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Doctor Who: Scratchman

4th Doctor Novel
Written by: Tom Baker
Narrated by: Tom Baker
Length: 8 hrs and 40 mins

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Publisher's Summary

In his first-ever Doctor Who novel, Tom Baker’s incredible imagination is given free rein. A story so epic it was originally intended for the big screen, Scratchman is a gripping, white-knuckle thriller almost 40 years in the making.  

The Doctor, Harry and Sarah Jane Smith arrive at a remote Scottish island when their holiday is cut short by the appearance of strange creatures - hideous scarecrows who are preying on the local population. The islanders are living in fear, and the Doctor vows to save them all. But it doesn’t go to plan - the time travellers have fallen into a trap, and Scratchman is coming for them. 

With the fate of the universe hanging in the balance, the Doctor must battle an ancient force from another dimension, one who claims to be the devil. Scratchman wants to know what the Doctor is most afraid of. And the Doctor’s worst nightmares are coming out to play.... 

Tom Baker himself reads this legendary Doctor Who adventure, a spine-chilling thriller 40 years in the making.

©2019 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2019 BBC Worldwide Ltd

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  • NM
  • 31-01-19

Narrated and Written by THE (4th) Doctor!!

One of the reasons I jumped on the Audible bandwagon was to gain access to Doctor Who (4th Doctor) Audio Books as Tom Baker is (of course) the One True Doctor Who. There is the usual fare where the BBC releases a full length audio narration of one of the original TV shows, and those come out at a rate of several a year with usually a former companion/cast member, etc doing the narration (Ex: Sunmakers is out Feb 2019 and Warriors Gate is April 2019). However the BEST 4th Doctor stories are of course the ones narrated by Tom Baker himself and the Best of the Best - in my opinion - were always when something NEW was released as those are a joy to listen to. Previously, if my memory holds, three previous examples of this were the trilogy of Serpent's Crest, Hornet's Nest, and Demon Quest, and I think that is (or will be) available here in Audible Land as "The Nest Cottage Chronicles". With Scratchman you have something unique in that not only is this a "new" story narrated by Tom Baker, since he is also the author this would be the first Fourth Doctor story actually written by the Fourth Doctor!! Who (no pun intended) else would know the character better than Tom?

So far as the story itself goes, I would say it takes place back in between Classic Seasons 12 and 13 since it has Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan as companions. From what I read, this was supposed to have been a Dr. Who feature film in the mid 70s, but it wasn't in the cards and the script ended up gathering dust for 40-ish years. Then again, if it HAD been made into a movie back in the 70s, odds are it would have been on a shoe-string budget and the end result would have been a movie that was only aired during the the 2am time slot. While the original script was filed away, with Tom's return to the character over at Big Finish with the Fourth Doctor Adventures, interest in the "lost story" grew and in 2019 we are fortunate to have a "new" story that has been allowed to mature and improve along with the character. Plus with the benefit of it being an audio-only (theater-of-the-mind) production, lack of a huge special effects budget isn't an issue and what we end up with is a first rate story.

Performance? Great! I am not the best at describing things, so I guess I would say what makes this a great listen is that you can tell he is Having Fun with the character and the narration. For lack of a better analogy, think of having to read a work of Classic Literature in high school vs reading it For Fun later in life. You can tell the difference when it's Fun rather than a Chore, and you can tell that Scratchman is - Fun.

I don't want to give anything away, so the only part of the story I would like to focus on is at the end where he sort of / kind of breaks the Fourth Wall. The "Epilogue" and "PS From The Doctor" are quite moving, and worth listening to by themselves.


Unrelated Stuff (why an Audible subscription is worth having):
If you would like to listen to another great 4th Doctor-era short story (narrated by Tom Baker), there is "Jak and the Wormhole". It's only 23-ish minutes, but it's worth a listen. Also it would appear that some of the previous BBC Stories (Unit Era) that were narrated by Tom are being re-released as "collections", so you can fill out your collection for only a credit or two.

13 people found this helpful

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  • JOhn Michelin
  • 26-01-19

OMG

this is the best reading of doctor who yet! Baker had reached back to the original idea.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jennifer Baratta
  • 30-01-19

4th Doctor adventure with a visit from 13th Doctor

For Whovians and Tom Baker fans. Sarah Jane is a companion here and leaves an afterword in the last chapter.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Phoenix
  • 26-01-19

Absolutely brilliant.

My first and perhaps best ever audio book . What a treat. I loved it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jim
  • 25-01-19

Ol' Scratch has got nothin' on The Doctor

A Tall-tale from a Great Soul. A life's work bound in a single story. There are so many deeply meaningful insights as throw-away lines, delivered in the inimitable Tom Baker style it is like a crash course on British understated bravado. Keep Calm and Doctor On. I will revisit this as many times as I can and hope to learn about the power of the word and story telling from The Master (NO - The Doctor!).

4 people found this helpful

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  • Feargal Gallagher
  • 20-11-19

Tom Baker IS The Doctor!

This is a highly enjoyable addition to any Who library. Amongst other things, it recreates the fun and excitement that the trio of the The Doctor, Sarah-Jane and Harry shared when they started their TV adventures together under the production team of Hinchcliff and Holmes. It’s well known that the story was begun as an idea for a big-budget film played around with by Tom Baker and Ian Marter, so it is a labour of love brought to completion at last. But as well as the elements of youthful fun and companionship, Baker also brings the older man’s wisdom and thoughtfulness to the book. Even though it is a rollicking series of life-or-death stand-offs and narrow escapes in the best Doctor Who tradition, much of it is a wry commentary on what Doctor Who means to its audience and to Baker, the actor possibly most identified with the character. Indeed, this is the work where the Doctor and Baker become practically identical with each other, and there are points where its hard to tell if it’s the author or the Gallifreyan narrator who is expressing such delight in being the Fourth Doctor. This is further amplified in the Audiobook version, read by Baker himself, as only he can. The story contains an archetypal Hinchcliff-era story of a remote island under siege by creepy scarecrows, but in the second half expands out to a more symbolic parable of the Doctor making his way in Dante-esque fashion through various levels of hell, as he deals with the fears and weaknesses of his ego. The entirety of Doctor Who is also contained in this section, as the Fourth Doctor meets shadowy stand-ins for the various other incarnations of The Doctor. Overall, I’d say this is an essential listen/read for anyone interested in all things Who, but also an entertaining if creepy adventure starring one of the most accessible and popular Doctors for the general reader. I loved this. Baker himself is a treasure, and he puts everything into this performance/reading. The time spent with his Doctor on this adventure was a joy.

1 person found this helpful

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  • L. Chaney
  • 28-08-19

Thank you, Tom

I'm in the best of tears right now. I can't remember the last time I loved something so much, or was so unabashedly happy. A wonderful story wonderfully told by the fellow born to tell it. It's been like traveling back some forty years, when Doctor Who first became part of my life: nostalgia, wonder, and a cracking good tale, full of colorful detail, humor, insight, and the most perfect knowledge of the characters propelling it. Thank you, Mr. Baker-- or, if I may, thank you, Tom. Many, many thanks.

1 person found this helpful

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  • eJaeson
  • 18-04-19

An interesting story, falls a bit flat.

The build up on this was very promising. It drifted off the rails near the end and never quite recovers. Even allowing for the spectacle of Doctor Who, it was a bit cringe.

But hearing Tom Baker read it was a real treat. He clearly enjoyed the work, and that made the whole thing worth the listen.

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  • yukonzach
  • 01-04-19

An absolute joy to listen to!

This is MY doctor. I grew up with him. I watched him every Saturday night on PBS. Now he has written a novel that is tailor-made for the incarnation of the Doctor that he played for years. And then he READS it! You hear every laugh, every smile, and even every grin. I pictured him perfectly while going through this adventure. There are surprises, tense moments, and misdirection. This was one of the best times I have ever had listening to a book. Tom Baker is not only an amazing actor, he was born for dramatized audio too. If you like Doctor Who even in the slightest, this story will not disappoint you at all. What fun!

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  • Sarge Davis
  • 30-01-19

smart

what a smart and fancyful boOk.
so nice to hear your voice again Doctor. thank you

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 25-01-19

Evocative and perfect. If you love 4 this is it.

Ok, so if anyone is qualified to write the quintessential 4th Doctor novel, the it is Tom Baker. And he writes this with ease and style. It is a perfect 4, Sarah & Harry novel. Written with real heart and love for the characters and the era.

9 people found this helpful

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  • hgwells 1899
  • 05-02-19

Down The Rabbit Hole We Go

It all starts out on familiar, frightfully amusing ground - then goes full tilt through the looking glass and into the Doctors adventures in Bakerland.

It's best listened to, not so much narrated as performed by the Great Curator himself, features one unwelcome and ear-numbing cameo, and is full of literally laugh out loud moments from start to finish.

In-jokes, irreverent references to incarnations past, present and future, witticisms which meander to a punchline that makes it all make perfect sense suddenly...macabre imagery and breathless access into Bakers vision of his own private TARDIS...including a chilling peek behind the door of the one room the Doctor keeps locked...from himself. It all comes together like clockwork, a heartsfelt, close-up portrait of the Fourth Doctor in the first person, as only he could paint him.

It's a tall story all about fear, told by a man who smiles everytime he delivers bad news, then laughs and holds up a Jelly Baby in the face of danger...and who isn't afraid to pen a familial-love letter to a friend and fellow traveller he, and we, can't help but confess to adore.

Does it all work? Of course not. Would I personally have wanted to miss one word of it?

Not for all the world...or even, perhaps, the next one ;)

8 people found this helpful

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  • Shellem
  • 29-04-19

Loved this story

Brilliantly told by Tom Baker, one of life's greatest storytellers. This story is an excellent addition to the 4th Doctors timeline with Sarah Jane and Harry Sullivan.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Vakri Heighton-Towers
  • 27-04-19

4th Doc & His Weirdest!

A great story... if a little bonkers! It's nice to "see" the Fourth Doctor back and Tom Baker does a great job at bringing him back for another battle against the craziest baddie he ever faced... it would make the Master jealous.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Davidw101
  • 08-04-19

Best Dr Who Book I've read in years.

My god, I've just finished and good grief was it emotional at the end.
Tom wrote an absolute joy of a classic Dr Who tale. He sparkled with wit and mischievous charm.
Beautifully written, perfectly narrated. An absolute must have.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Claire Cooper-Jones
  • 05-04-19

Simply amazing!

What is not to love? A brilliant story full of twists and turns. A true novel that explores a complex (though easy to follow) plot line. And the reading by Tom is simply the best book narration I have heard. Somehow he manages to narrate and be the Doctor all at once. If you like classic Who, you will find this awesome.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Affray
  • 04-04-19

Dr Who lives again

I grew up with Tom Baker as my Dr Who and this took me back to those days. As mad as a box of frogs on an out of control roller coaster I enjoyed it from the start to the finish and will listen to it again after a wee while no doubt.
Scarfs off to Fantastic Forth Doctor and time for a jelly baby.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-03-19

great story, well read by the author.

Tom Baker at his best clearly enjoying bringing his own work to life. Those who remember his stint as Doctor will enjoy this especially. Took me back to my childhood Saturday evening's.

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  • pmcmhn
  • 16-02-19

Tom Baker is The Doctor; the definite article you might say.

A Fourth Doctor story written by Tom Baker. I feel genuinely grateful that this even exists. As for the story itself - it’s everything and some what than I had expected. Just brilliant - buy it now.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ahmer Memon
  • 02-05-19

awesome fun and great to hear Tom Baker

Awesome fun, a great adventure with the fourth doctor. amazing to have a new story with one of my favourite doctors ever.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dandeleo
  • 19-08-19

silly, interesting, exciting, and entertaining

captures the flavour of the fourth doctor and both Sarah & Harry, in a twisty tale that is both absurd and true to form. what starts as a creepy story of scarecrows becomes a battle for the survival of our dimension against the devil. I was always a bit sad we didn't see more of Harry Sullivan on tv, and he with Sarah are a great, jolly team with the Doctor. worth a listen.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nik Pyle
  • 03-02-19

The Doctor tells me a story of his adventures

This audiobook feels like you are sat with Tom as he thourougly enjoys telling you his adventures. I would buy this book again and again. Any other Doctors want to travel with me telling me there stories I am in.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Wendy
  • 09-04-20

Typical Doctor Who

Well done Tom Baker. I always loved you as Doctor Who. This is a typical queer Doctor Who story with lots of running. I love Tom Baker’s voice.

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  • Josh Coupland
  • 18-04-19

Written & Narrated by The Doctor Himself

It's one of the rare moments where I wish this film was made Tom Baker did an amazing job writing this movie it was very well written.

The whole time I was listening I was getting images of how the movie would of looked and Tom made it even more seem real coz his narration was spoken in first person whenever he was talking about The Doctor.

If you want classic Doctor Who, Classic Tom Baker or even just a dark story with scarecrows and farmers then this is the story for you plus you get Harry, Sarah Janes what more could you want.

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  • DJR
  • 22-02-19

Tom Baker is the doctor

Great story loved the concepts really enjoyed it ....... totally loved Tom’s narration as the Doctor he completely hits it out of the park!!! He truely is the Doctor!!!!
My only criticism was the cameo of Doctor 13 as I find Jodie portrayal as the Doctor in the latest series very unconvincing and by bringing her into the book adds the same effect to the story cheapening it.
I feel this is another case of forcing this unconvincing doctor in the fans... I really wanted to give the story 5 stars