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 Doctor Who Production team’s attention. After his appearance, as Maxil in Arc Of Infinity; he also had the pleasure of shooting his predecessor; Peter Davison. This was the first time, someone had become 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/proud of!
Everything about Baker’s Doctor, seemed to be larger-than-life. From his behaviour, to his clothing. To the OTT happenings – within his adventures.
In many ways, Baker could have been an excellent Doctor, given the right stories; direction and budget. He was a victim of timings. With circumstance and events – surrounding the show; which would prove to undermine – and ultimately contribute, to his downfall.
The programme was suffering behind the scenes – at this time. Key writers and producers – had either died or left the show. John Nathan-Turner (JNT) should have stepped aside, as producer (and wanted to leave) but was unable to find anyone, who would replace him.
BBC Executives were also looking at the show, citing that it had completely lost its way; and it was getting too violent. It wasn’t helped by the Sixth Doctor, attempting to strangle Peri to death – in The Twin Dilemma!
Baker had moments though, where he shone through, the mediocrity. His later stories, showed him to have calmed down – in many ways and that he was becoming – a much more rounded and thoughtful character.
His early squabbles with assistant Peri – for most of season 22 – at first seemed to take over the show. But later as he finally mellowed in season 23, he was proving himself to be an dynamic and enjoyable anti-hero Doctor – to watch. That was, when Doctor Who was – actually on air!
Also, Peri became an enjoyable and engaging foil for the Sixth Doctor – 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 the first full serial (after regeneration) was the final episode of Peter Davison’s season 21 tenure. Rather than, the first serial of a brand “new” season.
Twin Dilemma, 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 show’s part and wasn’t exactly going to endear Baker; in his first full appearance – to the audience.
The Doctor would land on an asteroid, to try and be alone; until the murderous rage subsided. True to form though, the Time Lord got himself embroiled in an adventure – involving a crashed spaceship and trouble between the Jacondans and 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-regen – kwas a homicidal maniac ,given to wild fits of murderous rage.
Season 22 began with the much stronger; Attack of the Cybermen and had the Doctor, successfully repairing the Tardis chameleon circuit, 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 Haley’s Comet; to hit the Earth. This story was credited, with turning a lot of viewers off the show – and the squabbling between Peri and the Doctor; was at it’s most annoying and distracting.
This serial, was also much criticised for its excessive violence and included; scenes of torture and a Cyberman; strangling someone to death.
Vengeance on Varos had a useful message, about the effect of video-culture; on a violence desensitized, degenerate society. As The Doctor was caught-up, in a ‘Running Man’ reality gameshow. This serial was underlined – by quite a serious concept; which sadly came across, as if it was glorifying violence – rather than abhorring.
Mark Of The Rani, 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 (and memorable), 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/attention; what the Sixth Doctor could be.
This was no more realised, than the highlight of season 22 – The Two Doctors. Featuring the return, of Patrick Troughton (in his last Second Doctor reprise) – and companion Jamie.
The Two Doctor’s time-paths inexplicably crossed and they met. Shot on location in Spain, this story was another muddled and hammy one but principally the charisma of both Doctor’s shone through. It was also funny in places – intentionally and otherwise.
Season 22 continued, with Timelash-1985 ; which summed up Baker’s time up in Doctor Who perfectly. Good concept, interesting story, messily executed, below par SFX and scenes 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, after meeting the Doctor and going on an adventure. In the guise, of a time-corridor – between Well’s summer house and the alien world of Karfel.
Revelation of the Daleks was gaudy, horrific, unflinching and extremely violent but brilliantly bonkers. Re-introducing Davros, stealing the frozen bodies of the dead from cyro-facility, to rebuild his Dalek army.
It did however, show a more settled Doctor and his relationship with Peri had improved. Michael Grade – BBC producer, 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 did return, 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. A whole season of promising stories were dumped, for an 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” now but in 1986, it was cutting edge – and a snip at £8,000!
Trial of a Time Lord, was a season-long story-arc; 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 flashback, during the Doctor’s trial The Mysterious Planet, Mindwarp, Terror of the Vervoids & The Ultimate Foe.
It was a novel idea but it lost it’s way – a bit, in the latter episodes, and at 14 x 25 minute parts – was very long and didn’t give show – the boost-that it so desperately needed.
It did however, introduce the clever plot-device of the Valeyard actually being an emanation of the Doctor’s darker nature; somewhere between – 11th and 12th regenerations.
Peri sadly 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 Doctor Who villain – Michael Grade, stepped in again; and this time Baker was fired from the role (another first for Doctor Who). 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. And the Sixth era created alot of firsts; the first time a previous supporting actor got to play the Doctor, the first Doctor to be axed, etc. However, as the decades have passed and everybody has gotten misty-eyed; thinking about the 1980’s. Baker’s place in Who’s history has improved considerably.
It would be unfair to (as some have suggested), to 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 amd memorab leanti-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; at least initially.
Timothy Dalton did something similar with his portrayal of James Bond in the late 1980’s. It would be well into the 90’s before ‘anti-hero’ heroes would gain favour with fans.
Another area of Baker’s downfall – the lack of decent credible writing, going on behind the scenes – which is also to blame.
Producer JNT must himself, shoulder some of the blame for Doctor Who’s decline. If he couldn’t leave and find a replacement (which he said he coudln’t). Then he should have exerted far more quality-control, on the final product.
When the Baker era stories was right, as in – Mark Of The Rani and The Two Doctors; Baker’s Doctor shone – (all too briefly) as the angry Doctor.
Ultimately, though, Doctor Who was in on a slow decline and had been that way, since 1981. Bar a brief second-wind from 1987 to 1989 – it was on borrowed time!
Season Twenty-One- 1984
The Twin Dilemma?⚪⚪⚪⚪
Season Twenty-Two- 1984 – 85
Season Twenty-Three- 1986