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Doctor Who: Scratchman

(Adventures of the 4th Doctor #20)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,089 ratings  ·  244 reviews
What are you afraid of?

In his first-ever Doctor Who novel, Tom Baker’s incredible imagination is given free rein. A story so epic it was originally intended for the big screen, Scratchman is a gripping, white-knuckle thriller almost forty years in the making.

The Doctor, Harry and Sarah Jane Smith arrive at a remote Scottish island, when their holiday is cut short by the ap
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published January 24th 2019 by BBC Books
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  1,089 ratings  ·  244 reviews

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May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Gallifrey doesn’t really do eccentrics. It’s why some of us leave.”

This was such an odd curious read mainly because it was narrated from The Doctor himself, knowing the origins of this story probably does help to enjoy it more.

Scratchman was originally conceived as an idea between Tom Baker and Ian Marter (who played companion Harry) to make a movie of Doctor Who during breaks in filming the show during the 70’s.
Quite a few programmes had big screen outings around this time, though admittedly t
Stephen Robert Collins
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There number of things that make me mad about this book first why is Tom Baker as author only on the cover, then inside with small letters James Goss but Worse is real insult Copyright Tom Baker & Ian Martin. Ian Martin Who played Harry Sullivan has no proper credit to book that He wrote back in 1970s with Tom; because he is dead. Both Ian & James Goss should also been on the cover the BBC is too blame as much as Tom but Sorry I think its typical of Baker to hog dead man's limelight. Having meet ...more
Bill Lynas
I'm sorry to say that I found Scratchman to be a pretty disappointing read. Back in the mid 1970s I always enjoyed the TV adventures of the Doctor (Tom Baker) & his companions Sarah Jane Smith & Harry Sullivan. Sadly, the same line up failed to entertain me in this new novel.
The first part of the book is good enough, with menacing scarecrows & plenty of danger. In fact this would have made a good TV adventure. It's the rest of the novel that I had issues with. Scratchman himself was, for me, a b
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to this as I wanted to see what Tom Baker would come up with. I knew he'd tried to get a movie off the ground in '76 and apparently this book is based on that storyline. Oddly the storyline feels more like a Barry Letts/Jon Pertwee story than a Tom Baker one. Unfortunately, if I put my writer's hat on, the book is a structural mess. It shouldn't have been written in 1st person when the story wanders off into 3rd person. There's an explanation for this (the Doctor is omnipot ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
So, here’s an unusual arrival for Doctor Who fans.

Scratchman is a novel that, forty years ago, was the outline for a proposed movie when the television series Doctor Who was arguably at its most popular. Written by the Doctor of the time, Tom Baker, with Ian Marter (who played assistant Harry Sullivan at the same time) it sadly never came to be.

Now, Tom Baker (recently 85 years old, unbelievably), with the assistance of Doctor Who novelist James Goss (whose Timelord poetry I reviewed a while bac
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Doctor (tom Baker edition of course) with Sarah Jane and Ian land on earth, specifically a sparsely populated island where the local population is under threat of Scarecrows who want to take over their human bodies.

The Doctor stands trail once again in the face of his Time Lords (and ladies of course) and has to explain how scarecrows and Cybermen get him destroying a different dimension and the Time lords did not even notice it. If they do not like the answer the Doctor will be killed.

Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Doctor, Harry Sullivan and Sarah Jane Smith arrive at a remote Scottish island where they intend to enjoy a picnic lunch, a nap and skip stones. All of that changes when they discover hideous scarecrows are taking over the small village. They will soon be in a fight for their lives as a sinister alien force is at work. As the story progresses we learn The Doctor is on trial on Gallifrey. The Time Lords have questions that must be answered.  He is retelling the events of the story to the coun ...more
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: doctor-who
We waited forty years for this?

This story began as a film treatment by Baker and then-co-star Ian Marter in the 1970s, but nothing ever came of it and it was forgotten by all but the most loyal Whovians. I suppose the popularity of original Doctor Who novels was the incentive for its resurrection (or regeneration?)

I don't know what the original story was like, but this iteration is a mess.

The Doctor, Harry and Sarah Jane arrive at a coastal Scottish village to find most of the inhabitants have b
Iain McLaughlin
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: doctor-who
Delicious stuff. By turns funny, scary, thoughtful and flat out bonkers, this is much more than a novelisation of an unmade movie. It's rather a splendid novel and a wonderful bit of Doctor Who. I enjoyed it enormously.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely glorious narration by Tom Baker. A national treasure.
Jake Girdlestone
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I first knew of this book when I saw an advertisement in doctor who magazine. A fourth doctor novel .. from the viewpoint of the doctor... written by Tom Baker !?
I had to give this a go!
And I’m glad I did.
So the basic premise of the book:
The Doctor is on trial by the timelords (again) for meddling in certain events and faces imminent death (yeah , right!).
So, in order to avoid ‘the sword of never’ from wiping him out the Doctor reels off one of his tall adventures in the ho
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hadn’t expected to be so moved by this.

The existence of Tom Baker narrating the audio version of a novel he wrote and which is written from the point of view of The Fourth Doctor (a little note: there may be another one out there, but I haven’t before encountered a book written from The Doctor’s perspective) sent me scrabbling for an Audible subscription. The fact that this book was additionally based on DOCTOR WHO v SCRATCHMAN, the legendary, seemingly bonkers never-made-film that Tom Baker a
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, doctor-who
I really, really liked this. The story is told by the Doctor himself, so it makes perfect sense to listen to the audiobook read by Tom Baker. It's an outstanding performance as you can imagine. He has a voice that makes the crowds listen (but wait). Who doesn't get goosebumps in "Day oft the Doctor", when one can hear his "Well, I think you might"?!
The story is a good solid Doctor Who adventure and the good thing is: It really feels like a TV story. You can't say that for every book. First I wa
Paul Griggs
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The legendary film script devised by Tom Baker and Ian Marter brought to life by Tom with the help of some friends. It would have been such fun to see Tom standing up against “old Scratch” on the big screen. If you’ve ever read any of Tom’s previous prose then you’ll have an idea of what to expect, but don’t think for one moment that this is a straight novelisation from a mid-1970s perspective. The book uses and references aspects of Doctor Who that have developed in the years since, so don’t be ...more
Iain Hepburn
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Decidedly mediocre and shallow, with an ending that struggles to translate what would have at least been an interesting cinematic ending into a proper print climax. The shoehorning of nu-Who nods and winks into it also hampers the tone, making it a 70s prog album with backing vocals by the Spice Girls. Disappointing.
Jim Gorman
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Oh well, what to say about this one. First off, let me tell you I first saw Dr. Who back in the early 80's and was hooked on the show. This was one with Tom Baker playing the 4th Doctor. He has always been my favorite Doctor because of this. Now imagine my excitement when I saw at the library a book about a Doctor Who adventure written by Tom himself!! I grabbed that puppy up and went home to read.

I started off with high hopes for this book, but sadly it was rather blah. There were some interes

Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
(Probably 3.5 but I'm rounding up because of Tom) There were parts of this that were sheer brilliance and it was a joy to hear Tom reading them. The thirteenth Doctor showing up and her interacting with the 4th were wonderful. Harry and Sarah having the picnic which felt like a missing scene from the 70s. The transformation of the humans into scarecrows. The asides about the Time Lords, the mosaic bringing back the scarecrow's memories.
There were however several bits which really dragged. Sarah
Bryan Mitchell
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, doctor-who
A script for a possible feature-length Doctor Who movie in the 1970s is reborn as a novel written by the Fourth Doctor himself (Tom Baker) with a little help from James Goss who was responsible for the equally marvelous City of Death novelization among other things. Having Baker himself as the reader for the audiobook is some very delicious icing on the cake and much like his acting in his Big Finish adventures, he shows no signs of slowing down. I'm still waiting on my hardcover edition to come ...more
Alex Sarll
Tom Baker's old pitch for a Who film in which the Doctor meets the Devil, rendered as prose by Baker himself and James Goss*. Baker's roguish 85th birthday video, and general cynicism about the division of labour in such projects, lead one to suspect Goss may have done more of the work than the cover credit suggests, but his novelisations of the Douglas Adams Who stories have already shown that Goss can catch the Fourth Doctor's voice admirably, and if nothing else Baker's imprimatur means the b ...more
Shabbeer Hassan
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor returns in this rip-roaring tale about fear! So, do immortals like Time Lords know the concept of fear? And what would take such a piece of emotion to take root in them? Well, Doctor narrates the tale of how he, Harry and Sarah Jane Smith, discover fear. So, what are you afraid of...?

My Rating - 4/5
James Perkins
Dec 25, 2019 rated it liked it
A new Doctor Who book by a real Doctor Who - wow!

Tom Baker, the actor who played the fourth incarnation of the Doctor, has now written a book (actually, co-written, although that’s not mentioned on the cover) based on a movie idea he had back in the 1970s when he was at the height of his fame in the role. The film never got off the ground, so he’s now put it into book form instead. The story is set in the early Baker era with familiar companions Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan, and big bad
Aug 23, 2019 rated it liked it
The residents of a remote Scottish island are living in fear. Strange, hideous scarecrows are preying on the locals and the Doctor vows to save them all, but things don't go according to his plan. He and his companions fall into Scratchman's trap. With the fate of the universe hanging in the balance, the Doctor must face his fears and battle an ancient force who claims to be the Devil.

My top three thoughts on 'Doctor Who: Scratchman':
1. I'm new to the Doctor Who universe (I kept calling WHOniver
Emily Wrayburn
I'm still not 100% sure how the Doctor defeated Scratch in the end...

And this sort of felt like two different stories - the scarecrows on an isolated Scottish island, and then the stuff in Scratch's alternate universe... I think the scarecrow plot really needed to just be an introduction, rather than practically a whole adventure on its own.

There was also the issue of this being in first person from the Doctor's POV, but him being able to describe what Sarah and Harry were doing when he wasn't
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Audiobook review)


I’d highly recommend listening to this rather than just reading it. Tom Baker really brings the story to life, and his characterisation of the fourth doctor is spot on (as you’d expect!)

The plot was very typical of a doctor who tv story, and a good mix of humour and creepy moments. I felt it did get a bit needlessly complex in the latter part of the book, but this was an enjoyable story nonetheless.

Michael Cook
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Doctor Who: Scratchman is a story that's been gestating for a long time. Beginning life as an idea for a film by the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, himself, Scratchman never resulted in an actual film, and the idea gathered a lot of dust as Baker moved onto other things. Until now, that is. Aided by prolific Doctor Who novelist, James Goss, Tom Baker returned to his Scratchman idea and turned it into the newest Doctor Who novel from BBC Books. So, is the novel worth the long wait? More or less, yeah. ...more
This book is overall an odd collection of parts. It works. I think it works well. Not exactly as a whole, but as a collective. It is a confederacy of Whovian things, bound together with paper glue and with a book cover wrapped around it.

On the surface, the plot is two related-by-a-thread-but-not-super-well stories. The first is a fairly period-fitting piece to the mid-to-late 70s Who with a bit of a bleed from later T.-Baker-Who and mid-Pertwee-who. An isolated Scottish island is under assault
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
This should have been so much better.

This book can be broken down into three sections.

1- The Lonely Town Under Siege

This is the bast part of the book and the one which feels the most faithful to the series. You can feel a real sense that yes, this a Fourth Doctor adventure. Sarah and Harry are written with true warmth and love, and you can feel that Tom (through the Doctor) really did feel warmth for Liz Sladen and Ian Marter. It is the most enjoyable part of the book. However, it is a bit slow.
Kent Holloway
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was never a fan of Doctor Who when I was a kid. It came on PBS after school every day, but I just couldn’t get past the melodramatic acting and poor special effects back then. Plus, as a kid who loved superheroes, I expected someone named Doctor Who (that’s what we all thought he was called back in those days), he should have super powers like Doctor Strange or Doctor Fate or Doctor Doom. Since he seemed like just a normal guy, I wasn’t all that interested. Then came New Who and like many Amer ...more
George Fowles
Aug 22, 2020 rated it liked it
2.5 ⭐ This definitely wasn't the book to be reading when I was already in a reading slump. Its frustrating because the reasons why I'm rating this book so low isn't anything to do with the Doctor Who parts. I loved the 13 references and the scarecrow versions of the doctors. I've got to stop myself from wanting to bump this up to 3⭐ purely on how much I liked the epilogue with 13, The Doctors note and the last note from Sarah Jane, because I really was losing patience with the rest of the book. ...more
John Bastin
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an interesting story, the Doctor facing a large jury of his peers who are disturbed at how he works and affects the universe as a whole. We move from the inquest to the Doctor's rebuttal from chapter to chapter, seeing history as it happened, seemingly rushing through a typical Doctor Who solution to an atypical problem threatening the universe. In the first half, we are in a tumultuous rush working against a team of scarecrows that seems determined to take over their environment for the ...more
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Thomas Stewart "Tom" Baker is an English actor and comedian. He is best known for playing the fourth incarnation of the Doctor from 1974 to 1981 in Doctor Who, and for narrating Little Britain. He was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for his role as Rasputin in the 1971 film Nicholas and Alexandra.

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