Interview: Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor

Journey back to 2009 with me. Well, it is Tom Baker’s birthday, after all. This gift for the DWC is worth it.

The Fourth Doctor himself, Tom Baker, granted me a short Q&A session. This was before he worked regularly for Big Finish, before DWM #501’s extensive one-on-one, and certainly long before the Curator. But here was My Doctor, talking to me about his return to audio work in Hornet’s Nest, about Vera Lynn, and about his website.

As the invitation was something of a dream come true, and dribbling aimlessly with excitement, I threw some questions around until I came up with the following…

DWC: There’s a lot of anticipation for Hornet’s Nest; how does it feel to centre of attention again? Do you feel the weight of expectation?

Tom: Sure I do. But the story is good and I feel pretty confident the fans will like it.

Was being Doctor Who any good for pulling the ladies, because it rarely seems to work as a fan?

The Doctor is an alien and does things differently. On Gallifrey, ladies don’t get pulled – they get tugged. Very gently at first; and then – – You wouldn’t understand.

You’ve quaffed with some of the biggest names in showbiz over the years. What makes a great drinking partner in your book and did you ever cross pints with the legendary Oliver Reed?

I never met Oliver. But he was considered a sweet and loving friend. The people I drank with in the seventies are all dead; but they all remained faithful to Sally Schmirnoff or Vera Voddy, or Vera Lynn and so Goodnight Vienna.

Your autobiography was a great read but surely too short – are there any plans for you to bring us a second volume of your life story?

In the eighties, I got happy. Happy days don’t sell books. But I ain’t swoppin’ happy days for raucous nights with Vera Lynn.

In a similar vein, is there any chance of another dark fairy story to sit alongside The Boy Who Kicked Pigs?

I have an idea for The Boy who Kidnapped God.

Did you enjoy your appearance hosting Have I Got News For You?, and do you think they’ll ask you back again?

I hardly ever get asked back anywhere. But I did enjoy it. I know Paul [Merton] and Ian [Hislop] – and that helps.

We’ve had a look at your new website and it does look rather smashing – there are some superb video clips on there as well as photos – but do you use the web? Are you a silver surfer? Or do you prefer a walk, some gardening, and a glass of something fizzy?

Oh, I bite the Apple all the time – you know – the Apple tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I’m glad you like the website. I like it too. Visit me at www.tombakerofficial.com/

Your era as Doctor Who varies from 2 parts comedy, 5 parts horror at the start, to 1 part horror, 6 parts comedy by the end (with a bit of melancholy thrown on for good measure). Did you prefer the lighter toned material or the mock gothic follies?

Mockery. Gothic Horror. Comedy. Melancholy. Wry hope – and then OBLIVION.

No complaints. I think that about sums it up.

If you haven’t already – and even if you have – visit Tom’s official website, where you can keep up to date with what’s going on in his life, and purchase signed goods from the man himself.

(Originally published on Kasterborous in September 2009.)