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Thread: Tom Baker

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    Let's go to fairyland Minde's Avatar
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    Default Tom Baker

    We had another thread on him awhile ago, but from what I remember it never got anywhere. It has been lost under quite a few avalanches by now, so I'm starting another one, this time with videos.

    Here's a five part special on him made in '91. (And if the video doesn't work on this page, BG has kindly pointed out to me that you can click on the top bar and open it in a new window/tab.)

    The first one I went o.O and then started to figure it out.

    The fourth one... wow. Random. I laughed. He is unexpected.











    And here is an interview with him in '81, right as he was ending his stint as Dr. Who.

    INFj / EII / FiNe
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    "Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - G.K. Chesterton

    "Have courage and be kind." - Cinderella's mom

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    Let's go to fairyland Minde's Avatar
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    Some of his own words:

    "I, Tom Baker, do solemnly declare that my website is officially open. I'd like everyone to know."

    I really am intrigued by the idea of how well it will be received.

    Best Wishes,

    [signed]
    After seven years and 178 episodes - the equivalent of 45 feature films - I was finding Doctor Who a little arduous. New characters in the series didn't stimulate me at all. It was 1981 and time to go. The though of leaving filled me with apprehension, but I pretended to be philosophical. I thought I could beat the problem of being typecast. But I couldn't.

    With my hair cut short, nobody recognised me. Suddenly, I was invisible. The very success of the programme and my efforts to promote it with public appearances, worked against me.

    The hardest thing was realising I was no longer a hero to children. I had been used to their ecstatic greetings and I suffered dreadful withdrawal symptoms, bereaved of a fictional existence much more important to me than the real one.

    Following years of adulation, the future seemed bleak. Nobody wanted an old Doctor Who. People kept saying: 'I suppose you've retired?'

    Retire? Go back to the identity from which I had been struggling to escape all my life? What kind of fate was that? But I wasn't finished with Doctor Who, nor he with me. Recently I went to New Zealand with my third wife, Sue, to shoot commercials there as an old Doctor. We even managed, in the wild few days before flying out, to locate my original scarf - from Madame Tussaud's, where I still stand after all these years.

    One evening, Sue and I went to a restaurant, where our perfect waiter turned out to be the spitting image of my friend and bygone Soho drinking companion Sir Anthony Hopkins.

    At the end of the meal, Sir Anthony's double appeared at my elbow and said the bill had been paid. Another waiter told me that the gentleman who had paid was at the bar, knew me and would like to say 'Hello'.

    'A fan,' I whispered to Sue, and we guessed that dinner might now cost us two hours of talk on the history of Doctor Who.

    At the bar the waiter indicated a tall figure standing in the strong light and smiling quizzically at me. I studied him carefully, about to say that there had been no need to pay my bill, when a tiny feeling of unease hit me. His steady smile was unsettling.

    'My name is Baker,' he said, 'Piers Baker, I'm your son.'

    'Piers?' I whispered.

    He nodded, glancing from me to my wife, and still he smiled. I looked at Sue and saw that she was smiling with real delight. 'It's my son,' I told myself, putting my hand out, and he took it firmly, holding on.

    I remembered him being born, second of two sons by my first wife, Anna Wheatcroft, a member of the Midlands rose-growing family.

    The memories would not stop. I saw Piers as a baby.

    Then, I hadn't known of the grief to come. My suicide attempt. My attempted murder of my mother-in-law, Constance. The end of my marriage to Anna and the loss of our children from my life.

    And now here he was, Piers. He ordered drinks with great confidence. I looked at him and suddenly thought: perhaps all may yet be well. Perhaps this encounter - it took place earlier this year - could bring a new beginning for us.

    And still he smiled and it was fine to see him. Oh, Piers!

    That chance reunion was a needless reminder that my life has seldom been conventional.
    INFj / EII / FiNe
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    "Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - G.K. Chesterton

    "Have courage and be kind." - Cinderella's mom

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    Let's go to fairyland Minde's Avatar
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    Evidently he is still very much alive and kicking. This is a post of his in a guest blog promo sort of thing:

    Greetings to everyone out there in cyberspace.

    I'm Tom Baker, and if you're over thirty and enjoy science fantasy, then I was your Doctor Who.

    Having failed to regenerate I'm a little older now, and possibly wiser, though I wouldn't want to bet any money on it. To celebrate the release of an interactive DVD I appear in called Tom Baker's Ultimate Sci Fi Quiz, I've been invited to write a month of blogs, whatever they are, here at Blockbuster.co.uk.

    Here I go then.

    Wish me luck...

    Journalists who grew up watching me always jump at the chance to meet me, as they know old Tom will talk a lot of amusing guff! There's really not enough amusing nonsense in the world, and I've always tried my best to redress the balance. When you're a beloved old figure, as I am, the extraordinary thing is that, when I'm with fans of the programme, as long as I'm being friendly and nice and informative, it doesn't matter how silly I'm being. The fans are amused by it. It's the kind of meandering, free-association of a beloved uncle or a beloved father figure, now a beloved grandfather figure. As long as I don't wound their feelings or disappoint them by being ungrateful, they're happy, and I'm just as happy to have had a rapport with them that has lasted all these years.

    An interviewer asked me last month if I regretted playing Doctor Who. It was a very odd question, I thought. I replied that it was like asking me if I regretted being loved. 'No I don't,' I said. The guy then explained that he'd met a very famous actor, one who was rather bloody minded about a very famous part he'd done, and when the journalist asked him about it, the actor said, 'Oh, don't talk to me about that, I've done plenty of other things'. Me, I'm always happy to talk about Doctor Who. When you've had a good life, you've got a few Euros in your pocket, and people are still interested in you, I think you owe them a smile. I'm not one of those ungrateful old farts who doesn't know how lucky he's been!

    Someone asked me a while ago if I got the sci fi quiz job because of my part in Doctor Who, and I had to tell him that quite honestly it's only because of Dr Who that I get anything. If it wasn't for that programme, who would remember me? I'm employed now by the children who watched me on TV, then grew up and hired me because they still love me. The boys in Little Britain could have gotten anybody to narrate their show. There are plenty of more gifted actors than me, but they wanted me because they love me. They watched me as children, and once they were in power, they said, 'Let's get Tom!' I suppose I was right for it, and Matt guided me. He's very acute. Sometimes I have no idea what the words he gives me to say actually mean, though, and when I ask him, he always replies, 'Never mind what it means. The fact that you don't know makes it funny.' And he's right. Certainly people seem to like it when I use words like funky, or say 'bring it on!' And if I can make people laugh, even if I don't exactly know why, I'm satisfied.

    Goodbye!
    And here're two questions from an interview that I found interesting, especially his perception of Holmes:


    Q: In the Ray Harryhausen film 'The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad', how difficult was it to act to monsters that would be added later?

    A: I found it quite easy because I'm a very imaginative person. I'm used to seeing strange creatures. I think I got on well with Ray because I could understand the script and storyboard, and act to thin air.

    Q: You have played Sherlock Holmes a couple of times, how do you prepare for a role that is so well known to the general public?

    A: It's very difficult with Holmes because he is such a humorless character. He's rude to his friends, has a dodgy attitude to women, smokes far too much Black Shag, takes drugs, a terrible person. I always had difficulty keeping a straight face. The actor I think who got it right was Jeremy Brett. He played it as though he was in another world. Actually, I was recently chatting to Edward Hardwick, who played Watson to Jeremy's Holmes. Italian TV want to do a series where Dr. Watson meets a character very much like Dr. Who. Interesting.
    INFj / EII / FiNe
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    "Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - G.K. Chesterton

    "Have courage and be kind." - Cinderella's mom

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    tereg's Avatar
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    I just watched all of the videos and read the rest of what you posted, and I find him absolutely delightful.

    My guess is ENFj.

    I think his strongest function, by far is . The way he talks about telling people that he was dead when people didn't recognize him and feeling out a reaction from them. The way he feeds off of his fans and the way that he enjoyed what he did and how that was all cyclical.

    and Id makes the most sense to me. The way he was kind of lightheartedly talking about moral perfection, and how he portrayed Doctor Who in real life.

    His themes are frequently about fantasy, imagination, the novel and somewhat silly. He doesn't like rote boredom of things just laid out for him. He thrives on the unknown and the fantastical.

    and Super-Ego makes sense to me, the way he talked about that boredom, his frustrations and annoyances.



    Personally, I find him very quirky and pleasantly funny, and after seeing the videos and reading about him, he certainly seems like that's his lifeblood. People deserve a smile, and he loves it when people return love by what he gave people.

    That is best expressed at the end of the 5th video. He thoroughly enjoys it.
    INFj

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    good people... I could never see him as Tom Baker and not Doctor Who though.

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    I thought this quote was so interesting:

    "But I wanted to actually to wrench you back to my comment about the fans. I think about how they see me and how I see them. Of course I see them through the same rose-tinted spectacles. I don't see my fans at their worst at their ordinary, in their state of anxiety. When I see them, they're happy. When they see me, I'm happy. But there are pictures around here of me as an actor in various parts, and there are 1 or 2 paintings that I've kept from fans. And it will give you some idea of the... how admiration and affection colors perception."
    INFj

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    Let's go to fairyland Minde's Avatar
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    First of all, thank you, Tereg. I'll get back to you in a little. In the mean time, here's another relatively recent interview (broken into two sections):

    A Visit With The Doctor

    By Karen E. Wilson

    He came by way of airplane, not by TARDIS, and the long scarf and floppy hat had been replaced by a three-piece business suit. But the curly brown hair, rich British accent and charismatic wit marked him unmistakably as Tom Baker, the flamboyant BBC star best known as Dr. Who.

    STARLOG spoke with Baker in Los Angeles, where he paid a surprise visit to a Dr. Who convention.

    "It was simply marvelous [being] with the supporters of the program! They were wonderful! It was heaven. It's interesting that in the United Kingdom the average age of the people who turn out for two hours to meet me, to talk to me for 30 seconds, is about six years old. Now the thousand people who turned out Saturday were certainly young adults.... So that's very surprising.

    "I think when one looks at the success of a film and television series, after the thing has become successful people start asking rather searching questions. And the ghastly sort of reality is, that it was all an accident. In fact, the first reason why it's successful is because there isn't anything like it So therefore, it's bound to have some. kind of success; it doesn't admit a comparison. That makes it unique!" Baker exclaims, his arms waving, his eyes wide. "And secondly, I think the BBC do have a very high level of technical expertise that backs up the uniqueness of the program. I think for those two reasons we do rather well among people who are interested in the subject.

    "And mostly, I've always thought that most of the science-fantasy or science-fiction things that I look at are rather devoid of any irony or humor. Let us think of something for which one cannot say one single thing except that it employed a lot of people. Space: 1999, that was an exercise designed it seems to me by accident — to put the whole viewing public into a coma. There wasn't one single redeeming feature to it. In spite of the fact that the expertise that went into it was stupefying! Marvelous designers of costumes and sets, excellent actors, lovely music, lovely special effects. And quite serious people writing the scripts. Why didn't it work?" The effervescent Baker pauses for effect, fully prepared to answer his own question.

    "I think that somehow when they set out on that project, they were actually impressed by the project! Why don't they just tell a few adventure stories within the formula of Space: 1999!

    "No! There were those actors with their hearts on their sleeves being—damnit! so sincere and it was so ponderous. There was nothing silly about it. Now, if there's nothing witty or funny or silly or something, it's utterly devoid of any resemblance to reality. My view is: I cannot conceive of any situation which is real or imaginative which isn't all of those. If you want to work with an alien or a group of aliens in outer space, you've got to look for irony and humor, and silliness, embarrassment, a sense of verve, dynamics," Baker continues. He is seated, but animated.

    "But you cannot roll in it as if it were the first time anybody's ever heard [Beethoven's] Fifth Symphony. It starts in: Ba ba-ba-boom!, as though it were some new thing with something really important to say. Since when did television actually think it had something important to say? Time to switch it off," says Baker, "actually start talking to each other."

    It is quite clear that Tom Baker has strong feelings about television and science fiction and the products of their intermingling. And he is refreshingly outspoken.

    "The real trick about television is that the really gifted people are all alchemists. And they are alchemists in the sense that they have to transmute whippetshit—I can't think of anything more despicable to say about popular television scripts than to call them whippetshit," Baker explains. ("I don't even know what whippetshit looks like, but it sounds to be very thin and obscene....) But they have to transform whippetshit into the gold of entertainment."

    "And sometimes, if they're very, very clever, to transform it into something quite inspiring and amusing, diverting, that fills people with optimism. That's the real test of who's any good at it.

    "Anyone can stand up on television with a modicum of expertise and indulge, or pander to prejudice and bigotry. And say 'the right things' in a resonant voice. And be charmingly dressed and do whatever it is — a quiz show or some ghastly situation comedy. But it needs someone really very clever to transmute that to something very special."

    Baker chuckles when asked if, after all, there is any difference between himself and the equally incisive and charming Doctor.

    "You'd have to ask someone else," is his cautious response. "I mean, I don't know a thing about Dr. Who from an actor's point of view. Of course, Dr. Who is not the only unique thing about it [the series], I play an alien. Of course it's not really an acting part.. .it doesn't admit any development. You have a character who is actually utterly, utterly predictable. That's a burning formula for boredom," Baker states.

    "I don't really know how it went at the beginning; that was 17 years ago. But imagine. Someone says, 'Well, look—here's this character, he's an alien, comes from Gallifrey, and he flies around in a police box, and he's got this girl with him sometimes.' And the producer must have said to the director, 'Well, what does he do?' He gets involved in all sorts of scrapes and finally he triumphs and he's a son of hero, a melodramatic hero. And they said, 'Does he knock off the girls or is he a drunk, is he tired, does he have a hump on his back?' No, he's absolutely straight-forward! .He doesn't smoke or drink, he doesn't eat, he doesn't even drink tea! Let alone take sugar in it! He doesn't get involved in an emotional relationship with anybody, and he is never, but never, gratuitously violent.

    "Someone must have said, 'Well Christ! That sounds like a very convoluted formula for anesthetic!' But that if the character. The character is incapable of development for the person who is playing him. Fine fellow, but utterly predictable," Baker says.

    "The real trick, and fun for the actor playing him, is: How can you be utterly predictable and still come in with enough vitality and generate enough static and surprise to gloss over the commonplace and turn it into something else? It's very difficult."

    "One of the problems in science fiction is that in the future it gets very difficult to describe the ordinary artifacts of existence," Baker continues. "What are cars going to look like in the 23rd century? Or men's hair-cuts? Or women's figures? Nobody knows. It becomes difficult for writers of the future to define these artifacts.

    "But in fantasy, you can actually blow up the time factor and go anywhere you want; but not irresponsibly, because the characters have to be defined. And yet, in our fantasy, while we have to define the characters and their responsibilities, we're not channeled by the tedious business of what is scientifically viable—because fantasy actually gives one the freewheeling area of what might be desirable, if we could break all the laws of science and morality or whatever. You break all the laws! And we can go into a world which is marvelous. And it's funny, and sometimes frightening. All the time there is the underlying heartbeat of being optimistic, diverting! But the most important thing is that television should be diverting! Take people out of themselves, literally out of life.

    "So fantasy has a marvelous service to offer people. I don't want to patronize any kind of audience that watches what I do. I adore them! I love them! They make my whole existence possible! I truly do love them."
    INFj / EII / FiNe
    ()


    "Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - G.K. Chesterton

    "Have courage and be kind." - Cinderella's mom

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    Let's go to fairyland Minde's Avatar
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    And the second half:

    But Baker would still like a chance to realize more of the Doctor's potential and perhaps share it with a new audience. Toward that end, he wrote a screenplay for Dr. Who film, but hasn't been able to sell it.

    "Nothing has come of it, as you would expect" Baker says with a sardonic chuckle. "Moviemakers are very cautious, aren't they? Dr. Who sells in every country in South America except two. It sells all over the Middle East and the Far East, in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and sixty-five places in America.

    "It's a formula which is underpinned by hundreds of hours of television all over the world. They run it again, and again and again! And yet somehow, no one will enter into actually making a movie of it!

    "You see, most of the science-fiction or fantasy movies are contingent upon special effects for their success. I'm not interested in special effects, and I think I have a kind of popular taste. I trust the audience. And I don't think that people are interested in just special effects.

    "The only thing that is interesting, that makes life bearable, is sharing something with other people. All the rest is just whippetshit! It's only people in dilemmas that're interesting to anybody. What is especially interesting is people cracking the dilemma and pushing on, surviving.... I'm interested in ingenuity. I'm interested in characters who actually amuse me."

    "I'll laugh, but especially at people who will inspire me with their fundamental sense of optimism—what they do isn't solved by the annihilation of the opposition. It isn't solved by some absolute decision, which means something is killed or destroyed.... Bores me to death!

    "I mean, I think of a few successful shows like Kojak. I can't picture anything more despicably sentimental and appalling than the character of Kojak. So charmless! And when he tries to be charming he ends up shockingly sentimental.

    "There's such a terrible simplifying of everything. What happens is such a waste of material and resources and a waste of technical possibilities, because they could all be so much more fun and interesting. I'm opposed to 'bang bang bang comma, boom boom boom exclamation mark! On popular television there are too many exclamation marks. Really, the punctuation's pretty awful. Too many dashes and exclamation marks!"

    Baker breaks up laughing at this, and then looks around. Everyone in the coffee shop has stopped to listen to him, and he smiles, enjoying his audience.

    "You know, there's a big difference between television and film. The fundamental difference is the context in which it takes place. When you're going to the movies it's a formal affair. You get on a bus or you go in a car and you buy a ticket and, although the movie is a communal experience, it actually becomes instantly private when the screen lights up because the movie happens in the dark. It happens in the dark! That's what's so marvelously exciting about them! Television, as opposed to 'happens in the dark,' takes place practically by definition in a domestic context where the degree of concentration and the instance of distraction is stupendously higher! People are making tea, or telephones are ringing or babies are crying. People are having fights-all with the television on. You can't do that in a movie, not without being thrown out!

    "So television is always domestic, isn't it? And that sense catches people also. Although their degree of concentration might be slighter and more intermittent, it gets people when they are terrifically vulnerable. And because of that amazing intimacy, there's a difference between television actors and film actors, because when I meet the audience that watches me in their living rooms, they feel much more proprietary about me than they do about-well, I don't know, say Jack Nicholson.

    "Someone spots me in a restaurant and their kids come over and say, 'You're Doctor Who!' And I say, 'Yes, I am. HeUo there.' I'm the only man in England for whom 'don't talk to a strange man' doesn't apply." And Baker obviously loves it.

    "I'm owned by my audience," he states. "I'm talking about the character as well as me, because I inhabit the character physically - and yet it devours me, it impinges on Tom Baker's privacy. But I understand that; the people who recognize me know me from their living rooms, so there is a difference. They are daunted by someone they see up on a 70-millimeter screen. But me? Everyone has a license to talk to me or touch me or kiss me because I am in their living rooms. So you see, television is infinitely more powerful than the cinema."

    Does that explain why Baker stays with the show, despite TV's built-in limitations? "The reason I keep on with the character is that, first of all, it's my living, and secondly, when I consider the alternatives of what I could be doing.... You know, I'm really quite aggressive and self-destructive in some ways. I'm not frightened of unemployment, I'm not frightened of scrubbing floors or being a bartender or whatever. I'm too occupied with saving what little I have. But when I look around and see the alternatives.... I know something about my limitations. No one's going to give me a big part in the movies, mostly because I think the big movies are made in America and by definition are rooted in American subjects. So there's nothing for me in American movies.

    "Then, when I look at the BBC and popular television and movies, when I think of how marketable I am... I look at things on the air: Well, I might get in that or that.... Do I want to be in that? I don't want to be prancing around in a costume in some bloody terrible Jane Austin series or terrible adaptation of Nicholas Nicholby. It's a lot better that I go to work and laugh my head off at Dr. Who, help promote it by coming crazily here for 48 hours. I may have a wit of a time. It's much more fun to do that, be involved in the books and the magazines. Oh, that's much more fun than to actually pretend to be real.

    "I mean, I could never play parts like that bloody genius David Janson who plays those paralyzing bores.' How he does it I don't know. He's another fellow who could actually make anesthetic redundant. How could he play those parts?! I mean, I watch him, he's an incredible man, obviously a genius. He's a superior person. How he can actually walk through a door on television and say that stuff without cracking up, or walking through saying it without embarrassment. I know I can't compete with those kind of people.

    "So I settle for jolly Dr. Who, which is terrific fun. I'm not into anything that isn't fun.

    "You know, when I got the character I was desperately out of work and glad to have the contract. Fortunately, I signed the contract before anybody else did. I remember the wonderful feeling I had when I signed this beautiful contract, which was going to put me into television history because of the formula. Even if I had been a disastrous failure I would have gone into history as the first failure, because no one has failed Dr. Who.

    "That means I never mistake myself for the character, and I never, ever underestimate the formula. There are certain actors who fed nothing could go on without them and sometimes they're right. What is constantly vital about Dr. Who is the delicious formula.

    "It doesn't matter who takes it on, given professional expertise. Some hunchback or ... well, it doesn't matter. It's what the character stands for, what the formula allows, which is a success. So I never actually think my contribution is bigger than the formula."

    Tom Baker may play down his contribution to the Dr. Who series, but he is the catalyst that makes the formula work. Intense and opinionated, he performs every word with style, drawing on a dictionary of gestures and expressions that would make a mime jealous. Weaving warmth, humor and verve into an entertainment medium that all too often settles for the commonplace, Tom Baker is a renegade in his field. And like the good Doctor, he thoroughly enjoys it.
    It surprised me a little. He's actually a bit harsher and more depressing than his character
    INFj / EII / FiNe
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    "Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - G.K. Chesterton

    "Have courage and be kind." - Cinderella's mom

  9. #9
    tereg's Avatar
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    I wouldn't be surprised if he was ESE, to be honest.

    I still think his dominant function is , though.
    INFj

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