Doctor Who Profile: The Fourth Doctor

Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor on Doctor Who

Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor on Doctor Who

The Fourth Doctor

Portrayed by: Tom Baker

Companion(s): Sarah Jane Smith, Harry Sullivan, Leela, K-9, Romana I, Romana II, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka

Tenure: 41 stories (172 episodes), from Robot (Dec, 1974) to Logopolis (March, 1981)

Signature look: Brown jacket, brown fedora, cravat, vest, big, curly hair, crazy eyes, and the iconic scarf

Catchphrase: “Would you like a jelly baby?”

Personality: The Fourth Doctor can perhaps best be described as alien. After the very human Third Doctor and UNIT era, this new wide-eyed and unpredictable Doctor is a dramatic change and while each Doctor to this point is brilliant and clearly the smartest man in whatever room he enters, this incarnation is the first to embody that brand of genius that can keep any number of seemingly random threads whirling in their brain at a given moment, jumping between them at will and only later revealing to the rest of the room how they’re connected. He has a manic energy and bluster that seems endless as well as a penchant for bickering with or teasing his Companions, particularly Sarah Jane and Romana I and though he can be deadly serious, this Doctor is most likely to be found with a wide grin on his face and mad schemes percolating behind his eyes.

Best TARDIS team: Leela and K-9 (ooh! Controversy! Rest assured, Best Companion, singular, is Sarah Jane)

Worst TARDIS team: Adric, Nyssa, Tegan

Signature foe: the Daleks, and more specifically, Davros (honorable mention to Sutekh from The Pyramids of Mars as the most memorable)

Best Stories: There are a lot of ‘em. The Fourth Doctor’s lengthy tenure saw one of the absolute creative peaks for the series, the more horror-tinged Hinchcliffe/Holmes era, as well the artistic departure of the Key to Time season and the E-Space Trilogy. However, when forced to limit this list to three, Genesis of the Daleks, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, and City of Death, each interesting, creative, and fun in its own way.

Worst Stories: The Creature from the Pit, The Horns of Nimon, and The Leisure Hive all stand out, thanks to some rather questionable production and writing choices.

Highlights of tenure: Pondering genocide in Genesis of the Daleks, hanging with D84 in Robots of Death, and facing down the Master in the trippy The Deadly Assassin

Lowlights of tenure: The TARDIS got very crowded very quickly after Romana II and K-9 left. Though the Doctor has an interesting relationship with Adric, he didn’t seem particularly well suited to Nyssa or Tegan, though both of these dynamics change when he regenerates.

Regeneration/First Words: The Third Doctor regenerates after dying of radiation poisoning from the highly toxic Metebelis III, on the floor at UNIT (after safely returning in the TARDIS) in front of Sarah Jane. The Fourth Doctor’s first clearly heard words, with lingering radiation muddling his thoughts are, “I tell you, Brigadier – there’s nothing to worry about. The Brontosaurus is large and placid.”

Death/Final Words: The Fourth Doctor dies after having been pushed from a great height by the Master. We discover that the mysterious figure he’s been interacting with during Logopolis has been a version of the Fifth Doctor, meaning the Fourth was aware of what was coming. His final words are, “It’s the end… but the moment has been prepared for”

Memorable quotes:

– “You may be a doctor. But I’m the Doctor. The definite article, you might say.”  Robot

– “Just touch these two strands together, and the Daleks are finished… Have I that right?”  Genesis of the Daleks

– “Answers are easy. It’s asking the right questions which is hard.”  The Face of Evil

Other notes: The Fourth Doctor is easily the most popular iteration of the character in the classic series and vies strongly with the Tenth Doctor as the most popular overall. This is partially due to the quality of writing for most of his tenure, his strong run of Companions, particularly fan-favorite Sarah Jane, and his lengthy run on the show, and of course Tom Baker’s charismatic performance. Though he opted not to return for The Five Doctors (a clip from an unused episode featuring him was used instead), he has participated in audio dramas since, including the recent 50th Anniversary multi-Doctor Big Finish audio drama, Doctor Who: The Light at the End.




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