It’s a triple birthday bonanza today, as we celebrate three stalwarts of the Seventh Doctor era. Whip out your spoons as we play “Happy Birthday” for Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, and the late Anthony Ainley!
Sylvester McCoy turns 74 today. The lovable Scottish actor played The Seventh Doctor from 1987-1989. McCoy was the final Doctor to appear in the original television run. He made his first appearance in Time and the Rani wearing a curly blonde wig in one of the most questionable regeneration sequences to date! McCoy played the part up until Survival, then returned in the 1996 TV movie to regenerate into Paul McGann. Initially a more clown-like interpretation, his Time Lord eventually developed into one of the darkest Doctors yet. During his three-year tenure, he travelled with companions Mel and Ace in memorable adventures including Remembrance of the Daleks.
McCoy has been a regular fixture in conventions and Big Finish since leaving the show. He also teamed up with Fifth Doctor Peter Davison and Sixth Doctor Colin Baker in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Also, did you know? He played Radagast the Brown in Peter Jackson’s trilogy of The Hobbit films too!
Actress Sophie Aldred, who turns 55 today, was cast as the Seventh Doctor’s companion in Doctor Who and debuted in 1987’s Dragonfire. Aldred’s tenure on the show spanned the final nine stories of the show’s original run. She made her last on-screen appearance in 1989’s Survival.
Aldred had a busy career both before and after Doctor Who. She was particularly known for children’s programming and presenting educational programmes. In 1993, she reprised her role as Ace for charity special Dimensions in Time. Ace was due to come back in the 1996 TV movie, but Aldred’s schedule was full at the time. Thankfully, the character has since re-appeared in a number of Big Finish audio stories.
Since then, Aldred has lent her voice to the likes of Bob the Builder, Bananas in Pyjamas, Noddy, and Dennis & Gnasher. She also appeared in Tree Fu Tom alongside Tenth Doctor David Tennant. Most recently, viewers could see her joining in with the 50th anniversary celebrations in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
The Master was a constant thorn in The Doctor’s side, particularly in the regeneration played by Anthony Ainley, who would have been 85 today. Ainley is the longest-serving Master to date (1981-1989) and was only the second actor to recur in the role. He debuted in The Keeper of Traken, where Geoffrey Beevers’ Master takes over the body of Trakenite scientist Tremas (also played by Ainley).
In Logopolis, this devious new Master was responsible for The Fourth Doctor’s regeneration. He continued to cause havoc for the succeeding classic Doctors until the final confrontation in Survival. However, Ainley’s Master has technically squared off against all of the classic Doctors. He encountered the First, Second, and Third in The Five Doctors. He would later also reprise his role for 1997’s Destiny of the Doctors. Sadly, Ainley passed away in 2004 at the age of 71.