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Tom Baker, the real Dr. Who, took role because he was broke (1984)

1984-04-25 Southern Illinoisan p2.jpg

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An avid Doctor Who fan might compare the personality of Tom Baker versus the role, but when asked to do so, even he cannot answer that question.

Instead, he allows the audience to make up a version of the private Tom Baker, "Surely after awhile, some kind of picture begins to emerge."

In the personal interview he confessed. "The heart-stopping thing as I jump on the stage is how the audience is going to be and what they're going to ask me and then I rely on them...1 hope they bring out the best. Or, well something in me. They do seem to laugh a lot, don't they?"

Baker's spontaneity kept the presentation audiences more than amused. Someone asked him what he would have been. had he not been an actor. He referred back to the years he spent in a monastery.

"I was always an actor really. I think when I was in the monastery I thought it was a play. But I found the chastity hard to put up with. I didn't mind the poverty. I didn't mind the obedience. But the chastity weighed on me and really weighed on me. 'til in the end I found myself walking like that..." He slouched his shoulders. "Can you imagine why I walked like that?" A girl burst into suggestive giggles. "You should be locked up he said as he threw her a sideways glance.

Fans should soon have three chances to see Baker as someone other than Doctor Who. As the great detective in "Hound of the Baskervilles", showing on cable TV this month, he found Sherlock Holmes amazing but a monster, "I became very fond of the man who played Watson. Any time I had to be off hand or rude to him it used to break my heart."

He is also in "Robin Hood", a movie CBS might eventually air, and he joked, "They're all so amazed by it they just can't decide to release it."

His guest appearance on Remington Steele May 15 as a 'dognapper' may be a surprise for those accustomed to Baker only as the Doctor.

Since his Doctor portrayal is current here, Baker is still asked why he decided to take the role. To this he responded, "Because I was out of work and because I was broke!"

Now he has more freedom to choose parts and "to some extent you are responsible for this," he credited United States fans.

I asked him if he will be moving to America "If the right work was here I would move to the United States for part of the year, yes. of course I would." He added. "I wouldn't quite know where to go really." He thinks Los Angeles likely because it is located near the movie and television industry, but has yet to consider opportunities in theater in other areas such as St. Louis.

With such popularity, I wondered if he was overworked. "No — I long to be overworked. I don't know what. in my profession, people mean by being overworked. I'm not at all sure actually, that I consider acting working."

He is being considered for a part in a future television series, "Mountbatten" which would be filmed in India "But constantly my hopes are aroused and then dashed, so I can't get too serious about it."

With all this travel on his possible agenda, I asked if he might feel a conflict or miss home. "My home is wherever there's any kind of excitement, actually. I could quite easily do it for weeks and weeks and weeks as long as I was living in a state of ecstasy and optimism."

On the subject of his health, he told me, "A few months ago I had a film medical examination for insurance purposes. The doctors were quite scandalized about how fit I was, considering how bauly I behave... Yes, my health is marvelous, I think — I'm talking about, of course, my physical health." he laughed.

I asked if he was involved in charity work. "If someone asks me, yes. I don't mind getting involved in whatever's going on in any way I can be useful... I don't want to say that I'm any more concerned than anyone else, but obviously I am terribly aware... I think the tiny lesson I learned when I was in the Army (medical corps) was trying to be able to help people who were ill or whatever it was, who were handicapped or postoperative, by trying to reduce their sense of humiliation." He is a bit partial to children and recently did a book of limericks to benefit a blind unit at a London hospital, "The Boy Who Forgot to Grow Down."

He shared this view, "I think that not nearly enough people get enough attention. And I'm one of those lucky ones, who as you've seen in the last two days, who, I'm so aware of how much attention I get and how kind people are to me on no evidence at all."

But his loyalty to his fans deserves attention and is evidence enough. When asked what he had been doing all weekend when he wasn't at the convention, he replied. "I've been thinking about coming here." The crowd laughed, but he insisted with a big smile, "I have! Of course I have. I mean I'm not sort of strutting around St. Louis, you know, waving. I'm here for YOU, not for them!"

He raised more cheers with the statement, "I myself am very relieved the Doctor Who, such as it is, is shown on Public Broadcasting, because a few interruptions (commercials) would damage it terribly."

When he came into the staff reception on the closing evening of the convention, he praised the workers and the organization NADWAS for making Panopticon West the most well run convention of the last 14 he had attended. Without incident he was able to move freely and greet each of the 3,000 fans individually. and this convention run by the fans, for the fans, was a huge success.

His final remarks to me were, "I do believe in the overall general decency of people... I have to believe in the general decency and humanity of most people, otherwise my life would be unbearable. I have to try and trust and believe in that."


Editor's note: Anita J. Stoner is a member of the John A. Logan College newspaper. The story on how she obtained an interview with Dr. Who is on Page 1.

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to whovian@cuttingsarchive.org

  • APA 6th ed.: Stoner, Anita J. (1984-04-25). Tom Baker, the real Dr. Who, took role because he was broke. Herrin Today p. 2.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Stoner, Anita J.. "Tom Baker, the real Dr. Who, took role because he was broke." Herrin Today [add city] 1984-04-25, 2. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Stoner, Anita J.. "Tom Baker, the real Dr. Who, took role because he was broke." Herrin Today, edition, sec., 1984-04-25
  • Turabian: Stoner, Anita J.. "Tom Baker, the real Dr. Who, took role because he was broke." Herrin Today, 1984-04-25, section, 2 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Tom Baker, the real Dr. Who, took role because he was broke | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Tom_Baker,_the_real_Dr._Who,_took_role_because_he_was_broke | work=Herrin Today | pages=2 | date=1984-04-25 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=26 June 2019 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Tom Baker, the real Dr. Who, took role because he was broke | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Tom_Baker,_the_real_Dr._Who,_took_role_because_he_was_broke | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=26 June 2019}}</ref>