Prior to the 2005 revival, Tom Baker’s fourth Doctor was the iconic version of the character. With his twinkly yet mysterious demeanor, penchant for jelly babies and extravagantly long scarf, he was utterly unmistakable.
Ever since he regenerated into Peter Davison, Baker’s continued to play a role in Doctor Who, appearing in various audio dramas and happy to sign Who merchandise for starstruck fans. All that meant it wasn’t exactly a surprise to see him pop up in the 50th Anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor” back in 2013 as the mysterious Curator, who was implied to be the final incarnation of the Doctor. You’d think that Tom Baker would be received like royalty on the set, too, but according to the actor, that wasn’t so.
Matt Smith is a darling young man — he made me very welcome. [But] he was the only one who welcomed me — I drove through the night to Cardiff, and Matt Smith came seeking me out, so full of joy and so happy to see me! He made it very, very easy acting with him, and I’m so glad he’s going on to tumultuous success. Nobody else bothered with me at all. I was a bit nettled about that.
I’m glad to find out Matt Smith is such a class act in real life, but it’s still a little disheartening to imagine Tom Baker arriving on set with high hopes for his triumphant onscreen return to the role and being treated like just another nobody. I mean, sure, it was no doubt a busy set and there’s little time for niceties when everyone’s working hard, but this is Tom Baker we’re talking about.
It’s been five years since “The Day of the Doctor” – the last multi-doctor episode – so we’re probably due for another special sometime soon. Let’s just hope they invite Baker back and treat him with the respect he deserves. Plus, while they’re at it, why not butter up Christopher Ecclestone a bit and apologize for the way he was treated on Doctor Who back in 2005? I’d love to see all the past Doctors react to Jodie Whittaker’s new incarnation, wouldn’t you?