Colin Baker (born London, June 8, 1943) is a British actor who is best known for playing the sixth incarnation of the Doctor in the long-running science fiction television series Doctor Who. When he played the Doctor from 1984 to 1986, he had a mass of curly fair hair and a lurid patchwork coat, and was assisted by companions Peri and Mel.
Baker was born in London, but his family moved north to Rochdale early in his life. He was educated at St Bede's College, Manchester. Before being selected to replace Peter Davison as the Doctor, Baker was an established television actor, his most notable role having been that of Paul Merroney in The Brothers. Baker also guest starred as "Bayban the Butcher" in an episode of Blake's 7.
Prior to being cast as the Doctor, Baker had guest starred in Doctor Who (as Commander Maxil in the Davison serial Arc of Infinity), the only Doctor actor to have done so prior to taking the role. At one point in the serial Maxil shoots the Peter Davison Doctor; Baker often jokes that he got the part of the Doctor by killing the incumbent.
Baker's era was interrupted by a long hiatus, officially because the show was moved back from the spring to the autumn schedule, and he was ultimately dismissed from the part at the insistence of BBC management, who wanted to refresh the show. The Controller of BBC One at the time, Michael Grade, criticised Doctor Who, saying that the programme had become overly violent and its storylines farcical.
Since leaving Doctor Who he has continued to act, mainly on the stage. He played the Doctor once again in the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time. He also played a Doctor-like character in the BBV video series The Stranger, as well as a standalone BBV drama entitled The Airzone Solution, and has reprised the role of the Doctor in a series of audio plays produced by Big Finish Productions. The audio plays are generally well received by fans, who have suggested that it was bad writing that his Doctor's era suffered from, and not a lack of ability on Baker's part. In a poll conducted by Doctor Who Magazine, fans voted Baker the "greatest" of the Doctors in the audio plays.
Later television work during the 1990s included guest appearances in the BBC's medical drama Casualty, Channel 4's adaptation of A Dance to the Music of Time and as himself as the resident celebrity in 'Dictionary Corner' on the daytime quiz show Countdown, also on Channel 4. He appeared in the first episode of Jonathan Creek (1997).
In 1994, Colin Baker also gained the distinction of being the only Doctor to have written a published Doctor Who story, penning The Age of Chaos, a graphic novel published by Marvel UK featuring the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher.
Since the death of his son Jack in 1983 he has been active in raising the profile of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome research, and is the current chairman of the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths.
Since 1995, Baker has written a regular column for his local newspaper, the Bucks Free Press.
He has appeared in opera, starring in the Carl Rosa Company's production of H.M.S. Pinafore in the principal comedian's role, Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B.
Colin Baker is no relation to Tom Baker, who played the Fourth Doctor in Doctor Who.
Baker's most recent role is that of Caldo Inman in the Big Finish Productions audio drama Earthsearch Mindwarp, based on a James Follett novel, broadcast on the digital radio station BBC 7.