Tom Baker Explains How He Found His Take On Doctor Who


There’ve been twelve – soon to be thirteen – Doctors over the past 55 years of Doctor Whoeach 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.

But how did Baker find his unique take on the character, known for his wide eyes, toothy grin and craving for jelly babies? Well, the legend was speaking to SFX when he was asked how he approached playing an alien adventurer who can travel in time and space. In response, the actor explained that he latched onto the idea of a “benevolent creature” who was both “heroic and silly,” saying:

“I could play this wonderful, benevolent creature who was so jolly and kind and heroic and silly. In fact, very like me, really. I embraced it, and everybody liked it, and so it never changed, really, did it? I suppose I grew older, but the performance was always the same because the Doctor cannot fundamentally change. He can’t suddenly become hopeless or violent or aggressive. He remains this benevolent figure that floats around, this good-hearted wizard in space, doing good deeds. And that suited me.”

As you expect from someone who defined the role of the Doctor for a generation, he has some very clear opinions on who the character is. Baker’s comments that the Doctor essentially never changes and must always be “a good-hearted wizard in space” is also a pretty good summation of the time-traveling hero who’s been played by twelve different actors to date.

The thirteenth, of course, will make her proper debut when Doctor Who season 11 airs this fall. And though much has been made of Jodie Whittaker being the first actress to play the part, it’s more than likely that she’ll still embody Tom Baker’s spot-on description of who the Doctor is – a benevolent, good-hearted hero(ine).