Tom Baker appearing in the “Doctor Who” 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor,” was a surprise that delighted just about every fan that recognized his face. Baker showed up at the end of the episode as “the curator,” giving hope to the Doctor (Matt Smith) that there might be life after regeneration.
For Baker, returning to the show that made him a Doctor was a big moment in his career, though at one point he regretted agreeing to appear. Baker posted an essay on his website to end the year, which goes into great detail about his positive and negative experiences filming the short appearance.
He says the cameo was meant to be kept a secret, so the BBC brought him to the set in the middle of the night. Because of that, he ended up being left alone in the cold at 4:30 in the morning. That’s when he began to have second thoughts.
“I felt anxious as I walked about the dead BBC film sets and mulled over my mysterious little scene,” he writes, “Alone among dead sets and sad props and in cold weather my anxiety grew. I suddenly found the scene remote. I couldn’t get a handle on it and I began to regret accepting the job.”
As people began to arrive, Baker’s spirits weren’t lifted because he came to realize he didn’t know any of the show’s crew. That all changed when Smith showed up. “My gloom was lifted by the arrival of Matt Smith who welcomed me so enthusiastically that I began to think life was worthwhile,” he says.
According to Baker, there was no discussion between the two Doctors about the scene or the implications it might have. Four hours later the shoot was complete and Baker was ready to go home, but the crew was too excited to have a former Doctor on set and all wanted photos and autographs. “People were nice but I longed to be away,” Baker writes. Eventually, Baker’s time revisiting “Doctor Who” was complete.
Later, when the special aired, Baker says he was blown away by the response. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be swamped with love after my cameo appearance. Messages came in from all over the world,” he says.
If you missed Baker’s appearance on the “Doctor Who” 50th anniversary special, you can see his entire scene below.