Doctor Who Magazine #582

Doctor Who Magazine 582 includes a The Power of the Doctor preview including interviews with Sacha Dhawan, Janet Fielding, Sophie Aldred, Patrick O’Kane and Ray Holman. It is available at newsstands in the UK and by digital issue on Thursday, September 15.

SFX Magazine 358 also includes a The Power of the Doctor preview including interviews with Janet Fielding, Sophie Aldred and Sacha Dhawan. It is available at newsstands in the UK and by digital issue on Wednesday, October 5.