Often it’s the voice which stops me getting completely into it. When I’ve listened to previous Tom Baker Big Finish exploits, I’ve frequently been thrown out of the suspension of disbelief by the voice. It’s forty-five years now since Tom Baker first became TV’s DOCTOR WHO (and not far from forty years since he left) and of course in the interim period he’s got older. He’s aged and his voice has aged. And as sad as it is to admit, there are Big Finish recordings where he doesn’t really sound like The Doctor. Certainly he sounds like Tom Baker, but an older and more haggard Tom Baker. Not the magnificent, mercurial, brown haired alien I can remember striding confidently around BBC sets.
Here, maybe the boffins at Big Finish had switched the microphones (or maybe it was simply the headphones I listened it on), but he sounded so exactly like himself in 1977 that I couldn’t help but be sucked in. I listened to it with a big grin on my face and boyish enthusiasm.
The tales in this boxset were adapted from ideas pitched in the 70s but never made. Now the last Big Finish Tom Baker boxset I listened to was of a similar pedigree, coming from legendary TV producer, Philip Hinchliffe. It was somewhat dull though. These Lost Stories, however, are brilliant.
The Doctor sounds like himself and the tales that are being told are so perfectly of their period, that it’s like finding some old Doctor/Leela episodes that have suddenly been magically gifted to you.
The first is a Hammer horror pastiche, with a monster living in a large deserted old house in Devon and terrifying the locals. That is until the story – a la ‘The Stones of Blood’ – suddenly becomes a lot more science-fictiony. Something quite different, but equally brilliant. I don’t want to spoil too much, but this a big epic tale that the BBC would never have had the budget to make, but still seems so perfectly of its time that it hurts.
The second finds The Doctor in his role as scientific advisor to UNIT (a job which this Doctor had given up on by the time he met Leela, so it’s a bit anachronistic and would have fitted The Third Doctor a tad better – but I’m quibbling). He and Leela head out to the jungle to find a lost explorer and of course things get a lot more alien and dangerous. It’s not quite as strong as the first, and the tribesman being little more than decoration is a trope one would have got away with in 1977, but seems really archaic now. However, Tom Baker and Louise Jameson’s performance are still going to carry any fan through.
If you love the long scarf and the teeth, then – even though you’re not really going to see them – closing your eyes when listening to these it will be like putting in a classic DVD you haven’t seen before. And just think exciting that would be.
My debut novel, THE WANNABES – which has been out of print for a little while – is now available for free. A supernatural thriller of beautiful actresses and deadly ambition in London town, it’s well worth your time. You can get your copy here!