JBlogtor Who wishes a happy 85th birthday to possibly the most iconic Doctor of them all: Tom Baker!
Today marks the 85th birthday of Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor. Still beloved by generations as their Doctor, Baker transformed Doctor Who during his unmatched seven seasons in the role. Born in Liverpool in 1934 into an Irish Catholic family, Baker originally sought a vocation as a monk. As this, he quickly realized, mainly involved smelling of cheap soap and trying to avoid eye contact, decided to leave the monastery for the next best thing… the stage. After spells in National Service and the Merchant Navy, he paid his dues at the National Theatre. It was there he discovered a previously unknown superpower to drink any other actor, living or dead, under the table. After his role as the villainous Prince Koura in Ray Harryhausen’s The Golden Voyage of Sinbad impressed Doctor Who producer Barry Letts, he was cast as Jon Pertwee’s replacement as the Doctor.
Despite being the fourth actor to play the role he succeeded in redefining the character in his own image. BBC Enterprises sold Baker’s tenure as the Doctor in 74 countries. He was also the first Doctor to truly break America, thanks to the series being shown on PBS there. So complete was Baker’s association with the role that when he left the BBC ran a special repeat season. It’s purpose was simply to remind viewers that there had ever been Doctors other than him.
In the thirty-eight years since he left the role, fans’ love for Baker has barely dimmed
Initially reluctant to make return visits to the role (he famously declined to appear in 20th Anniversary special The Five Doctors) in 2012 he joined Big Finish for The Fourth Doctor Adventures, now on its eighth series. He also starred in their 50th Anniversary multi-Doctor audio play The Light at the End. Meanwhile, the same year he played the mysterious Curator, hinted as being a future incarnation of the Doctor himself. This appearance in 50th Anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor drawing massive cheers in cinemas simulcasting it.
Outside of Doctor Who, Baker appeared in the BBC adaptation of Narnia adventure The Silver Chair, The Book Tower and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) among many others. He was also the narrator of Little Britain, the comedy creation of future Nardole actor Matt Lucas and David Walliams. He once claimed mainly got his later jobs by being hired by producers that had been fans of his as children.
He’s also written three books. The candid and funny autobiography Who on Earth is Tom Baker? was followed by darkly comic fable The Boy Who Kicked Pigs and this year by his first Doctor Who novel Scratchman.
Baker has recorded a special message on Facebook to his fans to mark his 85th birthday.
So, from all here at Blogtor Who: Happy birthday to the Guv’nor himself: Tom Baker! (And, yes, we’ve bought our copies of Scratchman, Tom).