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Colin Baker (born Londonmarker, 8 June 1943) is an Englishmarker actor who is best known for playing the sixth incarnation of the Doctor in the long-running science fiction television series Doctor Who, from 1984 to 1986.

Background

Colin Baker was born in London, but moved north to Rochdalemarker with his family early in his life. He was educated at St Bede's College, Manchestermarker and originally studied to become a solicitor. At the age of 23, Baker changed professions and enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Artmarker (LAMDA), where he studied alongside David Suchet. Colin was married to actress Liza Goddard.

Career

Early work in television

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

Doctor Who (1984–1986)

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

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

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

Baker's era was interrupted by a long 18 month hiatus which was announced in February 1985, mid way through transmission of his first full season. One new Doctor Who story, Slipback, was made on radio during the hiatus. The Controller of BBC One at the time, Michael Grade, criticised Doctor Who, saying that the programme had become overly violent and its storylines farcical during season 22 in 1985. After the 18-month hiatus, the program was brought back for its 23rd season in the Autumn of 1986. Season 23 featured a reduction of episodes produced, and the 14 episode long serial The Trial of a Time Lord was felt by some fans to reflect the fact that the series itself was "on trial" at this time (although the BBC had on many occasions denied that this was the case).

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." However, later that year Baker was dismissed from the part at the insistence of BBC management, who wanted to refresh the show. BBC1 Controller Michael Grade was alleged to dislike Baker's performance and BBC Head of Series Jonathan Powell has since said that the BBC were looking for "one last chance saloon, for an actor who would take off with the public". He was removed from the part after starring in only eleven stories and just short of three years in the part, making his tenure as the Doctor the shortest in the series at that point.

Despite Baker's time in the role being punctuated with numerous personal and professional problems (the death of his son Jack shortly after Baker accepted the role, the 18-month hiatus which followed his first full season and finally his high-profile sacking) Baker remains enthusiastic about his time as the Doctor. He is a regular at conventions and fan events and has returned to the role of the 6th Doctor in numerous audio stories and webcasts, the Dimensions In Time charity special, the video game Doctor Who: Destiny of the Doctors (for which he recorded new audio only) and stage play Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure.

In recent years, Baker has appeared on a number of DVD releases of his episodes. His turbulent three years on the show are examined in some detail in the documentary Trials and Tribulations, included in the 2008 DVD release of The Trial of a Time Lord.

Career after Doctor Who

Since leaving Doctor Who he has continued to act, mainly on the stage. In 1983, he acted in a BBC production of A.J. Cronin's The Citadel. He played the Doctor again for the second half of the run of the 1989 stage play Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure, as well as in the 1993 charity television special Dimensions in Time. He also played a Doctor-like character in the BBV video series The Stranger, as well as a standalone BBV drama entitled The Airzone Solution, and has reprised the role of the Doctor in a series of audio plays produced by Big Finish Productions. The audio plays are generally well received by fans, who have suggested that it was bad writing that his Doctor's era suffered from, and not a lack of ability on Baker's part. In a poll conducted by Doctor Who Magazine, fans voted Baker the "greatest" of the Doctors in the audio plays.

Later television work during the 1990s included guest appearances in the BBC's medical drama Casualty, 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. He appeared in the first episode of Jonathan Creek (1997). In 1992, Colin Baker became the first (and so far only) Doctor to write a published Doctor Who story, "The Deal" as part of Doctor Who Magazine's Brief Encounters series. He wrote a second Brief Encounter the following year. Both featured the Sixth Doctor and Mel. In 1994 Baker wrote a comic strip, The Age of Chaos featuring the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher, and in 2001 contributed a story entitled "The Wings of A Butterfly" to a charity short story anthology based on Doctor Who, "Missing Pieces". He also guest-starred in the audio drama Sapphire and Steel: The Mystery of the Missing Hour.

After the death of his son Jack in 1983, Baker became active in increasing the profile of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He raised funds for the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, and was a Trustee from 1989 and their Chairman between 1997 and 2005. He has also appeared in operetta, starring in the Carl Rosa Opera Company's production of H.M.S. Pinafore in the principal comedian's role of Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B.

Baker played Caldo Inman in the Big Finish Productions audio drama Earthsearch Mindwarp, based on a James Follett novel and recently broadcast on the digital radio station BBC 7.

Baker has been writing a regular column for his local newspaper, the Bucks Free Press since 1995.

In 1996, Baker appeared in an episode of 'The Famous Five' which was broadcast on ITV.

In 2003 Baker appeared on Top Gear, participating on a one-lap run on the Top Gear track in a Honda Civic hatchback. However, Baker wrongly believed the car had automatic transmission, and as result he had spent his run driving around entirely in one gear. Baker competed against a Klingon, a Cyberman, a Dalek, Darth Vader and Ming the Merciless. Baker came in 4th position, with the Cyberman coming in 1st position.

In 2005, he appeared in a sketch in the comedy Little Britain though the sketch was never used but can be seen in the deleted scenes special feature on the Little Britain series 3 DVD.

At The Invasion convention in 2007, Baker cited the 2005 Steven Moffat story "The Empty Child" (which starred Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor) as the best Doctor Who story ever, singling out the "everybody lives" quote as the best dramatic moment in Doctor Who. At Gen Con 2008 he described that line as the "defining moment" of the series, and told fans that it sent shivers down his spine.

On television, Baker also reprised his role in BBC Scotland's videoGaiden presenting the "The videoGaiden Awards 2006".

In 2006 Baker appeared in Strangers on a Train at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley, co-starring Alex Ferns, Will Thorp, Anita Harris and Leah Bracknell for a one week run.

In 2008, he toured with ex-wife Liza Goddard in She Stoops To Conquer. He also toured in a production of Noises Off with Maggie Steed, Ben Hull and Jonathan Coy. From December 2008 to January 2009 he was in pantomime at the Theatre Royal Bathmarker with Susan Penhaligon and Lewis Bradley.

Baker currently is married to actress Marion Wyatt and resides in Buckinghamshire with his four daughters, many animals and comprehensive collection of Daily Mail archives.

Discography



References

  1. "Trials and Tribulations" - documentary on Colin Baker's era of Doctor Who (2008 - forthcoming 2entertain DVD release).


External links




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