Doctor Who Companion Profile: Ace

Sophie Aldred as Doctor Who Companion Ace

Sophie Aldred as Doctor Who Companion AceAce

Portrayed by: Sophie Aldred

Doctor(s): Seventh Doctor

Tenure: 9 stories, from Dragonfire (Nov, 1987) to Survival (Dec, 1989)

Background: Dorothy Gale McShane, nicknamed Ace (which she says rather frequently) is troubled teenaged chemistry whiz, Ace enjoys cooking up bombs of her own recipe, Nitro-9, which she’s fond of carrying around just in case. While she was experimenting with explosives in her room, a time storm swept her off from contemporary (to when her stories aired) England to a spaceport in the far future, where she encounters the Doctor, who takes an interest in the displaced teen.

Family/Friends: Ace has a strained relationship with her mother, to say the least, and this, along with several traumatic experiences in her youth, including a racially-motivated attack on a friend’s apartment that left the friend dead, made Ace an extremely angry young woman prone to violent outbursts. Ace has a circle of friends in Perivale who appear briefly in Survival, but for the most part, she avoids talking about her personal life.

Personality: Ace is adventurous, outgoing, and very fond of blowing things up. She has a tough exterior that masks a lot of childhood pain, but she’s still happy to make friends and have a good time. Ace is incredibly bright but also very insecure and she develops an extremely close relationship with the Doctor, who knows not all is right with her and intends to sort out her past. This, along with her intricate backstory and complex characterization, makes Ace a clear precursor to the modern Companions and the first of the Doctor’s current favorite, the Companion-as-puzzle.

Special Skills: Nitro-9, intelligence (she’s great at chess, puzzles, and codes), manic energy, fearlessness

Best Story: The Curse of Fenric features some of the most in-depth character analysis of a Companion in the classic series, along with Ghost Light, and both demonstrate how fully the series was turning things around in terms of quality right before it was put on indefinite hiatus.

Worst Story: Silver Nemesis is particularly painful and lacks some of the saving grace touches of the episodes around it.

Highlights of tenure: Ace beating up a Dalek with a baseball bat in Remembrance of the Daleks, the sheer wackiness of the Kandy Man in The Happiness Patrol, and the utter creepiness of the clowns in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy

Lowlights of tenure: The opening rap to The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is possibly the most painful moment in the series’ entire history. As for Ace’s contributions, she’s pretty much great throughout.

Memorable quotes:

– “It’s just… I don’t feel properly dressed without a couple of cans of nitro.” Dragonfire

– “Professor, I’m not a little girl anymore” The Curse of Fenric

– [to the Doctor] “Do you know any nice people? You know, normal people. Not power-crazed nutters trying to take over the universe.” Survival

Other notes: Ace is the only Companion other than Susan to call the Doctor by another honorific. Susan of course calls him “Grandfather” while Ace calls him “Professor”.

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