Origin : Gallifrey
(Actor) Born : 8 June 1943 –
Doctor Reign – 1984 – 86
“In all my travelings throughout the universe, I have battled against evil, against power-mad conspirators. I should have stayed here. The oldest civilisation… Dedecant, degenerate, and rotten to the core… Power-mad conspirators, Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen – they’re still in the nursery compared to us! Ten million years of absolute power – that’s what it takes to be really corrupt!” The Sixth Doctor
Baker caught the Who Production team’s attention after his appearance as ‘mad’ Maxil in Arc Of Infinity – 1984, he also had the pleasure of shooting his predecessor – Peter Davison. This was the first time someone had became the Doctor after appearing as a separate character.
Baker’s Doctor would be rude, arrogant and very angry. He had a huge head of curly blonde hair and a Technicolour Dreamcoat which Jason would have been jealous of!
In many ways, Baker could have been an excellent Doctor given the right stories, direction and budget. He was a victim of circumstance and events surrounding the show would prove his, and ultimately Who‘s downfall.
The programme was suffering behind the scene’s at this time. Key writers and producers had either died or left the show. Nathan-Turner should have stepped aside as producer but was unable to offload Who as nobody else wanted it.
BBC Executives were also gunning for the show; citing that it had completely lost its way and was getting too violent. It wasn’t helped by the Sixth Doctor attempting to strangle Peri to death in Twin Dilemma!
Baker had moments though, where he shone through. His later stories showed him to have calmed down in many ways and that he was becoming a much more thoughtful character.
His early season squabbles with assistant Peri – at first seemed to take over the show. But later as he began to mellow, he was proving himself to be an dynamic and enjoyable Doctor to watch, when Who was actually on air!
Also, on the subject of Peri, she became an enjoyable and engaging foil for the Doctor (enjoyable to look at anyway!) once the niggling and arguing had settled down. It didn’t hurt that she also looked superb in a bikini!
The Sixth Doctor’s reign was very different in that his first full show (after his regeneration) was the final episode of Peter Davison’s season 21 tenure, rather than the first show of a “new” season.
Twin Dilemma – 1984 had the Doctor acting a little erratic in his new regeneration, even to the point of attempting to kill Peri by strangling her.
This was a bad miscalculation on the writer’s part and wasn’t exactly going to endear Baker, in his first full appearance.
The Doctor would land on an asteroid to try and be alone, until his murderous rages subsided. True to Who form though, he got himself embroilled in an adventure involving a crashed spaceship, a little local trouble between the Jacondan’s – a bird like people being repressed by a race of giant slugs led by Mestor.
Along for the ride, were two earth twins kidnapped by a former Time Lord called Azmael. Twin Dilemma showed the Sixth Doctor at his worst in terms of his post regeneration trauma. Davison’s post-gen Doctor was bewildered and frail, Baker’s Doctor post-gen was a homicidal maniac given to wild fits of murderous rage.
Season 22 began with Attack of the Cybermen – 1985 and had the Doctor successfully repairing his chameleon circut, for a short while – returning to Trotter’s yard where it had all begun 22 years earlier, with William Hartnell.
Landing in the yard the Tardis changed shape into an ornate piece of furniture which was almost as out of place as a blue police box would have been!
Running into the Cybermen on earth, the Doctor uncovered a dastardly plan to alter the course of history by altering the course of Halley’s Comet to hit the Earth. This episode was credited with turning a lot of viewers off the show and the squabbling between Peri and the Doctor was annoying and distracting from the plot.
This episode was much criticised for its excessive violence and included scene’s of torture and a Cyberman strangling someone to death with its bare hands!
Vengeance on Varos – 1985 had a message about the effect of video culture on a degenerated society as The Doctor was caught up in a ‘Running Man’ reality game show. This episode was underlined by quite a serious concept, which sadly came across as if it was glorifying rather than abhorring.
Mark Of The Rani – 1985 was an interesting period piece, set in a 19th century mining village, where the locals were all under the control of the Master and the mysterious newcomer Time Lord – the Rani.
These two villains were notable for stabbing each other in the back, as much the Doctor. This accumulated in their possessed minions dumping the Tardis down a mine shaft.
Mark Of The Rani showed with the right story and care and attention what the Sixth Doctor could be.
This was no more realised than the highlight of season 22 – The Two Doctors – 1985. Featuring the return of Patrick Troughton (in his last Who reprise) and companion Jamie.
The Two Doctor’s time paths crossed again. Shot on location in Spain, this story was another muddled one and a little hammy but principally the charisma of both Doctor’s shone through. It was also funny in places – intentionally and otherwise.
Season 22 began with Timelash-1985which summed Baker’s time up in Whoperfectly. Good concept, messily executed, below par SFX and scripts being rewritten on the day of filming. The story itself had promise, H.G. Wells (famous contemporary Victorian Sci Fi writer) gains much of his inspiration from meeting the Doctor and going on an adventure with him. In the guise of a time corridor between Well’s summer house and the alien world of Karfel.
Revelation of the Daleks – 1985 was gaudy, horrific, unflinching and extremely violent and re-introduced Davros stealing the bodies of the dead from a kind of rest home on ice, to rebuild his Dalek army.
It did however, show a more settled Doctor and his relationship with Peri had improved. Michael Grade – BBC producer though felt the show was long past its best and was no fan of Baker as the Doctor, he ordered the show be put on ice for the following 18 months.
When it returned, it was under threat of being axed permanently – so the decision was made to go for a different format to give the show a boost. The whole season had the overarching drama of the Doctor on trial. Trial of a Timelord – 1986 boasted the most expensive SFX to date as the Tardis was caught in a Tractor beam and dragged into a huge Space Station.
It looks very Red Dwarf “modelly” but in 1986, it was cutting edge and a snip at £8,000!
Trial of a Time Lord was a season of stories all based around the Doctor being on trial by the timelords. The Doctor was tried for his life by the mysterious character – The Valeyard.
The Valeyard: “Do you relish danger, Doctor?”
The Doctor: “Not particularly!”
The Valeyard: “Yet you seem to court it so obviously.”
The Doctor: “Well, even a nervous Time Lord must appear to act with confidence at all times!”
The stories were a seasons worth told in flash back during the Doctor’s trial The Mysterious Planet, Mindwarp, Terror of the Vervoids & The Ultimate Foe.
It was a novel idea but it lost its way a bit in the latter episodes, and at 14 x 25 minute parts – was very long and didn’t give Who the shot in the arm it so desperately needed.
It did however introduce the clever plot device of the Valeyard actually being the Doctor’s darker nature somewhere between his 11th and 12th regeneration. This was explored in some more detail in Matt Smith’s incarnation in Amy’s Choice – 2010 with the Dream Lord.
Peri left the show, but the Doctor also met his future new companion-to-be, Mel who would figure more in the Seventh Doctor’s tenure.
Real life Who villain Michael Grade stepped in again and Baker was fired from the role (another first forWho). The show was spared the axe and given one last throw of the dice, with a different Doctor in the role.
Baker’s reign came to an end almost as abruptly as it had begun. His time in the show historically has not been that fondly remembered but as the decades have passed and everybody has begun to get misty eyed thinking about the 1980’s; Baker’s place in Who’s history has improved considerably.
In a recent Doctor Who magazine poll in 2009 he came higher than Paul McGann (but still second last!).
It would be unfair to (as some have suggested), lay the blame soley at Baker’s door, the stories and direction were also much to blame.
As for Baker himself, he was creating an interesting anti-hero portrayal of the Doctor, different to previous incarnations. However, in an era when audiences liked their heroes as heroes, this made him less liked – initially.
Timothy Dalton did something similar with his portrayal of James Bond. It would be well into the 90’s before anti-heroes would gain favour with fans. Another area of Baker’s downfall – the lack of decent credible writing going on behind the scenes is also to blame.
Producer John Nathan-Turner must himself, shoulder alot of the blame for staying on 9 years as Who producer. He should have left after 3 years with the outgoing previous Doctor – Davison whilst the show was on a high, something he later said himself he wanted to do but couldn’t.
When the story was right, as in Mark Of The Rani and The Two Doctors Baker shone all too briefly as the angry Doctor.
Ultimately, though, Who was running out of steam on its own and bar a brief second wind in the following 3 years – it was on borrowed time.
Season Twenty-One- 1984
The Twin Dilemma🔴⚪⚪⚪⚪