Tom Baker is best known as the fourth Doctor from the popular TV series Doctor Who.
Tom Baker was born in 1934 in Liverpool, England1 and he grew up during the Second World War. His mother Mary Jane Baker was a devout Catholic and he was brought up Christian. He used to spend a great deal of time in church and was an altar boy for a while.
In the monastery
At school they would sometimes come around asking the kids if they would like to try out different professions. One day when a priest from the church came and asked if anyone would like to be in religion Baker put up his hand and couldn't understand why no one else did. He was 15 when he left school to become a monk. He spent a year in training and then spent 5 years with the Brothers of Ploermel, a monastic order which took its name from the town of Ploermel in France. He was desperately unhappy during this time. He was in charge of keeping the monastery warm and he says that he often entertained thoughts of throwing the burning clinkers out into the wooden hallway of the monastery and burning it down. During Easter a monk would come round and visit and during one of these visits Baker confessed his desire to break all 10 Commandments particularly the ones about murdering and he also confessed his desire to burn down the monastery. It became clear to the visiting priest that Baker was desperately unhappy as a monk and helped arrange for Baker to leave the monastery. He felt terribly guilty for abandoning the monastic life.
Out of the monastery and into acting
He soon left home again and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. where he was a medical orderly. It was during this time that he became interested in acting. He then served a 7 month stint on the Queen Mary, an ocean liner, before going to the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in Kent on a scholarship.
Baker acted in a theatres around the country before joining up with the National Theatre. Here he acted with famous and respected actors such as Maggie Smith, Anthony Hopkins and Laurence Olivier. One of his major roles before Doctor Who was as the enemy in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. They helped him get roles in films and although nominated for 2 Golden Globes, he was working on a building site when he became the Doctor.
During this time Baker met and married his first wife Anna Wheatcroft with whom he had 2 boys. Her family owned the company Wheatcroft's Roses. A few years into their marriage Alfred Wheatcroft, Anna's father, had a stroke and was bedridden. Baker looked after Alfred Wheatcroft for a year, as no other male nurse in the area would. After several years, an attempted suicide and an attempted (though not premeditated) murder Baker left his wife and sons. He didn't see them again for many many years.
In 1974 Baker became the Doctor in the long running television series Doctor Who. He stayed in the role for 7 years and became almost everyone's favourite Doctor. After being told he was being given the role he had to keep it secret for 2 weeks and it nearly killed him2. However once the opening episode had aired he gained instant recognition and fame all over the world within a week. He says of his time as the Doctor that it was one of the happiest times of his life. As he was so well known he says he used to carry around hundreds of pictures of himself to sign and give out to people if they wanted. Baker says to never trust an actor who doesn't carry around at least 100 pictures of himself. After his 7 years as the Doctor Baker decided to leave. Coming back to reality was very difficult for him. After being greeted ecstatically by children and their parents for 7 years he was suddenly nobody again and it was very difficult for him to get used to.
During this time he also married Lalla Ward who played his "assistant" Romanadvoratrelundar II3.
After the Doctor
After his time as the Doctor he began drinking a lot and spending much of his time in pubs with other friends who were also heavy drinkers such as Jeff Bernard and occasionally Francis Bacon and Dan Farson. He found it difficult to get work because he wanted to spend all his time in the Colony Rooms with Jeff Bernard and the others. 16 months after getting married to Lalla Ward they parted mutually, each knowing that it wasn't going to work out.
After a while he began seeing Sue Jerrard again, he had met her years before when she was an asisstant editor on Doctor Who. As they began to get to know each other better Baker began spending more and more time with Sue and less and less time in the Colony Rooms. Eventually they got married and decided to move to the country. Baker used to spend some of his time mowing the grass in front of the local church and "contemplating his gravestone". However he sold the house in 2002 and moved to France. While he lived in England he could often be seen in the local pub and switched on the village Christmas lights for 17 years.
Other than mowing Baker has written several books including his autobiography Who On Earth Is Tom Baker and The Boy Who Kicked Pigs. He has also narrated Little Britain, linking the numerous sketches with what he hopes is funny narration, and going to numerous Sci-Fi Conventions. He played Donald McDonald on Monarch Of The Glen as well .
In 1997 a New Zealand Insurance Company asked him to do an ad for them. He said yes and flew out to New Zealand with his wife. While he was out to dinner with Sue a man bought them a drink. When Baker went to find the man thinking he was a fan he was told that he was actually his son Piers. It was the first time he had seen Piers since he left Anna Wheatcroft.
Baker has been in a number of plays, films TV shows etc. other than Doctor Who. These include The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and he is the first actor to have ever played both Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty in the same play The Mask of Moriarty. He also played Captain Redrum in the Blackadder II episode "Potato". Baker also became the voice when you send text messages to home phones in England, having the fourth most recognisable voice in england4. Later, however, they replaced him with a computer generated voice.
Who On Earth Is Tom Baker by Tom Baker is his autobiography. It is a brilliant book full of funny stories and witty comments.
Tom Baker's official website is www.tombaker.tv
Information on his stories as the Doctor is available on the BBC Doctor Who Website at www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/index_fourth.shtml
For a list of all the plays, films, TV shows etc. Baker has been in see www.tombaker.tv