This wasn't really meant to be an interview... I went along to meet Tom Baker with the intention of recording a dozen or so jingles for the Black Box Club Audiozine, back in the late 80's. He was performing in the West End, London. Five evening shows and two matinees a week. It was gruelling. J.B. Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls' was on the school syllabus that year and Tom was cast as 'The' Inspector. Every performance, through the bright lights, he could just see the first eight rows of sixth formers, heads buried in the text book scripts on their laps. I had prepared myself for what could be a bumpy ride.
All was not well in the world of Tom at this time. Conversation avoiding his past television work for the BBC was recommended.... But hey, I was just going along to say hello and thank you. I met him in his dressing room after the Wednesday matinee, he looked tired and just a little edgy. After recording the jingles, which made him titter, he relaxed, thawed. You have to consider, the days of Tom Baker being a household name again, by supplying his rich tones for segs between the sketches on the BBC's 'Little Britain' series, were a good ten years away. Announcing our 'Dr Bedlam's Bedtime Terror Tales' and comparing the Black Box Club to a tray of cat litter, made him smile. After fifteen minutes, we were done. But, we kept chatting into the microphone. We kept the tape rolling. I told him I hadn't come for an interview, I wasn't prepared. He grinned that, wide grin and rumbled, 'Ask me anything'.....
I laughed, for two hours.
DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH.
" I think that people who know me quite well, and I would agree with them, would say, probably that I have no sense of humour what so ever. And I think I would have to agree with that. I can't say instantly, what makes me laugh. but, silly things, silly things make me laugh. I have no, I am not intellectual at all in what makes me laugh. Dr Who used to make me laugh. BEING Dr Who used to make me laugh, quite a lot. So, you can see how silly I really am....
I find people who tell jokes, really just embarrass me. Sometimes I can be very rude, when someone tells me a joke. Especially if they preface the joke with, 'You'll like this one!' It's likely to produce an absolute explosion. especially if I am the one who is buying the drinks. I hate people who tell me jokes. There are certain groups of people, types of people who tell jokes. They say, 'Have you heard this one? There was this fellow in a Chinese take-away, he was Welsh actually!' I instantly feel the pins and needles racing up my legs."
ACTING FOR A LIVING.
" Well, you see. I don't think I am very good at it, at all. I think sometimes I am what they would say, a little naughty or what some people would say bloody unprofessional. I mean the BBC apologised for my Sherlock Holmes. ... and I can't say I blame them."
WORKING and BEGGING FOR A LIVING.
" I can't think of one single lousy job that I've done, I've done so many. Most of them have been my fault actually. But you have to work. You see, I think the standard of begging as gone down, I'm afraid. There was a time when beggars used to tell good stories and had angles. But now, most them are idle sods. Beggars used to drink wine or beer. Now, buggers just drink Carlsberg special...
How can they possibly have a good cabaret act if they've been drinking Carlsberg Special? I mean, you can't have a sense of pleading if, well if they've been drinking Carlsberg Special, they can't say anything! And so when the fellow comes up and says 'Err...err....Can I ...err...!' He can't even remember what he was going to ask! And I know. He was going to ask me for some money, before he quaffed his Carlsberg! He wants to have five pounds, but he can't get it out. They don't even ask you for five pounds. They are so scummy now, that they ask you for ten pence! I can't be doing with people who ask for ten pence. They should pitch it higher! Ask me for ten pounds at least for a bottle of scotch, for God's sake! Aim high or sit down!"
To Be Continued.....Marcus Brooks.