Wednesday, August 10, 2016




It’s a long-ago year when British heatwaves are measured in 80s and 90s F rather than 30s and high 20s C. 

The setting is the annual Gadebridge Park fair in Hemel Hempstead. 

Even the shade of a tent in which a 40-something Tom Baker now sits offers little respite against the unpitying heat. 

He is there signing autographs in all his Dr Who regalia. 

This comprises tilted fedora hat, tweed waistcoat, velvet jacket, and infinite scarf coiled around his neck like some giant woollen python.


NO SWEAT: Tom Baker back in the heatwave summer of 1976


Yet in all this suffocating attire, Tom betrays his character’s extra-terrestrial origins by not sweating at all. 

He seems at this moment more than ever the King of Cool

Deep down, however, his two over-heated hearts will surely be racing and he cannot get away from his fans quick enough?

Not a bit of it. 

Despite the serpentine queue, he is at ease taking his time to answer this then 11-year-old future hack’s question as to why he thinks his Doc is a wonderful part to play.

He says: “Here you have a character who, strangely enough, does not fall in love, is not greedy or acquisitive in any sense, has no property, is obviously without fashion sense, non-violent, witty and nice to be with.” 

I thank him. 

“Isn’t that the sort of person any person would aspire to be?” he beams, all teeth, Roman nose, and wide, hypnotic eyes flirting ever so slightly with madness.

I nod while thinking, ‘Yep, except for the not falling in love bit’.

Tom cheerfully signs my autograph book and I re-brave the outside’s unsheltered warmth, skipping on Cloud 99.


82-YEARS-YOUNG: Thomas Stewart Baker


That was four decades ago. More recently I told the now 82-year-young Tom (time catches up even with timelords in the end) about that day and asked him if I could borrow his fairground quote for my new book WARTWORLD AND OTHER QUIRKY SHORT STORIES.

He could indeed … providing he could see a pre-production copy of the short story it was meant to introduce – CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT: A STORY ABOUT TIME TRAVEL.

I promised him a free copy of the book if he sanctioned the quote.

He did.

On Monday (August 8) I had the immense satisfaction of posting a signed copy to one of my all-time heroes – nearly 40 years to the day since he signed my long since lost autograph book.

Life doesn’t get much more sweet, especially in these troubled times …

WARTWORLD AND OTHER QUIRKY SHORT STORIES (now available from, priced £6.50).