The Barren Author is back and Doctor Who's Sophie is heading to Edinburgh

The last time I met Sophie Aldred she was appearing in a play, a two-hander with Tomek Borkowy at the Fringe, having just finished her stint as Doctor Who's travelling companion, Ace.

Sophie Aldred, best known as Ace in Doctor Who, recording The Barren Author
Sophie Aldred, best known as Ace in Doctor Who, recording The Barren Author

Last month, some 31 years later I caught up with the actress, now also a mum of two boys, through the wonders of Zoom, the gateway to the world these days.

Recalling her early visit to the Festival, she told me, "After the show, people would come to the stage door to take photos. Years later, one of those fans came up to me and said, 'All those years ago I came to see you and took a photograph. The film lay in a drawer for years, I've just had it developed, guess who is in the next photograph on the reel...'

"I looked, it was my now husband, street performing on The Mound. This guy had gone from the stage door where he’d taken a photo of me to The Mound, seen Vince and taken a photo of him... Now, this was several years before Vince and I met. Don’t you think that’s weird? Now we come up every summer and we absolutely love it, our two boys know Edinburgh like the back of their hands, it's like our second home."

Richard O'Brien recording The Barren Author

The last time I spoke to Rocky Horror Show creator Richard O'Brien, was shortly after he’d resettled in New Zealand. He too popped up on my computer screen as part of the same Zoom call, which had been arranged by Barnaby Eaton-Lewis, producer of the acclaimed audio drama, The Barren Author, in which both star.

After the success of the first series, inspired by the tales of Baron Munchausen, the character created by Rudolf Erich Raspe in 1785. Richard plays the blustering Brigadier, Sophie, the mysterious Smith. The pair have been reunited for a second run of adventures, yet, bizarrely, this Zoom call is the first time they have actually met, albeit virtually, as with Richard on the other side of the world, both recorded their individual parts in isolation.

“It must have been more difficult for Sophie than it was for me because as I had first crack at it and she had to pose her questions having already heard my answers, which was a very strange way of doing it,” says the man known the world over as Riff Raff, before reflecting that had they been together, the outcome could have been very different.

"Without doubt it would have changed the dynamic. Whether it would have been better or worse is something else but it would have altered."

The Barren Author

Luckily he was pleased when he heard the two recordings woven together. "I was astonished. The finished piece sounds like it has been put together by Radio 4. I was rather impressed.”

That, of course, will come as no surprise to anyone who enjoyed the first series of The Barren Author. Can’t wait to hear the second.Full details of The Barren Author can be found at

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