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I'm a Doctor Who hero

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Former Doctor Who Colin Baker has thanked Russell T Davies for making him a hero in the eyes of his four daughters.

Baker played the Doctor from 1984 to 1986 but that was not a cool thing to do in the eyes of his children - until the Welsh writer's massively successful revamp of the show.

"I have four daughters aged 15 to 22 and as far as they were concerned, Doctor Who was like listening to the radio in the Fifties, it was a thing of the past," said Baker, who stars in Bedroom Farce which opens at the New Theatre tonight.

"But now they are all hooked on it and because they liked the new one they went back and got my old episodes to watch and suddenly it's made me a hero in my own home.

"One of them said to me not long ago, 'Is that what you used to do in the Seventies? That's cool.'"

Very often actors who enjoyed success with a role 20 years ago would be pernickity about discussing it but not Baker, an affable man with the right perspective.

"It's a body of work I'm quite proud of and it's a programme with a very particular spot in the public heart so I don't understand that attitude in other people.

"I'm not about to insist on talking about some very worthy play I'm working on about leprosy in the Congo," he quipped.

As it happens the play he is currently working on is a comedy, Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce.

"I've always enjoyed Alan Ayckbourn because, even though I didn't know this particular piece before doing it, I know the quality of the writing could be trusted," said the 64-year-old, whose mother lived in Llandaff until she passed away two years ago.

"It's because he writes about people and people don't change.

"People recognise his characters from their lives.

"I play Earnest, who is preparing for his anniversary with his wife, but they are disturbed, as are another two couples, by this fourth couple who go around making everyone else's life a misery.

"They are those horrible people who think the world revolves around them. The audience end up saying, 'that's just like your Uncle Charlie or Aunt something' but never 'that's just like me or you' because Ayckbourn is pinning them to the wall and showing them their own foibles.

"But I think this suits me as an actor because if there is comedy to be mined from a piece I will generally find it."

It was Baker's winning mix of comedic eye and dramatic weight that made him such an effective Doctor Who, even if his tenure was one of the more short-lived.

But the Londoner has continued to work in the Doctor Who galaxy ever since then, voicing the lead in radio plays, writing a Doctor Who novel, and regularly appearing at Doctor Who conventions throughout the country.

He is, in short, a Doctor Who fan and he believes that the current series is the best regeneration of the series so far, thanks to the mastermind of Swansea scribe Russell T Davies.

"Perhaps in 20 years there will be another version of the show that is better but for now this is at the forefront of the Doctor Who cannon.

"Russell T Davies is a very clever man and you have to admire his vision, his writing, his control of the whole thing and his courage in doing things that we would never have done with that property.

"I think a particularly brave and clever thing to do was in elevating the role of the companion. It was very much a subsidiary character in the old show which focused on the Doctor but he is right, the really interesting story is that human girl who has to go with him.

"That human element means the Doctor got called a dirty old man by Rose's mother and slapped in the face and we would never have done that.

"It is also cast superbly and the scripts are out of this world, the standard of writing has improved incredibly but also what they can do now for the same budget in terms of special effects makes a difference.

"We would have loved to have had 1,000 Daleks coming out of the skies and having it look vaguely believable."

While Baker is a big fan of the new style show he isn't at all jealous of the current Doctor Who David Tennant, except in perhaps one regard - the quality of the female leads.

"I would have loved to have starred alongside Kylie Minogue, or even Billie Piper for that matter - and Catherine Tate is excellent too."

Bedroom Farce opens at the New Theatre tonight and runs until Saturday. Tickets cost pounds 8-pounds 24 from 029 2087 8889.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Allen, Gavin (2007-07-31). I'm a Doctor Who hero. South Wales Echo p. 26.
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  • Chicago 15th ed.: Allen, Gavin. "I'm a Doctor Who hero." South Wales Echo, edition, sec., 2007-07-31
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