Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Baker, Colin (1943-)


Main image of Baker, Colin (1943-)

Despite first making his mark as villainous Paul Merroney in The Brothers (BBC, 1974-76), Colin Baker is probably best remembered for his colourful portrayal of the titular Time Lord's sixth incarnation in Doctor Who (BBC, 1984-86).

Born in London, he later moved to Manchester, and was an enthusiastic performer in various Gilbert and Sullivan productions while studying at St. Bede's College. After initially training to be a solicitor, at 23 he abandoned law to attend LAMDA. Following The Road to Freedom (BBC, 1970), he obtained substantial roles in Cousin Bette (BBC, 1971) and War and Peace (BBC, 1972), but it was as scheming whizz-kid Merroney that he caught the public's imagination, becoming overnight the man audiences loved to hate.

His arch performance as Maxil in Doctor Who: Arc of Infinity (BBC, 1983) so impressed producer John Nathan-Turner that he offered him the lead when Peter Davison quit the show. Baker planned to make his Doctor less immediately accessible than his predecessors, intending to let him mellow with time. His brash, arrogant characterisation did not find favour with the BBC hierarchy, and controller Michael Grade ultimately cited falling ratings as justification for the decision to replace him. Despite becoming the first actor to be publicly sacked from the role, Baker has maintained his association with the series, returning for the stage play 'The Ultimate Adventure', charity special Dimensions in Time (BBC, 1993) and a series of audio dramas; he continues to work regularly in the theatre and on television.

Richard Hewett

More information


From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Drive Carefully, Darling (1975)Drive Carefully, Darling (1975)

Very unusual public information film about road safety

Related collections

Thumbnail image of Doctor Who (1963-89, 2005-)Doctor Who (1963-89, 2005-)

Recently regenerated time-travelling adventures

Related people and organisations