The world is way too serious isn’t it? Everything seems to be doom and gloom, where is our silly hero in our hour of need? Turns out he’s here, with Bafflegab’s second instalment in the Baker’s End series, featuring Tom Baker as himself. Out on Friday, December 2nd, we review Gobbleknoll Hall.
(Be aware that this release isn’t intended for small children, and thus some of the language from hereon in may be… questionable.)
Ghost-hunting TV show Manifest Yourself is filming an overnight vigil in Gobbleknoll Hall, deep in the murksome woods somewhat near the village of Happenstance!
When Mrs Frimbly gets wind of these swervish developments she is terribly excited: she’s a huge fan of the show. But the spirits of Gobbleknoll Hall are not to be messed about with, as the King of Cats knows all too well! Soon he’s leading his bewildered friend Suzy on a mission to prevent the spooky investigation from going completely tits up.
Why is the crepuscular mansion haunted by the jangling of ancient glam rock anthems? What is the secret of the phantom boozer in the basement? And what the fudgeknocking blazes is Mrs Frimbly playing at?
Also, there are scenes of a shocking nature in which a possessed Suzy Goshawk tells us exactly what she did on Christmas Day 1975.
It’s not long before we’re reintroduced to Tom Baker playing, well, Tom Baker. Part of me yearns to know just how scripted Tom is in all of this, and how much writer Paul Magrs just leaves a note saying “Get from Point A to Point B. Have fun and be yourself” because I reckon that a fair few of the lines have been tweaked by Baker himself.
Amongst the reintroductions, we’re reunited with Suzy Goshawk, Tom’s die-hard fan and sidekick, played by a certain Katy Manning, who Whovians will know better as Jo Grant/ Jones. Considering that at the beginning of the last release, The King of Cats, Tom Baker was dead; it seems fitting that he’d need someone to keep him in check.
The idea of having Tom Baker reincarnated as a giant cat is so utterly bizarre and unique that, in all honesty, if that doesn’t happen when that unfortunate day comes, I’ll be bitterly disappointed.
Now, if you’ve read my review of the Classic Doctors, New Monsters story Fallen Angels you’ll know just how much I adore Diane Morgan as an actress; she’s absolutely great at comedy and I’m glad that she became part of the Big Finish family, (I hope she does more, too!) well she’s also in Gobbleknoll Hall. Words fail me when trying to describe how much I love this move; having the woman behind Philomena Cunk playing a part in a bizarre and very British style comedy like Baker’s End is genius. Luckily for me, she turns up a mere four minutes in.
Diane Morgan plays the headstrong Marcella Doody, a woman on a mission to film one of these haunted house programmes called Manifest Yourself. It seems that Marcella isn’t too keen on Gobbleknoll Hall, or hosting vigils, or ghosts, or working with them. Marcella seems to be like anyone with any job. It’s not her dream, but it’ll do for now.
Luckily for Marcella, it’s not too long before Tom Baker appears to help her out at Gobbleknoll Hall. Even if he is a giant cat. Meow!
I can’t help but praise Paul Magrs, and everyone involved in Baker’s End for that matter, for totally losing any inhibitions when conceiving every single part of the story, whether it be the script, the performances or the music and sound design. You can tell that everyone goes off the rails and has a laugh whilst making these releases. That’s how work should be; fun and unashamedly silly. I mean, I doubt you’d get a joke about a man called ‘Lovedick’ in a Big Finish production…
One of the most surreal pieces (and that’s quite a feat if you listen to this, as it’s all very surreal) is one of Tom’s hallucinations, where he’s back at a bar filled with all his friends and fellow celebrities, including Basil Brush. Who knew that a fox puppet from your childhood would pop up in an audio about a deceased and reincarnated British icon? I sure didn’t expect it. Then again, after King of The Cats, I should know to expect the unexpected. All this, and I’m only halfway through the story.
Having Tom Baker present at a seance would be absolutely brilliant and terrifying at the same time; luckily Paul Magrs makes this weird and very unique wish come true. He just doesn’t know when to shut up, and I love it.
The idea that Marcella’s annoyance at her co-host Brian is the way that the gang saves the day is brilliant; and I kind of wish that it was an audiovisual release, as it would have been great to see Diane Morgan slapping the undead out of her co-host over and over again. It’s slapstick at it’s finest.
The conclusion of Gobbleknoll Hall is rather satisfactory, and it seems as if everything is back to normal in Happenstance; with the gang all going to Baker’s End to enjoy a fry-up. Luckily, it doesn’t last long before something that breaks the fourth wall occurs and leaves the gang laughing.
Overall Gobbleknoll Hall is a marvellously fun and outrageous romp featuring that tour de force that is Tom Baker. Paul Magrs perfectly captures Tom’s quirkiness and brings it to the fore for a great escape into the imagination. If you want to forget about your troubles for just over an hour, I can’t think of many better ways.
Should you want to purchase Baker’s End: Gobbleknoll Hall, it’s available from Friday 2nd December from Bafflegab, and can be purchased here as a download for £6.99 or as a CD for £9.99!