Tom Baker plays Donald
Tom Baker certainly knows how to make an entrance - as Hector's estranged
brother he arrives in Glenbogle in a classic sports car under police
escort, handcuffed on the back of a tow truck.
Donald MacDonald is surely Monarch's most eccentric character yet -
a former racing driver with a colourful past who is a persistent law
breaker, back in Glenbogle after an absence of nearly 40 years very
much against his will.
He is none too happy about being placed under the supervision of a
nephew he never knew he had.
He's even less pleased about returning to his isolated childhood home
- it's not quite what he had planned for his retirement.
"In many ways Donald actually reminds me of me," booms Tom.
"So when I was offered the role I thought that was very beguiling.
I was intrigued. Donald is an old man of exactly my age who has been
away for a long time and comes back to his rather privileged background,
but under a cloud, and of course like all old men, his great years are
past and you are not absolutely certain of what he's actually been up
"The only facts that exist are dates and his version of events.
"Of course, he is very eccentric, which I adore, as I have been known
to have a few odd eccentricities of my own.
"When you get to my age it's a shame not to take advantage of
the fact you can be riotously batty and get away with it."
When Donald fled Glenbogle all those years ago, it appears it was a
scandal involving Molly that was the cause of his self imposed exile.
"The contradictions between Molly's version of what happened and Donald's
are quite different, which makes for some very funny moments," reveals
"Donald is also quite irrational, the way people who are certain about
themselves are - irrational and demanding.
"But at the same time, which is useful for an actor, he does have
other redeeming features. He can be kind, but of course in television
no-one wants to play someone who is very kind, because while kindness
makes great neighbours, it makes terrible television.
"The best part is that he doesn't want to be back at all, he hates
it there with a passion and he has to be naughty in order to amuse himself.
He's just a big kid at heart and so he hooks up with Ewan and they play
"Donald is a wonderful part for me and I greatly enjoy playing him
because it's not very often in a TV programme these days that an old
bat gets to do anything interesting.
"I enjoy Donald's humour. Like him I've always tried to do things
from a slightly skewed angle because that's what pleases me. I like
the oddness of things. I don't like things to be entirely rational because
I am not entirely rational. So I am quite likely to miss the point completely.
"Sometimes people are quite amused by this and sometimes directors
are infuriated by it."
Monarch marks Tom's first major drama role since the BBC's Randall
& Hopkirk (Deceased) four years ago - not that the veteran actor has
ever stopped working.
In fact, of late, the man who played the fourth Doctor Who has become
something of an iconic figure, rediscovered by a whole new generation
thanks to his role as narrator on BBC TWO's Little Britain and John
Culshaw's impressions in Dead Ringers.
He is constantly in demand as a voice-over artist and has just voiced
the role of Zebedee in The Magic Roundabout movie, alongside Robbie
Williams and Kylie Minogue.
Now living with his wife in France, Tom admits he is enjoying himself
immensely following in the footsteps of his good friend Richard Briers
to join the cast of Monarch.
"How could I not enjoy it?" asks Tom. "The cast and crew here are wonderful
- as the new boy they have been very tactful and kind to me and I've
had great fun being the old timer comedy turn.
"Over the months I have got to know the actors quite well, especially
Susan. But it's impossible not to love Susan - she's so wonderful and
generous and extremely funny.
"I am told she's very funny in this series as well - I don't know
for sure as I never read other people's bits in the script, I always
feel as though it's like reading other people's mail. It's tempting,
but frowned upon, so I resist it.
"The locals up in Laggan, where the show is filmed, have made me feel
very welcome as well and we always end up chatting away.
"When you're living up there in splendid isolation with all that
tumultuous weather there's a lot to talk about.
"The Highlanders are notoriously hospitable and they love tall stories.
Scottish history is full of them, so I'm in my element up there.
"The drivers on the set are both excellent talkers and it often
thrills me that they like my stories and I like theirs. There is plenty
of competition between us as to who can love the sound of their own
voice the most."
So do we get to see Tom Baker in a kilt?
"Yes, you do get to see me in a kilt and I have marvellous legs. Absolutely
marvellous legs. I'm very fond of my legs, they've been very good to
me - they've never let me down you know. I thought of naming them but
I thought that might be a bit silly," he adds, chortling at his own
"Not everyone can look good in a kilt though. I saw a gentleman the
other day in Pitlochry and he was as thin as a pencil and very tall
and he had a kilt on, but he didn't look good in it. Honestly he looked
very strange. He actually looked rather like my Auntie Molly."