Posts Tagged ‘4th Doctor’

Matthew Waterhouse (2006)

August 19, 2009

This is a great recent interview with Matthew Waterhouse, where he’s very genuine and honest about his experiences with Tom Baker. You can see the video here.

“I was absolutely petrified. I remember very clearly my journey on the Tube the morning of the first day and sitting there, I have never been so frightened and excited in my life. And I remember arriving at the read-through and Tom was late, so we were all sitting around the table waiting for the read-through to begin, and he stalked in, in his mac, his brown mac, and I was physically shaking. It was extraordinary. Extraordinarily frightening, a very surreal first day. But maybe since ‘Doctor Who’ is essentially surreal, that’s not a bad way to approach it.

“Tom doesn’t take prisoners, and I think the fact that I was doubtless this immensely irritating, but sweet and unaffected kid, he didn’t give me any leeway at all. It was the most terrifying day of my life. And I wanted him to love me, I wanted him to think ‘Oh what a wonderful boy, what a gifted lad’. I’ve never wanted someone to like me so much in my entire life, and that first day he didn’t really speak to me. He stalked into rehearsals, sat there in his brown coat, read the thing and sat there and smoked cigarettes… he chain-smoked them if I remember rightly. I was absolutely terrified, but it also seemed to be confirming the glamour of it as well. I think he’d be appalled to hear me say this, but to me, as a middle-class kid from commuterville, it was unbelievable. I mean, I’d never been away from my parents for more than two weeks at a time, and there I was working with this frightening man, tall, larger than life man, and I remember on the first day he didn’t really acknowledge me.

“I tried to stand near him in the pub, I remember he went to the pub at lunchtime so I went to the pub and I wanted him to see me. I think I edged a little nearer along the bar so I was only two people away from him, hoping he’d say hello to me, but he didn’t. So I went back and we got back to rehearsal, and we had to do a scene together, and he said ‘Hello, I haven’t said hello to you, have I?’, I said ‘Hi’, I thought ‘He likes me’, he smiled at me… and then I made a suggestion about something, I said ‘Why don’t we try that’, and he said ‘Why don’t you piss off?’. I thought ‘That’s not a very good start, maybe he doesn’t like me after all’, so I went home distraught, thinking ‘He’s my favourite actor in the world and he doesn’t like me, he thinks I’m horrible’. So that was my first day.

“I’m not sure what he thought about having a heroic boy in ‘Doctor Who’. I’m not sure he thought it was the bee’s knees. He’d rather have had twenty-five year old girls rather than heroic teenage boys… in fact I’m pretty sure of that because he once said ‘I hate this fucking character’, so that was a clue. I liked the character because it got me into ‘Doctor Who’ and that was enough for me. But Tom could be very sweet, he could be very kind, very generous to me, and his great quality, which I admire so much, is that he’s so funny, and out of the ordinary, and the only thing I’ve ever wanted in my life is to be out of the ordinary. I don’t want to be ordinary. I don’t know what ordinary is, but I don’t want to be it. And Tom wasn’t.

“The atmosphere on ‘Doctor Who’ with Tom was pretty fraught, there’s no point pretending it wasn’t. In some ways I think I wasn’t equipped to deal with that fraughtness, because I was too young and… stupid to deal with it. But he could suddenly be unbelievably generous. He could be very nice to me in many ways. I think jelly babies have a lot to do with it, and I think the hat has a lot to do with it, and the scarf. Of course I had a vast amount to do with the success and popularity of ‘Doctor Who’ at that time, but I think Tom also made a contribution.” (smiles)

Tom Baker (1981)

August 17, 2009

Another Tom Baker interview, this time a transcript from his appearance on the BBC’s ‘Nationwide’ in 1981 to mark his departure from ‘Doctor Who’. This is perhaps most notable for the interviewer’s complete failure to pick up on his comment about the possibility of a woman being cast as the next Doctor…

Q: Tom Baker this is extremely sad news that you’re leaving ‘Doctor Who’, and K-9 announced his resignation two weeks ago, so with Master and dog gone, what’s going to happen to the series?

A: Well… it’ll just go on and on and on and on, because it’s part of our television, isn’t it? Why should it stop, there’s no evidence… everyone’s been very successful in it.

Q: But what’s going to happen in the series? There’ll be a new Dr. Who, presumably?

A: Yes.

Q: The goodies always change but the baddies stay the same, the Daleks and Davros and so on.

A: And the Doctor always wins.

Q: Are you going to miss working on the show at all?

A: Terribly, yes. It’s been a very happy time for me.

Q: It must have been fun working with all the machines and special effects?

A: Well… yes, but I don’t think that was as much fun as being involved in something that’s immensely successful. It’s been fun being Dr. Who, it’s been the happiest time of my working life. Um… one has lovely relationships with children in parks… (smiles) by that, I mean I’m the only man in London that ‘Don’t talk to strange men in parks’ doesn’t apply to. I’m possibly the only man in Europe who’s twice in Madame Tussauds.

Q: That’s pretty good. Have you any idea how many times you’ve got in and out of the TARDIS?

A: Thousands of times, thousands of times.

Q: You’ve got a good stage acting background from before you went into ‘Doctor Who’, are you going back to serious stage acting now?

A: I don’t like the ‘serious stage acting’ as if serious stage acting’s more important than television, you know… I’m going into oblivion, I suppose.

Q: No immediate plans?

A: No immediate plans at all. It’s quite hard to leave something when one is really happy in it. We’ve now reached about 100m viewers around the world in 37 countries and I’ve done the best I can with it, and I don’t really think I can do any more with it, which is a good reason to leave and give someone else a chance to nudge it on a bit, the way I nudged it on when I took over.

Q: I suppose it’s good for the series to have different Dr. Who’s now and then.

A: Yes. I think it’s probably good for everybody to have changes now and then.

Q: What sort of person’s going to take over from you? Can you reveal who it’s going to be and how you’re going to be written out?

A: No. The answer to that is No, but even if I did know, I wouldn’t tell you.

Q: What kind of person do you think it should be? A departure from yourself, a mad professor?

A: Well you’re making an assumption that it’s going to be a man.

Q: So you have no immediate plans?

A: No. I’m open to offers.

Tom Baker (2009)

August 9, 2009

This is a brief extract from Tom Baker’s panel at the Time Quest 2009 convention. You can see more of it here, but I wanted to include this short section because of his interesting comments on Peter Davison and Ian Marter.

Q: What did you think about Peter Davison taking over from you as your successor in ‘Doctor Who’?

A: I thought at the time that Peter Davison’s choice… I must say, he’s an excellent actor, he’s done wonderful work, and I’ve often met him. We’re not exactly friends, but we’re civilised to each other. I remember thinking at the time it was a terrible error of judgement, for this reason: when Peter Davison took over from me, he was already established as having a fictional identity. Those of you who are old enough to cast your minds back, he was prodigiously successful as the vet in ‘All Creatures Great and Small’, so when the children were watching I imagined the children were saying “that’s not the Doctor, that’s the vet”, so I think that was a very strange…

Although no-one has ever failed as Dr. Who, no-one has ever failed remotely, even the boy who did the film, I’ve forgotten what his name was… if you say “do you miss being ‘Doctor Who’, in a sense, with the devotion of the fans, I’ve never stopped being Dr. Who because the fans don’t want you to stop being Dr. Who. And when I go on stage, which I do occasionally, I realise whatever I’m doing that people want me to do it as Dr. Who, so when I played Sherlock Holmes it caused an absolute sensation, of course it did, because first of all Sherlock Holmes never wore a long scarf, and secondly he didn’t walk the way that I apparently did walk, in the days when I could walk, because the bonding of the fans, and here I am thirty years after the event – most of you probably weren’t born thirty years ago – it’s the power of fiction, that fiction can become part of our lives, the fantasy world of literature, films, television, stamps, whatever it is you’re interested in, and by fantasy I mean the unprovable world, religion even, and people believe absolutely preposterous things, don’t they? Absolutely believe them, emphatically.

Q: What was it like to work with Ian Marter?

A: Well he really was an absolute darling. He shouldn’t have died when he died. I do remember, in rehearsal, he had a terrible habit, he had diabetes, and if he didn’t eat things he’d get terribly irrational and somebody would give him a biscuit or a bite of a Mars bar and suddenly he seemed better. And he was living alone at the time, and I always thought, you know, to go home with that type of illness, you know feeling a bit down or whatever, was a terrible waste because he was a kind man. Not only was he gifted, but he was kind, and that’s a wonderful combination, to be gifted and kind, and he adored his children and his wife… and he came home one night and the next thing he was in a coma, and of course the terrible irony is he wasn’t discovered in time. I only have warm memories of him.

Tom Baker (1974)

August 7, 2009

This might be Tom Baker’s first interview after he began filming ‘Doctor Who’. It’s entertaining stuff, as he discusses his ‘ordinary life’ and the dangers of filming while having a moment off in the Wookey Hole caves where ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ was filmed. At one point he offers the interviewer a jelly baby, and there are times in the original footage where he’s clearly having fun with the interviewer.

Q: Tom Baker, seeing you scramble about on those rocks it seems to me that the life of Dr. Who is a bit fraught and a bit dangerous, isn’t it?

A: Well sometimes it’s a bit dangerous, I mean a few weeks ago I broke my shoulder falling off a cliff in Dartmoor. And I suppose standing on rocks playing with yo-yo’s… (laughs)

Q: I’ve got to ask you, what kind of character is the new Dr. Who?

A: Well I don’t think I can really give away… I don’t think I can really comment on my own character. The situations will be somewhat as they’ve been in the past, full of excitement and great problems that I get involved in.

Q: But you’re not in the traditional Dr. Who costume of flowing robes and satins.

A: No, no I’m not, I can’t really follow that very sophisticated line my predecessor used. I think that I have a capacity to be surprised by any situation, like I’m surprised by this situation I’m in now. Would you like a jelly baby?

Q: Yes, thank you very much.

A: I have a capacity for surprise and for enjoying whatever I’m doing. And playing Dr. Who, against… ‘The Ark in Space’ was the last one, and the robot and things like that, is a tremendous pleasure. Whether in fact it will please the regular audience of ‘Doctor Who’, I don’t know. They’ll see it in a few weeks’ time anyway and judge.

Q: Now the other three Dr. Who’s became national figures, particularly Jon Pertwee. This is likely to happen to you, I should think. Will that change your life?

A: Yes. Yes, it will affect my life. I understand. I mean this has never really happened to me before because most of the parts I’ve played have been dogs or bears or Rasputin or whatever, so that when my make-up is off I’m not recognised. Presumably I will be recognised by a great number of people and the anonymity of my ordinary life will disappear.

Q: What is your ordinary life?

A: My ordinary life is really a quiet living bachelor who likes some fun. I mean I work like a dog on this series, I go home and do a few hours work and go to a pub and meet friends and talk and go to the movies. Presumably some of that will change, but it’s a very very small price to pay.

Q: I remember seeing a little girl scream and bury her face in the cushions when ‘Doctor Who’ was on. Isn’t this a very difficult line to tread between frightening children and just entertaining them?

A: Well I think that it’s a very nice point, but I hope that after a while I will be able to convince the children that are watching the programme that no matter how terrifying or amazing or exciting the situation is, that actually I’ll solve it and that really it will all come right finally.

Tom Baker (2001)

August 5, 2009

Almost every Tom Baker interview is a good one, but I’m not sure you can beat this one from 2001. Mark Gatiss talks to him about his entire career, and I’ve put the ‘Doctor Who’ section on here but you should absolutely positively definitely go here to read the full thing.

MG: You did Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Vault of Horror. How did you get those?

TB: The Vault of Horror was nice because it was a doddle and they were all nice people – Terry Thomas and Denham Elliot and Curd J├╝rgens, who was incredibly dull. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad was fantastic, because it gave me the chance to work with Ray Harryhausen, and I like his animation a lot more than the optical effects that they do now with monsters. They’re charming, they’re great works of art, and they’re also very funny. I think of some of the ones I wasn’t in, the fighting skeletons – the one I wasn’t in wasn’t one of the very successful ones… The one I was in got me Dr Who, that’s right. That got me Dr Who.

MG: Ah. Now, you were working on a building site just before the great event.

TB: I was.

MG: When you did This Is Your Life you seemed genuinely more thrilled to see those three builders than any of your old friends.

[Laughter]

TB: Well, at the time… I was not much good at working on a building site, but I was great at making tea and keeping the cups clean, and the surfaces un-sticky. And that’s important. But they liked me, and they used to bring me sandwiches – I was desperately poor and I was sleeping on the floor of a very kind actor’s called Paul Angelis. I was in a terrible state. And these guys fed me. And finally I got Dr Who. I wrote to the right man. There was this amazing conflation of little events.

I wrote to the man who directed the Millionairess who was about to become the head of serials. The night he received my letter he had been to a meeting to cast Dr Who, because John Pertwee had resigned. And somebody said to this marvellous Bill Slater, ‘Do you have any ideas, Bill? And he said, ‘No. I don’t’. And when he got home he read my letter, his wife was called Mary Webster, and he told her, he said, ‘I’ve just come from a casting for Dr Who, and Tom Baker’s just phoned me.’

She said, ‘Well, ring him up now.’ And he rang me at eleven o’clock at night and told me that he wanted to see me. So I said, ‘What? Now?’ I was quite willing, you see. But it was the next day, and one thing led to another, and there I was.

MG: What was your awareness of Dr Who beforehand?

TB: Not much. I remember watching Patrick Troughton and thinking that it was quite a waggish part. But I didn’t think about that, I was just glad to have a job. They were nice at the BBC.

Then I became a children’s hero, and that was the best, absolutely terrific. To have this instant intimacy. I had an instant intimacy with adults as well, because they loved me for different reasons. When the little children were frightened by the monsters – or bored by the plot, which was often rather tedious – they used to bury their heads in their grannies’s bosoms, and grannies adored this. Well, you know, I’ve known a few grannies in my time – well they weren’t grannies then, but they’re grannies now. And tingling bosoms are apparently a wonderful pleasure.

So what would happen was I would be walking through Sloane Square, on the cruise, and I’d pass a granny coming out of Peter Jones, and she’d see me and her titties would begin to tingle. And she’d think, ‘Why are my titties tingling at the sight of this man?’ And then she’d recognise me and say, ‘Hello, dear.’

Some people say, ‘Do you miss not being Dr Who?’ and, of course, I’ve never stopped being Dr Who, and we’re all here because of the amazing power of nostalgia. So when people see me they are really being knocked back into their childhood. A man in the street said to me the other day, ‘When I was a kid, I was in care, in Staffordshire, and on Saturday nights, phew, you were terrific.’ And then he’d gone. And I thought that that was a wonderful thing. A quick beggar story: a young man in Manchester, and I normally don’t believe that most beggars are beggars – they probably work for Channel 4 of else they’re high-powered directors thinking that this is a real thing to do – so naturally I like to hedge my bets and give them a pound. If they look revolting, then I’m absolutely certain they work for Channel 4 and I give them two pounds.

Anyway, I was passing, and they all say the same thing – I could be a beggar’s script-writer, I could write them good scripts, but the buggers won’t listen, they all copy each other – ‘Have you got any change?’ I hate that. When I was young beggars were different. They used to tell you marvellous lies like:

‘You’re a great, handsome fella!’

‘What?’

‘You’re a great, handsome fella.’

‘I’m sorry, I can’t hear.’

‘I was just saying what a great, handsome fella you are.’ And then I’d give him two shillings. You bought the performance. You bought the lie, and then we are equals, and that’s charming. It’s not going to go far, maybe… Anyway, a voice said to me, ‘Have you got any small change?’ in that pathetic way, so I said, ‘Yup.’ I got my money out and he looked up and said, ‘Christ! Dr Who.’

I said, ‘Yes. Have two pounds.’

‘Ah, man,’ he said, ‘You’re my hero. You were my hero.’

‘Look, have three pounds.’ Then there was a sudden change, and I looked at him in the terrible light of Deansgate in Manchester and I saw rushing through his face, as we was jolted back to sitting on the sofa with the smell of fish fingers and chips when he was secure and washed. And then you jump on twenty years and he’s begging in Deansgate, and who comes along to offer him three pounds, but The Doctor.

Three pounds is not much after the things I did at the BBC – saving the whole bloody universe every week. But he said, ‘No. I don’t want the money.’ Incredible. Then came the request. ‘Can’t you get us out of here?’ I could imagine… I should have said to him, ‘Eight o’clock, outside the bookshop. Be there.’ And at eight o’clock the place would be full of the magazine sellers and the beggars and they’d all pile into the Tardis, and I’d be saying, ‘Come on! Quick! Quick!’ They’d all pile in, thousands of them, and then I’d close the door and you’d hear a panting – ‘cos there’s always got to be someone late in order to tell the press afterwards. And then woo-woo and away we’d go to somewhere happy. There’d just be me and these people, and K9 and it would be great.

Then the next day, in the Manchester Evening News it would say, ‘Where Have All Our Beggars Gone?’ The special branch would be out misunderstanding everything. Walking round with pictures of beggars. ‘Have you seen this beggar?’ It would be fantastic, wouldn’t it?

Anyway. I persuaded him to have the three pounds.