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The Stranger: Colin Baker redeems himself?

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1995-06 SFX p36.jpg

  • Publication: SFX
  • Date: June 1995
  • Author:
  • Page: 36
  • Language: English


Let's face it-Colin Baker's Doctor was never the most popular with the general public. But, so the story goes, he never got the chance on TV to play the character the way he wanted to. And if his performance as the lead character in the BBV series of The Stranger, now released on video, is anything to go by, that's a real shame.

The Stranger first appeared in 1987, before the TV show had even been "suspended," and initially it was very much a Doctor Who clone - featuring a mysterious alien with a pretty companion. Colin Baker, however, played the lead role very differently, as director Bill Baggs explains.

"I was very aware of the history of Colin's time on Doctor Who, and that he maybe hadn't been given much opportunity to explore a character that is fundamentally quite fascinating. It seemed to me that his performance was quite superficial, and wasn't doing him justice. I wanted to draw out the darker side of the performance, rather than the aggression.

"Colin is pleased with the way the videos have turned out, particularly how they've developed recently. I think he feels a little bit that the early ones were like a pastiche, cod-version of Doctor Who. It's now obviously taken off in a completely different direction."

So what have the changes been?

"It's now more about three characters - Solomon (played by Colin Baker), Egan and Saul: the three terrorists. Saul's the git, then we've got Egan who's trying to keep control over Saul, and who ultimately really believes in the cause. And Solomon who's rebelling against all that, but who can't detach himself entirely because that's his past. And they can travel anywhere through The Web."

So how did he get involved in all this?

"I was working for the BBC as a video editor and had always had aspirations to direct. I was also a member of the BBC Film Club. Basically, my interest in Doctor Who collided with my film-making aspirations and I thought: 'Wouldn't it be good to do something along the lines of Doctor Who?'

"At that stage, I didn't know if it would sell, but I obviously had a fair idea that it would be popular. And it was a good way of covering the costs of making a film. Now the films are being distributed by Pickwick, and it's all got a lot more commercial."

"'Summoned By Shadows' was the first project. And I was very lucky in getting Colin and Nicola Bryant (Peri in Doctor Who) involved. Initially, it wasn't done with a series idea in mind. It really was a one-off, but the reaction to it was so positive I decided to do another one."

Next up was "More Than A Messiah," followed by "In Memory Alone," "The Terror Game," "Breach of the Peace" and, just out, "Eye of the Beholder." Bill has al directed two non-Stranger stories, "The Airzone Solution" and "Zero Imperative," for which he lured in. other ex-Doctors, Peter Davison, Jon Pertwee and Sylvester McCoy, all playing in interesting ways again: their Doctor Who personae.

"I think Jon Pertwee has thoroughly enjoyed doing 'Airzone' and particularly 'Zero Imperative'," Bil says, "because a) he enjoys working with me, which is: nice, and b) he likes the opportunity to do something a bit differently. And Sylvester feels the same."

The latest BBV (Bill Baggs Video) project is also the biggest The Stranger production yet. And the most' adult, it would seem.

"'Eye of the Beholder' is a 15 certificate, which is a bit annoying. It's 90 minutes long, and the script is the strongest I've ever done. The performances are very strong indeed, and at this level that's what it's all about. There's no way I can compete with Star Wars, but so long as I can get the stories straight, the performances ! strong enough and the lighting looking reasonable, the I'm happy really."

Bill has also just receive clearance for his next non-Stranger-related project, which will be his most ambitious, and expensive, so far - Cyber-War.

"Cybermen, to me, are the most frightening enemy in Doctor Who," he enthuses. "They're tall, they ! can do anything a human can, only they're far stronger. What I would look to do is explore every opportunity to make a very powerful war film, with the Cyberman as ' very strong enemies. I'm hoping it'll get picked up for broadcast.

"I've also got an idea for the BBC at the minute, but I can't reveal anything about that. However, it is science fiction related."

Hey, this could be the start of something big. Stranger things have happened.

For more details, contact BBV, World Leisure Corporation, Metro-Color Building, 22 Soho Square, London W1V 5FJ.


"Airzone" was actually director Bill Baggs' first departure from The Stranger series, and featured four ex-Doctors.

The latest entry in The Stranger series, "Eye of the Beholder," is the longest to date, stretching over two tapes. It's also the most "adult," and actually carries a 15 rating, not PG (as it says on this pre-release cover).

Colin Baker has relished the opportunity to create a Who-like character who is more in tune with how he would have played the part on TV given free rein.

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  • APA 6th ed.: (June 1995). The Stranger: Colin Baker redeems himself?. SFX p. 36.
  • MLA 7th ed.: "The Stranger: Colin Baker redeems himself?." SFX [add city] June 1995, 36. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "The Stranger: Colin Baker redeems himself?." SFX, edition, sec., June 1995
  • Turabian: "The Stranger: Colin Baker redeems himself?." SFX, June 1995, section, 36 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=The Stranger: Colin Baker redeems himself? | url= | work=SFX | pages=36 | date=June 1995 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 February 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=The Stranger: Colin Baker redeems himself? | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 February 2024}}</ref>