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Now that I'm Mr Nobody, by Dr Who (1985)

1985-12-29 Mail on Sunday.jpg


Daniel Parson on how Tom Baker became an anonymous mortal

WHEN I walked through Soho with Tom Baker a few years ago, we were stopped every few yards.

He was one of the most famous faces in Britain, loved by children and adults as their favourite Dr Who.

He carried photographs of himself because he knew the pleasure this gave when people asked for his autograph, and he adopted a special greeting for small children: 'Haven't I seen you before', Yes, I know, Tee seen you watching television, Which made them giggle. He was magic.


Last week we walked through Soho and no one recognised him. With his short hair and rimless spectacles, which give him an unnerving resemblance to Himmler or a Russian inquisitor, no trace of Dr Who remained.

Though it was his decision to abandon the role of the fictional space doctor in 1981 after his six-year run it must have been a shattering experience to return to earth as a mere mortal.

Does he suffer from withdrawal symptoms? 'No. A certain amount of glee. actually.' he admits. 'It's quite nice to be anonymous.'

Though he dreads cynicism, there is a definite disillusionment as he surveys the contemporary scene: 'Like everyone else I find much about the modern world that's disagreeable.

'Mindless noise disturbs me terribly. So many people are terrified of quietness. Sometimes I do an experiment and go through an entire day without uttering a word.'

'Do you feel better,' I ask.

'I feel rested.'

He deplores the way television and 'the tasteless. explosive style of pop'. is diminishing the capacity to be surprised 'No one is surprised by anything anymore, except, possibly, by an act of kindness.'

His happiest pastime is reading books and he was depressed by the students he saw in Dublin recently.

'It was a fantasy for me to go to university to read the classics, and passing those beautiful buildings at Trinity College I was shocked by what an ugly lot the students were, like ferrets. without showing any ,toy from going to college for three idyllic years.'


If this makes him sound bitten it's a wrong conclusion. It's mat that he expresses himself with a directness which is unusual. He is a generous, receptive friend, yet he is a man of paradox and must be hell to live with. Referring to the break-up of his second marriage. he admits: 'I am not cut out to be domestic, hut I have warm memories of Lalla Ward.'

It seems an odd way to speak of his wife who played Dr Who's young assistant for two years. This was a second go at marriage after a gap of 20 years. The first separation was so severe that when he saw his sons again recently they did not know each other

There is a sad irony in this. eel-alder-mg now other children loved him as the fictional. Dr Who. When 1 point this out he replies that he writes to his sons regularly, even if he doesn't see them Tom Baker caught the acting bug when he was an altar boy in Liverpool. He entered a Catholic order to become a monk at the age of 15, but left six years later and religion plays no part in his life today.

I suspect he is happiest when he is on stage. escaping from himself as he assumes another personality. And he has rim been idle. playing such colourful roles as Long John Sever and Oscar Wilde with an odd ambition at present to play the part of Lady Bracknell.

I was distinctly sorry to leave the National Theatre but I was only in one play and had too many nights oil. 1 want to be on every night.

At the moment he is tense with the passibility of a London or New York production of The Mask of Moriarty the new play by Hugh Leonard which he performed in Dublin. playing both Sherlock Holmes and his enemy, Professor Moriarty.


Characteristically. Baker is disappointed in his own performance. have no doubt it will work if It's remounted but if I was a London Impresario would I give the part to Baker, No!"

To return, inevitably, to Dr Who: has it distorted his life irretrievably' He smiles 'Oh yes, I think so.' Most people don't know what sort of an actor I am and casting directors are so conservative they think I am a freak.

'Is. Dr Who — my albatross? I think it probably is. Let's hope it doesn't turn out to be my nemesis. But it doesn't really matter —eventually.

'You know something.' he adds 'for tine years children ran towards me when they recognised me without having to be warned by their parents about talking to a strange man. And that was an amusing pleasure.'

He roars with laughter hut you can tell he is really proud of that. A complicated. intensely interesting Plan. he remorse a loner but he has the satisfaction of knowing he is totally true to himself and will continue to amaze us.

Caption: WHO IS IT? New-look TOM BAKER (above) and as DR WHO

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  • APA 6th ed.: Parson, Daniel (1985-12-29). Now that I'm Mr Nobody, by Dr Who. The Mail on Sunday p. 35.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Parson, Daniel. "Now that I'm Mr Nobody, by Dr Who." The Mail on Sunday [add city] 1985-12-29, 35. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Parson, Daniel. "Now that I'm Mr Nobody, by Dr Who." The Mail on Sunday, edition, sec., 1985-12-29
  • Turabian: Parson, Daniel. "Now that I'm Mr Nobody, by Dr Who." The Mail on Sunday, 1985-12-29, section, 35 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Now that I'm Mr Nobody, by Dr Who | url=,_by_Dr_Who | work=The Mail on Sunday | pages=35 | date=1985-12-29 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=20 July 2019 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Now that I'm Mr Nobody, by Dr Who | url=,_by_Dr_Who | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=20 July 2019}}</ref>