Tom Baker plays Donald MacDonald
Nowadays, when Tom Baker bumps into fans in the street it's not Doctor
Who they have on their minds.
Since appearing in the sixth series of Monarch, all anyone wants to
talk to him about is Donald MacDonald, perhaps Glenbogle's all-time
most eccentric and unpredictable inhabitant.
"A lot of people have come over to talk to me, saying how much they
enjoyed my performance, and that they were very relieved to see some
extraordinary overacting in the show - which I take as a compliment,"
"I enjoy overacting and I'm very good at it - I suppose you could say
I've made a career out of it.
"Donald MacDonald is a part I can have fun with, which is marvellous
because I have a horror of self pity and I try to see the funny side
"As you get near death, as I am, you have to laugh at everything
- otherwise the alternative is to be utterly depressed."
This series, the veteran actor particularly enjoyed filming a scene
with a real-life panther for a very dramatic Monarch storyline later
in the run.
"Oh, the panther was wonderful!" exclaims Tom. "One of my best co-stars
ever, because let's face it, cats are so much more interesting to look
at in close-up than actors."
Having protested that he didn't want to live there, Donald is now finally
feeling at home at Glenbogle. In fact, when the estate's future is threatened,
Donald is the one who becomes fiercely protective of his childhood home.
"I think Donald has finally accepted that the grass isn't always greener
and he isn't trying to escape anymore. But the thing with him is that
it's difficult to know what he is thinking because I don't think he's
quite well in the head.
"He's a self-seeking eccentric old git who is extremely manipulative
- and you never quite know whether he's telling the truth or not," suggests
"In many ways I am very like Donald, both in age and in our slightly
skewed mental capacities. We both have all sorts of bizarre impulses
"Like last week - I had a day off and I hired a car, which was
very modern and high-tech and I had great difficulty even locating the
"Anyway, there I was away from home, a bit out of sorts and missing
my wife, sitting in this strange vehicle and I began to hear voices.
A kind of muttering in my head, people talking about sex, power and
"Well, I started to get very worried. I drove in a terrible rush until
I saw somebody I knew and said, 'I'm hearing voices'.
"So he got in the car and held my hand for a while, and I said 'This
is terrible, it's the onset of dementia or something like that.'
"He said, 'No, it's not. This is a very modern car and the radio is on.
But very low.' And because it had four speakers it was complete surround
sound, which was a huge relief to me," smirks Tom.
As usual, Donald gets up to plenty of mischief for the final series
and is always on the hunt for the next scam to make a quick buck.
So much so that in the opening episode he bets all the money intended
to buy a much needed new generator for Glenbogle on the horses. Typically,
he is aided and abetted in his mischief-making by impish young chef
Ewan Brodie (played by Martin Compston).
"It just shows that sometimes, thank God, youngsters can enjoy the
company of older people. They can be adventurous together. Ewan and
Donald have a real bond and the audience love their relationship. They
seem to enjoy entering into the tumult that is Donald and Ewan's world
and being amused and diverted by them."
But as the series progresses, Donald starts to question whether he's
a burden to the inhabitants of Glenbogle, and wonders whether everyone
would be happier without him.
Meanwhile, Tom's talents are in as great demand as ever. The man who
played the fourth Doctor Who is currently working on his iconic voiceovers
for the third series of Little Britain and is also considering an offer
to tour Australia in a play especially written for three former Doctor
"Well, let's face it, this country is littered with Doctor Whos at the
moment, starting with Christopher Eccleston," he jokes. "I haven't seen
the new series, but then I didn't watch it when I was in it either,
so I'm not about to study someone else being him.
"I am really pleased it has done so well. I saw some pictures of David
Tennant the other day and I thought he'd got a lovely face. It will
be interesting to see how he goes from classical lothario into a timelord,"
ponders the 72-year-old actor.
"I've never had a problem with the fame thing, but as I get older
I feel I am starting to look less and less like Tom Baker. People used
to mistake me for Shirley Williams, but now they just seem to mistake
me for my Great Auntie Molly. I have a line I always use when people
say to me: 'Excuse me, are you Tom Baker?' I have to reply: 'Well, I'm
what's left of him...'"