The almost five Doctors
Tom Baker did not participate in The Five Doctors, a big absence that Peter Davison still remembers
One of the traditions of Doctor Who is that on anniversaries the character goes on adventures with himself. The first time was in 1973 in The Three Doctors with Jon Pertwee Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell, and it was repeated ten years later. Thus in 1983 The Five Doctors came to the screens with the five incarnations that the character had, although not with all of its actors.
The big absence was Tom Baker, a professional who had been the very famous Fourth Doctor and who had left the series not so long ago. According to Radio Times, the interpreter of the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, has spoken about the subject in a special screening of this episode. He said about it that “I don’t remember when we found out that Tom didn’t want to get involved in this. There was a lot of back and forth, he joked a little about whether or not he would be in this… and then he decided not to. I think it was because he felt like he had been doing it for seven years and he wanted to stay away from it. I understood it, but it was a shame.”
Not only was Tom Baker missing, but also William Hartnell
Although Tom Baker’s absence is striking, William Hartnell’s is not so striking. The actor had died some time before, in 1975, making it impossible for him to be in the special. The solution was very simple, choosing another interpreter and the task ended up reaching Richard Hurndall who got into the skin of the character on this occasion (he died the following year).
Much later this incarnation featured another new face, that of David Bradley. This veteran actor has played him twice in the series but the curious thing is that before that he had already given life to William Hartnell himself, it was in the docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time. A television film was part of the great celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the production, in which the origins of the program and its first stage until the protagonist is forced to leave it are narrated.