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Ace meets ACE BASIC

Nic told me about a small Dr Who fan event in Adelaide on May 6th, so we attended it. It was too difficult for Karen to be there when sleeping between night shifts.

Sophie Aldred, who played Ace, the last companion of the last Doctor (played by Sylvester McCoy) in the old series, was the guest.

She reminisced about her time in the TARDIS, allowed photos to be taken with her, signed stuff for people. Down to earth and entertaining, her voice seems unchanged since those BBC TV days. Remembrance of the Daleks (an eminently watchable classic) and Survival (a classic in its own way, especially with respect to understanding more about Ace) were screened while rows of people single-filed out for photo-ops and autographs at various times during the day.

In the Q&A session, Sophie commented upon how she did as many of her own stunts as the producers would let her. She also related how John Nathan-Turner suggested that various costumes be taken home at the end of episodes when things were coming to an end in 1989, not being able to say directly what was coming. After having her “Ace jacket” at home for 30+ years, Sophie was able to bring it to the set when reprising her role in Power of the Doctor in 2022. The one in the photo below was made by a local fan’s Mum for the Adelaide event.

I was born 3 days after Dr Who first aired on 23rd November 1963, so grew up with all the Doctors. My vivid memories of Dr Who start with Patrick Troughton’s and Jon Pertwee’s Doctors. Before McCoy, my favourite Doctor was, and to a large extent always will be, Tom Baker’s. Visiting William Hartnell’s episodes again when I was older was necessary to really appreciate him. As for companions, there are too many good ones to choose between. Apart from Sara Jane and Ace, of course…

Karen and I started going out together in 1988, in the middle of the too-short tenure of McCoy and Aldred, so they were “our” Dr Who and companion.

In the early 90s I created the ACE Basic compiler for the Amiga. The ACE Programmer’s Reference Manual starts with:

What is ACE?

  • AmigaBASIC Compiler with Extras?
  • A Creative Environment?
  • A Compiler for Everyone?
  • A Cool Enterprise?
  • Automatic Computing Engine (ala Alan Turing)?
  • Dr Who’s last companion?

I related all this to Sophie at autograph time, along with the fact that Nic and I being there represented two generations of Dr Who fans. She seemed to enjoy hearing it all.

Contrary to a lot of my posts these days, there’s nothing particularly deep to say here, except that sometimes it’s just a Good Thing to look after yourself a little bit, have some fun, reminisce about simpler times when anything seemed possible, even spend a little money on “frivolous” things now and then.

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