The Search for Simon: Interview: Sophie Aldred

AldredBest known to genre fans for her portrayal of Ace opposite Sylvester McCoy’s seventh Doctor – a role she has played since 1987 – Sophie Aldred mainly works in voiceovers nowadays, notably alongside David Tennant in Tree Fu Tom. However, she was enticed to appear in front of the camera for the new British science fiction comedy, The Search for Simon, as she explained to Paul Simpson…

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How did you get involved?

It’s a funny story. I’d been doing a course, a self-development course, and walked in to go and help out, and there was this guy who had been in a play with Sylvester [McCoy] at The Old Red Lion. Jonathan was brilliant in this play, and he said he was so glad he’d seen me since a friend of his was just coming to the end of making this film, and there was a part in it which he thought I’d be really good for. Was I interested?

I haven’t really done anything in vision for a long time and I just thought, hang on a minute, this sounds like a bit of a laugh. I’d like to help out somebody, whatever I can do. It would be a day of my time. So I rang up Martin [Gooch, the director] and he sounded really great. He told me a little bit about the film and sent me the script, which I loved. I thought it was very funny and very different. It’s not run of the mill. He explained how he made it, and, to be honest, I so admire this sort of entrepreneurism, and he’s actually managed to make a feature length film for practically nothing, I said, of course I will.

9893153693_28107b9323_hMartin was very enthusiastic about the film when we spoke, and he mentioned that you wanted your character name changed…

Yes, that’s right. Originally he had conceived the character being American, so she had what I thought was an American name. I thought I wasn’t going to play it like that, and it didn’t really suit what I thought of a hardnosed head of this organisation, so we came up with different names. It just suited it better.

Have you seen the final film?

I haven’t seen this version; I saw the previous version at the BFI. He had a little showing there. I was so impressed. Again, this budget of nothing, he’s managed to get this really off the wall thing going. Great fun.

It was very funny seeing myself on the big screen after so long, and I’m playing a very different character. It was fun seeing how much older I am of course now. But that’s fine – it’s getting used to seeing yourself looking a bit different. And it was very harsh lighting.

I remembered I initially wanted to be an actress because I wanted to do mad character parts, so for me, this was like a dream come true.

Has it ignited a desire to do a bit more screen work?

Yes it has, actually. I’m not actively going after it; I haven’t even got a theatrical agent these days, just my voiceover agent, but if anyone wants to give me a job, I’m very open to talking about it.

AceYou’re still of course well known as Ace from Doctor Who; have you heard the Big Finish special story, The Light at the End yet?

I haven’t heard the final product, no. I just went in to do my bit, and I’m waiting to hear it.

Are you going to be involved with other stuff around the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who?

We’re just talking about the Excel big do; dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s there. That’s hopefully on the cards. Conventions and signings and so on. The Big Finish thing is the big thing for the classic Doctor Who. For the special, you’d have to get so many people into it if you were going to get the fans and everybody happy – I think Steven Moffat has obviously decided to stick with the new lot.

And add to the mythology to get the next generation excited…

Yes, that’s who it’s really for. Obviously the new series is fantastic; I love it. Watching it with my son, he doesn’t really care what Tom Baker was doing in the 1970s. It holds up on its own.

The Search for Simon premieres tonight at the Vue, Piccadilly.

The Light at the End can be ordered here from Big Finish 

Thanks to Louise Rivers for her help in organising this interview

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