Doctor Who is bringing back two characters not seen in the series since the 1980s.
Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding) will both appear in the sci-fi drama's next episode, which will mark Jodie Whittaker's final appearance as the Doctor and will air as part of the BBC's centenary celebrations.
Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall said: "Jodie’s final feature-length story contains a plethora of treats and surprises for audiences and fans, not least the return of two of the most beloved companions in the show’s history. They’ll be helping the Doctor fight on three fronts, against her deadliest enemies: the Master, Daleks and Cybermen, in one huge story!
"For the BBC’s Centenary, we’ll be celebrating the past, present and future of Doctor Who, in a fittingly thrilling, epic and emotional send-off for the Thirteenth Doctor."
More like this
Janet Fielding added: "In some ways it was a very different experience to what it was like when I finished recording in 1983, but in many ways it was very similar. It was so lovely to be a working 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 thrilled and excited to have been asked back. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I adored being part of the TARDIS team again.”
Tegan first appeared in the classic series of Doctor Who in 1981, stumbling aboard the TARDIS while en route to Heathrow Airport to start her new job as a stewardess.
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 story Resurrection of the Daleks, having grown tired of living a dangerous life.
26 years later, she was referenced in Death of the Doctor, an episode of Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures written by Russell T Davies, with Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) mentioning that Tegan had begun campaigning for the rights of Indigenous Australians.
Ace joined the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) as his companion in 1987, with the spirited teen having been transported to the planet Svartos by a mysterious time storm. She remained aboard the TARDIS until the end of Doctor Who's classic run in 1989 and did not appear in the show's next outing, a TV movie aired in 1996, with the fate of the character left unexplained.
Since their time on the television series ended, both Sophie Aldred and Janet Fielding have reprised their roles for Big Finish's series of Doctor Who audio plays, as well as in other sketches and DVD/Blu-ray bonus features, but the next Doctor Who special will mark their first appearance in the series proper for more than three decades.
Back 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 that 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 programme, and new people as well. What could Ace provide for new watchers of the show, for new viewers of the show? And certainly, the fans would be absolutely thrilled, I think."
Doctor Who's next special – written by Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone – will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer later this year and will bring to a close the show's current era, with Whittaker, her cast-mates Mandip Gill (Yaz) and John Bishop (Dan Lewis) all expected to depart alongside showrunner Chris Chibnall.
Chibnall recently told Radio Times that the episode would include some "treats" for fans, including "Easter eggs and kisses to the past", and he certainly appears to be delivering with the return of these two characters, alongside Vinder (Jacob Anderson) and Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), who last appeared in Doctor Who's most recent series in late 2021 and can also be glimpsed in the new trailer.
What brings these characters back into the Doctor's orbit? Will they be the only returning characters? Might we see more returning companions, or even – whisper it – some returning Doctors? Time, as ever, will tell...
Read more about Doctor Who:
- Doctor Who: Legend of the Sea Devil's 8 biggest questions
- Doctor Who: Legend of the Sea Devils podcast review
- Who was Madame Ching? The real history behind Doctor Who: Legend of the Sea Devils
- Doctor Who reveals the Doctor's feelings for Yaz in Legend of the Sea Devils
- Doctor Who's Legend of the Sea Devils ends with regeneration hint
- Doctor Who finally addressed the River Song elephant in the TARDIS