Newsletter Autumn 2011

Autograph session at St Michael’s Hospice

On Sunday I attended a fund raising event at St. Michael’s Hospice, Hastings. This is because of my experience at the London Hospice where I went to say goodbye to dear old Nick Courtney, our beloved Brigadier from Who days. I was so amazed by the tender care he was given that I decided to make a little contribution and give a day to raise some funds for the hospice in Hastings. The dedication of the people who nurse, or do the garden, or make tea, or whatever they can do, is inspiring.

Hundreds of people turned up and I’m still recovering form the 9 hours of meeting people! I’ll write something about it soon, but in the meantime, here are some pictures of the autograph session.

Talking to a family at the Hospice while being sketched!

Talking to a family at the Hospice while being sketched!

The queue in the Hospice carpark

The queue in the Hospice carpark

People waited very patiently

People waited very patiently

Big Finish and AudioGo recordings

It has been a good year for old memories as I have reprised (as they say) the role of the Doctor. I have completed my stuff for BBC AudioGo and all the adventures for Big Finish.  It is really good working on this project and I’ve met a number of actors & actresses I’ve known from the past and some excellent new ones.

Here I am with Gareth Armstrong, Louise Jameson, and Ian McNeice at a Big Finish recording.

Here I am with Gareth Armstrong, Louise Jameson, and Ian McNeice at a Big Finish recording.

Geoffrey Beevers and me

Geoffrey Beevers and me

Geoffrey Beevers (seen here with me on the left) is to return as the Master in the first season of The Fourth Doctor Audio Adventures from Big Finish. Geoffrey previously played the role on television in The Keeper of Traken in 1981, and twice on audio in Dust Breeding and Master.

The season of audio adventures begins in January with Destination Nerva by Nicholas Briggs, in which Louise and I face a new enemy in familiar surroundings. The Renaissance Man by Justin Richards follows in February, while Leela (Louise) makes a new ally in the warrior Boudicca in John Dorney’s historical tale Wrath of the Iceni (March).

I have a rare conflict with arch enemies in April in Energy of the Daleks by Nicholas Briggs; Mark Benton (Rose) guest stars as Jack Coulson, while Dan Starkey (A Good Man Goes to War) is Kevin Winston.

The TARDIS returns to 1970s Britain in Trail of the White Worm (May), while the season climaxes with an untitled story (June) – both are written by Alan Barnes.

Doctor Who: The Lost Stories – The Fourth Doctor Box Set

BF_FourthDoc_Boxset_3DThe content for Doctor Who: The Lost Stories – The Fourth Doctor Box Set has also been confirmed. In addition to Foe from the Future, a six-parter originally devised by Robert Banks Stewart and adapted by John Dorney, also included is The Valley of Death by Philip Hinchcliffe, adapted by Jonathan Morris. In this four-part full cast audio, the Doctor and Leela join an expedition to the Amazon rainforests, where an alien trap is waiting to be sprung… The five-disc box set will be available in January 2012.

To find out more click here to go to the Big Finish site

My country blog

Tom_with_rakesHere we are deep in the beautiful countryside of East Sussex, and I sweep leaves twice a day, otherwise the old badger set holes and rabbit holes from the late Edwardian period are very dangerous if covered by leaves.

I’m also training the rampant hazel trees to arch and so create tunnels and make their beautiful leaves nearer to eye level which adds, dare I say, a little mystery to an old neglected woodland. Some of the sweet chestnuts, coppiced perhaps fifty years ago, have grown as many as twelve trunks from one stool, and have reached maybe forty feet. But there are still a couple of million leaves to fall.

It’s all very calm and a bit like heaven I suppose. That’s just a guess as all images of heaven must be guesses. When I was young, in the last millennium, we were constantly talking about heaven and told what a wonderful place it was, I mean IS. And one of the descriptions assured us that the floor of heaven is made of glass, very clear glass. And through the glass we can see down into hell where the damned are howling in pain in the eternal flames and lifting their arms and noses towards us who are saved. And how thirsty they are down there in the everlasting flames that burn them but do not consume. And they are always screaming out the same phrase: “We didn’t know, Lord, we didn’t know.” And, yelling with laughter, those of us “Saved ones” scream back at the damned: “Well, you know now.” And we were convulsed with joy at the agony of those who didn’t believe, who didn’t listen when Father Sharkey, (our parish priest) was preaching the password to paradise at St. Swithin’s church in Liverpool 11 in 1944. It was all so simple: to get to heaven all you had to do was DO AS YOU ARE TOLD. Tyrants always say that, “Believe in me and do as you are told and all will be well.”

It’s all very mysterious that we were told such horrible things about the next life. It can’t be true because God loves us all and will open the gates to heaven to everyone. So that’s alright then.

But in the night in this little paradise where I live, I hear the screams of rabbits as they are mugged and murdered by foxes and the smaller squeaks of hedgehogs being disembowelled by badgers and the anxious chattering of guinea fowl as they try to stay above it all in the sanctuary of the trees. And I hope that all the social habitats I have arranged will give some security to other little creatures who make no audible fuss . Certainly I have fixed enough social housing (so to speak) for at least 333 throstles and their offspring. But creeping in the woods I found only one throstle nest and in it one egg. And a week later it was obviously abandoned.

But the sheep are less mysterious. Two flocks, Romnies and Jacobs. The Jacobs gather round their ram, for tis tupping time, and glide away as I drive or walk past. The Romnies have a huge capacity to be amazed. They stop cropping and their ram stops tupping and they look at me as if I have just walked out of the TARDIS without Leela. So Poppy trots on by and I do a bit of sheep whispering in the early morning light in the hope they will gather round and make me feel a good shepherd. But though I pass by sixteen times a day all they do is look astonished. But I am consoled by the sight of them on the hillside.

I gave up watching TV some time ago and now I pay the price. And the price is high; isolation. Yes, after less than a year I have no idea what anyone is talking about. And my expression of helplessness irritates my friends and they shrug and treat me as an old foreign student who doesn’t know the language. And I don’t know it. Well, apart from the World Cup rugby. By the way I don’t wish to suggest I have lots of friends. Oh no, far from it. And obviously if I don’t relapse and start watch TV, I shall soon be utterly alone, an anchorite, a poor old wild man of the woods. If you are interested I’ll keep you informed. If you are not interested then I quite understand.

I’ll report again before Christmas. Good night from Tom.


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