I don’t remember being a massive Doctor Who fan as a child, but I do recall watching the fourth Doctor regenerate into the fifth. Despite being six years old when it was broadcast, I clearly remember seeing Tom Baker become Peter Davison and – although Davison’s years on the show are my most fondly remembered (pre-reboot) – it’s Baker’s portrayal of the character that sticks most clearly in my mind. This may be, in part, due to one particularly iconic costuming decision… that scarf. According to fan website doctorwhoscarf.com…
When Tom Baker was cast as the Doctor, costume designer James Acheson picked up a load of wool and asked a knitter Begonia Pope to knit a scarf for Tom. Perhaps legendarily, she inadvertently used all the wool Acheson had given her resulting in a scarf that was some twenty feet long. This unusual scarf was well received by the cast and crew, and after being shortened slightly, it was worn by Baker in “Robot.” The scarf in its original form was only seen in “Robot” and “The Sontaran Experiment,” which was recorded right after “Robot.” This particular scarf continued to both stretch and lose stripes due to wear and stunts. A stunt duplicate was also created that was shorter and had subtle color and pattern differences.
The site covers the history of and changes to the scarf during Tom Baker’s time in Doctor Who. What it doesn’t mention, however, is the scarf’s resurrection in the show’s 50th anniversary episode in 2013 where a version was worn by the character Petronella Osgood. Not only does Osgood show her appreciation for the style choices of the Doctor’s previous incarnations in her own wardrobe, but she also gets to use the scarf as a cunning means of escape at one point. Plus, she’s inspired some rather adorable fan art.
When I had the chance to dress as the fourth Doctor for the Irreverent Dance Showcase in 2014, I bought myself an official BBC replica scarf, as my knitter friends who had previously investigated the possibility of making one said that the cost of the yarn alone would come to more than the licensed replica. Last week, I remembered I had it and decided that the cold weather needed to be fended off in classic Timelord style. Of course, I shared a photo of me and my scarf on social media and a conversation with merialc on Twitter later that day led to her declaring 23rd November to be… Doctor Who Scarf Day!
So, round up your Whovian friends and start concocting plans to make, buy or borrow a scarf ready for November. Not only does this choice of date allow you time to get your hands on one, but it’s also the date the scarf returned to our screens in The Day of The Doctor – exactly 5o years after the Doctor first appeared, on 23rd November 1963.