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Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (7) | Trivia (33) | Personal Quotes (71)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 20 January 1934Liverpool, England, UK
Birth NameThomas Stewart Baker
Height 6' 3" (1.91 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The British character actor Tom Baker, best known as the fourth incarnation of The Doctor, was born in 1934 in Liverpool, England, to Mary Jane (Fleming) and John Stewart Baker. His father was of English and Scottish descent, while his mother's family was originally from Ireland. Tom, along with his younger sister, Lulu, and younger brother, John, was raised in a poor Catholic community by his mother, a house-cleaner and barmaid, who was a devout Catholic, and his father, a sailor, who was rarely at home. At age fifteen, Baker left school to become a monk with the Brothers of Ploermel on the island of Jersey. Six years later, he abandoned the monastic life and performed his National Service in the Royal Army Medical Corps., where he became interested in acting. Baker then served on the Queen Mary for seven months as a sailor in the Merchant Navy before attending Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in Kent, England, on scholarship. Baker acted in repertory theaters around Britain until the late 1960s when he joined up with the National Theatre, where he performed with such respected actors as Maggie Smith, Anthony Hopkins and Laurence Olivier, who helped him get his first prominent film role as Rasputin in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971). His performance in this film earned him two Golden Globe Award nominations, one for best actor in a supporting role and another for best new star of the year. A couple of years earlier, Baker had made his theatrical film debut in The Winter's Tale (1967). Despite appearances in a spate of films, including Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Canterbury Tales (1972), The Mutations (1974), The Vault of Horror (1973) and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), Baker was working as a labourer at a building site when he landed the role of the main character in the popular, long-running British television series Doctor Who (1963), a role that brought him international fame and popularity. After his seven-year stint as Dr. Who from 1974 to 1981, Baker returned to theatre and made occasional television and film appearances, playing Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1982), Puddleglum in The Chronicles of Narnia story The Silver Chair (1990) and Hallvarth, Clan Leader of the Hunter Elves, in Dungeons & Dragons (2000). Throughout his career, Baker's acting style has been to portray his characters with a "larger-than-life" air.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Lyn Hammond, corrected by Dylan Hewson

Spouse (3)

Sue Jerrard Baker (1 April 1986 - present)
Lalla Ward (13 December 1980 - 1982) (divorced)
Anna Wheatcroft (1961 - 1966) (divorced) (2 children)

Trade Mark (7)

Curly hair
Staring eyes
Manic toothy grin
Powerful, velvety voice
His iconic, long-running role as The Doctor.
Eccentric, humorous and garrulous personality
Towering height

Trivia (33)

His incarnation of the Doctor has made silent cameo appearances several times in both The Simpsons (1989) and Futurama (1999). Matt Groening is said to be fan of Doctor Who (1963). However Baker himself has never been a guest star on either show.
He is the longest-serving actor to have portrayed the Doctor in Doctor Who (1963), having played the role for seven seasons from 1974 to 1981, producing 172 episodes. In second place is his immediate predecessor, Jon Pertwee, who played the Third Doctor for five seasons from 1970 to 1974.
With the death of Jon Pertwee on May 20, 1996, he is both the oldest and earliest surviving Doctor from Doctor Who (1963).
Tom was a largely unknown, unemployed actor who had actually written to the BBC seeking work shortly before he was cast in his most famous role, as the star of Doctor Who (1963). His appointment as Jon Pertwee's successor came after series producer Barry Letts had already considered for the role more famous actors Jim Dale, Richard Hearne, Michael Bentine, Graham Crowden and Fulton Mackay, all of whom had been discounted for various reasons.
Has performed with the National Theatre, the Bristol Old Vic and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Children, with Anna Wheatcroft: Daniel and Piers.
Known for his rich, resonant voice, he has done a lot of voiceover work during his post-Doctor Who career, including many television commercials in the UK.
He has been mistaken by members of the public for Jon Pertwee.
Trained at Rose Bruford Drama School, Sidcup, Kent, UK alongside Freddie Jones. Later members include actors Ray Fearon, Gary Oldman and Stephen Armourae.
Tom is the son of John Stewart Baker and Mary Jane (Fleming). Tom's paternal grandparents were Thomas Victor Baker, a farmer's son, and Sarah Grieve, who had Scottish ancestry, and was the daughter of Robert Grieve and Agnes Stewart. Tom's maternal grandfather, William Henry Fleming, was born in Liverpool, to Irish parents, Bridget and John Fleming. Tom's maternal grandmother, Christina Usher, was also born in Liverpool, to James Usher, who was from Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland, and Rose Ann Colligan, who was born in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, and had Irish ancestry.
During his youth he was an apprentice monk for six years and lived in a monastery on the island of Jersey.
He is the longest-lived actor to have played the Doctor in Doctor Who (1963). He surpassed his predecessor Jon Pertwee on December 5, 2010. He became the first Doctor to reach the age of 77 on January 20, 2011.
At 6'3", he was the tallest actor to play the Doctor in Doctor Who (1963). His immediate predecessor, Jon Pertwee, was marginally shorter at 6'2".
His period on Doctor Who (1963) was the ratings high point of the series and produced many of the most enduringly popular stories. In a 1998 poll in Doctor Who (1963) Magazine, five of the stories voted into the top ten were from his period: Doctor Who: City of Death: Part One (1979), Doctor Who: The Robots of Death: Part One (1977), Doctor Who: Pyramids of Mars: Part One (1975), Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng-Chiang: Part One (1977) and the story voted into first place, Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks: Part One (1975). In fan site Outpost Gallifrey's 40th anniversary poll, six of the stories voted into the top ten were from his period: Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin: Part One (1976), Doctor Who: The Robots of Death: Part One (1977), Doctor Who: City of Death: Part One (1979), Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks: Part One (1975), Doctor Who: Pyramids of Mars: Part One (1975) and the serial voted into first place, Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng-Chiang: Part One (1977). In addition to this, in 2003 he was voted the best star of Doctor Who (1963) in a poll in the Radio Times and again in 2005 by readers of science fiction magazine SFX.
He is a voracious reader of books.
After leaving Doctor Who (1963) in 1981, he was often reluctant to reprise his role as the Fourth Doctor. He refused to appear in the 1983 anniversary special The Five Doctors (footage of him from the unfinished story Shada was used instead), although he did appear in the 1993 Comic Relief special Dimensions In Time. When Big Finish Productions started making new Doctor Who audio stories in 1999, he repeatedly turned down offers from them until recently he changed his mind and a series of stories starring him as the Fourth Doctor started being released from January 2012.
He used to do lots of drinking in the pubs and bars of London and old drinking buddies included the artist Francis Bacon, the journalist Jeffrey Barnard, and Anthony Hopkins.
His first wife's uncle was the famous English rose grower Harry Wheatcroft.
Already possesses his own gravestone, with his name and year of birth carved onto it (but the year of death left blank). It resided in the graveyard next to the converted schoolhouse he used to live in before he moved.
Married his Doctor Who (1963) co-star Lalla Ward (who played the Doctor's companion Romana) when they were both leaving the program. They divorced 16 months later. She later married Richard Dawkins, one of the world's biggest proponents of atheism. Baker was once an apprentice Catholic monk but has since rejected religion and in interviews and in his autobiography has spoken rather cynically about the religious indoctrination he experienced as a youth.
During his 2 years National Service in the Royal Army Medical Corps he worked as the curator of a small museum on his base which no one visited and then as an orderly at a military hospital in Germany.
Did not start acting until he was in his thirties.
He has two roles in common with Peter Cushing: (1) Cushing played Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), Sherlock Holmes (1964) and Sherlock Holmes and the Masks of Death (1984) while Baker played him in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1982) and (2) Baker played the Doctor in Doctor Who (1963) while Cushing played him in Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966).
He was considered for the cameo role of Doctor Armstrong in Lifeforce (1985). Patrick Stewart was eventually cast in the role.
In 2006, he and his wife Sue Jerrard moved back to England after spending four years living in south west France.
Was working as a bricklayer and between homes when he was cast as The Doctor.
Laurence Olivier suggested him for the role of Grigori Rasputin in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971).
In a 2005 survey of British adults, Baker's voice was found to be the fourth most recognizable after Queen Elizabeth II, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher.
He has two roles in common with Christopher Lee: (1) Lee played Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962), Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1991) and Incident at Victoria Falls (1992) while Baker played him in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1982) and (2) Lee played Grigory Rasputin in Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966) while Baker played him in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971).
He has two roles in common with Basil Rathbone: (1) Rathbone played Sir Guy of Gisbourne in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) while Baker played him in The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood (1984) and (2) Rathbone played Sherlock Holmes in 14 films from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) to Dressed to Kill (1946) and Baker played him in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1982).
He was voted the world's fourth most eccentric star by nearly 6,000 readers of the BBC's Homes and Antiques magazine in 2006.
The famous scarf he wore as The Doctor was created by accident. James Acheson, the costume designer assigned to his first story, had provided far more wool than was necessary to the knitter, Begonia Pope; Pope knitted all the wool she was given. Baker decided to wear it anyway.
He was cast as The Doctor after producers were impressed by his performance as Koura in ''The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)''.

Personal Quotes (71)

I wasn't interested in novelty. I was looking for good drama.
To want to be an actor, especially these days, is to be ill.
I am a one success man.
I think quite often a fate worse than death is life, for lots of people.
The Old Testament is my favourite science fantasy reading.
I'm very interested in nostalgia because that's pretty well all that's left for me.
I'm a sort of Buddhist, like all actors are, you know, that nonsense about not bathing in the same river twice - you're not even the same person bathing in the same river. So actors, it seems to me, I don't know much about them, I avoid them like the plague, especially the ones at my age, but inevitably I do meet them and they do seem to me to be a bit like me in that they are not really certain who they are.
I recently got a copy of the Tom Baker Friendship Group's Fan Letter. It said owing to diminishing interest the price of this fan letter is going up from 30 to 58 pence.
[on Sprung! The Magic Roundabout (2005)]: I haven't seen a script but I've accepted everything, simply because the money was excellent.
The biggest cause of death in Maidstone is boredom.
I learned nothing at drama school. The tutors were all far too old and out of date. Not their fault. I'm now extremely old and very dated.
[on the Doctor Who (1963) serial Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng-Chiang: Part One (1977)] The BBC is very good at period drama but not very good at giant rats.
I think I'm made for the role of Donald MacDonald (Monarch of the Glen (2000)). He's quite clearly from another planet.
I enjoy overacting and I'm very good at it. I suppose you could say I've made a career out of it.
As you get near death, as I am, you have to laugh at everything. Otherwise the alternative is to be utterly depressed.
I've never had a problem with the fame thing, but as I get older I feel I am starting to look less and less like Tom Baker. People used to mistake me for Shirley Williams, but now they just seem to mistake me for my Great Auntie Molly.
I don't watch television. I know better than that.
[on David Tennant, who began playing the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who (2005)]: I did watch a little bit of the new Doctor Who and I think the new fella, Tennant, is excellent.
[on leaving Doctor Who (1963)] I began to realize that I was not much fun to work with from the point of view of the producer because I got very, very opinionated. I thought that I knew what worked. It meant that I was quite difficult to deal with. And so when I offered my resignation I was quite astounded at how swiftly it was accepted.
Doctor Who (1963) is watched at several levels in an average household. The smallest child terrified behind a sofa or under a cushion, and the next one up laughing at him, and the elder one saying 'sh, I want to listen', and the parents saying 'isn't this enjoyable'.
I began to get into the part and then the part began to get into me... I was the Doctor and the Doctor was me... for more than six years I left myself and floated about as a hero.
Dickens (Charles Dickens) is full of all that theatricality from simple times when people could be heroic, ridiculous and strike attitude. And, of course, all that pretentiousness and snobbery is right up my street. I was born to play Mr Crummles. Even when I played Macbeth, someone said to me that I would make a great Crummles.
[on winning a poll in the Radio Times as the best star of Doctor Who (1963)] The readers' vote is very pleasing and reassuring. I was lucky because all my stuff was in colour, the scripts were coming along, the effects were getting more refined, the sets didn't fall over so often.
[on the sexual portrayal of the Doctor in the revived series, Doctor Who (2005)] It was inconceivable during our time. We didn't think like that. I played him entirely... I never did handle the girls. Or if I did handle the girls, I always did it clumsily, because I reasoned that the Doctor wouldn't know about that.
[on returning to the part of the Doctor] I don't know what it will be like and they haven't approached me yet and I'd want to have some say about the script. I'm not asking for Tom Stoppard to write the script but for it to be as I remember it and as the others remember their time.
[Speaking in 2009] I think it is quite difficult now to surprise an audience with special effects, you may please an audience, but visually you can't actually amaze an audience can you? In a sense you just watch them trying, but if people can appear and disappear and walk through walls and disappear and then carry on fencing or kissing girls, that amazes me.
30-odd years later people say, 'What did it feel like when you left Doctor Who (1963)?' I never did leave Doctor Who (1963) because it never left me.
Frank Bough said to me once, 'Don't you think, actually, your programme frightens people?' I said, 'Not nearly as much as your programme does.'
Jon Pertwee put a big stamp on Doctor Who (1963). He found a style that was really wonderful.
The whole of television seemed to be staffed entirely by producers, directors and script editors and people like that were all actors, because where did the original people come from? At that time, you see, when television got going, the only people that knew anything about theatricality and plays were actors. So lots of the producers had been actors in their day.
[on The Hound of the Baskervilles (1982)] I was not good in it. The BBC apologised for my performance. They didn't like it at all.
[on the death of Barry Letts] He was the big link in changing my entire life really because it was he who decided to cast me in Doctor Who (1963). It was left down to Barry Letts deciding to employ me or not. He was very anxious at the time because replacing Jon Pertwee was considered a big hurdle. He filled me with great confidence. He was a good man, you know, a really good man. He was a gentleman, you know, that old fashioned gentleman, so kind, so kind. There's no substitute for kindness is there really?
[on David Walliams and Matt Lucas] I've been with them a long time so we're effortlessly friendly. I am very fond of those boys, they're very young, so I feel rather paternal towards them. I'm also full of admiration for what they do and I'm devoted to their bad taste.
I would rather be in Little Britain (2003) than King Lear, because there are more laughs.
[on Doctor Who (2005)] I get sweet messages from time to time from David Tennant, yes, but I've never actually seen it, no. Of course, I didn't watch it when I was in it. Well, once, from behind the sofa.
[on working with the robot dog K9 in Doctor Who (1963)] That's why I've got bad knees now, what with being a monk in my youth, praying to God, and then on my knees in front of bloody K9.
The monsters on Doctor Who were never so amazing as the monsters on the sixth floor of the BBC. There were some improbable looking people there.
I turned down The Five Doctors [Doctor Who: The Five Doctors (1983)] because it wasn't long since I'd left - I had left Doctor Who because I think I'd run my course. I didn't want to play 20% of the part. I didn't fancy being a feed for other Doctors - in fact, it filled me with horror.
[on Black-Adder II: Potato (1986)] I keep getting money because they repeat my appalling Blackadder performance. Did you ever see me as the legless sea captain? For which someone should have taken away my Equity card. It was terrible and the buggers keep playing it.
Jon [Jon Pertwee] found it physically impossible to buy a drink. He liked the idea of big sums of money for voice-overs, so I would say in Jon's earshot that someone had offered me £15,000 for a voiceover, but I turned it down because it was going to take a whole hour. This wasn't true, but I could hear Jon's heart pounding. In fact, he died of a heart attack shortly after that. I think that's why.
Graham Williams was absolutely devoted, but he didn't have that kind of flair that Philip [Philip Hinchcliffe] had. But he let me get away with murder, so that was alright!
John Nathan-Turner and I did not see eye-to-eye really about very much. It was only afterwards when he'd gone that I got to realise what he was doing for Doctor Who - he was promoting it all over the world, which was all to my advantage. We became quite good friends as time passed - we forgot all about those disagreements.
[on finding Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood: Part Four (1978) tedious] What is amazing about this, of course, this is the longest episode in the history of Doctor Who.
Now my hair is white, the other day someone mistook me in the street for Claire Rayner. I signed it "Yours sincerely, Claire Rayner." The woman was asking me all sorts of complicated questions about cystitis and things like that.
It was more fun being Doctor Who (1963) than Tom Baker. Tom Baker was just ordinary.
I should never have been an actor really for the simple reason I actually don't like being told what to do. I really don't. Now this is a very bad start for an actor. It really is a very bad start.
No one has ever failed as Doctor Who, no one has ever failed. Remotely. Even the boy who did the film, I've forgotten what his name was.
I've never worked with anybody twice. Mostly because they've died shortly after working with me.
[on his marriage to Lalla Ward] We were deliriously happy for weeks.
Not long ago, I was walking in Oxford Street and a man stopped me: He said, '-Tom Baker??', and I said, 'Yeah.' And he said, 'Tom Baker, Christ...' As he looked at me, I could see him being catapulted back somewhere. And he said, 'When I was a kid, I was in a home in North Wales and, uh, it wasn't very good. They didn't like us, and nobody wanted us. And you made Saturday night good for us, you know?' ...Now, to make a little speech to an old man in Oxford Street thirty-odd years later showed the power, didn't it? Of a benevolent character on children's television.
[on Lalla Ward] Apparently, somebody at a convention in Canada, I think, asked her, 'What was your favourite monster?' - an annihilatingly dull question - and Lalla went, quick as a flash, 'Tom Baker!' I remember thinking, ahh, good old Lalla.
Actors are able to trick themselves into treating anything as fantastic. It's a kind of madness, really.
[on the death of Jon Pertwee] I am very sorry to hear the news. I was a great admirer of such a stylish actor.
The difference between Matt Smith and me is that he's an actor and I'm... well, I'm just Tom Baker.
We are all quite capable of believing in anything as long as it's improbable.
[on army food] Once a man next to me found the handle of a radiator in his mashed potato; he said nothing, merely moving it to the side of his plate after sucking the mashed potato off it first. Nobody else said anything either. If the truth was known several of us were probably jealous.
[on having a star named after him] I'm over the moon.
[when a fan asked him why he left Doctor Who (1963)] I was pushed. By Anthony Ainley.
But we can't escape into the future like we can escape into the past. So those of us who are not certain of things, and there are an awful lot of us, often rush back to the past. And each one has a particular past he prefers to the present. Sometimes I feel that any past is preferable to the present.
The Doctor isn't really an acting part. It's a matter of being inventive enough to project credibility to scenes which aren't credible.
[on Doctor Who (1963)] In the end it was not hard to leave the programme. I felt it in my finger-tips that the time had come to move over and give someone else a chance. There was nothing more I could do with it.
I remember, I was returning with a colleague from Blackpool on a Saturday afternoon and I wanted to see the episode being shown that day. So we stopped at a television shop and asked if we could watch the programme. The assistant said she was just closing, but we could go to her house nearby and see it. When we got there we found her two children glued to the programme which had just started. I sat down quietly. Suddenly one of the children looked across at me. The he looked back at the set. The he looked back at me again. He couldn't believe his eyes!
The programme is like a hovercraft - on a fine line all the time. You don't dare touch the ground. I think it must have been the part of the Doctor that kept me fresh and young. All that fantasy is good for the mind, you know.
I went to one of the Doctor Who (1963) conventions in Los Angeles. These people were coming up with theories about the Doctor I could not understand. I asked them what they wanted and they all wanted the same thing. Would I take them with me in the TARDIS? It was very strange.
I was terribly out of work when I got the Doctor Who (1963) job. I was temporarily on a building site when the BBC asked me. A few weeks later some of the men went out to buy the racing edition of the Standard and there was my picture on the front page. The BBC had told me not to tell anyone. Those men just couldn't believe it, their cement mixer becoming Doctor Who (1963).
I never read the scripts at all carefully and never wanted to know what was going on, because I felt that being a benevolent alien, that's the way it should be.
I was playing Rasputin and what was motivating him was crumpet really, and I was extremely keen on crumpet so I was really rather good as Rasputin. And my next catastrophic failure was Macbeth, who I played in the style of a crumpet-lover, and then when Doctor Who (1963) came along, I embraced this lunacy, this cloud-cuckoo-land where people had to be convinced by absolute nonsense. I came from a very religious background, so it was easy for me to believe in something I knew nothing about.
[on religion] People are quite happy believing the wrong things. I wasn't unhappy believing all that shit. Now I'm not unhappy thinking about it because I can laugh at it.
My faith vanished swiftly when I bumped into a couple of girls in Germany. It was incredible. God must have been livid. When you're young - me especially with all those years of chastity - I had this amazing, vital libido. So when I had nothing but a toothbrush and a libido, and I'd ditched my guardian angel and stopped being inhibited by him, it was wonderful.
(In 1998) When the Conservatives were in I cannot tell you how much I hated them. But I realise how shallow I am because I now hate the Labour Party as much.
[on his Catholic upbringing] I see it as absolutely f*****g preposterous. I absolutely chortle with derisive laughter at it and chuck another pint down my neck. The whole vile thing about that fundamentalist Christianity is that we are unworthy. If you keep telling a child, 'You are nothing', the child cannot possibly grow up with self-esteem.

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