Doctor Who: The Masque of Mandragora by Louis Marks; dir. Rodney Bennett (BBC, 1976) Tom Baker is in fine fettle as the Doctor swashbuckles around a rather small-looking historical adventure, countering an alien threat that he himself has enabled. Elisabeth Sladen brings matchless nuance to her performance. Giuliano narrowly survives a foreshadowing of Blackadder’s Lord Percy.
Doctor Who: The Doomsday Contract by John Lloyd; adapted by Nev Fountain (Big Finish, 2021) Originally commissioned during Douglas Adams’ tenure as script editor, The Doomsday Contract exhibits a Hitchhiker’s tonality but without quite the same zest. Tom Baker gives it some welly but the denunciation of bureaucracy via reductio ad absurdum seems a bit old hat.
Doctor Who: The Mind Runners by John Dorney (Big Finish, 2018) Dorney engages in capable SF noir world-building while scripting lovely dialogue for Tom Baker and Louise Jameson (both of whom are in fine form). The story, however, is not self-contained, and its antagonists are in the usual advanced stages of expository megalomania.
Doctor Who: The Crowmarsh Experiment by David Llewellyn (Big Finish, 2018) Leela is attacked during one of her adventures with the Doctor, and wakes up in a research institute for implanted dream consciousness. Which of her realities is genuine? Perfectly pitched performances by Louise Jameson and Tom Baker. A nice idea cleverly executed.
Dr. Fourth by Adam Hargreaves (BBC Children’s Books, 2017) The Fourth Doctor is well drawn and characterised. Sarah Jane is less becoming (a generic pink ball) and the inclusion of a no-hoper Dalek is incongruous even within the unfolding romp. Still, this captures the frivolous sangfroid element of Tom Baker’s era.
Doctor Who: Scratchman by Tom Baker with James Goss (BBC Books, 2019) A novelisation of the film script that Tom Baker and Ian Marter wrote back in the 1970s. The content is dark verging on horror, yet the tone is very much Baker’s latter-day staple of bemused, gently deadpanned, Doctor as lost man-child comedy.
Doctor Who: Ghost Ship by Keith Topping (Telos, 2003) Told in the first person, supposedly from the perspective of the Fourth Doctor, this serviceably atmospheric, potentially wonderful novella reads, unfortunately, as if a 40-year-old Englishman has sat down with a framed picture of Tom Baker on his desk and started rambling.
Doctor Who: Night of the Vashta Nerada by John Dorney (Big Finish, 2017) A standard base under siege story with stock characters but nice execution and snatches of dark humour. The script is slick and the actors embrace their parts, Tom Baker veering away from his latter-day flippancy to give an unusually measured, heartfelt performance.
Doctor Who: The Thief Who Stole Time by Marc Platt (Big Finish, 2017) A wildly imaginative audio drama that successfully sacrifices exposition for immersion (assuming it is meant to stand alone). While Tom Baker cruises and Lalla Ward adds depth to Romana, Sartia (Joannah Tincey) emerges as one of the audio series’ more endearing villains.
Who on Earth is Tom Baker? by Tom Baker (HarperCollins, 1997) Although Tom Baker’s autobiography is by no means a bad read, it does (excepting the preamble, which promises at least a measure of absurdism) make for an unremittingly grim read, Baker occupying a headspace far removed from the comforts of Doctor Who.