Colin Baker


Colin Baker
Colin Baker

Colin Baker at New York Comic Con 2008.
Born 8 June 1943 (1943-06-08) (age 68)
London, England,
Occupation Actor
Spouse Liza Goddard (divorced)
Marion Wyatt

Colin Baker (born 8 June 1943, London) is a British actor who is known for playing Paul Merroney in The Brothers from 1974 to 1976 and as the sixth incarnation of the Doctor in the long-running science fiction television series Doctor Who, from 1984 to 1986.

Contents

Background

Colin Baker was born in London, but moved north to Rochdale with his family early in his life. He was educated at St Bede's College, Manchester and originally studied to become a solicitor. At the age of 23, Baker changed professions and enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), where he studied alongside David Suchet. His mother is of Irish ancestry.[1]

Career

Early work in television

One of Baker's first acting jobs, in 1970, was a supporting role in a BBC adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre's trilogy The Roads to Freedom. In 1972, Colin Baker played Anatole Kuragin in a BBC serial adaptation of War and Peace. His most prominent role in the 1970s was as the villainous Paul Merroney in The Brothers, a role that he played from 1974 to 1976. In the final episode of Fall of Eagles, Baker appeared as Crown Prince Willy of the German Empire. Baker also guest starred as Bayban the Butcher in a 1980 episode of Blake's 7. In 1983, he acted in a BBC production of A.J. Cronin's The Citadel.

Doctor Who (1984 -1986)

Baker made his first appearance in Doctor Who as Commander Maxil in the story Arc of Infinity (1983). Producer John Nathan-Turner described Baker's performance as being "quite arch" and a little sassy. Maxil was one of the few characters actually to shoot the Doctor, then played by Peter Davison.

At the time of Baker’s casting as Davison's successor, he became the only "Doctor" actor to have appeared in the television series as another character prior to taking on the leading role. When Baker was cast to replace Davison, many fans cited that shooting scene in Arc of Infinity, prompting Baker to say jokingly that he got the part of the Doctor by killing the incumbent. Colin is no relation to Tom Baker, who played the Fourth Doctor in Doctor Who for seven years.

Baker's first appearance as the Doctor occurred at the final minutes of The Caves of Androzani, where he delivered his first few lines. The closing title sequence for episode four features Baker's face instead of Peter Davison, and credits him as the Doctor before Davison's own credit. This was the first (and, to date, only) time that the new lead received top billing in the final story of an outgoing Doctor. Baker then made his first full story debut the following week in The Twin Dilemma. It was the first time since 1966, and only the second time in the series' history, that a new leading actor's debut story was shown before the conclusion of the previous lead's season.

Baker's era was interrupted by a long 18 month hiatus which was announced in February 1985, mid-way through transmission of his first full season. One new Doctor Who story, Slipback, was made on radio during the hiatus. The Controller of BBC One at the time, Michael Grade, criticised Doctor Who, saying that, the programme had become overly violent, with farcical storylines during season 22 in 1985. After the 18-month hiatus, the programme returned for its 23rd season in the autumn of 1986. Season 23 featured a reduction of episodes produced, and the 14 episode long serial The Trial of a Time Lord. This serial was a meta-textual reference to the fact that the series itself was "on trial" at this time.[2]

In 1986, Baker told an interviewer, "Tom Baker did it for seven years. ... There's a part of me which likes to have a tilt at records. I would like to think that maybe I'd still be doing it in eight years' time."[3] However, later that year Baker was dismissed from the part at the insistence of BBC management, who wanted to refresh the show. BBC1 Controller Michael Grade allegedly disliked Baker's performance and BBC Head of Series Jonathan Powell has since said that the BBC was looking for "one last chance saloon, for an actor who would take off with the public."[4] He was removed from the part after starring in only eleven stories and just short of three years in the part, including the hiatus, making his tenure as the Doctor the fewest number of years at that point.

Despite Baker's time in the role being punctuated with numerous personal and professional problems; the death of his son Jack shortly after Baker accepted the role, the 18-month hiatus which followed his first full season and finally his high-profile sacking, Baker remains enthusiastic about his time as the Doctor and is a regular at conventions and fan events.

Doctor Who appearances in other media

From the 5th June to 19th August 1989 Baker agreed to appear as the Doctor once more, in the stage play Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure, taking over from original lead Jon Pertwee who had fallen ill.

In 1992, Colin Baker became the first (and so far only) Doctor to write a published Doctor Who story, The Deal, as part of Doctor Who Magazine's Brief Encounters series. He wrote a second Brief Encounter the following year. Both featured the Sixth Doctor and Mel. In 1994 Baker wrote a comic strip, The Age of Chaos featuring the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher, and in 2001 contributed a story entitled "The Wings of A Butterfly" to a charity short story anthology based on Doctor Who, "Missing Pieces".

Baker reprised the role on television only once since his official run ended, in the 1993 Children In Need charity special Dimensions In Time alongside Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison and Sylvester McCoy.

In 1997 Baker provided audio dialogue for the BBC video game Doctor Who: Destiny of the Doctors.

1999 saw Baker voice his first Doctor Who audio adventure for Big Finish Productions, The Sirens of Time. As of August 2011 Baker has recorded 63 Sixth Doctor audio plays with more planned for future release. These audio plays are generally well received by fans and in a poll conducted by Doctor Who Magazine, Baker was voted the "greatest" of the Doctors in this format.

In recent years, Baker has appeared on a number of DVD releases of his episodes, featuring in either making of documentaries or commentaries. The documentary Trials and Tribulations, included in the 2008 DVD release of The Trial of a Time Lord examines his turbulent three years on the show.

After Doctor Who

Since leaving Doctor Who Baker has spent much of his time on the stage with appearances throughout the country in plays as diverse as Peter Nichols' Privates On Parade, Ira Levine's Deathtrap, Ray Cooney's Run for Your Wife and Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden. For many years he has been a pantomime stalwart. In 2000 he appeared in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs alongside actress Louise Jameson who had previously played the Fourth Doctor's companion Leela. In 2003 he starred in the Carl Rosa Opera Company's production of operetta H.M.S. Pinafore, directed by Timothy West. In 2008, he toured with ex-wife Liza Goddard in She Stoops To Conquer. More recent theatre appearances have seen Baker tackle the role of Inspector Morse in House of Ghosts [5] and a UK tour of The Woman in White[disambiguation needed ].

In 1991 Baker played a Doctor-like character in the BBV video series The Stranger. This character appeared in six video adventures as well four audio stories. Another standalone BBV drama entitled The Airzone Solution appeared in 1993 and featured former Doctor Who actors, Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison and Sylvester McCoy.

Television work during the 1990s included guest appearances in the BBC's medical drama Casualty, The Knock, Dangerfield, the first episode of Jonathan Creek, Channel 4's adaptation of A Dance to the Music of Time and as himself as the resident celebrity in 'Dictionary Corner' on the daytime quiz show Countdown, also on Channel 4.

In 2003 Baker appeared on Top Gear, participating on a one-lap run on the Top Gear track in a Honda Civic hatchback. Baker competed against a Klingon, a Cyberman, a Dalek, Darth Vader and Ming the Merciless. Baker came in 4th position, with the Cyberman coming 1st. A 2005 guest appearance in comedy sketch show Little Britain was never transmitted but can be seen in the deleted scenes special feature on the Little Britain series 3 DVD. More recent television appearances have seen Baker appear in Kingdom, Hustle and Doctors.

Away from his Doctor Who work for Big Finish Productions (see above), Baker appeared in the audio dramas Sapphire and Steel: The Mystery of the Missing Hour and the 3 part Earthsearch Mindwarp. The latter, based on a James Follett novel, was broadcast on the digital radio station BBC 7 in 2006.

In 2010 Baker narrated and provided additional voices for Candy Jar Books' comedy sci-fi audiobook Kangazang, written by Terry Cooper.

Baker's film work over the years has been sporadic but includes The Harpist (1999), The Asylum (2000) and D'Artagnan et les trois mousquetaires (2005). In 2010 he filmed scenes for an independent feature film, Shadows of a Stranger[6]. In 2011 he appeared in Back2Hell which also featured his Doctor Who successor Sylvester McCoy.

Since 1995 Baker has written a regular weekly column for local newspaper Bucks Free Press. A compilation of over 100 of his most entertaining articles from 1995 to 2009 were published in the book, Look Who's Talking.

Personal Life

After the death of his son Jack in 1984, Baker became active in fighting Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He raised funds for the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths and was a Trustee from 1989 and their Chairman between 1997 and 2005.

Baker's first wife was actress Liza Goddard. Their marriage ended in divorce.

His second wife is actress Marion Wyatt and the couple reside in Buckinghamshire with their four daughters and many animals.

Discography

Book

  • Look Who's Talking (Hirst Books), First Published December 2009. First reprint February 2010 ISBN# 978-0-9557149-2-4
  • Second Thoughts (Hirst Books), First Published September 2010 ISBN# 978-0-9566417-6-2

References

  1. ^ "Having recently been digging out information about my ancestors, I would love to go back to to [sic] the end of the 18th Century and see just what it was like being a labourer on the land as my great, great great grandfather Thomas Baker was in Lound in Suffolk in the 1790’s and it would enable me to go back a bit further too and find out about Thomas’ parents and where they came from. I would like too to find out about my mother’s Irish ancestry, which is quite difficult to uncover." http://colinbaker.webs.com/askcolin.htm
  2. ^ DVD Commentary: Trial of a Time Lord Discs 1-4 Region 1 Edition
  3. ^ David Woodward (Writer, Producer, Director) (1986). They All Axed for Who (Television production). New Orleans: WYES. Event occurs at 0:05:30. 
  4. ^ "Trials and Tribulations" - documentary on Colin Baker's era of Doctor Who (2008 - forthcoming 2entertain DVD release).
  5. ^ "What's on Stage". http://www.whatsonstage.com/news/theatre/london/E8831273054191/Inspector+Morse+Has+Stage+Debut+with+Colin+Baker.html. 
  6. ^ http://gallifreynewsbase.blogspot.com/2010/06/people-roundup.html

External links


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