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Literature / Doctor Who Meets Scratchman

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The one that Darth Vader killed (at first).

In the 1970s, Tom Baker was starring in Doctor Who and the show was at its peak popularity. So popular, in fact, that Baker and his costar Ian Marter, who played his companion Harry, decided that they should take advantage of this and bring the Doctor to the big screen. Marter had experience working on the Target Doctor Who Novelisations, and in between filming episodes the two concocted a script called Doctor Who Meets Scratchman which pitted the Doctor against the Devil (played by Vincent Price no less) calling himself Harry Scratch, Scratch being a nickname for the Devil in English folklore. Baker wanted the film made badly enough that he solicited fans for donations, but after legal advice returned them. The runaway success of Star Wars, and its effects on popular sci-fi, effectively nipped the bud on a film like this being made.

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However, Tom Baker never let go of the story, and with the help of writer James Goss turned his screenplay into a book that was published in early 2019.


Tropes:

  • Actor Allusion: Scratchman creates scarecrow mockeries of the Doctor's past selves. The Doctor comments that this look suits Third and he ought to keep it.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The novel version adds in all of the islanders in the first section, and significantly elaborates Scratchman's motivation, the Doctor's encounters while travelling through Scratchman's realm, and the final confrontation.
  • Affably Evil: Scratchman is a jovial, pleasant individual who at no point loses his temper when confronted by the Doctor, even initially seeming quite excited when he realises he's feeling fear for the first time. And yet his evil is on full display by the way he both fulfils his deals and shapes his realm.
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  • BBC Quarry: The Doctor thinks the hell dimension looks a lot like a quarry. He also refers to Uxarieus as a "chalk-pit of a world".
  • Body Horror: The novel has a lot of this in its depiction of how the islanders are transformed into scarecrows, and also includes a gruesome and impressive, but not easily realisable on TV, new look for the Cybermen.
  • Call-Forward:
  • Captain Ersatz: The script has Scratchman working with a cyborg alien race called the Cybors, blatantly as a means of avoiding having to pay Kit Pedlar and Gerry Davis royalties for using the Cybermen. The novel version abandons this and identifies them clearly as the Cybermen.
  • Deal with the Devil: Scratchman makes several attempts to make a deal with the Doctor, though not too successfully. He's more successful with making a deal with the Cybermen, with the Scarecrow virus being his gift to the Cyberleader. Naturally, he ends up screwing them over, by trapping them in his realm as his playthings, even restoring their emotions and making them live out their worst fears. Somewhat uniquely, this sadism winds up screwing him over as well.
  • Driver of a Black Cab: Charon the Ferryman has been reinvented as one. He's had all the previous Doctors in the back once.
  • First-Person Smartass: The story is told first-person by the Doctor and, well, he's the Fourth Doctor.
  • Framing Story: The Doctor is describing events to the Time Lords, who have put him on trial again.
  • Gym Class Rope Climb: It's briefly mentioned that the reason Sarah Jane is quite athletic is that she worked very hard at this, in order to prove the sadistic PE teacher wasn't getting to her.
  • I Know What You Fear: The novel version adds this as the main theme of the story, with Scratchman feeding on people's fears and being particularly determined to find out what the Doctor's is, as a means of controlling him.
  • Lethal Klutz: Harry Sullivan, who's portrayed as ambling along, tripping over his own feet, and accidentally taking down all the scarecrows that attack him, often without noticing they're there.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Scratchman presents himself as a commanding corporate executive in a very nice suit.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Mrs. Tulloch, the small-minded elderly Obnoxious Entitled Housewife of the island, who carefully poisons the islanders' minds against the Doctor, and ends up getting them all killed, purely because of the Doctor being a threat to her authority.
  • Not So Above It All: The Time Lords start out being arrogantly unconcerned about individual lives, insisting the Doctor should have weighed The Needs of the Many, but once they start getting into the story, they're horrified when Harry appears to die.
  • Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: While the Doctor and Sarah scrub their minds of anything Scratch could use against them, Harry has an image of the Doctor and Scratch playing a game of pinball for the universe. Cue the Pinball Zone...
  • Reverse Psychology: The Doctor is trying to get the inhabitants of the village to assemble in the church, where they'll be safe from the Monster of the Week. But the only person he finds is a nasty, suspicious postmistress, who won't listen to him. So he uses the phone box outside to call his companions at the church, and "remind" them that this safe haven is only for VIPs, secure in the knowledge the postmistress will be listening in, and will shortly be rallying the villagers to march on the church and demand entry.
  • Scary Scarecrows: They're also The Virus.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: The Doctor claims not to be the sort of person who peeks at the last page, and then attempts to distract Sarah Jane from this blatant lie by pointing out the last page doesn't contain The Reveal anyway, you need to go a few pages further back for that, otherwise you just get the tying up of subplots and "Also by this author". (There may be a bit of Leaning on the Fourth Wall in the fact this happens in the book's third epilogue.)
  • The Dead Have Names: Subverted — the Doctor can't remember the name of one of the dead islanders, but can remember everything else about him.
  • To Hell and Back: The latter half of the story is about the Doctor descent into Scratchman's realm, (named the Land of the Dead by Charon) to save Harry and Sarah Jane, after Scratchman claimed them. He's fully aware that it's a trap, but he refuses to let that stop them.
  • Your Worst Nightmare: Scratchman seeks the Doctor's, and places him in various scenarios that he thinks might prompt it (fear of not being the Doctor, fear of boredom, fear of failing his friends). When he does discover the Doctor's worst nightmare, it's too much for him. (Because, it's hinted in the epilogue, the thought of being overwhelmed by fear is the Doctor's greatest nightmare.)

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