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Tom Baker in a 1992 agency publicity photo

Thomas Stewart Baker (born 20th January 1934 Liverpool, England, UK) played the fourth incarnation of the Doctor from 1974 to 1981, beginning with an uncredited appearance at the conclusion of "Planet of the Spiders", continuing from "Robot" to "Logopolis." He later reprised the role in the thirtieth anniversary Children in Need special, "Dimensions in Time" and a series of audiobooks. It is the role with which he remains most associated.


Early life and career

Baker was born in Fountains Road Bootle. His father, John Stewart Baker, was a sailor who was rarely at home, resulting in Tom being raised largely by his mother Mary Jane in her Roman Catholic faith. He left school at 15 to become a novice monk and remained in the monastic life for six years, but left and went into the Merchant Navy, at the same time taking up acting, at first as a hobby. In 1971, he got his first big break with the role of Rasputin in the film Nicholas and Alexandra (which also starred Michael Jayston, who later played the Valeyard). Other early roles for Baker included Lynch in The Mutations, Jenkin in "The Miller's Tale" segment of The Canterbury Tales, and Dr. Ahmed el Kabir in a BBC telelvision version of The Millionairess, co-starring Maggie Smith.

Baker in Doctor Who

In 1974, Baker took on the role of the Doctor from Jon Pertwee. He was cast largely because of his performance as the evil sorcerer Koura in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. Baker was working as a brick hauler on a construction site at the time, as acting jobs were scarce. Initially he was dubbed "Boiler Suit Tom" by the media, as he had been supplied with some old studio set clothes to replace his modest garments at a press conference.

He quickly made the part his own. As the Doctor, his eccentric style of dress and speech — particularly his trademark long scarf and fondness for jelly babies — made him an immediately recognisable figure, and he quickly caught the viewing public's imagination. His decision to move on in 1981 was regretted by many of the programme's fans, and his incarnation is generally regarded as the most popular of the Doctors (his nearest rival not arriving until David Tennant in the 2000s). Baker played the Doctor for seven consecutive seasons over a seven-year period, making him the longest-serving actor in the part.

In the Armageddon Factor, Baker got into arguments with producers over how he should play the Doctor in scenes. Baker was furious with producers over their scripts. But he got along really well with Director Michal Hayes during the filming of the Armageddon Factor. Baker also got along well with Valantine Dyall (The Black Guardian.) Baker got along with John Woodvine, who played the Marshal. The cast Baker got along with, but he got very furious at the crew sometimes, but he was not that hard to work with. In The Hand of Fear, Part Four, Bob Baker and Dave Martin intentionaly left the departue of Elisabeth Sladen untouched. Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen wrote Sladen's departure scene themselves.

When John Nathan-Turner becames producer of Doctor Who in 1981, Baker, Lalla Ward and Christopher H. Bidmead, all angrily protested Nathan-Turner's decisions to take Doctor Who into a different direction. Baker left Doctor Who after 7 seasons after arguments with producers and directors. Baker never liked Nathan-Turner. Tom Baker also hated Matthew Waterhouse and Janet Fielding. The three became friends years later.

In 1981 he married Lalla Ward who had co-starred in Doctor Who (playing his assistant Romana) with him for two years - their marriage lasted only 16 months. In 1985, Baker married Sue Jerrard, who had been an assistant editor on Doctor Who. They moved to a converted school in Maidstone, Kent where they kept lots of cats before emigrating to France in 2002.

Post-Doctor Who career

Baker has played character parts on television (including Captain Redbeard Rum in the second series Blackadder episode "Potato" and Puddleglum in the BBC's production of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair) and radio (including John Mortimer Presents the Trials of Marshall Hall in which Baker plays Britain's most celebrated criminal barrister, Sir Edward Marshall Hall). He also had a significant role in The Life and Loves of a She-Devil.

The popularity of Doctor Who in the US in the mid-1980s led to some work on American television, including the roles of Sir Guy de Gisbourne in The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood, with George Segal and Morgan Fairchild, and a renegade Interpol agent in an episode of Remington Steele.

Baker continued some involvement with Doctor Who in the early 80s, recording audio book versions of several novelisations, including Doctor Who and the State of Decay and Doctor Who and the Brain of Morbius.

He has also hosted the children's literature show The Book Tower. He became mostly known, however, for doing advertising voiceovers. Baker's distinctive voice has become a gift for impressionists, and he is regularly impersonated in the popular comedy series Dead Ringers.

In the 1990s, he played Professor Geoffrey Hoyt in Medics and had a recurring role in the Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer revival of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). (Reeves later bought Baker's school house when he moved to France.) He also had a part in the 2001 BBC Radio 4 version of The Thirty-Nine Steps as Sir Walter Bullivant and narrated the BBC radio comedy series Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World and later Little Britain. He continues to narrate the television series of the same name.

Also in the early 2000s, it was reported that Baker was a candidate for the role of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films, after playing a minor role as a wise elf in the Dungeons & Dragons film.

In 2002 he also had a speaking role in the critically-acclaimed but commercial flop Hostile Waters as the Narrator.

In 2004, Baker completed filming a season of Monarch of the Glen, a BBC drama series. He plays Donald McDonald, an eccentric former race car champion who, having been away since early childhood, returns home after hearing of the death of his brother Hector (who was played by Richard Briers until his departure at the end of the previous season). More recently, he voiced the role of the villain ZeeBadDee in the computer-animated film version of The Magic Roundabout, and played the role of the Captain in the Challenge TV version of Fort Boyard.

He continues to be associated with the Doctor, appearing on documentaries like The Story of Doctor Who and Doctor Who Confidential, giving interviews about his time on the programme. He has also participated in numerous DVD releases of his stories, recording commentaries with his co-stars and on-camera interviews. On the DVD release of his final stories, New Beginnings, Baker is notably candid about his behavior in the final months of his tenure, and the reasons for his departure from the series.

Although he reappeared as the Doctor for the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time, he has, to date, declined to follow his successors and reprise the role for any of the audio dramas based upon the series and produced by Big Finish Productions (although he recently agreed to record some for BBC Audio; see below). Baker had somewhat notoriously rejected reprising the role in the 1983 twentieth-anniversary special, "The Five Doctors," a decision he later said he regretted. Reportedly, the cancelled reunion film The Dark Dimension, proposed for the franchise's 30th anniversary in 1993, would have focused on Baker. An on-screen reference to Baker's Doctor occurs in Doctor Who when Paul McGann as the newly regenerated Eighth Doctor briefly examines a scarf resembling that worn by Baker and later produces a bag of jelly babies, the sweet most associated with Baker.

In a 2005 interview regarding the series revival, Baker suggested that he be cast as the Master, an in-joke referring to his role in the original series. However, he was most likely joking (though in a later interview with Doctor Who Magazine in 2009, Baker states the idea would have been fun to explore).

Despite having been away from the role for close to three decades, the image of Baker as the Doctor continues to serve as a form of visual shorthand when American productions attempt to reference Doctor Who. An animated version of Baker is used in several episodes of The Simpsons that reference Doctor Who; when Paris Hilton participated in a science fiction-related skit on Saturday Night Live a few years ago, she was seen to don Baker's hat and scarf in a reference to the series; and in the Family Guy episode, "Blue Harvest", a Star Wars parody, the opening credits of Tom Baker's era (along with an image of Tom as the Doctor) is used as part of a joke involving jumping to hyperspace.

In 2009, an article on announced that Tom Baker would be willing to reprise his role as the 4th Doctor. This was followed by the announcement that Baker had agreed to reprise the role for a series of five audio dramas for BBC Audio under the umbrella title Hornets' Nest, which will be released during the closing months of 2009. Discounting his one-off cameo in 1993's Dimensions in Time and his voice role in the 1997 video game Destiny of the Doctors, this marks Baker's first serious performance of the role since Logopolis.

Appearance in the Doctor Who Universe

Tom Baker has the distinction of being, to date, the only lead Doctor Who actor to appear within the Doctor Who Universe itself. In the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip TV Action!, a villain named Beep the Meep takes the Eighth Doctor and his companion, Izzy Sinclair on a chase into an alternate universe where they end up at the BBC Television Centre where Baker is taping an episode of Doctor Who. Beep mistakes Baker for the "real" Fourth Doctor and attempts to exact revenge on him for the events depicted in DWM: The Star Beast, but his plans are foiled.


Baker's autobiography entitled Who on Earth is Tom Baker? (ISBN 000638854X) was published in 1997. He has also written a short fairytale-style novel titled The Boy Who Kicked Pigs (ISBN 057119771X), which has been described as "A Grotesque Masterpiece". His first book for children, The Boy Who Forgot to Grow Down, (ISBN 0099349108), was published in 1984. Another was "Never Wear Your Wellies In the House".

Several reference books published in the late 1980s erroneously reported that Baker died of a drug overdose in 1982. Baker does have a reputation, acknowledged in his autobiography, of being a heavy drinker like fellow Doctor actor William Hartnell, and sometimes makes humorous reference to it. In response to the numerous enquiries he gets about his time as the Doctor he often replies, "You will have to excuse me but I was drunk at the time." The confusion over the 1982 date of death arises from the death of an American actor named Tom Baker who died of a drug overdose that year. (That Tom Baker was the friend of another famous drinker, Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors.)

In 1983, The BBC made a 90 minute Doctor Who special entittled: "The Five Doctors." Baker declined to return to play the 4th Doctor as he felt it was too soon to return to the program. (His absence from the special inadvertently lent credence to the mistaken reports of his death.)

Baker had a brief foray into the world of music, providing the monologue to the track Witness to a Murder (Part Two) on the album Six by Mansun. He has also done voice work for the video games Perfect Dark (2000) and Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (2000).

In 1972 he appeared in an edition of the American talk variety programme The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. This predated his Doctor Who involvement; he appeared in regards to his recent appearance in Nicholas and Alexandra. His appearance marked the first time one of Doctor actors had made a major appearance on an American TV programme.

Tom Baker is not directly related to Colin Baker, who played the Sixth Doctor in Doctor Who. According to a magazine special published by Radio Times magazine in 1983 to honor Doctor Who's twentieth anniversary, Jackie Lane, who played Dodo Chaplet on the series in the 1960s, was Tom Baker's agent for a time, and has been credited with getting Baker the audition for Doctor Who.

In 1981, the new wave pop group Human League released a tribute song to the actor entitled "Tom Baker", found on their Travelogue album.

In a poll published by BBC Homes and Antiques magazine in January 2006, Baker was voted the fourth most eccentric star, being beaten by quirky Icelandic singer Bjork, UK boxer Chris Eubank, and alien-conspiracy theorist David Icke.

When former Doctor Who producer Barry Letts (the man who cast Baker in the role he's most famous for) passed away, Baker gave a eulogy at the funeral.

External links

  • Tom Baker at the Internet Movie Database
  • The Official Tom Baker Website
  • - a fan site
  • The One And Only Doctor Number Four - a fan site
  • BBC Online News Item 9th January 2006 concerning the vote for most eccentric star
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Tom_Baker. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the TARDIS Index File, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

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

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