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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 501 > THE UNSTOPPABLE TOM BAKER

THE UNSTOPPABLE TOM BAKER

PHOTO: TONY WHITMORE

“O, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in’t!”

— MIRANDA, THE TEMPEST

“ You do think, ’This girl is very important and lovely,’ and suddenly you’re together again!”

THE ULTIMATE INTERVIEW

PART FIVE

DAY FOUR:

AUDIO SORCERY FRANT, EAST SUSSEX 22/04/11

In a village called Frant, on the Kent/East Sussex border, Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are about to make history. Today – Friday, 22 April 2011 – they start recording Big Finish’s hotlyanticipated, fittingly loopy, brand new range of Doctor Who audio plays, the Fourth Doctor Adventures. It’ll be Tom’s first time working with Big Finish, after over a decade of them asking, and asking, and asking, and him turning them down. It’ll also be the first time that Tom and Louise will have acted together since 1978’s The Invasion of Time. They’re reprising their TV roles of the Doctor and Leela, of course. I’m unrepentantly excited.

Today’s play is called Energy of the Daleks.Tom and Louise will record further FourthDoctor Adventures over the coming days, weeks, and months. Although Energy is the first to be recorded, it’ll be the fourth to be released, in April 2012. ‘The Doctor is in an oddly flippant mood throughout,’ reviewer Matt Michael will write in DWM 448. ‘Everyone is a dear old thing, and his joyful “Bye bye, Daleks!” couldn’t be further from Hinchcliffe-era introspection. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing… Energy of the Daleks lives up to its title to give us the most fast-paced and flat-out fun Fourth Doctor audio drama so far.’ The all-star cast includes Dan Starkey, who plays various Sontarans in TV Doctor Who (most notably Strax), and Mark Benton, who played Clive in 2005 episode Rose. Like their television counterparts, Big Finish’s Daleks are voiced by exec producer – and Energy of the Daleks’ writer and director – Nicholas Briggs. And this is Tom’s first Dalek story since 1979’s Destiny of the Daleks. The long darkness has ended. An eternity of waiting is over.

However, today’s recording is tinged with sadness, too. Three days ago, Sarah Jane Smith actress Elisabeth Sladen passed away, following a short illness. I wasn’t planning on asking Tom about her today; I thought we’d save that until we can meet one-on-one, outside of a busy studio recording, to pay tribute to Lis properly.

What of this ‘busy studio’, then? It’s called Audio Sorcery, and it’s just down the road from Tom’s house. (The studio wasn’t built here especially for him, you understand. That’s beyond Big Finish’s budget. They looked for a studio close to where Tom lives, and found this one.) When he arrives, at 9.30am, Tom is carrying a bag full of fruit.

“Satsumas! That’ll cheer everyone up,” he bellows, as he greets his Energy co-stars (bar Louise, who is five minutes away). Then Tom spots me – and my hair, which is still dyed red – and just sort of points and laughs.

Don’t laugh!

“It’s as if there should be a parrot on your shoulder. How’s that going, that hair style? When you’re on trains by yourself, do people sit next to you? (To the rest of the green room) Ben and I have done Soho together.”

And Rye.

“Well, I wasn’t going to mention that. (Laughs) If it goes on like this, Ben, I’ll have to adopt you. Not much happens in Rye, though. I think there was an outbreak of dandruff there a few years back, but I’m not sure. It’s just a lot of old ladies and cobbles. When one goes down –”

– it’s like dominoes?

“Yeah. But what would they know about a fancy haircut in Rye? Hey, I brought some satsumas, in case we have any vegetarians. Would you like a satsuma?”

Maybe later, Tom.

“I keep them by the side of my bed. If, in the night, I wake up, I reach out for a satsuma – because it’s quite nice, actually, peeling a satsuma with one hand. (A pause) I wasn’t planning on telling you that.”

[Five minutes later, Louise arrives. She and Tom have a private chat outside; it seems warm and friendly. Once inside, Louise introduces herself to everyone – lots of hugs and hellos – before she and Tom are whisked away into the studio, to record their first scene together…]

Tom Baker enters the world of the Big Finish audios, with writer/producer/voice of the Daleks – Nicholas Briggs.
PHOTO: TONY WHITMORE
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About Doctor Who Magazine

Doctor Who Magazine's 500th birthday celebrations continue! DWM 501 is a Tom Baker Special: a bumper 100-page souvenir issue that features the mag's biggest interview ever with the man himself, and dozens of rare photos. Plus, the start of a brand-new comic strip, The Pestilent Heart, which introduces a new companion; a look at all the latest Doctor Who CD releases; and much, much more!
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