Returning to the stage
In 1981, Tom left Doctor Who, but was so identified with the Doctor that he was not easy to cast in other roles. Having been very very busy, life became quieter for a time although Tom was still in demand for voiceovers and commentaries. He also returned to the stage where his career as an actor had started. Immediately after leaving Doctor Who, Tom played Oscar Wilde again in Feasting with Panthers at the Chichester Festival Theatre. In 1982, he played Judge Brack in Hedda Gabler with Susannah York as Hedda in the West End. That year also saw him in a new television role – Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Still living in London, Tom rekindled his relationship with Sue Jerrard whom he’d met in 1977 when she was an Assistant Film Editor on Horror at Fang Rock in the fourth series of Tom’s Doctor Who.
Then came an offer from the Royal Shakespeare Company to play Frank in Educating Rita on tour. Playing Dr Frank Bryant, the cynical, alcoholic Open University tutor stirred by the vitality and enthusiasm of Rita, played by Kate Fitzgerald, turned out to be one of Tom’s favourite roles. The tour was a great success and the two packed theatres from Inverness to Plymouth.
In 1984, Tom returned to the National Theatre to play Mr Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer in the Olivier Theatre and on tour, and the following year went to the Gate Theatre in Dublin to play both Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty in The Mask of Moriarty by Hugh Leonard.
TOM IN BLACKADDER 1986
Video © BBC
Moving to the country
In 1986 Tom and Sue decided to set up home together and purchased The Bell House, a converted Victorian school in Kent near to the ITV company, TVS, where Sue was a Producer/Director. No longer seen in the Colony Room and Chelsea pubs, Tom bought a gravestone in the graveyard next to The Bell House, had his name engraved on it and kept the grass mown. He and Sue began to develop their love of the countryside and Burmese cats integral to their lives ever since. Tom and Sue married on 1st April 1986 at Maidstone Register Office – the reason for choosing April Fools’ Day being that no-one else would want to get married that day – and they were right!
More television and voiceovers
There was still a tendency to cast Tom as strange, eccentric characters: the sea captain in Blackadder and Father Ferguson in The Life and Loves of a She Devil. In 1990 his Doctor Who curls became the long dreadlocks of Puddleglum the Marshwiggle in the BBC’s production of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair. He continued to be in demand for voiceovers in television and radio advertising.