- Peter Davison regrets not having the opportunity to work with Tom Baker in “The Five Doctors” and admires him as a great actor.
- Baker’s absence from the special was explained within the storyline as an error by the story’s foe, and his character was trapped in the Time Vortex instead.
- The Doctor Who crew took interesting steps to ensure all incarnations of the Doctor were represented, such as reusing footage from a missing Fourth Doctor adventure and using a waxwork of Baker in promotional materials.
Fifth Doctor actor Peter Davison looks back on Doctor Who‘s 20th anniversary story “The Five Doctors,” revealing he regrets not having the opportunity to work with Fourth Doctor Tom Baker. Davison first joined the series at the conclusion of Baker’s final adventure in 1981, playing the Time Lord for three seasons. Airing in 1983, “The Five Doctors” saw the first five incarnations of the Doctor be lifted from their timelines to take part in a dangerous game on Gallifrey.
In order to celebrate Doctor Who: The Collection‘s season 20 home release, Davison, Janet Fielding, and Sarah Sutton took part in a Q&A session following a screening of “The Five Doctors” at the BFI Southbank. During the Q&A, RadioTimes reports that Davison opened up about Baker’s absence from the special storyline after much uncertainty about whether he would return, with him stating he regretted not having the opportunity to work alongside his predecessor. Check out Davison’s full response below:
“I can’t remember when we found out that Tom didn’t want to be involved in it. There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, he was a bit teasing about whether he would be in it… and then he decided not to be, I think because he just felt he’d done it for seven years and he just wanted to steer clear of it. I understood that, but it was a shame. He was a great actor, one I’d admired for many years, not just in Doctor Who – so, yeah, that was a great thrill.”
How Doctor Who’s Crew Featured Tom Baker In “The Five Doctors”
Within the world of Doctor Who, Baker’s absence from “The Five Doctors” was explained as an error on behalf of the story’s mysterious foe when plucking the various incarnations of the Doctor from their respective times. When the Time Scoop attempted to claim the Fourth Doctor and Romana (Lalla Ward) from a relaxing gondola ride, the pair were instead trapped in the Time Vortex and not taken to the Death Zone to take part in the Game of Rassilon. Once the Doctors complete their mission, Rassilon (Richard Mathews) frees the Doctor and Romana from their situation.
Behind the scenes, however, the Doctor Who crew had to take some interesting steps in order to ensure all incarnations of the Doctor were represented in the story. While Richard Hurndall was cast to portray the First Doctor following William Hartnell’s passing, the crew would reuse footage from the missing Fourth Doctor adventure “Shada” to create the sequences where Romana and the Doctor are collected by the Time Scoop. Meanwhile, promotional materials would see a waxwork of Baker from Madame Tussauds be used in photoshoots alongside the other actors.
While “The Five Doctors” was a fitting celebration of Doctor Who‘s 20th anniversary, Baker’s absence is still an odd part of the production. With numerous Doctors sharing scenes towards the climax, Four’s absence remains a missed opportunity, though Davison’s explanation for Baker’s motivation is understandable. As such, the Fifth Doctor actor’s regret is relatable, and many will have to continue to wonder how Four would’ve been integrated into the beloved story.