One of the most touching scenes in Doctor Who’s 50th-anniversary special was Tom Baker’s super-secret cameo appearance at the end. But did you know he and Matt Smith didn’t even meet before filming, or even discuss that scene?
On his official web site, Baker — who played the beloved Fourth Doctor between 1974 and 1981 — spoke about how that famous scene in “The Day of the Doctor,” in which he made a surprise appearance as the Curator, came about in a Happy New Year’s newsletter to his fans.
It’s more than six months ago that I went to Cardiff to record my cameo. I had not read the script, the whole script I mean, which would have given me a clear picture of the story. Even when I was The Doctor I never read the whole script before rehearsals started: I just read, very carefully, my own scenes. It was not because I didn’t care, not at all, it was because I felt it was none of my business what happened to other characters in the story when I wasn’t present. My job was to play the hero, the Doctor, as he reacted to events that affected him.
So through the wintry darkness of April, I travelled to Cardiff where my scene was to be shot. My appearance in the Anniversary Special was to be a secret – a surprise for the fans – so we and the BBC decided that I shouldn’t stay in a hotel in Cardiff in case people guessed what I was there for, so I agreed to travel overnight under cover of darkness.
The rest details Baker’s rather entertaining secret flight toward Cardiff, where he was set to film his heartwarming Doctor Who cameo (there were tears when we saw it, you guys, but blast it, not one jelly baby in sight). Here’s the bit about Baker and Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith:
After a while the time passed as I knew it would, but it dragged its feet. Finally people began to arrive and I was called to costume and make-up and finally to the set. In the old days I knew everybody, or nearly everybody, the technicians and make-up people and all the other actors: I was at home in those long gone times. My gloom was lifted by the arrival of Matt Smith who welcomed me so enthusiastically that I began to think life was worthwhile.
And so we started to shoot the scene so that I could get away “in no time at all.” Matt and I did not discuss the scene or talk about what it might mean; God forbid! No, we started just after eight o’ clock and about four hours later I was released. I tried to flee but the enthusiasm of the crew meant I was in big demand for pictures and autographs. People were nice but I longed to be away. At last we left and my driver got me back to Sussex by late afternoon
Six months passed before I could judge how the scene would be received. Because I had to keep the secret of my part in the Special, I almost forgot I was in it! And so we came to November 23rd and the 50th Anniversary Celebration at the ExCel Centre, the launch of the Doctor Who Special and the interviews. There were thousands and more thousands of fans there: more than I had ever seen anywhere.
Baker then went on to say how wonderful it felt being “swamped with love after my cameo appearance,” and that “messages came in from all over the world.”
Have another look at Baker’s poignant cameo in “The Day of the Doctor.”