Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to meet a variety of my favorite Doctor Who (and other stuff as well) actors at conventions, especially back in the old days when autographs only cost the time it took to stand in line to get them. One of those times was on September 28, 1986, at an event that featured two actors who have played the Doctor–Colin Baker, whom I have written about already, and the iconic Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker.
(Daily Doctor Who #104)
Tom Baker starred in Doctor Who for longer than any other actor before or since, playing him for seven seasons, from 1975-1981. For many years after he had left the show, his wide eyes, broad grin, curly hair and extravagant scarf were still the image of Doctor Who in the minds of the general public.
When I saw Tom Baker, he’d been away from the show for five years, and had even declined to reappear in the 20th anniversary special in 1983. The event I attended I consisted of almost entirely the two Bakers’ individual presentations and an autograph line. In Tom Baker’s talk with the audience, I recall he waxed lyrically about the silly vanities of people, and told a story of watching someone in a restaurant looking at themselves in the reflection in their knife.
He was also asked which of his companions he enjoyed working with the most, which he said was didn’t like to answer that because no matter how he did, three other lovely people might be disappointed. But when pressed, he said how much he appreciated how welcome Elisabeth Sladen made him feel when he first took the part.
Baker also fielded a deliberate provocative question from someone who clearly wasn’t a Matthew Waterhouse fan, which he did his best to deflect.
And finally, I remember he made mention of an upcoming role that he had in an episode of Blackadder, which was a show most of us were not familiar with at the time. He got a big laugh when he told us that his part was a wayward sea captain with a poor sense of direction.
During the autograph line, I remember I wound up holding something or taking a picture or something for the guy in front of me, which caused some sort of confusion, but that was sorted fairly simply and I came away with my signed photograph.
I also bought–I think at this event–this cool piece of Tom Baker-themed Doctor Who art, featuring the Fourth Doctor and all his companions (although it does only have one of the K9’s…rude!) I’ve been trying to decipher the artists name–obviously the initials are LAS–maybe something like Larry A. Sylk? Anyone know?
Anyway, it was pretty cool to see Tom Baker back in the day, when such things were pretty simple