'Doctor Who' star Sophie Aldred says it was the "fan love of the programme" that eventually led to the show returning to TV.

Sophie Aldred with her Death In Venice co-stars Steven Kavuma, Safiyya Ingar and Paul Clayton

Sophie Aldred with her Death In Venice co-stars Steven Kavuma, Safiyya Ingar and Paul Clayton

The 60-year-old actress played companion Ace opposite Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy in the sci-fi series from 1987 to 1989, making her the Time Lord's final TARDIS co-traveller before the classic series was taken off air.

'Doctor Who' eventually returned to BBC One in 2005, after 16 years off-air, with Russell T Davies bringing the adventures back with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor.

During the wilderness years, fans were able to get their 'Doctor Who' fix through books and the audio stories created by Big Finish Productions, and Sophie is grateful that fan demand led to the resurrection of the television series.

She is certain that without the mediums that kept the characters alive she doesn't think the BBC would have re-commissioned it because there would have been no measuring stick to gauge how popular 'Doctor Who' still was.

Speaking to BANG Showbiz, she said: "It all came from that fan love of the programme. Without a doubt it was people like Big Finish who kept 'Doctor Who' alive. I very much doubt it would have come back without them. That’s because it kept the fans going, there was new material. It would have just collapsed in on itself had it not been for the books, the audios, the spin-off film, the company that was doing interview tapes and things like that.

"The people behind Big Finish were fans who were also professionals who had also dabbled a bit in writing themselves. People like Mark Gatiss, Russell T Davies and Steven Moffatt and it gave them a platform as well. It gave them a chance and it gave us a chance to do some really good work that we loved doing, it was a real win win all around and it really kept things going for 'Doctor Who'."

Sophie has portrayed Ace in numerous Big Finish audio stories and has reprised her role once again in new adventure 'Torchwood: Death In Venice', written by James Goss, directed by Steven Kavuma and also starring Paul Clayton as Mr. Colchester and Safiyya Ingar as Elena.

The science-fiction icon loves what Big Finish has done with her alter ego and has praised Goss for developing Ace whilst maintaining her "gung ho" spirit from the classic series.

Sophie said: "I love working on the Torchwood Big Finish stories, it was such a surprise to be asked to do them. Paul Clayton is such a great actor to work with. We’ve done two now and we have such a great time making them.

"James Goss writes so well for both our characters, and in particular I love how he writes for Ace, it’s exactly how I think Ace would’ve have ended up. She’s slightly laconic, she’s still kind of gung ho, and this story 'Death In Venice' is quite a James Bond type story. You’ve got Ace whizzing around and there’s a bit in a cable car and there’s all sorts of adventurous stuff.

"I think Big Finish is always led the way with that, it’s been amazing to see the quality of the writing and the quality of the post-production. The thing about Big Finish for a listener is great because you are adding your imagination to the script, to the characters, to everything, you can literally can go anywhere, anywhere in time, anywhere in space, and the post production is superb because that enhances this whole brilliant experience for the listener."

Sophie will be seen as Ace in the upcoming centenary special, 'The Power Of The Doctor', in what will be Jodie Whittaker's final episode as the Thirteenth Doctor.

'Torchwood: Death In Venice' is available to own for just £10.99 (collector’s edition CD + download) or £8.99 (digital download only), exclusively from the Big Finish website (Bigfinish.com).

Big Finish listeners can save money by purchasing this title in a six-release bundle for just £60 (collector’s edition CD + download) or £50 (download only). Alternatively, a twelve-release bundle is available from £94.