“Would you like a jelly baby?”
For many, Tom Baker is not merely one of the Doctors. In fact, he is not even simply The Fourth Doctor. No, to some, Tom Baker is THE Doctor. The definite article, you might say. Once you’ve experienced a few of his madcap adventures through time and space, it’s easy to understand why.
The longest reigning Doctor to date – his era-spanning seven years from 1974 to 1981 – Tom Baker stands tall as the most iconic, if not the most popular, of all the actors to ever have taken on the role of the Time Lord. From his trademark scarf to his beaming Cheshire cat grin, he exudes character and personality, eating up the screen and stealing the spotlight wherever he goes. A relative unknown at the time of his casting, Tom Baker brought out the alien side of The Doctor like never before, while being full of life and churning out wit at every opportunity. He’s undeniably The Doctor that defines Doctor Who, and without him, the show might have turned out very differently.
What’s more, Tom Baker was arguably holding the keys to the TARDIS when the show was going through a golden age of its most consistently high-quality episodes. Genesis of the Daleks, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, Terror of the Zygons, The Deadly Assassin, City of Death, The Pyramids of Mars… the list of truly classic stories goes on and on, all of them made possible thanks to the unfathomable talent of their lead actor. To attempt to pick just one standout Fourth Doctor moment, let alone a favourite Fourth Doctor serial, would be an impossibly tough challenge – there’s just far too many highlights to choose from.
Even decades on from his departure from the show, Tom Baker continues to entertain those who delve back into the classic series on DVD, and while he famously refused to appear in the twentieth anniversary special The Five Doctors, he couldn’t stay away from Doctor Who forever – his surprise cameo as The Curator in The Day of the Doctor will surely remain as a landmark moment of triumph and nostalgia for the series.
Today, let us celebrate Tom’s 82nd birthday by looking back on the Fourth Doctor’s tenure in the TARDIS, from Robot right up to Logopolis. He’s The Doctor who taught us there’s no point in being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes, and no one embodies that more than Tom Baker himself. Happy Birthday, and may there be many more to come!
Let’s take a moment and go back to 2013 and Tom’s surprise and very welcome appearance in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special – The Day of the Doctor. It still brings a lump to the throat!