Saturday, August 15, 2009

TOM BAKER reckons he's never stopped being Doctor Who - 28 years after his last adventure.


"There was no last time," he points out. "I am the Doctor."

The 75-year-old may have become a household name to a different generation as the narrator of Little Britain, but to anyone growing up in the Seventies and Eighties, he is to Doctor Who what Sean Connery is to James Bond.

And although it's been almost 30 years since he battled Daleks, Tom is still the most popular Time Lord. Now, the fourth Doctor is back in a series of new audiobooks which will be released next month.


And while Matt Smith, 26, prepares to take on the UK's best sci-fi role when David Tennant relinquishes the keys to the Tardis at Christmas, Tom isn't about to give him any advice.

"Idon't give advice to the young," he revealed."I have often noticed that the young shudder at the sight of the old, so I keep silent."

Although Tom has enjoyed success on Little Britain and as the wonderful Donald Ulysses MacDonald on Monarch of the Glen, it's still as DoctorWho that most remember him.

He was the Doctor between 1974-1981 and is the longest-living incarnation in the show's on-screen history.


Most recently, however, Paisley boy David Tennant has snapped at his heels. But rather than put him down, the veteran is hugely generous in his praise for the Scottish actor.

"David Tennant is a wonderful actor, a huge star," he admitted. "He is young and handsome. I never saw him in that role, but then, I never saw myself as the Doctor either."

Tom took over from Jon Pertwee in 1974 and was working on a construction site at the time.

He was dubbed "Boiler Suit Tom" by the media at the time, as he had been supplied for a press conference with some old studio set clothes to replace his modest garments.

However, Tom soon found an image - with his iconic long scarf, the hat and of course, his curly hair.

While the curly hair is a little flatter and whiter these days, Tom didn't need the rest of his costume to reprise his popular role.


Tom stars in a series of five audio adventures from BBC Audiobooks titled DoctorWho: Hornet's Nest, which also features Rula Lenska as the Hornet Queen, former Coronation Street actress Susan Jameson, and another old DoctorWho face, Richard Franklin, who reprises his role as Captain MikeYates for the series.

It was written by Paul Magrs and is the first full adventure with Tom since Logopolis - a four-parter which ran from February to March 1981 and saw the first appearance by fifth Doctor, Peter Davison.

Tom has been seen as the Doctor twice since then since. He appeared in the 20th Anniversary special The Five Doctors, but only in the form of footage from the uncompleted DoctorWho series Shada, which was never completed due to a BBC strike. Tom also reprised the role for a brief cameo for Children in Need in 1993.

Paul Magrs said: "It feels fantastic to write for Tom again. He's quite unlike any other Doctor.

"He's witty, dangerous, courageous and erudite. He's also the most facetious, but also the most serious when his dander's up.

City of Death

"Tom is very passionate about his Doctor and rightfully protective. I was honoured he wanted to do this series of stories.

"He was engaged in the scripts - he made suggestions and changed things here and there to make it as good as possible."

Of course Tom only has to speak and he's the Doctor and admitted it was "very easy" to get back into playing the character for the first time in 28 years.

"I never went away. I have been standing in the shadows waiting," he pointed out, adding "The hat and scarf are in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art.

"I didn't really have to do anything to the script to make it more like the fourth Doctor."

The new series, which will be available to buy from September 3, sees the Doctor in fighting form.


The action doesn't start in the Seventies when Tom was the Doctor and instead - in typical Time Lord tradition - flicks back and forward through time.

Tom said: "The story starts now, shifts to 1930 then to 1840. It then moves to an eleventh century convent, where my sonic screwdriver caused a sensation."

While there are now three working Doctors, the older actor refuses to be drawn on rumours that all the surviving Doctors will be brought back for a Children in Need special.

If so, Tom would be joined by Scots David Tennant and Sylvester McCoy, 65, who was the seventh Doctor. And, as new Doctor Matt Smith's companion Karen Gillan is also a Scot, does Tom reckon there's something tartan about the Tardis? "The character has lots of links with many places in many time zones." he said.

"Perhaps he could switch accents from time to time.

"But Scotland is a mysterious and strange place, but that's not the only reason we admire the Scots."

Tom has many links with Scotland. He was born in Scotland Road in Liverpool, toured the country with The National Theatre and The Royal Shakespeare Company and also performed at the Edinburgh Festival a handful of times.

And of course, he played that wonderful colourful character in Monarch of the Glen, which was perhaps the one show that helped to dispel those sci-fi tags. He may have played over the top characters such as Captain Redbeard Rum in Blackadder or Wyvern in Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) but admits he has never been able to shake his most famous role.

"It was impossible, I am the character," he said.


Tom revealed it's not just viewers who have taken a shine to him.

While filming Monarch near Newtonmore, in the central Highlands of Scotland, the actor - who has been married three times and has two sons - was plagued by the midges.

Tom said: "The midges adored me. They just couldn't get enough of me. They just ate me up.

"It took me back to my youth," he added with a twinkle.

He is, of course, also known as the voice of Little Britain.


Tom started on the comedy when it was on BBC Radio Four in 2001 and carried on when it made the leap to television.

Thus his unmistakable, booming theatrical voice will always be linked to the David Walliams and Matt Lucas comedy.

Of course, witty quotes such as: "In Paris, Anne is paying a visit to the Louvre. At my age I'm up all night visiting the Louvre" took many by surprise.

He also quoted rap lyrics such as Salt n' Pepa's Push It and House of Pain's Jump Around, while Tom even got to read the continuity announcements on BBC One as part of the launch of the third series of Little Britain in 2005 with lines such as: "In half an hour, Jenny Dickens's classic serial Bleak House. But first, let's see what the poor people are up to in the first of two visits this evening to EastEnders."

Tom said: "It was fun. A new generation of young fans found a chauvinistic old fool funny."

"The lines were all created by Matt Lucas and DavidWalliams. I just said them and the youngsters howled."