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What's up with Dr Who?

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1997-11-03 Evening Herald.jpg


MARIE NOLAN finds out why time has flown by for Tardis traveller Tom

VETERAN Dr Who Tom Baker looks down with those frightening blue, bulging eyes that have stared out many a Dalek in their time. He's a disarming presence.

Tall and with a booming voice, he has a shock of silver grey hair where the tousled brown curls once were and runs a conversation which veers off in all directions faster than the Tardis ever could.

One woman, he recalls, once said he was "quite nice, but there's something odd about him, something slightly disgusting".

Odd? Yes. Eccentric? Definitely. But slightly disgust-ing's a bit strong.

Baker (63) brought his own idiosyncrasies to the fourth Time Lord — which he played for seven years and 178 episodes between 1974-81 — sporting a floppy hat, long stripey scarf and chewing Jelly Babies in times of stress.


Baker had spent, years in and out of acting jobs. working largely in theatre, and in quite a few forgettable productions, before clinching the Time Lord title.

He was working on a building site when he was approached to play Doctor Who, the role which would make him a household name worldwide.

But there was a downside to playing such • high-profile character for so long. "I was hopelessly typecast," Baker shrugs. "I've only had one gigantic success which was Doctor Who. And it still goes on." He's huge in America, is frequently asked to address fan dubs and conventions and he still receives royalties from the show.

After his strict Irish Catholic working class upbringing in Liverpool, he entered a monastery at 16.

By the time he realised that being a monk was not the life for him, he had become institutionalised. Becoming an actor gave hint a mask to hide behind. But his personal life did not run smooth. He confesses that he tried to murder the mother of his first wife, Anna Wheatcroft.

Life became unbearable and Baker finally abandoned his wife and two small sons, Daniel and Piers. He didn't see his sons for nine years and contact has remained sparse.

With marriage number two to actress Lalla Ward Baker found he preferred

drinking in Soho bars with his pals to going home to the domestic neat.


Only now has he found happiness with wife number three, Sue Jerrard, a TV director, to whom he has been married for 10 years. They live in an old converted schoolhouse in Kent and he has reserved a plot and a gravestone for himself at the local churchyard. Does he have an epitaph? "He did his best — but he didn't half put his foot in it sometimes."

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  • APA 6th ed.: Nolan, Marie (1997-11-03). What's up with Dr Who?. The Herald (Ireland) p. 39.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Nolan, Marie. "What's up with Dr Who?." The Herald (Ireland) [add city] 1997-11-03, 39. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Nolan, Marie. "What's up with Dr Who?." The Herald (Ireland), edition, sec., 1997-11-03
  • Turabian: Nolan, Marie. "What's up with Dr Who?." The Herald (Ireland), 1997-11-03, section, 39 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=What's up with Dr Who? | url= | work=The Herald (Ireland) | pages=39 | date=1997-11-03 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=3 March 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=What's up with Dr Who? | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=3 March 2024}}</ref>