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Ace

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Ace
AceCloseUpLookLeftSurvival
Main aliases: Dorothée
Time's Vigilante
Species: Human
Place of origin: Perivale, London
First seen in: Dragonfire
Appearances: Full List of Appearances
Main actor: Sophie Aldred

Dorothy Gale "Ace" McShane, was a companion of the Seventh Doctor.

Biography

Before travelling with the Doctor

She was born on 20 August 1970. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Revelation, Falls the Shadow, Set Piece, PROSE: Relative Dementias) Dorothy was the daughter of Audrey Dudman, whose mother Kathleen, Ace herself would later meet when the Doctor would take her to the year 1943. (TV: The Curse of Fenric) Though she did not know it after meeting the Doctor, Ace had a younger brother named Liam, who was born in 1974. (AUDIO: The Rapture)

In February 1971, the Seventh Doctor visited the infant Ace to apologise to her for the Gabriel Chase and Fenric incidents. (PROSE: Ace of Hearts)

In the mid 1980s, while working in McDonald's, Ace briefly met the Fifth Doctor's companion Tegan Jovanka. (PROSE: The Crystal Bucephalus)

Naturally violent and also clever, Ace was skilled at using her knowledge of chemistry (despite failing it for her "O"-levels), making bombs filled with an explosive of her own devising called Nitro-9. (TV: Dragonfire)

She suffered several traumatic events in her childhood in Perivale, London. This included a bad relationship with her mother and, in 1983, the racist firebombing of her friend Manisha Purkayastha's flat. Manisha died and an angry Ace set fire to Gabriel Chase, an abandoned mansion said to be haunted by an ancient evil. (TV: Ghost Light, PROSE: Blood Heat)

She was a troubled teen on Earth, expelled from school for blowing up the art room as a "creative statement". (TV: Battlefield)

At the age of 16, Ace and a friend called Julian planned to run away together, so she packed supplies and clothes. (PROSE: Love and War) While she was in her room experimenting with the extraction of nitroglycerin from gelignite, a time storm swept her up and transported her to the deck of Sabalom Glitz's spacecraft, the Nosferatu, which was docked at Iceworld far in her future. Trapped on Iceworld, she got a job as a waitress and formed a relationship with Glitz. (TV: Dragonfire) Eventually she lost her virginity to him (PROSE: Happy Endings). Some time later she met the Seventh Doctor, whom she referred to as "Professor" and his companion Mel, who Ace nicknamed "Doughnut". When Mel left the Doctor at the conclusion of their battle with Kane, he offered to take Ace with him in the the TARDIS, and she enthusiastically accepted. (TV: Dragonfire)

Early travels

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Ace relaxes after having defeated the Cybermen and Nemesis (TV: Silver Nemesis)
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Under the Doctor's tutelage, Ace fought the Daleks and faced Davros in November 1963. During this adventure, her portable stereo was destroyed by a Dalek. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks). She opposed Helen A and her sadistic government, which required people to be happy on pain of death. (TV: The Happiness Patrol) She stopped the Cybermen from getting hold of Nemesis in 1988 (TV: Silver Nemesis) and saved the Psychic Circus on Segonax from the Gods of Ragnarok. (TV: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy) She also met Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, helping UNIT defeat the Destroyer and Morgaine in Carbury in 1997. (TV: Battlefield)

At this stage, the relationship between the Doctor and Ace took a darker turn. At least initially, he was trying to educate her, not merely have adventures with her. His style of teaching, however, was occasionally unorthodox. At times he lied to her, or at least withheld certain truths, so she would face the demons of her past and emerge a stronger person. (TV: Ghost Light, The Curse of Fenric)

The Doctor forced Ace to face demons from her past, taking her to Gabriel Chase, a house she had burned down a century before she did. There she discovered that the presence in the house of the entity known as Light was what she had felt when compelled to burn the house down. (TV: Ghost Light)

While visiting Maiden's Point in 1943, Ace learned that her arrival on Iceworld was not an accident, but part of a larger scheme conceived by one of the Doctor's greatest enemy, cosmic evil known as called Fenric. Ace was a Wolf of Fenric, one of many descendants of a Viking tainted with Fenric's genetic instructions to free it from its ancient prison. Fenric had transported her to Iceworld by time storm and made her a pawn in the complex game between it and the Doctor. The Doctor appeared to have been aware of this from their first meeting, although Ace was not. After Fenric was defeated, Ace continued to journey with the Doctor. (TV: The Curse of Fenric)

Ace returned to Perivale where she found that all her old friends had gone missing. She thought they had moved on, but they had been taken to the Cheetah World as prey for the Cheetah People. The Master, an old enemy of the Doctor, was using them to get off the planet. Ace returned with two of her friends and went off to travel with the Doctor again. (TV: Survival)

Later travels

Accounts beyond this point contradict each other greatly and may refer to different and incompatible timelines. Additionally, the sequence of events in Ace's and the Doctor's personal timeline seems hard to pin down.

Adventures with Raine Creevy and others

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Ace disguised as the captain of the Space Vessel Vancouver with the Seventh Doctor. (AUDIO: Earth Aid)
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As it turned out, he was trying to shape her mind to the point that she would be able to attend the Time Lord Academy. The Doctor's manipulation of her was ultimately for the benefit of Time Lord observers who were assessing her potential. Ultimately, however, she refused this academic opportunity and continued to travel with the Doctor. (AUDIO: Thin Ice) Following this decision, she also travelled for a time with Raine Creevy, with whom she had a somewhat prickly relationship. (AUDIO: The Lost Stories range)

Adventures with Bev Tarrant and Hex

Some time later she encountered the Master's influences involving Duchamp 331 in the 26th century and met Bev Tarrant for the second time. (AUDIO: Dust Breeding).

Following a brush with Nazis in Colditz Castle in October 1944 (AUDIO: Colditz), the Doctor took Ace to Ibiza on 14 May 1997 to "relax" following her ordeal. While there, she discovered that she had a younger brother named Liam McShane. (AUDIO: The Rapture)

Whilst in London in 2021 investigating with the Doctor for evidence of 'xenotech' — alien technology used on humans, which was in fact Cyber technology — she met Hex, a nurse working at St Gart's Hospital. Following his help, she convinced him to join her and the Doctor, taking him under her wing. (AUDIO: The Harvest)

Leaving the Doctor

Ace had become more and more frustrated with the Doctor's manipulations. (PROSE: Nightshade)

The Doctor took the TARDIS to the planet Heaven in the year 2570. (PROSE: Love and War) By now twenty-six years old (PROSE: Set Piece), Ace met the young Traveller Jan Rydd and fell in love with him. She took on the name Dorothée and intended to live the rest of his life with Jan. Following Jan's death, she bitterly turned against the Doctor. Filled with loathing for him, she finally left the Doctor's company. (PROSE: Love and War)

In Spacefleet

Now living in the 26th century, Ace joined Spacefleet and fought Daleks and others. Three years later, combat-hardened and cynical, she would later rejoin the Doctor and Bernice Summerfield (PROSE: Deceit).

Travels with Bernice Summerfield

Ace's relationship with Bernice was at first less than cordial, possibly out of jealousy, but the two eventually became friends. While in 1976 London, with her relationships with Bernice and the Doctor at breaking point, Ace accepted the offer of the misguided renegade Time Lord the Monk to join with him as his companion and accomplice. However, she meant to betray the Monk all along. By this time she had finally gotten over the death of Jan. (PROSE: No Future)

Life after the Doctor

Finally, after their ordeal with the Robot Ants, Ace left the Doctor again to become Time's Vigilante. She used a short-range time hopper mounted on a motorcycle to patrol a particular segment of time. She based herself in Paris. (PROSE: Set Piece) Ace attended Bernice's wedding to Jason Kane. (PROSE: Happy Endings)

Research by Sarah Jane Smith into the lives of some of the Doctor's other former companions turned up the information that a former associate of the Doctor's named "Dorothy" had established a major charity called A Charitable Earth. That the name spells out "ACE" would seem more than a coincidence. (TV: Death of the Doctor)

Alternate fates

There are several varying and contradictory reports of Ace's eventual fate.

Personality

Ace covered her fears and insecurities with a tough, streetwise exterior. Her weapon of choice, disapproved of by the Doctor (who nonetheless found it useful on occasion), was a powerful explosive she called "Nitro-9", which she mixed up in canisters and carried in her backpack.

She was convinced the Doctor needed her to watch his back and was fiercely loyal to him. (TV: The Curse of Fenric) In turn, the Doctor took a special interest in Ace's education, taking her across the universe and prompting her to come to her own conclusions rather than giving her all the answers. (TV: Ghost Light)

Alternative timelines

Behind the scenes

Ace's name

Ace's full name was never revealed on the television series, in which she was usually referred to by her nickname. Her surname was not established until original novels featuring the character were published, but her first name, Dorothy, was referred to on screen in TV: Dragonfire.

Production notes suggest that it was intended that her last name would be Gale, given the fact that she was transported to Iceworld via a time storm, much like Dorothy Gale, transported to Oz by a hurricane in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The novels (and, later, the Big Finish's audio plays) gave Ace the last name of McShane. The Past Doctor Adventures set after TV: Survival and written by Mike Tucker and Robert Perry used the "Dorothy Gale" name, as the authors were unaware of the name used in the New Adventures. This was eventually resolved to some extent when the novel Relative Dementias by Mark Michalowski gave her full name as Dorothy Gale McShane, a version later taken up by the audios.

Continuity regarding the "writing out" of Ace

If Doctor Who had continued as a television series after Season 26, Script Editor Andrew Cartmel had planned that Ace go to attend university on Gallifrey where, despite her human heritage, she would have trained as an apprentice Time Lord. She would have left halfway through Season 27.

Beginning with the the novelisation of The Curse of Fenric, spin-off media have put forward conflicting scenarios of how Ace finally departed the company of the Doctor. The TV movie Doctor Who did not explain or rationalise her absence. She is, to date, one of the few official companions and the only TV companion to date whose fate (or at least departure from the TARDIS) has not been revealed.

In TV: Death of the Doctor, a reference was made to a former companion of the Doctor named "Dorothy", who was running an organisation known as "A Charitable Earth".

Russell T Davies revealed in issue 445 of Doctor Who Magazine that Sophie Aldred would have returned as Ace in The Sarah Jane Adventures, both in present day and flashback sequences which potentially might also included Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor and revealed how Ace truly left the Doctor. The death of Elisabeth Sladen, however, caused the cancellation of the series.

Unofficial appearances

Ace (or a character very like her, played again by Sophie Aldred) appeared in a series of BBV Productions audio play Republica and others in the same series, alongside Sylvester McCoy as "the Professor". For legal reasons, the character's name was changed to "Alice" later in the series.

Aldred also played the nameless "Human", who closely resembles Ace during her time in the 26th century, and who dies in the last segment of Mindgame Trilogy.

Sophie Aldred has also appeared in character in the fan-made video Gene Genius.

Trivia

  • Ace was the final female television companion to date not to kiss, or to be kissed by, the Doctor until one-off companion Adelaide Brooke in 2009.
  • According to Rona Munro, the writer of Survival, there was to be a lesbian subtext to the relationship between Ace and Karra. This would have made Ace the first LGBT companion on screen.

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