In Hertfordshire hurricanes hardly ever happen, so I accepted an invitation to a country house hotel Who Do (Time Quest 2 organised by 10th Planet Events) on Saturday 13th March. About 300 hundred Who Souls were there to see Paul McGann, Lucy Benjamin, Janet Fielding, Baxter Sullivan, Sian Pattenden and me.
I did my usual cabaret. Here I am with the skull of a director I once worked with. His wife sent it to me after his departure and I often take it to the first reading of a new job. I usually lay it beside the script. Usually the directors are very sweet when they see it.
At Time Quest I was pretending that David Tennant had sent it to me as a souvenir of his Hamlet. I even autographed it. The fans laughed and I feel confident that David would have laughed, too.
We started with a long signing session, which is the best way for us all to meet each other and swop memories. No time for lunch, no time for a sip of water even, just time to snatch a few quick breaths and then the photo shoot. This was novel as the whole guest list was there and the fans were pictured in the centre of the shot, The Star Spot! I thought this an excellent idea. Then the individual shots.
Lawks, what a crowd. I was hugged and squeezed to breathlessness again and again. A lot of fans are powerful and passionate huggers. As one released me, I snatched a breath before being seized by the next one. And so it went on. Several trembled, and a lad from the US called me God! I told him I preferred to be called Tom but the boy would not have it. “To me you are God,” he said “And that’s that.”
Someone gave me a Teddy Bear – no, it’s a Teddy Baker – a cuddly Doctor Who!
You fans love the old stories so I told my story of air an conditioning breakdown at a convention in an American hotel and how in tropical temperatures I kissed and was hugged by 300 sweaty women. And the reporter who asked me half way through my effort: “What does it feel like kissing so many sweaty women”? I told him it was a terrific sensation though a slippery business in that heat. How the sweaty girls laughed.
A little later a charming lady of a certain number of summers whispered in my ear, “You are a naughty old devil, Mr Baker, a very naughty old devil indeed.”
For a moment I was mortified and then, ah, then she winked! And what a wink it was. She said her name was Gwen and asked how my dog Poppy was coming along. I said how much I loved her. Poppy I mean, not Gwen. And then she winked. Gwen I mean, not Poppy. And then she left. Ooh, it did please me; God and AND the Devil in the same session!
And so home to bed.
Up early on Sunday 14th March to get ready for another job. This time a full length interview going out on television soon. As soon as I’m allowed to give you the details, I will.
Poppy and I did nearly three hours in the wild wood yesterday. I am at war with some very stubborn old brambles. The progress is slow and I must get my branch loppers sharpened. Rags, one of the horses, has a sore foot and is confined to her stable for a week. Tia her loving companion is baffled and walks up and down outside Rags’ stall as if keeping guard. It is all so touching: Tia has become a carer. This morning the deer are back, all 11 of them. I tried not to make a noise but they have sharp hearing and moved in a small group to the bottom of the lower meadow where, facing the fence and ready to leap and evaporate, they also looked over their shoulders in reproach at my presence. And then they faded away. Thank God the fans are not deer. No, the fans are dear.
I know that many of you have already heard the interview I did for Doctor Who Online which they have issued as their latest podcast. We hope to make it available soon here on my website, too. Also, look out for a new video clip due to be uploaded into the video section in the next day or two. It shows me in conversation with Philip Hinchcliffe who was producer of Doctor Who from 1974 to 1977. He joined me and Poppy in my woodland.
I’m delighted that members of my forum like the new question section. It reached its maximum number of questions very quickly and I enjoyed answering them. I look forward to some interesting questions in April.
Toodle oooh from old Tom