Baker had an unusual teenage, entering a silent French religious order aged just 16, and for 5 years attempted to live up to the ideals of poverty, chastity and obedience. Eventually realising the religious life was not for him, Baker went straight from the monastery into National Service. As he adjusted from monastic silence to the rumbustious world of the army and the Royal Army Medical Corps, he baffled and amused officers and fellow soldiers alike by his wit and individuality, leading to many comic situations, described by Baker with great gusto. While taking part in amateur dramatics in the Royal Army Medical Corps, Baker’s acting talent emerged, so after demob, he applied to Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance where he met Laurie Taylor whose friendship and collaboration eventually led to Baker being noticed by the National Theatre.
After years of joblessness or small parts in repertory theatres around Britain, Baker was in a revue with Laurie Taylor at the York Festival in 1968 when a National Theatre talent scout spotted him. Baker describes stimulating years working with Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Anthony Hopkins and Derek Jacobi amongst many others at the National Theatre. Baker’s first major film role was as Rasputin in 'Nicholas and Alexandra' which made him think he was on the way to Hollywood stardom, only to find himself broke and jobless again in London afterwards. He was actually working on a building site when Bill Slater, Head of Series and Serials at the BBC, proposed him as the new Doctor Who to take over from Jon Pertwee.
Baker shares the exhilaration of his regeneration from hod carrier to Time Lord, from out-of-work actor to one hugely in demand. Then followed 7 years of fun and challenges working on the popular, long-running television series, which brought Baker international recognition and popularity. Baker describes the end of his seven-year stint as Doctor Who when he returned to the stage in plays such as 'Hedda Gabler', 'Educating Rita' and 'She Stoops to Conquer'. Baker's autobiography closes with his move to a converted school house in Kent in 1986 where he mowed the lawns of the graveyard next door and one day decided to buy a gravestone and have his name and birthday engraved on it: an example of Baker’s anarchic humour, which throughout the book hovers cleverly between thoughtful reality and comedy of the absurd.
From the Back Cover
Growing up in a poor, spirited Irish community in Liverpool in the 1930's, Tom Baker had modest ambitions: to be an orphan, to have a wooden leg, to be a sinner. Instead he became a monk, coveting smells and staring at other men's clogs. No longer 'randy for martyrdom', Baker left the monastery for National Service and then became a struggling actor. He learned to drink Anthony Hopkins under the table and to take the oddest jobs, while also managing to land parts alongside Olivier in the National Theatre and work with Pasolini. He finally gave up his stint as a builder's labourer to become the ultimate Doctor Who.
'Who on Earth Is Tom Baker?' is a richly coloured, startlingly wild autobiography that reads like a black comedy. Full of anarchic humour, surreal, ribald and revealing anecdotes, it can be favourably compared with the stories of Spike Milligan, Peter Ustinov and David Niven.
' All my life I had been taught nonsense by priests and teachers…it was no problem for me to say I came from another world and could go back and forth in time.'
"This is a man worth listening to. Whether he is scandalising a waitress, reducing a photographer to helpless laughter or making serious points about the staging of Jacobean drama, he can deliver the unexpected faster than a Hitchcock rewrite of the Alamo."
GILLIAN GLOVER, ' Scotsman '
"An hilarious and unusual autobiography for an actor. There is none of the self – serving trail through evolutionary progress to greatness; the famous names don't hit the page with the thud of concrete but with the lightness of a feather".
PENNY FOX ,' The Glasgow Herald '