Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Tom Baker is the new who?

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In 1976, Tom Baker was plucked from a building site to begin a record-breaking seven years as Doctor Who, a character he saw as a cross between the Pied Piper and Jesus Christ.

Baker was not completely unknown on British TV: spookily, he had previously appeared as a building site manager in an episode of Softly Softly.

His predecessor, Jon Pertwee, is mainly remembered for his frilly shirts. To aficionados, Baker is sometimes known as the Green Dr Who because so many of his episodes involved saving the world from an environmental disaster, as he did when he foiled a plot to fill Welsh mines with green sludge.

Baker's Doctor was initially darker but then, after complaints from the interminable Mary Whitehouse, lighter than any previous incarnation. (A few of the later Baker episodes had Douglas Adams, the author of Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy as script editor). His companions changed with his character: impulsive savage Leela (Louise Jamieson) in her skins and Sarah Jane (Lis Sladen), who hung in there for three-and-a-half years. But the companion who made the most impact on Baker was the second incarnation of the female Time Lord Romans, played by Lalla Ward; the two were married for a showbiz lifetime of 18 months.

Baker came up against a fine array of enemies, including the Daleks, the potato-headed Sontarans, the Zygons (were those really Cheerios stuck all over them?) and whatever was out there at Fang Rock...

And who could forget the Doctor's little tin chum, K9? Many would like to, as he became an irritatingly simple solution to many a cliff-hanger.

The Doctor's sonic screwdriver was another irritating shortcut, the jellybabies merely an irritation.

His other hallmarks? The unruly curls, big hat, long scarf and coat made him seem larger than life, but because he believed in himself, he took the audience with him.

For many people, Tom Baker still is the Doctor. Sadly, he began to believe this too. After seven years, evidently expecting to be regarded as irreplaceable (a fundamental error when playing a character who'd already had three very different incarnations), he announced he was thinking of leaving. Goodbye then, said the BBC. Baker, the longest-serving Doctor, left a lot to be lived up to. Nobody else could deliver a line like 'You are a classic example of an inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain' with the same aplomb.

Caption: Tom's a bit alarmed because the Dalek has just swallowed his sonic screwdriver

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  • APA 6th ed.: (April 1997). Tom Baker is the new who?. The Box .
  • MLA 7th ed.: "Tom Baker is the new who?." The Box [add city] April 1997. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Tom Baker is the new who?." The Box, edition, sec., April 1997
  • Turabian: "Tom Baker is the new who?." The Box, April 1997, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Tom Baker is the new who? | url= | work=The Box | pages= | date=April 1997 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=3 March 2024 }}</ref>
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