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Andrea K Höst

Australian writer of science fiction and fantasy.
Who On Earth Is Tom Baker? An Autobiography - Tom Baker Scripts notwithstanding, I've enjoyed every incarnation of The Doctor thus far, but I suspect the fourth will always be my favourite. With his booming voice, goggling eyes, shock of curling hair and enormous grin, he always seemed to be enjoying himself - a mostly benevolent, occasionally dangerous, wise and gleeful figure.So, what would the actor behind this larger-than-life figure be like?Frightened. Ashamed. Ignorant. Desperate. Obedient. Cowardly. Furious.Tom Baker's young life, his poverty and church-filled childhood and then his stint as a teenaged monk, are the stuff of horror stories. To go to a school which tells children "You are nothing", to repeat that back in the hasty, pitiful search for praise, to be doing the right thing, taking the right attitude. To be a personality which takes the teachings of self-abnegation so to heart, and have that followed by a period as a novice monk where it was forbidden to even look other monks in the face, to be nothing but obedience and weariness and fear and then hatred and despair.Baker finally brings himself to escape this life, and then spends a year in the army for National Service - a military regimen which seems a breath of fresh air after the horrors of the monks. You can almost see him becoming human, growing in confidence, discovering how to interact with people in a normal manner. It's unfortunate that he follows this by meeting and marrying a girl and being brought into a family which appears ready to abuse him all over again, and he clearly will never quite stop being a non-confrontational man who wants to be liked, to please, and who quietly seethes and resents those who mistreat him, but takes abuse and takes abuse, growing ever more furious. But he becomes more human, and fumbles his way through years of bit-part acting, and then he becomes an alien, The Doctor, and is instantly loved and adored by thousands, which is quite a shock to the system, as you can well imagine.Baker is also clearly very successful with women once he figures out how to talk to people, and is an inveterate philanderer and in many ways not that nice a person. But his book is raw and blackly funny, surreal and enlightening.