For years the mere mention of Colin Bakers name would make many a ‘Whovian’ rest their head in their hands and sob. Often cited as one of the factors in the demise of the show. Recently his ‘Doctor’ has had a slight revival. With many fans, plus Baker himself, pointing out he may not be to blame.
Colin Baker was born on the 08/06/1943 in Waterloo London. At the age of three his family would move to Rochdale where he excelled academically and would later go on to study to be a solicitor.
At the age of twenty three he had a change of heart. He enrolled at the ‘London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts’. Here is where his tutors would later name him one of the most promising students of his year.
His first love was the stage and so this is where his career begun. His first major role on television was a part in the BBCs adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartres ‘The Roads to Freedom’. He would then go on to find regular work until his big break came portraying Paul Meroney the TV series ‘The Brothers’.
In 1983 he appeared, alongside Peter Davidsons ‘Doctor’, as Commander Maxil in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘Arc of Infinity’. The ‘Doctor Who’ producers enjoyed his performance. They described him as ‘quite arch’ and a little sassy. Knowing Peter Davidson was soon to leave they offered Baker the role. He would become the first ‘Doctor’ to have previously played another character in the series.
Right from the delivery of his first line it was obvious there was something a little bit different to Colins ‘Doctor’. Suddenly there was a smugness and arrogance that had not been seen since William Hartnells early episodes. This was not all Bakers fault. Never had a new ‘Doctor’ had so little say in the development of the character. He also was given no say in his costume. He would later go on to say that ‘if only they had dressed me like Christopher Eccleston, people may have been accepting’.
In fact Bakers main problem was not of his own making. Michael Grade is almost a swearword to most ‘Whovians’. The then controller of BBC1 hated the show. He wanted it modernised or scrapped. He was also not a fan of Bakers. After only eight stories and three years, which included an eighteen month hiatus, Colin Baker was sacked from the show. He would not return for his regeneration. Sylvester McCoy instead donned Bakers costume and a curly blonde wig.
Post ‘Doctor Who’ Bakers career has wavered. He is a successful television and stage actor. He would revisit the Doctor only one more on the TV in the charity episode ‘Dimensions in Time’.
In 1989 he appeared in the stage version of the show, taking over from a sick Jon Pertwee, ‘Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure’. Throughout the nineties he would write stories for ‘Doctor Who Magazine’. All of these are considered as canon in the ‘Doctor Who’ extended universe. He would also become a regular in the Big Finish ‘Doctor Who’ radio plays and talking books. So popular are these stories that in 2011 he was voted the greatest Big Finish ‘Doctor’.
So ignore the naysayers. Bakers ‘Doctor’ will probably never be your favourite but, there are some great stories. ‘The Mark of the Rani’ ‘The Two Doctors’ and ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ could easily hold their own against any of the other ‘Doctors’ best episodes. Just ignore the costume and the smug face.
Recommended films and TV appearances (outside of Doctor Who):-
Bayban – Blake 7 / Ep: City at the Edge of the World
Minister Amphidamas – Star Trek Continues / Ep: The White Iris
Hedley Shale – Jonathan Creek / Ep: The Wrestlers Tomb
Peter Russell – The Zero Imperative
Harry George Chauvel – The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles / Ep: Palestine, October 1917