Colin Baker, the sixth incarnation of Doctor Who and now one of the series’ so-called Guardians of The Edge, has been talking to us about seeing the first of the upcoming 60th Anniversary Specials, returning to Doctor Who last year and the second coming of Russell T Davies.
After a long and interesting chat about his role in his new movie, Christmas At The Holly Day Inn, his love of the season, many, many years in panto and the way acting for the screen has changed across his 50-year career – which you can read in Film Stories magazine soon – chat came around to his role in 2022’s Power Of The Doctor, and his reaction to seeing the first instalment of the three upcoming specials starring David Tennant.
That episode is titled The Star Beast, and will be directed by massive Film Stories favourite (and contributor), Rachel Talalay. She’ll be returning to the series for the first time since directing the Peter Capaldi send-off, Twice Upon A Time, for the Christmas Special of 2017. She is also responsible for bringing to screen the wonderful Hell Bent/Heaven Sent and World Enough And Time/The Doctor Falls story arcs that are so popular among fans.
“I was at the preview a couple of nights ago,” Baker told us. “It was the first [new] David Tennant story… And whereas my lips are sealed about content and all other things. They’re not sealed about saying I was blown away.
“Doctor Who now has a budget… boy it has a budget – and that could kill the programme. Too much money, for something like Doctor Who, you could kill it. But it hasn’t. What he’s done is enabled them to do the things they could only hint at before and do them credibly, wonderfully and magnificently.”
Baker then elaborated on the performance of David Tennant, and the contribution of another returnee – Russell T Davies.
“David has grabbed it with both hands, and anyone who doesn’t see it has my sympathy. I might have watched it, I don’t know… But I’m so glad I did. And now I’ll probably watch all the others. Disney is involved, but it hasn’t been Disneyfied. It’s been Russell T Davies-ified! And that’s a good thing.”
Echoing the thoughts of Paul McGann in our recent chat with him, Baker too heaped praise on the returning showrunner. Comparing him to the man that bought him to the Tardis back in 1984.
“I love Russell T Davies, the man’s a genius. He did what John Nathan Turner did as a producer in the 70s and 80s. He’s the man for all seasons. The thing that John didn’t have, that Russell does, is the ability to write magnificent stories and to infuse a nation with a new joy in Doctor Who.“
When asked about his own return to Who, he had a very different experience filming for 2022’s Power Of The Doctor than McGann described – having filmed his scenes alone. And certainly more time to prepare.
“Jodie [Whittaker], was there when I did mine, and so was Sylvester [McCoy] and so was David Bradley. We were all there at the same time. We recorded about a year before it went out and I got enough notice so I could learn the four lines, or whatever it was. I could have had 20 minutes’ notice and I’d have been able to do it. So it wasn’t that challenging. Bear in mind, I’ve been playing my doctor for 40 years, I’ve done over 200, two-hour audios playing my doctor. So even though it wasn’t ‘my’ doctor, it was a Guardian of The Edge, we all know why that Guardian of The Edge looked like my doctor. It’s the genre, and it’s a wonderful genre because you can play with it and do the most imaginative, contradictory things – and the character himself can say, ‘well, that’s weird’, mirroring what you’re saying watching it! Well, the doctor would never say that. Well, I can say ‘I never thought I’d hear myself say that.’
While there’s no word of if we’ll see The Guardians again as the series transitions to Ncuti Gatwa’s tenancy of the Tardis, Baker has been back in the role of the Doctor very recently. When we spoke to McGann, the recent Tales Of The Tardis episodes – available on the BBC iPlayer – were still firmly under wraps, but Baker enjoyed his chance to return again for the and teaming up with his old companion Nicola Bryant, describing it as “lovely” to do.
“It acknowledges that, after you’ve regenerated yourself, you’re still pottering about somewhere with your companion and the ageing process is allowed. So yeah, they can do anything now. And probably will.”
You can see Colin and Nicola Bryant’s Tales Of The Tardis, which revisits their classic Vengeance On Varos storyline, on BBC iPlayer now and – if you’re looking to get into the Christmas spirit – you can find Christmas At The Holly Day Inn (we love a good pun) to rent or buy on many major streaming platforms as well. Here’s the trailer!