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Fourth Doctor
Also known as: Lord President, President-Elect
Race: Gallifreyan (Time Lord)
Home Planet: Gallifrey
Home Era: Rassilon Era
Appearances: Full List of Appearances
Actor: Tom Baker
"I'm a Time Lord...I'm not a human being; I walk in eternity..."
―The Doctor





The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith (DW: Robot)
"Oh please, don't call me Human. Just "Doctor" would do very nicely, thank you."
―The Doctor to the Cyberman

Having regenerated for a third time, the Doctor seemed to be in a hurry to leave Earth, but was eventually persuaded to stay and help Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart deal with Think Tank and their K1 robot. Afterwards, he took Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan to travel with him in the TARDIS. (DW: Robot)

In the midst of another adventure, a Time Lord appeared to the Doctor and offered him a mission, to intervene in the creation of the Daleks: either to prevent it, or to induce the Daleks to develop into less dangerous creatures. (DW: Genesis of the Daleks)

This set into motion a series of events that would eventually lead to open war between Daleks and Time Lords and the destruction of Gallifrey itself.

Upon his return to Earth and the defeat of the Zygons, Harry decided to remain behind on Earth. (DW: Terror of the Zygons)

The Doctor had begun, even more so with this regeneration, to break his ties with Earth. However, despite intending to resign from UNIT (DW: Pyramids of Mars), the Doctor never formally left his position as their unpaid scientific adviser. (DW: The Sontaran Stratagem)

Return to Gallifrey

"That's monstrous! Vaporisation without representation is against the constitution!"
―The Doctor

After many adventures together, the Doctor received a telepathic summons from Gallifrey and returned Sarah to Earth (DW: The Hand of Fear), though mistakenly, not to her home in South Croydon but to Aberdeen. (DW: School Reunion)

On Gallifrey, the Doctor defeated the Master and renewed his acquaintance with his former teacher Borusa. He also re-experienced, to his disgust, the decadence of Time Lord civilization. (DW: The Deadly Assassin).

The Doctor travelled for an unknown period of time alone following his departure from Gallifrey.

New friends

The Doctor and Leela (DW: Image of the Fendahl)
"Now drop your weapons, or I'll kill him with this deadly jelly baby!"
―The Doctor

Visiting a nameless jungle world, he made the acquaintance of Leela of the Sevateem. (DW:The Face of Evil) The Doctor was seen to travel alone and returning to a planet he had visited centuries before. During his previous visit, he had accidentally imprinted a Human colony ship's powerful computer, Xoanon, with his own mind, leaving it with multiple personalities.

On his second visit the Doctor was remembered as an evil god by the descendants of the colonists, some of whom had become a warrior tribe called the Sevateem. After the Doctor cures the computer, one of the Sevateem, Leela, joins him on his travels (DW:The Face of Evil). The Doctor brought the intelligent but uneducated Leela to many locations in human history, teaching her about science and her own species' past. In Victorian London, the pair encounters the magician Li Hsien Chang and his master, the self-styled Weng-Chiang (DW:The Talons of Weng-Chiang). Later, the Doctor and Leela visit the Bi-Al Foundation medical centre, where they acquire the robot dog K-9 (DW:The Invisible Enemy).

Lord President of Gallifrey

"Guard of honour? You're not fit to guard a jelly baby! Would you like a jelly baby?"
―The Doctor's love for jelly-babies

Returning once more to Gallifrey and, posing as vainglorious and power-mad, the Doctor sought and attained the office for Lord President as part of a scheme to save his home world from an invasion force of two separate enemies, the Vardans and the Sontarans. Leela decided to remain on Gallifrey with K-9 and Andred, a Gallifreyan in the Chancellory Guard. However, the Doctor left the Capitol with K-9, Mark II, in a crate (DW: The Invasion of Time).

The Doctor and K-9 Mark II spent an indeterminate period of time together. However, in the next episode, DW: The Ribos Operation, he appeared to be activating K-9 Mark II, giving the implication only that no significant time had elapsed since leaving Gallifrey.

Quest for the Key to Time

The White Guardian summoned the Doctor to initiate a quest to locate and assemble the segments of the Key to Time. For this purpose, the White Guardian introduced him to a new companion, Romana (DW: The Ribos Operation).The Doctor and Romana located, assembled and disassembled the Key, and to escape the wrath of the White Guardian's opposite, the Black Guardian, the Doctor installed a randomiser in the TARDIS console (DW: The Armageddon Factor). Afterwards, Romana regenerated (DW: Destiny of the Daleks), and the two, along with K-9, continued to travel together.

The Doctor, Romana and K-9 Mark II spent an indeterminate period of time together, potentially quite long given the Doctor and Romana's longevity as Time Lords.


The Doctor spent some time trapped a pocket universe called E-Space (DW: Full Circle), during which he obtained a new companion, Adric (DW: Full Circle). The Doctor eventually found a way to leave E-Space, however which Romana and K-9 chose to stay behind (DW: Warriors' Gate).

Romana's departure left the Doctor increasingly morose and of dark mood (DW: The Keeper of Traken), a state of mind that remained for the remainder of this incarnation.


"The Master's already at work on Logopolis. I'm going to stop him if it's the last thing I do."
―The Doctor
Seconds before his regeneration

The Doctor entered into battle against the Master, who had reconstituted himself. During the battle he picked up two companions, Tegan Jovanka and Nyssa of Traken. While struggling with his enemy, the Doctor fell off the Pharos Project radio telescope down to the ground hundreds of feet below. The mysterious entity known as the Watcher, which had been tracking him through time and space, then merged with him and he regenerated. (DW: Logopolis)

For a list of Fourth Doctor stories in the order in which he experienced them, see Fourth Doctor - Timeline.


The Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa (DW: Logopolis)

As with previous incarnations, the Doctor traveled with a number of companions. These included Sarah Jane Smith, Harry Sullivan, Leela, K-9 (later he built K-9 Mark II), Romana (sent to assist the Doctor by the White Guardian), Adric, Nyssa of Traken, and Tegan Jovanka. Others who have aided him in his adventures included Borusa, the Brigadier, John Benton and Rodan.



"Madame Nostradamus made it for me. A witty little knitter."
―The Doctor on his scarf

In stark contrast to the elegant, refined figure of his third incarnation, the Doctor was an unkempt, awkward-looking figure, dressed in battered clothing and an impossibly long multi-coloured scarf, knit for him by Madame Nostradamus. (DW: Robot). His dark curly hair was often partially hidden by a large floppy hat. His appearance is arguably the most famous of any of the Doctor's incarnations. Professor Marius remarked that the Doctor looked like a "space vagrant" DW: The Invisible Enemy)

His pockets sometimes seem to be as dimensionally transcendental as the TARDIS itself, and the array of items he carries include a galactic passport (DW: Robot), a cricket ball (DW: The Ark in Space, The Hand of Fear), a yo-yo, a selection of books, including his 500 Year Diary (DW: The Sontaran Experiment), Oolon Caluphid's Origins of the Universe and a Tibetan language handbook (DW: The Creature from the Pit: apparently his ability to understand Tibetan was lost when he regenerated from his previous form), a magnifying glass, gemstones, handcuffs, an etheric beam locator (which also detects ion-charged emissions: (DW: Genesis of the Daleks), a picklock (DW: Pyramids of Mars), a football rattle, a magician's cane (DW: The Hand of Fear), a clockwork egg-timer (DW: The Face of Evil), a breathing tube, a barrister's wig, and an instant camera (DW: City of Death). On one occasion (DW: The Power of Kroll), he even drops a cup containing a hot beverage into his pocket. He also carries a seemingly endless supply of Jelly Babies.


"I'm only 749. Used to be even younger."
―The Doctor to Moberly

Whilst on Earth the Doctor stated his age to be 749 years. He considers that his other incarnations were much younger than himself. (DW: The Seeds of Doom) It has not yet been stated what age he was when he regenerated.

Psychological profile


The Doctor eats a jelly baby (DW: The Sun Makers)
"I'm a very dangerous fellow when I don't know what I'm doing."
―The Doctor.

This incarnation was most definitely not Human, and stood apart from others, even most of his own people. (DW: The Deadly Assassin, The Invasion of Time)

When Sarah upbraided him over his callousness at the sight of Laurence Scarman killed by the animate corpse of his own brother, the Doctor reminded her of the larger issue of stopping Sutekh. (DW: Pyramids of Mars). His mind was often leaps ahead of anyone, including himself. He delighted in keeping both friends and foes alike off guard with oddball humour and curious pranks, as in his second incarnation. Although generally peace-loving and kind-hearted, as per most of his other incarnations, the Doctor could also react with sudden violence when necessary; he was also not against taking a life in extreme circumstances (DW: The Brain of Morbius, The Ribos Operation).

He could judge character keenly, almost instantly whether knowing who to trust or seeing through Unstoffe's faux guilelessness (DW: The Ribos Operation). Out of all the Doctor's selves, this incarnation had perhaps the most consistently anti-authoritarian attitude, having little tolerance for religious dogma (DW: The Brain of Morbius, Underworld, The Stones of Blood, The Power of Kroll) or nationalism (DW: Robot, The Armageddon Factor). The Doctor often played the fool to lull his opponents, such as Count Scarlioni, into underestimating him though it did not work in that case. (DW: City of Death)

Despite his charm and offbeat humour, the Doctor is arguably more aloof and sombre than his previous incarnations. He could become intensely brooding, serious and even callous, and would keenly scrutinise his surroundings even when playing the fool. He could also be furious with those he saw as stupid, frivolous, misguided or evil. When taking charge, he could be considered authoritative to the point of egocentricity, but as it is, he is usually the only one capable of solving the situations he finds himself in. He generally maintained his distance from the Time Lords even after they had lifted his exile, and resented that they were now capable of re-entering his life when they deemed it necessary. Not only did he seem more inclined toward a solitary existence (DW: The Deadly Assassin), he also emphasised his distance from humanity, although he stated on more than one occasion that he found mankind to be his favourite species.

Unlike his third incarnation, this Doctor did not have a close working relationship with UNIT or The Brigadier, reacting with anger when UNIT recalled him to Earth (DW: Terror of the Zygons). Except for this and a handful of other occasions, the Doctor kept his distance from UNIT (even at the expense of abandoning his predecessor's beloved roadster, Bessie), and later incarnations have never reestablished the same rapport that existed between the Doctor and UNIT before his fourth incarnation.

As the youngest-appearing incarnation at the time, the Doctor found himself drawing closer to some of his companions than he might have previously, in particular with Sarah Jane Smith, whom it was later implied (though never stated) may have fallen in love with him (DW: School Reunion). If any of his other female companions felt the same way, the Doctor through intent or quirk of personality, did not appear to notice, and he likewise tended not to display such feelings himself, even when accompanied by the often scantily clad Leela, although during one adventure he acknowledged the fact that Romana was attractive (DW: The Pirate Planet), although he was more likely to make remarks such as telling Countess Scarlioni, "You're a beautiful woman ... probably." (DW: City of Death)

Habits and Quirks

The Doctor and Romana (DW: City of Death)
"There's no point being grown-up if you can't be childish sometimes."
―The Doctor

Souvenirs from many different worlds littered his pockets. (DW: Robot, Genesis of the Daleks). He would sometimes relax by playing with a yo-yo and liked to drink ginger beer (DW: The Android Invasion).

He would often have with him and offer jelly babies as a greeting, and while past and future incarnations would also show occasional fondness for the sweet, it is most closely associated with this version of the Doctor. In his later life he developed a great fondness for tinkering about in his TARDIS. He relied upon his sonic screwdriver at least as much as in his previous incarnation.

He was also not adverse to winding up his companions on occasion; such as once fooling Leela into standing and playing with a yo-yo for an extended period of time, with her believing it was an experiment. (DW: The Robots of Death) On another occasion, he caused Romana to nearly panic when he pretended to become possessed by the Black Guardian (DW: The Armageddon Factor).

Mysteries and Discrepancies

Unrecorded adventures

The Doctor occasionally adjusted his costume to fit his surroundings
  • Presumably by himself, the Doctor visited Leela's home planet, encountered the supercomputer Xoanon and inadvertently installed in him a program copied from his own personality (DW: The Face of Evil).
We do not know at what time in the Fourth Doctor's life this event could have occurred or the reason why, later, he would fail to remember his adventure. One theory for the amnesia explains that this adventure as happening very early in his life, when he still suffered from post-regenerative trauma, possibly during the incident described below when he temporarily leaves following his regeneration.
The possibility that he had done these actions in his future might be the reason he can not remember. Time is relative, so it's possible he had imprinted Xoanon later on in this incarnation. Knowing this the Doctor would not disrupt his own timeline and make sure he tampers with the Computer. When this occurs is still unknown.
  • After his regneration the Doctor was delirious and placed in a UNIT sickbay. He escaped in the TARDIS, appearing to abandon Sarah Jane on Earth. He then returns, a little more stable.
  • There are conflicting accounts surrounding some of the Doctor's activities circa 1979 involving Professor Chronotis, due to an incomplete surviving record of the events (DW: Shada) which may have been due in part to the Doctor being briefly abducted by Borusa's timescoop at around the same time (DW: The Five Doctors). Whether these events actually occurred, in a different timestream, or in fact occurred to a later incarnation remain unknown(WC: Shada) .

Key Life Events

Behind the scenes


Actors considered for the role of the Fourth Doctor included Michael Bentine, Bernard Cribbins, Graham Crowden and Fulton Mackay. Tom Baker was cast based on his role as the villain Koura in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.


Painting of Aristide Bruant by Lautrec, which inspired the Doctor's famous look

According to the creators of the show and Baker, the character's look was originally based on paintings and posters by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec of his friend, Aristide Bruant, a singer and nightclub owner whose trademark was a black cloak and long red scarf [1].

When John-Nathan Turner became the show's producer in Baker's last year, the Fourth Doctor was the first to sport an item of clothing adorned with red question marks as a motif, in this case above the points on his shirt collars. His coat and scarf were changed to a burgundy color scheme.

Fan Speculation

Since the Fourth Doctor was the youngest yet and, as such, closer in age to his companions, the Tom Baker era was the first in which concern was expressed of possible "hanky panky in the TARDIS" (a term often used in the tabloid press to suggest the impression of off-screen dalliances between the various Doctors and their young, female companions).

Perhaps to address this, according to the Information Text commentary on the 2007 DVD release of The Stones of Blood, Baker tried to emphasize the asexuality of the character or at least his version of the character, given that William Hartnell's Doctor actually entered into a brief romance with another character in The Aztecs, while Jon Pertwee's Doctor exhibited romantic tension (not to be confused with sexual tension) with companions Jo Grant and Sarah Jane Smith, the latter carrying over into Baker's era.

Despite this, Baker was not above tossing in occasional visual jokes that suggested sexual tension. For example, in The Stones of Blood the Doctor and Romana have to huddle close in order to be within the confines of a transporter beam and enter what would, in normal circumstances, be seen as a romantic clinch, but neither character appears to recognise this.

In popular culture

The Doctor
The Fourth Doctor's distinctive appearance and manner have made him a target for affectionate parody. The character has appeared several times on The Simpsons and twice on Robot Chicken. Even once in "Hugo 2 : Whodunnit?", a computer game where the player's character can save Tom Baker's Doctor from a Dalek and in return he gives you his infamous screwdriver.

He is frequently impersonated by impressionist Jon Culshaw on the radio and television series Dead Ringers. Even Barney Miller had an episode featuring an eccentric man claiming to be a time-traveller, and wearing a long striped scarf. Archival footage of the Fourth Doctor's first title sequence was also used in the Family Guy episode "Blue Harvest" to represent and parody Star Wars hyperspace.

Tom Baker, as the narrator of the series Little Britain, has referenced Doctor Who. He also appears in Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday — a stage play that opened two weeks before Baker began his tenure as the Doctor. In the play, Trevor Martin plays an alternate version of the Fourth Doctor.

In the book "Return of the Bunny Suicides", a there is a scene in which a bunny sits on top of the TARDIS with a noose around its neck as the Fourth Doctor runs into it, being chased by a Dalek.

Peter Jackson wore a similar costume to the Fourth Doctor's costume when he played Derek in his film Bad Taste.

External links

  • Fourth Doctor's theme music
  • Fourth Doctor title sequence
The incarnations of the Doctor
Companions of the Fourth Doctor
Sarah Jane Smith  • Harry Sullivan  • Leela  • K-9 Mark I  • K-9 Mark II  • Romana (first incarnation)  • Romana (second incarnation)  • Adric  • Tegan Jovanka  • Nyssa
Other media
Sharon Davies  • Mike Yates


  1. BBC - Doctor Who - A Brief History of a Time Lord

This article uses material from the "Fourth Doctor" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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