Doctor Who: When the Doctor previously met Ada Lovelace

Sylvie Briggs played Ada Lovelace in Spyfall: Part 2. But another Doctor met Ada, much later in her life...Photo Credit: Ben Blackall/BBC Studios/BBC America
Sylvie Briggs played Ada Lovelace in Spyfall: Part 2. But another Doctor met Ada, much later in her life...Photo Credit: Ben Blackall/BBC Studios/BBC America /

In the epic Doctor Who story Spyfall, the Doctor met the Enchantress of Numbers herself: Ada Lovelace. But it wasn’t the first time that they’ve met…

Last week, the Thirteenth Doctor met Ada Gordon during the second part of Doctor Who‘s Series 12 opener Spyfall. Intelligent and quick-thinking, Ada proved to be a strong temporary companion for the Doctor, even helping her fight back against the Master.

It didn’t take the Doctor long for her to realize that Gordon would later become more well-known as Ada Lovelace, a brilliant mathematician and a genius in computing ahead of her time. But while this was the first time that Ada met the Doctor, this isn’t the first time that she’s appeared in a Doctor Who story.

Just last year, Big Finish Productions released the Fourth Doctor story The Enchantress of Numbers. Part of The Syndicate Master Plan – a grand arc that unfolded across the eighth series of The Fourth Doctor AdventuresThe Enchantress of Numbers was a story that heavily focused on Ada, giving us a deep look at who she was in many ways.

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A more focused story

How does a story like this compare to Spyfall? Well, obviously, they’re extremely different, and not just because of the different mediums. Spyfall is supposed to be a big, epic season opener, taking place across many locations and time zones, with a lot of focus on the battle between the Doctor and the Master.

But Simon Barnard’s and Paul Morris’s script is unsurprisingly smaller, and far more focused on Ada. Not just in story terms, but who she was as a person. The story was keen to explore her flaws as well as her level of intelligence.

For instance, being the daughter of Byron, Ada had inhabited some of her father’s vices, particularly gambling. The story explores her love of it in detail, and as such, makes her feel like a more real and interesting person than the depiction we saw in Spyfall.

More than that – the story reminds us of the tragedy of Ada. There’s a strong focus on the fact that she died young, before she could make as much of an impact as she should have done. With this deep exploration of the historical figure – as well as an intriguing science-fiction story with connections to a major Fourth Doctor serial – The Enchantress of Numbers is an extremely satisfying listen.

Again, to compare it to Spyfall would be unfair, as they’re two very different stories made for very different audiences. But if you’re curious to know more about this intriguing woman after her appearance in Series 12’s opener – while still enjoying a solid Doctor Who story, of course – then The Enchantress of Numbers is highly recommended.

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How well do you think Spyfall handled the inclusion of Ada Lovelace as a character? Have you listened to The Enchantress of Numbers? Which depiction do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.