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Well look Who's here

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1979-02-16 Age.jpg

  • Publication: The Age
  • Date: 1979-02-16
  • Author: Brian Courtis
  • Page: 2
  • Language: English

THE TIME LORD wants to keep his job. Being Dr. Who and chasing daleks, cybermen and the krynoids is, he insists, "jolly good fun".

Dr. Who — or, to be more specific, actor Tom Baker who plays him in the BBC space fantasy series — flew into Melbourne early yesterday.

Over breakfast, he spoke happily of work, sadly of cricket and England, and, with some amazement, about his fans.

He came in by conventional flight. That terribly troublesome telephonic transport, the Tardis, was nowhere to be seen, although he added a touch of familiarity by missing a plane and arriving at an unexpected time.

Mr. Baker, saucer-eyed and bubble-haired and tall enough to stand in for English Test cricketer Bob Willis, is eloquent publicity material for his show.

He offers a lot. His moods change swiftly with the topic— now serious; now jocular. One moment he is a deep thinker. Then, in an instant, he is a gags-man eyeing a pretty admirer ("I'm very vulnerable to beautiful girls").

A new series of Dr. Who will start on Channel 2 on Monday. Accumulated episodes of the show will appear at 6 30 pm from Monday to Thursday for the rest of the year and the ABC is using Mr. Baker to make sure we know all about the take-off.

"Actually, if I wasn't under contract, I think I'd spend more time in this country ... at least until after the general election," he says.

"Do you know they've been using Trafalgar Square as a rubbish heap? Apparently there's a snidey rumor that Mr. Callaghan is going to wait until Nelson goes out of sight before declaring a Crisis.

"There's something wrong there somewhere ..."

He has been to the cricket, but, despite England's success, he despairs at 'the state of the game. He has, it seems, little time for Mr. Packer's colorful players. Nevertheless he generally seems happy to be here.

It's a temporary escape. He has been to Sydney and Brisbane and plans a few days' holiday here before returning to start making the first of this year's 26 new episodes for the BBC.

He has no immediate desire to leave the long woolly scarf and nightmare-inducing colleagues to return to theatre or films or other television fare.

"It's so jolly to do Dr. Who. Jolly is the word ... it's very nice to go to work and fall around laughing all day," he explains.

"And then you get the kickback from the children .. . that's very agreeable.

"I'm on for another season and then I'll have to think about giving someone else a chance but I'm in no mood to give anybody else a go right now. It's too precious to me.

"I must say I'm somewhat influenced by former Dr. Who's Patrick Troughton and Jon Per-twee who both said it was the happiest spell of their lives. It really Is one of those one-off jobs."

The show has fans from 18 months old upwards.

"I'm waved at by kids in pushchairs," Mr. Baker says. The BBC estimates it has a 60 per cent adult audience.

"I don't know about that. I never think about what I'm doing for the adults ... I think about it as a bright, healthy children's programme," Mr. Baker says.

"When I meet them, at book-signings or whatever, the older children, the ones that have hit puberty, are very self-conscious and make rather smart remarks about the programme or say outrageously complimentary things to me which I can't cope with.

"But the younger ones are interesting. The first thing that amazes small children, those up to five say, is how I got out of the box. They think actors live inside the television."

Dr. Who has become something of a cult show in Britain and students at one university wanted to elect Mr. Baker as rector while others at St. Johns College, Oxford, formed an appreciation society and demanded "inside information" on the programme

Somewhat surprisingly, Mr. Baker believes its success lies in its formula: "Given a sort of basic professional competence I think anyone could star in it," he says.

To join the malevolent monsters and roguish robots. he has followed a far-from-conventional path. Considered "dull" at his Liverpool school, he fought to prove teachers wrong and to break out of the provincial pattern. "My bones were cracking to do something."

Rather drastically, perhaps, he was inspired by a monk who visited the school and entered a monastery at 15. He spent five years there before returning to chase his true vocation, acting.

"I thought 'Oh, this will break the monotony', put my hand up and off I went to a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience," he says, with more than a dash of irreverence.

Then followed national service and, over the years, repertory theatre, a spell with Lord Olivier at the National Theatre, and "a flirtation with movies".

"I had a minor success with a film called Nicholas and Alexandra and I was unlucky ... I should have stayed in America, where I was offered work.

"But I believed the publicity and came hot-footing it back to Europe and, when I arrived, two films I was to appear in fell through. One was Isabella of Spain opposite Glenda Jackson. It fell through and grieved me terribly."

But he was spotted by the BBC in another film, The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad, and taken from a part-time laboring job on a building site.

He has been time-travelling with them ever since ...

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  • APA 6th ed.: Courtis, Brian (1979-02-16). Well look Who's here. The Age p. 2.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Courtis, Brian. "Well look Who's here." The Age [add city] 1979-02-16, 2. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Courtis, Brian. "Well look Who's here." The Age, edition, sec., 1979-02-16
  • Turabian: Courtis, Brian. "Well look Who's here." The Age, 1979-02-16, section, 2 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Well look Who's here | url= | work=The Age | pages=2 | date=1979-02-16 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 June 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Well look Who's here | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 June 2024}}</ref>