Almost as soon as Peter Capaldi confirmed that Series Ten of Doctor Who will be his last, talk inevitably turned to who might replace him in the TARDIS. Could the answer be a lot closer to home, however brief his return? With Tom Baker not getting any younger, having recently celebrated turning 83, might we see that much-hinted at revisit to an old face?
DOCTOR: I could be a curator. I'd be great at curating. I'd be the Great Curator. I could retire and do that. I could retire and be the curator of this place.
CURATOR: You know, I really think you might.
DOCTOR: I never forget a face.
CURATOR: I know you don't. And in years to come, you might find yourself revisiting a few. But just the old favourites, eh?
And with almost an entirely new regeneration cycle at the Doctor's disposal, and, with the greatest respect in the world, Tom not getting any younger, perhaps there has never been a better time to revisit an old favourite briefly? We could see a sort of interim Doctor, appearing in a short arc completing the Curator's story, before making way for the Fourteenth splendid chap. Whoever she may be!
Madness, you might think. But hang on a second. Back in 2003, before the programme returned to our screens, there was a hint that the great man might be asked to return prior Christopher Eccleston's casting. As confirmed by no less than Russell T Davies himself, a noted fan of the Baker years who has previously cited The Ark In Space, the first full outing for the Fourth Doctor, as a favourite of his.
As RTD told the Radio Times,
"I remember, actually, someone in the room said, 'Why don't we bring Tom Baker back?' and we all said, 'Yes!'"Of course it never came to pass. In a sense, though, the opening of RTD's Series One plays out much like Season Twelve - an Earthbound story, Robot followed by the Ark In Space in much the same way The End Of The World followed up Rose for the considerably more Northern & less fond of jelly babies incarnation of the Time Lord.
Tom himself was evidently keen to return for the 50th anniversary.
“I am in the special. I’m not supposed to tell you that, but I tell you that very willingly and specifically; the BBC told me not to tell anybody but I’m telling you straightaway.”And he's previously said that he would consider returning again, if asked.
“I wouldn’t rule anything out. If it was a nice part, with some good lines, I might deign to appear! I greatly admire Capaldi, he’s lovely and apparently he’s a great fan of Doctor Who– he might ask for me!”Baker has, at least, recently returned to the world of Who via audio - the Fourth Doctor Adventures from Big Finish allowing us to hear him in fine voice. A voice that could be heard booming out through TV screens again?
“Well, if they asked me nicely or I could see what they wanted me to do I would consider it because I think the fans have been so good to me, they expect me at least to make an appearance so of course I could consider that.
I just don’t want to be paraded through as some shagged-out icon of the last century. It’s too much of a source of happiness.”
It seems the years on Who have been happy times indeed for many of the actors who have played the Doctor. And with that in mind we go from the oldest living incarnation of the Time Lord to the youngest. Matt Smith, who appears to miss the programme very much.
“I miss everything. I miss Steven, I miss Karen, I miss Arthur, I miss Jenna. I miss time travelling. And I miss my friends in Cardiff."Steven Moffatt also added that Smith has been...
“...quite open about how much he misses it, and how much he wishes he hadn’t left”.Technically speaking Smith is now an old favourite, in that he's a well-regarded past Doctor! Could a "degeneration" be on the cards when we bid farewell to Capaldi's Doctor this Christmas?
Bringing back a confirmed fan-favourite could potentially do wonders for the series, in terms of worldwide audience, but surely the point of Doctor Who, though, is that it depends on change & renewal, to quote the Second Doctor. Thereby rendering the degeneration idea somewhat void. Plus, it may be just a little too soon for Smith to return to the controls of Sexy.
So, who will be the Thirteenth Doctor...
...and might they have a thing for Jelly Babies?