DOCTOR QUI? - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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To finish off our month long Tom Baker celebration Christopher Morley says au revoir to Doctor Quatre...

Long before City Of Death, the Fourth Doctor could be considered an artisan- his very look was inspired by a painting! Artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec created many posters advertising his friend Aristide Bruant's appearances in cabaret, & the Doctor's costume takes its cue from Ambassadeurs-Aristide Bruant ( 1892).

Bruant was a nightclub owner, singer & comedian often seen clad in a long black coat & red scarf, & Doctor Who's costume designer at the time, James Acheson, claimed to have been at least subconciously influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec's famous piece. Speaking to Columbus Alive as part of a question & answer session, talk inevitably soon turned to how the Doctor got his famous costume!

What about the long Doctor Who scarf? Was that your creation? How did it come to fruition?
The bloody scarf. It’s amazing how often it comes up. So extraordinary. There are these Doctor Who nutters and it’s the 50th anniversary this year. I’ve even been approached to dig out my old drawings of Doctor Who including, particularly, the drawings of him wearing the scarf. The story is, I thought it would be interesting to give this new Doctor Who a scarf. I don’t know why, it was such a long time ago. I didn’t know anything about knitting but I knew I wanted these colours so I went to this wool shop and bought all this wool in these different colours and I had a friend who had a friend whose mother could knit. Some Doctor Who nut even tracked down this woman, who’s still alive, Begonia Pope. So I went to Begonia and I said, “Look, start knitting. These are the colours, the repeats are here.” I went back a week later and the scarf was 22-feet long.

So you didn’t ask for it to be that long?
No, she just used all the wool up! The actor who was playing Doctor Who was very tall. He sort of wrapped it around him and was like, “Yeah, this is great, we could use this.” The image we used [to create the character] was based on a Toulouse-Lautrec poster so that was why he had the scarf. Tom Baker, the actor, thought he could use it as a prop. So it stuck. I think we shortened it a little bit though.
Rather wonderfully, artist Sam Mitchell later produced a reproduction of Ambassadeurs with the Doctor himself taking the place of Bruand!

Ambassadeurs was the name of the Paris club in which Bruand was to perform, & according to the summary attached to its listing within the Victoria & Albert Museum archives for a 2000 exhibition on Art Nouveau 1890-14:
"This poster advertises an event with the singer Aristide Bruant at the Ambassadeurs nightclub in Paris, 1892. Bruant, a satirical singer and a friend of the French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), insisted that Lautrec design this poster. The director of the Ambassadeurs disliked its dramatic and uncompromising style, but since Bruant said he would not perform unless the poster remained, it was used both outside the theatre and inside to decorate the proscenium arch."

Of course, the Doctor- clad in his Toulouse-Lautrec inspired gear- visited Paris with Romana in 1979.

Clearly he's also a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to matters of art!
DOCTOR: The Mona Lisa.
ROMANA: It's quite good.
DOCTOR: Quite good? That's one of the great treasures of the universe and you say quite good?
ROMANA: The world, Doctor, the world.
DOCTOR: What are you talking about?
ROMANA: Not the universe in public, Doctor. It only calls attention.
DOCTOR: I don't care. It's one of the great treasures of the universe!
ROMANA: Shush!
DOCTOR: I don't care. Let them gawp, let them gape! What do I care?
Somewhat fittingly that trip to Paris seems to have sparked a romantic attraction between Tom Baker & the lovely Lalla Ward- as he later remembered:
"You know the way life is, one thing leads to another. And then another … catastrophe! But it was terrific fun while it lasted. And I only have happy memories of that short time… The whole thing is a bit of a muddle now, it didn't last very long and it was very amiable, although we've never met since! She was very kind and terrifically witty. I think we grated on each other, which was one of those mistakes that we make when you're full of chemicals that you don't understand you think something's good when it's not a good idea at all. And I've had lots of those ideas."
The old romantic, eh?

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