Spotlight on ... Colin Baker
Best-known for his roles as Paul Merroney in The Brothers (1974-76) and as the sixth incarnation of the Doctor, between 1984 and 1986, Baker originally studied to become a solicitor but decided to change professions at the age of 23, when he enrolled at LAMDA, studying alongside David Suchet. Baker’s versatility both on and off screen has seen him perform many times on-stage, with guest appearances on television including Casualty, Hollyoaks, C4’s A Dance to the Music of Time and Jonathan Creek. Baker is no stranger to performing in crime drama, having appeared as the Head of MI6 in The Waiting Game, alongside the original Inspector Morse actor, the late John Thaw.
Commenting on his latest lead-role as the grouchy, but cultured, Inspector, Baker says, “More Morse! This in itself is exciting enough but for me to have the opportunity to follow in John Thaw's footsteps and bring this sullen, intuitive intellectual to life on-stage, is both daunting and very exciting. Whilst revisiting the character in Dexter's novels, I am both appalled, and greatly encouraged to discover just how many characteristics I share with the great Inspector. It's a great and fiendishly clever script - I simply can't wait”.
1. When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
“Not an actor because until I was in my early teens I didn’t know they existed. It was when I went to my Grammar School in Manchester and found myself in the school production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe that I realised that being other people could be significantly preferable to being yourself.”
2. What was your first proper job?
“Articled Clerk to a Solicitor.”
3. What has been the best moment of your life?
“Meeting my wife and the births of my children – no contest”.
4. If you were Prime Minister for the day, what would you do?
“Extend my tenure of the job to a fixed five year term and then set about improving education, health and policing. I would institute minor improvements too like abolishing speed cameras and yellow lines. The latter action would mean people parked everywhere and then no-one could speed.”
5. What are your pet hates?
“How long have you got? Bad manners, lack of discipline in homes and schools, political correctness, ambulance chasing lawyers, speed cameras, cheese, spiders, people who say ‘should of’ instead of ‘should have’, pushy parents, bureaucracy, cookery programmes on TV, multiple choice telephone systems operated by large companies to make life difficult for the consumer, continuity announcers and trails crashing in over the final moments of a TV programme you have been watching and are involved in!, small print, cruelty to animals, fox hunting and those who engage in it, boorish behaviour in the street, swearing, racism, the Jonathan Ross style of interviewing (the man himself is probably okay but I hate the interviewer as star type of programme), - oh yes – and intolerance! I really hate that!!”
6. What was your big break?
“The Brothers 1973 to 1976 – when as Paul Merroney – a prototype yuppie – was christened ‘the most hated man in Britain’ by the readers of a national newspaper - an honour of dubious distinction I suppose.”
7. Who would be your four ideal dinner party guests (dead or alive) and why?
“I am presuming wife is already allowed to be there – so :– Paul McCartney – his music struck a chord with me and I think I’d like him; Eric Morecambe – a very funny and a very nice man; Judy Dench – wonderful actress, great sense of humour and very down to earth; and David Beckham – unless I have been bamboozled he must be one of the nicest men in the public eye – and a brilliant footballer.”
8. What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
“From the wealthy business man father of a girlfriend whom I told I was putting money into a savings account back in the 1970’s. ‘Don’t bother – the amount you can save now is peanuts, enjoy your youth and trust to your future.’ He was right – luckily.”
9. What would be the best piece of advice you could give?
“Clichéd but ‘ …to thine ownself be true’ Shakespeare was a very wise old bard.”
10. What’s the best thing about your job?
“Being paid for doing something you love, working with other people who feel the same way and discovering – if you’re lucky – that the people you are doing it for had a good time.”
11. What was the last book you read?
“Colin Dexter’s - “The Secret of Annexe 3” – research!!”
12. What’s your favourite saying or proverb?
“When all else fails – read the instructions.”
13. If you weren’t what you are now, what would you be doing?
“Wishing I was.”