Revelations: "You are, aren't you?" she exclaimed. "You are Miss Gertru de Stein." I nodded and signed her programme. Next she asked: "How is Miss Toklas?"

The time: 48 hours in May 1996 The place: Kent The man: Tom Baker, actor and former Dr Who

Last year I was terribly out of work; I couldn't earn a living as an actor, so I decided to write something about my childhood. I took a bit into my wife and she laughed her head off. Gradually I wrote more and more, but some parts that I thought were funny - how my first ambition was to be an orphan - she thought were sick and desperately sad. During the war, if somebody had a tragedy in Liverpool the Americans would send them nice clothes and fantastic goodies. Being extremely poor I would ask "Why has he got nice clothes and I haven't?" and they would reply: "Because his mam died" So privately I prayed that a bomb would drop on my mam. It wasn't that I didn't love her, because I did passionately, but goodies can de-humanise a child.

After a while I had a manuscript and I phoned my voice-over agent - I'm very persuasive in minor advertising and audio visual commentary: "Jackie, how does one go about getting a publisher." She phoned a friend in Talking Books who spoke to her boss and within 40 minutes, Jackie was back on the telephone with the news that Harper Collins would be delighted to read my manuscript.

So I put on my passionate sincerity voice and called their head of non- fiction. I was put straight through which made me feel rather uneasy. He explained how delighted they would be to read the manuscript. "Marvellous ," I said "I'll bring it round. Where are you?" "Hammersmith", he confessed.

"Forget it," I said, " I don't want to be a writer anyway. A man of my age can't be seen in boring Hammersmith." Yet he was so keen that he agreed to rush straight over to the Groucho Club in Soho. Twenty minutes later he bought me a coffee - which I didn't think obligated him too much and I gave him my envelope. Off I went for a beer. It's now almost 24 hours since my first inquiry.

When I got home at 4.30pm my wife was waiting with the news that Harper Collins wanted to buy my manuscript. I thought the world had gone mad. Still out of work, Harper Collins asked me to go to a dinner and talk about my book. I recounted an experience at the Chelsea Flower Show where a tiny little woman tapped me on the shoulder. You could tell that she once had enormous eyes, now very small because the lids were so heavy that she couldn't raise them anymore. "You are aren't you?" she exclaimed; people often say that to me. So I said "Yes I am." "Oh Miss Stein, Miss Gertrude Stein," she gushed. I'm regularly mistaken for Jonathan Miller, or Jon Pertwee, if they really want to torture me, but this was a new low. I looked at what must have been a retired lesbian and instead of saying "Fuck off you mad old cow," I nodded and signed her programme: "Cordially yours, Gertrude Stein." Next she asked: "How is Miss Toklas?" "Still teasing Henry Miller," I retorted.

My stories were a great success. Harper Collins were delighted because my audience were buyers and wholesalers. Being shameless, anxious and out of work, I covered similar functions across the whole of the UK - no one was omitted. If people were ill, I used to go into hospitals to tell them about my book.

I've suddenly realised to my amazement, I'm about to be a famous author. They've printed 80,000 copies; I'm going on a 50-city publicity tour. Now I get letters from girls with double-barrel names, which has always been good for my libido, asking me to come and talk at literary festivals. I went through a phase where I could only shag girls with double-barreled names - twice the pleasure, I thought.

I come from a very loose family but writing this autobiography has made me pick up things from my past. I haven't seen my brother since my mother died donkey's years ago. I look forward to seeing him on this tour. As an actor I'm very aware of how short of identity I am. Being noisy just masks my inadequacy; I lack a personality. The uncertainty about who you are is part of the impulse to be an actor.

I've learnt nothing about myself, just how to pace myself a little bit more and how to value my wife and home. I think I might have improved a little bit there. What ever I do I'm always an actor: this play is called "Promoting A Book". If they won't give me a job at the BBC I'll invent my own drama. I thrive on anxiety and insecurity. I don't believe in a state of nirvana; if it exists I want nothing to do with it.

All I have in my life is my anxieties. My irrationalities make me laugh at myself, because I am ridiculous. I don't have friends, being an actor I'm too self centred to have the gift of friendship which requires a degree of self-sacrifice, but what I'm really looking forward to is imagining how astonished my few acquaintances will be about the idea of Baker writing a book - especially if I get a good review.

One sign of some maturity is my third marriage where I have voluntarily demonstrated my commitment by investing in a home. You can't both have a flat only meeting for casual shags and call that a deep relationship. We've bought a beautiful house together with a garden, lovely cats, a moor and cars; that's a step forward. When I walk through Soho and they call out from the Coach and Horses: "Come and see us" I go home instead.

`Who on Earth is Tom Baker' is published by Harper Collins, available now at pounds 17.99. An audio book - read by Tom Baker - will be available from October 20.

Interview by Andrew G Marshall

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Chelsea are interested in loaning out Romelu Lukaku to Everton again next season
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SAP Project Manager

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

    SAP Project Manager

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

    Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

    £600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

    Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

    £65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?