Happy birthday today to Tom Baker, the 4th incarnation of the time lord from Gallifrey, possibly the best known actor of the classic era of the long-running series Doctor Who, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary on the air last year, to play that chameleonic role. The inimitable actor, who recently appeared in the 50th anniversary special, Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor, turns 80 today.
Baker, who landed the role in 1974 and portrayed the cheeky, curious, and inquisitive character, decked out in flamboyant dress, ala hat, which barely covered his large curled tresses of hair; flowing bold multi-colored scarf; and a long coat, injected a sort of youth mentality and attitude into the character, who had been, up to that point, been portrayed by decidedly more elder actors, who gave the Doctor a bit of English intelligentsia and class. Baker did the same, but his youthful appearance and manner endeared him and the show to a more younger generation, and it set a sort of template for the character thereafter in which he was portrayed by much younger actors, and ultimately, the Doctor took on a different and rather new dimension for having been done with the new approach.
Baker left the program in 1981, but has been associated with it ever since; arguably, he’s like the Sean Connery in the stream of actors who breathed life into Ian Fleming’s literary hero and eventual screen icon, James Bond. Most laymen of the show remember Baker as one of its main figures and memorable heroes. Like the show, the work that Tom Baker gave to Doctor Who will endure till the end of time. He’s also fortunate for being the first Who actor to have most of, if not all of, his episodes remaining firmly intact for perpetuity, (the show’s prior Doctors’ episodes are all but extinct, a victim of either poor storage or actual physical wiping [erasing] of the tapes in which the episodes had been individually housed), and that rich body of work will not only keep Baker as a science-fiction cultural icon, but an icon of television itself, a pop cultural figure for all time, for all geekdom, and beyond.
So have yourself a Doctor Who marathon and celebrate the 80th year of the life of Tom Baker, arguably the coolest guy ever to man a TARDIS.