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The Fourth Doctor Who


The fourth Doctor Who was Tom Baker, a largely unknown actor before he took the role. He was the longest running Doctor, holding the part for seven years. There is no doubt that he was also the best Doctor - it was the part he was born to play. After the domesticity of his predecessor, Baker's Doctor was an eccentric wanderer through time once more. Like Patrick Troughton, he would clown around and act the fool to disguise his intellect. Initially, the characterization was quite serious in tone, with Baker providing just the odd moment of light relief amidst the rather grim scenarios of his early stories. But as time went on, the comedic side of his character came very much to the fore, and he developed a very sophisticated humorous style. Yet through it all, there remained an overwhelming sense of moral authority in this Doctor, as with the previous three, due no doubt to the very charismatic personality of the actor. The huge success of Doctor Who continued with Tom Baker's portrayal, building on the foundation established by Jon Pertwee - and indeed, it reached its absolute peak of popularity at this time. Ironically, at the same time, the series was held in very low regard by organized fandom, who despised the humorous style, an attitude which has only been revised in very recent years. The fans therefore welcomed the arrival of a new production team for Baker's final season, who started by establishing a completely different style from what had gone before. The tone of the stories became more serious, with a hard science fiction edge, and most significantly, the humour was almost completely excised. Whilst the long term fans may have loved it, the ratings went into a massive decline almost overnight. It is rumoured that Tom Baker didn't like the enforced changes, and this contributed to his decision to leave the series at the end of that season. Interestingly, this new serious approach actually works in context. We see an apparently much older Doctor than when we last met him, perhaps more weary and fatalistic, almost as if he knows his time is running out - and this, coupled with the season's running theme of entropy, provides a good build-up to the regeneration. There seems no doubt that the first four Doctors - and Pertwee and Baker in particular - are the most highly regarded by the general public, even after all this time. Doctor Who was at its most popular during the seventies, due in no small part to the immense talents of the lead actors.

Best and worst TV stories

Adventures of the fourth Doctor Who

Read my fourth Doctor story String Theory. This was originally published in the Canadian fanzine Myth Makers Presents: Jade. Visit my fan fiction page to find out more.


Genesis of the Daleks - review by Matthew Newton

The Creature from the Pit - review by Matthew Newton

Logopolis and the Appliance of Science - by Matthew Newton