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When children come face to face with the real Dr Who...

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1979-02-07 Glasgow Herald.jpg



When children come face to face with the real Dr Who...

IT comes as something of a culture shock to discover The Doctor scoffing Carlsberg Special Brews in an office in a Glasgow store instead of brewing up some special catastrophe against the Swampies in his Tardis—but then he deals with also situations in his own peculiar ways.

Maybe he didn't have some incredible monster to annihilate but he did have a mere half hour before plunging into an afternoon of painstaking chatting and signing copies of the latest Dr Who books for the great Glasgow public.

You sense that he is uneasy about playing the part-of Tom Baker, the actor, signing books as Dr Who, the Time Lord. Some books he signs simply Tom Baker, others have "Dr Who" to remind the young owners just who he Is. "I always try to find out something about the child the book is for. It can lead to embarrassing situations though. I remember crosscut-owning a young business man, complete with dark suit, umbrella, the lot, and eventually he admitted, 'It's for me actually.'"

He'd like to get audiences more personally involved in the TV programme too. "I'd love to play to cameos in the middle of an adventure and ask 'Well, what would you do?' Or even wove to the viewers occasionally, but the powmn that be say U's sot national I'm sure the kids would love to think they were actually helping Dr Who to win through."

Tom Baker is a pale, aesthetic looking gentleman whose lanky 6ft. 3in. frame topped with a mop of unruly hair and a pair of slightly manic looking blue eyes which incorporate an air of droll humour which has been put to good use in his part as The Doctor.

He also uses it to ensure that being a Time Lord doesn't go to his head. His conversation is full of stores of amassing mishaps which have befallen hum on "official" Dr Who occasions.

Like the time a simple job of turning on the Christmas lights in Derry started with him sitting in the back of a Rolls-Royce with the local dignitaries while the car hiccupped its way along into the main square.

"And it ended with thousands of fans watching with bated breath in the darkness as I pushed the switch — which lit up what must have been the taint tree in Ireland."

But he has a serious commitment to the programme, which was responsible for his suddenly being a television star instead of working on a building site. "I handed in my bod with alacrity."


His previous acting experience, some years in rep and then with the National Theatre, were not particularly eventful —although it was a far cry from his teenage years which he talks about with unconcealed amusement.

"I find it hard to believe now but I spent almost seven years as a monk in a strict order in Jersey." He grins. "I'd have done anything to get away from the boredom of my existence in Liverpool."

But he obviously had serious religious feelings at the time. 'I left because the modems was driving me meth But I ordered from dreadful attacks of conscience — the failed hero, no longer the model of moral perfection."

He then joined the Army, the only gains from that experience being that he discovered be could make people laugh when be acted in unit shows. "And I read books "Part from religious or school books for the fuse time."

He also married around this time, but the marriage wasn't a success, and he has lived a bachelor existence for years. The two children of the marriage are now teenagers, but be doesn't like to talk, about this part of his life.

Apart from starting his acting career after the Army, be began to build a library of 21)00 books which now takes pride of place in his tiny flat in an unpreteneious part of London.

His delight

"Books are the greatest 'detrain in my life. When I read someone like Malraux I never cease to wonder at how he can order tears so your eyes -- without a single obscure word or phrase."

However, his library includes around 150 dictionaries in case of any misunderstandings.

His enthusiasm for books is obvious in his new Yorkshire Television programme, The Book Tower, in which he reviews and reads from children's books In a magical mystical place wins a secret room and an enchanted tower. It goes out on ITV at 4.45 this afternoon.

"As I didn't really come from a book reading class, I see this as a marvellous opportunity to use my — or Dr Who's — influence with children to encourage them to read books.

"In my day even the library was a daunting institution for a youngster. The programme is great for me too — Inn never payed anyone really human on TV baton."

Caption: Meanwhile in London yesterday, it was announced that Dr Who's new assistant when the series returns in the autumn will be Lalla Ward, pictured yesterday with K-9. At present playing Princess Astra in the Dr Who adventure "The Armageddon Factor," she will become a Time Lord like Romana, the current Tardis girl. Lalla has appeared in many film and TV productions but is probably best known for "The Duchess of Duke Street" in which she played Louisa Trotter's daughter, Lottie.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Donald, Jean (1979-02-07). When children come face to face with the real Dr Who.... The Herald .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Donald, Jean. "When children come face to face with the real Dr Who...." The Herald [add city] 1979-02-07. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Donald, Jean. "When children come face to face with the real Dr Who...." The Herald, edition, sec., 1979-02-07
  • Turabian: Donald, Jean. "When children come face to face with the real Dr Who...." The Herald, 1979-02-07, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=When children come face to face with the real Dr Who... | url= | work=The Herald | pages= | date=1979-02-07 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 September 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=When children come face to face with the real Dr Who... | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 September 2023}}</ref>