Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Dr Who brings a tonic to the Glen

From The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive
Jump to navigationJump to search

2004-09-26 Sunday Express p65.jpg


Tom Baker tells James Rampton why he revels in eccentric roles

TONIGHT, a Time Lord becomes a Scottish aristocrat. Tom Baker, who, last year, was voted the most popular Dr Who of all, is joining Monarch Of The Glen as Donald MacDonald, the reprobate brother of the late Hector. A former racing driver, Donald has a distinctly dodgy past and arrives at Glenbogle under police supervision, with strict orders to behave himself.

It's a part Baker clearly laps up. "In many ways Donald actually reminds me of me," the actor laughs. "He is eccentric, which I adore as I have been known to have a few eccentricities of my own. When you get to my age, it's a shame not to take advantage of the fact you can be riotously batty and get away with it.

"I greatly enjoy playing him because it's not very often in a TV programme these days that an old bat gets to do anything interesting. "I also enjoy Donald's humour. Like him, I've always tried to do things from a slightly skewed angle. I don't like things to be entirely rational because I am not entirely rational. I'm quite likely to miss the point completely."

Baker was born in Liverpool and, at 15, left home to train as a monk in Jersey. He then served in the merchant navy before attending the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in Kent and becoming an actor. He joined the National Theatre in the late Sixties and went on to become a successful film actor.

However, Baker will always be best known as Dr Who and he says he experienced a genuine tingle of excitement when he first heard that the BBC was bringing back the classic sci-fi series.

"I thought they'd be witty at the BBC - where did I got that idea? - and that I'd be back in no time. My wife said, As what?'. Charming."

He wasn't expecting to be asked to don his multi-coloured scarf once again to portray the Doctor at the grand old age of 71. This time, Tom fancied returning as the enemy.

He explains: "I said, 'The BBC is so full of creative people that they'll want me back as that all-time baddie, the Master.'

"After all, the hero and the villain are just two sides of the same coin. I've been waiting for that call for months now but, sadly, I haven't heard a dickie bird."

With that, he roars with laughter, something he does with pleasing frequency. "The older I get," he confides, "the more I want to laugh."

Tom Baker is a character for whom the phrase "larger than life" might have been invented.

An imposing 6ft 3in, he is a serial anecdotalist who takes tangents off his tangents. He chuckles now that playing his most famous part was a piece of cake. "It was entirely me. There was no acting involved. I was just Tom saying those lines."

He's being too modest about what was a landmark performance in TV history. At its peak, Baker's Dr Who netted 15 million viewers a week: figures for which today's channel controllers would sell their Armani suits. He still constantly gets stopped and asked about his days as a Time Lord.

"People won't let it go," smiles Baker, who lives in France with his third wife, TV producer Sue Jerrard. "They're always coming up to me in the street. Perhaps they're just amazed I'm still alive.

"They're often moved to tears because I remind them of their childhood and a time when life was simpler or their mum was still alive or their bottoms didn't sag.

"They hold my hand and ask me to bless them. In airports, I frequently sit sobbing with middle-aged women. I'm very well known at Gatwick."

JUST why has the show remained so enduringly popular? "I suppose there has been nothing like it before or since: a benevolent alien who suggests he has good news from afar," reckons the actor.

"It may seem terribly unfashionable now but it had a complete absence of malice and sex. Nowadays, everything is so excessive. Characters are always using dreadful phrases like 'get your kit off'."

After his incarnation as Dr Who between 1974 and 1981, Baker had a few arid years. Now, thanks to appearances on such trendy, youth-orientated shows as Little Britain and Dead Ringers, he has been re-invented as a cult figure.

As a result, he has projects aplenty. For his next incarnation, the Doctor will star in a shaggy-dog story. He will appear in the Magic Roundabout film as new villainous character ZeBadDee.

Monarch Of The Glen continues this evening on BBC1 at 8pm.

Caption: NEW ROLE: Baker has swapped the Tardis for the Highlands

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

  • APA 6th ed.: Rampton, James (2004-09-26). Dr Who brings a tonic to the Glen. Sunday Express p. 65.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Rampton, James. "Dr Who brings a tonic to the Glen." Sunday Express [add city] 2004-09-26, 65. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Rampton, James. "Dr Who brings a tonic to the Glen." Sunday Express, edition, sec., 2004-09-26
  • Turabian: Rampton, James. "Dr Who brings a tonic to the Glen." Sunday Express, 2004-09-26, section, 65 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Dr Who brings a tonic to the Glen | url= | work=Sunday Express | pages=65 | date=2004-09-26 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=29 November 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Dr Who brings a tonic to the Glen | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=29 November 2023}}</ref>