In news that’s arrived as a special treat for fans on Doctor Who‘s 55th birthday, the legendary Tom Baker – who played the Fourth Doctor throughout the 1970s – is returning to the Whoniverse to write a brand new novel starring his own version of the Time Lord. What’s more, it’s based on an old script that he hoped to have turned into a movie.
Scratchman was originally written as a screenplay by Baker and co-star Ian Marter (companion Harry Sullivan) while they were working on the show. The pair had lofty ambitions for their highly-imaginative tale, too, as they wanted the central villain, the titular Scratchman, to be played by horror icon Vincent Price and the grand third act was to have taken place on a giant pinball machine.
Obviously, Baker struggled to find funds to support the project but now, 40 years later, BBC Books has approached him to translate his script into a novel and the actor and writer (he’s previously penned his autobiography Who on Earth is Tom Baker? and darkly comic novel The Boy Who Kicked Pigs) jumped at the chance.
Baker, in typical eccentric style, said the following in a press release:
“I love the improbability of Doctor Who. Reason plays no part at all. As in religion, the overriding thing is faith. It may be improbable, but just believe in it and it’ll all come right. When I was approached about the book, I thought, ‘Why not?’“ I’m always on the lookout for a novelty. I’m very enthusiastic as I get close to darkness.”
And here’s the official synopsis for more:
What are you afraid of?
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, 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…
Doctor Who: Scratchman will arrive in hardback in January. BBC Books describes it as “a gripping, white-knuckle thriller almost 40 years in the making” and you can pre-order it here.