There’ve been twelve – soon to be thirteen – Doctors over the past 55 years of Doctor Who, each of whom have their ardent fanbases, but it’s hard to argue that Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor isn’t one of the greatest of the lot. His seven year tenure in the TARDIS has never been, and likely never will be, beaten and his iconic outfit including his hat and long colorful scarf is probably still the Time Lord’s most recognizable silhouette.
So, after seven years of success in the role, why did Baker finally decide to pass on his keys to the TARDIS? In a documentary on the DVD/Blu-Ray release of Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 12 – his first year on the show – Baker gives a very candid interview about his time on the series, and one juicy revelation is the reason he bowed out of the role of a lifetime.
In short, Baker explained that he didn’t get on with new producer John Nathan-Turner, who came on board the show for the actor’s last season.
“I didn’t like his approach to anything very much. His approach as a producer, to the scripts and to my performance…he managed somehow — how terrible — to diminish me. He made assumptions about how I should do things, or what lines meant, or how it should be shot, which diminished me, and I found that unbearable.”
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Baker went on to say that it was this fallout with the producer that made him realize that it was probably the right moment to call time on his Doctor Who career. He believes that Nathan-Turner was pleased that he was on his way out the door, too, so that he wouldn’t have to deal with Baker’s big personality.
“It was silly of me not to have faced him and spoken to him. He nudged me towards the realization [Doctor Who] had run its course and I should go somewhere else. I think, in a way, when I said when I wanted to go, he was relieved, that he wouldn’t have to have that fight. He could get his stamp on it. There was a lot of tension [before that]. But as soon as I resigned, everything was perfect – he adored me, because he’d won I suppose.”
Nathan-Turner went on to produce Doctor Who for the entirety of the 1980s, overseeing the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors’ eras. Despite that, he does have a somewhat controversial reputation amongst fans, as many accuse him of running the show into the ground and being partially to blame for the series’ cancellation in 1989.
Still, Baker’s feud with the producer is water under the bridge now. The legendary star regularly reprises his role as the Fourth Doctor for audio dramas and remains proud of his lifelong connection to Doctor Who. He even appeared as the mysterious character the Curator (hinted to be a future incarnation of the Doctor) in the 50th anniversary TV special, “The Day of the Doctor,” which apparently wasn’t a very pleasant experience for him.
Source: BBC (via Digital Spy)