When Tom Went To New Zealand

On a lovely summer day in January 1997, Old Man Tom arrived in Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand to do some filming.

“New Zealand, in 1997?” you say, “Might this have been a screen test for a certain Peter-Jackson-directed blockbuster trilogy?”  Sadly, it wasn’t, because there’s no doubt that Old Man Tom would have made an excellent Old Wizard Gandalf (perhaps he’d even have done a better job than the legendary Old Man Ian!).

Old Man Tom was in fact present on this South Pacific island nation on account of Old Man Susan and his wife, Old Woman Steve, and every other average Auckland resident who might have “Old <capitalized gender here>” attached to his or her name.  Specifically, he was there to participate in an advertising campaign for retirement savings plans from New Zealand Superannuation Services.

Have a look:

By the time you read this sentence you may have already seen the above video a minimum of three times, a feat I personally achieved immediately prior to writing this.  Admit it – you can’t help but replay it over and over again, if only to hear Old Man Tom booming “Oh YES!” from the New Zealand hilltops.

An interesting bit of trivia – the costume Old Man Tom was wearing was the very same one that Young(ish) Man Tom sported during his final season on Doctor Who, the scarf having been borrowed from the Llangollen 1997 version of the Doctor Who Experience exhibition.

The campaign wasn’t limited to TV spots – postcards, like the one pictured at the top of this article, were also created, as well as full-page newspaper adverts in the New Zealand Herald that spelled “Gallifrey” wrong and didn’t even come close to getting “Kasterborous” right… our name doesn’t start with a C, for instance.  You can see what I’m talking about on the high-res scans that can be found along with a transcript of the above video and a nice article about the campaign as a whole written around the time it was made at the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club website.

Take it from a Time Lord – however you plan to spend your future, plan on having something to spend.

If you’re reading this from New Zealand and you’re feeling brave enough to call 0800-TARDIS, let us know if the number still works!  Happy Tom Baker Wednesday!

Patrick Riley


Patrick has just been murdered and is currently seated on the edge of a lawn chair wondering when this Missy person will stop demanding his autograph. He probably can't tweet from the grave, but you should follow him anyway @10PatrickRiley.

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