Sunday, July 13, 2014

Colin Baker played the Sixth Doctor.

Baker guest-starred on Doctor Who in the 1983 Fifth Doctor serial "Arc of Infinity". Series producer John Nathan-Turner liked his arch and sassy performance so much that Baker won the job as the Doctor a year later.

Baker wanted to portray the Doctor with a darker personality, and asked for a black velvet suit. But Nathan-Turner ordered him to play the Doctor as arrogant and prickly, and costumed Baker in a deliberately tasteless, garish costume.

Fans reacted quite negatively to Baker's portrayal.

Due to financial pressures at the BBC (primarily the launching of the soap opera EastEnders), Doctor Who went on an unprecedented 18-month hiatus after Baker's first season. The hiatus was also ordered after the series was accused of having "farcical" plots and being too violent. The BBC cut the show from 13, 45-minute episodes (585 total minutes) to 14, 25-minute episodes (350 total minutes). Existing scripts were thrown out, and shot footage integrated into new scripts. A season-long story arc, "The Trial of a Time Lord", was used as an over-arching story line.

Baker was fired at the end of his second season. Baker said he was never given the opportunity to show how layered his character was due to the changes roiling the BBC at the time.

After a few years, Baker was cast again as the Sixth Doctor in a series of audio Doctor Who adventures commissioned by Big Finish Productions. His Doctor is far wittier, calmer, more caring, and peaceful in these adventures -- which is attributed to Nathan-Turner's noninvolvement in them. Interestingly, these adventures do away with his "rainbow explosion" costume and clad the Doctor in black velvet pants and a black velvet jacket with dark blue lapels.

Baker's Sixth Doctor is consistently voted by fans as "the greatest Doctor of the audio adventures".

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