While at the height of his powers as the lead in Doctor Who, Tom Baker took on a very different role in front of the camera.
For a brief period at the tail end of 1978, Baker stared in Late Night Story, a series of fifteen-minute shorts where he read several macabre tales.
With childhood the central theme of the stories, Late Night Story aired just prior to BBC 2’s night-time close from December 23rd to the 28th, although an episode due to be shown on December 22nd was not aired due to strike action.
Indeed, the opening episode – “The Photograph” – is a perfect example of the dark, foreboding nature of the series, as Baker reads of a dying boy who is forced by his mother to have a lasting photograph taken.
In these, Baker truly is in his element, deliciously weaving through each sentence and word with a weight that leans heavier with every breath.
Everything about this collection is wonderfully told and delightfully wicked, but for best viewing pleasure, it may be best to turn out the lights and sit silently – although I do not claim responsibility if one fails to sleep.
A second series – concentrating on tales of the horror of war – was made for the following year and read by the late Sir John Mills.
“The Photograph” by Nigel Kneale (broadcast December 23rd, 1978)
“Sredni Vashtar” by Hugh Munro (not broadcast)