What Ever Happened To… Ace?
Guest contributor Gustaff wonders what became of Seventh Doctor companion Dorothy Gale “Ace” McShane.
“I don’t believe you’ve met my young friend Ace, an expert in calorification, incineration, carbonization, and inflammation.” – Doctor
Born Dorothy Gale “Ace” McShane, Ace was one of the most loyal companions of the Doctor, specifically his seventh incarnation. She is also one of the most popular companions of all time and one of the fan favorites to appear, if only in a cameo role, in the 50th Anniversary Special. When we last left Ace, she and the Doctor were heading back to the TARDIS after defeating the Master in Survival. Doctor Who was cancelled after this serial, but made a brief materialization in 1996, albeit without Ace. The Seventh Doctor, who looked much older now, was without the companionship of the streetwise kid. Her departure wasn’t explained and left fans curious as to what had happened to her during the wilderness years.
Come on Ace! We got work to do!
There are several contradicting theories about what happened to Ace after Survival. The first can be found in the Big Finish audio series and another in the novels. Both explain that Ace continued to travel with the Doctor for years after the television series ended. They were also briefly joined by a thief named Raine Creevy. Part of the Lost Stories that Big Finish eventually brought to life revealed that the Doctor was shaping Ace up to become enrolled in the Time Lord Academy, an opportunity she ultimately turned down in favor of travelling with the Doctor, but by the time of UNIT Dominion, Ace had reconsidered and was attending the Academy.
After Raine left, the Doctor and Ace met Hex, a nurse whose family had a dark history with the Doctor and a shadow organization called the Forge. The Doctor, Ace and Hex had a multitude of adventures until a run-in with Fenric left Ace maddened and incredibly wounded.
Afterwards, she became frustrated with the Doctor and his constant schemes and manipulations. After arriving on the planet Heaven in the novel Love and War and being unable to stop Ace from falling in love with a man he was planning to sacrifice for the greater good of the universe, the Doctor angered Ace to the point where she abandoned him, citing that they weren’t ‘mates’ anymore.
“My name’s Ace, I come from a dysfunctional family, and I cope by blowing things up. What’s your excuse?” – Ace
According to the novels, Ace opted to join the Spacefleet in the 26th century and fight Daleks after her travels with the Doctor. This went on for three years before she met the Doctor again, now in the company of Bernice Summerfield. She forgave the Doctor and elected to travel with him again.
The next segment of Ace’s life has several contradicting notions. One account tells us that Ace decided to become Time’s Vigilante similarly to the Doctor becoming Time’s Champion and patrol a particular segment of time on a time travelling motorbike. Another account reveals that Ace eventually settled down on Earth and established a major charity called [A] [C]haritable [E]arth. It is hinted in The Curse of Fenric that she might have settled down in Paris in 1887.
As mentioned before, somewhere in her life Ace enrolled in the Time Lord Academy where she managed to warn the Doctor and Raine Creevy about a threat involving the an evil future ‘Doctor’.
So Which Is The Real Ace?
This is an answer left up to each individual reading this. There is no right or wrong answer as there is no direct mention of Ace in Doctor Who’s revived series. Even though a ‘possible’ reference exists in The Sarah Jane Adventures, the show is still only a spin-off much like the books and audios, even if it is onscreen. To this author, the various sources don’t really pose that big of a contradiction because the upside to multiple continuities is that you get to pick and use which you accept as canon and which you don’t.
This Author’s Take
The Big Finish series occurred directly after Survival and up until the run-in with Fenric. Ace left the Doctor while on Heaven for three years. I don’t accept the Dalek fighting thing though. I just accept she was away for that time before she started travelling with him and Bernice again. She left for a second time, but I believe it is here that she enrolled in the Academy while the Doctor continued to gain and lose companions as he travelled towards the 1996 movie. Knowing Ace and her lack of discipline, especially in school and towards people in authority, she didn’t last very long in the Academy and found her way back to earth where she settled down and started up the charity organization.
And there you have it. I’m curious as to hear your takes, so don’t be anxious to post. Thanks for reading.