Doctor Who’s Tom Baker reveals the reason he returned to play the Fourth Doctor on screen

“It never left me,” the actor, who filmed a special live-action scene for a new Doctor Who release, said of his most famous role

Tom Baker in the newly-completed Shada in 2017 (BBC, HF)

Early this morning Doctor Who fans around the world were treated to some truly exciting news, with iconic series star Tom Baker (who played the Fourth Doctor from 1974-1981) returning to his most famous role onscreen for the first time in 36 years as part of a special live-action scene filmed to complete “lost” 1979 serial Shada.


And now, Baker has revealed exactly what enticed him to re-enter the Tardis doors so long after he hung up his scarf, explaining that he never truly left the Doctor behind him.

“I think it was, you see, that probably it never left me,” Baker said in a new interview to commemorate the BBC Worldwide release of the newly-completed Shada (which combines original footage with new animation).

“And that’s why I can never stay away from it, you know – it was a lovely time of my life.

“I loved doing Doctor Who because it was life to me,” he went on. “It’s an amazing thing to be in something that was more important – my real life was really rather drab compared to the life of Doctor Who when we were making it.”

“Sometimes, when it would get near 5 o’ clock, I used to dread the end of rehearsal. Because then, real life would impinge on me.

“Doctor Who for me was an asylum. When I was in Doctor Who in full flight, making silly suggestions and pulling funny faces to make the other actors laugh, then I was happy.

“But then of course came five o’clock – and like everyone at five o’ clock, they’re leaving work – another reality impinges. Life – I wasn’t very good at that.”

In other words, then, Baker was more than happy to return to the world of Who – and he even has a theory as to why his particular Doctor has stood the test of time (and space) to remain popular to this day.

“Well I suppose actually because I was the silliest!” he suggested. “I was the most alien, I think.

“When I got it, I felt this benevolent alien personality, which was part of me. I embraced it and it took me over.”

And happily for us all, that passion and personality has not dimmed with age.

This article was originally published on 24 November 2017

Doctor Who: Shada is available as a digital download in the UK and on DVD and Blu-Ray


Doctor Who: Shada airs on BBC America on Thursday 19 July at 8/7c