Overview: The Tom Baker Era (1974-1981)

tom bakerJon Pertwee stepped down, having lost his family. Phillip Hinchcliffe became the new producer and hired Tom Baker, who would go on to have the longest run as the Doctor yet.

About Tom Baker

Tom Baker was born in Scotland Road, Liverpool. He left school at age 15 to become a Catholic monk, but left after six years because he had lost his faith. In 1955, he began two years service in the Royal Army Medial Corps He was acting first as a hobby, but eventually became part of Laurence Olivier’s Theatre Company.  Despite the occasional movie role, he found it difficult to make end meet until he became the Doctor.

During his tenure, Doctor Who also began acting in Australia and the US making him the most popular Doctor at the time. After his tenure ended, Baker played Sherlock Holmes in a BBC adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles. He also played Puddleglum in the BBC adaptation of The Silver Chair.

“Of course I’m being childish! There’s no point in being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes!”–“Robot”

In a Nutshell

  • Catch Phrase: “Would you like a jelly baby?”
  • Tom Baker had three producers during his era. Phillip Hinchcliffe often included gothic horror themes, which caused controversy because it was deemed too frightening. Graham Williams went for a more light-hearted feel. John Nathn Turner began his run as the longest-employed (and final) producer by giving the show a new theme song and logo.
  • First appearance of Davros: “Genesis of the Daleks”
  • First appearance of the Zygons: “Terror of the Zygons”
  • First appearance of the “Crispy Master” (Peter Pratt version): “The Deadly Assassin”
  • First story set on Gallifrey: “The Deadly Assassin”
  • First appearance of Jago and Litefoot: “Talons of Weng-Chiang”
  • First appearance of the Black Guardian: “The Armageddon Factor”
  • First story arc: “The Key to Time”
  • First appearance of Geoffrey Beevers as the Master: “The Keeper of Traken”
  • First appearance of Anthony Ainley as the Master: “The Keeper of Traken”

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Fourth: Genesis of the Daleks

genesis of the daleksWriter: Terry Nation

Director: David Maloney

Producer: Phillip Hinchcliffe

Companions: Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen), Dr. Harry Sullivan (Ian Marten)

No. of Episodes: 6

Season: 12, ep. 4

Summary: The Time Lords have taken control of the Doctor’s TARDIS for the first time since the Third Doctor’s era, stranding him on Skaro. He will be allowed to return on one condition: prevent Davros from finishing his tests on the Daleks and unleashing them for the first time.

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Fourth Doctor: The Wrath of Iceni

the wrath of iceniWriter: John Dorney

Director: Ken Bentley

Companion: Leela (Louise Jameson)

Running Time: 1 hour, 16 minutes (includes interviews)

Summary: The Doctor takes Leela to ancient Norfolk to learn about her ancestors. Leela meets the tribe of Iceni and is enthralled by its leader, the legendary Boudica. Will she be swayed to join the rebellion against the Roman Empire?

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Fourth Doctor Lost Story: The Valley of Death


Writer: Jonathan Morris (from a story by Phillip Hinchcliffe)

Director: Ken Bentley

Producer: David Richardson

Companion: Leela (Louise Jameson)

(Note: This is the second of two Lost Stories featuring the Fourth Doctor. It’s part of the Fourth Doctor Lost Stories Boxed Set. I reviewed each story separately.)

Summary: The Doctor and Leela meet Edward Perkins in the Amazon Rain Forest, where he is searching for details surrounding an expedition led by his great-grandfather. They join him on his quest in a plane. After a crash landing, they discover an abandoned spacecraft and tribesmen. The spacecraft belongs to an alien race called the Lurons, who can make copies of anyone they encounter. They’ve even made copies of the Doctor and Leela themselves!

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Fourth Doctor Lost Story: The Foe From The Future


Writer: John Dorney (from a story by Robert Banks Stewart)
Director: Ken Bentley
Producer: David Richardson
(Note: This is part of the Fourth Doctor Lost Stories boxed set. I will be reviewing the second story, “The Valley of Death”, at a later date)
Companion: Leela (Louise Jameson)
Summary:The TARDIS arrives in Devon 1977. When they arrive they discover that history is unravelling. There is a house haunted by a spectre that has possessed a man named Jalnik.
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Fourth Doctor Audio: The Renaissance Man

renaissance-manWriter: Justin Richards

Director: Ken Bentley

Producer: Nicholas Briggs

Companion: Leela (Louise Jameson)

Summary: The Doctor wants to educate Leela by taking her to the greatest collection of Earth artificats in the universe, the Morovarain Museum on Morovarian Minor. But instead, the TARDIS takes them to an English village. There, they meet Harcourt, a mysterious collector.  The Doctor suspects something sinister is going on. Something, or someone, is stealing knowledge from people.

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Destiny of the Doctor: Babblesphere (4th Doctor and Romana II)


Writer: Jonathan Morris

Director: John Ainsworth

Running Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Companion: Romana II (Lalla Ward, narrator)

Summary: The Doctor and Romana arrive on the planet Hephastos, which is supposed to be colonized by composers, painters, and authors.  They discover the planet is decaying. The colonists are enslaved by an artificial intelligence known as the Babble Network. The Babble Network occupies everyone’s minds, sharing everyone’s thoughts and storing them as information. Everyone’s thoughts are so open that the Babble Network has made privacy a crime. The Doctor and Romana realize that in order to save the colony, the Network must be destroyed. There’s just one problem: They both forgot their sonic screwdrivers, and K-9 needs repairs (again.)

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Fourth Doctor Audio Drama: Destination Nerva


Writer/Director/Producer: Nicholas Briggs

Running Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes (note: includes interviews with cast and crew)

Companion: Leela (Louise Jameson)

Summary: This story continues right from where the classic serial “Talons of Weng-Chiang” left off. After saying their good-byes to Jago and Litefoot, the Doctor and Leela return to the TARDIS and find a distress call from Nerva, the space station the Doctor, Sarah Jane, and Harry Sullivan travelled to twice in the show, in The Ark in Space and “Revenge of the Cybermen”. What they discover is an alien who could destroy the project before it even begins.

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The Hand of Fear


Writers: Bob Baker & Dave Martin

Director: Lennie Mayne

Producer: Phillip Hinchcliffe

Season: 14, ep. 2 (5-8)

Companion: Sarah Jane-Smith (Elizabeth Sladen)

Summary: The Doctor attempts to take Sarah home, but accidentally takes her to the Nunton Experimental Complex. In the wake of a rockslide caused by an experimental explosion, Sarah happens upon a possessed hand.  The hand is possessed by Eldrad, a tyrant from the planet Kastria. Eldrad forces the Doctor to take them to Kastria so he can reclaim it.

Review: I had actually looked forward to revisiting this serial when I planned my Remembering Sarah Jane event because it’s one of my favorite departure stories.

Eldrad is a great villain and to be honest, only needed one appearance to show how great a villain he/she is.  We don’t even get to see Eldrad until the second half, but we don’t need to because Sladen does a great job at being evil. When Eldrad finally does appear, the story doesn’t get weaker, it does practically the opposite.

Tom Baker is really at his best in this story, and it’s a shame to see Sladen go because the two of them had such great chemistry.  The final scene is still every bit as touching as it was back then, perhaps even more so now that Elizabeth Sladen is dead. I highly recommend this story.

Overall Review: 10/10

Continuity: This is the only story that features the additional console room in the TARDIS. Although Sarah Jane makes her departure in this story, she does make a guest appearance in “The Five Doctors” and we see her face among the companions calling out to the Fourth Doctor in “Logopolis” before he regenerates. She is also the only companion from the classic era to get spin-offs. “K-9 and Company” only managed to get a pilot, but in that pilot it is established that she now owns K-9 Mark 3, which we see with her in “The Five Doctors”.  Her second spin-off, “The Sarah Jane Adventures”, ran for four and half seasons, ending with her death in 2011, thanks to her appearance in “School Reunion”. Prior to her appearance in “School Reunion”, Sladen also played Sarah Jane in her  own range of Big Finish stories. Eldrad returns in the recently released Big Finish Fifth Doctor story “Eldrad Must Die”.

Trivia: Sladen and Tom Baker ad-libbed Sarah Jane’s departure. Also, prior to her death, Big Finish was actually planning to reunite Sladen and Tom Baker when they finally got him to participate in stories for them. However, because of her death, it was decided to reunite the Doctor and Leela instead.

The Ark In Space


” Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It’s only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They’ve survived flood, famine and plague. They’ve survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They’re indomitable. Indomitable.”

Writer: Robert Holmes

Director: Robert Bennett

Producer: Phillip Hinchcliffe

No. of Episodes: 4

Season: 12, episode 2 (5-8)

Companions: Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen), Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter)

Summary: The Doctor and companions are on the Nerva Space Station.  Thousands of years ago, solar flares have rendered Earth inhospitable. A group of selected humans have been placed in suspended animation aboard the station, so that when word is received that Earth is livable again, they can start the human race over. There’s just one problem: the station has been overrun by giant insects called the Wirrn, who’ve also taken over the station’s leader, Noah.

Review: I’ve been watching Diamanda Hagan’s review of each season of Classic Who.  In her episode for Season 12, she said the cliché “The Simpsons did it first.” should be changed to “Doctor Who did it first”, because many famous movie plots were actually done by Doctor Who long before they were movies.  “The Ark in Space” basically the same plot as Alien, but four years before the movie was made! (and on a smaller budget with bugs made out of bubble wrap) The story is one of Holmes’s best, with some great humor and pacing.

Sarah is well-written here and I love the scene where she crawls through the tunnels of the space station like they’re trying to do a classic Star Trek Jeffries Tube crawl.  Her feisty side gets some good laughs, especially with Harry’s slightly chauvinistic attitude.

This is a great story to watch, even with the now-laughable aliens.  Ed Wood, eat your heart out.

Overall Review: 10/10

Continuity: This story leads into “The Sontaran Experiment”. “Revenge of the Cybermen” is also set on Nerva, but a century before “The Ark in Space”.  Big Finish’s first Fourth Doctor story “Destination: Nerva” predates both of these stories.  “The Beast Below” is set in the same timeline as “The Ark in Space”.

Trivia: I wasn’t kidding, the slugs really were made out of bubble wrap.  Part One’s title sequence was tinted pink and green, giving it a brown background rather than the standard blue one. This was never done again.