Doctor Who star Colin Baker’s gag backfires, but he’s still the king of audio

The erstwhile and verbose colorful action man, Colin Baker may no longer look like his TV counterpart from the 80’s, but he is still a strong actor on stage and screen, appearing as Inspector Morse in House of Ghosts and currently playing an abandoned husband obsessed with listening to cricket matches in the garden in the production of The Final Test.

Baker is possibly the most enthusiastic actor to have ever played the role of the Doctor and was unceremoniously rousted from the part. We can talk about this in a new light these days as he has won over fans as the Doctor in the Big Finish audio range and is even the acting president of the Doctor Who fan club, a mantle he has taken over from Jon Pertwee and Nicholas Courtney.

But a recent joke regarding a return to Doctor Who may have back-fired… if the 50th anniversary will feature any of the classic Doctors at all. It’s rather sobering to hear Baker state that the new series ‘doesn’t need him’ and yet he seems to say so without any venom in his heart.

Sixth Doctor Who Colin Baker

At that event [all five classic Doctor appearing at Milton Keynes] you said you wouldn’t be interested in getting involved with a 50th anniversary special next year. Really?

I said it purely to irritate. ’Cos they’d all said: ‘yeah yeah, I’d be interested’ so to provoke a reaction I said: ‘I wouldn’t’. And nobody took me up on it! I thought they’d ask me why and I’d say: ‘Well I might if they were nice to me’, but I never got the opportunity. So it was a gag that fell like a lead lump and didn’t go any further!

So if Steven Moffat calls, I’ll tell him you’re available?

Do you know, it’s not going to happen. They don’t need us – the programme is doing extremely well without us. Also, every time someone asks me that question I hold up a photograph of myself when I played the part, compared to what I look like now, and say, ‘OK, how do you deal with that?’ With four of us, all of whom have moved on – some less gracefully than others. You know, Peter still looks a bit like what he looked like, but I’ve changed.

Doctor Who (Colin Baker) in 1986’s Terror of the Vervoids

It’s Doctor Who – I’m sure they could get round that.
I suppose they could. And in theory, I’m neither for nor against it. There would be two big questions I would ask: The first is, is my Doctor going to get a fair crack of the whip in the story, and not be eclipsed by anybody else? Because you want parity. And the other one is, what vast fortune are you offering me? I’d be quite brutal about myself and say, if they offered me a million quid, I’d go on and say one line for them. If they offered me a tenner, I wouldn’t.

It’s the apple of the BBC’s eye now, isn’t it, which is the exact opposite of your day.

I know, I do envy the three most recent Doctors because the BBC have suddenly realised they’ve got a golden egg in their hands. And they had it then, but the BBC back then seemed to be almost embarrassed about having popular programmes. Now, with all the reality television, they’re falling over themselves to reach the lowest common denominator. So it’s quite nice that a programme that actually does have high production standards like Doctor Who is extremely successful.

(more at CambridgeNews)


20 thoughts on “Doctor Who star Colin Baker’s gag backfires, but he’s still the king of audio

  1. Colin is probably right… that the new group will not reach out to him or the others… but as for Colin still “looking the part”… People should remember, Colin has an out!

    Colin was so unceremoniously dumped from the show that he didn’t come back for his regeneration… so the last time we actually saw Colin was the season previous. The way Doctor Who goes, Colin’s Doctor could have had further adventures off screen that we never saw… and we technically can say we don’t know what Colin looked like when he died.

    An effective way to use Colin for the 50th anniversary, thus, might be to give him a proper sendoff… Since they can have McCoy too… and while he was older at his regeneration and can still look the part I think… with some creative makeup and perhaps CGI, you could have McCoy look almost young enough to his early days at least without a closeup… So, how about some timey wimeyness that allows Colin Baker (as he looks today) to perform some heroic act to save the universe that results in him being propelled to a recreation of that McCoy regeneration scene, only this time we get to see Colin Baker.

    It could be made to work… and of all the old Doctors to “deserve” an invite to the anniversary… While I’ve love to see them all somehow (and granted Peter David, and Sylvester McCoy are closest in still looking the part)… I argue Colin Baker is owed this by the BBC. No actor so wanted to play the part than Colin, and no actor was as screwed over as he was. It would be fitting to not only work him into the story BUT also to give him his regeneration scene after all these years.


  2. I doubt the BBC would see it that way because they aren’t the same BBC anymore! I would still like to see the “old” Doctors take part in some way, as there is any number of ways to account for the change in their appearance. It’d be good to see them given some respect, and it’d be a real boost for Colin Baker, McCoy, and McGann who have all been seen as Black Sheep of the Doctor Who family (even McCoy as, despite some good stories, his reign co-incided with the final collapse of the original run). After all what other “special” thing could they do for the anniversary apart from an Square One relaunch? They’ve had multi-Monster Mashes, they’ve had Davros and the Daleks trying to Kill Reality, and they’ve even had the Doctor sort-of not-really “truly die”; so genuinely celebrating the series’ illustrious (and not-so illustrious) past with the return of the surviving past Doctor-actors seems like a fine idea. Whether they’ll have the courage, the respect for the past, or the faith in the new audience’s imaginations to actually use them is another question. What do you think?


  3. They have certainly kept it under wraps if they are returning any of the classic Doctors for the anniversary. I would happily applaud them for being able to keep such a secret IF it were to happen.

    I still would like to see my multiple-Master idea at some point… and along those lines I still think Terrance Stamp would make an excellent Master. IF they really wanted to throw a twist into things… how about a reverse of the Trial of a Time Lord from Colin’s final series… and have a future Master turn out to be good and pulling the strings behind a multiple Master storyline in an attempt to rehabilitate himself?


  4. Terrance Stamp as the Master? Not a bad idea, at least it’s a much better idea than having Bloomin’ Boring Benedict Cumberbatch in the role, though Terry may be slightly too decrepit now!
    A reverse-Trial of a Time Lord? You mean a good version? 😉 Um, I’m afraid that would be too convoluted, and you’re giving me nightmare flashbacks to working out what precisely the Valeyard was. The concept of a Future Master who *appears* to be good, now that *could* work. I like your Multiple-Master concept it could be a kind-of The Five Masters. That said, if you bring Kamelion or the Teselecta into it I’ll go bughouse crazy 🙂 Unfortunately, as Roger Delgado and Tony Ainley are dead the Multi-Master story has a major flaw. Perhaps the Master could infect the Doctor with a temporal sickness that causes him to (time)slip backwards through his past selves while aging all the time (thus accounting for their altered appearances)? Okay, maybe not!
    I have thought that’d be great if a deal had been made and all the (living) Doctors were keeping the fact of their involvement in the anniversary stories a secret, that really *would* be a great surprise. I can Dream.


    • “A reverse-Trial of a Time Lord? You mean a good version?”

      Exactly… Reverse in every way… Instead of the evil future-Doctor, we have a good future-Master. The evil Doctor wanted to kill the Doctor and take his regenerations. The good Master would want to save the Master and give him regenerations. In Trial of a Timelord there was a trial… In Bestowal of the Master, there would simply be a bestowal, no trial. Instead of the good Doctor thinking he kills the evil Doctor, the evil Master will know he saves the good Master. At the end of Trial, Colin got a confusing new surprise companion without explanation… At the end of Bestowal, the Master will lose someone and it will be fully explained. And so forth with similar reverse silliness.

      But seriously… You’re probably right about Terrance Stamp being older now… but he really would have fit the Delgado mold better than Ainley did actually… and would have fit, plus he has a creepy style about him when he plays a bad guy.

      I wish they could have done this with Delgado and Ainley… but without Delgado’s untimely death we may never have gotten Ainley… and the long hiatus took care of the rest since Ainley died before the new series came around… The only possible Masters we “know” are available: Skeletor, Eric Roberts, John Simm, and Derek Jacobi. Given the vagueness of Jacobi’s time as a human… he could have been human long enough to age… so there could be a young-Jacobi Master possibility… also, Delgado was at the end of his regenerations (as explained when Skeletor showed up)… so we could have a new Master from earlier that we’ve never seen before. It’s also theoretically possible that Eric Roberts’ Master is the younger version of Derek Jacobi (take that Roberts haters!) in the timeline… since we sort of figure McGann’s Doctor died in the Time War to become Eccleston as we see him to be fairly new in “Rose” with the new series. No reason why Roberts’ Master couldn’t also have survived to go into hiding and then age as a human until becoming Jacobi.

      I’ll let the Teselecta go… but I still think its only fair if we get Kameleon… after all, we got K-9! I would really like to have found out more about Kameleon… not even joking here… I got the impression they had more planned for him/it but decided to change gears. (ha, see what I did there… Kameleon, robot, change gears!)

      Last but not least… I still wonder if they couldn’t do a DS-9/Star Trek Tribbles thing… and have the new Doctors interact with footage of classic Doctors… especially if they use unused footage, deleted scenes, or stuff from Tom Baker’s Shada unfinished story.


  5. Interesting idea, it isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility that they could do that. I presume you know this but Kamelion was meant to be an honest-to-goodness companion, unfortunately it’s creator died and they couldn’t even get it to stand so it was basically a piece of robotic junk. Hence, it was stuck in the backrooms of the TARDIS before they had the Doctor – rather uncharacteristically “kill it off” in Planet of Fire. I think they should have replaced him with Metal Mickey! If you don’t know him, look him up “Boogie! Boogie!”. Now, there’s a robot for you…
    P. S. They could bring the Jonathan Pryce-Master from Moffat’s Curse of the Fatal Death spoof! At least that was quite funny; Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant (surprisingly) and Richard E Grant arguably all made better Doctors than 9 thru 11 while Julia Sawalha was a ripe companion.


    • It isn’t just me that notices how several of the story elements of the “Curse of the Fatal Death” have made it into actual continuity in the new Who is it?

      The flatulence… the Doctor loves a companion… a cheeky suggestive female “timelord” of sorts? It’s more than a little scary if you go back and watch that parody and realize some of it is continuity now in a weird way!


  6. Scary indeed. I’d forgotten about those flatulent Slitheen. Urk. Maybe they were communicating the words “Yes – we ARE Rubbish!”. At least Curse was supposed to be ludicrous. As for the Doctor as Romantic Hero, well that’s Moffat’s “thing”, he’s even turned Holmes from an enigmatic figure into a much more obvious Ponce who lets people call him by his first name. I’m rather sick of the Doctor being a “chick magnet”, Moffat has some “issues”!
    I liked the “suggestive” Joanna Lumley Doctor much more than Canal Tune uhrrm River Song, I must say. And the camp Pryce-Master was probably better than the Simm thing (even though he looked a bit too much like Graham Crowden’s similarly over-the-top Soldeed!).
    Curse was certainly funnier than the abysmal Doctor Who Night sketches with David Walliams and Mark Gatiss.


  7. Steven Moffat has already explained the ageing of the previous Doctors in multi-Doctor stories in Time Crash. It’s to do with a previous Doctor entering the present Doctor’s time line.


    • But how far can that contrivance be stretched and is the Beeb really all that interested in bringing back the classic actors? Remember that they were dead set against McCoy appearing in the McGann TV Movie and it took Seagal’s insistence on keeping him. I don’t want to be a wet blanket because I know that (love him or hate him) Moffatt describes himself as a big fan of classic Who, but we may not see them on screen again. If that’s the case, it’s such a shame as fans of the new program would benefit from seeing all the ‘old Doctors,’ possibly for the first time. And McGann deserves another shot at it. The more i listen to him on audio the more frustrated I am that his tenure ended with one TV appearance. He could have been the most popular Doctor in a very long time… He still could, in fact!


  8. @Basil, yes I’m aware of that. However, Timecrash was a sort-of squib and if Moffat was to do a true multi-Doctor story he might not feel beholden to it and would certainly have to repeat that explanation. It’s fine to handwave the change in appearance in such a jokey vehicle (the Ninth Doctor telling the Fifth that he was “his favourite” more or less is more the writer than the character… I think!) but it might be more difficult in a more substantial story. Certainly you’d have to think of those who *hadn’t* seen Timecrash, and I wonder if they’d have faith in a wider audience accepting those changes. I’d like to make clear that *I* have no real problem with that explanation but others, they would and I’m not sure that the makers of New Who would take the risk. I hope they do.


    • Agreed… While I have no problem with the explanation… it did occur in non-continuity for a red-nose-day special. It actually has the same continuity (which is to say none) as the Curse of the Fatal Death does!

      I think we’re either headed towards the best kept secret in Doctor Who… or the biggest disappointment if they really aren’t including any of the past Doctors.


  9. Yes Indeed, SJV, I agree. Some have claimed Timecrash to be in-continuity but I can’t see how that works myself! Doctor 9 didn’t seem to remember it (in, was it The Next Doctor?) did he?! Although I’m sure someone somewhere has an “explanation” ;). I *really* hope it doesn’t turn out to be a disappointment…but I won’t hold my breath. Although it’d probably be better for everyone if I did!


    • I wish Timecrash was in-continuity… Truth be told, there’s no reason it couldn’t be actually. They did do what amounts to be an extended intro of David Tennant’s Doctor for that year’s Christmas special and included it similarly as bonus material on that series DVD release… but I’m not sure that “because it could be” is enough to count these.

      I wish… and as Amy said in the Doctor’s Wife… “did you wish really hard”… maybe wishing hard enough will make Timecrash count. The best thing about Timecrash was how it showed that an “old” Doctor could work alongside a new Doctor in the new series. Peter Davison was a little older of course, but he is a good actor, so give him a good script and he can pull it off. I have no doubts that McGann and McCoy could similarly work as well. Colin Baker’s personality would fit just fine… but I agree one has to look past his more obvious physical difference.

      BUT… a bit of genius if they had the budget… Look what was done in Captain America to give pre-Cap that uber-skinny body… They could do some CGI effects if they have the money to help Colin out a bit if they wanted.


  10. I would say that ‘Time Crash’ was definitely in-continuity. Besides being made by the same people who make the regular series, it occured just after the Tenth Doctor (not the Ninth by the way) said goodbye to Martha at the end of ‘Last of the Time Lords’ and ended with the space Titanic from ‘Voyage of the Damned’ crashing into the Tardis (I believe its stated by one or both Doctors that they won’t remember the meeting once they part ways). Its just like the minisode from Red Nose Day where we (the audience) and Rose were introduced to the Tenth Doctor in between ‘Parting of the Ways’ and ‘The Christmas Invasion’. Both of those short episodes incorporate the continuity of the series so it makes sense they are in-continuity themselves. ‘Curse of the Fatal Death’ was an out and out spoof made when Doctor Who wasn’t even on the air and involved neither cast, crew or plots from the series. Two completely different set-ups.

    Regardless of that, I think the explanation is quite a nifty one, its simple and makes sense (as much as anything in Doctor Who makes sense, remember its fantasy not hard sci-fi). A lot of the ‘science’ of new Who is jokey off the cuff stuff anyway (“timey-whimey” for instance), and there is no reason for it not to be easily and quickly expressed a second time (imagine the Sixth Doctor confused by his clothes not fitting him anymore – a good excuse to get rid of his awful coat if nothing else).

    I don’t understand some people’s aversion to a multi-Doctor story on the basis of certain actors ageing. How they look isn’t important, its the actor’s personality and screen presence that’s important, and the nostalgia that conveys. An anniversary story is about celebrating the programme’s history, and I can’t think of a more entertaining and fun way to do it. As someone said above, what’s left to do? We’ve had monster mash-ups, returning villains and companions, as well as exta long episodes, the only thing we haven’t had yet is a feature length multi-Doctor story, and the perfect time to do it is the 50th anniversary. That’s what they did when I was a nipper and I loved ‘The Five Doctors’, flaws and all.

    So here’s hoping all those references to past Doctors over the last couple of years were for a reason…although I won’t being holding my breath either, just crossing my fingers.


    • I think we agree that Timecrash was good… that it provides a good plausible explanation for the age appearance thing… and that there’s nothing about it that prevents it from being in-continuity. But, unless and until the show-runners declare it to be continuity, I don’t see how it can be officially. Many of the writers on the show have also written novels… and nothing about those novels couldn’t be continuity… but the fact remains that those novels are not in-continuity in the show unless and until their plot points are officially integrated. We can like them and think of them as part of the continuity… but they just aren’t officially.

      But like I said… Timecrash was fun and I liked it, and there’s no reason it couldn’t be in continuity. I hope IF we get a multi-Doctor story that they say/do something to officially make Timecrash count too.


      • I still ascertain that its in the programme’s continuity for the reasons I stated above (it incorporates the previous and next episode), I think the discussion is whether its considered canon, which is a whole new can of worms. Just from a quick perusal of the net, its most widely considered to be anything by the current programme makers involving the official Doctors, but both Moffat and Russell T. Davies have said that is a bit of a nonsense and that anything can be considered canon, its too limiting a term for a programme about a “dimension-hopping time traveller”. Anyway, as I said, a can of worms.

        Just as an aside, I was wondering if Paul Mcgann’s new look might have something to do with an anniversary appearence. He’s said in the past he wouldn’t mind appearing as long as he didn’t have to wear that wig form the TV movie. Perhaps a re-think of his costume was done with the notion of a possible on-screen appearance.


      • Re: McGann’s look… when they first introduced his new look & screwdriver… it sure seemed for all the world like something was brewing. I mean, they didn’t need to do that for the audio adventures… so it only made sense if it was a tease of a future appearance on the show. I think a lot of us are hoping to see him as much as anyone.


  11. Agreed, Basil. You’ll forgive my being fuzzy on the timing of Timecrash and saying Ninth when I meant Mr Allons-y – I’m OLD! (well probably about your age actually according to your Five Doctors reference…) Swiss-cheese brain you know when it comes to the last decade ;). I remember enjoying The Five Doctors as child (and loved the novelisation), seeing all those Doctors, villains, and companions – for the first time in some cases – was fantastic. From a modern perspective it’s still silly fun nonsense and apart from the lack of William Hartnell, Gel Guards, and Jo Grant Patented Panty-Flashing it’s better than The Three Doctors (blasphemy). It would be Great if they could put together a Multi-Doctor 50th Anniversary She-bang. Imagine how thrilling it’d be to see them all in action especially for those who’ve never seen them. Yep, I agree with you!


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