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The Real Reason Colin Baker Left Doctor Who

Early in his run on Doctor Who, Sixth Doctor Colin Baker famously stated that he hoped to beat fan-favorite Tom Baker's record seven-series tenure as the semi-eponymous Time Lord. On a related note, early in Jurassic Park, John Hammond compared his dinosaur preserve to Disneyland. The point is, things don't always go the way you hope.

Colin Baker had an uphill battle ahead of him when he slipped into the Doctor's technicolor peacoat in 1984. The show was coming off of a hot streak, with Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor leading into Peter Davison's Fifth – that's two fan favorites in a row. Flying in the face of the kinder, gentler Gallifreyans of recent years, Colin Baker's Doctor was brash, intense, and unstable — not the dreamy, brooding brand of unstable that David Tennant would later bring on his "no second chances" bad days, but more the kind in which the series protagonist strangles his companions. No, really, he did that, right around the time that the BBC was reportedly already giving the show guff for being too violent, as documented in the retrospective documentary Doctor Who @ 40.

Meanwhile, BBC Controller Michael Grade wasn't fond of the Doctor on several levels. In a 2008 interview, he described the show as "creaky and groany," decrying the production values and stating that the team in charge of the show seemed like they'd never been to the movies before. Speaking about Baker's performance, he'd go on to tell The Telegraph that it was, "Absolutely god-awful."

Colin Baker didn't want to go - but Doctors are always saying that

The writing was on the wall, and a hard change was coming. At the insistence of the higher ups, it was decided that a new Doctor needed to be introduced, despite the incumbent having signed on for another year. Colin Baker has stated that in a single conversation, showrunner John Nathan-Turner both fired him and asked him to stick around for his character's regeneration scene. Baker refused, and the scene was shot with incoming Doctor Sylvester McCoy in a blonde wig. Baker later regretted the decision, telling RadioTimes "I was being brutally selfish at the time and I just felt annoyed. Because I loved that part ... and I thought I had more to offer." It's a sentiment that's echoed through the rest of the actor's career. Asked what he would have changed about his time in the TARDIS, Baker told the Geek Girl Chicago podcast "I'd still be doing it." A bold statement, considering that he could've just said, "The jacket."

And in some ways, he still is doing it. At 77, Colin Baker continues to travel through time and space via the Big Finish line of Doctor Who audio dramas. Since beginning work on the productions in the early 2000s, his Sixth Doctor has taken part in more stories than he ever did during his brief three years on screen. As for a televised return, he contributed to Peter Davison's ancillary 50th anniversary special The Five(Ish) Doctors Reboot, playing a semi-fictionalized version of himself, desperate to get back on the show.