Doctor Who - Documentary s13e04 Episode Script

Doctor Who Stories - Tom Baker

You know, when I became Doctor Who, Barry Letts and Bill Slater and all those people, Shaun Sutton, who were so wonderful, they were pleased to have me, and off I went.
And it was going fine.
Barry Letts saw me in.
Barry Letts knew most about Doctor Who, and he was very protective.
He knew what a beautiful idea it was and he did it extremely well but he was moving on and a new one was coming in.
And so, I only did I think about two stories with Barry.
Barry was quick to spot my kind of lunacy, my benevolent lunacy.
I remember he left in a joke I put in very early on, when some creature was pointing at me.
And I said, "Is that thing loaded?" And Barry thought that was So, he was great.
He encouraged me.
And then, he passed me over to Philip Hinchcliffe, and Philip saw me on.
Now, Philip, you see, was so wonderfully tactful.
Philip didn't hawk his ego around.
He was very, very clever.
I mean, he was a kind of a comet.
I think he'd been to Cambridge and Oxford and then had finished off at Harrods and Fortnum & Mason's, where the high flyers went.
The thing is about Philip, while he didn't kind of hassle me in any way at all, he was always there, reassuring.
He was actually always in my eyeline.
The only producer I didn't mind in my eyeline.
Everybody loved him.
But of course, you know, of course, he was only young.
I think he was maybe 30.
But he was always there, and so it went on and on and on and it built and built and built till the thing was really hitting huge, huge figures.
And I can't remember exactly how long it was before I was handed over to Graham Williams.
And he carried on.
I can't remember all those stories.
By that time, of course, quite a lot of directors that they were using They were using the same pool of directors, of staff directors in those days, were, by this time, getting very familiar with me, and familiar with Terry Dicks and familiar with the script editors, especially Bob Holmes.
It was wonderful.
It was just absolutely great.
And then, of course, it was Douglas Adams towards the end of me being there.
And as they got familiar with me, it meant that they could work much quicker, you know? And I then began to become technically more aware about the shots and everything.
I was able, without upsetting people, to say, "Listen, we did exactly that set-up.
" I mean, you know, sometimes, for example, the writing, we'd have to run through a little corridor about ten feet long, mean little BBC corridor, and we'd have about 15 or 20 lines.
It was impossible to say them, you know, as we used to run to the director, saying, "What are we going to do?" I knew all those kind of technical answers and the directors were amused by that.
And the way we get round that was I'd skid to a halt on camera and I'd say to Elisabeth, "What did you say? "Did you hear something?" She'd say, "No.
" I'd say, "Oh.
"What were you saying?" And she'd say the lines and I'd say, "Shh, come on.
" And then we'd nip off, you see.
All those things we knew, you know, it was marvellous.
Actors in a regular situation, all the shots in the Tardis, everything like that.
We knew exactly where the lights were and how to make it simpler for the directors and all that kind of thing.
You know, so Graham went on and on.
And then Well, now, actually, if we jump on, I don't know how long Graham was there.
Isn't it amazing? He was there, I suppose, for some time.
The main thing about Graham Williams was he introduced the character of K-9.
Now, there's been a lot of talk.
K-9 was an immense success with the children.
They absolutely adored it, and BBC Enterprises marketed that little tin dog.
I personally hated it and Graham knew I didn't really like it.
And I didn't like it because, of course, as the actor in the piece, or as the main actor in the piece, I knew perfectly well, you know.
It's all very well having an idea about this tin dog that talks.
Well, I was always crouched next to that dog, which couldn't change its expression.
Its ears used to move, I think.
For a close two-shot, you've got to get down on your knees, so I had bursitis quite often.
I didn't want to have housemaid's knee as Doctor Who.
I didn't like anything realistically violent, because I do remember one time, there was a scene when I had to With a knife.
There was a knife in a scene, that really bothered me.
And I had to say to someone, some alien, "Take me to your leader or I'll kill him, "cut his head off, his ears off" or something like that.
And I didn't want to do that.
And the director said to me, "So, what do you want to do?" Because he had to log this disagreement.
Actors are not allowed to refuse to say lines.
I said, "I'm not saying it.
" He said, "So, what are we going to do, then?" So, I said, "Well, I'll do it with a jelly baby.
" Now, drop your weapons, or I'll kill him with this deadly jelly baby.
To which the fellow said the line The other actor said, "Well, kill him, then.
" And so then I was absolutely stuck, wasn't I? So I bit the top off the jelly baby and said, "Well, take me to your leader, anyway.
" And so, I think it was David who said, "Okay, all right.
" And so, he said, "But you might hear about this.
" But when they looked at the rushes, you see, they laughed.
I admired the baddies very much, because, you know, obviously, being an actor, I understood perfectly well that, you know, the baddie, you are only as good as the baddie, in a way.
It's really rather like, you know In spite of them complaining, the police absolutely adore criminals because otherwise they'd be out of work.
God loves sinners.
(LAUGHING) It's funny, isn't it? If you're a sinner, God is absolutely mad about you.
DOCTOR: I see.
You are one of those boring maniacs who's going to gloat, hmm? You going to tell me your plan for running the universe? Oh, no, Doctor.
I am going to burn out your brain.
I loved the baddies.
And I used to try and see their point of view, because, you know, the way to play a baddie, it seems to me, says Tom, I remember Bernard Archard playing a baddie in maybe "Pyramid of Mars".
And Tony Beckley in another one about the crinoid.
And they were wonderful, because they weren't playing baddies.
They were just playing characters who were misunderstood, and I was getting in the way.
That's the way to play it.
It may be that in the future, if they ever remake Doctor Who, they might suddenly discover that there's someone who looks like an old Doctor Who who'd be a very good villain in it.
And when they do discover that, they'll find that I'll be waiting.
Elisabeth was terribly good at that Pearl White stuff.
Elisabeth was the Pearl White assistant, really.
She knew about that kind of The children loving her, you know? She was helpless.
She didn't, you know, get stroppy about the silliness of it, you know.
And she was onto my silliness, and she played it.
No one could touch her, you know, for With her great wide eyes.
God! She was fantastic, yeah.
Villains always, of course, were the chiefs of the monsters.
And so, I loved all the monsters as well, because without the monsters, we wouldn't have had any conflicts, and therefore, no story.
Obviously, I used to adore the Daleks.
The way they used to go around screaming all the time.
I do remember trying to put in kind of American-style lines, like, you know, "Why do they shout all the time? "Could you just speak a little more quiet?" Anyway, they didn't like me debunking the Daleks like that but they were my favourites, because they were the children's favourites, you see.
And so therefore, I wanted to I remember one time, you know, when I was in a position, I mean, the Doctor was in a position.
Interesting The Doctor was in the position to actually destroy the Daleks.
I had to put two wires together.
It was a wonderful moment.
I remember it so clearly, and hearing, afterwards, they're killing themselves with laughter in the control room.
And just as I was going to destroy them, I suddenly paused and said, "But have I the right? "Have I the right?" And I felt it was a cue for a song, you know.
Oh, it was so wonderful.
The most serious actor I ever met in Doctor Who, actually, was undoubtedly the most successful monster, was Davros, who was in a kind of wheelchair, an amazing thing, played by an actor called Michael Wisher.
He was so He was funny in the way Arthur Lowe was.
I never knew Arthur Lowe, but Michael Wisher was terrible funny, because he didn't find anything funny.
And so he said "I say," he said to the director, "The thing is, you see, in the scene" He said, "You know, when I'm playing Davros, I won't be able to see.
" And the director says, "Yes, I know, Michael.
" And he said, "I don't think I should be able to see at the rehearsal.
" So the director said, "Well, shut your eyes, then.
" He said, "It's very difficult because Tom keeps making funny jokes "and I wonder what the everyone's laughing at.
" So, they put a bag over his head.
It was terribly funny.
But then he had to be able to see a bit, so there was a little hole in the bag so he could see.
And it was just a rather stiff brown paper shopping bag.
And then, Michael was a big smoker.
He was a big baccy man.
And so, then he compromised even further, and there was a little hole here.
And the bag was quite large, so Michael was smoking inside and it was absolutely incredible he didn't find it funny.
That out of these holes at the top, and out of this eyehole here, peeping out, and out of this terrible little hole here, there was smoke coming out, like a leaking chimney.
And he didn't see that we were absolutely in convulsions of laughter.
Didn't see it at all.
He stayed in the part.
I think they gave him a straw with some water, not new water, old water, because it was the BBC.
Anyway, they fed him some water they'd found somewhere to save money.
And Michael I said, "Michael, two children want to see me.
" In those days, every recording, people would say, "Oh, Tom.
" And it used to bother me, you know, that the children of quite powerful people And I wasn't in the position to refuse, you know.
Anyway, I took these two kids to see Michael Wisher, and there he was.
And so when they were He was so wonderfully still that they thought that he was just a statue, you know, he was just a model.
And so, you know, first of all, they were appalled, and then they got bold.
Children are very like adults in that way.
First of all, they're impressed and then they get naughty and bold.
Bold.
And so, then one of them began to, actually, you know, play with these little things there on his hand, and the other one was watching him.
And I was watching, knowing quite well what was going to happen.
And Michael, his hand suddenly gripped this child.
It was heaven.
It was heaven to see the terror and hear the screams.
And so what happened was, having gripped the child like that and the child screaming like that, his brother or its brother said, "What happened?" And here he, by this time, he was hysterical.
He said, "He, he, he took my" And I said, "You're a liar.
He didn't, you see.
He didn't.
" He said, "Yes, you try," and he went like that and nothing happened, you see.
And then when the child turned round, Michael then got him.
It was fantastic.
It was one of the great moments.
He was wonderful, Michael Wisher.
He's dead, you know.
Quite a lot of the people It's a bit sad, really.
I suppose that's why I don't My career slowed down a bit.
Quite a lot of the people who worked with me are dead, particularly directors.
The word has got out.
Directors who work with me often die mysteriously afterwards.
Sometimes in agony.
Douglas Camfield directed me in one.
What were they called? Zygons, I think they were called.
And their computers were like gigantic kind of pizzas.
Yeah, like American hot.
And also they were wonderful, and Dougie, who also laughed at my jokes and so I adored him, you know, the Daleks were always shouting and Dougie had this great idea that when the Zygons are trying to get in, they'd whisper, they were always saying, "Open this door.
" (LAUGHS) It worked a treat.
Absolute treat.
And I was pressing, you know, the kind of, uh, whatever you call the hot sausages in the Zygons.
That was amazing.
They were just like pizzas, but the children accepted them as computers.
It was wonderful.
Every time I see a pizza, you know, my poor wife is so bored So I always get an American hot, you know, uh, and I start (LAUGHING) My wife says, "Not again.
" My poor wife.
I have a wonderful wife.
Why she has to put up with all these old sillinesses, you know.
So there you are.
They were the monsters.
A woman called Paddy Russell was the only woman I worked for, and she insisted that I play a mummy in I think it was called "Pyramid of Mars" and, um I said to her, "Look.
I don't want to play this.
"I mean, no one will know I'm in there.
" And of course being a good old pro, she said, "Of course they will, Tom.
"Just because we can't see your face.
You've got a special way of moving "and doing things, you know.
We'll know it's you in there.
" Anyway, I let her talk me into But it was bloody hell, I gave her a bad time, because I didn't think that she was right.
But she was I accepted it, you see, out of vanity.
And once I was inside, I thought, "I don't care whether they know I'm in here or not.
"I don't want to be in here.
" And there was (LAUGHS) And I think actually we missed Isn't it funny the way It was so silly.
I think I missed tea break.
That's right, they couldn't undo me.
And I could just see through these things, all these people slamming down big mugs of tea, you know, bacon sandwiches, all those things.
Actually, maybe when I look back, you know, I only became an actor because of my love of bacon sandwiches and tea at 11:00 in the morning.
And so there I was, you know, feeling quite sorry for myself.
And someone said, "You're hot in there, Tom.
" I said, "How do you know?" They said, "Well, I can see the stains coming out.
" I said, "Those are tears, those are tears.
"I'm crying for my bacon sandwich.
" But yeah, I was always sorry that I was so rude to Paddy, but she was It was a great success.
Maybe one of the great ones.
"The Talons of Weng-Chiang", directed by David Maloney.
That was a great success, as well.
But that was me, you see.
It was funny that BBC, shamelessly of course, just lifted ideas from anywhere.
That's true.
Any creative people, they steal.
And I was just Sherlock Holmes in that one.
And Louise was in it, wasn't she? All dressed up.
Actually, she had clothes on.
That's right, because I remember saying that terrible old joke.
I said, "Hello, I didn't recognise you with your clothes on.
" But she had a pretty rather gamine kind of beret on or something, yeah.
That's right.
I was Sherlock Holmes with That was a good one.
I think at about the second story, I fell in a fight sequence on Dartmoor, and broke my collarbone.
But it was agonisingly painful.
But it's the quickest healing bone, I think, in the body.
Anyway, so when I came back, it was just anguish, you know.
So I couldn't run or anything like that.
It was just incredible.
Terry Walsh, the fans of Doctor Who will remember, who's also dead now.
Um, there must be somebody left alive.
I can't have that effect on everyone.
Terry Walsh actually then got dressed up in a wig, looking like me in medium shot and a hat.
And he did all the running and jumping.
And afterwards I said, "Listen, I don't need to" They said, "Oh, yes, you do.
" But I mean, I didn't in that one.
I don't know if people noticed.
But he ran and jumped and fell for me.
And they just came in close, and I said the lines.
It was just heaven.
We adore cliffhangers, don't we? Absolutely adore the cliffhanger.
You can't really, uh, do melodrama without a cliffhanger, really.
You can't actually wrap something up.
Because if you wrap it up, it induces a kind of state of complacency, and you say, "Oh well, that's complete, then.
" We want to know the answer and it's got to drive you crazy.
But it's got to be absolutely suspended and so in Doctor Who was that wonderful skidding thing, as you suddenly went, you know, like you're going down an ice slope.
As I was being threatened with being drowned or something like that, something was looming in.
And so our life is made up actually of cliffhangers.
I mean, the biggest cliffhanger of all is waiting, actually, isn't it, on the answer from a mortgage company.
You know, or from whether you've got permission to have an overdraft, or whether someone is going to sell you their house or not.
So cliffhangers are absolutely part of our lives.
Of course the biggest cliffhanger of all is, and the one that preoccupies me at the moment is actually is there life after death? Whenever I used to go into The nearest I got to kind of being hopelessly teased was everywhere I went somewhere.
Uh, it was a time in the '70s when, if you were in Z Cars, you know, people used to start humming the, uh, the Z Car signature tune, and I used to walk in somewhere, or if I was seen talking to a pretty girl, jealous men, younger men, more attractive men than I, going by to the lavatory would go (HUMMING DOCTOR WHO THEME) They would absolutely Or they'd make references to the sonic screwdriver or whatever it is.
Because that music is absolutely the thing that links us, isn't it? It was It nailed us down.
While I was there, I think they actually changed the tempo of it at one moment.
But, um, by that time I was, you know, I couldn't really complain about that because I had no, you know I couldn't complain about the music then.
It was too late.
The Tardis was the most wonderful image imaginable.
It was a wonderful trick of something that was bigger in the inside than it was on the outside.
My only reservations about the Tardis was I thought that it should have been much bigger on the inside.
If the situation was true that this place was bigger on the inside, then I couldn't understand I remember one time we were filming near Wells Cathedral, and I said, "Let's do some interiors with shots of my Wellingtons in there.
" And so"And then we'll do me entering in "and we can use these shots.
" In other words, it should've been, rather like Gormenghast You remember that funny old series of novels by Mervyn Peake? Um, it should've been much bigger.
Absolutely.
There should've been a whole world, really.
And it could've been in anything we want, you know.
Inside of cathedrals, it could've been Kew Gardens or anything.
It may be the travelling that is the great ideal of the public, you know, especially in England, if you're trying to get from anywhere.
I mean, when someone actually turns up in England, it is so thrilling, isn't it? Even if they've only actually come from Tufnell Park, and you live in, say, somewhere near, like Muswell Hill.
And someone says, "You're here, George.
"George is here.
He's come all the way from Tufnell Park.
" So, maybe the idea of dematerialising and travelling from one place to another is wonderful.
Although, of course, the audiences and the BBC never talked about the wonderful joke of Doctor Who was, in order to travel from one place to another, from some, uh, what do you call it, some coal pit, or some old abandoned mine, some quarry in Wales to Kasterborous, was that while this was happening, we could see him travelling, which cut across the whole notion.
That was so beautiful.
Well, what makes a good Doctor Who story is any kind of story where the Doctor and his pal are in the greatest danger.
That's what makes a good story, if they're in great danger.
And the monsters or the villain, whoever he is, is really a menace, and the odds are stacked against him.
The odds must be stacked against him.
It mustn't be even.
It must be uneven for evil to be defeated satisfactorily.
Evil must have all the guns on its side.
But good must have the ingenuity, and our will, in melodrama, that good should succeed.
And so the very best stories were always those where I mean, that's why the Daleks were terrific stories, because the Daleks were The Daleks in the imaginations of the children were so lethally dangerous, weren't they? And all that screaming, that screaming and yelling.
Yeah, so that was the main thing.
The odds must be stacked against the Doctor and his companion.
As to how why Doctor Who has endured.
Of course, if I really knew the answer to that, the BBC would employ me in the script-reading department trying to pick winners for the BBC.
It actually must be something to do, first of all, with the unarguable fact that there's nothing quite like it.
No? There's the mysteriousness of the character, the benevolent alien from outer space who's got secrets, who lives a long time and doesn't always come clean and seems to laugh at danger but is still very, very caring.
These are very, very beguiling qualities, aren't they? Maybe that's the reason the BBC are toying with the idea of bringing it back.
They're doing it in Wales, I think.
Yeah.
I hope that doesn't mean they're doing it in Welsh, does it? Actually, I hope it doesn't come over as boring because it was mostly all wonderful.