Sophie Aldred, Doctor Who’s ‘Ace’, exhibition revisited by photographer Steve Cook

Designer and photographer Steve Cook, whose credits include 2000AD, Doctor Who Magazine, Sindy, album covers and band photography, and much, much more, is sharing some fantastic photographs of Doctor Who actress Sophie Aldred on his Secret Oranges substack – images first gathered a decade ago, for an exhibition at London’s Orbital gallery.

“It’s been ten years this month since I celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who,” Steve says, “with an exhibition of long-lost photographs of the Doctor’s much-loved companion, Ace. With Sophie Aldred and Sylvester McCoy in attendance, Orbital Gallery London, hosted the show from September 5th – October 1st 2013.

“I thought I’d share in two parts, some of the photos that didn’t make it onto the walls due to space limitations at the time, among some of the others that did.”

Ace (Sophie Aldred) and the Doctor Sylvester McCoy at Coal Hill School (aka St John's School, Hammersmith), during recording for 1988 story, Remembrance of the Daleks | Photo © Steve Cook
Ace (Sophie Aldred) and the Doctor Sylvester McCoy at Coal Hill School (aka St John’s School, Hammersmith), during recording for 1988 story, Remembrance of the Daleks | Photo © Steve Cook

“Watching Doctor Who is a rite of passage for every child, as it has been since the early 1960s,” says Steve. “Just as the seasons came and went, so did The Doctor. My first memory of him was as the grumpy old man who I really wanted as my own Grandfather. I watched him on telly every week. The Zarbi, the Cybermen and of course the Daleks. How could he defeat them all?!?

“I watched him throughout his first three incarnations, then I stopped, but he continued to inspire me — so when I finally came to work on Doctor Who Magazine in 1985, it was one of those things that your younger self would be so very thankful for.

“At this time I was working for Marvel UK, and I’d just been given the chance to redesign the magazine by its new editor, Sheila Cranna. What it sorely lacked was new photographs, as those in the archives had been so thoroughly overused. Because of my previous job as a freelance photographer, it made sense to me to take my camera along to interviews, set visits and press calls.”

In his post, Steve recalls how, as well as being completely relaxed in front of the camera, Steve did notice Sophie’s slightly fearless nature, which became even more apparent in the dinosaur enclosure at Crystal Palace for a shoot I commissioned as editor of DWM back then, as he watched her scaling those monstrous, life-sized dinosaur sculptures to pose precariously on their various appendages.

(Steve’s many photographs were also used as useful reference shots of the actress by the Magazine’s comic artists, complementing photographs I took of Sylvester during location shooting of Survival, and Alan Jeffries took of Sophie).

“It’s interesting to note that I’d been itching to revisit these dinosaurs since I’d last photographed them as a ten year old, with my very first plastic Diana 110 camera, and here’s that very shot from 1969.

“… Sophie is my most-photographed person of all time,” Steve notes in his post, “so I thought it might be a nice idea, during the Doctor Who anniversary year of 2013, to exhibit a few of the photos that were never published. Luckily, Orbital Gallery in London seemed to think so too – and having shown them the many contact sheets, I set about looking for the negatives to start scanning.

“Hundreds of pages of negatives were thumbed during the search to locate them and to my absolute horror, I couldn’t find them anywhere…”

Find out how the exhibition came together at the eleventh hour, here on Secret Oranges, where Steve will be posting more photographs soon.

• Check out “Secret Oranges”, Steve Cook’s wonderful history tour of his career in comics, music and more over on Substack | Add your email to Subscribe for free!

Doctor Who © BBC | All Photos © 2023 Steve Cook

Categories: British Comics, Comics, Creating Comics, Doctor Who, downthetubes News, Events, Exhibitions, Other Worlds, Television

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