'Doctor Who' was 'so much better than real life' says Tom Baker

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With the "Doctor Who" 50th anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor," getting close, Tom Baker is excited. The man who portrayed the fourth Doctor has never wanted to watch the show, including the episodes he starred on, but the 50th anniversary is a different story.

"I hope it's going to be terrific," he tells the BBC. "It's such a landmark. It'll be a big, emotional thing, but I don't know what they'll do -- I'll make an exception and watch that."

Baker looks back at his time as the Doctor as saving his career. The actor had been in a slump in his career and was working as a laborer when the role came along. "I was going through a bad time of feeling rejected, even though I'd had a flirtation with movies," he says. "I was on a building site, having no skill there except to make the tea and use a drill."

There's no question that becoming the Doctor changed Baker's life, as he remembers, "It was a great experience. Actors want a big audience, and to be admired and to get applause is one thing, but to be adored is something I recommend."

It even became difficult for Baker to say goodbye to the role. "It was so much better than real life. I stayed so long because real life at the time wasn't so terrific," he explains. "Being Doctor Who, I used to look at the clock and know at half past four we were going to stop rehearsing -- and that was a sad moment for me because I wanted to stay in this beautiful, unreal world."

Baked went on to have a respectable stage and screen career. Now, more than 30 years later, Baker is still recognized as the Doctor, with parents and grandparents even passing the knowledge onto their kids. "Small children sometimes approach me and ask 'is it true you used to be Doctor Who?'" he says.
Photo/Video credit: BBC