Tegan and Ace return to Doctor Who, but where to start? Get clued up before the Centenary special

May 24, 2022 | News



Airing later this year, a host of familiar faces are already confirmed to be returning for the Doctor Who Centenary special. In the post-episode next time trailer that was shown after the pirate-y Easter special Legend of the Sea Devils plenty of the Doctor’s friends and foes made an appearance; from UNIT leader Kate Lethbridge-Stewart to the Daleks, the Lone Cyberman, and the Master.

For fans who’ve only seen post-2005 Doctor Who, this latest trailer likely held a bit of a mystery though, in the form of Tegan and Ace.

Two iconic 80s characters, neither Tegan nor Ace have made an appearance in the modern era of Doctor Who. That’s all set to change later this year. There were multiple shots of both characters in the recent trailer, with the two seen discussing the Doctor on the phone, and then firing machine guns at an unseen enemy.

Fans are already getting excited, as you can see below with this excellent trailer from @GF97Youtuber!

Do you want to know a bit more about Tegan and Ace before they show up again in a few months? Have you been weighing up whether or not to give Classic Who a go? With all seasons currently available on Britbox, which has a 7-day free trial, there’s truly never been a better time for it than now.

If you’re a bit lost on where to start, though, then perhaps this crash course on both characters — plus a story recommendation or two — will help to guide you on your way.

Tegan Jovanka

Tegan is an Australian air hostess. Or, rather, she would be, if the Doctor could ever get her back to Heathrow airport.

On the first day of her new job she stumbles into the TARDIS whilst looking for help with her broken-down car, and is accidentally whisked away before she can even think to protest. In those days, the TARDIS really didn’t work so well, resulting in a whole season of failed attempts to get her home in time for take-off.

Tegan is determined, stubborn beyond belief and she’s never afraid to give the villain of the week — or, in many cases, the Doctor himself — a piece of her mind.

It’s this take-no-crap attitude that endears her to fans, with the character sardonically labelling herself a “mouth on legs”, a moniker that has stuck to the point that Janet Fielding, who plays Tegan, has it as her Twitter handle to this day.

Oh was that Sophie & me in the #drwho trailer. Now that is terrifying.

— Janet Fielding (@jfmouthonlegs) April 17, 2022

Get to know Tegan with these classic Who stories:


Logopolis marks Tegan’s first appearance, but it’s also the Fourth Doctor’s regeneration story and Anthony Ainley’s first run-out as the Master.

If all of that wasn’t enough, these iconic moments are layered against a backdrop of universal destruction on a catastrophic scale, as entropy blots out star systems by the dozen to the tune of the cloister bell ringing out (a plot that almost certainly served as inspiration for Doctor Who’s most recent series, Flux).


Packed with surprises, Earthshock is fast-paced and fantastically claustrophobic all the way through. You can’t talk about this story without mentioning that it features one of the most shocking moments in Doctor Who history, though. Rarely before or since has the Doctor’s fallibility been so ruthlessly exposed, with far-reaching and tragic consequences…

Resurrection of the Daleks

When the TARDIS is pulled off course by a time corridor, the Doctor discovers the Daleks at the other end of it. It soon becomes apparent why they’re there — to resurrect their creator, Davros. Yet even the Daleks could never suspect what his true motives are.

Resurrection of the Daleks is thrilling, blood-soaked, and massacre-heavy. It’s absolutely everything a Dalek story should be. For Tegan, though, what she undergoes here is monumental, and her life will never be the same again.

Honourable mentions: Kinda, Arc of Infinity, Mawdryn Undead, The King’s Demons.

Dorothy ‘Ace’ McShane

She’s got a nickname, a cool jacket, and — no matter how much he may protest — she calls the Doctor ‘Professor’. If that’s not enough to convince you that Ace is an absolute maverick, her backpack is filled with explosives, and she’s carrying a bazooka. It’s not hard to see why fans are excited for her to return, is it?

These days, Ace tends to be seen as the archetype for the modern companion. She often takes centre stage over the Doctor, her backstory is important to the narrative, and she has a bisexual streak that would’ve been a lot less subtextual had the BBC censors not got their hands on it and forced the creators to tone it down.

Get to know Ace with these classic Who episodes:

Remembrance of the Daleks

It’s 1963, and the Doctor’s just remembered that he’s left a star-destroying superweapon hidden somewhere on earth. Doh!

When he goes back to get it, who’s there waiting for him? You guessed it.

The Daleks have got problems of their own, though. They’re busy fighting a civil war, which means one thing and one thing only — loads of Dalek battles.

For good reason, this story is frequently recommended as a way of getting people into Classic Who. It’s very close in feel to 2005-2010 Doctor Who, and is a veritable catalogue of unforgettable moments; from one of the Doctor’s most iconic speeches to Ace beating up a Dalek with a baseball bat.

The Curse of Fenric

During World War II, an ancient entity previously imprisoned by the Doctor — the titular Fenric — is released back into the world, and with him, he brings upsetting truths about Ace’s past. Tense, creepy, and atmospheric, this story makes excellent use of its villain and its coastal setting, whilst also featuring an emotional exploration of Ace’s troubled history.


In the final story of Doctor Who’s original run, Ace returns home to Perivale where she finds that her friends have been going missing. She soon discovers that they’ve been abducted to a far-off planet that is on the brink of destruction.

If that wasn’t bad enough, their minds are being stolen from them by a virus, and the planet is inhabited by a race of Cheetah-people who wish to hunt them for sport.

Such an out-there premise in many ways, and yet what materialises from it is a really fun story that is elevated even further by its status as Classic Who’s swansong.

Honourable mentions: The Happiness Patrol, Battlefield.

Are you excited for the Centenary special? What are your thoughts on Ace and Tegan’s return? Let us know over on Twitter.

By Louanne Weldon

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