It is with deep sadness that BlogtorWho reports the death of Doctor Who writer Pip Baker. Along with his late wife Jane Baker, Pip wrote several episodes of Doctor Who in the 1980s. He was 91.
Pip and Jane Baker were a husband and wife writing team responsible for eleven episodes of Doctor Who between 1985 and 1987. They were noted for the speed and economy of their writing. This skill gained them a reliable reputation for providing scripts to save a slot even at short notice. Perhaps they’re most remembered for salvaging the end of fourteen episode epic The Trial of a Time Lord. They were called upon when behind the scenes drama left showrunner Jonathan Nathan-Turner with no script, writer, or even script editor for the final episode. They were against a seemingly impossible deadline. Moreover, they were forbidden for contractual reasons from even knowing what the original ending was supposed to be. Yet they worked magic to (more or less) wrap up the giant arc satisfactorily.
Two of their stories featured their own creation, the villainous Time Lady known as the Rani. A deliberate contrast to the Master, the Rani was driven by an obsession with the accumulation of knowledge, rather than power. Brought to fabulously arch life by Kate O’Mara, she was further defined by her pragmatism. The Rani took the most direct route possible to her goals. And she resisted being pulled into personal vendettas like the Master’s against the Doctor’s. Responsible for the Terror of the Vervoids segment of Trial, Pip and Jane are often credited with perhaps the most successful section of the season. Indeed, for the recent Complete Season 23 Blu-ray set, it was Terror of the Vervoids that received the prestige treatment. Re-edited into a standalone four part story it proved to be a superior slice of 80’s Doctor Who.
“Thank goodness in this regeneration I’ve regained my impeccable sense of haute couture”
Pip and Jane were particularly popular with star Colin Baker (no relation). The Sixth Doctor actor shared their love of often prodigiously performed panoramas of phraseology. Not only did their extensive vocabulary and ability to coin a phrase provide a unique stamp to their scripts, but allowed Baker’s Doctor to exhibit a more whimsical side. Lines such as “fortuitous would be a more apposite epithet”, “whoever’s been dumped in there has been pulverised into fragments and sent floating into space, and in my book, that’s murder,” and “there’s nothing you can do to prevent the catharsis of spurious morality“ will continue to be quoted by fans for decades to come.
Beyond the TV show itself, Pip co-wrote four Target novelisations of their episodes with Jane. They also wrote the ‘choose your own adventure’ style Doctor Who: Race Against Time. Other credits included the Space:1999 episode A Matter of Balance and adventure movie Captain Nemo and the Underwater City. They also had their own TV creations, child friendly thrillers Circus and Ruby and the science fiction show Watt on Earth, following the misadventures of a pair of aliens in hiding on Earth. The two aliens had the gift of shape-changing or, as they called it in typical Bakerish style, transanimateobjectificating.
Pip had been ill following a recent fall, before his death yesterday morning. He was predeceased by Jane in 2011.