Colin Baker was ahead of his time when he blazed on to our TV screens as ruthless profiteer Paul Merroney in the popular Sunday evening serial The Brothers.
It was the mid-1970s and five years before Margaret Thatcher and the Tory party swept to power in the 1979 General Election.
But merchant banker Merroney was the prototype profit-chasing Yuppie with a flamboyant lifestyle to match.
He relished running roughshod over the feelings of the Hammond family – the brothers who owned the transport company at the centre of the BBC drama.
Baker, however, was always ahead of the curve, or even hundreds of years behind it, in his most famous role of Doctor Who. He played the time lord from 1984 to 1986.
Born in Waterloo, London, in June 1943, Baker was three when his family moved to Rochdale. He attended St Bede’s College in Manchester and originally trained as a solicitor.
The law was not for Baker so he enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) at the age of 23.
Various TV roles followed, including that of Count Wenceslas Steinbock in the 1971 BBC adaptation of Cousin Bette. His co-stars were Helen Mirren and Margaret Tyzack.
A year later, he played Anatole Kuragin in a BBC version of Tolstoy’s War and Peace alongside Anthony Hopkins as Pierre Bezukhov and Morag Hood as Natasha Rostova.
Baker’s big TV breakthrough came when he landed the part of Paul Merroney in the BBC series The Brothers in 1974. The popular saga had been running since 1972.
Merroney was brought in to add spice and friction to the boardroom struggles of the Hammond brothers, played by Glyn Owen, Patrick O’Connell, Richard Easton and Robin Chadwick.
Many of the plots revolved around the family’s attempts to thwart the ambitious Merroney at every turn. They usually failed!
The brothers were dominated by their stern mother played by Jean Anderson. Kate O’Mara portrayed Jane Maxwell, who ran her own air-freight business.
Liza Goddard played Merroney’s wife April Winter. She and Baker were married off-screen too from 1976 to 1978.
Baker began his stint as the sixth incarnation of Doctor Who in the closing moments of the story The Caves of Androzani in March 1984, taking over from Peter Davison.
A week later he starred in a new adventure, The Twin Dilemma, in which he and companion Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) tackled an alien planning to scatter its eggs throughout the universe.
There was some controversy about Baker’s first appearance as he tried to strangle Peri in a confused state after his regeneration. Critics branded his character ‘harsh and dislikable’.
The concerns faded during Baker’s two years as the Doctor, in which he battled familiar foes the Cybermen and the Daleks.
Hs companion changed at the end of his tenure as Peri, who had featured in 33 episodes, was succeeded by singer and dancer Bonnie Langford as Mel Bush.
Baker was inheriting a proud tradition when he stepped into the time lord’s shoes in 1984.
The first episode of Doctor Who was broadcast on Saturday 23 November 1963 at 5.16pm. It was 80 seconds late as the news over-ran after the assassination of John F. Kennedy the previous day.
Ron Grainer’s iconic music introduced William Hartnell as the first Doctor, a rogue time lord on the run in his spaceship the Tardis.
The Tardis could travel through space and time, so the Doctor could enjoy historical adventures as well as facing adversaries from the present and future.
Baker’s time as the Doctor was interrupted by an 18-month gap from February 1985 after BBC1 controller Michael Grade decided the series was too violent.
The programme was back in September 1986 for the 14-episode adventure The Trial of a Time Lord, after which Baker left the series.
Doctor Who had been off TV screens for more than nine years when Pendleton-born actor Christopher Eccleston revived the role in March 2005.
After Doctor Who, Baker appeared in a number of stage plays across the UK as well as pantomimes. In 2000 he played opposite former Doctor Who companion Louise Jameson (Leela) in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
He also took part in the 12th series of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here in 2012, finishing in eighth place behind eventual winner Charlie Brooks from EastEnders.
*More TV stars from the North West are recalled in Clive Hardy’s three Around Manchester books covering the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Each book is packed with around 300 past images of Manchester along with fascinating insights and commentary from the author.
Just go to our online shop to place your order or telephone the order hotline on 01928 503777.