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The Doctor Who Interviews: Tom Baker
I LIKED DOCTOR WHO
BECUASE IT WAS
FUN, FUN, FUN!
By Tom Baker
I was terribly out of work when I got the Doctor Who job. I was
temporarily on a building site when the BBC asked me. A few weeks later
some of the men went out to buy the racing edition of the Standard
and there was my picture on the front page. The BBC had told me not to
tell anyone. Thos men just couldn't believe it, their cement mixer
becoming Doctor Who.
Adjusting to the role was not easy to begin with. I had to remember
that I did not have an existence as Tom Baker. Apart from my close
friends and colleagues, everybody called my the Doctor. Even children
in push-chairs pointed at me in the street. I became very aware that
they were not looking at Tom Baker, but at this image they had of the
character. It was important to me, therefore, that I never disappoint
people, especially children. I would never be seen being raucous in
the streets or smoking cigars.
One of my surprising things about playing that Doctor was the range of
the audience. Although I first thought of it as a children's programme,
not a childish programme I hasten to add, there was also a bug adult
audience. I was astonished to be invited to places like St. John's and
Somerville Colleges at Oxford and I spoke to absolutely packed halls. If I
had accepted all the invitations I received I could have been going to
universities three or four times a week!
I went to one of the Doctor Who conventions in Los Angeles. These
people were coming up with theories about the Doctor I could not
understand. I asked them what they wanted and they all wanted the same
thing. Would I take them with me in the TARDIS? It was very strange.
Another occasion, I remember, I was returning with a colleague from
Blackpool on a Saturday afternoon and I wanted to see the episode being
shown that day. So we stopped at a televsion shop and asked if we could
watch the programme. The assistant said she was just closing, but we
could go to her house nearby and see it. When we got there we found her
two children glued to the programme which had just started. I sat down
quietly. Suddenly one of the children looked across at me. The he looked
back at the set. The he looked back at me again. He couldn't believe
The Doctor isn't really an acting part. It's a matter of being inventive
enough to project credibility to scenes which aren't credible. The
programme is like a hovercraft - on a fine line all the time. You don't
dare touch the ground. I think it must have been the part of the Doctor
that kept me fresh and young. All that fantasy is good for the mind,
In the end it was not hard to leave the programme. I felt it in my
finger-tips that the time had come to move over and give someone else
a chance. There was nothing more I could do with it. I really like Doctor
Who becuase it was all fun, fun, fun! There's so much nastiness in the
world, so much violence and horrow, I want to keep away fro ir, bury
myself in make-believe.
I think the biggest bores in the hero business are James Bond, Kojak,
Callan and footballers. They're non-people who do nothing but kick other
people. One wouldn't want to have them round for tea. the Doctor doesn't
shoot anybody, drink, beat up women, but somehow he has a heroic appeal
I am very please and proud to have been a little part of history.
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