Colin Baker

Colin Baker (born 8 June 1943) is an English actor who played Paul Merroney in the BBC drama series The Brothers from 1974 to 1976 and the sixth incarnation of the Doctor in the long-running science fiction television series Doctor Who from 1984 to 1986. Baker's tenure as the Doctor proved to be a controversial era for the series, which included a hiatus in production and his subsequent replacement on the orders of BBC executive Michael Grade.

Colin Baker
Baker at MagicCity ComicCon 2015
Born (1943-06-08) 8 June 1943
Waterloo, London, England
NationalityEnglish
OccupationActor
Years active1969–present
Height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Spouse(s)
Liza Goddard
(m. 1976; div. 1978)

Marion Wyatt (m. 1982)
Children5
WebsiteColin Baker Online

Early life

Colin Baker was born in Waterloo, London, England. He moved north to Rochdale with his family when he was three years old. He was educated at St Bede's College, Manchester, and originally studied to become a solicitor.[1]

At the age of 23, Baker enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).[2]

Career

Early work in television

Baker's numerous television roles in the early 1970s included a supporting role in a 1970 BBC adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre's trilogy The Roads to Freedom, a leading role as Count Steinbock in their adaptation of Cousin Bette the following year, playing opposite Margaret Tyzack and Helen Mirren. In 1972 he played Anatole Kuragin, opposite Anthony Hopkins in the BBC adaptation of War and Peace. His regular television work continued and in Fall of Eagles, Baker appeared as Crown Prince Willy of the German Empire.

By far his most prominent role to date came in 1974, playing the ruthless banker Paul Merroney in the hugely popular BBC Sunday evening family series The Brothers,.[3] Baker joined the series half-way through its run, as Merroney became one of the leading characters over 3½ series from 1974–76.

After The Brothers, although he worked regularly in theatre, his television work dried up for several years, although he guest-starred memorably as Bayban the Butcher in a 1980 episode of Blake's 7. This led to further TV guest roles and in 1983 he featured in a BBC production of A.J. Cronin's The Citadel.[4]

Doctor Who (1984–1986)

Baker made his first appearance in Doctor Who as Commander Maxil in the story Arc of Infinity (1983). Baker's first appearance as the Doctor occurred at the final minutes of The Caves of Androzani, where he delivered his first few lines. Baker then made his first full story debut the following week in The Twin Dilemma.

Baker's era was interrupted by an 18-month hiatus which was announced in February 1985, midway through transmission of his first full season. The Controller of BBC1 at the time, Michael Grade, criticised Doctor Who, saying that the programme had become overly violent in 1985. Grade later admitted that he "hated" the series, which he described as a "very clunky studio show".[5][6] One new Doctor Who story, Slipback, was produced for radio during the hiatus, which starred Baker and his regular television companion Nicola Bryant.

Doctor Who returned to television for its 23rd season in September 1986. The season featured a reduction in episodes, was made entirely on video for location scenes for the first time since 1975's The Sontaran Experiment and was produced as a 14-episode-long serial called 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.[7] 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."[8] However, later that year Michael Grade agreed to commission another series, on the condition that Baker was replaced.[9] The BBC's Head of Series, Jonathan Powell, later said that the BBC was looking for "one last chance saloon, for an actor who would take off with the public."[10]

He was removed from the part after starring in only eleven stories and just short of three years in the series, including the hiatus, making his tenure as the Doctor the shortest at that point. After his sacking, Baker refused to return to record a regeneration sequence. Instead, his replacement, Sylvester McCoy, played the fatally injured Sixth Doctor in a blonde wig as he regenerates in the opening minutes of Time and the Rani, his face hidden by video effects as the regeneration process occurs.[3] Baker would later express regret for not returning for this scene stating that he was "brutally selfish at the time" and that he was not thinking about the fans.[11]

On 4 September 2011 at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London, Baker accepted the presidency of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society,[12] which had previously been held by Jon Pertwee and Nicholas Courtney. Baker was elected following an online poll of the society's members where he won more votes than all the other candidates combined.[13]

Doctor Who appearances in other media

From 5 June to 19 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 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". He also presented special Doctor Who videotape releases Cybermen – The Early Years in 1992 and The Colin Baker Years in 1994, with the latter a look back at his tenure on the series highlighted by clips and his memories.

Baker reprised the role on television only once after 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 June 2014 Baker has recorded 83 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.

In November 2013 Baker co-starred in the one-off 50th anniversary comedy homage The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.[14]

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 Levin'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[15] and a UK tour of The Woman in White.

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. Other 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 includes The Harpist (1999), The Asylum (2000)[16] and D'Artagnan et les trois mousquetaires (2005).[16] In 2010 he filmed scenes for an independent feature film, Shadows of a Stranger.[17] Since 1995 Baker has written a regular weekly column for local newspaper Bucks Free Press. A compilation of his articles from 1995 to 2009 were published in the book, Look Who's Talking.

Baker participated in the 12th series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!,[18] finishing in 8th place out of 12 celebrities.

Personal life

Baker's first wife was actress Liza Goddard who had appeared with him in the TV series The Brothers. Their marriage lasted 18 months and ended in divorce.[19] With his second wife, actress Marion Wyatt, whom he married in 1982, Baker has four daughters.[20] They also had a son who died of sudden infant death syndrome.[21][22] Baker is a friend of American writer Stephen R. Donaldson, who dedicated his 1991 novel Forbidden Knowledge to him.[23]

Baker is a critic of fox hunting and was among more than 20 high-profile people who signed a letter to members of parliament in 2015 to oppose Conservative prime minister David Cameron's plan to amend the Hunting Act 2004.[24]

Books

  • 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
  • Gallimaufry: A Collection of Short Stories. Hirst Publishing. 30 September 2011. ISBN 1-907959-02-5.
  • Sixth Sense – from the columns of the Bucks Free Press. FBS Publishing Ltd. 6 April 2017. ISBN 978-0993204371

Filmography

Audio drama

Year Title Role Notes
1985 Slipback Sixth Doctor
1999–present Doctor Who: The Monthly Range
2009–2012 Doctor Who: The Lost Stories 11 stories
2011–2018 Jago & Litefoot 7 stories
2016–2017 Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters 2 stories
2016 The Diary of River Song 2 stories

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1975Drive Carefully, DarlingBrainShort
1999The HarpistFather Rupitsch
2000The AsylumArbuthnot
2004D'Artagnan et les trois mousquetairesRutaford
2014Finding RichardGrandadShort
Shadows of a StrangerWilliam Fallon
A Dozen SummersThe Narrator
2015The Mild BunchJohn Harold
2016Last Man on EarthProfessor James FriedkinShort
2016When I Grow UpHimselfShort

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1970The Adventures of Don QuickRebelEpisode: "People Isn't Everything"
Happy Ever AfterReceptionistEpisode: "The Ambassador"
No – That's Me Over Here!Uncredited2 episodes
Roads to FreedomClaude3 episodes
1971The Mind of Mr. J. G. ReederReigateEpisode: "The Shadow Man
Public EyeTown Hall ClerkEpisode: "The Man Who Didn't Eat Sweets"
Cousin BetteCount Wenceslas Steinbock5 episodes
The Silver SwordGerman Lieutenant1 episode
Now Look HereUncredited1 episode
1972War & PeaceAnatole Kuragin4 episodes
The MoonstoneJohn Herncastle1 episode
The Man OutsideGloverEpisode: "Murder Story"
VillainsReporterEpisode: "His Dad Named Him After the General"
1973The EdwardiansJoseph LaycockEpisode: "Daisy"
Harriet's Back in TownMike Baker2 episodes
Orson Welles Great MysteriesGeorge BarclayEpisode: "A Terribly Strange Bed"
1974Within These WallsDavid JenkinsEpisode: "Prisoner by Marriage"
The Carnforth PracticeBob AndersonEpisode: "Undue Influence"
Fall of EaglesCrown Prince Willie2 episodes
1974–1976The BrothersPaul Merroney46 episodes
1979Doctors and NursesMr. BennettEpisode: Mums and Dads
1980Blakes 7BaybanEpisode: "City at the Edge of the World"
For Maddie with LoveUncredited
1981Dangerous Davies: The Last DetectiveWilliam LindTV movie
1982Juliet BravoFrankie MillerEpisode: "The Intruder"
1983The CitadelMr. Vaughan1 episode
Doctor WhoCommander Maxil3 episodes
1984Swallows and Amazons Forever!: Coot ClubDr. DudgeonTV movie
Swallows and Amazons Forever!: The Big SixTV movie
1984–1986Doctor WhoSixth Doctor32 episodes
1985Jim'll Fix ItEpisode: "A Fix with Sontarans"
1986Roland Rat: The SeriesDoctor Who1 episode
1989Myth Makers Vol. 19: Colin BakerHimselfVideo
CasualtyColin MilesEpisode: Accidents Happen
1992Summoned by ShadowsThe StrangerVideo short
More Than a MessiahVideo short
Cybermen: The Early YearsPresenterVideo
1993The Young Indiana Jones ChroniclesHarry George ChauvelEpisode: "Palestine, October 1917"
Doctor Who: Dimensions in TimeSixth DoctorTV short
The Stranger: In Memory AloneThe StrangerVideo
The Airzone SolutionArnold DaviesVideo
1994The Zero ImperativePeter RussellVideo
The Stranger: The Terror GameThe Stranger / SolomanVideo
Breach of the PeaceVideo
1995Harry's MadMr. PerkinsEpisode: "Meaty Chunks"
Eye of the BeholderThe Stranger / SolomanVideo
1997The Famous FiveFake Mr. Brent2 episodes
Jonathan CreekHedley ShaleThe Wrestler's Tomb
The KnockDonald Dewhurst / Desmond Dewhurst4 episodes
A Dance to the Music of TimeCanon FenneauEpisode: "Post War"
The BillWilliam GuthrieEpisode: "Going Down"
1998CasualtyDavid VincentEpisode: "An Eye for an Eye"
1999SunburnJohn Buchanan1 episode
The Waiting TimeGiles FlemingTV movie
DangerfieldVicarEpisode: "Haunted"
Soul's ArkGalicoVideo
2000HollyoaksThe Judge1 episode
Time Gentlemen PleaseProfessor BakerEpisode: "Day of the Trivheads"
TravelWiseJonathanVideo
2001DoctorsJack HowardEpisode: "Matters of Principle"
2002Doctor Who: Real TimeSixth Doctor6 episodes
2003Top Gear1 episode
2004The Impressionable Jon CulshawMr. Allen1 episode
2006The Afternoon PlayJudgeEpisode: "Your Mother Should Know"
DoctorsCharles DillonEpisode: "Honourable Gentlemen"
2009KingdomMr. Dodds1 episode
DoctorsProfessor Claybourne JarvisEpisode: "The Romantics"
2010 Hustle Phil Episode: Tiger Troubles
2011DoctorsAugustus BloomEpisode: "Every Heart That Beats"
2013The Five(ish) Doctors RebootHimselfTV movie
2015Star Trek ContinuesMinister AmphidamasEpisode: "The White Iris"
2018Celebrity 5 Go CampingHimselfEpisode: "S1 Ep2"

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
1997Destiny of the DoctorsSixth DoctorVoice; archive sound
2015Lego Dimensions

References

  1. "Colin Baker biography". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  2. "Ask Colin". Colin Baker Online. Archived from the original on 4 June 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 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 1790s 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.
  3. "Colin Baker: Time Gentleman". Cambridge News. 5 July 2012. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  4. Rawson-Jones, Ben (1 June 2008). "Whatever Happened to Blake's 7?". Digital Spy. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  5. "Amid the suits, a man who stands out". The Guardian. London, UK. 3 April 2004. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  6. "Michael Grade delivers second opinion on Doctor Who: 'I was wrong'". The Guardian. London. 5 January 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  7. DVD Commentary: Trial of a Time Lord, Discs 1–4 Region 1 Edition
  8. David Woodward (Writer, producer, Director) (1986). They All Axed for Who (Television production). New Orleans: WYES. Event occurs at 0:05:30.
  9. "Colin Baker". BBC Online. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  10. Trials and Tribulations – documentary on Colin Baker's era of Doctor Who (2008 2entertain DVD release).
  11. Jeffery, Morgan. "Colin Baker says he was "selfish" not to film Doctor Who regeneration scene: 'I forgot about the fans'". Radio Times. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  12. "Colin Baker – Honorary President!". DWAS Online. 5 September 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  13. "2018 American Institutional Confidence Poll". Georgetown University Baker Center McCourt School of Public Policy. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  14. "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot", BBC programmes, retrieved 26 November 2013
  15. "Inspector Morse Has Stage Debut with Colin Baker". What's On Stage. 5 May 2010. Archived from the original on 13 October 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  16. Westthorp, Alex (16 April 2014). "Dr Who: Films of Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy". Den of Geek. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  17. "Doctor Who News: People Roundup". Gallifrey News base. 26 June 2010. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  18. "Celebrities: I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!". ITV.com. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  19. Walne, Toby (1 April 2013). "Actress Liza Goddard: 'Money is made to be spent'". The Daily Telegraph. Marrying Dr Who and a glam rock star – a financially astute move?.
  20. "Biography". Colin Baker Online. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  21. "Visits 'would help prevent deaths'". BBC News. 2 February 2000.
  22. "Colin's Major role". BBC Three Counties Radio. 24 September 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  23. Donaldson, Stephen R. (August 2004). "Gradual Interview". stephendonaldson.net. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  24. "SNP to vote against Tories on fox hunting ban in England and Wales". STV. 13 July 2015. Archived from the original on 15 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
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