Doctor Who: Scratchman by Tom Baker (book review).

April 18, 2019 | By | Reply More

Inside the cover of ‘Scratchman’, it adds James Goss as the co-author of this book years in the making. As my additional press release material tells me, the idea was originally a hot project in the years Tom Baker was playing the Doctor and it has finally come to fruition in the year of his 85th birthday. In his recently created role as grand old man and caretaker of the image, Baker has become a national treasure which is a bigger achievement than anything else. This novel effectively serves as the memoir of his time with Sarah Jane and Harry Sullivan. It is a sweet coda to the characters from that long ago time.

The story is fairly straightforward and follows a pattern set by the structure of the TV series. The three travellers land on a seemingly innocuous part of the United Kingdom and the Doctor is in a thoughtful mood. He decides to treat them to a picnic with the supplies kept within the TARDIS. Presumably he has no issues with sell-by-dates then. All goes well until a farmer rams the picnic blanket and they proceed to a nightmare of an adventure.

Told from the Doctor’s point of view, except when there is some cheeky omniscient narrating of this tale, is notable for injecting the personality of the Fourth Doctor heavily into the narrative. The weight of millennia hang heavy on him and we do get a very real sense of the times of his life. This is very different from many novels where, particularly in the modern incarnation, the Doctors could be interchangeable. Many books simply don’t identify enough of the quirks of each Doctor to make their personalities stand out.

Nothing I say will make you not buy this book. It is written by Tom Baker and for some of us (loads) he will always be the Doctor. Following his reintroduction into the new-Who, he is even more relevant and who doesn’t give a little squeak of pleasure just to see him on screen. He acknowledges his time his past and he doesn’t promise any new novels. This is a good solid adventure story with hints of horror and always the Tom Baker humour.

I’m sure the audio book would be even better as it is narrated by Tom and the text flows easily as if he really is telling us this tall tale. Just enjoy this one as a loving tribute to his old colleagues and friends.

Sue Davies

April 2019

(pub: BBC Books/Ebury Publishing/Random House. 295 page hardback. Price: £16.99 (UK), $23.99 (US), $35.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-78594-390-4)

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Category: Books, Doctor Who

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