Some of the best moments of modern Doctor Who have been when actors have returned to the show - sometimes it’s brief cameos like Karen Gillan in The Time of the Doctor or Clara sending off Twelve in Twice Upon a Time, other times it’s triumphant returns like Elisabeth Sladen, or David Tennant for both the 50th and 60th anniversary.


However, while it seems anyone could return to the show, some actors like Daphne Ashbrook – who appeared in the 1996 TV movie opposite Paul McGann – are forbidden from ever reprising their roles.

Speaking to ahead of the release of new documentary Doctor Who Am I about the legacy of the film, Ashbrook explained the complicated legal issues that her character Dr Grace Holloway is bound up in.

"I have done some Big Finish audios but essentially I was told 'you can’t be Grace', because someone finally found out that it was Universal that owned her, and unless they were willing to buy the rights, we could not legally bring her back."

The rights issue stems from the fact that the TV movie was developed as a co-production between Universal Studios and BBC Worldwide.

Ashbrook has been involved in a number of Big Finish's Doctor Who audio dramas, but has portrayed new characters. The same rule applies for actor Yee Jee Tso, who portrayed Chang Lee in the film.

"It’s sad because I think there’s a lot of opportunity for Big Finish or whoever to have some fun with those characters altogether," said Ashbrook.

If the rights battles are ever resolved, Ashbrook has an idea of where we might find Grace more than two decades after her fateful encounter with the Doctor.

"I think she would’ve been inspired by the Doctor to become a healer. Having her whole mind blown by this experience would have pushed her to be like him, figuring out the best way to fix people and pushing the medical and scientific community into the future. Her interaction with the Doctor is the kind of life-changing awakening that puts someone on a journey like that."

As Doctor Who continues to celebrate anniversaries, fingers crossed that one day Ashbrook and Tso will be able to participate in the festivities as well.

Doctor Who Am I is released in UK cinemas on 27th October, and on Blu-ray, DVD & digital download from 28th November.

Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer with episodes of the classic series also available on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.

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